|Kaye Fallick packs her husband and two children – aged 14 and 12 – into a camper van and tackles the drive from Central Australia to the Top End, allowing three days for the loop from Alice to Uluru and back, via Kings Canyon (Watarrka National Park), before heading north up the Stuart Highway to Darwin, via Kakadu.|
There are too many highlights to list, but the early-morning walk, led by senior Aboriginal guide Mark Kulitja, around the base of Uluru is made doubly special by an unexpected shower of rain, and we are privileged to see myriad sparkling waterfalls pouring off this awesome rock. We don’t climb Uluru. While no one will actually prevent you from doing so, it is discouraged by the local Anangu people, and most visitors respect their wishes.
The three-hour canyon rim walk at Kings Canyon reveals various microclimates and stunning views of huge sandstone walls.
The telegraph stations dotted along the Stuart Highway tell of another type of history, much more recent, but just as moving.
For the memorabilia in the bar alone, Daly Waters Pub is unforgettable but particularly for the performance of John, who serenades diners with a live chook on his head.
In Katherine, we take to canoes to explore Nitmiluk Gorge. An hour or two in the hot sun soon sorts the family into two camps – those who can paddle (the children) and those who can’t (parents). And they still haven’t let us forget it!
But the four of us agree that the absolute highlight of this trip is the time we spend in Kakadu. Travelling in a campervan adds greatly to our flexibility, and we enjoy two nights at Gagudju Lodge Cooinda – a holiday park with camping sites, a lodge and cabins, situated at Yellow Waters Billabong – relaxing around the pool and meeting many other travellers. We really enjoyed their cook-your-own barbeque at the bistro, where a buffet was laid out with all the accompaniments. By day, we visit both the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre and the Bowali Visitor Centre, but agree the two-hour Yellow Water cruise is the best of the best.
By the time we reach Darwin, we have spent 10 days in close proximity. We’ve had relatively few disagreements and many, many laughs. We’ve learnt a huge amount about our own country, and feel privileged to live in such a vast and mysterious continent.
Contact: Tourism NT
Phone: 13 67 68
Accommodation: There are several BIG4 Holiday Parks in the Northern Territory, including in Alice Springs and Darwin. Two-year membership costs $40 and entitles you to 10% discount with every stay, plus a forward-booking service. Phone 1800 632 444 or visit www.big4.com.au