Top
Kirsty + Gunlom Falls, Kakadu

SUMMARY SERIES: DRIVING THE NORTHERN TERRITORY

 

 

 

The Aussie Overlanders SUMMARY SERIES is a whip around of the hits, misses, stats and tips from our expedition.

As we overland from Sydney to London, via Africa, we will build up these ‘guides’. We hope that by sharing our experience we might help others to get more out of destinations. Or, in our wildest dreams, actually inspire someone to get out there.

To start with we would like to give you a snap shot of our preferences when overlanding. Make sure you check if they match up with yours, before heeding our advice: We love remote quiet spots. We prefer National Park camp sites and wild camping, over staying in a caravan parks. We have a fully equipped 4WD that means we require no facilities from the place we camp. We seek out off-the-beaten-track experiences.

 

Aussie Overlanders Yellow Divider

 

That’s the way we roll.

And here’s how we went…

 

DRIVING THE NORTHERN TERRITORY

We entered the Northern Territory on a dirt track after spending the night in the most remote pub in Australia.

The scenery changed almost immediately as we crossed the border and within the first few hours we knew our adventure into the Northern Territory of Australia was going to be a love affair to remember.

 

QUICK STATISTICS: DRIVING THE NORTHERN TERRITORY

 

IMG 3551 15

 

ROUTE: Mt Dare Pub (South Australia) – ULURU – KINGS CANYON – MCDONNELL RANGES – ALICE SPRINGS – DEVILS MARBLES – ELSEY NATIONAL PARK  - DARWIN – LITCHFIELD AREA – LITCHFIELD NATIONAL PARK – MARY RIVER – KAKADU – KATHERINE – KEEP RIVER NATIONAL PARK

DAYS: 5 Weeks.  (A total of 35 days from 18.5.2013 –  23.6.2013)

KILOMETRES: 5680kms. Odometer Reading: 343105  - 348785.

AVERAGE PRICE OF DIESEL: $1.696

LITRES OF DIESEL CONSUMED: 749.41 L

TOTAL SPEND ON DIESEL: $1335.50

FLIES CONSUMED: 3

ARGUMENTS THAT RESULTED IN A DISCUSSION OF WHO OWNED THE TROOPY: 2

MOZZIE BITES ON KIRSTY: 4573

MOZZIE BITES ON KING-GEE: 4

 

AVERAGE STATISTICS: DRIVING THE NORTHERN TERRITORY

 

 

IMG 2592 7

AVERAGE DIESEL LITRES PER 100 KILOMETRES: 13.9L/100 KMs

AVERAGE DIESEL COST PER 100 KILOMETRES: $23.51/100 KMs

Note: We are driving a 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser Troop Carrier. It’s in top condition, deemed the BEST Troopy a Land-Cruiser aficionado has seen and we (personally) serviced the fuel injectors prior to departure. We do not have a turbo or specialist exhaust at this stage.

 

HIT 

Most of our Summary Series guides don’t have so many ‘HIT’s’. However, we have found that the Northern territory has been our favourite state so far and it is impossible to not write about all of the below places and encourage you to get there.

 

Uluru + The Olgas

 

IMG 1911

IMG 1984

 

The most iconic spot in Australia lived up to the hype and surpassed it. It had always been a goal of ours to drive from our front door to Uluru (Ayres Rock).

As we rolled up to the big rock and watched it change according to the sunlight hours, it truly blew us away. It is a spectacular and (surprisingly) spiritual place; that left us firmly grounded.

 

Litchfield National Park: Buley Water Hole

 

IMG 3385

 

Litchy was THE MOST BEAUTIFUL NATIONAL PARK WE HAVE EVER BEEN TO IN AUSTRALIA ( …so far).

This park was an absolute pocket rocket packed with fresh water springs and waterfalls. Our favourite spot was Buley’s Waterhole where we washed away a few days on dirt back-roads while laying back under fresh water falls.

 

Mereenie Loop + East McDonnell Ranges

 

Mr1

IMG 2440

IMG 2537

 

Go there for the wild brumbies. And, the wild donkeys whose sound will make you laugh out loud.

It’s corrugated. It’s quiet. It’s brilliant. We ended up in the West Macdonnell Ranges and camped the night under a billion stars. The sky was so clear we even spotted a meteorite trail. We’ll file that one under #lifehighlight

 

Kings Canyon: The Rim Walk + The Creek Walk

 

IMG 2396

IMG 2393

 

The Red Centre experienced 24-hours of constant rain before we reached Kings Canyon. The canyon and the creek were in full flow. After which we were told “You are VERY lucky” to see it like this.

We pranced across and waded through water; with ridiculous smiles on our faces.

The canyon will give you million year old panoramas of sheer drops, a ‘cooooeee’ that comes back at you seven times and the brightest greens in the ‘Garden Of Eden’ along the Rim Walk.

Perched at the edge of the canyon, Kirsty sat down, looked out, and tears came to her eyes. It was that beautiful and humbling.

Note: Of course Gee didn’t tear up. What do you think he is? A chick? ;-)

 

Darwin’s Mindil Market + THE Sunset

 

IMG 3128

Darwin sunset

 

We are from the Eastern states of Australia and watched our first Australian sunset over the ocean here.

It came complete with a picnic rug on the beach and Sri Lankan eats from the eclectic Mindil markets.

 

Elsey National Park: Bitter Springs

 

IMG 3004

IMG 3021

 

The surrounding Limestone has coloured this natural fresh water spring a startling colour of emerald like turquoise. Fresh water crocs are not off the cards here, but unless provoked will not attack*.

*apparently

 

Kakadu National Park

 

IMG 3918

IMG 3624

IMG 3708

 

We’ll let the photos do the talking. And only mention this: We had no idea just how incredible Australia’s famous Kakadu National Park was going to be.

Hot damn!

 

 

 

MISS

 

Believe it or not, after the rave above there are some big  misses to be had in this Territory.

 

Expensive Camping

 

Money tree

 

The Northern Territory was the most expensive place to camp that we have encountered so far (after travelling through Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia).

The National Parks were an average of $6.60 per person. No worries there.

However, the caravan parks (which seemed like the only option for a fair whack of the time) were about $16-20 per person.

In comparison to all our other expenses, camping costs are nowhere near the most expensive. However, it just feels a bit rich when you are asked to pay $40 a night for a patch of (unpowered) land.

 

Kings Canyon Campground

When we stayed at this campground it was the most expensive place we had encountered ($38 unpowered). Unfortunately, it also had the worst facilities we had encountered. Given the price.

We don’t care about slumming it if the price tag matches the experience. In fact we are all for it. However, on this occasion the price tag was too much for the standard of the facilities on offer. Think: bathrooms and kitchen facilities that appeared not to have been cleaned in months.

When we came across the Resort Manager we mentioned it (we are never shy for saying what we honestly think). The poor bloke had been there for a total of 3 days! He agreed with everything we said and in his own words ‘The place needs some love’ and ‘Things will be improving real soon’. He was ‘real’ and ‘kind’ and who knows, perhaps it will improve.

We’ll give it this: The place has a good sunset to see against the canyon. If we went again we would camp on the road side stop 20kms on from King’s Canyon towards Mereenie Loop – which we spotted the next day.

 

SLEEP

 

Buley’s Waterhole Campground, Litchfield National Park

 

IMG 3400

IMG 3343

 

This place is outrageous. At $13.20 for two and within 100m to sit in a fresh waterfall – don’t think about camping here, think about MOVING here.

 

Laseeter’s Hotel and Casino, Alice Springs

 

As2

As1

 

Laseeter’s generously had us stay as guests of their hotel during our time in Alice. After a bit of research we can honestly say it is THE BEST place to stay in town.

If you are passing through, treat yourself!

 

Litchfield Pub – Camp On The Publican’s Private Property

 

Litchfield 1

Litchfield 5

Litchfield Pub’s private campground is the perfect escape from the masses.

At this stage of the trip we were STRUGGLING  being surrounded by people.

If you head here, the bravado filled publican Scott will size you up.

Once (if?) you meet his criteria you will be asked back to his private land for free camping in return for some patronage at his bar.

We spent a few days here bathing in the dam, becoming acquainted with the property’s Brahman cattle, feeding ‘tame’ buffalo and chilling out with a few icy cold beers at the pub.

At this particular point in time on the trip it was heaven-on-earth.

 

WORTH A MENTION 

 

The Darwin Camping Situation

 

Mosquitos

 

 

There are no great camping options in Darwin. Full stop.

Instead, you are booted out to the surrounding suburbs and asked to pay $40 a night.

In our experience, these sites were hideously over watered and are home to about 15281537238621 mosquitos ready to suck your blood. Particularly, if you are mofo-Kirsty.

‘Are there other options?’, I here you say.

We saw vans illegally parked on the waterfront wharf in the city seemingly unbothered by the authorities. The other option seemed to be to stay in a backpackers or hotel.

Neither were for us so we ‘worked something else out’.

 

 

Get Off The Stuart Highway

 

IMG 1469

 

It would be very easy, and boring, to sit on the Stuart highway all the way from South Australia into the Northern Territory all the way up to Darwin.

We absolutely loved the times when we bypassed the tarmac.

 

SEE THE NORTHERN TERRITORY OF AUSTRALIA FOR YOURSELF

 

IMG 1584 1

Crossing the remote border from South Australia into the Northern Territory of Australia

IMG 1979 2

Uluru: Smiling faces + proud inside.

IMG 2196 3

The big red in a big wet. This shot is taken INSIDE Uluru as we took shelter in a cave.

IMG 2235 4

Road side lunch break. We have learnt to make it a priority to pack up your pantry with salads, tins of fish and to pick up a couple of fresh wraps or rolls.

IMG 2310 5

Kings Canyon Creek path, which is usually barely more than a trickle

IMG 2450 6

The Troopy hasn’t missed a beat.

IMG 2592 7

This is how I feel when I travel {K}

IMG 2897

Devil’s Marbles

IMG 3107 8

Darwin city explosions

IMG 3142 9

Litchfield Park

IMG 3153 10

Caption THIS! #toofunny

IMG 3171 11

The publican of Litchfield Pub driving us across his 400 acre property in his Mercedes

IMG 3183 12

… resident Brahman cows  soon became our close friends

IMG 3261 13

Wrap it, wrap it good.

IMG 3440 14

Lefty Love It

IMG 3627 16

Kirsty spotted the only buffalo the guide in Kakadu had seen in weeks hiding in amongst mangroves. (This totally pumped up our egos for wildlife spotting in Africa)

IMG 3692 17

Jim Jim Falls, Kakadu

IMG 3895 18

Gunlom Falls, Kakadu

IMG 4047 20

Bringing ourselves down to size with a Boab that is at least 100+ years old.

IMG 4070 21

Crazy guy on a bike cycling around the world. Our encounter with him was  pure human and very inspiring. It’s the kind of encounters we had been missing.

 

 

WANT MORE?

CLICK HERE to check us out on Facebook

CLICK HERE to see how we built our home on wheels

 

7 Comments

  • Loved the summary G and K
    The photos and captions are great!
    Also wanted to say I have watched your youtube films, Loved them as well, would love to see one of your Drifta draws and how you have set them up!!
    Good luck with your EPIC expedition

    Here is a favourite quote for you!
    Be anything
    Dream something
    Fear nothing
    Love Everything

    Cheers

  • Another great write up, you guys are inspirational. Great photos too.

  • Shellgel (tassie campers) Says

    Great post :) We are doing most of those things right now! Lol. Last night in Darwin tonight, off to Kakadu tomorrow :)

  • Lee Smith Says

    This is outstanding! What a fantastic journey!

  • Fiona Says

    Damn that looks amazing. Husband is now begging me to get in the car and leave!! Hope you’re enjoying Western Australia (although the camping prices here can be just as horrendous!)

  • You guys are amazing. Your photos and words capture it all so well. Like others have mentioned, makes you want to get up and go.

  • Thanks for sharing your great story and photos! It is interesting to hear what the camping facilities are like as well.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


3 + 3 =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Subscribe for notes only shared on email + your (free!) copy of our eBOOK 'Top 10 Photos from A Year On The Road'
Hell, Yeah!