It’s no secret that the Northern Territory is home to some of Australia’s most stunning and diverse landscapes and natural wonders. This spring, let the Nature’s Way self-drive loop guide you through this part of Australia.
DARWIN TO JABIRU, KAKADU NATIONAL PARK
To begin your journey, head south from Darwin on the Stuart Highway for about 33 kilometres, and then turn onto the Arnhem Highway – your pathway to the World Heritage–listed Kakadu National Park. On this 220-kilometre stretch, you’ll travel through classic Top End landscapes, including vast flood plains and estuaries. Mary River National Park, about 100 kilometres south-east of Darwin, is perfect for nature lovers, offering excellent opportunities for wildlife and birdwatching, fishing, four-wheel driving and bushwalking. Keep travelling east and you’ll reach Jabiru, a perfect base for your Kakadu adventure. Jabiru offers plenty of facilities and is close to Kakadu’s Bowali Information Centre.
JABIRU TO UBIRR
From Jabiru, head north on Oenpelli Road for approximately 40 kilometres, passing through scenic escarpment country to Ubirr, one of Kakadu’s most impressive locations. Beneath Ubirr’s impressive rock overhangs, magnificent rock art galleries house paintings that date back 20,000 years. The easy one-kilometre circuit will guide you through woodlands and cool rock shelters, where you will be able to admire what is considered some of the best rock art in the world. Next, climb the moderately steep 250-metre path to gaze across the beautiful Nadab flood plain, rainforest and woodlands. The Ubirr lookout is one of Kakadu’s most special places.
The magnificent Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) region is another remarkable Kakadu location, featuring an impressive sandstone formation, rich Indigenous history, billabongs and peaceful woodlands. Take the easy 1.5-kilometre circuit walk to visit an incredible outdoor cultural museum, and witness rock art, artefacts and Indigenous sites of significance. Trek to the Gunwarddehwardde lookout to survey the beautiful sandstone escarpments in the distance, or take a gentle stroll on the Anbangbang Billabong Walk to spot a vast array of birdlife, and enjoy the savanna and woodlands.
From the Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) region, travel south-west on the Kakadu Highway for about two hours to Gunlom Falls. This stunning natural oasis is popular due to its picturesque waterfall and variety of swimming spots. Float in the turquoise plunge pool, or take the trail to the crystal-clear pools at the top of the falls, where you can enjoy an impressive Kakadu vista. If you’d like to stay a little longer in this serene pocket, there is a campground not far from the waterfall that boasts plenty of facilities.
NITMILUK NATIONAL PARK
Travel south along the Kakadu Highway to the Stuart Highway and onwards to Katherine. Katherine is an ideal base for your adventures in the nearby Nitmiluk National Park, located on the lands of the Jawoyn people. Visit the majestic Katherine Gorge – an ancient network of sandstone gorges that were carved by the winding Katherine River. There are many ways to explore this landscape – by foot, helicopter or boat – but one of the best ways is by canoe. As you paddle, look up and gaze at the towering gorge above you. Then, stop for a spot of lunch at a secluded, sandy beach.
LITCHFIELD NATIONAL PARK
Next, journey north to Batchelor, the gateway to Litchfield National Park. This popular region is a natural paradise, boasting waterfalls, natural pools and fascinating landscapes. Located
approximately 120 kilometres south of Darwin, the park is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to swim beneath beautiful sandstone waterfalls or bushwalk through woodlands and lush rainforests. Buley Rockhole, a series of cascading rock pools, is a must-see marvel when you’re in Litchfield, and is a perfect spot to cool down and relax. Florence Falls features an impressive plunge pool, and the platform above offers scenic views of the valley.