Cairns to Darwin: 14-Day Campervan Itinerary

From the Reef to the Outback—Discovering the Best of Northern Australia

Set off on an adventure through the breathtaking natural beauty and deep cultural history of Australia's Northern Territory as you journey from Cairns to Darwin in a cozy campervan. You'll have 14 days to immerse yourself in some of the most captivating destinations in the Australian outback, from stunning landscapes, quirky wildlife, and lively Aboriginal culture. Transcend from the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef to traversing the untamed terrain of Kakadu National Park, discovering all the hidden gems in between, and revelling in the unparalleled splendour of the Australian wild.

Compare campervan rentals in Cairns with Camper Champ's user-friendly platform. You can also pick up a rental motorhome in Darwin for a one-way rental in the opposite direction.

Day 1: Beaches and Babinda Boulders

The tropical city of Cairns in Far North Queensland is known for its stunning natural beauty. As you start your journey, head towards Babinda Boulders, which is a popular swimming spot surrounded by lush tropical rainforest. The boulders are made of granite and are over 150 million years old. Later, head to the picturesque Mission Beach, which boasts 14 km of pristine beaches and has a vibrant local food scene.

Day 2: Tropical Townsville

Venture down to the Townsville area, a vibrant tropical city with a relaxed lifestyle. Visit the Strand, a popular waterfront promenade with stunning views of Magnetic Island, home to various restaurants and cafes. Explore the local markets and try some of the delicious tropical fruits for which the region is famous. Later, head to Magnetic Island, accessible by a 20-minute ferry ride from Townsville, and explore the scenic trails or snorkel in the clear blue waters.

Day 3: Discovering Charters Towers

Charters Towers is a historic gold mining town with well-preserved colonial architecture. The town was once the second-largest city in Queensland during the gold rush era. Visit the Venus Battery, a restored gold-crushing plant, now a museum showcasing the town's mining history. The Stock Exchange Arcade is another unique building in the city, with an ornate interior that was once the hub of economic activity in the region.

Day 4: Outback Adventure in Hughenden

Hughenden, a quaint outback town, is renowned for its fascinating dinosaur fossils. Make sure to stop by the Flinders Discovery Centre, where you'll find an impressive array of fossils, featuring the remains of the famed Muttaburrasaurus—one of Australia's most well-known dinosaurs. The museum also showcases the region's geological past, such as the immense Great Artesian Basin, one of the world's largest subterranean water sources. Afterwards, why not head over to the breathtaking Porcupine Gorge National Park and marvel at the striking sandstone cliffs, sculpted over millions of years, that offer awe-inspiring panoramas?

Day 5: Savannah Way to Normanton

The Savannah Way is a favoured driving route that traverses the lush savannahs of northern Australia, providing a distinctive opportunity to experience the wild and secluded landscapes of the area. Make your way to the delightful town of Normanton, nestled in the Gulf of Carpentaria. While there, be sure to check out the striking replica of Krys, the enormous crocodile, which stretches 8.64 meters in length and was caught in the region back in the 1950s.

Day 6 & 7: Barramundi Fishing in Karumba

Karumba is a popular fishing spot on the Gulf of Carpentaria known for its pristine waters and abundant marine life. Take a fishing charter and catch barramundi, the iconic fish of Northern Australia, or enjoy the stunning sunset views from the beach. The town is also home to various bird species, including the rare and endangered Gouldian Finch.

Day 8: Mataranka and the Never Never

Mataranka, a charming little town in the Northern Territory, is renowned for its thermal pools and natural springs. Make sure to explore the Mataranka Thermal Pool, an inviting hot spring enveloped by palm trees and verdant greenery. Situated in Elsey National Park, this pool gained fame due to the book "We of the Never Never," which chronicles the adventures of a trailblazing family in the region.

Day 9: Discovering Katherine

Katherine is home to a vibrant Aboriginal community, and their culture is reflected in the town's art, music, and festivals. Katherine is also known for its natural attractions, including the Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park, a series of 13 gorges that can be explored by boat, canoe, or on foot. The park is home to various wildlife, including wallabies, kangaroos, and over 160 species of birds. Other popular attractions in the area include the Katherine Hot Springs, natural hot springs surrounded by lush tropical vegetation, and the Cutta Cutta Caves, limestone caves filled with stalactites and stalagmites.

Day 10: Exploring Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park encompasses an expansive wilderness teeming with breathtaking scenery and vibrant Aboriginal heritage. The park serves as a sanctuary for crocodiles, kangaroos, and wallabies. Be sure to explore the Ubirr rock art site, where you'll find ancient Aboriginal paintings dating back thousands of years. To top off your visit, embark on a picturesque flight over the park, delighting in the awe-inspiring vistas of cascading waterfalls and sprawling wetlands.

Day 11: Mary River National Park

Mary River National Park, a secluded haven for nature enthusiasts, boasts a wealth of wildlife and untouched wetlands. Embark on a wildlife cruise down the Mary River, a sanctuary for diverse bird species, including the rare and endangered Gouldian Finch. The park is also a habitat for numerous reptiles, such as the formidable saltwater crocodile—one of the largest and most dangerous crocodile species on the planet.

Day 12: Litchfield National Park

Litchfield National Park, a sought-after destination, entices visitors with its mesmerizing waterfalls and inviting natural swimming spots. Pay a visit to Wangi Falls, a tranquil oasis enveloped by lush tropical greenery. Additionally, the park houses the intriguing Magnetic Termite Mounds, distinctive structures built by termites that align north-south to maintain stable temperatures within.

Day 13: Crocodile Adventures

Crocodile Adventures is a wildlife park committed to the conservation of crocodiles and their habitats. Witness captivating crocodile feeding demonstrations and gain insights into their biology and habits. The park also hosts an array of other creatures, such as snakes, birds, and large felines. Discover the significance of protecting these animals and their environments for generations to come.

Day 14: Mindil Beach and Gardens

Unwind at Mindil Beach, a gorgeous stretch of golden sand and pristine waters. Afterwards, venture to the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, home to a remarkable collection of tropical plants essential to the ecosystem and a favourite location for birdwatching enthusiasts.

On your final day, meander through the city and absorb its lively ambience. Drop by the Darwin Waterfront Precinct, a bustling hub with an array of restaurants and bars, or take a refreshing plunge in the wave pool. As the evening approaches, bid farewell to Darwin and cherish the unforgettable memories forged during your journey through the Australian outback.

Campervan Itineraries