A Travellerspoint blog

2009 Cairns to Darwin - 7 Day Road Trip

Cairns, Undara, Normanton, Burketown, Hells Gate, Boroloola, Katherine, Mataranka, Pine Creek, Darwin


View 2009 Cairns to Darwin Roadtrip on aussirose's travel map.

  • *Disclaimer. There are photos here that are from my previous travel site virtualtourist.

VT has shut down.
Please ignore that VT flag, thongs, VA's and other paraphernalia that may appear here.**

FAVOURITE PHOTO THIS TRIP -
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FOLLOWING THE VT BIG DOWNUNDER MEET IN THE WHITSUNDAYS, OUR MATE ZIG WHO IS A
KAKADU RANGER IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY, HUBBY AND I DROVE IN ZIG'S 4X4 ACROSS THE
TOP END OF AUSTRALIA FROM CAIRNS TO DARWIN IN 7 DAYS.

IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO DO THIS TRIP THEN I WOULD SUGGEST A 4 WHEEL DRIVE.
THERE IS ONE BIT THAT WE HAD TO DO A RIVER CROSSING NEAR THE QLD/NT BORDER.
I WOULDN'T DREAM OF ATTEMPTING THIS IF YOU DIDN'T HAVE A 4 WHEEL DRIVE.
I BELIEVE THAT YOU CAN DO THE TRIP IN A 2 WHEEL DRIVE BUT YOU WILL NEED TO TAKE A BIG DETOUR
HALF WAY ALONG AND TRAVEL DOWN TO MT ISA AND ACROSS TO KATHERINE.
IN MY OPINION, BETTER TO PAY THE EXTRA TO HIRE A 4X4 AS THE SCENERY ACROSS THE TOP END
ON THE SAVANNAH WAY IS BETTER THAN TRAVELLING VIA MT ISA WHICH IS A DUSTY MINING TOWN.

ALSO, I WOULD PROBABLY TAKE MORE THAN 7 DAYS ON THIS JOURNEY TO ENJOY YOUR TRIP MORE.
I WILL TELL YOU AS I RELAY THE TRIP WHERE YOU COULD SPEND AN EXTRA DAY AND WHY.

BE PREPARED FOR SOME LONG DAYS TRAVELLING.
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PLENTY OF SNACKS IN THE CAR AND AN ESKY WITH COLD DRINKS AND
TAKE REGULAR STOPS ALONG THE WAY TO STRETCH YOUR LEGS AND FRESHEN UP.

DAY 1 - TO UNDARA VOLCANIC NATIONAL PARK VIA MILLAA MILLAA FALLS AND LAKE BARRINE - 4 1/2HRS

MILLAA MILLAA FALLS AND LAKE BARRINE ARE 2 PLACES ALONG THE WAY THAT YOU NEED TO VISIT.
DEAVONSHIRE AT LAKE BARRINE IS A MUST DO. I'D PLAN TO ARRIVE EARLYISH BEFORE THE CROWDS
SO THAT YOU CAN GET A GOOD SPOT OUTSIDE ON THE SHADY VERANDAH OVERLOOKING THE LAKE.
IF YOU ARE A BIRDER, YOU'LL LOVE IT HERE.

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UNDARA NEAR MT SURPRISE HAS UNIQUE RAILWAY CARRIAGE ACCOMMODATION.
A LITTLE EXPENSIVE BUT WELL WORTH IT.
THE LAVA CAVES WERE AMAZING AND THE BUFFET FOOD WAS GREAT.
WE HAD EMU, KANGAROO AND CROCODILE. EMU IS MY FAVOURITE.

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I LOVED THE ENTERTAINMENT AROUND THE CAMP FIRE WITH A LOVELY ELDERLY GENTLEMAN
DOING HIS RENDITION OF SOME GREAT AUSSIE SONGS, INCLUDING EVERYONE IN THE SINGALONG.
IT WAS CUTE, FUNNY AND THE OVERSEAS VISITORS JUST LOVED IT! :)

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THERE IS ALSO A NICE POOL HERE IN BUSHY SURROUNDINGS THAT YOU CAN COOL OFF IN.
PLENTY OF WILDLIFE HERE. TONS OF BUTTERFLIES AND RED TAILED BLACK COCKIES.

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WE LEFT OUR VA'S TO HANG AROUND AND TAKE CARE OF OUR RAILWAY CARRIAGE ACCOMMODATION
AND WENT TO CHECK OUT THE LAVA CAVES.

VA's - YOU'LL GET USED TO THESE AS YOU READ THROUGH MY TRAVEL STORIES.
VA's ARE PEOPLE FROM ALL AROUND THE WORLD THAT COULD NOT BE WITH US SO THE NEXT BEST THING
IS TO PRINT OUT A PIC OF THEM, LAMINATE AND TAKE THEM ALONG FOR THE RIDE.

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DAY 2 - TO NORMANTON - 6 HRS

THIS IS A LONG TRIP, SAME SCENERY. JUST WOODLAND AND SCRUB AND MORE WOODLAND AND SCRUB....
SO HEAD OFF EARLY IN THE MORNING.

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I WOULD HAVE LIKED TO HAVE TAKEN A DETOUR TO KARUMBA ON THE COAST.
IF YOU HAVE AN EXTRA DAY THEN I WOULD SUGGEST YOU DO THIS. UNFORTUNATELY, WE DIDN'T
SO WHEN WE ARRIVED AT NORMANTON THERE WAS NOT MUCH LIGHT LEFT IN THE DAY....
WE WERE FAMISHED.... THIRSTY AND COULDN'T WAIT TO HIT THE PUB!

NORMANTON

THERE ARE 3 PUBS IN THE MAIN STREET HERE WHICH IS COMMON IN SMALL OUTBACK AUSSIE TOWNS.
THERE WAS THE PURPLE PUB, THE GREEN PUB AND THE CENTRAL PUB.
THE PURPLE ONE.... ALTHOUGH LOOKING PRETTY COOL FROM THE OUTSIDE.... INSIDE WAS ANOTHER STORY.
THE GREEN PUB HAD LOUD MUSIC AND AS MUCH AS I WOULD HAVE LIKED TO VENTURE IN....
WE JUST WANTED SOME COMFORTABLE AND QUIET TIME. SO IT WAS THE CENTRAL PUB.

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GLAD WE PICKED THE CENTRAL PUB BECAUSE WE STAYED OUT BACK IN A CABIN SO ACCOMMODATION
WAS WITHIN STAGGERING DISTANCE ;)

I HAD THE BEST FRESH BARRA HERE!! OMG... MY MOUTH IS WATERING JUST REMEMBERING!!! :)

GOOD CHOICE ALL ROUND.

DAY 3 - TO BURKETOWN - 3 1/4 HRS

COFFEE TO GO AND WE HIT THE ROAD.

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THE SCENERY ALONG THIS STRETCH CHANGES FROM BUSH AND WOODLAND TO LOW LYING SCRUB.
A BIT LIKE THE NULLARBOR. I FIND THE CHANGE IN SCENERY INTERESTING AND QUITE LIKE IT.

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WE SAW A VARIETY OF BIRD LIFE, ESPECIALLY AROUND THE LAKES REGION HEADING INTO BURKETOWN.
THIS PART OF THE TRIP WAS MOST ENJOYABLE.

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BURKETOWN HAS A UNIQUE TOURIST ATTRACTION IN ITS OWN RIGHT. IT'S CALLED THE MORNING GLORY.
USUALLY SEEN AROUND SEPTEMBER TO NOVEMBER. BEST DESCRIBED AS A ROLL CLOUD UP TO 1.000 K'S LONG.
SHAME WE DIDN'T SEE IT :(

THERE WERE A MOB OF HANG GLIDERS IN TOWN THAT WERE OBVIOUSLY HERE FOR THE MORNING GLORY.
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BURKETOWN IS ALSO LOCATED ON THE GULF OF CARPENTERIA TOP END OF AUSTRALIA AND IS KNOWN AS THE
BARRA CAPITAL OF AUSTRALIA.
THAT EXPLAINS WHY THE BARRAMUNDI I HAD IN NORMANTON WAS SO FRESH AND TASTY :)
WE CHECKED OUT THE RIVER INLET AND THE SIGN ALSO LISTED A STACK OF OTHER FISH TO BE CAUGHT HERE.
SO IF YOU ARE INTO FISHING, THEN YOU WOULD MOST DEFINITELY WANT TO STAY HERE FOR A DAY.
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THE TOWN SEEMED AWFULLY QUIET.
WE SOON REALISED THAT EVERY TOM, DICK AND THE DOG IN THE UTE WERE AT THE LOCAL RODEO :)
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WE DIDN'T STAY AS WE WERE ON A STRICT ITINERARY TO GET RANGER ZIG HOME TO DARWIN.
SO WE GRABBED A SNACK AT SIDE ROAD BURGER STOP AND STOCKED UP ON BEERS AT THE PUB
AND HIT THE ROAD.
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OFF TO HELLS GATE.

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HELLS GATE IS IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE!!!
CHECK OUT THE PIC OF HUBBY BELOW CONTEMPLATING OUR JOURNEY ....
IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE LOL :)

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THE NEXT STOP WAS TOO FAR AWAY AND IT WAS JUST ON DUSK SO WE HAD TO STOP HERE.

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JUST AS THE NAME SUGGESTS ...... THE ACCOMMODATION WAS PRETTY HELLISH TOO ;)
BUT I GUESS THAT IS WHAT MAKES FOR AN INTERESTING TRAVEL STORY.
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ALSO, LUCKILY WE STOCKED UP ON BEER BECAUSE WE COULDN'T BUY ANY HERE.
HELLS GATE STOPPED SELLING BEER A WHILE AGO ON ACCOUNT OF THE LOCALS.....
AS THERE WERE NO LOCALS IN SIGHT, THE OWNERS LET US BRING OUR BYO TO DINNER....
DINNER WAS ACTUALLY GOOD.

NEXT MORNING WE WOKE UP EARLY. AND NO WONDER!... SLEEPING IN DOG BOXES!! (DONGAs).
ZIG STILL HAD HIS SOCKS ON. BIT COLD IN THE NIGHT FOR YOU HEY MATE ;)
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JUST OUT OF TOWN IS THE HELLS GATE ROCKS..... WELL WORTH SEEING.
MUST BE THE ONLY HILL IN THE AREA LOL. PRETTY GOOD VIEW.

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GOT THE VA'S OUT FOR A BIT OF A LAUGH. THE VA'S REALLY ARE AN UNRULY MOB!
CAN'T TAKE 'EM ANYWHERE WITHOUT THEM GETTING INTO SOME SORT OF MISCHIEF ;)

TIME TO HIT TO FROGGIN' TOAD (ROAD).

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DAY 4 - TO MATARANKA VIA BOOROLOOLA AND DALY WATERS - 8 HRS

THIS WAS A LONG TRIP FOR US - 8 HOURS. WE HAD PLANNED TO STAY AT DALY WATERS..... DIDN'T HAPPEN!...
READ ON.
DON'T TAKE NOTICE OF GOOGLE MAPS. THIS JOURNEY IS NOT AS LONG AS GOOGLE MAPS SAYS.

IN BETWEEN HELLS GATE AND BOOROLOOLA IS THE QLD/NT BORDER.
A GOOD PLACE TO GET OUT AND STRETCH.

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ZIG HIT THE PEDAL - FINALLY BACK IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY ........ CAR IS ON AUTO PILOT ;)
AND DUST KICKED UP BEHIND US. ZIG WAS ON HIS WAY HOME :)

WE ARRIVED AT OUR FIRST WASHOUT (RIVER CROSSING). AHHHH...... NT :)
NICE SCENERY HERE BTW.

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BOOROLOOLA - A QUICK PIT STOP FOR LUNCH AT THE TAVERN. THEN ON TO DALY WATERS.
WE HIT BITCHUMEN FINALLY!

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WHY DIDN'T WE STAY AT DALY WATERS PUB?..... WELL THE POOL LOOKED DIRTY AND GREEN.
THAT'S ENOUGH REASON TO TURN ANYONE OFF! SO WE HIT THE ROAD TO MATARANKA.

MATARANKA

MATARANKA HOMESTEAD IS THE PLACE TO STAY! FRIENDLY STAFF AND GREAT BISTRO.
BIRDERS WILL LOVE THIS PLACE. THERE IS A NICE BUSH WALK, AND AWESOME THERMAL POOL.
AND THEN THERE ARE THE STINKY BATS!.........
SO MANY GREAT MEMORIES!!

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DAY 5 - IN AND AROUND MATARANKA

MATARANKA WAS PARADISE!

WE HAD COMPLETED MANY HOURS OF DRIVING THROUGH THE GREAT HARSH, DUSTY OUTBACK.
IT WAS TIME TO SPEND A WELL DESERVED FULL DAY IN SEMI-CIVILISATION :)

WE DID QUITE A BIT IN ONE DAY, BUT IT DIDN'T SEEM TOO BUSY.

ELSEY'S GRAVE SITE WAS CUTE AND INTERESTING - LOCATED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SCRUB.
IT IS HOME OF THE FIRST PIONEERS AND FAMOUS AUSSIE HISTORY BOOK WEE OF THE NEVER NEVER.

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BITTER SPRINGS THERMAL POOL WAS SO COOL! HERE YOU CAN TAKE THE CURRENT DOWN THE RIVER,
AND WALK BACK ALONG A NICE TREE LINED PATH AND DO IT ALL AGAIN.
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WE WENT BARRA FISHING. THE TYPE WHERE WE GOT TO FEED THE BARRAMUNDI ;)
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I ALSO TASTED THE BEST OYSTERS EVER!... AT THE MATARANKA PUB. YUUUM!

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FULL AND SATISFIED, HAPPY WITH OUR GREAT DAY OUT IN PARADISE......
WE ARRIVED BACK AT THE HOMESTEAD AND STROLLED DOWN TO THE BEAUTIFUL BLUE THERMAL POOL.
A GREAT WAY TO END THE DAY! :)

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JUST BEFORE DUSK, THOSE PESKY.... SMELLY BATS COME OUT.
BUT WHEN THEY DO.... THE SKY IS DARK WITH SO MANY BATS FLYING.
QUITE AN AMAZING VIEW :)

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DAY 6 - TO KATHERINE - 1 1/4 HRS

BEFORE WE SET OFF IT WAS TIME TO CLEAN THE DUST OUT OF THE CAR.
USING OUT NEWLY PURCHASED DUST PAN AND BRUSH :)
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IT WASN'T A LONG TRIP TO KATHERINE SO WE HAD PLENTY OF TIME TO LOOK AROUND.
WE STAYED IN A CENTRAL LOCATION, BASIC HOTEL BUT CLEAN.
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THERE IS NOT A GREAT DEAL TO DO IN TOWN. THE ATTRACTIONS ARE OUTSIDE.
WE DID HAVE A NICE PUB MEAL AT THE PUB IN TOWN WHICH WAS SPACIOUS AND RELAXING.

KATHERINE IS THE HOME OF FAMOUS GORGES. WHAT BETTER WAY TO EXPERIENCE THEM
(BESIDES CANOEING) THAN TO TAKE A CHOPPER RIDE.... MY FIRST EVER!
I TOTALLY RECOMMEND THIS!
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THE KATHERINE RIVER IS A NICE PLACE TO COOL OFF IN THE CHILLY, CLEAR WATER.
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IF YOU ARE INTO GEM COLLECTING THERE IS A ROCK STORE IN THE BACK STREETS OF KATHERINE.
UNFORTUNATELY IT WAS CLOSED WHEN WE VISITED.
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KATHERINE IS THE CENTRAL HUB OF THE TOP END OF AUSTRALIA.
THE SAVANNAH WAY CROSSES KATHERINE GOING FROM EAST TO WEST.
THE STUART HIGHWAY RUNS NORTH TO SOUTH FROM DARWIN TO ADELAIDE.

DAY 7 - TO DARWIN VIA PINE CREEK AND ADELAIDE RIVER - 3 1/4 HRS

HEAD OFF WITHOUT BREAKFAST BECAUSE MAISE'S CAFE AT PINE CREEK MAKES THE BEST BURGER!
WASHED DOWN WITH A COLDIE FROM THE BOTTLO .... DOESN'T GET ANY BETTER :)
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THE RAILWAY MUSEUM HERE IS GOOD FOR A WANDER AROUND.

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WATCH OUT FOR MISSING VA'S....

FUNNY AUSSIROSE STORY -

PREVIOUSLY IN 2008 WE WERE IN PINE CREEK AS PART OF THE AUSSIE VT MEET ROAD TRIP
FROM DARWIN INTO ARNHEM LAND UP TO THE TOP END AND PASSING THROUGH PINE CREEK
ON THE WAY BACK. I GOT MY VA'S OUT FOR A PHOTO SHOOT ON TOP OF THE SIGN POST.
THINGS WERE GOING SMOOTHLY UNTIL THIS VA STEPPED BACK AND FELL DOWN THE MINE SHAFT ;)
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WELL I CALLED IT THE MINE SHAFT FOR THE SAKE OF A GOOD STORY AT THE TIME LOL.
PINE CREEK IS AN OLD MINING TOWN.

ANYWAY THE POOR VA FELL DOWN BEHIND THE SIGN IN BETWEEN THE SIGN AND LOGS.......
NEVER TO BE SEEN AGAIN. AND LEFT THE OTHER VA ALONE ON THE SIGN.
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NEVER MIND, I JUST HAD HIM PRINTED AGAIN BACK IN DARWIN TO CONTINUE ON WITH US
AT THE BIG DARWIN VT MEET. YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN THE LOOK OF THE BLOKE IN THE
PRINT SHOP! PRICELESS :)
PIC IS A LITTLE FUZZY BECAUSE I WAS LAUGHING SO MUCH.
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SO HERE WE ARE AGAIN AT PINE CREEK AGAIN..... SCENE OF THE CRIME.
VA IS PROBABLY STILL THERE TO THIS DAY..... BEHIND THAT SIGN.

BUT I DID BRING HIM AGAIN - DIFFERENT PHOTO....
COMPLETE WITH A MINER'S HELMET JUST IN CASE.... ;)
YOU ARE PRETTY GAME OVE!! LOL.
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ADELAIDE RIVER IS THE HOME OF CHARLIE WHO STARRED IN THE CROCODILE DUNDEE MOVIES.
THERE IS ALSO AN AMAZING WW II CEMETERY THAT IS INTERESTING TO WALK AROUND.
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2 HAPPY VA's ENJOYING A BEER BACK AT ZIG'S PLACE IN DARWIN.
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HOPE YOU ENJOYED THE READ :)

Posted by aussirose 12:26 Archived in Australia Tagged travellerspoint river creek darwin pine hells cairns gate adelaide katherine mataranka roadtrips aussirose undara normanton burketown booroloola Comments (0)

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