Kakadu National Park and Australian Top End

Planning your next motorhome road trip along this iconic and popular route?
Use our travel resource to be inspired and plan your next dream motorhome holiday.

Experience the tropical and lush Top End.

Journey through and explore the stunning and world heritage Kakadu National Park and Australia’s Top End that offers everything in abundance – nature, culture and character!

DISTANCE: 1,000 kms
SUGGESTED TIME FRAME: 7 days minimum
BEST TIME OF YEAR: May to September

Watch this video for a quick taste of the Kakadu NP & the Top End route:

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Highlights of a driving holiday from Kakadu NP & the Top End

  • Pick up/return your camper in Darwin or explore further afield and consider a one way hire.
  • Enjoy the multi-cultural city of Darwin where you can see remnants from World War II. Visit the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets on a Thursday or Sunday night.
  • Take some time to understand the seasons and ecosystem of the wetlands at the Window of the Wetlands display.
  • World Heritage Kakadu National Park is tropical and lush in some places and red and rocky in others – a great opportunity to learn more about the Aboriginal Culture.
  • Beautiful Litchfield National Park has diverse scenery and places to swim in the dry season. We recommend doing both National Parks as they are quite different and will both be highlights on your Top End adventure.
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  • There are some 4WD tracks in these parks such as visiting Jim Jim and Twin Falls, however plenty of other areas are accessible via 2WD.
  • Pop into Edith Falls on the way to Katherine (20 km sealed road detour) to enjoy walks, swimming and national park camping.
  • Spend time in Katherine – a great place to stock up with provisions, before exploring the nearby stunning Katherine Gorge in the Nitmiluk National Park.
  • Head an hour further south on the Stuart Highway to Mataranka. Relax in the thermal springs – there’s two separate springs, make sure you enjoy both (no cost).
  • For a fun night, stop at the popular outback pub at Daly Waters which has an adjacent campground.
  • Factor time into this trip to enjoy a range of short and longer walks you’ll find within the national parks. It is also nice to have some time to spend at the various wetlands such as Fogg Dam or Mamukala to watch the variety of birdlife and maybe even spot some croc eyes!
  • The top end region of Australia provides many opportunities to discover more about our indigenous culture with interpretive centres and some excellent examples of rock art and shelters.
  • If you are travelling in the dry season, and would like to see some crocodiles, it is often possible to see them at Cahill’s Crossing (this crossing is the entry into Arnhemland; permit required; most hire vehicles not permitted). This is about 40 km from Jabiru in the Kakadu National Park, near Ubirr (easily accessible in dry season, viewing platform).
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Learn more details and useful planning tips about this route.

Grab yourself a drink, sit back and relax while you watch this 8-minute video providing more insight to help your road trip planning for the Kakadu NP & the Top End route.

Kakadu NP & the Top End route planning tips

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  • As you’ll be travelling in the northern third of Australia, it’s important to understand the seasons and best time to experience. This area is best visited in what is known as the 'dry season' which is roughly May to September, and through the winter months.
  • You’ll find this region offers a completely different experience in the wet season to the dry season. The dry season is the most popular time to visit for travellers and you’ll find even at different times throughout the dry season, a different experience is offered as the region starts to ‘dry’ waterholes get smaller. Wildlife experiences also change through the season.
  • To experience this route, you can pick up your motorhome hire or 4WD camper in Darwin; or for those with more time available, it makes for a great start or end to a longer road trip on one of the iconic routes, such as to Adelaide or Darwin.
  • See plenty of wildlife along this route also like Crocodiles, Kangaroos, Wallabies, vast range of birdlife, buffalo and interesting marine life – perhaps even try to catch a barramundi!

You will need a national park permit to enter Kakadu NP which can be obtained easily online before you leave home or the interpretive centre in the park. The other national parks in the top end, such as Nitmiluk NP and Litchfield NP are free to enter. You’ll find helpful information centres along your route.

  • There is much in the way of true ‘free’ camping on this route, however there is a good mix of commercial caravan parks and national park camping. The national park camping in most of these areas cannot be pre-booked and is first in first served. There are large commercial caravan parks in Jabiru (Kakadu National Park) which generally have plenty of powered sites available.
  • Refer to the Camps Australia Wide Guide book for locations for freedom/low cost camps which can be purchased along your route at some information centres, book or camping stores. You can also purchase an app called ‘Wiki Camps’ if you use a smart phone or tablet, plus the information centres en-route are a gold mine for local information.
  • Some areas will be open for swimming, like in Litchfield National Park for example in the dry season. The reason they are open is that when the water levels are low enough, the area is checked for salt water crocodiles over a period of time. When it is deemed safe, the area is opened. If it is a late wet or unseasonal rain, some areas may be closed during what is usually considered the dry season. This is for your safety.
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As a traveller along this route, please do note some areas have alcohol restrictions.

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