Road Trip July 2017
Alice Springs is in the centre of Australia, a two-hour flight from Melbourne. My wife, Cathie has travelled all through South Australia and the Northern Territory, taking groups of students or doing tours by bus or driving 4 wheel drive vehicles – I had been to Alice Springs once. In July 2017 we decided on a 10day trip, that would take us by car from Alice Springs up the Stuart Highway finishing in Darwin after stops in Tennent Creek for one night and Katherine for two nights where we took a boat tour of the famous Katherine Gorge. On reaching Darwin we went on a three day Kakadu-Arnhem Land organised Tour.
The map below allows you to zoom in and out. Alice Springs is south and Darwin north, the Stuart is Highway 1.
Flying from Melbourne on Monday the 3rd we arrived at 12.15am and collected the small SUV. The road is good as it turns out and any reasonably sized car would be fine, no need for an SUV or 4 wheel drive, and you would need to take insurance and advise the rental company of any intention to go off road. Many drive across the Tanami dessert route turning left off the highway and then driving to Darwin, who would need specific rental agreement to do this. We just drove up the highway!
In Alice there are many things to see and do, and places to visit. In the afternoon we managed to visit Standley Cassim and Simpsons Gap.
Next day we drove to Tennent Creek (around 5 hours), staying at the BlueRidge Motor Inn, just on the edge of town as you drive in. Comfortable, good dinner and great breakfast. Tennet Creek was just a stop on the way to Katherine, a 7 hour drive the next day.
On rout to Katherine is the Devel’s Marbles, large rounded outcrop of bolders. A quick stop at Mataranka to view the hot springs and then a visit to Edith falls. Here is link to facebook video, shows sites on way to Katherine.
In Katherine, we stayed at the Pine Creek motel, nice place, close to town, good rooms and another great breakfast.
Up early to make the 9am tour of Katherine Gorge (see video KatGorgee), three sections of river, each separated by rock falls that form natural dams. The rock is hard sandstone, not like the normal standstone. The floods during the monsoon season have over many millions of years have carved step rock cliffs resulting in spectacular scenary. Along the edges fresh water crocodiles were plentiful, sunny themselves on the waters edge. However, there were places to swim! I managed a dip and nearly feel over in the process, I did manage later to fall and spain my left leg..limped the rest of the trip!
Off to Darwin in the morning, a shorter 350km drive. Stayed at the Hilton on the edge of the bay. Opposite was a great park for kids and further down a WWII memorial to US sailors who perished in the bombing raids in 1942.
Harbour Darwin Past USS memorial Oil Tunnels
At night we ventured to Custaceans, an eatery on the end of Stokers Walf, watching the sun set over the harbour and eating a seafood platter for two is a great way to end the day.
Off next day on our 3 day Kakadu & Arnhem land tour. In short it was wonderful, it is full on, starts early with plenty of action, even if you have a bung leg.
Overview of trip also pics of the tour.
THE END! Darwin Airport.