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Our tour of Australia’s Outback uncovers some of the country’s most iconic landscapes. The 16 day Ultimate Outback Explorer takes you from the lush Northern Territory to the country’s Red Centre desert and is ideal for adventurous couples, families or groups. Watch the sun rise and set over the sacred Aboriginal monolith, Uluru, explore multicultural Darwin and take self-drive tours of the outback and national parks.
Your Outback tour begins in Darwin, the Northern Territory’s capital, where you can cruise the harbour, check out museums and roam the Mindil Beach Sunset Market. The journey continues with a six day road trip around the Top End region’s national parks: Kakadu, Nitmiluk and Litchfield. Trek through forests to waterfalls and swimming holes, take boat trips through sandstone gorges and visit prehistoric rock art sites.
Next, fly down to Alice Springs for your Red Centre self-drive experience. Venture through the dusty outback to gorges and soaring mountain ranges at Watarrka National Park. Along the way, take in views of the Lost City, Garden of Eden and mighty Kings Canyon. End your trip at majestic Uluru where you can take in spectacular views over the Field of Light art installation.
- Sunrise at Uluru
- Kakadu National Park
- Red Centre self drive tour
- Darwin city sight seeing
Start your Journey
Arrive in Darwin, the Northern Territory’s tropical capital, to begin your Ultimate tour of Australia’s Outback. Transfer to your hotel and then spend some time exploring this former frontier outpost. Enjoy some shopping in Mitchell Street, which is filled with cafés, shops and bars, or stroll along the waterfront to Bicentennial Park. At sunset, take a cruise around Darwin harbour, which looks out over the Timor Sea.
For some history, head to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory to see one of Australia’s largest collections of Aboriginal art, as well as work from across the Pacific and Southeast Asia. You can also visit the Defence of Darwin Experience and Darwin Military Museum to learn about how Japanese forces bombed the area during WWII.
Top End self drive
Darwin is the gateway to biodiverse national parks, which you can explore on a self drive tour of the Outback. Head along Arnhem Highway to Kakadu, stopping off to take a boat trip on the Adelaide River or visit the Window on the Wetlands Visitor Centre. Kakadu is a haven of wetlands and rivers, home to over 2,000 plants and a third of all Australian birdlife. Don’t miss the fascinating rock art sites Ubirr and Nourlangie, which date back to prehistoric times.
Nitmiluk (formerly Katherine) National Park borders Kakadu and is known for its colourful sandstone gorge. Take a morning boat trip for the best views and then visit the 34°C Mataranka Thermal Pools. Drive back north to Litchfield national park, where you can relax at Lake Bennett, see waterfalls, go bushwalking and cool off in safe swimming holes.
Make the most of your final morning in Litchfield with a swim or bushwalk, then drive back to Darwin. If there’s time, take a boat trip around the Mary River wetlands to see local wildlife or stroll around Darwin’s Botanical Gardens. Spend the evening soaking up the multicultural atmosphere at Mindil Beach Sunset Market. Designed like an outdoor Asian market, you’ll find crafts and souvenirs, as well as massage services, live music and food stalls selling everything from Thai to Brazilian and Greek food.
Darwin - Alice Springs
Today you’ll fly from Darwin to the famous outback town, Alice Springs. This former telegraph station dates back to 1872 and is the central hub of Australia’s interior desert region, known as the Red Centre. The town is surrounded by striking red sands, the towering MacDonnell mountain ranges, the Larapinta Trail and some of Australia’s most sacred Aboriginal sites, including the huge rock monolith Uluru.
Settle in and explore the pioneer heritage of Alice Springs, wandering streets lined with vintage buildings. You can find out more about the surrounding area’s history in its museums. A top pick is the Flying Doctor Service Museum, which tells the story of this legendary medical team which serves communities spread over seven million square kilometres.
Red Centre self drive
Set off from Alice Springs for a self drive adventure in the Red Centre. Discover the wildlife-rich mountains and gorges, heading west to the MacDonnell ranges. Stop at Glen Helen and Ormiston along the way, then drive along the Mereenie Loop through the beautiful Gardiner Range to Watarrka National Park. Take in the rugged scenery on the Kings Canyon Rim Walk, where you’ll pass the domes of the Lost City and see the lush Garden of Eden.
Continue on to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, home to Uluru and the 36 rusty rock domes of Kata Tjuta. Wake early to watch Uluru change colour with the sunrise from a prime viewing area, Talinguru Nyakunytjaku. You’ll spend the day delving deeper into the area’s remarkable history with a visit to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre or on a tour around the base of Uluru to Mutitjulu Waterhole, where you can watch the sunset. Find out more about the Red Centre self drive itinerary here.
Field of Light - Uluru
On your final evening you’ll be able to see Uluru from a unique perspective, at one of the world’s most ambitious art projects. Designed by Bruce Munro, the Field of Light features over 50,000 slender stem light fixtures with frosted glass, which are powered by solar energy. Take in the views of Uluru set against this illuminated field from a raised viewing area while you relax with drinks and canapes.
Today your Ultimate Outback Explorer tour comes to an end. Speak to our travel advisers if you want to extend your trip and see more of Australia’s treasures. Ideal add ons include a three day stay in Sydney where you can see the Opera House and Harbour, or five nights in Port Douglas which includes a boat trip to the Great Barrier Reef.
Rather than fly from Darwin to Alice Springs, you can also opt to take the Ghan Rail Expedition, which follows the route of the pioneering Afghan camel trains. This stunning three day train journey takes you from the tropical north through the rolling green landscape of Adelaide to the desert scenery of the Red Centre.
There’s no question too small. Start planning your dream trip by talking to our Destination Specialists.
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The Hayes & Jarvis Way
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