Tour Description

Alice Springs to Darwin

(Combined Adelaide and South Coast Departure)
Ten Days: 6th – 15th July 2021

Twin Share: $5295 per person. Sole Use: $5995 per person.

Included in the tour:
  • Home pick-ups & set downs (most metro areas – please contact us for details)
  • Picnic-style morning teas & all meals as per the itinerary
  • All accommodation & admissions to all attractions
  • Experienced & informative tour driver/guide.

 

This once in a lifetime journey takes us from the heart of our magnificent country to the tropical capital of the Northern Territory. Explore inspiring natural attractions including the Devil’s Marbles, termite mounds, thermal pools and waterfalls, as well as a spectacular cruise through the towering sandstone walls of Katherine (Nitmiluk) Gorge. Experience the contrast of the desert city of Alice Springs with the top end capital of Darwin, both with a wealth of attractions to discover. Join us on this amazing journey travelling from the heart of our country, through vast and changing landscapes to the incredible tropical north – this will be an unforgettable tour!

 

Day One – TUESDAY 6 JULY 2021

(includes light lunch and two course dinner)

Having being picked up from our homes (limited areas*) we are taken to the Adelaide Airport terminal. On arrival we are met by an Endeavour Tours representative who assists with our group check-in and then guides us through the security procedures to the gate, ready to board our Qantas flight to Alice Springs.

After disembarking in Alice Springs we are greeted by our driver at the airport, who will assist with  luggage before taking us to the Endeavour Tours minicoach.

The short drive into town gives us the opportunity to take in our surrounds before stopping at an iconic service of the outback, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS). The RFDS is one of the largest and most comprehensive aero-medical organisations in the world and we visit the original Alice Springs working base that commenced operating in 1939. On a guided tour we learn about the importance of the RFDS to outback Australians, and the medical care required to service isolated regions. Using the latest in aviation, medical and communications technology, it delivers primary health care and a 24-hour emergency service to those who live, work and travel throughout this vast country. History is brought to life through an amazing holographic presentation by the founder, the late John Flynn, as he tells the story of his vision and its realization into the RFDS of today. We have a the chance to look inside a full scale replica of an operational Pilatus PC 12 Aircraft, as well as look around the museum and souvenir shop.

For the next two nights we will be staying at Crown Plaza Lasseters (Ph: 08 8950 7777), so we can unpack and settle in before coming together for dinner.

Day Two – WEDNESDAY 7 JULY 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

After breakfast this morning we set off to visit Simpsons Gap, a stunning gorge carved out of the West MacDonnell Ranges. The Gap is home to various flora and wildlife, including the black-footed rock-wallaby and a number of rare and relict plants. There is a permanent waterhole and magnificent rock features, dotted with ghost and red gums. This is the perfect location to stop for morning tea and we can enjoy a leisurely walk to explore the Gap.

While in West MacDonnell National Park we travel the short distance to Standley Chasm. It is named after Mrs Ida Standley, the first formal school teacher in Alice Springs and reputedly the first white woman to walk through the gorge. The Chasm has a narrow gap with beautiful rock walls towering high above the path. There is a 1.5 kilometre walk along Angkerle Creek, filled with cycads, ferns and red gums, which leads to the Chasm, with its impressive cathedral-height walls. We have plenty of time to wander into the Chasm and there are various places to rest along the way. It should be noted that the walk is through natural bushland and the ground is uneven, so care does need to be taken.

After enjoying lunch in the café at the National Park, we head back to Alice Springs and take a virtual journey into ‘The World’s Largest Classroom’  as we visit The School of the Air.  Since 1951 this uniquely Australian school has been bridging the education gap for students in remote locations. We have the chance to see recorded lessons, and learn the fascinating history of a unique educational facility and its world-renowned innovations.

Later this afternoon, we take the drive to Anzac Hill for panoramic views of the town and surrounding area. The views from here are stunning.

There will be free time this afternoon to relax at the hotel or explore Todd Mall, where there are some wonderful galleries and souvenir shops to peruse before returning to our accommodation.

Day Three – THURSDAY 8 JULY 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

We farewell ‘The Alice’ this morning and set off north along the Stuart Highway. Over the coming days we will take a captivating journey, experiencing the changing landscapes and unique features of our vast country from central Australia to the top end.

The morning’s drive takes us north through arid country to Ti Tree, where we stop for morning tea. Soon  after departing, we will spot a prominent hill on the western side of the highway, this is Mount Stuart and the closest landmark to the geographical centre of Australia.

Passing through Barrow Creek we continue our journey to Wycliffe Well where we stop for lunch. Wycliffe Well has developed a reputation for being the UFO capital of the Territory, with many reported sightings of strange flying objects in the skies above!

Just a short drive further north are the famous Devil’s Marbles. This remarkable geological feature  formed over millions of years, and they continue to crack and change today. The marbles are the result of a combination of mechanical weathering, which cracked the rocks and chemical weathering, which flaked the surface, forming the spherical rocks. They have the appearance of being dumped upon the landscape, with some boulders sitting precariously on the top of others and standing up to six metres high. According to the local Warmungu Aboriginal people, the rocks or ‘Karlu Karlu’ are the fossilised eggs of the sacred Rainbow Serpent.

From here it is just over an hour’s drive to Tennant Creek. After a long but fascinating day driving we will appreciate the opportunity to relax and refresh at our accommodation for the night, the Bluestone Motor Inn (Ph: 08 8962 2617).

Day Four – FRIDAY 9 JULY 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

We depart Tennant Creek early today with the prospect of a reward towards the end of the day! Continuing our travels north, we reach Renner Springs, named after the medical doctor who looked after the men who constructed the Overland Telegraph Line in the 1870s. We will stop here to stretch our legs and enjoy morning tea.

Back on the road, we journey to Daly Waters. With the nearby springs offering reliable water, the town was an important stopover for people travelling from the north to the south and drovers moving cattle across from the Kimberley to Queensland. From the 1890s, a hotel existed in town but the current Daly Waters Historic Pub was built in 1930.  An airstrip was also constructed in the 1930s and Daly Waters became the site for the first international Airport in Australia, where planes refuelled en-route to London. We stop for our lunch at the famous hotel and enjoy the character and hospitality of the area.

After lunch we continue to Mataranka, situated near the Roper River and a true oasis in the desert. A number of thermal springs are located in the area and this is our reward for an early start and a long day travelling. The Mataranka Thermal Pools are a constant 34°C in temperature and passengers are welcome to dip their toes or enjoy a refreshing swim in the waters. The pools flow from the Rainbow Springs at an amazing 30.5 million litres each day.

After feeling refreshed, we drive the final leg of our journey today to Katherine. Arriving late afternoon, we will stay for two nights at the Knotts Crossing Resort (Ph: 1800 222 511).

Day Five – SATURDAY 10 JULY 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

After a relaxed start to the morning, we set off to experience one of the highlights of this tour. Nitmiluk National Park is home to 13 natural gorges carved through sandstone by the Katherine River. The gorgeswind for 12 kilometres and the sheer sandstone walls that surround the crystal waters stand more than 70 metres high. The area is dotted with ancient Aboriginal rock art and freshwater crocodiles can be seen along the banks of the gorge, as well as flowering orchids and lilies.

Our first stop is the Nitmiluk Visitor Centre where information displays explain the geology, landscape and Aboriginal history of the area. There will be an opportunity to wander through the centre, purchase souvenirs and enjoy morning tea. We then board a cruise through the Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge where the natural beauty of this area and enormity of the sandstone walls will become apparent. After the cruise, we enjoy a light lunch at the Sugarbag Café before returning to Katherine.

The Katherine Visitor Information Centre shows an award winning film called The Big Wet, which documents Northern Australia’s monsoonal wet season and how the local wildlife adapts. The film highlights how the north of Australia has mainly two seasons: the winter months of the ‘dry’ and the summer months of the ‘wet’ and we are shown how different the climate is in the top end compared to our southern home.

This afternoon there will the opportunity for some free time. You may like to relax at the accommodation, go shopping or visit Katherine’s own hot springs. The bubbling natural spring has a temperature between 25-30°C and is used by many as a way of healing. The area has been transformed in recent years from a simple hole in the riverbed to a well thought-out recreational area with the addition of new raised walking platforms. Even if you don’t want to take a dip, you can go to the viewing platform where you can see the source of the spring water.

At the end of a memorable day, we head back to our accommodation where our two course dinner awaits.

 Day Six – SUNDAY 11 JULY 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

We depart Katherine this morning and travel a short distance before re-entering Nitmiluk National Park. Edith Falls is a series of cascading waterfalls that drop into a large pandanus-fringed pool on the Edith River. It is a popular swimming spot and the perfect place to stop and enjoy the atmosphere while having our morning tea refreshments.

Continuing our journey north on the Stuart Highway we reach Pine Creek, a small town that evolved from the discovery of gold. In 1885 there were over 4000 people searching for gold here, today it has a population of around 300! We will visit the Enterprise Pit Mine Lookout for a panoramic view of the open cut pit that was left when Pine Creek Goldfields ceased operation in 1994. Before being mined, this area was known as Enterprise Hill and this significant landmark measures 135 metres deep and is now filled with water.

Following lunch at a local cafe, we return to the highway. Our next stop is Adelaide River, the site of a large base in the Second World War and home to the Adelaide River War Cemetery. Initially created for the service men and women from this area, following the war the graves of many service personnel were brought here from civil cemeteries and isolated sites throughout Australia. There are 434 military burials in the War Cemetery, including some servicemen from overseas, namely Britain and Canada. The cemetery also houses a Memorial to the Missing, honouring 292 personnel.

Adjoining the War Cemetery is the Civil Cemetery. Here rests nine Post Office workers who died on 19 February 1942, as a result of a direct hit on the Post Office by Japanese air-raids.

After this moving visit, it’s a short drive from Adelaide River to Batchelor and our accommodation tonight at the Litchfield Motel  (Ph: 08 8976 0123).

Day Seven – MONDAY 12 JULY 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

After a relaxed start to the morning, we visit the Batchelor Butterfly Farm. Here, we have the opportunity to stroll amongst Australian butterflies in an indoor subtropical rainforest setting. The colours and patterns of these fascinating creatures can be observed as we see them flying, sipping nectar and resting in the butterfly house. While here, we will enjoy morning tea in the Butterfly Cafe.

Batchelor is the gateway to Litchfield National Park. Designated as a  National Park in 1986, Litchfield has gained the reputation as being the ‘Jewel of the Northern Territory’s Crown’, with its untouched rainforests, hot springs, magnificent waterfalls and stunning scenery.

Our first stop is at the fascinating magnetic termite mounds. These thin mounds rise to as much as three metres and are aligned north-south, to keep the inside of the mound from becoming too hot in the heat of the sun as it tracks east-west. As we walk amongst the mounds, you will be fascinated at their size and construction.

One of the other reasons that more than a quarter of a million visitors descend on Litchfield National Park each year is the spring-fed streams and waterfalls. We visit two of the best-known and most attractive. The largest falls are Wangi Falls on the western edge of the Park, where visitors swim and snorkel in a large plunge pool set amidst the rainforest. We enjoy a light lunch here before taking the time to admire these beautiful falls. There’s even time for a refreshing dip for those who are interested.

Heading back towards Batchelor, we stop at Florence Falls, where a double waterfall cascades into a swimming hole. Here we can walk to a lookout for a bird’s-eye view of the falls and the surrounding area.

After exploring the natural beauty of Litchfield National Park, we return to our accommodation for dinner and a relaxing evening.

Day Eight – TUESDAY 13 JULY 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

Today we meet some of the Territory’s amazing wildlife! We farewell our hosts in Batchelor and head north to the award-winning Territory Wildlife Park, set in 400 hectares of natural bushland and home to the largest collection of NT Wildlife. A series of easy walking tracks meander through the park, leading us to a variety of typical Top End habitats.

One is a bird-hide that overlooks a natural billabong called Goose Lagoon. Wild animals come and go freely according to the season and while standing in the hide, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in the middle of Kakadu or Litchfield. Another area provides a representation of a Top End river system, from the escarpment down to the mangroves on the coast. We can also stroll beneath the surface of the walk-through aquarium—can’t get much closer to a saltwater crocodile than this!

Lunch today is enjoyed at our leisure, so there is plenty of time to explore the many exhibits, including the aviaries, bird of prey display and elusive nocturnal creatures of the Top End, a group representing 80% of the Territory’s wildlife. For those who need assistance to explore the park, a shuttle train provides an easier option to access the entire area.

Close-by is Berry Springs Nature Park. The closest waterhole to Darwin, it is a very popular spot with the locals on a weekend. The water is crystal clear with a small waterfall and a shallow pool perfect for a cooling knee-deep dip!

Within an hour of leaving Berry Springs we arrive in Darwin and it won’t be long before we can settle into our rooms for the final two nights at the Double Tree by Hilton (Ph: 08 8943 3600). This wonderful spot overlooks the famous Darwin Esplanade and offers stunning ocean views.

Day Nine – WEDNESDAY 14 JULY 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

Situated on the edge of a harbour bigger than Sydney’s, Darwin is a tropical city and a melting pot of people and cultures, with world-class natural and cultural attractions. While a sophisticated, modern city in its own right, it is also steeped in history. Darwin has endured many hardships, from Japanese bombers in World War II, to near total destruction by tropical Cyclone Tracy in the 1970’s. Despite all this, Darwin has rebuilt to establish itself as the gateway to Asia.

This morning we will be joined by a local for a guided tour to discover all there is to know about Darwin.

Located in the heart of the city is the famous Crocosaurus Cove. At this unique attraction we have a close-up view of Australia’s iconic Saltwater Crocodiles. We see the largest display of Australian reptiles in the world, a two-storey fresh water aquarium, a turtle sanctuary, as well as local Northern Territory Aboriginal art and culture displays.

We return to our hotel to relax before a special evening. Our driver will take us to the Stokes Hill Wharf where we board the Spirit of Darwin for our wonderful Sunset Dinner Cruise. Dinner features fresh local produce which we enjoy while taking in the breathtaking sights of the Darwin Harbour at sunset.

The cruise is the perfect way to celebrate our last night on tour together and after disembarking, we return to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.

Day Ten – THURSDAY 15 JULY 2021

(includes cooked breakfast and light lunch)

This morning we visit the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens which feature monsoon flora from Northern Australia, as well as a large collection of native and introduced tropical plants. The gardens have existed for over 130 years, surviving both the World War II bombing and Cyclone Tracy. They are also one of the few gardens in the world with marine and estuarine plants growing naturally.

After a stroll around the gardens, we make our way to the Darwin airport arriving with plenty of time for a relaxed check-in. We are assisted by a guide who will see us through to the departure gate ready for our Qantas flight to Adelaide.

On arrival at Adelaide Airport we are met by an Endeavour Tours representative, who will take us to collect our luggage and meet the cars. It won’t be long and we will be making our way home with lasting memories of the diversity and natural beauty of the Northern Territory from the red centre to the tropics.