Almost everyone has to travel a long time before arriving in Australia.
Be aware not to carry any food, wooden articles or fruit, since if you
do, you need to go through quarantine to find out whether you are allowed
to import these goods.
Sydney is the main port for entering Australia. Although it is a big city, it is, like all of Australia, not so stressy as European or other western countries. Some of the city's highlights are the Sydney harbour bridge, Sydney opera house, the beaches and Taronga zoo.
About two hours by train from Sydney central station you can find
the lovely Blue Mountains with the famous Three Sisters rocks. A local
Aboriginal was playing the didgeridoo there.
Adelaide to Coober Pedy
Adelaide is also named city of cathedrals and you will indeed see many of them when walking or driving by city tour bus through town.
At the north-west side of the park you will find the sealed road
again that leads to Lyndhurst. If you have rented a car, you will need
a 4 WD car from here since at Lyndhurst the unsealed gravel road starts
and becomes the Oodnadatta track at Marree. But even in spite of the dirt
road you will still see some road trains. At the spot Coward Springs you
can find a very quiet bush camping with a lot of cockatoos and a tiny spring.
Coober Pedy is the opal centre of the world. It is a town full of
mines, shafts and dugouts. And of course it has many jewellery shops that
like to sell you all kind of opals.
Ayers Rock & Olgas
From Coober Pedy to Ayers Rock is about an eight hours drive over
the straight and long Stuart Highway. At Erldunda roadhouse, a good place
for food and fuel, the Lasseter Highway bends off to Ayers Rock or Uluru
in the Aboriginal language and the Olgas or Kata Tjuta.
Camping and hotels can be found in Yulara resort, about 20 km from
Uluru and 53 km from the Olgas. Ayers Rock is famous for its red colour
in sunset, but also in rain the rock is fascinating. Best views of the
rock and the Olgas can be seen from a helicopter, which can be rented in
If you like walking, a round walk through the Valley of the Winds
in the Olgas is beautiful. Bring lots of water, good walking shoes, a hat
and lots of energy with you.
Kings Canyon to Alice Springs
Kings Canyon is about half a day driving from Ayers Rock and is another
wonderful red place to go. You can either climb the steep stairs and walk
over the cliff around or make the shorter and easier walk through the canyon,
which is also beautiful.
The very bad, bumpy and rough dirt Mereenie Loop road leads to the
national park West MacDonnell Ranges. You will first pass Gosse Bluff national
park and some time later you will arrive at the red Glen Helen Gorge. For
both the Mereenie Loop road and the road into the Gosse Bluff crater it
is better to have a 4 WD. The sand road to Gosse Bluff is even prohibited
for 2 WD's.
The Namatjira Drive passes several beautiful national parks, like
Ormiston Gorge, Ellery Creek Big Hole, Standley Chasm and Simpsons Gap
before you arrive in the centre of Australia, Alice Springs.
It is a very long two days drive from Alice Springs to Katherine
Gorge. The road to the north is all sealed, so in Alice Springs we changed
our 4 WD bushcamper into a 2 WD Hi-top campervan which is bigger and more
comfortable. About 100 km before you reach the halfway village of Tennant
Creek you will pass Devil's Marbles; huge rounded granite blocks delicately
Other interesting places on the way are Daly Waters with its famous
pub and most remote traffic light and the hot springs of Mataranka, about
100 km south of Katherine.
Katherine Gorge or Nitmiluk is 30 km away from the city. You can either rent a canoe to see the first three gorges or make a cruise. Be prepared to wear good shoes, since the short walks from one gorge to the next one are sometimes a bit difficult.
Katherine is not only famous for its gorges but also for the hot
springs and the falls, e.g. Edith Falls.
In Kakadu you will find the dangerous salties, i.e. estuarine crocodiles.
They are everywhere in the wetlands, in the big South and East Alligator
rivers and in the smaller creeks. You do not always see them in time, so
stay away from the waters.
Yellow Water wetlands, near Cooinda resort, is home to many birds, barramundis and salties of course, whereas at Nourlangie Rock you can see Aboriginal paintings and other beautiful scenery.
The roads to Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls were still closed and not
"croc-safe", so since we like to see these falls, we hired a small plane
and flew over the wetlands, the Escarpment and the falls.
Even though the wet season was over we sometimes had to drive through
floodways like above on the way to Ubirr.
We left Kakadu over the Arnhem Highway via the north-west gate. The
first place of interest is the Adelaide River crossing where we made an
interesting and spectacular river cruise watching hand-fed salties, some
of them were real giants of 5-6 metres.
We made a little detour and decided to drive to the south again to
visit Litchfield National Park. Here you can find the magnetic termite
mounds as well as wonderful waterfalls and water holes, like Wangi Falls,
Florence Falls and Buley Rockhole. Be aware of crocodile danger during
the wet season, especially near Wangi Falls and of the hugh stairs at Florence
Falls. Therefore we preferred to "swim" in Buley Rockhole.
After more than 6,000 kilometres of driving we finally arrived in
Darwin, where we spent some quiet days; a bit of swimming in the hotel's
swimming pool, some shopping and a bit of sightseeing. We were lucky to
be in Darwin at Anzac Day (25 April). It was the first time this season
that Mindil Beach Market was open. A lot of people bring their picnic table
and chairs, eat some of the delicacies of the market and watch sunset later
on the beach itself.
Another place of interest in Darwin is Aquascene. You can see many
sorts of fish here, which are fed at high tide. The fish will take the
bread right out of your hands while you are standing in the water on a
Port Douglas area
Our final destination in Australia was the area around Cairns and
Port Douglas. One of the (few) highlights of Cairns is the nearby Kuranda
scenic railway. The train goes through many tunnels and winds through and
over the hills, climbing more than 300 m in the last 21 of 34 kilometres,
up to Kuranda. From Kuranda you can come down again by skyrail. A cableway
over the rooftop of the rainforest.
From Cairns a very beautiful coast way leads to Port Douglas. Unfortunately
when we were there it rained a lot and we did not have good views over
the beaches and the ocean. Also in Port Douglas we had a lot of rain, but,
though it was storming and raining when we left, we had nice weather at
the Great Barrier Reef. Snorkelling and diving was great and all equipment
was available. And if you are allergic to or afraid for the stingers, Quicksilver
cruises have all the necessary suits at your disposal without extra
The day we went to Mossman Gorge and Cape Tribulation was a great day. Lovely sunshine in Port Douglas and, though we were in the rainforest, we had sun and not too much dripping at Mossman Gorge. Take good care when you pass the small swinging rope bridge over the wild water. It is a bit slippery.
last revision: 8 June 2006
Jaap & Marion Fahrenfort-Nietfeld