Top End Loop

Darwin and the National Parks 7 Days


This 1000km loop of the Top End takes in some of the highlights of the Northern Territory covering the 2 great National Parks and Katherine Gorge. As with any trip to the Top End the best time to travel is June through to September during the Dry Season when roads are open and not impacted by the Wet.

  • Darwin to Kakadu
  • Kakadu to Katherine
  • Katherine to Litchfield Park
  • Litchfield Park to Darwin

Distance: 1000km

Day 1. Darwin to Kakadu

Collect your campervan or car in Darwin. if you are collecting a campervan or motorhome allow at least 1 hour for the check-in process so that you are familiar with the vehicle before leaving the depot. Before commencing your journey across the Top End ensure that you stock up with supplies and water. There are supermarkets at Palmeston and Coolalinga on the Stuart highway about 22kms south of Winnellie.

Head south on the Stuart highway and turn left along the Arnhem Highway for a 2 day stop-over in Jabiru. Checkout Yellow Waters, Mamukala, Iligadjarr, Ubirr and Bubba wetland. Jim Jim Falls is out of reach for most as it requires a 4 wheel drive 4 hour round trip - possible to jump on a tour out of Jabiru to make the trip.

Other great trips from Jabiru include jumping on a tour into Arnhem Land to see Rock Art, or take a scenic over Kakadu from Jabiru airport.

Distance: 255km, 3 hours 20 minutes

Stay: 2 days - Kakadu Lodge - Cabins, Powered and Unpowered sites, great Pool, bistro & bar

Day 3. Jabiru to Katherine

Depart this morning and head south for Katherine. Travel along the Kakadu Highway and back onto the Stuart Highway via Pine Creek. Checkout lunch at the Lazy Lizard Resort in Pine Creek and fill up with fuel before the 1 hour drive south to Katherine.

The Katherine River flows through 13 separate gorges that carve their way through the Arnhem Land Plateau. You can canoe, cruise and swim between sheer cliffs to the sandy freshwater beaches of the main gorges, and view ancient Aboriginal rock paintings high on the rock faces. Waterfalls and rock pools are found along over 100 kilometres of walking tracks, beginning at the park’s visitor centre.

Katherine offers a wide range of accommodation, facilities and attractions, including museums, art galleries, character-filled pubs and historic sites. Other attractions within easy reach of the town include the Cutta Cutta Caves Nature Park, 30kms south of Katherine, Katherine Hot Springs and Leliyn (Edith Falls).

Distance: 303km, 3 hours 50 minutes

Stay: 2 days - Big 4 Katherine Holiday Park - powered sites, great Park – fully equipped kitchens, showers, bar-bistro, and excellent pool and spa.

Day 5. Katherine to Litchfield Park

Travel back up the Stuart Highway to Batchelor – 12kms off the highway on the left and the gateway town to Litchfield Park.

Two nights with a full day in Litchfield Park is probably enough time. Visit the Magnetic Termite Mound Fields – looking like a sea of abstract people, Buley Rock pool – get there early to enjoy a quiet swim and Florence Falls up there same off-road as Buley Rock pool. Head further into the park for the stunning Wangi Falls – 64kms from Batchelor.

Distance: 244km, 3 hours 5 minutes

Stay: 2 Nights - Big 4 Batchelor Park - Leafy and picturesque - Has everything you need

Day 7. Batchelor to Darwin

Return to Darwin in 70 minutes – remember to fill up with fuel before returning your vehicle and empty waste water and toilet cartridges. Drop off Process takes 15-30 minutes.


DriveNow's suggested itineraries are made available to assist travellers create and build personalised journey plans. DriveNow does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of these itineraries and they are provided as is and as advisory only.

Special caution and planning should be taken when travelling in remote areas to ensure sufficient provisions, fuel and prescribed medicines are carried.

Weather conditions can make sealed roads impassable particularly during the northern Wet season. All rental vendors in Australia have restrictions on where their vehicles can be taken, therefore it is recommended that you consult with your vehicle provider on your intended journey when collecting your vehicle. Travelling where restrictions are imposed voids all insurance cover.

You acknowledge that any reliance on or use of any itinerary shall be at your sole risk.