Tour Description

The Great Territory Trip: Alice Spring to Darwin

T en Days: 7th – 16th July 2019

Twin Share: $4795 per person. Sole Use: $5589 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. We explore inspiring natural attractions including the Devil’s Marbles, a cruise through the towering sandstone walls of Katherine (Nitmiluk) Gorge, termite mounds, thermal pools, waterfalls and so much more. You’ll 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 – its a trip that you’ll never forget!

 

Day One – SUNDAY 7 JULY 2019

(includes light lunch and three 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 us with our group check-in. We are then guided through the security procedures and to the gate, ready to board our Qantas flight to Alice Springs.

On arrival in Alice Springs we are met by our driver at the airport, assisted with our luggage and taken 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. We visit the original Alice Springs working base that commenced operating in 1939. On a comprehensive 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 Australia. 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 the fuselage of an operational Pilatus PC 12 Aircraft as well as a look around the museum and souvenir shop.

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

 

Day Two – MONDAY 8 JULY 2019

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

After breakfast this morning we set off to visit Simpsons Gap, a stunning gorge carved out of the West MacDonnell Ranges by Roe Creek, where water flows through a small gap in the range. The gap is home to various plants and wildlife, including the black-footed rock-wallaby. It is the site of a permanent waterhole, rock features, ghost gums and red gums. We have morning tea here and can enjoy a leisurely stroll.

Standley Chasm is another inspiring natural attraction located in the West MacDonnell National Park. A 1.5 kilometre walk along Angkerle Creek, filled with cycads, ferns and red gums, leads to the Chasm with its impressive cathedral-height walls. 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. 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 caused by the remote locations in which people live and work in the outback. 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, our driver will take us to Anzac Hill for panoramic views of the town and surrounding area. We then have some free time to explore Todd Mall where there are some wonderful galleries and souvenir shops to peruse before returning to our accommodation.

 

Day Three – TUESDAY 9 JULY 2019

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

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

The morning’s drive takes us north through arid country to Ti Tree, where we stop for morning tea. Not long after departing, as we continue our journey north, we will spot a prominent hill on the western side of the highway. This is Central Mount Stuart and the closest landmark to the geographical centre of Australia.

We’ll stop in Barrow Creek for lunch before continuing our journey to Wycliffe Well where make a comfort stop. 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. These are a remarkable geological feature that formed over millions of years and 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, thus creating spherical rocks. They have the appearance of being dumped upon the landscape with some boulders sitting precariously on the tops 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 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 – WEDNESDAY 10 JULY 2019

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and three 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 in time for morning tea. This spot was named after the medical doctor who looked after the men who constructed the Overland Telegraph Line in the 1870’s.

Back on the road, we pause in Elliot for a comfort stop before travelling on to Daly Waters. From the 1890’s, a hotel existed in town but the current Daly Waters Historic Pub was built in 1930. 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. 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.

The final leg of our journey today brings us to Katherine. We’ll arrive late in the afternoon but we have two nights here staying at the Knotts Crossing Resort Motel (Ph: 1800 222 511).

 

Day Five – THURSDAY 11 JULY 2019

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

After a more relaxed start to the morning, today we will 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 gorges wind 12 kilometres with walls more than 70 metres high. The sheer walls of sandstone, dotted with ancient Aboriginal rock art, surround the crystal waters of the Katherine River where freshwater crocodiles can be seen along the banks 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 and purchase souvenirs. We’ll then board a cruise through the Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge where the natural beauty of this area and enormity of the sandstone walls will become more apparent.

At the conclusion of 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 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 little 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 might want to head 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 three course dinner awaits.

 

Day Six – FRIDAY 12 JULY 2019

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and three 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 popular 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 who died in this area, following the war the graves of many service personnel were moved 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.

From Adelaide River it’s a short drive to Batchelor and our accommodation tonight at the Batchelor Resort (Ph: 08 8976 0123).

 

Day Seven – SATURDAY 13 JULY 2019

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and three 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 two-metre high, thin mounds 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 the 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’ll 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’ll stop in at Florence Falls, where a double waterfall cascades into a swimming hole. We can walk to a lookout for a birds-eye view down on to the falls and the surrounding area.

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

 

Day Eight – SUNDAY 14 JULY 2019

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

Today we’ll meet some of the Territory’s amazing wildlife! We farewell our hosts in Batchelor and head north to 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! It’s the ideal spot to enjoy our morning tea.

Close by is the award-winning Territory Wildlife Park, set in 400 hectares of natural bushland and home to the largest collection of NT Wildlife. An easy walk meanders through the park, taking us to a variety of typical Top End habitats.

The Paperback Walk for example, leads to 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, you can’t get much closer to a saltwater crocodile than this!

You can enjoy lunch in the Park at your leisure today, so there is plenty of time to explore the many exhibits, including the elusive nocturnal creatures of the Top End – a group representing 80% of the Territory’s wildlife, the aviaries, bird of prey display and much more! For those who need assistance to explore the Park, a shuttle train provides an easier option to access the entire area.

Within an hour of leaving Berry Springs we’ll arrive in Darwin and it won’t be long before we settle into our rooms for the final two nights of the tour 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 – MONDAY 15 JULY 2019

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and three 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 of Darwin to learn about this fascinating city.

Located in the heart of Darwin 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 is a three course buffet prepared with fresh local produce which we enjoy while taking in the breathtaking sights of the Darwin Harbour at sunset.  After a delightful cruise we return to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.

 

Day Ten – TUESDAY 16 JULY 2019

(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 meet the cars. It won’t be long and we will be making our way home with lasting memories of our ‘once in a lifetime’ tour from Alice Springs to Darwin.