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Darwin to Broome on sealed roads

Melbourne, Australia
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Darwin to Broome on sealed roads

Dear Trip Advisers,

A short version of the question for those not interested in reading the essay below: What to visit on the 6-day drive form Darwin to Broome without leaving the sealed roads? Now to the essay...

We all have heard this a million times: "Always read the small print!". But how many times we checked that "Agree to Terms and Conditions" without even a glance at them - I'm no exception.

My wife and I felt very smug, when we managed to get a relocation deal from Darwin to Broome, thinking that this was an excellent way to visit Kimberley on the cheap. I was getting excited planning our adventure and knowing about usual rental limitations in Kimberley I contacted the company requesting a permission to drive either GRR or the road to Bungles. Upon which I was presented with the said Terms and Conditions stating that they won't have us driving on any unsealed roads longer than 500 m and if we were to try anything clever, we'd be fined $1500 even if no damage occurred to the vehicle, although perhaps in a more official tone. After several reasonably civil exchanges it was made clear that no changes could be made to that condition even if we were willing to increase our liability or just pay more. So we were left with a choice of renting a 4WD car elsewhere, which would cost us, but not unreasonably and would give us extra 4 days. Or to stick with the relocation and arrange our trip around the sealed roads.

We are currently leaning towards the latter, for the sheer logistical challenge of it :) and I wanted to ask, what places you would recommend visiting on a 6-day trip from Darwin to Broome. We realise that there are a lot of places between Darwin and Kununurra, which might be a lot more accessible, and since we haven't been there either we'd love to hear about your favourites. We were also considering leaving the camper at the turn-off to Purnululu and hitching a lift there with some fellow travellers (a tour with morning tea and delicious lunch doesn't appeal to either of us). But that would probably take up 2 days towards the end of our 6-day trip and we're concerned that if we find it difficult to get out of there, it would be one mad dash to Broome. So we're hoping for some more accessible suggestions. Also if you know any quieter camping spots along the highway, we'd love to hear about them too!

Many thanks!

Darwin, Australia
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for Darwin
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1. Re: Darwin to Broome on sealed roads

I would usually recommend Kakadu National Park - but you don't really have time to do that and get to Broome in 6 days.

So from the NT side of things you could do:

Day 1 - Litchfield National Park, stay in Batchelor

Day 2 - Batchelor to Katherine (stop at Edith Falls along the way, afternoon cruise on Katherine Gorge)

Day 3 - Katherine to Kununurra

I will let the WA people take over from there as I don't know the Kimberly that well. Six days to do the trip is likely to be pushing it though, and you definately won't have time to take 2 days out to 'hitch' to Purnululu (probably not a great idea anyway). I know its not the same but maybe you could do a scenic flight over the area from Kununurra instead.

Darwin, Australia
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for Darwin
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2. Re: Darwin to Broome on sealed roads

There must be some cheap relocation deals around at the moment as there seems to be a run on these posts!

Well I will state the obvious there is heaps more on the GRR- But you will as you say need 4wd and lots more dollars. There is a very recent thread on how to do the GRR in 6 days if you want to rush.

If you stay sealed then Katherine for 1 day/night

Lake Argyle for 1 day/night

around Kunurrura for 1 night

Purnulu- get a tour!! what happens if you cant find anyone to go in with and out!! ?? You can stay overnight in lovely tented and expensive accom or you need your own tent. I hate to sound all preachy etc- but there is a time to be a tour snob and a time not to be. If it means you will get to see it or not then I would get a tour in!

Fitzroy Crossing 1 night to see Geike Gorge

Then head to Broome

Edited: 24 April 2014, 04:25
Melbourne, Australia
6 posts
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3. Re: Darwin to Broome on sealed roads

Thanks hamiriver, especially for the tour opinion. It does change the perspective.

P.S. It was in fact my recent thread on the GRR in 6 days. Sorry about the confusion with the names - I decided to create a stand-alone TA account as signing with Facebook doesn't give you the benefit of e-mail notifications.

Darwin, Australia
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4. Re: Darwin to Broome on sealed roads

hahah I see!

To harp on also about the Bungles- they are a truly amazing place both to fly over and to walk in an among the chasms etc. I just reread what I wrote and was hoping you were not offended... :}

York, United Kingdom
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for Western Australia
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5. Re: Darwin to Broome on sealed roads

Agree that Lake Argyle Caravan Park is an obvious first stop in WA.

I understand that enough of the first section of the Gibb River Rd is now sealed to get you within a couple of kms of Emma Gorge (although I haven't personally driven it since that was the case). Add on your allowed 500m and that leaves you 1.5km to walk along the road (remembering that Emma Gorge itself involves a walk).

If driving between Kununurra and Broome anyway then check out Warmun Roadhouse as a place to do the scenic flight over the Bungles rather than Kununurra. Warmun is closer and so cheaper to fly from (helicopter and fixed wing).

If you want to get on the ground in the Bungles, a couple of companies offer day fly in/fly out trips from Kununurra with a 4wd trip and Cathedral Gorge walk thrown in, but they are expensive (around $700 each). Cheaper is to take the day truck tour from the Bungle Bungle Caravan Park (which is on the corner of the highway and the Bungle Bungles road). The caravan park does helicopter trips too.

Melbourne, Australia
6 posts
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6. Re: Darwin to Broome on sealed roads

That's clever about Emma Gorge, thanks Waddler! We'll give it a good thought.I think we're leaning towards the day tour from the caravan park. Better book it soon!

Alice Springs...
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7. Re: Darwin to Broome on sealed roads

Hi

You've been given some good suggestions already so I just want to add another vote for getting yourself onto a day trip into the Bungles. I can vouch for East Kimberley Tours (the tour company I used to work for used them regularly as a charter). The caravan park at the turn off is new since I last went go the Kimberley so I can't comment on it.

Also, if you have time when you arrive in Broome try to get a 4WD for a couple of days or get on a tour to Cape Leveque.

Enjoy your trip.

Edited: 02 May 2014, 11:31
Melbourne, Australia
6 posts
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8. Re: Darwin to Broome on sealed roads

Thank you all for your help. The Bungles tour is booked, which leaves us 3 days, 2 nights and 1000 odd km to go from Darwing to the Bungle Bungle Caravan Park. At the moment it looks pretty much like hamiriver suggested:

Day 1 Darwin to Katherine - 320 km

Day 2 Katherine to Lake Argyle Caravan Park - 520 km

Day 3 Lake Argyle to Bungle Bungle Caravan park - 320 km - Perhaps with a detour to Emma Gorge - 390 km

Day 4 Day tour to Purnululu Park

Day 5 Bungle Bungle Caravan Park to Fitzroy Crossing and Geikie Gorge - 420 km

Day 6 Fitzroy Crossing to Broome - 420 km

That should give us about 4-5 hours of driving every day and a day off at Purnululu. Let us know, what you think. Any other suggestions?

Melbourne, Australia
6 posts
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9. Re: Darwin to Broome on sealed roads

I wonder if anyone could suggest a nice spot to camp (understanding that definition of 'nice' can be very broad:)) around Katerine. I'm thinking about camping at Leliyn-Edith Falls. We'd love to walk or take a canoe to a campsite, but we are very time poor and there doesn't seem to be anything accessible enough to allow for a drive from Darwin on the day and a 500 km drive to Lake Argyle the next day. We'd also be open to making the first day drive longer (past Katherine) and having more time the second day.

Thanks!

Melbourne, Australia
6 posts
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10. Re: Darwin to Broome on sealed roads

Thank you I'madesertgirl. We will have a couple of days in Broome, but didn't think about going to Cape Leveque. I think we were trying to save it for 'another time'.When we'd have more time to explore the area. :) We'll give it some thought.