The Great Budget 4wd Trip Around Australia – Week 12

Tuwakam Track


Back on the road at last.

We loved Darwin and enjoyed our time there very much, but a road trip means you need to be on the road, so here we go again.

Distance Travelled:

Spot of the Week:
Wangi Falls, Litchfield National Park, NT

Camp of the Week:
Bullita Campground, Judbarra / Gregory National Park, NT

Tip of the Week:
If you are camping in a tent, swag, roof top tent or camper trailer get yourself some sort of portable fan!

We have been putting this off, but with temperatures of 25 degrees+ at night, and the humidity climbing, it can be nearly impossible to sleep!

Disaster of the Week:
Not being able to get to Arnhem Land!

This week heralded our second attempt at passing through Arnhem Land to get to our intended camping spot at Black Point in the remote Garig Gurak National Park on the Coburg Peninsula.

But for the 2nd time we failed 🙁

Find out what happened the 1st time in our review of Week 11 and find out what happened this time by skipping ahead to Day 5!

The Budget ($ AUD):
Fuel – $231.41 (big week – our most distance every covered, although sadly a lot of it was in circles!)
Groceries – $239.88
Camping Fees – $99.60
Hardware/ Car $28.98 (more radiator putty and stop leak – just in case!)
Total – $ 599.87

2 x New Tyres – $690 (we had always planned to do this in Darwin and with Landy already in garage it made sense)
1 x Clutch Kit – $775.46 (so after all the trouble of getting the radiator fixed, its seems like the clutch might be on its way out!

Not being able to afford the time or money to get the work done right now, we’ve bought a new clutch kit just in case it does go when we are remote!

Then we have one less thing to worry about!

Grand Total – $2065.33


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Day 1 – Darwin


All fingers were crossed for a good outcome with Landy. Hanging around waiting for the car to be ready, we didn’t miss the opportunity for one last coffee from our favourite little café, The Rabbit Hole – so good!

We spent a little more time loitering in some shops then headed to the waterfront for a swim and a cool down.

Then, without much warning the first good storm of the season hit. T

his was the start of the wettest September in the Northern Territory on record, enough to force us to change our plans yet again – see more in day 5!

After being relieved to get Landy back in one piece, well almost, the mechanic mentioned that he thought the clutch was not the best and should be replaced soon.

Not what we wanted to hear when we were about to head into the very remote wilderness of the Coburg Peninsula again!


Day 2 – Wangi Fall, Litchfield National Park, NT


The Landy was booked in early for a scheduled new pair of tyres, so it was up early. We made a few phone calls seeking further advice on the clutch, but as it was the weekend not much could be done.

The decision was made to change plans a little and go to Litchfield National Park for a few nights and then try to sort out what to do with the clutch on Monday.

Our campsite was at Wangi Falls, an oasis in the hot weather. Even though we were at the end of the dry season the falls were still flowing and the pool at the bottom was a fantastic place to relax and cool off.

Even though we were at the end of the dry season the falls were still flowing and the pool at the bottom was a fantastic place to relax and cool off.


Day 3 – Wangi Fall, Litchfield National Park

Rain, Rain, Rain!

We had our second Northern Territory downpour.

It must have been a funny sight as we were digging trenches in the rain to try and drain the water away from camp and putting extra tarps up to get as much dry area around as we could!


Day 4 – Corroboree Hotel Camp Ground, NT


The decision was made not to go ahead with putting a new clutch in, but just to buy one and take it with us just instead.

Everything about the clutch was just getting too complicated and expensive and with the rain still coming down, we really were worried about our timeframe of getting to Broome before the wet!

So after organising for the clutch to be delivered to Katherine on the Greyhound Bus (Katherine is the main town and we had to pass through on our journey to Western Australia) we hit the road once again for Arnhem Land.

After passing Florence Falls on our way out of Litchfield National Park, we made a quick stop at Humpty Doo (yes this is a real town!) and picked up enough food to get us through the next 4 days of remote camping.

Then we headed for the nearest roadhouse and set up for the night.


Day 5 – Free Camp North of Katherine


We made sure we were up early to get over Cahills Crossing at low tide – this is the point you traverse the East Alligator River to get into Arnhem Land.

The crossing has to be made within 3 hours of low tide at this

The crossing has to be made within 3 hours of low tide at this river otherwise, the water gets too high to drive through.

However the normal 50 – 100mm of water over the crossing at low tide was actually sitting at 1.1m due to rain when we arrived!

There was absolutely no chance of us crossing for a few days 🙁

Just after we got to the crossing at the river, the police and the park rangers also turned up and decided to close the road for the entire wet season.

Normally this doesn’t happen until around Christmas time, but such was the level of unseasonal rain.

We hung around for a while and chatted with a few of the rangers while watching the river rise even more (within 30 minutes the river rose to 1.4m) and some very large crocs cruising past.

All we could do was make a new plan over a coffee!

So, out came the maps and notebooks.

Eventually, the consensus was to head west and get on with making it to Broome by mid-October. After a long and disappointing day we made camp at a free camp on the side of the road 40km north of Katherine.

It was a real shame our second crossing to Arnhem Land had failed, but by the same token we were kind of glad we hadn’t made it across.

If we had, we’d now be stuck there until the water levels went down, possibly not until April!


Day 6 – Sullivan Campground, Judbarra / Gregory National Park, NT


We made it into Katherine pretty early (after a quick detour to Edith Falls for a dip!) so I spent some valuable internet time at the Library while the boys picked up the clutch from the bus.

We found the Thermal Springs just west of Katherine and enjoyed ourselves with a quick swim before heading off for the 2 hour drive to our camp in – the eastern section of Judbarra / Gregory National Park.

Starting to drive west from Katherine the landscape really changed and we began to be greeted by these incredible towering escarpments of red sandstone that we couldn’t help but stop and take a million pics of!

Hoping that this is a sneaky preview of the beauty we have in store when we get to Western Australia’s Kimberley region!


Day 7 – Bullita Campground, Judbarra / Gregory National Park


An early start and we made it passed the Victoria Rover Roadhouse to breakfast at Joe Creek Picnic Area.

From here, we then enjoyed one of the most stunning walks we’ve done.

Only a short one of about 2km, the Nawulbinbin loop hike took us up the red sandstone gorge walls with stunning lookouts down the valley and great snaps of some indigenous rock art.

With the heat of the day coming on, we were soon back in the car, headed for the western section of Judbarra / Gregory National Park.

If anything was going to test out the clutch it would be the very slow and rough 4wd track from Buchannan Hwy to the Bullita Campground set deep within the park!

But this place is famous for its 4wd tracks and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity!

The sign at the start of the Tuwakam Track suggested that the 20km was going to take approximately 3 hours to traverse and that we needed a satellite phone! 

Luckily we had all afternoon … and a sat phone now!

Wow, what a treat! This certainly was not a track for the faint hearted.

Some steep dry creek crossings to start with were then followed by some extremely rough boulder sections and lots of stopping to pick the best path through the rocks!

At some point, we could only travel at 3km per hour as the car bumped and bounced over huge amounts of chipped limestone slabs!

But after hour and 40 minutes later and we were done!

And very happy with our choice to get off the bitumen! 4 wheel driving in Judbarra / Gregory National Park was a lot of fun and it felt good to be off the beaten track a bit!

We love something a little different too and strongly recommend coming here, but I’d definitely make sure you and your vehicle are up for the challenge as it would be a long time to wait for anyone to come and help you if you get stuck or break down!

Possibly even worse than even the Coburg Peninsula for passing traffic!

We then visited some other attractions in the park, including the frozen waterfall-looking calcite flow near Limestone Gorge, before bedding down at the delightfully fly-free Bullita Campground!

So another week draws to a close folks and we can almost smell WA.

Very exciting!


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