melbourne to darwin - our 6 week itinerary

We planned our route leaving from Melbourne and allowed ourselves 6 weeks to get to Darwin, but this was not just a normal 6 weeks of travel for us. This was the beginning of our full time travel, our first time in a caravan, our first time towing a caravan and our first time living in a caravan. A 6 weeks we will never forget, we planned it allowing us time to ease into this new way of living and learning the ropes of caravanning.

Would we change the way we did it?

 

Yes and no, yes being more experienced now and knowing a lot more about caravanning having been on the road for 8 months, but no as it was our first time living this way and the way it was planned worked perfectly for us to ease into this new way of life.

 

We are sharing our route from Melbourne to Darwin including what we saw where we stayed and what we would do differently if we were to go again, we have put the trip summary at the end of the post with all the details on places we stayed, how long for and our highlights. Enjoy this really is a magical part of the country to explore!

Days 1-3 Melbourne to Lorne, Victoria 

This day took longer than planned as we had just packed our lives up and were ready to tackle Australia in a caravan, goodbyes to family were hard and there were last minute things that kept popping up. We planned to leave in the morning but it wasn’t until lunchtime that we were out the door. We decided on taking the coastal drive and planned our first stop only 142km away to Lorne, knowing that it was a short distance as we didn’t want to be setting up in the dark. Well the trip took longer than planned, getting use to towing, the wind was out and trying to find the caravan park we ended up arriving at dark. We had already turned into the wrong caravan park with a tight area to try and back out of it wasn’t an ideal start to the trip but we managed to get there set-up and enjoy our first night in our caravan.

We set up at the Lorne Foreshore Caravan Park for 3 nights and eased our way into learning our caravan. We spent our days enjoying the beach, walking, playing at the park and bike rides ideal while we settle into this life.

Days 4-6 Lorne to Warrnambool, Victoria  

Next stop was another short 160km to Warrnambool where we parked up at the Big 4 Hopkin River Holiday Park, a beautiful park setting. With a few rainy days ahead we enjoyed days in the caravan playing and doing crafts and taking the kids out to splash in the puddles. Ella had found some winged shells that looked like fairy wings so we were able to craft up a stick fairy which she loved to do.

Days 7-9 Warrnambool to Nelson, Victoria

We were keeping our travel days under 200km for the start of the trip and the next stop took us to Nelson in Victoria which is right before the South Australian border. On the way we were looking at all the wind turbines and wanted to and decided to take a sight detour to get a closer look and to our surprise the road ended up leading us to Yambuk a small town with a beautiful little caravan park called Yambuk Caravan Park. We had a chat to the owner who was lovely who then told us about the giant slide at the end of the road, of course we had to check it out and well worth it. Had we not had our accommodation booked we would have spent a couple of nights relaxing here. Then it wasn’t long until we arrived at our next campspot in Nelson and set our caravan up and enjoyed our first campfire of the trip.

While we were in Nelson we did a tour of the Princess Margaret Rose Cave but spent most our time driving the 40 minutes to Mount Gambier as there was much more to see. We went to see the Upherston Sinkhole an incredible sinkhole that has been designed with a garden which you can walk all the way down to view, Blue Lake the colour was stunning and visited Valley Lake. We also found a great park for the kids called the Mount Gambier Railway Lands with a  large nature play area the kids were happy and we were able to stop and enjoy a coffee. 

Days 10 to 15 Nelson – Kingston, South Australia – Victor Harbor, South Australia

 Another 195km drive took us to Kingston SE where we stayed at the RV park which was great value at only $10 for 2 nights and it had beach views. Lovely small town and we got to see our first `Big Thing of Australia`Larry the Lobster.

Next stop was Victor Harbor 315km away it was our longest trip yet we stayed at NRMA Victor Harbor Beachfront Holiday Park and loved it there incredible park for the kids with a splash zone, pool, jumping pillow and pump track. Victor Harbor itself we loved we did a couple of visits to Granite Island, took the horse drawn tram over to the island, we experience the fairy penguin tour at night and enjoyed the town roaming around the shops and cafes. Ideal place for a holiday with kids, we spent 3 nights but could have easily stayed longer.

Days 16 to 20 Victor Harbor – Snow Town – Port Augusta, South Australia

We were excited for our next stop in Snowtown only 230km away, it was our first station stay of the trip and we spent 2 peaceful nights at Hummocks Station, we loved it that much we actually did a blog post on it! Hummocks Station Bonus was we saw our first pink lake, although at that point we weren`t to know that there were much more vibrant ones to come later in our trip.

Only 160km away our next stop was in Port Augusta using this as a good place to stock up on groceries, petrol and water we stayed at Discovery Parks for 3 nights. Known as the crossroad this place really is just a one nighter, that is all you would need, but with time to spare we did discover there was a bit to do with our favourite being a visit to the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Gardens well worth a stop with the kids if you have time.

Days 21 to 23 Port Augusta – Coober Pedy

Our first full big travel day with 542km to travel it took us the whole day the kids did well but we were glad to park our van at the Big 4 Stuart Range Outback Resort for the next few nights. Coober Pedy is a fascinating and unique town and we loved exploring it. We visited an Underground home, underground church, went noodling for opals, visited a kangaroo orphanage, and did a self guided tour of a working opal mine. Our favourite though was heading out to the Breakaways Conservation Park and exploring with our car all the different areas, the kids favourite was noodling for opals and the working mine tour.

Days 24 to 28 Coober Pedy – SA/NT Border – Ayres Rock- Kings Canyon, Northern Territory

Making our way to the Red Centre we broke up the large distance with an overnight stop at the free camp on the SA/NT Border, this was a great overnight spot where we didn’t stay in the designated place instead we parked up across the road where there was a large open space with others, much more room and larger space to park.

Then it was off for another long driving day but well worth it as we were making it to the World Heritage Listed Uluru to see Ayres Rock. We had booked in at the Ayres Rock Camping Resort for 3 nights. A huge resort with all that you need and there is a walk you can do with a beautiful view of Ayres Rock. Of course we wanted to view the rock at different times and we did! Enjoying it at sunrise with the field of lights, during the day for a little walk, we decided not to climb out of respect and we also enjoyed it at sunset all amazing in their own way. Such a spiritual place and really felt special to be amongst it. We also drove out for a visit to Kata-Juta, known as The Olga’s and that was a highlight for us doing the Walpa Gorge Walk we were really able to immerse ourselves in the surroundings and found it to be a really special expereince.

Next on the road trip was Kings Canyon being 4 hours away we stopped at a simple gravel pit for the night with other campers and decided we would visit Kings Canyon with the van the next day. When seeing the Rim walk and with the age of our kids, we decided not to do it and instead did the Kings Creek Walk, had we had the experience we have now we would’ve done the rim walk without any questions, but the Kings Creek Walk was very managable with the kids and a really beautiful walk to do.

Days 29 to 32 Kings Canyon – Alice Springs Northern Territory

With Alice Springs being 478km away and the morning spent at Kings Canyon we drove as far as we could we took a road which we thought would be shorter but took us longer and sent us back to where we started we ended up parking up at a free camp for the night.

The next day a bit more refreshed we made our way to Alice Springs to stay at the Big 4 MacDonnell Range Holiday Park and it is one of our favourite caravan parks, ideal for kids, spacious and beautiful surroundings. We spent 3 nights in Alice Springs exploring some of the West MacDonnell Ranges, it is a place we could have spent longer.

Days 33 to 35 Alice Springs  – Devils Marbles, Warumungu Northern Territory

We broke this trip up with a gravel pit free camp on the way as we really wanted to stay at the Devils Marbles Campground and were told to get there early before 11 as spots fill up quickly. They weren’t wrong the next day when we made our way there we got our spot and by 12pm they were all taken this is another top spot that we stayed at and only planned 1 night but actually spent 2 peaceful nights here, perfect place to unwind and switch off.

Days 36 to 39 Devils Marbles – Mataranka, Northern Territory

With more long travel days ahead we broke this trip up with our first stop at Banka Banka Station if you aren’t keen on staying at Tennant Creek this was an extra 100km away but well worth the effort for an overnight stop. The next day we headed to the famous Daly Waters Pub where we stayed the night, enjoyed a dinner and had fun checking out the historic pub.

With only a short 170km to get to Mataranka it was a relief to be stopping for a couple of days, we turned up at the camp we were spending a couple of nights at Little Roper Stockcamp and were instantly happy to be there. Large open area, animals for the kids, communal campfire perfect place to rest after the big travel days through the center. Mataranka also has hot springs at Mataranka Hot Springs and Bitter Springs. We did a video on our stay at Little Roper and Mataranka which you can check out here Mataranka and Bitter Springs

Day 40 to 42 Mataranka – Katherine – Edith Falls – Darwin. Northern Territory

A short 110km drive took us to Katherine where we spent the night at the Boab Caravan Park this was close to the Katherine Hot Springs. The next day it was time to go see Edith Falls we planned to stay in the campground there but it was all full by the time we arrived, instead we stayed at the free camp which we found on the Wiki Camp App, Kame’s Camp Ground, a large space with plenty of room and lots of people parked up for the night, it actually had a really relaxed vibe to it. We did spend the day at Edith Falls and enjoyed the parkland just parking our caravan in the car park before setting up camp for the night at the free camp.

With only 260km more until we reached Darwin, this was our final stop, we enjoyed stopping for 10 nights in Darwin relaxing and not moving around and we will be doing a separate blog post on our time in Darwin. We have added a trip summary at the bottom with names of the places we stayed at, how many nights we stayed, highlights and things we would do differently, we hope this helps if you are planning on taking a similar route and we are always happy to answer any questions you may have just contact us.

Trip Summary

Days 1-3 Lorne Victoria

Where we stayed

  • Big 4 Hopkin River Holiday Park -beautiful location 

Days 4-6 Warrnambool, Victoria

Where we stayed

  • Big 4 Hopkin River Holiday Park -beautiful location 

Days 7-9 Nelson Victoria

Where we stayed

  • Nelson –40 minute drive to Mount Gambier, next time we would stay closer to Mount Gambier as more to do and see 

Highlights

  • Umpherston Sinkhole
  • Blue Lake
  • Yambuk Giant Slide
  • Mount Gambier Railway Lands Nature Park
  • Valley Lake

 Days 10 to 15 Kingston SE, Victor Harbor, South Australia

Where we stayed

  • Kingston SE RV Park 2 nights -highly recommend great value
  • NRMA Victor Harbor Beachfront Holiday Park 3 nights -highly recommend

Highlights

  • Granite Island
  • Fairy Penguin Night Tour
  • Horse drawn tram

Day 16 to 20 Snowtown and Port Augusta, South Australia

Where we stayed

  • Hummocks Station 2 nights -highly recommend
  • Discovery Park Port Augusta 3 nights -only need 1

Highlights

  • Staying at Hummocks Station
  • Australian Arid Lands Botanic Gardens in Port Augusta

 Days 21 to 23 Coober Pedy, South Australia

Where we stayed

  • Big 4 Stuart Range Outback Resort 3 nights -close to town

Highlights

  • Josephines Kangaroo Orphange
  • The Breakaways
  • Tom’s working opal mine
  • Free noodling in Coober Pedy
  • Faye’s underground home tour

 Days 24 to 28 Ulluru Ayres Rock and Kings Canyon Northern Territory

Where we stayed

  • Ayers Rock Campgrounds 3 nights -recommend
  • Free camp – SA/NT Border Camp 1 night -highly recommend for 1 night
  • Free camp – Gravel pit near Kings Canyon 1 night

Highlights

  • Ayers Rock
  • Kata-Juta (The Olga’s) The Walpa Gorge Walk
  • Kings creek hike at Kings Canyon

 Days 29 to 32 Alice Springs Northern Territory

Where we stayed

  • Free Camp – Gravel Pit 1 night
  • Big 4 MacDonnell Range Holiday Park 3 nights -highly recommend

Highlights

  • Simpsons Gap

Days 33 to 35 Devils Marbles, Warumungu Northern Territory

Where we stayed

  • Devils Marbles Campgrounds 2 nights -highly recommend
  • Free Camp – Gravel Pit 1 night

Highlights

  • Devil Marbles – Get in before 11 as spots fill up quick 

Days 36 to 39 Mataranka, Northern Territory

Where we stayed

  • Banka Banka Station 1 night -fun place to stop for a night
  • Daly Waters Pub 1 night -fun place to stop for a night there is a cheaper camp not far
  • Little Roper Stockcamp 2 nights -highly recommend

Highlights

  • Daly Waters Pub
  • Farm experience at Little Roper Stockcamp
  • Mataranka Hot Springs and Bitter Springs

Day 40 to 42 Katherine, Edith Falls Northern Territory

Where we stayed

  • Katherine Boab Caravan Park 1 night -pricey but nice grassy sites, ok for a night I am sure there would be better
  • Edith Falls – Free Camp Kame’s Campgrounds 1 night -simple, safe, good for a night

Highlights

  • Katherine Hot Springs
  • Edith Falls

What would we change

  • Free Camp a lot more, knowing what we know now we would have free camped most of this
  • Had an extra week as there were places that we missed out on seeing like the Flinders Ranges
  • Had only 1 night in Port Augusta
  • Completed the Kings Canyon Rim Walk
  • Spend 2 more days exploring Alice Springs
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