Top End touring a real treat for exploring a unique part of Australia

By Australia / Darwin / Northern Territory /

AFTER arriving in the Top End, I needed a way to get around and also a place to stay. Luckily both these problems were solved when I picked up a Darwin campervan rental. With the open road to keep me company, I first headed to the Howard Springs Big4 Holiday Park where I could power my new mobile home.

Howard Springs was the ideal home base for the first few days of my stay, as I was halfway between the capital city of Darwin and the amazing wilderness of Litchfield and surrounds. In my campervan I was able to cook my own meals while the holiday park provided me a place to relax in the swimming pool.

On my first day I headed into Darwin to explore the city. My first stop was the local art gallery and museum, home to the Cyclone Tracey exhibition and the stuffed body of infamous giant saltwater crocodile “Sweetheart”. Hours were spent in this interesting destination and, best of all, it was free. That night I enjoyed the fresh barramundi at the Darwin wharf while watching fish swim to the surface of the water for chips and any other food thrown their way.

Other attractions I enjoyed in the city included the World War II oil tunnels and the man-made wave pool. Swimming in the wave pool was a great way to cool off without fear of crocs or jellyfish.

Next I took my campervan into the wild and drove an hour out to the Adelaide River. After a few beers with locals at the local pub I went on the jumping crocs boat trip. Professional guides took myself and others on the river and fed large saltwater crocodiles that jumped metres into the air for their food. After that, I wanted to explore further into the Litchfield National Park. Once there I saw marvellous wildlife and indigenous flora and fauna. With my campervan I was able to stay and see the sights including magnetic termite mounds and cascading waterfalls.

A few nights later it was time to head back to Darwin to return the camper and my Territory adventure had come to an end. It was not going to be my last, however, with many more trips to the NT planned for the future.




Darwin and the Tiwi islands paradise

By Australia / Darwin / Northern Territory /

BEING surrounded by water means Australia has some of the most spectacular off-shore islands, none the least being the beautiful Tiwi Islands.
Located 80km north of Darwin where the Arafura Sea joins the Timor Sea, it’s well worth parking your Darwin campervan rental and spending a day or two on the Tiwi Islands.

We boarded SeaCat’s passenger ferry Arafuru Pearl just out of Darwin at Cullen Bay and set sail for the Tiwi Islands community of Nguiu on Bathurst Island. The Tiwi Islands are just a two hour sail by boat. The islands will give you the best insight into the Indigenous way of life. The Arafuru Pearl operates Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays leaving at 7.30am each morning and returning at 2.30pm. It costs only $70 per adult each way. Arriving at the port of Nguiu you are pleasantly surprised by a war welcome from locals who are fishing the waters either side of the boat ramp. It’s here where the adventure really begins!

A short stroll from the boat ramp takes you to some of the local arts centres. Woodwork, pottery and some impressive local artwork will stay with you forever after visiting this place and understanding how it’s all done. They spend countless hours fine-tuning some of the most beautiful artwork you will ever see. The three art centres are committed to the development and promotion of both traditional and contemporary art and craft in the form of painting, pottery, carving, weaving, etchings, linocuts, lithographs, jewellery and screen-printed textiles. Naturally all of it is for sale with the money raised going straight back into the community.

Continue strolling in and around town and you will stumble upon the local Catholic church which is stunning. It takes pride of place on the local primary school grounds. You can enter at any time but if it is locked the school office will have the key. It is a church made solely of timber and was built way back in the 1930s. The interior walls are decorated with crosshatched designs and paintings of stingrays, crocodiles, turtles and pelicans. Built from cypress pine, the church has withstood several cyclones.

Overall you will be walking on dusty red roads with no footpaths – just dirt tracks leading you to all major areas. It’s actually refreshing to see that this place hasn’t been commercialised. It’s great to know they live far from the materialism of our mainland, and I can assure you that’s like a breath of fresh air.

The Great Australian Doorstep airs on Channel 7TWO in Australia


Broome to Cape Leveque

By Australia / Broome / Darwin / Northern Territory / Perth / Western Australia /

A HOLIDAY in Broome and the far north coast of Western Australia requires more commitment than any other destination in Australia. This sunny, sparkling city is more akin to an island resort than a bustling hub – totally isolated, surrounded by wilderness, and possessing that chilled ‘manana’ attitude that pervades the South Pacific.

Getting here is not only a chore, but it’s expensive. You either have to take the long haul up the coast from Perth – ideal if you want to take your time and have the luxury of a campervan rental campervan rental in Western Australia – or trek across the Gibb River Road from Darwin via Kununurra: once again, the perfect adventure for 4WDrivers with plenty of time on their hands.

But what if you only have a week of precious vacation, yet still want to see something beyond the town itself? While Broome is a pleasant distraction for two or three days, once you’ve thawed out on stunning Cable Beach, watched the sunset, taken an obligatory camel ride and visited several pearl farms, there’s not a great deal more to do than relax by your resort pool. Not a bad thing in itself, but not everyone’s cup of tea.

Instead, head north to the Dampier Peninsula and Cape Leveque, an amazing destination for people dreaming of that true Robinson Crusoe experience in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Two hundred kilometres north of Broome, access is via Aboriginal land on a largely unsealed (and corrugated) road –a 4WD is necessary, with correct insurances in place. En route there are some fascinating stop-offs, such as the church at Beagle Bay, decorated with mother-of-pearl shell.

Another well-known Aboriginal community is Lombadina, the first on the peninsula to promote tourism. The beach here is mind-blowingly beautiful, and you can join indigenous tours including mud-crabbing and traditional fishing.

While there is simple accommodation available here, most people choose to stay at Kooljaman Resort at Cape Leveque, a wilderness retreat with a range of accommodation to suit every budget. All profits from the resort go back into the two Aboriginal communities that run it, with conservation projects ensuring the environment stays pristine.

Kooljaman has found that nice balance between luxury and wilderness. For those who like their creature comforts, there are stunning safari tents built on hillside decks, all with en suite bathrooms and kitchenettes. At the other end of the scale are thatched beach shelters – as basic as it comes, but unbeatable for views, fresh air and access to the ocean. There’s a store to stock up on supplies, while a new restaurant is the ideal place to watch the legendary Kimberley sunset.

And in the morning, you’re likely to have the whole beach to yourself. Not another footstep to be seen on the sand … pure bliss.


no image added yet.

Driving holidays – Darwin to Timber Creek (Northern Territory)

By Australia / Darwin / Northern Territory /

The journey

Warning: when doing this 564-kilometre drive, make sure you fill up at every single petrol station – even if it’s for only $10! We were caught out and ran out of diesel. Mind you, it wasn’t entirely my fault as the last petrol station we had stopped at had no diesel, but if I had topped up at the previous one, I would have been OK. Thank God for road trains! One kind chap stopped and syphoned me out a few good litres of diesel. It was 46 degrees outside and I couldn’t work out how to get the air-con going using the gas bottles … another lesson: one should learn everything about their rig before they set out.

Wild experiences

All that aside, it was a fantastic drive. While in Darwin, make sure you visit the Cyclone Tracy Museum (its free) and also the War Museum, the actual site of the Army barracks and check out the remains of bombs. It’s hands down the best war relics site I have ever seen.  And if you want a fill of adrenalin, try your luck at Crocosaurus Cove and go swimming with the Crocs in the Cage of Death (pictured)!


After leaving Darwin, we headed back down to Katherine before taking an abrupt right-hand turn to head out towards the coast. While going through Katherine just be mindful of people sitting on the medium strip down the main street. An elderly Aboriginal man was killed while we were there after being hit by a truck.  If you get the chance, definitely stop and experience the awe-inspiring Katherine Gorge. It’s 45 minutes’ drive north of Katherine. Boat trips are about $55 and definitely a once-in-a -lifetime opportunity.  It’s a nice drive, long, but easy on the eyes. The roads are fine, but just be careful of the road trains.

Once you arrive at Timber Creek, be prepared for the real Outback. All the food is frozen as deliveries only come through every couple of weeks. There is a pub, a small grocery store, petrol station and the caravan park – all in one!  The caravan park is nestled on the banks of a croc invested river… but don’t worry, they are freshies and they don’t bite (or so they kept telling me!). But it is very safe and the owners confirmed they have never had a croc come out of the river – a couple of idiot tourists go in, but never any crocs climbing out. They have a bridge where you can stand and feed the crocs, which is really exciting. Timber Creek is a neighbour to one of Australia’s biggest airforce bases, even though you wouldn’t know it, as it’s very well hidden. But at 2am each morning, you can hear the cowboys playing in their fighter jets … some people get all the great jobs!  There is an excellent little Lookout you can drive up to and at night you will see the most magnificent sunsets.  There isn’t any phone reception at Timber Creek, pay phone yes, but funnily enough we could access great wireless Internet reception – must have something to do with the airforce base.  The local Aboriginal children are very talented too, with some great souvenirs to be snapped up.  Just watch out for the local mark-up on DVDs. Jean Claude Van Damme movies were going for $46 each! And Mad Max was $65!


Great Australian Doorstep appears on the How To Channel, Foxtel. Check guides for screening times.