The Top End Dream Road Trip in a 4WD Campervan from Salamanda

For many it’s the ultimate boy’s dream: a road trip along the north-eastern coast of Australia – the Broome – Darwin Road trip. A trip of about 3,000 kilometers can be fitted into about 3 weeks. A 4WD campervan is a must-have as half of the trip will be off-road. You can sleep on the roof of the car or in the secure cabin, depending on the type of 4WD campervan you hire.

Salamanda Travel offers a range of 4WD campervans for hire, including the Apollo Trailfinder Camper, the Apollo Adventure Camper, and the Cheapa 4WD.

On your road trip, you will be cooking meals over a campfire, invoking the finest feeling of freedom. This road trip is designed as a real-life travel adventure; along the way you will spot crocodiles, bats, and heaps of other wildlife as well as some amazing but also isolated country.Adventure Camper Lifestyle4WD

Once upon a time, the north of Western Australia was the isolated domain of the Japanese Pearl Divers. Nowadays it is truly a paradise!

Broome

When you talk about the sunset in Broome, you are talking about the Sunset Bar & Grill, overlooking Cable Beach and the Indian Ocean. For most people, Broome is the earthly paradise; palm trees, golden beaches, the bright sunshine and the smell of the lovely frangipani. But remember, your Broome experience is not complete until you’ve ridden a camel along the beach.

Broome is a sunny and sparkling city and it is more akin a to an island resort than a bustling hub. Isolated and surrounded by wilderness, they have a so called ‘mañana-mañana’ & ‘No worries, mate!’ attitude. A few years ago tourism in Broome started to increase. Before that, the main earnings came from the outstanding pearls. Diving for pearls started in the second half of the 19th century. The divers were mainly Japanese and it was a risky job. When you visit the cemetery you will find proof, because most of the tombstones are in Japanese lettering.

Wilderness Camp Kooljaman

Camp Kooljaman is located on the tip of Dampier Peninsula. Kooljaman is a unique wilderness style luxury camp owned by an Aboriginal community. You can try mud crabbing, snorkelling, boat trips, bush tucker tours, spectacular walks, whale spotting and more. The aboriginals love to talk about their culture and they invite guests to explore the area together with them.

Malcolm Douglas Wildlife Park

When you think of Australia, you think of kangaroos. Did you know that there are more kangaroos and wallabies living in Australia than people? It’s sometimes difficult to spot them in the wild but you should not return home until you have seen kangaroos at least once. That is where the Malcolm Douglas Wildlife Park, just outside Broome comes in. Considered one of the best wildlife parks in the world, you can’t compare this Park with a Zoo; it’s a patch of fenced wilderness. You’ll be grateful the fences are there, because the park has around 7,000 crocodiles that can emerge from under the duckweed – and they are quick! Make sure you don’t miss the daily feeding tour, because this showcases some of the largest crocodiles on display in Australia.

Windjana Gorge National Park

Windjana Gorge National Park is part of a 375 million-year-old Devonian reef system and is a well known and much visited national park in the Kimberley. The Gorge is one of the Kimberley’s most stunning gorges with water-streaked walls that rise to a height of 100m. Its a great place to spot fruit bats, freshwater crocodiles and bird life. At Tunnel Creek, which flows through a waterworn tunnel beneath the limestone of the Napier Range, you can walk 750m through the cave to the other side of Napier Range. Don’t forget to make a big splash in the lake of Bell gorge. With great scenery, a waterfall and a beautiful swimming hole, it’s breathtaking. Apollo-Trailfinder-4wd-External-Photo-3-11072013114021-lg

Gibb River Road

The Gibb River Road takes you through the heart of one of Australia’s last wilderness frontiers. Drive the road and spot the age old rock formations, spectacular ranges, and magnificent rivers, vast savannahs of bushland, steep cliff faces, and delightful gorges forged over millions of years by the power of nature.

El Questro Wilderness Park

El Questro Wilderness Park is one of the last true frontiers, and definitely a place to stop during your road-trip. Its landscape offers outstanding diversity; it is a unique place, where you’ll feel the sense of adventure at every turn. Go barramundi fishing, set out on a horse trek, or explore inaccessible areas by helicopter.

Katherine Region

The star attraction of Katherine is the famous Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge), definitely a must-see. They offer the chance to cruise, canoe, walk, fly or swim around the most significant parts of the Katherine gorge area. Next to this, Katherine and its surrounds include great fishing, hidden natural wonders and a rich indigenous and pioneering history.

Darwin

Discover Darwin, the relaxed, tropical capital of the Northern Territory. Visit one of the Aboriginal art galleries and cruise past crocodiles on the Adelaide River. Drink an Australian beer and take time to relax; then say “cheers” that your ultimate boy’s dream has come true.

Additional information

Travel in the dry season, which is from May to October, the easiest and most comfortable time to do the Top-End road trip. The distances are huge, but the tarmac roads are good, straight and generally empty and even the unsealed roads are well maintained. Make sure you always have enough water; the temperatures in Australia can get very high, and dehydration is a risk. Bring sunscreen, a hat and wear long sleeves. Wear comfortable footwear when undertaking activities during your road trip. Request an extra spare tyre and hire a satellite phone when you hire your campervan.

Sunset is early and night falls quickly in the Top End, so make sure you arrive at your destination in the daylight. Last but not least; watch out for the wildlife; there could be animals on the road and many Australian native wildlife is nocturnal.

Darwin – A General Guide

Situated on the edge of a harbour larger than the more well-known Sydney Harbour, Darwin is a small, yet cosmopolitan city.  There are only two seasons in Darwin – wet and dry.  The dry season (May to October) is the perfect time to visit with temperatures that vary between  21oC  and 32oC, but it’s usually sunny and 31oC every day.

The wet season (November to April), brings the rain and with it some splendid summer storm viewing. The grass is greener then, the waterfalls are full and splendid, but it’s wet. Really wet.

Waterfall Darwin

There are a number of activities on offer in and around Darwin. Crocosaurus Cove is located in the heart of the Darwin tourist precinct. Here you can hold a baby crocodile or if you are more adventurous, you could try the “Cage of Death”.  You are dropped into a crocodile enclosure in a see-through cage while handlers feed the crocs, ensuring a face-to-face encounter with a prehistoric beast.

For an activity that’s a little less intense, visit the Darwin Waterfront Precinct. This precinct features a wave lagoon and recreation lagoon and parklands, as well as picnic areas with public art dotted around. It’s fun for the whole family.

The Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory features Indigenous art and maritime archaeology from the local region.

At Aquascene you can feed hundreds of friendly wild fish by hand. This natural phenomenon has occurred for the past 60+ years and it’s possible to observe the fish species Mullet, Bream, Batfish, Barramundi, Rays, Mangrove Jack, Parrot and Diamond Fish.

Darwin Skyline

The Mindil Beach Sunset Markets run from April to October and on offer is food, arts, crafts and entertainment, all in a tropical beach sunset setting. The Deck Chair Cinema is an outdoor cinema that starts at 7pm, seven nights a week in the dry season. You will find it just near the esplanade. If you happen to be in Darwin in September, check out the Darwin International Film Festival.

There are a number of national parks surrounding Darwin, each with its own unique elements of landscape, fauna and flora. Whether inland or coastal, they are packed with beautiful natural features. Visit the Parks and Wildlife Commission for an overview of the parks closest to Darwin.

The Ghan Overland Journey: this train travels from Darwin to Adelaide. Legend has it the old Ghan was once stranded for two weeks in one spot and the engine driver had to shoot wild goats to feed his passengers. This train trip extends for 2,979kms, takes 54 hours and passes through the extensive russet desert landscapes to the tropical splendour of Darwin. Often found on the list of the greatest rail trips on the planet, this is definitely something to consider.

Darwin is also the gateway to the famous Kakadu National Park. You may also wish to head south to Alice Springs and on to Uluru, formerly known as Ayers Rock, with the surrounding Kata Tjuta National Park and nearby Kings Canyon.

Local national parks are the Casurina Coastal reserve, Charles Darwin National park, Holmes Jungle Nature Park, Knuckney Lagoons Conservation reserve and Leanyer Recreation Park.