For a start, your route will take you right beside the famed Kakadu National Park, a Northern Territory gem that is renowned for its vibrant landscapes, diverse wildlife and ancient rock carvings. You’d be mad not to take a wee detour and spend a day (or a couple days) admiring the natural beauty of the park and discovering a few of its secrets.
Heading on south, you’ll hit the town of Katherine, home to just over 6,000 inhabitants. If you’re up for a bit of a challenge, try canoeing Nitmiluk Gorge or if you just want to relax after a long drive, soaking in the Katherine or Mataranka Hot Springs might be the better way to go.
Into the wild
From this point forward you’ll be heading into some pretty isolated country, bearing witness to the famed and incredible nothingness out of which legends are born. This is an experience you will certainly remember for ever, but make sure it is for all the right reasons. Fill up with gas whenever you can and always carry plenty of water.
Of course, there are unique outposts for you to stretch your legs and marvel at the self-reliance of isolated and fascinating communities. One such stop is Camooweal, a little settlement of a few hundred souls right on the border between Northern Territory and Queensland. The current road through Camooweal was built (and used extensively) by the army during World War II as an inland defence route - keep an eye out for numerous historical sites dotted along the way.
Mount Isa will be your next port of call, a mining city that built on the back of vast deposits of lead, silver, copper and zinc. Check out the Hard Times Mine while you’re in town, and make sure to drop by the unique World War II era Mount Isa Underground Hospital. Its subterranean nature sprang from the need to create an air raid shelter that doubled as a hospital, after the bombing of Darwin in 1942.
Another fascinating stop along the way is Longreach - originally a cattle and sheep farming town, it has grown into something of a tourist destination thanks to the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, a centre showcasing the history and culture of life in rural Australia. It’s also the home of the Qantas Founders Outback Museum which includes among its displays Qantas’ first jet aircraft, a Boeing 707 christened ‘The City of Canberra’.
The road from Darwin to Brisbane is dotted with little towns carrying fascinating pieces of history and distinctive landmarks: Barcaldine, the birthplace of the Australian Labour Party; Tambo with its Teddy Workshop set up by 3 women to promote the ailing wool industry; Augathella, home of the giant meat-ant sculpture; Roma, the town that hosts Queensland’s oldest winery… I could go on, but I’ll leave a few surprises in store for you.
Out of the outback
When you reach Toowoomba, you’ll know your journey is almost done. Nicknamed ‘The Garden City’, this beautiful place of cathedrals, parks and universities heralds your return to civilisation after a journey of over 3000 kilometres. Take the opportunity to enjoy a picnic lunch in one of the many gardens that dot the city, or stroll through Queensland’s oldest public art gallery (Lionel Lindsay Art Gallery and Library) featuring hundreds of works from of Australia’s most revered artists.
Just an hour and a half from Toowoomba lies your final destination. The capital of Queensland, Brisbane is a thriving metropolis with a rich arts and culture scene, fantastic shopping, and far more to see and do than you’ll ever have time for. If you’re in town over 18-19 July, don’t miss out on Regional Flavours, Queensland’s biggest annual food and wine festival. On the other hand, if music’s more your thing, check out Brisbane’s newest live music venues: The Triffid, Brooklyn Standard and The Foundry are all great places to catch some beats. Or perhaps you want nothing more than to relax with a stunning sunset - head to Kangaroo Point Cliffs for incredible views of the city at dusk.
If the road tripping bug is still biting at the end of your journey, Byron Bay’s Splendour in the Grass music festival is on from 25-26 July. The world class fest never fails to attract top international acts, with a stunning lineup this year that includes Florence + The Machine, Blur and Of Monsters and Men. Picking up a car rental and making the less than 2 hour trip south is a very tempting way to round off your journey.
That’s the brilliant thing about the Darwin to Brisbane route: there’s so much to see and do that you can craft an adventure to suit your own taste. Take advantage of our great rates and begin your outback odyssey today.
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