Kakadu, Darwin & Arnhem Land 4WD Adventure
Looking to explore the Ancient beauty of Arnhem Land & Kakadu National Park? Drive Beyond 4WD hire let's you go where the other hire guys don't!
Our trip of a life time started in Darwin in September.
We decided on hiring a Drive Beyond 4WD campervan because we were going to travel around the north of Australia for 3 weeks and we liked the larger fridge/freezer that the vehicle comes with as well as the vehicle having 2 spare tyres and lots of off road recovery gear.
My wife and I managed to convince some close friends of ours (another couple) to come along for the journey which made the cost of fuel cheaper for us.
Our first spot was Gunn Point. The road was unsealed for about 40 kilometres but was pretty easy to negotiate. We camped right on the beach and fished at night on the little creek bedside where we were camping. We caught 3 fish and none of us knew what any of them were. We were told by a couple of locals that a few weeks before there was a 4 metre crocodile caught! They also said there had been sightings of an even bigger one! Needless to say we were glad we slept in the roof tents on the camper as opposed to sleeping in a ground tent. The area was beautiful, and although we weren’t game to swim in the beach, there was a nice water hole a few kilometres down the road which was lovely to cool down in.
The next spot we headed was Litchfield National Park. We started off at checking out a few of the waterfalls, but our favourite by far was Florence Falls. The 150 stairs to get there was well worth it!
We then headed to the lost city which was about 15km of dirt road which the Drive Beyond 4WD camper made it through with ease. I must say though, this wasn’t my pick, to me it was just a bunch of rocks, but the rest of the crew enjoyed the walk amount the remnants. We then headed south along a dirt track towards Surprise Creek. This is where the real off road adventure began. We came to Reynolds River crossing. We didn’t realise until we were in the thick of it that was deeper than we were comfortable with. My advice is to wait at any river crossing to see other vehicles pass through before deciding. The vehicle did make it through, but it was not an experience I would care to have again.
Surprise Creek was stunning. We were the only ones there. It was magical. There were several rock pools of different sizes, depth and temperatures. We all swam and rock jumped until about 3pm where we decided to camp for the evening. The shower was put to use in the vehicle, and all 4 of us had a shower and still with plenty of water to spare.
We then headed further south to link back up to the highway to get to Mataranka hot springs. What a place! We sat there late at night with a beer in hand in the warm turquoise blue waters watching the abundance of shooting stars and satellites go by.
From there we headed north and stopped off at Edith Falls where there was a platform waterfall with plenty of swimming spots. A great place to spend the day and camp for the night. Next we headed into Kakadu National Park. We decided to head down a track that took us to Yurmikmik where we hiked for an hour and arrived at Fern Gully (motor car falls). Amazing place for a swim in the green waters near the water falls. We were assured there were no crocs around here during the dry by the visitor info centre. We then headed to Gunlom falls which again was a great spot for a swim and BBQ, then onto Jarrangbarnmi (Koolpin Gorge) which we applied for permission to enter a month before by filling out the paper work. You have to request permission in advance as they limit the number of people entering the area as it’s a special environmental zone. We camped there for 2 nights and swam at the rock pools. It was a truly remarkable area!
"We then headed to Maguk gorge which also had a waterfall and swimming hole. The best part about these spots were they were only accessible by 4WD’s with clearance and snorkel. We were often on our own with nothing in ear shot but the sounds of water running and birds. We took it slowly on the tracks and river crossings and the vehicle didn’t miss a beat"
One guy overtook us at double the speed on the track and we noticed him being towed out by a recovery vehicle the next day. Take my advice, drive slowly!
We decided to spend the night at Maguk at the designated campsite. Maguk is only accessible by 4WD and we pretty much had a line-up of people wanting to check out the Drive Beyond Campervan. Most people were staying in pitched tents whereas we had out luxurious roof tents and awning with mosquito net to keep the bugs at bay. We had one couple offer us a 6 pack to hang out because they were being eaten alive :)
The next day we got back on to the sealed road and continued north up to the turn off for twin and Jim Jim Falls. The 60km was a slow haul. The corrugation was constant. But we eventually ended up at Jim Jim Falls. We went swimming and had a BBQ and set up camp for the night. The next day we went to Twin Falls. The river crossing was borderline for us, so we watched another vehicle pass through and the water was around 70cm deep. We took a vote and decided to take it on. The water was as deep as the Reynolds River crossing and there were 2 vehicles that were on the other side with mechanical problems. We were lucky enough to get through without issue.
Twin Falls was stunning! A great place to relax for the day. We stayed again at Jim Jim falls camp site. We liked how few people there were at the campground due to only 4WD vehicles being able to get there.
The next day we drove back to the sealed road and up to the Aboriginal Cultural Centre for a looksee and then up to Jabiru where we camped for the night. The next day we headed up to Ubirr which is where Kakadu end and Arnhem Land starts. We got our permit from Jabiru which is only given to 4WD vehicles. This is where you can go croc spotting without being on a tour! Both terrifying and exciting! There was so much to see. Plenty of crocs and birdlife. You have to plan your trip around the tides as well. It’s a good thing that the vehicle came with recovery treds as we got bogged a couple of times, one of which was a tidal pass way that would’ve been in water in a couple of hours’ time if we didn’t get the vehicle free. We spent 4 days exploring the area and for me it was the highlight of the trip.
We started heading back to Kakadu and then up to West Alligator Head. The track was about 72 klm from the highway. Some sandy sections which could bog a vehicle easy enough. No drinking water so take your own. No fuel. You pretty much have to be self-contained. Incredible place where the West Alligator River meets the sea. Great camping next to beach with low fence around it as it is crocodile area. They often sun themselves along the sand with Flatback Turtles as well. Pristine white sand, clear blue water. Peaceful as not a well-known area of Kakadu. Great bird watching too. There were also some relics of past settlement. Great fishing.
On our way back to Darwin we stopped at numerous pubs and campgrounds which all had their unique charms.
This trip was truly a special one! Highly recommended!