Darwin: One week itinerary

Darwin Insider
Historic sea vessels at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin (Photo: Will Salter/Lonely Planet)
Historic sea vessels at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
Extend the 48-hour itinerary for Darwin by going bush in some of Australia's most beautiful destinations.


Have a leisurely breakfast and swim before taking a cruise on Yellow Water Billabong. You're guaranteed to see crocs, water buffalo, brolgas and magpie geese and given the amount of people who do this tour (up to 900 a day in the peak season), it's always a remarkably fresh experience.

Spend more time at Bowali Visitors' Centre or visit Nourlangie Rock (whichever you didn't get time for the previous day) and then head to Kakadu Culture Camp, run by Andy Ralph, his wife Jen and her brothers, for an introduction to spear throwing, weaving, and Bininj Creation Stories.

Pitch a tent at the culture camp, or stay the night in the camp's "luxury" tents, which sport solid floors, comfortable beds and heavy canvas walls. You might be pleased to have a buffer between you and nature when you wake halfway through the night to the sound of dingoes scratching at your door!

Jawoyn country

Head south on day four along the Kakadu Highway into Jawoyn country, the stony southern part of Kakadu, taking time to explore the waterfalls and plunge pools at Jim Jim, Twin Falls or Gunlom Falls along the way. Arrive at Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) in time for a sunset dinner cruise on the gorge: gourmet bush tucker, a knowledgeable skipper and magical views make this my pick every time. Stay the night at Nitmiluk camp ground near the gorge, or, if you're really in need of four solid walls you can opt for the Katherine River Lodge Motel on the outskirts of Katherine.

The motel has friendly, helpful staff, reasonably priced accommodation and an eclectic foyer stuffed with Papuan and eastern Indonesian art. Knott's Crossing, is also a great family friendly place to stay. Katherine is plagued by racial division and alcohol-related social problems. At dusk, the menace on the main street is palpable — give it a wide berth.


On day five, head back to Nitmiluk Visitors Centre for breakfast on the balcony. Like Bowali Visitors' Centre in Kakadu, this place is architecturally impressive, well-run and staffed by rangers who are passionate about their work. The centre also has a small museum dedicated to the Indigenous mythology of Nitmiluk Gorge and Katherine's extraordinary early-settler history.

After your visit there are two options for Nitmiluk: cruise or canoe. The DIY opportunity is not for the faint-hearted, as you have to haul your canoe over rocks and sand between gorges.


Hit the road in the afternoon and head north on the Stuart Highway, stopping en route at Edith Falls for a break. Arrive in Batchelor in the evening and stay at Mines House, the former home of the manager of Rum Jungle Mine. There are more waterfalls and swimming holes to see in nearby Litchfield National Park.

City sites

You can spend day six discovering Litchfield National Park before heading back to Darwin for a final day at the city's sites: The Museum and Art Gallery of the NT, Myilly House at Myilly Point, Parliament House (aka "The Wedding Cake"), then descend by elevator to the spanking new Wave Lagoon at the Wharf Precinct. If you'e not up for exercise take in Crocosaurus Cove — home to giant crocs and other reptiles on the city's busy Mitchell Street. Adrenalin junkies can try out Croc Cove's 'Cage of Death' — a clear cage that descends into the croc pool. Plan ahead, though — the Cage has proved a big hit and is booked out weeks in advance.

Do you know of any other attractions that should be included in an itinerary for one week in Darwin? Tell us about them below.

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User comments
Jill from Brisbane , there are some great deals for families when booking holiday homes as an alternative to motels and hotels. Stayz.com and 'Darwin holiday rentals' are well worth a look at for families lookind for reasonably priced accomodation in Darwin.
Would love to go to Darwin, Katherine, Kakadu but try to finding some accommodation for a family of six. Impossible! Unless you want to book out 3 rooms at $400+ a night per room. I know we are trying for peak season but we aren't too fussy and have tried Hotel, Motels, Caravan Parks and Cabins not only in Darwin but also the suburbs. Can get the flights but reasonably priced accommodation in all the tourist spots is almost impossible.
I don't disagree with your assessment of the attitudes of the various accommodations' staff in Katherine - indeed the entire Northern Territory's service standard is abysmally low. However your further assessment of Katherine as a whole is inflammatory, and simply inaccurate. Yes, there are alcohol related social problems, but Katherine is not a town plagued by racial divisions - nor is there palpable menace on the main street at night. The only time I have ever felt at risk in the NT was when I lived in Darwin, thanks to the youth gangs that were active in the area where I lived. I have never felt at risk in Katherine, and while it does have the same problems as every other town in the Territory with regard to alcohol, itinerants etc, it is by no means an unsafe or dire town.
Quite a few companies run cruises on Darwin Harbour -we really enjoyed our dinner cruise which was just the perfect end to the day. Sometimes it's nice to just kick back and take in the sunset. We booked through the tourist information centre (just along from Parliament House).