Check the roads to Darwin, including Broome to Katherine, Alice Springs to Katherine, Mt. Isa to Threeways Roadhouse and Katherine to Darwin.
There is only one road connecting Darwin with the rest of Australia.
Stuart Highway links Darwin to Adelaide in South Australia, with a
turn off to the west at Katherine and to the east at Threeways
Roadshouse, just north of Tennant Creek.
Although there are some alternatives, such as traveling east through Borroloola and Normanton to Cairns, many of these roads to Darwin are little more than lines on the map.
If you plan to use secondary roads, check local conditions and distances between fuel stops carefully before you leave.
There are three main roads into the Northern Territory and they all converge, with only one road on the last section between Darwin and Katherine.
Distance 300 kilometres
Drive Time 3 hours
Fuel stops; Darwin, Noonamah, Acacia, Adelaide River, Emerald Springs, Pine Creek, Katherine.
This is a relatively busy stretch of good quality sealed road with all season bridges and is only cut by major weather events, the first 30k's are dual lane.
Adelaide River and Pine Creek are small towns with interesting histories connected to the early gold rush, the original railway and WW11.
An alternative is to travel through Kakadu National Park however it is about double the distance. The roads from Pine Creek to Kakadu and from Kakadu to Darwin are good sealed roads with fuel and amenities available in Kakadu.
At Katherine turn west for Timber Creek, Broome and the rest of Western Australia.
Distance 1600 kilometres
Drive Time 17 hours
Fuel stops; Katherine, Victoria River, Timber Creek, Kunanurra, Halls Creek, Fitzroy Crossing, Derby, Broome
This section traverses some very remote country with long stretches between fuel stops but is still good quality sealed road. It is more prone to flooding in the wet season, so check local conditions if you have any doubt.
Victoria River is a destination in it's own right for those wanting to explore the eastern section of the Gregory National Park. The roadhouse and camping ground provide all the facilities you would expect in a remote location like this.
If time is not a problem, a short diversion to Lake Argyle before Kunanurra can be a rewarding experience.
Kunanurra is supported by the irrigation waters from Lake Argyle with a population of around 7-8000 or more in the tourist season.
It is the biggest town on the highway to Broome as Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing both have populations of around 12-1500.
One of the alternative roads to Darwin is via the Gibb River beef road to cover the section from Broome to Whyndham.
This is a fairly good quality unsealed road from Derby to Gibb River but very rough from Gibb to Whyndham. There is some spectacular scenery along this road from Derby to Kunanurra.
Broome shares many similarities with Darwin in it's history as a remote port, pearling centre and it's importance as a military base during WW11. It is famous for it's fishng and white beaches.
Traveling south from here takes you further into the sparsely populated desert areas of central Australia, with little more than fuel stops along the road.
Note; fuel is not available at Banka Banka
Threeways Roadhouse was built on the corner of the Stuart Highway and the Barkly Highway to Queensland. However for reasons only understood by politicians and councillors, the road junction was recently moved a few kilometres south towards Tennant Creek.
If you are turning here towards Queensland, fill your fuel tank, water bottles and eskies, there is a long road between here and the next stop at Barkly Homestead.
Road Trains at Threeways Roadhouse.
Distance 525 kilometres
Drive Time 6 hours
Fuel stops; Threeways, Tennant Creek, Wauchope (Devils Marbles Hotel), Barrow Creek, Ti-Tree, Alice Springs
Just a few kilometres south of Threeways is Tennant Creek, a town of about 3500 people and about 2/3rds of the way to Alice Springs from Darwin. There are only 3 stops between here and The Alice, so make the most of the towns amenities before you head off.
One of the loneliest stretches of all the roads to Darwin, the Barkly Highway only has 2 stops between the turn off and Mt Isa. Barkly Homestead is the first stop with Camooweal just over the Queensland border a further 250 k's along the road.
Note; fuel is not available at Avon Downs
|Camooweal roadhouse closes at 10pm, so if you plan to drive straight through to MT Isa, plan your fuel accordingly. There is no fuel available between Camooweal and Mt Isa.|
MT Isa to Cloncurry is the last stretch of this road with no decisions to make on where you are going next. Just past Cloncurry you have the choice of heading due east through Hughenden and Charters Towers to Townsville, or veeering south to Winton, Longreach and central Queensland.
This area of central Queensland is also famous for it's rich fossil deposits, formed long ago when the area was a shallow inland sea. Beginning with the Museum in Mt Isa there is plenty to see, including the Muttaburrasauras skeleton on display in Hughenden.
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