LEAD IN DAYS
For those who are new to driving in the outback, special arrangements can be made to join the convoy earlier with only minimal camping costs to be paid.
Driving time is provided as a basic guide however road conditions and the duration of breaks each day, will determine the actual time on the road between camps.
After making your own way (or see LEAD IN DAYS) to Mataranka, there will be a briefing to meet your guides and fellow adventurers and ask all those last-minute questions.
Leaving Mataranka, we head north on the Stuart Highway and turn off towards East Arnhem Land on the Central Arnhem Road. Our first stop is the Aboriginal community of Wulgala (Beswick) where we can view the incredible local artwork. Another 60km further and we can marvel at Jurassic Park Lookout’s extensive views. Our camp for the night is beside the Mainoru River at Mainoru Store.
420km (6hr 30)
After leaving Mainoru Store, there is a long drive to the Baniyala turn off however, looking for the huge variety of wildlife that calls East Arnhem Land home will keep us amused. From Baniyala Community, we make our way to Dholuwuy Campground located on spectacular Blue Mud Bay in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Campsites offer direct beach access, fresh water, picnic tables, a sheltered kitchen, fire pits, showers and a composting toilet. During our time there, we will have a unique opportunity to experience highlights of the local culture. There will be ample time to enjoy the magnificent coastal scenery and all the outdoor activities associated with this pristine location, including fishing and scenic drives.
We leave stunning Blue Mud Bay and say farewell to the Baniyala community before turning north on the Central Arnhem Road. Just 55km south of Nhulunbuy is Guwatjurumurru (Giddy River) with its shady picnic area, freshwater stream, and waterfalls. There will be time to detour into beautiful Wathawuy (Goanna Lagoon & Latram River) for a refreshing dip. Our camp for the next two nights is at Garanham (Macassan Beach). This campsite is close to a long, wide beach of white sand which contrasts with the layers of laterite that run parallel to the coast.
We will explore Bariŋura (Little Bondi Beach), Ŋumuy (Turtle Beach) north of camp and Binydjarrŋa (Daliwuy Bay) south of camp. Fishing or just soaking up the stunning scenery are activities to select, according to your desire. One highlight not to be missed however, is Wurrwurrwuy, where a Yolngu record of the annual visits of the Macassan traders is recorded as stone pictures. Here visitors can walk among the stone pictures and learn a little about the history of Yolngu contact with Macassans over hundreds of years.
We leave our camp at Macassan Beach to head north towards Nhulunbuy. First stop is a must see visit to the Mulka Centre at Yirrkala which houses an incredible selection of aboriginal art. There are displays of historical artwork including the fascinating panels from a church dating back to the time of the mission. You can watch resident artists at work and even purchase authentic art ranging from jewellery to large paintings and beautifully decorated didgeridoos. We continue to Nhulunbuy, which is a picturesque town on the Gove Peninsula and there, we will stock up on food & fuel supplies. There will be time to explore this thriving town before we camp for the 3 nights at the Gove Boat Club located on the azure waters of Melville Bay.
Bawaka Homeland is a small Yolŋu homeland with spectacular beaches and views looking out into the Gulf of Carpentaria. It is home to one of Australia’s most famous crocodiles, Nike, as well as the picturesque Lonely Beach. The Burarrwanga family specialise in Yolŋu cultural awareness and immersion experiences. On arrival you will take part in a traditional Welcome to Country ceremony before your guide tells you about many aspects of the Yolŋu people’s traditional way of life.
The excellent facilities at Gove Boat Club allow for a catch up on laundry and possibly a pub style meal. These two days provide us with an opportunity to experience all that the Nhulunbuy area offers, including the fabulous Aquatic Centre and a Bush Tucker walk at Gayŋaru Wetlands (Town Lagoon). Art Galleries and cultural experiences abound in Nhulunbuy Township and with notice, optional Fishing Charters can be arranged. There are plenty of opportunities to explore the local beaches and lookouts. A visit to nearby Baŋambarrŋa (Rainbow Cliffs) to the view this sheer section of coastline where cliffs plunge over 40m into the sea can’t be overrated.
85km (1hr 20)
We leave Nhulunbuy and head west to Dhalinybuy homeland in the Cato River area. We will be welcomed by residents of the homeland and be immersed in Yolŋu life, culture, and history. Highlights may include experiencing a Buŋgul (Yolngu dance and ceremony), learning new skills such as weaving and spear making, exploring the food and medicine resources of Country, and visiting off the beaten track locations that many residents of East Arnhem don't even know about!
Highlights may include experiencing a Buŋgul (Yolŋu dance and ceremony), learning new skills such as weaving and spear making, exploring the food and medicine resources of Country, and visiting off the beaten track locations that many residents of East Arnhem don't even know about!
85km (1hr 20min)
Travelling south back to our previous camp by Mainoru River, we’ll be on the lookout for donkey & buffalo during our long driving day. We will make some scenic comfort stops at places like Giddy River and Rocky Bottom. This is our last night camping in East Arnhem Land.
420km (6hr )
From Mainoru store we head into a lesser known and rarely accessed community, where elders will guide us through beautiful and remote Central Arnhem Land. We will camp here for three nights.
We will have an opportunity to access a variety of 4WD tracks leading to culturally significant sites. This is an experience that is only offered to a select few.
The local community has many cultural experiences on offer and our time here will give visitors an insight into the ancient history of our First Nation’s People. Elders are currently updating the 2022 cultural program so more detail will be available closer to departure.
Back on the Stuart Highway, we drive north to the service centre of Katherine, where there will be an opportunity to restock supplies. Our camp for the night is at Pine Creek, where we can enjoy great amenities and visit the quirky termite mound mud brick tavern with its spectacular locally created ironwork.
160km (1hr 40)
With a short drive day to Mardugal Camp, we have time to explore the museums, lookout and excellent Heritage Trail in Pine Creek. We will detour into Maguk Campground for a picnic lunch and an opportunity to hike to the magnificent and expansive Maguk Waterhole and waterfall. It is then a short drive to our campsite for the next two nights
This bush camp with toilets and hot showers is about 6 km from Cooinda Lodge and is a great base for day trips in nearby Kakadu National Park. The itinerary is flexible and allows for exploration of the many natural attractions Kakadu has to offer including numerous waterfalls, waterholes and walking tracks in the Burrungkuy (Nourlangie Rock) area. The Warradjan Cultural Centre is well worth a visit and an optional Yellow Water Cruise on the nearby wetlands can be arranged with notice.
From our camp near Cooinda, we will stop at Jabiru for a top up of supplies before passing over the infamous crocodile infested Cahills Crossing. We travel to Wiligi Outstation which is a beautiful remote location nestled on a cliff over looking Mt Norris Bay and Copeland Island. We will spend three nights hereto allow two full days to explore this scenic area.
Traditional owner Reuben Cooper will be taking us to Copeland Island where he will explain the historical significance of the area and recount stories involving his ancestors. At the end of the tour, the boat will be available for those who would like to try their luck fishing in the crystal clear waters of Mount Norris Bay.
You can enjoy fishing and birdwatching and might be lucky enough to collect your own fresh oysters or mud crabs. Dolphins and dugongs are often sighted, and the sunrises and sunsets are spectacular.
We farewell this pristine part of the world, with one of the world’s most ancient cultures and make our way back to Cahills Crossing, where once again we can stop to view the crocodiles. There will be an opportunity to visit Ubirr National Park with its short walks, amazing rock art and fabulous scenic lookout. Once back in the Jabiru region, we will enjoy the excellent facilities provided by Kakadu Lodge Caravan Park.
We start the morning with a visit to Bowali Visitor’s Centre to view the wonderful exhibits. After a morning tea break at Pine Creek, we will turn south towards Katherine and take the 20km detour to Edith Falls for our lunch break and a chance to swim and perhaps take a short walk. Our next stop will be at Katherine to replenish supplies, before driving 30km into Nitmiluk National Park, where a deep gorge has been carved through ancient sandstone. This is our final night on tour and a chance to farewell our fellow adventurers with a celebratory meal by the pool.
Although our guided tour is complete, this camp provides the ideal opportunity for you to book an optional early morning boat tour of the magnificent Nitmuluk (Katherine) Gorge with its spectacular reflections.
Nitmiluk Campground is a convenient base from which to experience the beauty of Katherine Gorge. With the more challenging and remote travel completed, this also provides an ideal opportunity to explore further afield in the Northern Territory on your own.