21 Days Broome to Darwin via GRR

by Lyndall
(Melbourne)

My husband, 12 yo daughter and I will be travelling this route late June/early July 2010. We are not experienced 4WD'ers so we don't want to be too rushed and for this reason we've decided to skip Mitchell Falls although we'd love to see it. We are also allowing time at the end to catch up with some family in Darwin.

Here's our rough itinery which we'd love to hear your thoughts on - are there bits we should consider skipping in favour of things we have not planned?

Day 1-2: Arrive Broome and pick up 4wd and camping gear. Spend 2 nights getting to know equipment and stocking supplies while checking out Cable beach and other local sights.
Day 3: Drive to Birdwood Downs via Derby for a look around and final check of supplies.
Day 4: Drive to Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek. Camp at Windjana.
Day 5: Drive to Mt Hart and spend the afternoon checking out the local sights.
Day 6: Drive to Mornington Wilderness Sanctuary to camp for 2 nights, taking in Lennard Gorge & Bell Gorge along the way.
Day 7: At Mornington taking in Dimond Gorge and St John Gorge.
Day 8: Drive to Mt Elizabeth via stops at Galvans, Manning, Adcock &/or Barnett gorges. (Is this too much for 1 day?)
Day 9: Drive to El Questro. Is 1 night enough here to see the "must sees" or do I need to trim a night from somewhere else?
Day 10-11: Drive to Kununurra (is it too much to go via Wyndham?) for a couple of nights seeing Lake Argyle and the Ord. Restock supplies.
Day 12-13: Drive to the Bungle Bungles for 2 nights.
Day 14: Return to Kununurra for 1 more night on the way through to the NT.
Day 15: Drive to Katherine Gorge for 1 night. Not sure what stops we should be making on the way here or how much time we have to stop and sightsee on the way.
Day 16-17: Leave as late as possible to drive to Kakadu for 2 nights. Not sure where we will stay here - haven't checked out the best options for this part yet.
Day 18-21: Drive to Darwin to meet up with family and allow my nephew to play tour guide for our last few days before flying home on the evening of day 21.

Comments for 21 Days Broome to Darwin via GRR

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Packed Gibb River Road Itinerary
by: Birgit

Hi Lyndall,
Your itinerary is a good start, but in my opinion it is too packed.

Day 6: That's too much in a day. If you skip Lennard Gorge it's more doable, but you may still feel pressured during your visit to Bell Gorge. It depends when you get going in the morning. I'd add a night.

Remember the sun goes down VERY early. I'd recommend you aim to be at Mornington at 4pm to have time look around, set up camp, organise the next day etc. (It always ends up being later than planned anyway.)

Day 8: Yes, again too much in one day. You have a long drive out of Mornington, a long hike into Manning Gorge...
It's not just that this day is too full, Day 7 was already packed with a lot of driving and activity. Day 7 is doable, but to wedge it between those two days that are even more packed...

Those three days are nowhere near enough for everything you want to do.

Day 9: Hm, I don't think one night is enough.

Let me put it this way. It isn't about the "must sees". Everybody has to decide for themselves where their priorities are. You can't do it all, so you have to pick and choose. That's hard because there are so many "must sees", far too many. And no way to say one place is "better" than another.

So what happens is--and your itinerary is a classic example--people try to cram in everything.

El Questro is fantastic. IF you have time to explore it. Sure, you could leave Mt. Elizabeth early (But wouldn't you wan to see their gorges? That takes time...), be at El Questro in time to hike up El Questro Gorge, have a quick dip in the hot springs the next morning, but then you have to decide if you'd rather see Emma Gorge or Wyndham.

Nowhere do you have time to kick back, you'll always look at your watch because time is running out.
And you have already been doing this since the start of day 6. Setting up and packing camp every day, always under pressure to get going early, always looking at the watch...

So not only are a couple of individual days too full. You also don't give yourself a breather anywhere. And that'll wear you out.

The Gibb River Road is likely the best part of the whole trip. It would be a shame to rush it. Pick a few favourites and really explore and enjoy those, rather than trying to get a glimpse of every gorge on the way.

The rest is ok. You occasionally have two nights in a place, that always helps.

Day 15 you could do one of the hikes in Gregory. Joe Creek and the Escarpment Walk are right on the highway and a nice way to stretch the legs.

Two nights in Kakadu is not much. You say you want to get there late on the first day so you only have one and a half days, and a lot of driving...

I am a bit surprised myself to realise as I go through it just how little time you have. 21 days sounded doable. But I guess it's not really 21 days, it's only 17.

Kakadu - camping at Cooinda
by: Liz and Peter

We camped at Cooinda for our few days in Kakadu last year in July and found it suited us well. Facilities are adequate.

It's close to the Yellow Water cruise which is a must - we did it at dawn last year (spectacular) and last week I did it again in the late morning. It's the end of the wet now and the water lillies are abundant, as is the bird life and there are plenty of crocodiles. A majestic Jabiru flew in close just as we were leaving the jetty at the start of our cruise. Each time I see a Jabiru in flight I get goose bumps all over!

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