Reverse this information if you are travelling from Cairns to Darwin

Distance, around 8,000km. 5,000 miles) Time. 30 Days

  • Darwin and the 'Top End'
  • Kakadu National Park, Crocodiles
  • Katherine, Mataranka Thermal Springs
  • Alice Springs and Ayers Rock (Uluru)
  • Adelaide and the Barossa Valley
  • Kangaroo Island
  • The Grampians National Park
  • The Great Ocean Road
  • Melbourne
  • Canberra
  • The Southern Highlands
  • Sydney and the Opera House and Harbour
  • Brisbane and the Koala Sanctuary
  • Hervey Bay and Whale Watching (May to October)
  • Fraser Island World Heritage Area
  • Rockhampton, Mackay and the Great Barrier Reef
  • Cairns, the Daintree rainforest and Cape York
  • When we get a request from somebody to plan a tour taking in Kakadu, Alice Springs, Ayers Rock, the Barossa Valley, the Great Ocean Road, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Fraser Island, the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns and the Daintree Rainforest area, within 4 weeks, it makes us a bit jumpy.
    It is possible to see all these places within that time, but you will need to use planes a lot and travel around 500km. (320 miles) a day by car, a daunting holiday prospect.

    My first suggestion is you arrive at depart from different airports, mainly Darwin and Cairns. If you are coming from Asia or Europe, you can disembark at Darwin, make your way around the country anti-clockwise and depart from Cairns. If you are coming from New Zealand or the United States, you would begin from Cairns and depart from Darwin.
    This route via Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane, will pass all of the major attractions listed above, and a lot more.
    The 'Must Sees' are:
  • Kakadu and the Top End of the Northern Territory
  • Alice Springs, Ayers Rock and Central Australia
  • Adelaide, Kangaroo Island and the Barossa Valley.
  • Drive or take a coach to Melbourne via the Grampians National Park and the Great Ocean Road.
  • Drive to Sydney via the Alpine area, Canberra and the Southern Highlands.
  • Fly to BrIsbane and either drive or take the rail to Cairns via Fraser Island, the Great Barrier Reef, and visit the Cape York Peninsula and rainforest areas.
    Obviously, if you have more time, you can include more things on your tour. There are places worth visiting in every little town throughout the country. The opal fields at Coober Pedy, a cruise on a paddle steamer along the Murray River, a visit to Sovereign Hill Historic Village in Ballarat, the Hunter Valley near Sydney, the Gold Coast, and a bit more of the incredible Outback with its vast distances and unique character are but a few.

    But here we are dealing with getting you around the country in a limited time, so lets get on with it....
    DAY 1.
    If you are arriving in Darwin from Europe or the west, you will need a little time to adjust, get to your accommodation, and organise yourself.
    There are a lot of places to visit around Darwin and you can either take a coach tour, hire a car, or walk to many of them. Depending on what time you arrive you can see these things on the day you arrive.
    DAY 2,3.
    The next day you can travel the 200 km. (125 miles) to Kakadu, either in a hire car, or by a scheduled coach tour. Overnight there and visit the park, and the next day take the Kakadu Hwy to Pine Creek (200km), down to Mataranka (200km), and visit the Thermal Springs before travelling back to Katherine(112km.) to visit the Katherine Gorge and stay overnight.
    DAY 4.
    Return to Darwin (320km) via the Stuart Hwy. and take the plane to Alice Springs. About a 2 hour flight.
    DAYS 5,6 & 7.
    There are plenty of tour operators running day or overnight trips to Ayers Rock from Alice Springs. You can hire a 4WD or conventional vehicle and drive the 480km. to Ayers Rock, or you can fly from Alice Springs. There are dozens of interesting places to visit around Alice Springs, the Eastern and Western MacDonnell Ranges contain dozens of gorges and gaps to explore and further south, the magnificent Kings Canyon is the most under-rated natural attraction in Australia.
    DAY 8.
    Either return to Alice Springs and fly to Adelaide, or do it directly from Yulara at Ayers Rock. There is a fee to drop off hire cars if you are using one.
    DAY 9.
    Hire a vehicle, or take a tour and visit the Barossa Valley, Australia's leading wine producing area, around 70km. east of Adelaide. Return to your accommodation in Adelaide and enjoy the nightlife and a quiet dinner.
    DAY 10.
    Take the Ferry from Cape Jervis to Kangaroo Island. Push bike or car hire is available to get around the island which has a problem with too many koalas eating away the foliage, so you are sure to see a few. The Cleland National Park in the hills just east of Adelaide is a good opportunity to see most types of Australian wildlife including koalas, kangaroos, emus and wombats.
    DAY 11, 12, 13. More detailed information
    Either hire a vehicle, or take one of the several coaches which operate between Adelaide and Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road. It is around 1,000 km. (650 miles) between the two cities by this route, and you will need 3 days to see everything.
    DAY 14, 15.
    From Melbourne, hire a car, or take a coach via Canberra to Sydney. 900km (650 miles), overnighting in Yass, or Canberra along the way. Explore the Southern Highlands as you pass through.
    DAY 16, 17.
    Explore Sydney, visit the Blue Mountains, the Opera House and Harbour, and take a harbour ferry cruise.
    DAY 18.
    Fly to Brisbane and overnight after having a look around the city and visiting the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.
    DAY 19, 20.
    Travel to Hervey Bay (300km.) 200miles, and visit the Fraser Island World Heritage area. Whale watching cruises operate from August to October.
    DAY 21, 22.
    Travel to Mackay, (700km.) (460 miles) and overnight before looking around the beaches and islands.
    DAY 23.
    Travel to Townsville (440km.) (260 miles) and see the sights, visit the islands
    DAY 24, 25, 26, 27.
    Follow the coast to Cairns and go diving on the reef, take a tour of the islands, take a 4WD safari to Cape York Peninsula and the rainforest area.

    This is a rough guide to what you can see in around 4 weeks. It is hectic, but if you want to see everything you need to get the lead out. Naturally, if you have an extra week or so you can either slow down and enjoy more, or see more. Minor diversions can add much to your trip. Car hire rates vary and you can check our travel pages for links to major hire suppliers. Alternatively, you could hire a camper van for the whole trip, but you are adding time. To fly between Darwin and Adelaide takes about 4 hours....to drive takes about 6 days. It is cheaper and faster to fly.
  • Petrol in Australia costs between $1.40 cents and $1.60 a litre depending on where you are. That works out to around $5.50 to $7.00 a gallon, so you must calculate this. Try working out at 10 litres for every 100km. as a rough guide.
  • The best time to visit the north is around April, when the "wet season" has just finished, all the waterfalls are flowing, and the edge has gone off the summer. Alternatively, you might visit in September/October, and while it is not as spectacular, the weather is perfect and many sites more accessible than after the 'wet'. The Kakadu Hwy, and roads into the Cape York Peninsula may well be closed immediately after, and during the wet season.
  • Temperatures in Central Australia and the Outback will get down to degrees minus in May, June and July so be sure to bring something warm to wear of a night at these times. In high summer, December and January, most Australian centres reach into the 100 degrees Farenheit (38 degrees celsius) at some time. Running around 'nekkid as a jaybird' will get you in to serious trouble, so bring some light clothing. Shorts, loose tops etc.
  • Whales visit Australian waters between March and October to breed and give birth in the warmer waters. You can see them at Victor Harbor in South Australia, Warrnambool in Victoria, and off the coast of Queensland.
  • Accommodation might be difficult to obtain during school holidays unless you have reserved it well in advance. Australians also explore their country throughout the year. Especially with the 'ankle-biters' at school holidays.

    We can help you plan your holiday if you wish and can save you a considerable amount for a small fee. Email us if you need assistance or more holiday ideas.

    © Copyright Wilkins Tourist Maps Pty Ltd 2008