Renting a van to travel Australia’s Top End? What better way than with the ultimate Brisbane to Darwin itinerary.
Traversing across Queensland into Australia’s Northern Territory, this Top End route is jam-packed with some of the best things to do in Australia. Experience the cultural hub of South Bank in the riverside city of Brisbane, walk under the cool canopy of Mount Archer National Park, hike through dusty red-dirt trails in the outback, and see fierce salt-water crocodiles in the city of Darwin. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Journey through these diverse Australian landscapes on this epic 3,426km road trip. Easily one of the best road trips in Australia, a Brisbane to Darwin road trip packs a punch. With a Mighty camper, you can travel this iconic route with all the necessities like a kitchen, bed and self-contained options. That way, you can make the most of cost-effective powered campsites and free camping options along the way.
When to plan your trip from Brisbane to Darwin
These northern states can become increasingly hot and wet in the summer months. The best months to do this trip are between May and September, when the northern Australia weather is more temperate and the precipitation is at its lowest.
Brisbane to Darwin
Best Time of the Year
- Karlu Karlu
- Darwin Harbour cruise
Image source: Tourism and Events Queensland image gallery
Brisbane to Bundaberg
Distance 362km - Driving Time 4 hours 40 minutes
After picking up your camper from the Mighty Brisbane branch, there is no better way to kick off your adventure than with a mini Brisbane road trip. Stop by the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, take a stroll through South Bank, and see the city from above at the Mount Coot-tha Lookout.
Then, it's time to begin the drive north toward Bundaberg. There are plenty of great little towns to stop off at on the way, including Queensland favourites such as the vibrant coastal hub of Noosa and the sleepy oceanside town of Woodgate.
When you arrive in Bundaberg, spend the afternoon exploring this underrated town where the beach meets the reef, and the rum is always flowing. Some of the best things to do include:
- Stop by the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery
- Go for a tasting at Bundaberg Rum Distillery
- Wander the lush botanic gardens
Where to stay: Bundaberg Park Village
Bundaberg to Rockhampton
Distance 288km - Driving Time 3 hours 10 minutes
Day two of this itinerary is all about wildlife adventures and getting into nature. Once you have packed up your campsite, it's time to drive north to Rockhampton. Need a rest on the way? Stop off at Agnes Water to stretch your legs on the short-but-sweet Paperbark Forest Boardwalk.
When you arrive, first up on the list is a Rockhampton favourite, the Rockhampton Zoo. Treat yourself to a morning of keeper talks and animal feedings with over 30 species of native and exotic wildlife.
Next up, it's time to wander a little further north to explore the scenic backdrop to Rockhampton, Mount Archer National Park. Climb through lush forest and eucalypt woodlands on the way to the summit. Here, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the city and the surrounding ranges.
To end the day, join a tour to explore the Capricorn Caves. Follow your expert guide as they lead you through this ancient geological wonder and share the stories of the ancient Australian landscape. Other top things to do in town include:
- Head out for a day on the Southern Great Barrier Reef
- Go mountain bike riding
- Try your hand at catching barramundi on the Fitzroy River
When you are ready, head back into Rockhampton to your powered camping site for the night. With so many incredible things to do, you could easily spend a day or two exploring this part of Queensland, Australia.
Where to stay: Riverside Tourist Park
Rockhampton to Longreach
Distance 687km - Driving Time 7 hours and 15 minutes
Leaving the ocean views behind, begin the drive inland toward Longreach. If you have the time, take a detour through Carnarvon Gorge. This national park is a hidden gem tucked away in Queensland’s central highlands. Known for its rugged towering sandstone cliffs, vibrant gorges and Aboriginal rock art, it is worth the detour.
After navigating your way through this stretch of regional Queensland, you will arrive in Longreach - the heart of outback Queensland. This country town is filled with heritage and true-blue Australian attractions. The must-do things to see when in Longreach include:
- Wander through the Australian Stockman’s Hall Of Fame
- Explore the history of Australian aviation at the Qantas Founders Museum
- Grab a bite to eat at Harry’s
When you have finished exploring, it's time to grab a campsite for the night.
Where to stay: Longreach Tourist Park
Longreach to Cloncurry
Distance 527km - Driving Time 5 hours 35 minutes
You’re well and truly in the outback now. Driving north to Cloncurry, you will travel through some of Australia’s most iconic outback towns. The first stop is Winton, the dinosaur capital of Australia. Drop by the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum, where you can see the world’s largest collection of Australian dinosaur bones. Continuing east, Kynuna and Mckinlay are popular little towns to stretch your legs and refill the tanks.
When you arrive in Cloncurry, some of the best things to do and see include:
- Soak up the beauty of Corella Dam
- Stop by John Flynn Place Museum to learn about the legacy of the Royal Flying Doctor Service
- Try to catch Rigby Falls in flow. This seven tier waterfall is spectacular after recent rainfall!
Make your way back into town to head to your campground for the night.
Where to stay: Cloncurry Caravan Park
Cloncurry to Tennant Creek
Distance 781km - Driving Time 8 hours 15 minutes
This is the longest drive day of the trip, so it's best to get an early start. Driving west from Cloncurry, you will pass through the mining town of Mount Isa. This city is rich in history, culture and is a hub for the regional teaching program - the School of the Air. It is also the home of the largest rodeo in the Southern Hemisphere. If you are here in the second week of August, stop by to check it out.
When you arrive in Tennant Creek, plan a stop at Nyinkka Nyunyu Art and Culture Centre. The Tennant Creek area is home to nine Aboriginal groups and the ancient culture still holds a strong presence in this region. This cultural centre is the perfect place to learn about these people and lands through exhibitions of the history, stories and traditions of these people. Some other Tennant Creek favourites include:
- Taking an underground tour at the Battery Hill Mining Centre
- Journey back in time with a visit to the Telegraph Station
Get another early night at your campsite, so you are ready for another big driving day ahead tomorrow!
Where to stay: Tennant Creek Holiday Park
Image source: Tourism NT image gallery
Tennant Creek to Katherine
Distance 675km - Driving Time 7 hours
When in this region of the Northern Territory, it is almost a sin not to stop by the magical granite formation of the Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles. Begin the day's drive with a detour south to Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles or, if you have time, add on an additional night at the Karlu Karlu campsite and watch these freestanding boulders glow in the waning light of sunset.
On the drive north, plan a stop for lunch at the eclectic Daly Waters Pub. While you dine, admire the colourfully decorated walls of treasures from past customers - from hats to bras and everything in between. If you feel so inclined, maybe you have something to add to the collection.
When you arrive in Katherine, there is really no better way to end the day than by exploring the local attractions. Our top must-do things in Katherine include:
- Exploring the spectacular sandstone country of Katherine George
- Taking a tour of the Cutta Cutta Caves
- Soaking in the temperate waters of Katherine Hot Springs
After this jam-packed day, you will be deserving of a hot shower and a hearty meal. Head to your powered camping site for the night to make full use of the campsite facilities.
Where to stay: Big 4 Breeze Holiday Park
Katherine to Darwin
Distance 317km - Driving Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Begin the day by driving up to, and exploring the rugged beauty of Litchfield National Park. This park is home to stunning waterfalls, scenic walks and croc-free swimming holes to stave off the Top End heat. Once you have left the oasis of Litchfield behind, you will shortly arrive at your final destination: the city of Darwin. This most northern city of Australia is packed with top rated Australian attractions and places to visit. Some of the best things to do in Darwin include:
- Watching the sun set over the Timor Sea on a Darwin Harbour Cruise
- Explore the Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory
- Experience the multicultural heritage of Darwin on a Thursday or Sunday at Darwin's Biggest markets: Mindil Markets
You can choose to spend another few days exploring the city, or maybe even pop over to explore the untouched landscapes of Kakadu. When you’re ready to return home, head to the Mighty Darwin branch, hand over the keys and presto. You can now say you have completed one of the best road trips in Australia.
Where to stay: Big 4 Hidden Valley Holiday Park
Ready for your next Australian adventure
Ready to explore this Top End route? Check out what deals are running and book your Mighty camper today in a branch or online.