10 Best Day Trips from Darwin

Whether you have your own car or do a day tour, there are some fantastic day trips from Darwin. From the popular Litchfield National Park and Berry Springs to less well known Wagait Beach, Darwin day trips showcase the best of the Top End’s nature and culture.

In this guide to the best day trips form Darwin, we give you an idea of the travel time, how long the activities take, who will like it and answer some FAQs. We’ll also let you know if it is a day trip you can do in the wet season.

We’ll look at whether you can see Nitmiluk or Kakadu as a day trip from Darwin.

Featured Image Litchfield National Park © Tourism NT & Shaana McNaught

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Florence Falls Litchfield National Park
Florence Falls Litchfield National Park

Litchfield National Park

🕒 Darwin to Litchfield Travel Time? It takes between 75 and 90 minutes to get to Litchfield depending on which way you go. The shortest route is via Berry Springs but several of the park’s attractions like Buley Rockhole, the termite mounds and Florence Falls are closer to the Batchelor entrance.

❤️️ Who will like this? If you like waterfalls, cooling off in rockpools and walking through spectacular savannah and monsoon forest you will love this daytrip from Darwin. Our 8 and 10 year old kids had fun here despite a bit of walking. Wangi Falls and Tolmer falls are both access friendly.

💧 Can you do this in the wet season? Yes, you can do a day trip to Litchfield National Park in the wet season. The 4WD tracks will likely be closed but access to most other attractions remain open.

Litchfield National Park FAQ’s

How long do you need?

This will be a full day. There are lots of walks, waterfalls and rock pools to explore. Expect to spend 30 – 90 minutes at different sights.

Do you need a 4WD?

While there are some 4WD tracks in Litchfield, you can access many of the best known attractions on sealed roads in a regular car.

How long do you need?

This will be a full day. There are lots of walks, waterfalls and rock pools to explore. Expect to spend 30 – 90 minutes at different sights.

Litchfield National Park is one of the most popular day trips from Darwin. It is much closer to Darwin than Kakadu and it is a beautiful spot to visit. Check out the waterfalls and go for a swim at Florence or Wangi Falls. There is a great forest walk at Wangi Falls too. Relax in the clear water at Buley Rockhole. Take the boardwalk to see the spectacular Tolmer Falls – they look amazing in the afternoon sun.

In the dry season, if you have a 4WD take Reynolds Track to Surprise Creek Falls and Tjaynera – Sandy Creek Falls and Blyth Homestead. Experienced 4WDers can also take the rocky track to the amazing Lost City Rock formations.

The best services in Litchfield are at Wangi Falls where there is a kiosk, easy access to the plunge pool at the base of the falls, toilet, picnic and BBQ facilities.

Mary River Crocodile
Mary River Crocodile

Mary River National Park

🕒 Darwin to Mary River National Park Travel Time – It takes 80 minutes to get to Corroboree Billabong in Mary River National Park along the Arnhem Highway

❤️️ Who will Like this? This is a fun Darwin day trip for anyone who wants to see a saltwater crocodile, amazing birdlife and beautiful monsoon wetlands. Families will love the Corroboree Billabong cruise.

💧 Can you do this in the wet season? No, Mary River National Park is largely inaccessible in the wet season

Mary River National Park FAQ’s

Do you need a national Park Pass? You do need a national park pass to enter Mary River National Park.

Can you swim at Mary River National Park? No way! Mary River National Park has the highest concentration of saltwater crocodiles in the world.

Can you go fishing? Shady Creek in Mary River National Park is a popular barramundi fishing spot. Access is via an unsealed road.

Mary River National Park is a bit of a hidden gem. The highlight here is the cruise you can do on Corroboree Billabong. There are sunrise, sunset, morning and lunch time cruises. The last couple of kilometres to the billabong is on a dirt road suitable for 2WDs.

The billabong is teeming with wildlife. It has one of the highest concentrations of saltwater crocodiles in the world and you’ll lose count of all the different birds you’ll see. Eagles, kites, kingfishers and jabirus will all be on your list.

Before or after your cruise you can add to your wetlands experience with some bird watching from the viewing platform at Mistake Billabong or stretch your legs on an easy but exposed 4.5km loop walk around the aptly named Bird Billabong.

Mary River National Park is quite spread out so there is a 20-40 minute drive between sites. Between the cruise and a couple of the other attractions, you can spend the best part of a day here.

For something to eat and drink, checkout the Corroboree Park Tavern at the turn off to Corroboree Billabong. It is also a good spot to spend the night if you are doing the sunset or sunrise cruise.

  • Lunch Cruise, 2.5 hours, available April to the end of October, cold meat and salad lunch provided. You will need a car to get to Corroboree Billabong
  • Full Day Mary River Tour from Darwin including Corroboree Billabong Lunch Cruise, Fogg Dam & Window on the Wetlands Visitor Centre – perfect if you don’t have a car
Discover the Tiwis on a Day Tour
Discover the Tiwis on a Day Tour © Tourism NT & Shaana McNaught

Explore Tiwi Islands Culture

🕒 Travel Time? The cruise to Wurrumiyanga on Bathurst Island takes about 2.5 hours on the SeaLink Ferry from Cullen Bay Marina

❤️️ Who will Like this? This is a good day trip from Darwin if you want to immerse yourself in the art and culture of the Tiwi Islands

💧 Can you do this in the wet season? The Tiwi Islands tours operate in the dry season from April to November

Tiwi Islands FAQ’s

Tiwi Islands Permit – If you travel to the Tiwi Islands not on an organised tour, you will have to get a permit through the Tiwi Land Council

For an undiluted experience in Aboriginal culture, you can’t go past a trip to the Tiwi Islands 80 km north of Darwin. Known as the Islands of Smiles, the Aboriginal communities here still follow customs and rituals practised for generations. As well as learning about their culture, a feature of your trip to the Tiwi Islands is seeing their beautiful artwork.

The best way to experience the Tiwi Islands is on a tour. SeaLink run a Tiwi Islands Aboriginal Culture Tour and the Tiwi by Design Tour which both give you a great insight into Tiwi Islands life. The only thing they take more seriously on the Tiwi Islands than at and craft is their football. If you are in Darwin at Grand Final time, a trip to see the grand final is a must!

  • Tiwi Islands Day Trips from Darwin – Take a ferry from Darwin to Bathurst Island to meet members of the local Tiwi community of Wurrumiyanga. Witness ancient customs, smoking ceremony, hand weaving & painting and learn about day-to-day life
  • Tiwi by Design Day Tour from Darwin – Partake in a traditional morning tea with Tiwi Islanders before visiting the Tiwi Museum & joining Aboriginal artists for a workshop
Berry Springs Nature Reserve
Berry Springs Nature Reserve

Berry Springs Nature Park + Territory Wildlife Park

🕒 Darwin to Berry Springs Travel Time? It takes 40 minutes to get from Darwin to Berry Springs and the Territory Wildlife Park

❤️️ Who will Like this? You will like this day trip from Darwin if you want a beautiful, safe place to swim and want to experience some Top End wildlife. It is a fun day trip for families.

💧 Can you do this in the wet season? Berry Springs might close in the wet season due to flooding. Territory Wildlife Park closes early during the wet season so check their website for details.

Berry Springs FAQ’s

Do you need a park pass for Berry Springs Nature Park? You do not need a park pass for Berry Springs

Is Berry Springs free? There is no fee to swim at Berry Springs.

How long do you need at Territory Wildlife Park? The Territory Wildlife is big, allow at least half a day too look around and see all the presentations. There is a shuttlebus that moves you around the park.

Berry Springs Nature Park and the Territory Wildlife Park are next door to one another. Even though they are only a short drive to Darwin, visiting both will take you all day. Berry Springs is one of the best spots to go for a swim in Darwin. You won’t find crocs or box jellyfish here, just crystal clear spring-fed pools.

There are several large swimming areas, a kiosk which is open around lunch where you can get food, drinks and even flotation aids to help you really relax in the water. There is a shaded picnic area, BBQs and a nice short walk you can do through the forest. It is a great spot to relax after you have had a look around the neighbouring wildlife park.

The Territory Wildlife Park features many animals from around the Top End. The free flight bird show is a highlight along with the nocturnal house, walk through aviaries and the Oolloo Sandbar that features freshwater species like giant whiprays and spitting archer fish. There is a lot more to see and the shuttlebus service helps you get around the park.

After a look through the wildlife park at dip at Berry springs is the perfect way to end this day trip from Darwin from Darwin.

Wagait Beach
Wagait Beach

Mandorah + Wagait Beach

🕒 Darwin to Wagait Beach travel time? You can drive to Wagait Beach from Darwin in 85 minutes, or you can catch the ferry from Cullen Bay to Mandorah Jetty in 20 minutes. The ferry sounds good, but it is handy having a car.

❤️️ Who will Like this? Not so much a day trip for children. This day trip from Darwin is all about beautiful Wagait Beach, World War 2 history and lunch at Cox Country Club. Mandorah jetty is also a great fishing spot.

💧 Can you do this in the wet season? You can do this in the wet season, you’d possibly get some great views of the monsoon storms on your drive back to Darwin!

Mandorah FAQ’s

Do you need a 4WD? The road to Mandorah and Wagait Beach is sealed. If you want to see the wreck of the B24-J Liberator bomber you go on an unsealed, unmaintained dirt road. We carefully got our 2WD there in the dry season. It would be 4WD only in the wet season – if the road is drivable at all.

Mandorah Jetty and neighbouring Wagait Beach are on the Cox Peninsula across from Darwin Harbour. It is an interesting and beautiful spot to check out. You can catch the ferry across to Mandorah Jetty, but Wagait Beach is really too far to walk in the heat. Both SeaLink and the Cox Creek Country Club have a shuttle from the jetty to the Cox Creek Country Club. We nearly took this option, but in the end were glad we drove.

With the car we could get to the multiple access points on to Wagait Beach. It is one of the nicest beaches around Darwin. The turquoise water and colourful rocks are spectacular. Another feature are the remains of World War 2 emplacements. The best example is by the beach entrance at the corner of Wagait Tower Road and Cox Drive.

With your car you can also get out to the site of a Liberator bomber crash a little out of town. You can get out there if you take it easy in a 2WD. The site is marked with brown tourist signs, you can’t miss them as you get to the T-section at the end of Cox Peninsula Road.

The site is remarkably intact and there is lots of good signage there. It is a must see for history buffs. Have a relaxed lunch back at the Cox Creek Country Club then it is worth checking out the Mandorah Jetty. There are great views back to Darwin and the colourful rocks are spectacular. You’ll see lots of fish around the jetty too.

Harbour Tours with Sea Darwin
Harbour Tours with Sea Darwin © Tourism NT & Tourism Australia

Go on a Fishing Charter

🕒 Travel Time? Many fishing charters leave from Cullen Bay Marina. Others will transfer you to locations like Corroboree Billabong for barramundi.

❤️️ Who will Like this? If you like to wet a line you will love fishing in Darwin. There is a huge range of target species many not far from Darwin Harbour.

💧 Can you do this in the wet season? Fishing charters from Darwin run throughout the year.

Full disclosure – we went on a Darwin Harbour fishing charter and had a challenging time. The currents were ridiculous and our 8 and 10 year old kids struggled with the heavy gear. Virtually no one on the boat caught a thing and everyone left feeling a bit annoyed. BUT from everything we have heard from other travellers and friends we were unlucky – the fishing is usually amazing.

Choose from half or full day charters that target everything from snapper varieties, salmon, and jewfish to tuna, trevally and rock cod – and that’s just the start. And if your dream is to bag a big barra, there are charters for that too. You surely won’t have the same experience we did, so if you like to wet a line fishing in Darwin is a great way to spend a day.

Turtle encounters on Bare Sand Island
Turtle encounters on Bare Sand Island © Tourism NT & Jude Mayans

Turtle Tracks to Bare Island

🕒 Travel Time? The tour departs from Stokes Bay Wharf.

❤️️ Who will Like this? This is a day trip for nature lovers. You head out to a remote island and watch turtles laying eggs and hatchlings. Children must be 8 years old or older to do this tour.

💧 Can you do this in the wet season? Based around lunar cycles and tide times so tour availability is limited.

This isn’t so much a day trip as it takes place from late afternoon and into the evening. The tour runs from 4.00pm until late. This is a unique opportunity to be whisked away from Darwin in a fast boat across the harbour to Bare Sand Island. Here the expert guides take you into the world of the flatback and Olive Ridley turtles that come to the island to lay eggs. On the tour you have the chance to see both egg laying and hatchlings making the perilous dash to the ocean.

It is not the cheapest experience you can have in Darwin but if wildlife is your things, this is a once in a lifetime experience to see turtle breeds that are unique to Australia in a pristine environment.

  • Turtle Tracks Tour to Bare Island from Darwin – 8-hour turtle watching excursion to Bare Sand Island. Watch sea turtles lay eggs beneath the light of the moon. This tour is conducted around the lunar cycle – best times are full moon and new moon.
Fogg Dam Jabiru
Fogg Dam Jabiru

Jumping Croc Cruise + Fogg Dam

🕒 Travel time? Darwin to Fogg Dam and/or the Jumping Croc cruise is about 60 minutes. It takes 15 minutes to get from Fogg Dam to the Jumping Crocodile Cruise.

❤️️ Who will Like this? The whole family will love the iconic jumping crocodile cruise. Fogg dam is top spot if you want an easy billabong and wildlife experience near Darwin.

💧 Can you do this in the wet season? The Jumping crocodile cruise runs all year and Fogg Dam is open in the wet season.

The Original Jumping Crocodile Cruise is one of the most popular day tours from Darwin. It is a great chance to see saltwater crocodiles up close and leaping from the water to eat like they would if hunting birds and flying foxes. The 60 minute cruises run multiple times a day on the Adelaide River. You won’t only see crocodiles; the guides will find a lot of local birdlife too including resident sea eagles.

The cruise is not a full day activity so afterwards you will have time to explore nearby Fogg Dam. The billabong and floodplain are home to a huge number of birds, wallabies, pythons and some crocodiles. The excellent Woodlands to Waterlilies boardwalk takes you over the water. The views are beautiful in the late afternoon sun. The 2 storey lookout on the far side of the dam wall has great views too. We spotted a big saltwater crocodile from here relaxing in the sun.

If you still have time you can pop into the Window on the Wetlands Visitor Centre. Sitting up on Beatrice Hill, the centre overlooks the Adelaide River flood plain. As well as amazing views, you can get lots of information on nearby attractions and the floodplain and river ecosystem.

How far is too far for a day trip?

Sometimes, due to a lack of time or a burning desire to tick something off our bucket list, a day trip has to be big. This is the case if you want to get to either Kakadu or Nitmiluk National Parks (Katherine Gorge) from Darwin.

We would recommend basing yourself closer to either location rather than doing a day trip to them. But, if circumstances mean you only have the day and you are based in Darwin, it is possible to get to them. You can self-drive but it would be easier to book a day tour from Darwin for the following locations and let someone else do the driving. Just be ready to spend a minimum of 6.5 hours on the road for Kakadu and 7.5 hours on the road for a trip to Nitmiluk.

Moon rising over Kakadu escarpment
Moon rising over Kakadu escarpment Tourism NT@helloemilie

Kakadu National Park

🕒 Darwin to Kakadu Travel Time – It is 2 hours 45 minutes to Jabiru then another 30 minutes to Yellow Waters.

❤️️ Who will Like this? A day trip to Kakadu is for nature lovers and anyone who wants to experience the deep cultural ties the Bininj/Mungguy people have to the region.

💧 Can you do this in the wet season? Kakadu is open year round. If you can put up with the weather, the wet season is a great time to visit. While some attractions might be underwater, many areas are at their best. There are also far fewer people around, there is a lot of wildlife and the waterfalls look amazing.

Kakadu National Park FAQ’s

Do you need a Park pass? You will need a valid park pass to enter Kakadu.

Do you need a 4wd ? Yes and no. Many of Kakadu’s attractions can be accessed from the sealed main roads that run through the park. However, the best waterfalls and large parts of the park can only be accessed on dirt roads.

Are there mosquitoes? If there is one thing you hear everyone say about Kakadu, it is take bug spray – so be prepared!

Even if you are doing a flying day trip to Kakadu from Darwin, you can still see some of the parks most popular attractions. You might have time for a quick stop at Mamukala Wetlands just before Jabiru where you can see birds from an excellent viewing area.  In Jabiru, check out the Bowali Visitor Centre.

Next, follow the lead of the guided day tours from Darwin to Kakadu and focus on getting to Yellow Water Billabong for a cruise and the nearby Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre. The amazing Nourlangie Rock Art is also in the same area.

While driving yourself to Kakadu gives you flexibility, if you do want to get to Kakadu in a day think about going on a day tour from Darwin. You get the benefit of excellent guides, you won’t have to find your way around the park and you get to relax on the long drive back to Darwin.

Katherine Gorge
Nitmiluk National Park

Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge)

🕒 Darwin to Nitmiluk Travel Time? It takes about 3.5 hours to get from Darwin to the Nitmiluk Visitor Centre.

❤️️ Who will Like this? The length of the drive might not be fun for family travellers. That aside Nitmiluk is a spectacular place. Its grandeur will be appreciated by all travellers.

💧 Can you do this in the wet season? Flooding closes some activities in the wet season including walks and cruises. If you are driving from Darwin for the day, check what’s open before you go. Nitmiluk is a much better experience in the dry season, there is still plenty of water around.

Nitmuluk National Park FAQ’s

Do you need a Park Pass? You need a valid NT park pass to enter Nitmiluk National Park.

Do you need a 4WD? No, you can get to Katherine Gorge and Edith Falls on sealed roads.

Can you swim at Nitmiluk? You can swim at Nitmiluk. If you are going to Nitmiluk as a day trip from Darwin, the easiest place to swim at Edith Falls.

For day trippers to Nitmiluk, there are two parts of this impressive park you can get to in the time you have available. The first is a stop at Leliyn-Edith Falls. This is a lovely swimming spot, there is a kiosk and picnic area. The 2.6km Leliyn loop walk around the falls is a nice walk with good views.

Your next stop is the gorge section of the park which is where the main visitor centre is. The best way to see the area is to book a cruise or hire a canoe and go for a paddle. If you want to get a bird’s eye view, a helicopter flight over the gorge system is fantastic. We did this and the scenery is amazing.

Like we suggested for Kakadu, if you have your heart set on seeing Nitmiluk-Katherine Gorge we recommend a day tour from Darwin. It lets you relax on the long drive back and you gain a lot of information from the guides.

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Day Trips from Darwin
Day Trips from Darwin
Day Trips from Darwin
Day Trips from Darwin
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