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Best day trips from Darwin

Shannon Barker

Best Day Trips from Darwin

Ancient wonders, rich red earth and traditions that stretch back to the dreamtime - the magic of the Northern Territory is so strong you can feel it in the air. Darwin is a natural starting point for many people visiting Australia's Top End. From here you can head out and explore the natural and cultural smorgasbord on offer. Here are the top 5 day trips from Darwin to get you started on your journey into Australia's red centre.

Bluey Rockhole - Photo by Tourism NT/Backyard Bandits

Litchfield National Park

One of the most well known day trips from Darwin, Litchfield National Park is full of waterfalls, waterholes and spectacular natural scenery. It is also the traditional home of the Wangait people who have songs, dances and stories dedicated to the magic of this land. After entering the park you will be greeted by giant magnetic termite mounds that stand over two metres high and are estimated to be around 100 years old. Explore these ancient wonders before heading over to Florence Falls, or taking a dip in the tranquil waterholes at Bluey Rockhole. There is so much to see and do here, so be prepared and bring your lunch and some extra water with you, there are plenty of great spots to stop for a picnic.  

Time from Darwin: 1 hours 30 minutes (110km)

Nawurlandja lookout, Kakadu - photo by Tourism NT/Kyle Hunter & Hayley Anderson

Kakadu National Park

A UNESCO world heritage site and Australia's largest national park, Kakadu is only a two hour drive from Darwin. The national park gained its world heritage status as it contains some of the oldest rock art in the world at an estimated 20,000 years old! Come and learn about the rich cultural history of the local Indigenous communities of the Bininj in the north of the park and the Mungguy in the south, or explore the famous Jim Jim and Twin waterfalls. The park is also home to over 2,000 different plant and wildlife species. End your day with sunset at Nawurlandja lookout with views of Anbangbang Billabong and over into Arnhem Land. Kakadu National Park is a bucket list destination not to be missed.

Time from Darwin: 1 hour 40 mins (150km)

Adelaide River - photo by Tourism NT/Shaana McNaught

Mary River Region

Seventy kilometres east of Darwin you will find the Mary River Region, home to wetlands and conservation areas that showcase some of the amazing biodiversity in the Northern Territory. Here you can find many walks of varying difficulties. Wind through lush rainforest or over rocky high country as you explore this unique location. Explore lookouts overlooking the wetlands where you can spot some of the Northern Territory’s famous crocs from a safe distance. Prefer to get up close and personal? Crocodile cruises down the Adelaide river will get as close as you can get with these ancient reptiles.

Time from Darwin: 1 hour (67km)

Berry Springs - Photo by Tourism Australia/Nicholas Kavo

Berry Springs Nature Park

One thing that travellers may notice about the Northern Territory is the abundance of waterfalls and swimming holes, and Berry Springs is up there with some of the best! Unique and beautiful pools await you in the Nature Park, so enjoy a day exploring some of the park's many walks through monsoon forests and woodlands while watching out for all the native animals that call this place home. Cool off with a dip in the turquoise waters of Berry Springs, and don’t forget to bring your goggles! The waters are crystal clear and offer unbeatable sights of the aquatic life below. This area is only a 50 minute drive south of Darwin and also holds interesting WWII artifacts for history buffs.

Time from Darwin: 50 minutes (50km)

Katherine Gorge - Photo by Tourism NT/Elliot Grafton

Katherine Gorge

A three and a half hour drive from Darwin, this is the furthest day trip on our list, but also one of the most unmissable. Located within the Nitmiluk National Park, Katherine Gorge is comprised of not one, but 13 distinct sandstone gorges. Jump on a boat and cruise down the Katherine River, or if you’re feeling adventurous you can swap the boat for a canoe or kayak. From this vantage point, you can see the unique wildlife that live within the gorges and also Indigenous rock art hidden within the sandstone walls. The nearby Edith Falls is a great swimming spot to cool off and has some great walking tracks to explore.

Time from Darwin: 3 hours 30 minutes (330km)

Header image: Northern Territory - Photo by Tourism NT/Jake Appleby