Nature’s Way is a tropical, triangular road-trip occupying the heart of the Northern Territory – Australia’s “Top End”. It winds through monsoon rainforests, expansive floodplains and towering escarpments. This is a land steeped in Aboriginal culture and teeming with animals and birds. For photography buffs, it’s about as good as it gets.
You could spend months exploring Nature’s Way, but a five-day, four-night self-drive holiday is a perfect introduction to the area. And if you’re worried that your sense of adventure isn’t strong enough for Australia’s rugged northern reaches, note that Nature’s Way is a fully sealed road, suitable for a standard car.
Day 1: Darwin
With a population of just 120,000, the capital city of the Northern Territory is small enough to navigate easily, yet full of fascinating sights. Wander the ocean shore, visit the Museum and Art Gallery, or try Crocosaurus Cove, the newest tourist attraction, right in the heart of Darwin’s CBD. Don’t miss the famous Mindil Beach Sunset Markets (Thursday and Sunday, 5-10pm, May to October) offering over 250 art, craft and food stalls, and performances by street buskers. For easy access to the markets, stay next door at SkyCity, Darwin’s five-star boutique hotel. Relax in the pool, laze on the beach or enjoy a game of tennis or golf. SkyCity’s restaurants include Italian favourite, il Piatto.
Day 2: Darwin to Kakadu (250km, 3 hours)
On the way to Jabiru in the heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, stop for a Jumping Crocodile Cruise on the Adelaide River for a chance to get up close and personal with these prehistoric predators. (Yes, they jump!) In Kakadu itself, visit Aboriginal rock art sites and take an atmospheric walk past thundering waterfalls. A scenic flight is a great way to get an overview of the park. Ideally, start your exploration from Ubirr (40km from Jabiru).
Day 3: Kakadu to Katherine (300km, 3 hours)
In the morning, visit Nourlangie Rock and Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre before taking a leisurely Yellow Water billabong cruise, the best way to experience Kakadu’s prolific wildlife. Continue southward to Katherine via Pine Creek, home to a gold rush in the late 1800s.
Day 4: Katherine to Litchfield (200km, 2 hours); Litchfield to Darwin (130km, 1.5 hours)
Explore spectacular Katherine Gorge (Nitmiluk) by boat, canoe, helicopter or on foot – Nitmiluk Tours offers all kinds of options. Edith Falls (Leliyn) is a scenic swimming hole fringed by foliage and framed by cascading waterfalls. Budding botanists won’t want to miss the Jurassic Cycad Gardens, with over 200 species of plants from the ancient cycad family. Detour to Litchfield National Park for bushwalking, bird-watching and swimming in crystal-clear waterholes. The area is home to fascinating magnetic termite mounds. Then it’s a 90-minute drive back up the highway to Darwin.
Day 5: Darwin
Aquascene occupies a prime piece of Darwin Harbour and gives visitors the chance to feed hundreds of fish that come to the spot at high tide. If you prefer deeper water, Reef ‘n’ Wrecks organises charters and supplies all equipment and catering needs. Opt for a half- or full-day trip and catch barramundi, jewfish, giant trevally and more. You could even extend your holiday for five days of deep-sea fishing.
Back on land, Casuarina Square has over 180 stores, while the Parap Village Saturday Market is a favourite destination for a hearty brunch and to shop for indigenous arts and crafts.
The five-day, four-night self-drive package starts from S$720, and includes two nights in Darwin, one night in Kakadu, one night in Katherine, and three-day standard car rental. Jetstar flies twice daily from Singapore to Darwin.
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