Darwin 4WD Hire Destinations
Self-Drive Recreational 4WD Hire | Off-Road 4×4 Rental | Bush Camper Hire Darwin, Kakadu National Park, Litchfield National Park, Nitmiluk National Park, Arnhem Land, Gibb River Road and Katherine Gorge
Perched on the Timor Sea, closer to Bali than Bondi, Darwin serves as the bridge between Asia and Australia. The smallest of Australia’s major cities, what Darwin lacks in size, it more than makes up for in personality with a vibrant foodie scene, world-class museums and a brilliant cosmopolitan mix. Its 130,000 or so residents represent more than 50 nationalities, all on display at its colourful city markets.
Since being settled in 1861, the city has weathered tropical storms and WW2-era Japanese bombs, emerging as the gateway to exploring Australia’s Top End, home to indigenous peoples and spectacular natural beauty.
Pick up your Darwin 4WD Hire and cruise the picturesque Darwin Harbour which locals will happily point out is larger than Sydney’s. Spend a day or two visiting the sights, including the Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory to learn more about the culture of the Top End through its excellent Aboriginal Art Collection which includes carvings, bark paintings and ceremonial burial poles. There’s also a fascinating multi-media exhibit on Cyclone Tracy, the nation’s worst ever cyclone in terms of death and damage which famously ravaged Darwin on Christmas Eve 1974.
The second time that Darwin was almost wiped out is documented at the Darwin Aviation Museum (formerly known as the Australian Aviation Heritage Centre). In February 1942, 188 Japanese planes bombed Darwin in two air raids. That the city survived being bombed 64 times during WW2 (more than Pearl Harbour) is nothing short of a miracle. See one of the Japanese planes which crash landed north of Darwin as well as the only known colour footage of the first air raid at the museum.
For insight into how local Aboriginal People used indigenous plants, the 42-hectare George Brown Botanic Gardens is a must (free admission). Follow the self-guided Aboriginal Plant Use trails and walk along the Coastal Plant Use boardwalk through wetlands and mangroves.
Young and old alike will love Aquascene, a marine sanctuary where visitors can hand-feed bread to hundreds of wild fish in shallow waters. According to local lore, a local began feeding bread scraps to the fish more than 50 years ago, and they have been coming back ever since. Arrive at high tide and feed wild rays, cod, diamond fish, parrot fish, mullet, milkfish and more, some up to 1.5m in length. For more animal encounters, head 15 minutes from the city centre to Crocodylus Park & Zoo, home to over 1,000 crocodiles from hatchlings to nearly 5m-long adults. Hold a baby croc or feed the adults or sign up for one-on-one interaction with the park’s meerkats, lions, tigers, monkeys, snakes and dingos.
Families with kids can also spend a day in the sun at East Point Reserve, Darwin’s largest park area. With 200 ha of green space, including two playgrounds, exercise stations and walking and cycling trails, there’s something for everyone. Swim year-round in the saltwater Lake Alexander. With a maximum depth of 2.8 m, it’s great for paddle boarding and other water craft activities. Afterward, make use of the landscaped barbecue and picnic facilities and stay for some of the city’s best uninterrupted sunset views.
For a more rugged beach experience, head 20 minutes north of East Point to the Casuarina Coastal Reserve. Covering 1,361 ha, including 8km of coastline, the reserve is a great place to find beach and bush just minutes from the city centre. Cycling, bushwalking, and fishing are all popular activities here. Depending on the time of year, you may even be able to spot wildlife, including wading and migratory birds, or participate in turtle hatching release.
Every Thursday and Sunday evenings between April and October, head down to Mindil Beach Sunset Market. Wander through the 60 or so food stalls serving up everything from Turkish and Greek food to South American and North African cuisine and everything in between. After picnicking on the beach, browse through the many stalls selling indigenous art, handmade jewellery and leather goods, or relax with a massage or a bit of live performance art, including music, theatre and circus acts. Other areas for great eats include Cullen Bay just north of the CBD for excellent waterfront dining, or the more relaxed and family-friendly Stokes Hill Wharf where you can watch spectacular sunsets, fish from the pier, or hop aboard a harbour cruise.
For off-road and outdoor enthusiasts, however, the backcountry south of Darwin holds the most appeal.
Kakadu National Park
Stretching 200km south from the coast and 100km across, Kakadu National Park is Australia’s largest at 1.7 million hectares. Jointly managed by Parks Australia and the Bininj and Mungguy tribes, the park is home to some of the most spectacular and accessible rock art in the world. In particular, The Galleries at Ubirr and Nourlangie feature paintings which date back as far as 20,000 years ago and can be viewed from convenient boardwalks. The park’s wildlife is also a star attraction, with dozens of frog species, hundreds of reptile and bird species, and thousands of insect species. The park has saltwater crocs throughout as well as freshwater crocodiles, especially at the Twin Falls and Jim Jim Falls area. While in the area, take your Darwin 4WD Hire along the Jim Jim Track to the Twin Falls. Be prepared for changing road conditions, including rough and corrugated with sandy patches and drifts.
Spend many happy days looking for rainbow bee-eaters, white-breasted sea eagles and red-tailed black cockatoos or trying to spot the elusive black wallaroo, unique to this region. Visit the Bowali Visitor Information Centre for free talks from the park rangers, a third of whom are Aboriginal people, or to pick up flyers outlining various walks available throughout the park.
Bordered by Kakadu National Park to the west, the Arafura Sea to the north and the Gulf of Carpentaria to the east, the vast wilderness of Arnhem Land measures a sprawling 97,000 km2. Taking up the whole eastern half of the Top End, the Aboriginal reserve is remote and sparsely populated, making it a spectacularly untouched destination. Put your Darwin 4WD Hire through its paces, driving along rugged coastlines, savannah woodland and lush rainforests. Gorgeous landscapes and wildlife spotting are the draws here, with rivers teeming with fish, and the possibility of spotting saltwater crocodiles, dugongs, nesting turtles and migratory birds.
Nitmiluk National Park
Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Park is also a must-visit, especially for hikers and walkers. There are approximately 120 km of marked walking tracks throughout the park, from quick 2km jaunts to multi-day journeys including the epic five-day, 58km Jatbula Trail. The park’s namesake are the 13 gorges carved out by the Katherine River through rugged sandstone country, best explored by canoe, boat, helicopter or on foot. Scenic waterfalls and swimming holes are great spots to relax and cool down. Among the most popular are the Southern Rockhole, with its waterfall surrounded by sandstone rock, and Crystal Falls with its pools, rapids and picturesque cascades. There’s camping nearby for those undertaking the iconic Jatbula Trail.
Litchfield National Park
Covering an area of 1,500 km2, Litchfield National Park boasts some gorgeous country including the Tabletop Range and four spectacular waterfalls. Just two hours from Darwin, the park allows year-round easy access and is a good family-friendly alternative to the more isolated Kakadu National Park. When in Litchfield, don’t miss the magnetic termite mounds, some of which are up to 100 years old and 2m high. They’re called “magnetic” because their thin edges point north-south while the broad edges align east-west, thereby minimising sun exposure and ingeniously keeping the interior temperatures cool. Another unusual feature of the landscape is the so-called Lost City, a cluster of large, 500-million-year-old sandstone outcrops stripped of their softer sandstone cap due to erosion from wind and rain. Their height and seemingly man-made features including domes and walls evoke the ruins of a forgotten civilisation. Access is 4WD-only, following a rocky, rough track that runs along an old wagon road. Watch out for high rock ledges and sandbank drifts along the unsealed single lane track.
Another 4WD-only attraction is the historic Blyth Homestead. Built by the Sargent Family in 1929, the homestead was home to Harry Sargent, his wife and 14 children. Abandoned in the early 1960s, visitors can also see ruins of an old tin mine in the area.
The many water holes and miniature falls of Buley Rockhole should also be on your Litchfield checklist. The same stream which feeds the Buley Rockhole is also responsible for the year-round crystal-clear waters of Florence Falls. Take the 2km-long Florence Creek Walk to the falls and nearby scenic viewpoint overlooking the open valley. Surrounded by scenic bush, there are camping sites available nearby with toilet facilities only.
The Daly River area between Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks is also a favourite among nature lovers with more great fishing, gorges and hot springs. There’s a 4WD-only track that leads to Butterfly Gorge Nature Park with its main attraction being a swimming hole surrounded by sheer rock faces and flitting butterflies. The Daly River area is accessible via the 4WD Reynolds Track from Litchfield, or along the Daly River Road from the Stuart Hwy and on down the Southern Access Track.
If you find yourself heading back up to Darwin, why not make a stop at Dundee Beach? This laid-back coastal town on the shores of Fog Bay is an excellent place to relax, with swimming, fishing and monthly barbecues and theme nights at the popular Dundee Beach Trailer Boat Club.
Darwin to Broome via Gibb River Road
Outside of the immediate area, Darwin is also a wonderful jumping-off point to discover all of what Australia’s top end has to offer. Pick up your Darwin 4WD Camper Hire and head southwest along the Gibb River Road. Originally used to transport cattle from outlying stations to the port towns of Derby and Wyndham, the 660km-long 4WD track promises outback adventure as it makes its way through the Kimberley’s vast untouched wilderness. Give yourself at least two weeks to explore all the beautiful gorges and historic cattle stations along the way.
Kununurra & Purnululu National Park
Make detours to spend a few days in Kununurra, the gateway town to the East Kimberley. Meaning “Big Water” in the local Aboriginal language, Kununurra is home to lakes, rivers, waterfalls and excellent barramundi fishing. From Kununurra, it’s just a short drive south to the World Heritage-listed Bungle Bungle Range within the 3,000 km2 Purnululu National Park. Walk the trails through the fascinating 300m-high orange and black sandstone domes that resemble giant bee hives and lose yourself down long narrow chasms and cavernous hidden gorges. Squeeze yourself through Echidna Chasm to the north, with its steep walls as high as 200m in some places and barely a metre wide. Don’t forget to look up to see large fallen boulders wedged tight between the walls as well as majestic Livistonia palms near the gorge entrance. Or head south to Cathedral Gorge where pounding water has hewn out a natural amphitheatre of red rock with excellent acoustics. From here, you can continue west and explore the ruggedly scenic Dampier Peninsula before dropping off your 4WD vehicle at Broome 4WD Hire.
Alternatively, drive south to Katherine, where the Outback meets the tropics, and pick up the Savannah Way. Regarded by many as Australia’s greatest adventure drive, navigate both bitumen and gravel and dirt roads on an epic 3,700km-long journey straight across the top of the continent
Recreational and Barramundi Fishing at Timber Creek
If you decide to head west through Western Australia’s Kimberley to the pearling town of Broome, you’ll encounter Timber Creek, about halfway between Katherine and Kununurra. With a population of just around 300, this roadhouse can barely be called a town, but nevertheless has a few attractions worth stopping for, including the turn-of-the-century Timber Creek Police Station Museum, a lovely 4km-long Heritage Trail telling the history of the town, a lookout point with views over the Victoria River, and some of the best barramundi fishing in the Northern Territory. Timber Creek is also the gateway to the western section of the 13,000 km2 Jud Barra / Gregory National Park. Accessible by 4WD only, the park is known for its rugged outback scenery and scenic gorges accessible by excellent 4WD tracks including the Bullita Stock Route, the Tuwakam Track, and the Gibbie Track.
From Katherine, you can also choose to strike east through Queensland’s tropical tablelands and historic goldfields all the way to Cairns on Australia’s eastern coast.
Savannah Way and Limmen National Park
Four-wheel enthusiasts and anglers (especially those looking for barramundi) will want to take the right to Limmen National Park in the Gulf region of the Northern Territory. Only opened to the public in 2012, the park is not yet well-known and only has unsealed roads, meaning off-roaders will practically have the remote, untouched landscape all to themselves. Pack enough food and fuel as there are few to no services available in the park, and spend days driving through diverse terrain including woodlands, rivers, floodplains and billabongs. Cross a few of the four rivers which make their way through the park while taking time to explore. Birdwatching, fishing, bushwalking and swimming are all available here, as are several campgrounds which are ideal for your Darwin 4WD Bush Camper. The park is even home to two lost cities populated by reddish, leaning sandstone spires, similar to the ones in Litchfield.
Whichever way you go, you’ll encounter some stunning sights as the Savannah Way carves a path through 15 National Parks and no less than five World Heritage areas. Best of all, you can drop off your 4WD vehicle at Broome 4WD Hire or Cairns 4WD Hire, saving you from having to loop back to Darwin on your epic Top End Adventure.
South Australia is truly an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, with diverse landscapes ranging from lush wine valleys to vast, arid deserts. There are no less than 130 national parks, recreation parks, reserves and conservation areas in the South Australia park network, many of them boasting excellent camping facilities, particularly around the Eyre Peninsula, Flinders Ranges and Outback, and around the Murray River. The true majesty of the parks is best unlocked by your Adelaide 4WD Hire, allowing you to literally get off the beaten path to fully explore South Australia’s stunning natural heritage.
Darwin 4WD Hire is part of Australian 4WD Hire, a nationwide network of premium rental agencies strategically positioned in close proximity to all famous 4WD destinations and hotspots as well as major regional and capital cities throughout Australia, ensuring you’re never far from a pick-up point.
Australian 4WD Hire is renowned for our meticulously maintained vehicles and top-tier customer service. Our fleet is constantly being updated to ensure you enjoy your self-drive adventure in comfort and safety. 4WD Tourism is one of the best ways to see the broad range of amazing sights Australia has to offer, with the flexibility and freedom to discover the outdoors at your own pace. For your Darwin 4WD Hire adventure, please contact us at 1 300 360 339 or +61 7 5527 6191. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at www.australian4wdhire.com.au