7 Days on a Darwin to Broome Road Trip via the Great Northern Highway

Port of Broome, Western Australia

Port of Broome, Western Australia

Whether you got to Darwin by plane, train (the Ghan), or my 7 day Road-trip from Adelaide, once you’ve seen the sights – like my TOP TEN things to do in Darwin – you’ll eventually have to leave.

But if you’ve got another 7 days (or more!) to kill, the alternative to returning the way you came is to take a road trip – hire a car if you didn’t drive to Darwin – across the Top End through the Kimberley to Broome via the Great Northern Highway!

But be warned! Even though the Darwin to Broome road trip CAN be done in a week, you’ll have to carefully pick and choose the sights you want to see or you’ll run out of time. That’s why my 7 day road trip itinerary has optional extras so you can add extra time and extra attractions!

So choose what you’d REALLY like to do from the itinerary and enjoy!

Victoria River Escarpment from Victoria Highway

Victoria River Escarpment from Victoria Highway

Day 1: Darwin to Victoria River Roadhouse

Distance: 510 km

Driving Time: 6-7 hours. Leave as early as possible – there’s a lot to see and do when you reach the Victoria River Roadhouse!

Route & Scenery: Head south from Darwin along the Stuart Highway, passing through tropical bushland and savannah and over low rocky ranges. At Katherine, leave the tropics behind and enter the RED Outback, heading south-west along the Victoria Highway. Near the Roadhouse, the road passes through Judburra/Gregory National Park and Stokes Range.

Points of Interest:

Victoria River Roadhouse

Victoria River Roadhouse, Northern Territory

  • This itinerary assumes you travelled to Darwin via Katherine and have already seen those attractions. For attractions between Darwin and Katherine, see Days 6 and 7 of my Adelaide to Darwin road trip itinerary.
  • Outback scenery and pastoral properties, low ranges and Buntine Highway (alternative route to Halls Creek) turn off
  • From the Victoria River Roadhouse, climb up to the Escarpment Lookout, hike the 1.7 km Joe Creek Loop Walk, take a look at Australia’s WILDEST river (watch for crocodiles!), watch spectacular sunsets over the Victoria River Escarpment and have a meal at the roadhouse.

Options:

  • Take an extra day to explore attractions en route to Katherine. Stay overnight in Katherine on Day 1 and travel to Victoria River Roadhouse on Day 2.
  • Alternatively, stay at Katherine, then combine Days 2 and 3, seeing the Victoria River Roadhouse sights en route to Timber Creek

Read MORE: Things to do at Victoria River Roadhouse

Escarpment View Above Timber Creek at Sunset

Escarpment View Above Timber Creek at the Lookout at Sunset

Day 2: Victoria River Roadhouse to Timber Creek

Distance: 91 km (yes, you read that right!)

Driving Time: 1 hour (yes, you read that right!)

Route & Scenery: Head west from Victoria River Roadhouse climbing the Victoria River Escarpment and passing through the Stokes Range. Spectacular outback scenery complete with Boab trees all the way!

Crocodile on the banks of the Victoria River

Crocodile on the banks of the Victoria River

Points of Interest:

  • Today’s short trip means there’s time to see any attractions around Victoria River you didn’t have time for yesterday.
  • In Timber Creek, book a sunset Victoria River Cruise to see more of Timber Creek, discover Australia’s wildest river, see more crocodiles than you’ve probably ever seen before, and enjoy drinks and snacks while watching the sunset.

Options:

  • Save Timber Creek for another visit and continue to Keep River National Park campground (150 km), Lake Argyle (190 km) or Kununurra (225 km)
  • Stay an extra night and explore Timber Creek. There’s the historic museum, Escarpment Lookout, crocodile feeding in the creek behind the caravan parks and more of Gregory National Park.

Read MORE: Cruising with Crocodiles on Australia’s Wildest River

SEE MORE:  Victoria River Region Photos on Flickr

Kununurra from Kellys Knob Lookout, Western Australia

Kununurra from Kellys Knob Lookout, Western Australia

Day 3: Timber Creek to Kununurra

Distance: 225 km

Driving Time: 3 hours (including extra for a WA/NT Border vehicle check – don’t carry fruit, vegetables, plants or flowers). Gain bonus extra time at the border by turning clocks back to WA time!

Route & Scenery: Drive west along the Victoria Highway passing through spectacular ranges and land formations. After the border checkpoint, approx 150 km from Timber Creek, continue to Kununurra.

Points of Interest:

Kununurra Sunset, Lily Creek Lagoon

Kununurra Sunset, Lily Creek Lagoon

  • Keep River National Park, sometimes referred to as the Mini Bungle-Bungles, is just 3 km from the WA border.
  • Lake Argyle, Australia’s largest body of fresh water, is 34 km off the highway just across the border.

Options:

  • Stay overnight at the Keep River National Park campground for amazing scenery and the 7 km Jarnem Loop Trail
  • Stay an extra night at Lake Argyle for a sunset or morning cruise and a dip in the infinity pool
  • Extend your stay in Kununurra and use it as a base to explore the region thoroughly (including Lake Argyle and Keep River National Park)
  • Stay an extra night at Wyndham to see the amazing Five Rivers Lookout at sunset, and a number of other attractions

Read MORE:

SEE MORE:  Kununurra Photos on Flickr

Caroline Pool via Halls Creek

Caroline Pool via Halls Creek

Day 4: Kununurra to Halls Creek

Distance: 360 km

Driving Time: 4 ½ – 5 hours

Route & Scenery: 46 km west of Kununurra, turn east onto the Great Northern Highway. Spectacular scenery with multi-coloured rock formations through the Carr-Boyd and O’Connell Ranges. Outback scenery with red rock and spinifex closer to Halls Creek.

Points of Interest:

China Wall, via Halls Creek

China Wall, via Halls Creek

  • Doon Doon Roadhouse
  • Warmun (Turkey Creek) Roadhouse, Indigenous Arts Centre and Bungle-Bungle Scenic Flights
  • Punululu National Park (Bungle-Bungles)
  • At Halls Creek, visit the China Wall quartz formation, Caroline Pool and Old Halls Creek.

Options:

  • Stay an extra night at Warmun or one of the Bungle-Bungles campgrounds and explore Purnululu National Park
  • Stay an extra night at Halls Creek and visit Wolfe Creek Crater National Park (260 km round trip) on the Tanami Road
Fitzroy River at Fitzroy Crossing, Kimberley

Fitzroy River at Fitzroy Crossing, Kimberley Region, Western Australia

Day 5: Halls Creek to Fitzroy Crossing

Distance: 290 km

Driving Time: 3 ½ – 4 hours

Route & Scenery: Travel south-west from Halls Creek passing through oddly shaped rocky mountains, cliffs and canyons then lightly wooded pastoral country.

Points of Interest:

Spot the person!  Geikie Gorge, via Fitzroy Crossing

Spot the person! Geikie Gorge, via Fitzroy Crossing

  • When in flood, the Fitzroy River has the largest water volume of any river in Australia; and in the world only the Amazon is larger!  Take a look – even if it’s NOT in flood!
  • Take a cruise through Geikie Gorge, a Devonian reef system about 20 km from Fitzroy Crossing.

Options:

  • Stay an extra day and explore Geikie Gorge via several walks, or take a tour to Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge.

Read MORE: The Incredible ‘Icebergs’ of Geikie Gorge

Sunset over Mangroves and Derby Jetty, Western Australia

Sunset over Mangroves and Derby Jetty, Western Australia

Day 6: Fitzroy Crossing to Derby

Distance: 260 km

Driving Time: 3 – 3 ½ hours

Route & Scenery: Head west along the Great Northern Highway and head north at the junction with the Broome-Derby road. It’s then only 40 km to Derby on King Sound.

Points of Interest:

Low Tide at Derby Jetty

Low Tide at Derby Jetty

  • Watch the ebb and flow of the highest tides in Australia from the Derby Jetty, 12 metres above the low tide line.
  • Other Derby attractions include the Jandamarra Heritage Trail, old prison, Boab Prison Tree, Frosty’s Pool, the Long Trough and the Joonjoo Botanic Walk.

Options:

Stay an extra night in Derby and experience the Gibb River Road on the Windjana Gorge/Tunnel Creek Day Tour; or visit the Buccaneer Archipelago and Horizontal Waterfall

Sunset at Gantheaume Point, Broome

Sunset at Gantheaume Point, Broome

Read MORE: The Highest Tide in OZ!

Day 7: Derby to Broome

Distance: 220 km

Driving Time: 2 ½ -3 hours

Route & Scenery: Follow the Great Northern Highway south-west to Broome.

Points of Interest:

Staircase to the Moon, Broome, Western Australia

Staircase to the Moon, Broome, Western Australia

  • Willare Bridge Roadhouse
  • Roebuck Plains Roadhouse

Read MORE about Broome’s attractions:

SEE MORE:  Broome Photos on Flickr

Broome’s many attractions probably mean you’ll want to stay for a LOT longer than just one night! And why not? You deserve a break after an epic road trip like this!

And anyway, you may as well kick back and enjoy yourself while you work out where to go next!

Want even MORE?

PS  For the record, it took me 28 nights to do the Darwin to Broome Road Trip; and I spent 15 more nights exploring Broome and surrounds!

And I STILL didn’t see everything!

Sunset on the Victoria River, Northern Territory

Sunset on the Victoria River, Northern Territory

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26 comments

  • what a lovely and informative post, red! beautiful photos too. thank you for this fantastic pictorial tour!

    have a great remainder of your weekend!
    big hugs!

    • It’s an awesome road-trip, Betty! It’s a pleasure to share it, because writing the post was ALMOST as good as re-living the whole trip! Have a great weekend too, my friend!

  • Beautiful photos; fantastic post! Thank you so much for sharing this lovely tour!

  • What an amazing adventure. Fantastic pictures.

  • It must be fun to be young again and be able to drive yourself. Being older I prefer someone else to do the driving on long trips. We did this trip but in reverse and in a 4 wheel drive small bus. There are many wondrous things to see in that part of our country.

    • The amazing natural attractions of this part of OZ would be just as awesome from a tour bus, Diane!! It IS a long way … which is probably why it took us a month, not just 7 days!! I guess that’s the bonus of driving yourself AND having the luxury of time! I KNOW I’m lucky!

    • Just wondering which tour company you went with and did you sleep in tents or more comfy accomodation. We too are a bit to old for doing it ourselves

      • We did this road-trip towing our camper trailer, Linda – but I’ve just done a quick google of ‘Tour Company Darwin to Broome’ and there are a LOT of providers! Try it and see if there’s anything suitable – I can’t recommend one in particular, because they all have different levels of activity, age groups, accommodation and price tags and I’m not sure which would suit you best. Alternatively, all the places we stayed at also had motel or cabin type accommodation, so you could self-drive. Let me know if I can help you further!

  • Marion, thank you for sharing this awesome road trip and your wonderful photos! I have been to Darwin and I have been to Katherine but I have not been on this road trip but I definitely want to go one day – and I think I will definitely need to plan to have more than 7 days!

    • I really only shared it to make you (and others) jealous, Anne! Looks like it worked, huh?!?!?! The 7 weeks suggested by River is a more ideal time frame (for a slow traveller like me) – especially if you want to see everything without rushing. For example, we spent 10 nights in Kununurra, from which we visited Keep River National Park and Lake Argyle, as well as many day trips to the closer attractions. One night in Kununurra means you’d just get a taste for it – but at least that might bring you back! Hope you get to do it one day 😀

  • Road trips are not familiar to me at all because I’ve heard of no story about them in my country. So this post is a tale in a distant world for me, but if I manage to imagine it, I want to meet as many crocodiles as possible!!

    • Maybe road trips are more common in countries with a larger geographic area, Kozue!! But I can assure you that if you take THIS road trip, you WILL meet many crocodiles – unless you’re the unluckiest person in the world 😀

  • Probably to get the full effect and enjoyment of such a trip, you would have to make the drive in seven weeks, not seven days.
    I love the first picture, I want to walk and sit on those rocks; Fitzroy Crossing rocks too.

    • 7 weeks would be ideal, River!! But sadly, a lot of people don’t have the luxury of time 🙁 If you treat the 7 day version like a teaser tour, you’ll know what you want to come back and do!! Even the month it took me wasn’t long enough for everything! Hope your wishes come true 🙂

  • Am I glad we got some points of your list, travelling the other way round.
    Since time-travel sadly is no option I have to say I really can´t wait to retire and become a Grey Nomad!
    Gosh, am I “home-sick” right now!

    • You can’t expect to do everything in one trip, Iris!! We missed out on Purnululu, the Gibb River Road (other than a tour), the Horizontal waterfall, Wolfe Crater and a lot of other things besides because there just wasn’t enough time! But hey!! Why don’t we meet on the road somewhere down here when you ARE retired?!?!

  • Lovely photos and good to see the distances.
    We are going there very soon. At PA at the moment..our 3 rd time.

  • Oh gosh, what can I say? I so, so want to do that trip one day. Your love of the land shines through in your photos.

  • Wow and wow and wow what a bloody awesome trip I would so love to do this maybe when Tim retires and we have the time to such a trip

  • Thanks for bringing back such wonderful memories of our trip across the Kimberly and into Katherine, NT. I loved this drive as it wound through some of the most spectacular territory. One day we are going back to the Kimberley to drive the Gibb River Road.

    • I was bedazzled by the awesome Outback scenery on this trip – wasn’t sure what to expect, but it surpassed any thoughts I might have had! We took a foray onto the Gibb River Rd via a tour – we’d probably have to replace nearly EVERYTHING on our rig to drive it ourselves, but would LOVE to do it!!

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