I know, I know, if you google “itinerary Western Australia” and/or “itinerary Northern Territory” you get so many hits that if you would read them all you’d be reading for days. And it’s definitely great reading material. I read a lot of blogs to compile a list of must sees for us, so that I could ultimately come up with the best route possible. And all the research beforehand was very helpful, but I realized as soon as we got into our rental 4wd and started this epic road trip, that WA and NT had so much more to offer. There is no way we could do and see everything in the 21 days we had there. So we scratched things here and there while we were on the road and I will share the result with you, since it was absolutely the trip of a lifetime.
But before I share our itinerary I would like to share that we rented our 4WD from WA Experts, a rental company just outside of Perth. The service is great. Even before we arrived, Iwan (the owner) shared great tips about Perth like good places to eat and things to see. He even picked us up with his car from our AirBnb in Perth and drove us back to his place, where he gave us an extensive instruction on how to use everything the car had to offer. If you ever want to rent a Troopy 4WD, then head on over to WA Experts and you will be provided with the best 4WD campervan (a Toyota Troopcarrier with a Bundutop rooftop tent), best service and most importantly: you have nothing to worry about during your road trip. I highly recommend them. And no, they didn’t pay me to say that.
Itinerary Perth to Darwin
Eighty Mile Beach
Gibb River Road
And now the perfect itinerary for a road trip in a 4WD from Perth to Darwin in 21 days.
You start your trip in Perth. A nice town to check out, but you don’t need more than one or two days for that. After this short city trip you take off in your 4WD, with a rooftop tent, a fully loaded freezer and/or cooler and a great mood, because this is when the magic starts. On your first day you will only take a short drive, 55 km, to Yanchep National Park. It is a great NP to start. It’s not too touristy. And there are a lot of Grey Kangaroo’s humping around and that will totally make your day. We were sitting in front of our Troopy with a beer in hand and they where chillling right in front of us. Slowly the sun went down and it was a magical experience that made for a great first day! And oh, did I mention you can also spot koala’s here? You can and they’re adorable.
In the morning you’ll leave Yanchep NP to drive to Nambung NP in just a few hours. The highlight in this NP is the Pinnacle Desert. Spend a few hours walking through this park. It is quite a sight. Everyone knows about the pinnacles so it is a touristy spot, but definitely still worth a visit.
Kalbarri NP is a definite must-see. You can hike multiple routes. We walked to Nature Window and then hiked the 10km Loop Route, which is a beautiful walk through the gorge. After that it is off to the next NP.
Oh, and uhm, this is where I give you the first inside tip: on your way to Peron NP, stop at Overlander Roadhouse for the best hamburger you have ever had.
Spend the day in Peron NP, you can only drive here with a 4WD and there are multiple free camping spots there. We choose to set up camp at Herald Bight, where we spotted dolphins while hanging the laundry out to dry. Can you believe it?
After playing around here you head on over to the next spot: Coral Bay. You will drive by the Blowholes, make time to see them if you can. It felt like walking on Mars (don’t walk around on flip flops, you will get hurt!).
Day 4, 5 and 6
Time to spend a few days at Ningaloo Reef. Book a camping spot for a few days to charge your own battery after all that traveling. Relax and swim, bbq and do a whale shark tour.
My second tip: swimming with a whale shark is a great experience. Just make sure you check out which company does it sustainably.
We booked the tour with Coral Bay Eco Tours and enjoyed it very much. We didn’t only see the whale sharks, but also dolphins and whales.
After a last chill morning at your camping spot it’s time to hit the road. The afternoon is spend driving, filling up on gas and doing groceries to get you going for the next few days. Spend the night in miners town Tom Price.
Day 7 and 8
Karijini NP is a place where we could’ve spend an extra day, but we arrived at the campingground (Dales) around 9am, so we did have a full day to hike and therefore we did decide to move on the next day. What did we do during the day? We went to Oxer Lookout first, where you get rewarded with a great view of three gorges coming together. After that it was time to hike and we walked to Fern Pool and then back to Circular Pool. After a picnic at Circular Pool we hiked back to the Threeway Lookout before walking back to Dales Campground, enjoying our surroundings, in little less than an hour. A schedule I highly recommend.
Drive to the start of Eighty Mile Beach via Port Hedland. Play in the sand (shark alert, so now swimming here) and chill in your hammock. After all the hiking you did yesterday you deserve to put your feet up and have a beer, mate!
Day 9, 10 and 11
Next up is Broome. There are many campings in Broome. It is really popular with Grey Nomads, families and backpackers. It was really the only place where we drove for hours before we had any luck and that’s only because the guy at the reception saw my despair after the 10th “no” and looked at my very tired 11yo who almost started crying. He gave us a spot that wasn’t officially a camping spot, but we were really grateful. So if ever you need to book ahead it will definitely be for Broome!
- driving onto Cable beach with your 4WD, cooking and eating there while people are riding camels (yes, really: camels);
- check out dinosaur footprints at Gantheaume Point;
- visit the Bird observatory;
- if you’re here between May and October you have to watch the sun go down at the beach to see the Staircase to the Moon.
Today you start driving the impressive Gibb River Road. Your first visit is to the horrible Prison Boab (where aboriginals were strapped to in the scorching heat) to learn more about the racism the original inhabitants of Australia had to cope with (and sadly still have to endure, like most minorities in the world) .
After that you hike through the gorgeous Windjana Gorge and observe hundreds of freshwater crocs. No, I’m not exaggerating! It is a loop, because there is only one way to enter and exit the gorge. The good news is that you will see all those crocs again on your way back. Believe me, it won’t get old.
Our plan was to drive the complete Gibb River Road. But after our visit to Tunnel Creek we were tired of the bumpy roads and a piece of pebble broke our front window, so we had to change our plans anyway.
We needed to drive to Halls Creek and leave the Gibb River Road. But we found a hidden gem in the process: Caroline Pool! We camped out there for free, were surrounded by wildlife drinking from the creek. We made a fire and had so much fun by ourselves in the middle of nowhere with no one around.
Day 12, 13 and 14
Our car was at a mechanic for a few hours, but in that few hours we came up with a new plan and it turned out to be the best decision we could’ve made.
We went to Purnululu NP. I’ve said it before about spots in Oz, and I’ll say it again: it’s a must-see. The beehive-shaped Bungle Bungles Range is out of this world and the hikes are amazing.
You really do need a 4WD for a lot of the roads in Purnululu NP and the camping grounds that are only accessible by 4WD are less crowded and surrounded by nature. If you can live without a hot shower and clean toilets you will have an awesome time here.
Another insider tip. In Timber Creek we decided that it was time for a little chill out time. So we spend time at a camping where we could wash our clothes in a real washing machine and where we could bbq and make a bonfire. We didn’t do much else but read, watch freshwater crocodiles and watch dozens of eagles fly by. A nice little breather.
Day 15 – 20
Kakadu NP deserves so much more praise than it already gets. It was the absolute number 1 highlight of our road trip and if we had more time we would’ve stayed even longer than we already did. The NP is huge and you could easily spend a week there and you still wouldn’t have seen it all. We were there for 3,5 days and we saw as much as we could and we really enjoyed it, but I already know I want to go back there.
Please don’t skip the Yellow Water Cruise and make sure you find out when the sun will set and book the tour at that time slot. It is enchanting and you will never forget it.
Day 20 and 21
Our last day on the road ended in Darwin. We really enjoyed Darwin so I advise you to stay there for a day or two.
The road trip of a lifetime ended here. But our trip through Australia wasn’t over yet. We also visited Sydney and Melbourne after.
I will blog more in depth about Australia later. This blog is only meant for you to help you complete your own perfect itinerary for your road trip through Western Australia and Northern Territory.
I won’t hold it against you if you don’t completely copy this itinerary, but it would be unwise to do so ;).
Did you ever road trip through WA and NT? Did I leave things out that people really shouldn’t miss? Share it with us by leaving a comment below.
ps: this is not a sponsored post. I did not get paid to visit or sleep at the locations mentioned.