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National Parks in Darwin - Campervan Guide

Which are the best National Parks to visit around Darwin?

Darwin is well-connected to the surrounding national parks with a network of good roads, making it easy to travel from the city. The Darwin area is home to several stunning national parks perfect for campervan exploration.

Some of the best parks to visit include:

  • Mary River
  • Kakadu
  • Litchfield
  • Nitmiluk
How much is campervan entry to a National Park in Darwin? Are any permits required?

There are over 80 national parks, nature reserves, conservation areas and marine parks in the Northern Territory. As of April 3, 2023, a Park Pass is required for visitors to access the majority of national parks and reserves in the Northern Territory (NT).

The park pass pricing is as follows:

  • Adult: $10 day pass, $30 two-week pass & $60 for an open pass valid for 12 months
  • Child: $5 day pass, $15 two-week pass & $30 for an open pass valid for 12 months
  • Family: $25 day pass, $75 two-week pass & $150 for an open pass valid for 12 months

Once you have purchased a pass, it grants you access to all parks and reserves under the management of the Northern Territory Government for the specified validity period.

The two exceptions are Kakadu and Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Parks, which fall under the management of Parks Australia and the Australian Government requiring their own Parks Pass to visit.

Park pass fees (January to December) for Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa are:

  • $38 per adult three-day park pass or $50 per adult annual pass (children under 17 are free) for Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa
  • $109 Northern Territory annual vehicle fee for NT residents to Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa

Alternatively, grab a pass at the entry station en route to Uluṟu if you can't buy it online. The pass comes with a digital QR code, which you must scan at the barcode reader by the entry station.

Park pass fees for Kakadu are:

  • Tropical Summer (November to May): $25 per adult and $12.50 per child (5-15 years) or $65 for a family permit for a 7-day pass

  • Dry Season (May to October): $40 per adult and $20 per child (5-15 years) or $100 for a family permit for a 7-day pass

NT residents are exempt from obtaining a park pass, with the exception of Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa. However, proof of residency, such as a valid NT driver's license, may be requested upon visiting the other parks.

Australian seniors and concession card holders are entitled to discounts on all park passes.

Most national parks around Darwin have designated camping areas charging nominal fees starting at $6 per adult to stay overnight in a campervan without needing a permit. However, you do need to book online in advance to secure your spot, as you can’t pay at the park. If you plan to stay overnight outside a designated camping area, you will need to apply for a permit. These permits only cost $10 for a family or $4 per adult, so it’s an inexpensive way to enjoy some of the best beauty spots around Darwin. Being self-sufficient will be required.

If you are travelling long distances and just require somewhere to take a break and rest up, there are designated road rest stops that allow sleeping overnight. These service areas are located on the region’s three major highways:

  • Stuart Highway
  • Barkly Highway
  • Victoria Highway

To avoid driver fatigue, take 15-minute breaks every 2 hours.

Popular National Parks in Darwin

Litchfield National Park

Just an hour's drive from Darwin, Litchfield National Park is a must-visit for any nature lover. With its cascading waterfalls, lush rainforests and stunning swimming holes, you can escape the city and connect with nature.

Kakadu National Park

Kakadu is one of Australia's most iconic national parks, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its stunning landscapes, including its rugged sandstone escarpments, verdant wetlands, and tranquil floodplains. Ubirr is home to some of the best Aboriginal rock art in the Northern Territory. Yellow Water is one of the best places in the park to spot wildlife. The park is home to a rich array of flora and fauna, including crocodiles, wallabies, and over 280 species of birds fill the skies with their songs, making it a paradise for birdwatchers