Fewer drives in the world provide the sheer breadth of drama than the trip from Darwin to Perth produces. This trip takes in World Heritage sites, stunning coastlines and even desert rockscapes as you venture into the truly unknown. It’s why taking this trip across NT and WA is a unique experience not found anywhere else.
As you explore this vast landscape from the comfort of your campervan, there is a whole range of places to stop and explore. It’s why we have compiled a 14-day itinerary that lets you see everything this behemoth of a trip offers. So prepare yourself for a drive of a lifetime as you see why WA and NT offer picture-postcard moments from every bend in the road.
This first leg of the trip allows you to see the best the Northern Territory has to offer in just one day. Before leaving civilisation behind, check out Darwin’s unique wartime splendours at the Darwin Military Museum and some amazing Indigenous art at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT).
After seeing Darwin’s underrated cultural scene, head off to see some of the Top End’s best natural wonders. Discover unique swimming spots set against dramatic waterfalls at Litchfield National Park and unearth spectacular canyons and gorges in the scenic Nitmiluk National Park. After that, you can stop at Katherine Hot Springs to unwind after a busy day exploring.
The next day sees a big trek ahead as you head from across into Western Australia. Before that, it’s time to check out some more national parks tucked away in the Northern Territory. See what happens when wetlands collide with desert bushland at the stunning Judbarra / Gregory National Park.
Additionally, see how far back local tribespeople in the well-hidden Keep River National Park have inhabited this seemingly desert scrubland. Finally, see ancient rock drawings and old farmsteads set amongst stunning natural grounds as you see the last parts of your NT and head into WA.
Your first full day in Western Australia certainly won’t disappoint. After setting off from Kununurra, check out the stunning Lake Argyle, which offers a chance to swim and experience watersports in the country’s second-largest lake.
From there, head further south along the National Highway and discover one of Australia’s best-hidden secrets: Purnululu National Park. The star attraction of this rocky wasteland is the iconic Bungle Bungle rock formations that date back over 350 million years. It’s also the first of several World Heritage Sites you will discover on the trip. From there, it’s a short stop to Halls Creek, the last real chance to refresh for over 600 km!
This stage of the journey takes you across the isolated Kimberley Region – a natural area that civilisation forgot! A great early port of call is the Devonian Reef National Park which showcases a series of ancient coral reefs and a breathtaking network of caves and caverns. Also worth exploring is the quaint town of Fitzroy Crossing, which has an easy vibe and sits on the dominant Fitzroy River.
Before reaching Broome, a worthy detour would be heading north to check out the small town of Derby on the coast itself. There is a charming waterfront to explore, and the nearby Horizontal Falls provide impressive tidal movements that have to be seen to be believed.
Broome itself is a real smorgasbord of cultures and sights to take in. You can enjoy dozens of cuisines in such a small space, and the town’s stunning beaches are great for watching the world go by. Away from the beach, get up close with fearsome creatures at the Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park or check out fascinating pearl farms at the nearby Dampier Peninsula.
On the journey to Port Hedland, you’ll discover some fascinating sites. First, check out the region’s stunning tropical setting as you zoom past Eighty Mile Beach and push towards Port Hedland. Then, once arriving at your destination, uncover the town’s vast mining history via the Port Hedland Heritage Trail. Finally, when the sun sets, check out the Staircase to the Moon in the town’s harbour and see its eerie glow in the water.
On this 8hr leg of the journey, you will take a trip back in time to an ancient land and marine monuments. The major highlight is discovering the historical sights around the town of Karratha. The town has a pleasant feel and offers the chance to explore the stunning Dampier Archipelago. These small islands are home to turtles, coral, and ancient marine life.
Heading further south, check out the picturesque settings of the Millstream Chichester National Park. Here, a natural oasis teems with life against the Pilbara bush-scapes. Alongside that, take a dip in the hot springs and lagoons in the park and explore old farms and homesteads. From here, push on south and venture away from the National Highway as you reach Exmouth.
There’s something special about the region surrounding the stunning coastal resort of Exmouth. The town has a lively vibe, but the star attractions are scattered across the coast. The main attraction is Ningaloo National Park – a vibrant reef system that was also one of Australia’s first World Heritage Sites.
This reef system provides the opportunity to explore ancient coral reefs teeming with all forms of marine life, from clownfish to turtles. It’s not the only area worth exploring, though. The nearby Cape Range National Park sees small marine streams seep into coastal canyons and cut through the local coastline. A day to truly see WA’s stunning marine scenery at its finest.
After seeing Exmouth’s coastal gems, it’s time to press on further south along the coastline. A short trip from Exmouth is the pretty town of Coral Bay. Situated on the Ningaloo Coast, you will find coral garden reefs just metres from the beach. As you head further down the coastline, you will come across the picturesque town of Carnarvon.
Situated at the mouth of the Gascoyne River, Carnarvon has plenty to offer. The Carnarvon Space & Technology Centre gives a great history of Australia’s role in space exploration and has a planetarium and observatory that you can visit. In addition, the town’s Gwoonwardu Mia Heritage and Cultural Centre showcases the history and culture of several tribes and their impact on the region.
On the way toward the small town of Denham, take a trip inland to see some of the region’s natural landmarks. The main sights are the rugged Kennedy Range National Park, where red rock rises from the ground to form steep canyons on the Gascoyne River. Here, check out the Honeycomb Gorge, where the walls have interlined to look like honeycombs on either side of the canyon.
Whilst on the wildlife track inland, you can also visit the fascinating Toolonga Nature Reserve. Spend an afternoon looking for animals across the bushland trails and tranquil creeks. From here, meander your way back towards the small coastal town of Denham.
Whilst Denham may only be a small town, it provides the perfect base point to explore the stunning Monkey Mia Conservation Refuge. Monkey Mia is arguably the dolphin capital of Australia. As the warm waters of the Indian Ocean surround the peninsula, see dolphins frolic in their natural setting and get up close with them in the warm transparent waters.
On the other side of the peninsula, Shark Bay provides a natural home for some of the country’s most threatened marine life. This World Heritage Site is a protected breeding ground for dugongs and several whale species. Search for at least three different species of whale here and dozens of bird life as you see the Coral Coast realistically come to life.
Heading south once more, the Coral Coast continues to give stunning seascapes – this time in the form of Kalbarri National Park. This national park stretches around the Murchison River, reaching 80 km from the coast to far inland. The Kalbarri Skywalk offers a stunning cliff-top walk that puts brave souls in their place as they gaze at the sea below.
The town of Kalbarri has a relaxed vibe and gives you a chance to enjoy the warm waters of the Indian Ocean with several picturesque beaches. Enjoy it from a distance on the promenade or the water itself. From here, it’s only a short saunter to Geraldton, where the breadths of civilisation start to be apparent again.
With 40,000 residents, Geraldton has developed into a hub in its own right. The headline attraction in the town is the HMAS Sydney II Memorial which tells of a warship sunk by the Nazis in 1941. Sticking with coastal attractions, you can also visit the Point Moore Lighthouse, which is not only still operational but also one of the area’s most prominent landmarks.
Being on the coast also means the town has some great beaches to enjoy. Coronation Beach has become a local haven for sports such as windsurfing and kiteboarding, whilst Separation Point is the top snorkelling destination in the local area. A real mix of things to do in one of WA’s fastest-growing towns.
When completing the final leg of this journey, you will still find plenty of intriguing sites. The town of Dongara is one of the premier fishing spots in WA, known for harbouring giant lobsters and whiting and snapper. Moving on from there, Nambung National Park offers a bizarre mix of desert and greenery and harbours The Pinnacles rock formation.
Moving further inland, Moore River National Park offers a broad mix of bushland and scrub that offers relaxing walking trails along the Moore River. Finally, the Gnangara State Forest is a great place to traverse the forests north of Perth and see yet another side of WA. After that, you reached Perth – the world’s most isolated city!
What a great way to finish this epic trek from the Northern Territory! Whether it’s city or surf, Perth has both on offer.
Perth is one of Australia's most beautiful and vibrant cities. Located on the banks of the Swan River, it boasts a beautiful skyline and many green spaces. For food lovers, it’s also a great place, with many local restaurants serving up tasty dishes inspired by the abundance of fresh produce available locally.
The thriving arts and culture scene is another major drawcard for tourists. Perth offers plenty of ways to explore its unique blend of cultures, from galleries, museums, theatres, and music festivals.
Perth's beaches are considered some of the finest in Australia. From the pristine sands of Cottesloe to the popular Scarborough Beach, ideal for a quiet spot to sunbathe or have some fun in the surf.
Pop over to visit Kings Park & Botanic Garden, a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. This gorgeous park is the largest inner-city park in the world and offers incredible views of the Swan River and the city skyline. Kings Park & Botanic Garden also hosts the War Memorial, Aboriginal Heritage Sites, and an array of walking trails.