The Ultimate Darwin to Broome Road Trip Itinerary!

The Ultimate Darwin to Broome Road Trip Itinerary!

Come on, let’s be honest, this is probably the big daddy of them all!

Yes the drive from Darwin to Broome through the jaw-dropping Kimberley region is about as awesome as road trips get I reckon and easily competes with both the drive up the red Centre from Adelaide to Darwin, as well as down the West Coast from Broome to Perth.

Have I sold it to you yet?!

I mean I literally spent the entire 2 weeks it took us to make this drive, hanging out the window, just trying to grab photographs as we bumped along … it’s that stunning (and also no one would let me make any more stops!)

But I digress, the point is you have to make this drive at least once in your life and here, to show you how to get the best from it, is my ultimate Darwin to Broome road trip itinerary!


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Day 1 & 2: Darwin to Litchfield National Park

Australia, Northern Territory, Darwin

Depart Darwin early in the morning and make the short drive south to Litchfield National Park.

Only an hour or so away, this park has tons going for it, so be sure to set off early so you get the most out of your days there.

My favourite highlights including swimming at Florence Falls, hiking around Wangi Falls and snapping the giant termite mounds, but there’s literally loads to do … and it’s all free!

For more ideas, check out my guide to Litchfield National Park, including where you can camp for just $3.30!

 

If you’re looking for places to stay in Darwin, I highly recommend either the City Gardens Apartments for those who want a bit of privacy or Gecko Lodge if you want a good dorm bed!

 

Day 3 & 4 : Nitmiluk National Park

Australia, Northern Territory, Katherine Gorge

After Litchfield, it’s time to check out another Northern Territory wonder – Nitmiluk National Park.

Definitely one of Australia’s most epic national parks, Nitmiluk, sits just outside the town of Katherine and is a massive gorge that stretches deep into this ancient landscape.

Top activities include hiking, kayaking and cruising around the gorge, but if you have enough money, a helicopter ride has got to be an amazing way to see the enormity of this deep ravine.

For more ideas about where to stay in this national park, check out my full guide here.

 

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#1 Good Camera – You will be pretty much snapping non-stop in Australia and will need a good camera to do this gorgeous country justice. I highly recommend the Sony A6000, which I use for all my travels and love, not least because it’s light, compact and robust!

#2 Good Walking Shoes – There will be a lot of walking in Australia – from cities to national park! Make sure your feet are comfortable therefore with a pair of New Balance Trainers. Perfect for stylish strollling, I love mine

#3 Good Guidebook – I’m still a massive fan of the Lonely Planet Guidebooks and do think their Australia edition is well put together

#4 Good Water Bottle – Travelling in hot old Australia can be thirsty work, so make sure you have a metal water bottle that you can refill as you go, because tap water is drinkable… and free!

#5 Good Sun Hat – And there’s no denying you’ll need a good sun hat for protection in Australia too. In my opinion you can’t go past this Hello Sunshine one, which is both gorgeous and ideal for keeping the rays off your face.

 

Day 5 : Judbarra / Gregory National Park

Australia, Northern Territory, Gregory Judbarra

It’s national parks all the way it seems!

Well when you come this far into remote northern Australia, you want to enjoy the landscape and what better way to do it right?!

Next up is Judburra / Gregory National Park, which is well-distanced from Katherine, bearing in mind you’ll want to stock up on supplies there before leaving.

Stop at the hot springs in Katherine on the way out if you can too, before reaching Judburra / Gregory National Park and camping at Bullita Campground.

The nearby Bullita Homestead is an excellent free heritage exhibition that tells the true tale of a devastating flood that swept through what was once a cattle farm here.

If you’re in a 4wd, there’s also some great tracks (former stock routes) to undertake … we loved the Tuwakam Track!

 

Day 6 & 7 : Keep River National Park

Australia, Northern Territory, Keep River

This little known park was one of my favourite on the whole trip and I highly recommend spending 2 nights here so that you get to enjoy all the delightful walks and incredible views.

The best hikes in my opinion were the Goorrandalng Walk and the Ginger’s Hill Walk which had some fascinating aboriginal artefacts.

There’s 2 campsites within Keep River National Park to choose from, and whichever you choose, the sun bouncing off that red Kimberley range provides the perfect backdrop.

Right near the Northern Territory border, this is the place to finish off all your fresh fruit and veg before the crossing into Western Australia too … you have been warned!

 

Day 8 : Lake Argyle

Australia, WA, Lake Argyle

Once you have made it into Western Australia (congratulations!), your first stop should really be Lake Argyle!

Quite the engineering feat, this flooded valley to help aid agriculture in the area is seriously impressive and stretches for miles.

Grab your snaps and then head back to set up camp and chill at the Lake Argyle Resort & Caravan Park.

This award-winning caravan park (and its infinity pool) is seriously awesome!

 

Day 9 : Kununurra

Australia, Lake Kununurra, Sunset

Time to head onto Kununurra and replenish supplies!

There’s loads to do around this town and you could easily keep extending your stay like we did!

For some ideas about what to do, check out my post about the best free things to do in Kununurra … oh and another tip, make sure you stay the Discovery Parks – Lake Kununurra, the sunsets and sunrises here are to die for!

 

From Kununurra the road splits!
For those who want to drive the Gibb River Road read on here.
For those who want to take the Great Northern Highway option, scroll down a little…
And for those who want the best of both worlds (like we did) pick and choose between the 2!

 

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Gibb River Road : Days 10, 11 & 12

Australia, Northern Territory, Five Rivers_

From Kununurra, head north towards El Questro and spend 2 nights there, exploring the amazing Zebedee Hot Springs, Emma Gorge and more.

Take a side trip to Wyndham to see the Fiver Rivers Lookout before heading on to take a hike and a dip at Bells Gorge. Spend the night nearby.

 

Great Northern Highway : Days 10, 11 & 12

Australia, WA, Purnululu

From Kununurra, make your way into Purnululu National Park.

Absolutely spellbinding, you’ll need to 2 nights here to really appreciate the spectacle of the giant beehive-like rock formations and the park’s other attractions including Cathedral Gorge and Echidna Chasm.

Do beware the ride into the park is ROUGH however and a 4wd is essential … it will also take you ages!

After this, make your way west stopping 1 night at Fitzroy Crossing on the way – we thought it much nicer than Halls Creek and there was a good visitor centre.

The next day pop into Tunnel Creek on your way to see …

 

Day 13 : Windjana Gorge

Australia, WA, Windjana Gorge

Both the Gibb River Road and the Great Northern Highway essentially join at Windjana Gorge, so this is a stop worth making regardless of the route you take.

Be sure to hike into the gorge and don’t miss the daily croc display!

You can camp here and there are showers as well – hoorah!

 

Day 14 : Derby to Broome

Australia, WA, Derby

The final stop before Broome, Derby is an interesting little town worth exploring.

Derby’s main attractions include the highest tides in Australia, which be can viewed from the Wharf, and the Boab Prison Tree believed to be about 1500 years old.

Stop here and spend the night, or glimpse it in an afternoon before motoring on to Broome.

 

PIN IT TO PINTEREST!

So there you have it folks, the ultimate road trip itinerary from Darwin to Broome.

Have you made this epic journey?

Did you go the Gibb or the Highway?

Please let me know in the comments box below…

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About the Author

About the Author: Creator of Big World Small Pockets, Stephanie Parker is a budget travel addict! Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Stephanie backpacks the world collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile .

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There Are 50 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Peter Forster says:

    I haven’t done this road trip yet but your itinerary convinced me to add it to my bucket list

  2. Freddie says:

    Hi Steph, I am looking to do this exact trip as people say that it would be amazing. However do you know of the best way to hire an appropriate vehicle to hire from Broome and drop off in Darwin without having to sell the belongings your grandma left you?

    • Steph says:

      Ha ha Freddie, great question! You can actually hire 4wd vehicles in Broome for this trip that should come equipped with most things you need – bedding, cooking equipment etc. In that case, you just bring clothes, toiletries, map and headlamps etc, then return the vehicle complete with all the contents… you don’t need to buy / sell anything. Does that answer your question? Or are you referring to packing up your life to make this trip?! If you’re in Australia already, Broome to Darwin can easily be completed in 2 weeks, so need to sell anything either, just take a holiday by flying into one city and out the other! Does that answer your question or do I have the wrong end of the stick here? Please let me know and I’ll try my best to help 🙂

  3. Ma Ria says:

    Hi Steph, I´m searching my perfect Australia road trip at the moment. Thank you for sharing your itinerary with us, your trip sounds awesome to me. As I will travel by myself and really want to get a 4WD I want to ask you if you think I can make it in the same time as you guys did it or do you reckon I need more days (since it´s only me driving)? Also I wonder how much money I would spend on petrol, as it´s around 2500 km, is that right? Can you give me any information on that?
    Thank you in advance 🙂 Greetings from NZ!

  4. Natasha says:

    Hi Steph, my partner and I are planning to do this drive. We will leave Broome 1st of October, we plan on buying a Suburu Outback all-wheel drive and camping gear in Perth where we are starting from. We are experienced drivers but not 4-wheel drivers, I am originally from Tasmania so I am used to winding roads but have only been a passenger 4-wheel driving with friends. Would like to visit some of these national parks but I realise some of these will be out of reach, which national parks in your opinion would be possible for us to do in a Subaru Outback?
    Looking forward to your reply!
    Greetings from The Netherlands

    • Steph says:

      Hi Natasha, thanks for your great questions and delighted to hear you have a wonderful trip planned. Many of the best national parks between Darwin and Broome are actually accessible even to 2wd, you just have to stick to the main routes. Parks such as Nitmiluk, Litchfield, Kakadu and Windjana Gorge should all be available to you. Purnululu is the main one you wouldn’t be able to access and possibly Judbara / Gregory too. Do check out the Northern Territory Parks website too – they have lots of excellent and up to date info. Hope that helps and enjoy the trip planning!

  5. john gabbedy says:

    Hi Steph, thanks for the tips, we are planning the exact same trip next year and will follow your itenerary. What time of year do you think would be the most picturesque time to go? We would hire a 4WD but would obviously want to avoid certain times of the year.

    • Steph says:

      Hi John, so glad you found the tips useful. May to September is definitely the best time to make this trip to avoid the rains and the unbearable humidity. Within this period, May and Sept are probably best as they form the shoulder months and have less crowds around and more space in the campsites. Hope that helps 🙂

  6. Great article! It’s always important to be well organised for such a trip, especially for the Gibb River Road and if people travel as far as Kalumburu.

    • Steph says:

      You are absolutely right guys – being prepared is definitely key when you are this remote… I think people have a tendency to forget just how essential it is when you’re this far from “civilisation”. Have you travelled the Gibb a lot?

  7. Shirley says:

    Hi Steph! How are you? Thank you for all your information.
    I have a doudt: my trip will be in opposit way, so far so good, but I noticed that you passed by Katherine two times…arriving in Cairns and when you were going towards to Broome. This is right?
    Hugs, Shirley

    • Steph says:

      Hi Shirley, sorry I’m a little confused about your question? I travelled from Brisbane to Cairns, then across to Darwin and passing through Katherine, before continuing onto Broome (passing briefly through Katherine which is along the highway west) Dees this answer the question?

      • SHIRLEY SOUSA says:

        Hi Steph, sorry for my English.
        Yes, I realize that it is necessary to pass two times through Katherine. Thank you!

        • Steph says:

          Hi Shirley, no apologies necessary -full respect to anyone speaking a second language! Yes the way the main highway lies it’s generally necessary to pass through Katherine twice if you are travelling east-west / west-east and want to see Darwin. The other option is to skip Darwin and carry travelling across the country passing through Katherine only once therefore.

  8. Lynda says:

    Hi Steph, this trip sounds amazing. Would the roads be suitable for towing a caravan or would you just have a 4 wheel drive and a tent

    • Steph says:

      Hi Lynda, so glad you enjoyed the article – yes it was an amazing trip. As I say in the post, there’s 2 options for this road trip – a 2wd version suitable for caravans / regular cars and a 4wd route. The 2wd route is on paved road, so caravans fine… although personally I’d always choose the 4wd route and take a rooftop tent!

  9. Roger says:

    Hi Stephanie
    Your journey story is so entrancing that we’re in the UK, now planning the exact same journey (Darwin-Broome) for June next year. But 4wd Hire costs seem so prohibitive as to make the journey not possible. A 2wd roof tent camper seems an alternative. Obviously Gibb River is then out but, otherwise, the journey still seems wonderful. True? And, is it possible to join organised 4wd groups at other special places? Like Purnululu?

    Or is even the Great Northern Highway strewn with the carcasses of 2wd campers and the dreams of their naive Campervanners?.

    • Steph says:

      Ha Ha Roger, love this question and delighted you’ve been inspired! Yes the Gibb is out for 2WD vehicles, but the Great Northern Highway is fine – just don’t attempt Purnululu for sure – this will end in disaster with a 2WD! You can certainly take tours (road or fancy helicopter) to Purnululu from Wyndham if you fancy (depending on how much cash and / or time you have), otherwise it will still be a wonderful journey without this. I’ve got posts on Purnulu and Wyndham on my blog, so do check those out, otherwise, don’t hesitate to fire over any more questions you might have. Can I suggest Broome to Perth is also a stunning Aussie road trip 😉

  10. Ajeje Brazorf says:

    El questro and emma gorge both 4 wheels drive needed. It would ve been good to know it before.

    • Steph says:

      Hi Ajeje and thanks for your comments. You are right – a 4wd would be preferable for both these destinations because while the Gibb is now sealed from Kununurra all the way to El Questro Station entrance, there’s still some river clearances etc to be made once you are within the property.

  11. Kerrie Widdison says:

    Hi Steph
    We are planning the trip from Darwin to Broome and are thinking of hiring a Campervan or would we be ok to hire a SUV and stay in parks.

    • Steph says:

      You can definitely stay in parks Kerrie – that’s what we did with our 4wd and rooftop tent. The only thing with the SUV and campervan is the offroad elements. It depends which route you want to take after Kununurra that will largely determine your choice I’d say. Parks provide few facilities, so you’ll have to be equipped with full camping and cooking gear. Is this something you’re happy to do? Or used to?

  12. Martine says:

    Hi, thanks for the great article! We are thinking of going from Broome to Darwin. Do you think the trip is suitable for kids aged 8 and 10? Or is it too much driving?

    • Steph says:

      Hi Martine, so happy you enjoyed the article. Hard for me to answer your question as I don’t have kids myself or know what yours are like. There is a lot of driving, but more it’s the conditions, hot, flies, bumpy roads, not a huge amount of child-friendly facilities, big distances between camps etc that might put me off. I’d probably recommend Broome to Perth (or part of it) more for families.

  13. Charlie says:

    Hi Steph I am riding my motorbike from Adelaide to Darwin and after reading your trip itinary Darwin to Broome am thinking I might include this into my trip my bike is an adventure tourer so can handle unsealed roads no problem but how regular are fuel stops I have a range of about 300kms and is there many stops for food /supplies

    • Steph says:

      Hi Charlie, thanks for your question and extending the trip sounds like a great idea! But in all honesty, I really can’t remember about the distance between fuel stops and would hate to give you the wrong info. Have you checked google maps or got an Ordnance survey map? These normally give you a fair idea. Thanks Steph 🙂

  14. Elma Geschiere says:

    Great to read. We did this in 2017 Darwin-broome-Darwin with a 4WD with rooftoptent. We liked it so much that we are going back with our adult kids. This time broome Darwin one way. Looking for things we did not see already. We gonna take the Mitchell falls this time. You did keep river np and judbarra np. Is this an option. Ofcourse we wil do maning and bellgorge again. And bungles bungles. The kids need to see that. Other tips?

    • Steph says:

      Hi Elma, sounds like an awesome adventure! Sadly we didn’t make Mithcel Falls – as we were scared the Landrover would fall apart up there (as it had done in Arnhem Land) and decided to stick to the Gibb and the Bungles only. Keep River is great and well recommended – I really though it was a beautiful place to chill and walk for a few days. Judbarra is less picturesque, but more geared up for some epic 4wd tracks if this interests you? We did one and remote doesn’t even cover the half of it! Good times, but do make sure you are prepared. If you search the Northern Territory on my blog – an article will come up with more info on both these parks. Enjoy 🙂

  15. Joann BLASBERG says:

    Is this trip possible for a single person, late October into November? Are there B&Bs and/or hostels along the way? Or should I fly from Darwin to Broome and then drive to Perth????

    • Steph says:

      Hi Joann – you’ll need to be aware that October / November will be insanely hot in this part of the world and I really wouldn’t recommend it as the best time of year at all. While you can travel this route by yourself, please remember it is incredibly remote and I’d suggest having a Sat Phone and UHF Radio if you plan to do this. Have you travelled much by yourself before? I would suggest flying Darwin to Broome would be a better idea as accommodation outside of camping can be limited given how remote this part of Australia is. The drive from Broome to Perth is a lot easier, with more people around, more accommodation options and more going on. This may be a better option? That said Oct / Nov will be crazy hot up north and you’re getting into Cyclone season at that time of year too. Something to think about and research…

  16. Venetia says:

    Hi Steph, great inspiring & informative article on this exciting trip! Just wondering is there any preference/best way to do the trip for eg Darwin to Broome vs Broome to Darwin?

    • Steph says:

      Hi Venetia, glad you enjoyed the post! Not really any preference in terms of the route – it’s more about weather / time of year and where you’re coming from initially. If renting a vehicle you may have more choice in terms of hire vehicles from Darwin but that would be about it. Enjoy 🙂

  17. Shosheena says:

    Thanks for your post Steph, I had really wanted to do the Gibb but I don’t have a 4wd although I have a high clearance 2wd I won’t be risking it. I’m travelling solo with a 4yr old so we’re going to do the Great Northern Highway aiming for around late July/early Aug. Thanks for sharing your tips and I have saved your post as a guide when we get to this section…currently in Victoria so we have a looong way to go yet 🙂

    • Steph says:

      Wow, sounds like you are on an epic journey – great stuff! I didn’t travel Victoria a lot, but there’s a heap on my blog about road tripping QLD, NT and WA, so check it out. Hopefully you can pick up some more tips. Happy travels 🙂

  18. Jeff says:

    Hi Steph great info and advice! My gf and I will be driving Perth to Darwin via the Gibb in June-July with 4wd for maximum enjoyment 😉

    I am trying to finalize my itinerary and it is a long way from ElQ to Katherine so we would love to stop at Keep River as we won’t be able to see the Bungle Bungles. That being said we are still pressed for time.

    With your experience at this park would we be able to enjoy a couple hours doing a lil walking to see the Baby Bungles and if so Jarnem Walk or the Gurrandalng walk?

    Thanks for any input you can give us!

    • Steph says:

      Hi Jeff, so excited you are to travel the Gibb this year and that you plan to head to Keep River – I really did love this park and highly recommend it, even if only for a night. You can definitely do some of the smaller walks in a few hours, although I can’t remember specifically which one we made. I actually have a post about my favourite, lesser-known parks in the NT and Keep River features there with tons more info, so please check that out. Also beware that even in June-July, it’s still crazy hot here and hard to walk for much longer than an hour or 2. Happy travel planning 🙂

  19. Kathy Bonnell says:

    We are planning on doing part of this trip starting from Darwin and going down to at least Kununurra late January 2020. Are we going to have 90 degree temps with high humidity at this time of year? If so, we may rearrange our trip. Thank you.

    • Steph says:

      Oh my goodness Kathy, yes January will be crazy hot. I’d never suggest travelling in the north outside of May-Sept. Even keeping the car cool at that time will be a mission!!

  20. Kathy Bonnell says:

    Thank you Steph. We have now rearranged our trip and will be going in September. Would you suggest flying into Darwin and driving down to Kununnura or fly into Broome and drive up to Darwin? Which part of this area is most spectacular? We will have 7 days. Thank you.

    • Steph says:

      Hi Kathy, yes I think September is a much better time. It’s hard for me to say which route you’ll prefer – Broome to Darwin is obviously longer than just to Kununurra and I worry that with 7 days you’ll struggle to do all this, especially if you want to see Broome as well – which you should for a few days. Honestly, you could spend 7 days easily just and around Darwin – Litchfield, Kakadu, Katherine Gorge – there’s so much to do just there!

  21. Irene kalsow says:

    Hi Steph, amazing trip you spoke about, thinking of doing the lap next year with two labradors, is this possible and are there places to stay along the way?

    • Steph says:

      Hi Irene, thanks for your great question. I believe there are some caravan parks that take dogs along this route, but I’m not entirely sure which and would hate to give you the wrong info. Best to contact them and see their individual policies on this. I know, of course, that national parks do not allow dogs. Happy travel planning 🙂

  22. Zoe says:

    Hey Steph,
    This blog article was super helpful on my journey plans traveling through Perth to Darwin. (Still working progress and considering.) I am originally from Darwin but moved to Tasmania with my 2wd and via Stuart Hwy. And due to reasons, I have to move back to Darwin.
    Instead of taking the same route I went down, I considered taking the West Coast Route back up. I know it will be much longer, but the attractions that the West Coast offered I simply couldn’t resist.
    Thankfully the best time that I’ll be considering traveling through (April-July) adds up. However, some areas through the West Coast I am worried and unsure about for my 2wd. As I am also traveling solo and hasn’t experienced any unsealed roads before.

    I wasn’t sure if Lake Argyle, Kunnanara, Ningaloo Reef/Coral Bay, and Kariji National Park are suitable for a 2wd. I’ve read on a few websites already about those places if its safe for a 2wd but a lot of wasn’t clear on if a 2wd can safely travel through without too much damage. And whether or not the roads were sealed on or not.
    Thanks so Much, Steph, and your adventure through the West Coast sounds so inspiring and adventurous!!! Definitely motivated me to plan a trip through the West Coast to get back home to Darwin 🙂

    • Steph says:

      Hi Zoe, so great to read your message and delighted that I’ve helped and inspired your travels. All the places you mention in WA (Lake Argyle, Kunnanara, Ningaloo Reef/Coral Bay, and Karinji National Park) are safely and easily driveable (almost all sealed) in 2wD vehicles. That said, there are some roads that won’t be accessible to you, especially in Karijini, but just follow the guidelines and clearly-signed advice. The West Coast really is amazing and I hope you get to see it 🙂

  23. Larraine says:

    We did the 2wd version of this magnificent adventure 2 years ago. We stayed at Mabel Station and did a 4wd day trip to Purnululu from here. Yes the road is absolutely atrocious but in someone elses 4wd, not having to worry about damaging our own car, it was just brilliant!!
    Love your work.

    • Steph says:

      Ha ha Larraine, yes I can imagine in someone else’s vehicle it was a blast! Still fun in your own, but some nerves required for sure! So glad you are enjoying the blog 🙂

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