Driving from Darwin to Perth
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Nov 13, 2008 3:45 PM Last Post By: ianw6705
Nov 10, 2008 4:42 PM
1. How long did you spend going from Darwin to Perth?
2. What was your favorite part?
3. What was your least favorite part?
4. What did you drive? Is a 4WD necessary to make the most of this trip?
5. Any regrets (didn't get as much time in a nice place as you would have liked, etc.)?
Nov 10, 2008 7:37 PM
1April remains a dicey month - it is still extremely hot and humid in Darwin and the Kimberley, and at the tail-end of the wet season, parts can be inaccessible (such as the Gibb River Road through the Kimberley - do you have a map?). And when I say hot and humid, this is altogether a different scale to what you will find in Thailand.
However, if you stick to the sealed highway from Kununurra to Derby / Broome, you would not need a 4WD vehicle, but you will miss the scenic highlights of the Kimberley. After Broome it will be dry probably, and becoming progressively milder as you head south (but still pretty hot - Karratha has a mean maximum of 35C in April, and of course on some days it will be hotter than that).
A 4WD is not necessary to make this trip (especially if unsealed roads are closed anyway), and a 4WD one-way rental would be quite expensive. See Hertz, Britz, Avis, Apollo, etc, for examples, and even a 2WD vehicle rental will not be cheap. I think you need four weeks to do it justice in a reasonably relaxed manner, but even with that you wouldn't be dawdling.
Darwin is worth a few days (including the parks), Broome a couple of days also - it is unique in Australian terms, but it will also still be hot and humid. Ningaloo Reef at Exmouth - Coral Bay is a highlight (and you might still be in whale shark season). The dolphins at Monkey Mia - even though quite famous - are rather disappointing, but I wouldn't skip the 150 km drive in there. Kalbarri National Park further south is very good.
Two very good national parks are Purnululu (Bungle Bungles) and Karijini 'near' Karratha - both (especially Purnululu) will require you to take a tour - since a rental company won't approve your 2WD car going into them. But taking a tour would still be cheaper than renting a 4WD for the whole trip. Although you can rent a Toyota Land Cruiser that is converted to a campervan, saving you some accommodation costs.
Good luck with it - it is pretty good, but not a cheap exercise.
Nov 11, 2008 3:40 AM
3We did the trip in reverse – took a month and loved it all. 4WD wasn’t necessary for us, we travelled in a Ford Falcon we had bought in Perth, threw a dome tent and eskie in the boot and stayed on campsites. Just stick to the sealed roads. We travelled Oct/Nov time though and yes it was stinking hot but upside was places were pretty deserted. We loved it, scenery amazing. Re Bungle Bungles, if your budget will stretch to it take a helicopter ride over the park, it was amazing and one of our many highlights!
Enjoy and happy travelling.
Nov 11, 2008 5:41 AM
4Took about 2 months for that journey myself. As the others have said, a 4WD is not necessary, but again I would say tat you definiteyl shouldn't miss out on trips into some of the national parks, especially the Bungle Bungles. Karijini is fantastic too.
I would suggest you need plenty of time to allow you to take it easy, especially in some of the coastal places. Broome was great, and Coral Bay was magnificent. Diving on the Ningaloo reef is wonderful, and I enjoyed it more than diving on the GBR, maybe since there's fewer people around. There is also the Whale Sharks of course, if you're there at the right time. I also did a whale watching trip from Coral Bay, and got very close to several Hump Backed Whales, and also swam above a few manta rays.
I would also put in a good word for Lancelin, a few hours north of Perth...had a great time surfing the giant sand dunes there! A bit further north of that is teh Hutt River Province, an independent country not far from Geraldton. We had a personal tour from Prince Leonard himself, and he even got dressed up in his robes of state for a photo! The Princess was less stately dressed, in her bath robe and hair curlers!!
Nov 11, 2008 11:44 PM
5I took 3 weeks, however you will probably need more time since a) 3 weeks was all I had, b) I didn't spend much time in either the north (too hot and most places closed) or the mid-west (grew up in Perth so been there before). I travelled in Dec-Jan last summer.
Karijini, Cape Range (Ningaloo), Kalbarri, Bungles (scenic flight only)
On other trips in the area I also liked the Gibb River Road (inc detour to Mitchell Plateau), Kakadu and Katherine.
Bungles, GRR and Kakadu may not have opened by April, plus they will require 4wd to access, or scenic flights. A flight over Kakadu would be well worth it at this time of year, with the waterfalls at full flow.
I think Monkey Mia is overrated, but if you do go there, it's worth taking a wildlife cruise. You can often see dugongs and other things out there. I really like the stromatolites at Hamelin Pool (but I'm a bit of a nerd). There's a good viewing walkway just out of Denham (Eagle Bluff perhaps?). It's very high up so it's not easy to identify what you're looking at but I saw plenty of sharks.
I think Hutt River is over-rated and a long detour that isn't worth it.
South of Geraldton, it's worth taking the coastal route through Leeman to Jurien and stopping off at a random small beach for a swim.
I drove my own Suzuki swb GV - nominally 4wd but without low range. I mostly stuck to sealed roads, with just a few gravel roads in NPs. A solid 2wd would have no problems, however if you're hiring a vehicle you'll need to check the lease conditions. I had a tent and stayed at a combination of NP campgrounds and hostels. At Cape Range NP the campsites are virtually on the beach - fantastic location.
Regrets - I would have liked to have had more time overall, and to travel at a better time of year (I would consider May-June to be ideal) but I was transferring from katherine to Perth due to work. I would really have liked to go to Millstream-Chichester NP on the way to Karijini but wasn't prepared to undertake the trip in low season and on my own. I would have liked to have done a trip to the Abrolhos Archipelago from Geraldton, but the winds weren't favourable while I was there and I couldn't wait.
Nov 12, 2008 12:19 AM
6I was going to mention the stromatolites at Hamelin Pool too (being a nerd also) - they're on the road in to Monkey Mia, as is Shell Beach next door - nice. Also - south of Jurien Bay is Nambung NP - home of the Pinnacles - definitely worth an hour or so as well - pretty remarkable.
Nov 12, 2008 8:18 PM
Nov 13, 2008 10:33 AM
Nov 13, 2008 3:26 PM
9We have done it 3 times, and each time, driving along the coast, we did it in 2-3 days. That's with limited stops etc. so likely not what you're looking at, but that would be the bare minimum for such a trip. If you've got the time to spend doing it properly, Monkey Mia and Coral Bay are definitely worth a look - they were the real highlights of subsequent slower trips, although Hamelin Pools etc is good too.
As to a 4WD, as mentioned, you won't need it for most of it unless you plan on going to the parks. But tour buses go over most of the route, and if they can do it... any car can do it!
As to regrets, I would have liked to spend more time in the "natural" wonders. Steer clear of spending too much time in places like Geraldton, Port Hedland and Carnarvon - they are good for a drive through, petrol fill up and a quick look around, but not nice places to be staying. Sorry to anyone from there, but that's just my experience! Broome does NOT fall into that category, sunsets on Cable Beach are incredible...
Nov 13, 2008 3:34 PM
Nov 13, 2008 3:45 PM
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