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Is pre-booking necessary for the June/July school holidays?

Melbourne
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Is pre-booking necessary for the June/July school holidays?

We are two adults and one teenager flying into Darwin from Mebourne on the 28 June and staying 10 days in total. We have booked a kea campervan and we plan to visit Kakadu, drive down to Katherine, Mataranka and then back up to Litchfield. It's really difficult to work out exactly how long we should stay in each place and what is a 'must see and do'. Because it is school holidays I have been told that it is absolutely necessary to pre-book powered sites, tours, etc. Can anyone tell me if this is necessary? We prefer to just drive and stop and then drive on if necessary but we may have to adapt our travelling style.

Thanks so much to everyone who replies and I hope this will help others too! :)

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Darwin
Darwin
Top End, Australia
Bargara, Australia
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1. Re: Is pre-booking necessary for the June/July school holidays?

That time of year is absolute peak season in Darwin the tourist NT areas nearby.

If you don't want to be disappointed, book. If you want to be flexible then be aware of the risk. Cheerz Wab

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Darwin
Darwin
Top End, Australia
Melbourne
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2. Re: Is pre-booking necessary for the June/July school holidays?

Hey Wab

Thanks for this. It is a risk but it is so hard to know just how long to stay in one place. You could turn up and it's paradise or hell and then just want to move on. For example, how long should we stay in Kakadu? Photos of Litchfield look divine. Does this warrant a longer stay? Do we do a full day tour at Katherine Gorge and stay two nights?

Queensland...
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3. Re: Is pre-booking necessary for the June/July school holidays?

Gidday Erica .. you may be better directing your requests/queries to the various places - they'll have a fairly good idea of what you will need to do.

This time of the year is becoming increasingly popular as people like yourselves come up to get away from the southern cold.

Kakadu - you can easily spend a couple of days tootling around looking at different things.

Katherine - Mataranka - 2-3 nights easy .. doing the Edith Falls (about 40k north katherine) on the way to Katherine,then the gorge and hot springs in Katherine then heading down to Mararanka and don't forget coming back.

Litchfield, Daly river area, Douglas Daly (I've heard good reports of a camping area down there) - it is entirely up to you really as to whether you want to wing it or be locked in.

In Katherine check out Knotts Crossing - wins tourist awards all over the place, and is a fairly impressive park area as well on site accom.

Arlington, Virginia
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4. Re: Is pre-booking necessary for the June/July school holidays?

A couple tours in Katherine that you might want to look at--canoeing the river at Katherine Gorge and the Crocodile Night Adventure. Both definitely need to be booked in advance, but if you stay in Katherine several nights (which I strongly advise), then you might be able to get booked for one of your nights. (No guarantees of course) We booked both the canoes and the Adventure through Travel North.

We also rented canoes at 12 Mile Yards on the Roper River in Elsey National Park. You should be able to do this on a walk-up basis.

Another interesting place to tour in the area is the Cutti Cutti Cave, which does not require advance reservations.

Melbourne
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5. Re: Is pre-booking necessary for the June/July school holidays?

Thank you Jetett and Longhorn74 for all the good bits of info. This is a real help especially recommendations for croc tours and the place to stay in Katherine. All of this will enable me to start mapping out a route and then I can contact the various places to see about pre-booking as much as possible. It seems this may be the way to go. We are really looking forward to having a wonderful experience in the NT.

darwin
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6. Re: Is pre-booking necessary for the June/July school holidays?

Hi Erica... Max stay in Katerine is one night.. Totally agree Knotts crossing is great.Good place to start the day particulary for the early morning gorge cruise. The night life leaves a lot to be desired, day trips fantastic but one night more than enough. Take in the Cutta Cutta Caves...

Melbourne
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7. Re: Is pre-booking necessary for the June/July school holidays?

Hi Darwinlyn, many thanks for your advice. Knotts crossing sounds like a good place. Will certainly investigate this. Cheers

Darwin, Australia
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8. Re: Is pre-booking necessary for the June/July school holidays?

This is the peak season so places can get crowded. You can do Lichfield in one day from Darwin. Kakadu has powered and unpowered camping areas, I have always stayed in the unpowered site without any problems. Caravan parks at Jabiru and Cooinda, the latter one is handy if you want to do the cruise on Yellow Waters, the dawn trip is the best by far. From Kakadu you can then drive to Katherine via Mary River roadhouse and join the highway at Pine Creek. Try not to book a tour the days the Ghan arrives in Katherine as they grab many of the buses.

But the campervan should be self contained so you could camp at non powered sites one night so long as you are driving a lot of kms the next day.

You can always just turn up and see what tours are not fully booked, the tourist Info centre at Katherine and Darwin shouldbe able to help you there.

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Darwin
Darwin
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Queensland Australia
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9. Re: Is pre-booking necessary for the June/July school holidays?

Yes advance bookings are essential at that time of the year, getting Darwin accommodation can be very difficult.

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Darwin
Darwin
Top End, Australia
stephensfamily
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10. Re: Is pre-booking necessary for the June/July school holidays?

I would only stay in Mataranka for a night at the actual homestead. They do a great meal (thou, the prices go up come tourist season). While your at mataranka go swimming at bitter springs (its where the locals swim). there is no services there its just a heated swimming pond. Mataranka in tourist season can be mental. very busy - but it doesn't feel too over populated. there is loads of room. and everyone seems to be in good spirits. plus relaxing in the heated ponds are fantastic.

Katherine is a lovely little town. thou, in tourist season its population triples. a really cool experence would be to go to a rodeo. the bush rodeo's are amazing - something very different to the average tourist experience. Cutta cutta caves are great. its about 14.50 and they only accept cash - so make sure you have the money. you'll find a ATM at mataranka (in the blue servo).

if money permits - do a helicopter ride over the katherine gorges - awesome - you get to see the size of it.

you'd only need a night in mataranka and maybe a night in katherine. Not sure about kakadu, if you are coming from katherine to pine creek you can swing a right and head to jabiru on the back road. its a nice drive. think most of it is dirt (can't confirm as i haven't been down that way for a long time).

dont forget edith falls on the way out of katherine (heading north). and then there is douglas daly (but thats another night camping).

Have fun - brumbys katherine have the best pies !!!