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Outback Tour of the Northern Territory and Western Australia for a small group

Travel can be a challenge, and when you leave the major cities of Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane on a trip by car, or an escorted tour by coach, the sheer scale of outback Australia begins to reveal itself to you as the journey unfolds. This 18 day tour into Outback North, and Western Australia seeks to introduce and further enhance travellers appreciation of this unique and hardy land. The tour starts from the town of  Darwin (and finishes here)  before heading even deeper into the outback, stopping through outback towns like Katherine, before coming through the incredible Arnhem Land, and Kakadu National Park.

This 18 day tour into Outback North, and Western Australia, seeks to introduce and further enhance travellers appreciation of this unique and hardy land. The tour starts from the town of  Darwin (and finishes here) before heading even deeper into the outback, stopping through outback towns like Timber Creek, Kununurra and Katherine, before coming through the incredible Kakadu National Park and Arnhem Land.

 

The tour heads out from Darwin to Timber creek before then heading west through to Kununurra, and delving into Western Australia's iconic Kimberley region.  We book a light aircraft to visit and stay at Purnululu. Returning to Kununurra you enjoy a full day scenic flight and tour of the Kimberley taking in icons such as Mitchell falls. After 5 nights in Western Australia, your small group tour returns to the Northern Territory transferring to Katherine and to Jabiru in the UNESCO listed Kakadu National Park.  After 3 days exploring the park, the group takes a flight to Nhulunbuy/Yirrkala in the incredible Arnhem land. We return to Darwin after 6 nights in these amazing UNESCO parks and from Darwin we will day-excursions to the Tiwi Islands and Litchfield national Park.

The scheduled departures are during the dry season, the days are dry and in the low 20's (72 F), with the nights in the centre and the desert being quite cold, less than 10 degrees Celsius (50 F). But it is a reasonable climate for travel with high sunshine hours. Each departure has some unique perks along the way, such as the end of the wet season bringing greening to parts of the desert.
The sheer scale of this incredible landscape is often unrecognized on the road, and when travelling through the outback, you'll come to find this journey is an adventure that will continue for far more than just a few days, being a small group tour that requires planning and destinations selected well in advance for the fit senior traveller. Thankfully with Odyssey this process is streamlined, coming with a huge amount of advantages allowing you to experience the scale and majesty of this incredible outback, along with its hidden history, which can often be missed on a journey by car.
When you travel as part of a small group tour of Australia with Odyssey, your tour guide, whether on Kangaroo Island, in the Northern territory or on a day tour within Western Australia deep in the Kimberley, will be sharing stories with you about the Australian wildlife and some of the world’s most beautiful Dreamtime stories from the indigenous Australian community as you journey through the outback at time immersed in Aboriginal culture. For you, our client, this Outback tour of Central Australia is a small group tour that seeks to create a program of learning as you travel with us. The learning with your program leader is about the history, the landscapes and biodiversity and then the culture of the place. This tour provides a great platform with up to 6 departures a year.

A truly Australian tour for mature couples and solo travellers.

This is not an adventure Australia tour but it is a wildlife Australia tours, a travel experience across Northern Australia.

This is a fascinating country and this collection of a discovery Australia escorted tour(s) will seek to show how its geographical isolation has allowed for an incredible biodiversity record unlike any of other place on the planet, in its Australian wildlife from the monotreme, to the Kangaroo, platypus, wombat, quokka, echidna and koala, to its plant diversity expressed in the wildflowers of Western Australia or its desert. Not all our tours are wildlife Australia tours, but once tours of Australia leave the built-up environment then there will be a wildlife experience at some time on your Australia vacation.

The Aborigines have been present here for some 120,000 years+. They developed not only incredible storytelling to pass on from generation to generation but had the ability to manage world’s most arid continent on a sustainable basis. The Aboriginal people also represented their life and understanding through rock art and painting which we explore in the Kimberley region also on these Western Australia tours

These Australian outback small group tour programs also explore and learn about the importance of the National park network and its unique endemic biodiversity. And finally the Australian outback tours itinerary means we stop at places of importance in the European history of Australia, primarily the outback adventure that was the catastrophic Burke and Wills expedition out of Melbourne and the mapping work of Charles Sturt and his search for the "inland sea". By the time this guided tour returns to Broken Hill our appreciation and understanding of this part of the central outback Australia will have been extended as a result of what we have heard from the expert custodians in Aboriginal culture in the indigenous community and local guides who have a perspective and respect for the European history of the last two centuries.

Because of the intensity of the environment that these outback Australia tours travels through, Odyssey Traveller offers just a maximum of six departures a year in the Autumn through to Spring.

 

 

Articles about Australia published by Odyssey Traveller:

For all the articles Odyssey Traveller has published for mature aged and senior travellers, click through on this link.

Tour of northern Australia FAQs

Odyssey has a collection of Australian Outback tours that will take the senior traveller on a guided tour into the Northern territory with a tour of Australia’s red centre and the Canning stock route or up into Kakadu national park. The Dubbo to Dubbo outback Australia tour is an Australian adventure that takes the senior traveller up through outback Queensland via Winton to Hughenden and then back to Cathedral gorge to see some incredible Aboriginal rock art as you pass through to Lightning ridge and to Dubbo. As well, there is the Outback Australia tour offered as an outback experience as a guided tour of South Australia Flinders range for 14 days including the Oodnadatta track. The Flinders range outback tourincludes the option of a scenic flight over Wilpena pound. Then in Western Australia our Outback tours include a tour of the Kimberley that starts on the west coast before turning inland across Western Australia to the border with the Northern Territory and then returns across the Kimberley to Broome over several days. From Broome there are regular connecting flights to Perth and across to Sydney.

 

Articles

Ochre Cliffs near Lyndhurst Outback South Australia

Ancient Aboriginal trade routes of Australia

16 mins read

Ancient Aboriginal trade routes of Australia Trade was a central part of life for Aboriginal people prior to the British settlement of Australia. Trading routes criss-crossed the nation, dispersing goods, information, technologies and culture thousands…

Pilbara wildflowers WA

The Australian Outback: A Definitive Guide

15 mins read

Explore learn and consider what is the outback in this article. For mature and senior travelers considering joining a small group package tours into the outback to see, learn and explore about this unique place, not only the landscape but the Aboriginal approach to living. On each of the tours for couples and the single traveler you learn something different but fascinating, from Outback Queensland, the Flinders, Broken Hill and the Kimberley and the wildflowers all contribute to this question, what is the outback?

Archaeological mysteries of Australia: How did a 12th century African coin reach Arnhem Land?

10 mins read

Consider the impact of Portuguese, Spanish and Chinese followed by the Dutch trading in the Spice islands to the North of Australia from the 11th century. The probability of African coins reaching a beach become real. Learn more on a small group package tour to Kakadu and Arnhem land or the Kimberley where shipwrecks have been found to consider the impact on Aboriginal history and rock art. Tours for seniors couples and singles. 

Madjedbebe Archaeological Site, Northern Territory

6 mins read

Madjedbebe Archaeological Site, Northern Territory Near the border of western Arnhem Land and Kakadu National Park in Australia’s ‘top end’, Madjedbebe rock shelter (formerly known as Malakunanja II) is the oldest archaeological site in Australia,…

Aboriginal Red ochre

Aboriginal Ochre Trade

9 mins read

Article for small group travellers to learn about ochre in the historic Aboriginal community of outback Australia. Mature and senior travellers explore the deep history and trading routes of Aboriginal History.


PDF of Tour PDF of Reading List

Overview: We meet as a group in Darwin. There is a late afternoon introduction to the tour program and a welcome dinner.

For those who have arrived early we take a visit to the Museum and art gallery of the Northern Territory.

Accommodation: Novotel Darwin or similar

Overview: The group departs Darwin promptly to make the journey through to Timber creek, following the Victoria river from Katherine.

Accommodation: Wirib Store & Tourism Park or similar

Overview: We drive through to Kununurra today crossing the border into Western Australia.

The group’s WA trip begins with a two-day adventure with a scenic flight departing Kununurra, taking you on an unforgettable journey over the Ord River, Lake Argyle, Lissadell Station, Texas Downs Station, the Osmand Ranges, and a stunning circuit over the Bungle Bungle Range.

After landing in Purnululu National Park, you will be met by your informative guide, who will lead you on a tour of the famous orange and black banded domes, as well as a walk into Cathedral Gorge. Once you have reached Cathedral Gorge, you can enjoy a fresh picnic lunch in the shade of the towering cliffs surrounding you.

Once returning from this walk, you will arrive at Bungle Bungle Savannah Lodge, where you can relax in the privacy of your ensuite cabin, or else take a dip in the only pool located within the national park. A chef-prepared dinner is served that evening in the Lodge dining area or can be eaten outside under the starry night sky, by the warmth of the outdoor fire pit.

Accommodation: Savannah Lodge or similar

Overview: The next morning, you will be driven to the northern end of Purnululu National Park, where you will spend the day exploring Echidna Chasm and nearby trails alongside your guide. Lunch is provided again on this day.

The following leg of our journey takes us to the World Heritage Listed Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungles). The Bungle Bungle Range is renowned for its striking orange and grey horizontal banded domes. The distinctive beehive-shaped landforms have been produced by uplift and erosion over the last 20 million years.

The Bungle Bungles are, by far, the most outstanding example of cone karst in sandstones anywhere in the world and owe their existence and uniqueness to several interacting geological, biological, erosional and climatic phenomena. The sandstone karst of Purnululu National Park is of great scientific importance in demonstrating so clearly the process of cone karst formation on sandstone – a phenomenon recognized by geomorphologists only recently and still not completely understood. The Bungle Bungle Ranges of the Park also display to an exceptional degree evidence of geomorphic processes of dissolution, weathering and erosion in the evolution of landforms under a savannah climatic regime within an ancient, stable sedimentary landscape. 

We return to Kununurra in the late afternoon with aerial views of the Argyle Diamond Mine, Ragged Ranges and Carr Boyd Ranges.

Accommodation: Ibis Styles Kununurra or similar

Overview: This morning we have a Kununurra tour with the local community. We will also visit the Kununurra art centre to meet senior painters.

The remainder of the day is at your own leisure.

Accommodation: Ibis Styles Kununurra or similar

Overview:

Today we embark on a scenic fixed wing flight over the Mitchell Plateau and the incredible Mitchell Falls. The scenery from the air is remarkable, and it gives us a great perspective before seeing it on the ground for afternoon tea.

We continue on along the coast of the Kimberley at between 500 -4500 ft above sea level. The group see from the Air many of the highlights of this fascinating region of Australia and learns about the deep history and colonial activity of the region. We pass over the Pearl farms and laborotories as well as remote lodges along the coast looking below for the wildlife of the ocean in the shallow seas below before turning at the Gulf of Cambridge to follow at a low level the mighty Ord River from the historic township of Wyndham back to Kunnunarra. 

We return to Kununurra in the late afternoon around sunset.

Accommodation: Ibis Styles Kununurra or similar

Overview: Today we start early to drive along the Savannah way to Katherine where we stay the night.

There is a group meal in Katherine.

Accommodation: Ibis Styles Katherine or similar

Overview: Today we travel through to Jaibru. The well laid out Territory Wildlife Park displays only Top End wildlife in its natural habitat & this affords us a chance to familiarise ourselves with the highly specialised animals of the Kakadu/Arnhem region before we get there. There is much to see and learn and this will take us the best part of a day.

We then drive out along the Arnhem Highway to Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve. Here as the sun sets, many kinds of water birds can be seen in close proximity to the road. A little over an hour will get us to the Aurora Kakadu South Alligator for evening meal.

Accommodation: Gagadju Crocodile Holiday Inn Hotel or similar

Overview: Today we get up early for a river bird-watching walk, with the possibility of seeing crocodiles, then on to Jabiru via Mangarre Forest Walk, Mamukala Bird Observation Hide and Bowali Visitor Centre.

The township of Jabiru was built in 1980 to accommodate staff and families of the Ranger Uranium Mine, but is now the centre of tourism in Kakadu. The Kakadu Park HQ and Bowali Visitor Centre on the Kakadu Highway are a five minute drive from the town. There is quite a bit of wildlife to be seen around the town as a result of a prohibition on cats. The rare Partridge Pigeon can often be seen feeding along the roadsides while the Black-footed Tree-rat and Sugar Glider are also frequently seen.

This will be our introduction to the unique sandstone ecosystems that have made Kakadu famous. Many of the endemic wildlife, such as Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeons, Banded Fruit-doves, Black Wallaroos and Oenpelli Pythons call this escarpment country home. In addition to this, we are visiting one of the most amazing human history sites in northern Australia. We learn how the art galleries & occupation sites here bear witness to one of the world’s oldest continuous cultures.

We will be driving to a valley in central Kakadu and walking 3kms to a rainforest clad stream where we will see for the first time the amazing Gondwanan Manbinik Trees Allosyncarpia ternata. These giants are seen nowhere else in the world, but have relatives in Malaysia, New Caledonia and South America. They are of great significance to the Bininj people, but have mystified biogeographers with their very limited distribution.

The walk takes us along an almost level, rocky track, fording creeks as we go. At the end of the walk there will be time to relax and have a swim in a series of flowing escarpment pools.

On our return, we may have time to walk (approx 1.6kms) into another famous rock art gallery at Nangaluwurr.

Accommodation: Gagadju Crocodile Holiday Inn Hotel or similar

Accommodation: Gagadju Crocodile Holiday Inn Hotel or similar

Overview: Today we will transfer to Jabiru Airport for a flight to East Arnhem Land. Please note: Luggage is restricted to 10kg per person. Large luggage will be safely stored at Jabiru Hotel.

Covering 85,000 square kms, the unspoiled beauty and habitat of Arnhem Land Aboriginal Reserve support one of Australia’s last wilderness areas. Our flight takes us across the rugged escarpment and down the course of the East Alligator River (boundary of Kakadu and Arnhem Land) over the vast floodplain systems of Magela Creek & the East Alligator. The Safari Camp is situated in woodlands north of the main Escarpment beside an impressive sandstone feature called Mt Borradaile. Nearby is another striking feature, a column of stone towering nearly 200m high called Wurragak (Tor Rock). The Cooper Creek wetlands – the focus of our visit – are in close proximity to the camp.

We spend the next 3 days looking at spectacular rock art, wetland bird safaris and exploring the woodlands. (During the wet season of Mt Borradaile, all the art sites, billabongs and creek systems are fully accessible by either boat or 4WD vehicle.)

Accommodation: Walkabout Lodge or similar

Overview: The group meets local aboriginal communities living in this remote part of the Arnhem land.

This area in Northeast Arnhem Land has been home to the Yolngu Aboriginal people for at least 40,000 years.

History from both country and colonial is rich in this part of Australia. Matthew Flinders, in his circumnavigation of Australia in 1803, met the Macassan trading fleet near present-day Nhulunbuy, an encounter that led to the establishment of settlements on Melville Island and the Cobourg Peninsula. A beach close to the township is named Macassan Beach in honour of this encounter.

Today we start early seeking out the birds of the wetland and other wildlife with a local tour guide from Country.  We continue the day exploring the region visiting rock art sites of note. The group has a break during the heat of the day before continuing to explore East Arnhem land with its local guide until sunset.

Nhulunbuy is only 20 km from the Indigenous community of Yirrkala, famous for its Aboriginal art.

Accommodation: Walkabout Lodge or similar

Accommodation: Walkabout Lodge or similar

Overview: Today marks the end of our stay in this very remote part of Australia. We fly back to Darwin.

The afternoon is at your leisure.

Tonight we eat at the Darwin Trailer boat club.

Accommodation: Novotel Darwin CBD or similar

Overview: Today we take a ferry from Darwin to Bathurst Island, with the Aboriginal community of Wurrumiyanga, a 2.5 hour journey. You will get a chance to learn about the community’s complex rituals and unique traditions and witness an Aboriginal community that holds on tightly to its traditions. Located off the coast of Darwin, the Tiwi Islands experience is led by an indigenous guide who shares local history and traditions. You will be able to partake in a smoking ceremony and watch and discuss with the Tiwi ladies about their work on their arts and crafts. Your day also includes learning about the church and the Catholic mission as well  visiting the Tiwi Island Museum.

You can also have time to visit and learn about  Tiwi paintings, fabric, carving, pottery and clothing.

Accommodation: Novotel Darwin CBD or similar

Overview: Today we take in 3 museums and galleries in Darwin accompanied with a local guide to share the stories of Darwin. We start at the Museum and art gallery of the Northern Territory. Then we propose to visit the Roadmasters house associated with NT railway and The Burnett house; This is the only surviving example of B.C.G. Burnett’s Type ‘K’ and was unusual in being of two-storey configuration.

A unique feature is the coloured compass inlay in the ground floor concrete slab. Burnett’s original plans and early photographs indicate a rainwater tank at the rear, near the laundry.

The house was damaged by Cyclone Tracy in December 1974. From about 1983 the house remained vacant and was boarded up to prevent access from itinerants until it was restored in 1988 for the National Trust.

We return to the hotel, mid afternoon.

Accommodation: Novotel Darwin CBD or similar

Overview: Today we travel out to Litchfield National Park to visit the Stapleton station.

The Sargent family developed Stapleton Station and its outstation Blyth over 40 years. The family contributed substantially to the development of the Top End. Today their descendants have dispersed, although many remain as important members of our Top End community.

In 1964, Stapleton Station was sold to the Townsend family. In 1984 Bob and Roy Townsend initiated talks with the NT Government with a view to protecting some of the property as a National Park. Blyth Homestead was included in the land parcel which became Litchfield National Park in 1986, and in 1997 it was declared a heritage site to be protected for future generations. It is one of the best remaining examples of Top End bushcraft architecture. Allow time to take in the early 1900’s Aussie battler atmosphere of the Homestead and enjoy its stories whilst in the park.

We return to Darwin in the afternoon.

Tonight, we enjoy a farewell meal with the locals at the Darwin Boat trailer boat club.

Accommodation: Novotel Darwin CBD or similar

Overview: The tour concludes after breakfast.

1
Scenic flight over the Mitchell Plateau and the incredible Mitchell Falls
2
Stop over in Kununurra, gateway to the Kimberley’s.
3
Explore the Kimberley including the Bungles by air.
4
Visit and learn about the Tiwi islands
5
Spend time in Arnhem land and Kakadu with the local community.

What’s included in our Tour

  • 17 nights accommodation.
  • 17 breakfasts, 14 lunches, 14 dinners.
  • Coach or other vehicle suitable for the journey.
  • Flights and excursions as stated in the itinerary
  • Entrances and sightseeing as specified.
  • Services of Tour Leader for the duration of tour.
  • Detailed Preparatory Information.

What’s not included in our Tour

  • Comprehensive travel insurance.
  • Items of a personal nature, such as telephone calls and laundry.
Bungle Bungles.
Mitchell Falls, Kimberly region of WA
Wessel rock art
Aboriginal art Kakadu
Australian Air tours
Kimberley, Western Australia
The Kimberley
Directions sign in Port Augusta