Darwin to El Questro in a Britz Camper our family camping holiday.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Family Road Trip

There was no vanilla in this family road trip, it was pure rocky road and adventure.  

After feeling the last of Sydney winter, we were excited about spending a week exploring the top end. We were on an adventure to discover hot weather and show our two kids aged 9 and 11 a different part of the country - a touch of paradise in the Kimberley region which is unique to us.

  • Total Distance Covered: approx 2,200km
  • Route: Darwin to East Kimberly
  • Time of year: 1st week of October
  • Weather: Hot / Humid Avg 35’c
  • Period: School Holidays 

NT Britz trip

Day One: Darwin to Katherine

Distance: 344kms
Travel Time: Relaxed 4.5 hours

After our familiarisation, handover and packing of our fully equipped Britz Camper Toyota Hilux SR we were on the road just after 10 am. Our first stop was at Edith Falls for lunch and a swim, approx 280km south of Darwin. Edith Falls is a great spot for a refreshing dip with a waterfall flowing into a large swimming hole, and there are some lovely spots to set up a picnic lunch or even camp for a night or two. There is also a cafe operating in the campgrounds. After our Swim at Edith, we headed into Katherine to stock up at the supermarket, before heading out to pitch our tents at the Katherine Gorge Nitmiluk campgrounds. The weather was hot (above 35’c), so with everything set up for the night, it was rewarding for everyone to be able to cool off in the campground pool before lights out.


Britz Camper hire

Day Two: Katherine to Lake Argyle (WA)

Distance: 540kms
Travel Time: Steady 7 hours

We were on a mission today, so up early and on the road by 8.30am. We found the Britz Toyota Hilux SR Camper easy to pack with loads of storage options, so we were able to pack up and be on the road in under 1 hour. The drive to Lake Argyle is easy going, with a variety of landscape changes along the way. The trip through the Judbarra / Gregory National Park is spectacular, and we stopped just outside of Timber Creek for lunch near the banks of the Victoria River. We loved the convenience of the vehicle and how easy it is to pull up somewhere, grab a few item from the onboard fridge and prepare a quick lunch. Mid-afternoon we rolled into the campgrounds at Lake Argyle, and it wasn’t long before we were all swimming in that fantastic infinity pool, overlooking the lake and watching the sun change rock colours against the blue of the lake - magic!

Chilling after a day in our Britz

Day Three: Lake Argyle (WA)

Distance: 0km
Travel Time: Layover day

Today was all about exploring the area of Lake Argyle. Making the most of the early mornings, Dad was up early to walk the bluff ridge line and catch the sunrise peak over the distant mountains, well worth doing if you find yourself camping at Lake Argyle. Our day also had the family taking a lunch cruise on the lake, which just has to be seen from the water - its big! In fact, it's the size of 19 Sydney Harbours! We would highly recommend a tour of the lake to appreciate the size, the impressive dam, and also the history of the Duracks who explored and settled in the area.

exploring with Britz

Day Four: Lake Argyle (WA) to El Questro Campgrounds

Distance: 256km
Travel Time: 3 hours

Up early again and on the road by 8.30am. The forecast was for extreme heat, and after speaking with other campers who were using fans on powered sites, we decided a quick stop at the local hardware store in Kununurra was to pick up some fans for our tents. We also restocked in town for food and drinks for the next two nights of camping. If visiting El Questro, you will need a 4WD vehicle, as the last 15kms to the campgrounds are on a dirt road with a combination of creek and river crossings. The kids loved bumping around inside the cab as we slowly marched over the river stones to the campgrounds. The tents that come with the Toyota Hilux SR Camper are quick and easy to pop up and ensemble, which is great when it's hot. With camp set up, we were off for the evening tour of Chamberlain Gorge and some sunset watching from the Pigeon Hole lookout which was incredible.

Brtiz Camping 4wd

Day Five: El Questro Campgrounds

Distance: 40km
Travel Time: 3 hours

All glad to have had a great sleep, the cheap fans made such a big difference. Day four was about exploring El Questro and enjoying swimming in the fantastic water holes. First stop was a walk to Emma Gorge to swim under the waterfall, which was refreshing after our walk. On the way out of the Gorge, it was time to show the kids where Dad proposed to Mum on the dirt airstrip at Emma Gorge under the milky way. Next stop was lunch at our mobile café (aka the Britz Toyota Hilux) before exploring the cool canyon of El Questro Gorge and a swim in the waterhole at the top. The El Questro Gorge walk was beautiful, as we were able to escape the heat under the canopy of palms inside the canyon. The drive to gorge was also exciting as we had a longer water crossing – we were thrilled to have a reliable 4WD vehicle from Britz that allowed us to get to such amazing spots around El Questro. As with all our nights we used the camp ground’s kitchens when it came to preparing meals, which made everything much more manageable.

Brtiz Camper trip

Day Six: El Questro Campgrounds to Katherine

Distance: 613km
Travel Time: 8 hours

Up early today and on the road just after 7.30am, as we had another big drive ahead of us back to Katherine in the NT. Even though we were covering some great distances, the trip was easily shared, and the kids were content in the back. They got a little excited when we passed through towns, and the mobile wifi hotspot in the Britz car would come alive! This trip we were heading back the same way we came down, so the scenery was much the same but from another perspective, though this time lunch was from our ‘mobile café’, parking in the grounds at the Victoria River Roadhouse. The evening was spent camped out at the Big4 in Katherine, which was excellent. The park had lovely campgrounds with fantastic facilities – a large swimming pool, super clean bathrooms and kitchen areas. Reckon we would have been happy staying for a few days! We had planned to spend the night at Edith Falls, however, given the heat, we decided on camping somewhere with a powered site so we could use the fans to ensure quality sleep.


Day Seven: BIG 4 Katherine Caravan Park to Darwin

Distance: 393km
Travel Time: Easy 4 hours

“On the road again”, the final cruise back to the Darwin. So far, we hadn’t yet spotted any saltwater crocodiles, so we decided to surprise the kids with a little detour to a Croc Cruise on the Adelaide River. The kids were not disappointed - we saw lots of crocs and even spotted the famous Brutus who is enormous, he looks like a massive log with teeth! Can highly recommend taking a tour with Harry on his Adelaide River Cruises - just keep all limbs inside the boat; it's "real" out there on the river! Our final night had has camped up in 5-star luxury at the Star City in Darwin, as were to fly back the next the morning to home completing our 7-day adventure.

Our Top Ten Britz Road trip highlights:

Thinking about our road trip adventure, these were some of the key takeouts from the trip.

  1. Where was the best view? Pigeon Hole Lookout in El Questro - fantastic sunset location on top of a ridge overlooking the rivers and mountains.
  2. Best place we stopped for a picnic? Edith Falls NT - fantastic Picnic Spot for a swim, just outside of Katherine.
  3. A favourite place/town we visited? Lake Argyle was incredible, probably due to its engineering, size and its natural landscape setting.
  4. Our favourite experience/activity & why? The Lunch cruise on Lake Argyle, the sheer size of this inland freshwater lake is breathtaking. The numbers behind the lake are staggering, and the beauty of the natural landscape that wraps around the lake is stunning, especially during the magic hour before sunset.
  5. Top highlights?
    1. Swimming in Emma Gorge (El Questro) and Edith Falls (Nitmiluk National Park)
    2. Watching sunset and sunrise at Lake Argyle WA
    3. Having a mobile cafe for kids inside the vehicle!
    4. A touch of 4WD adventure at El Questro in the Kimberleys
  6. One of our favourite Holiday Parks we stayed?  The Lake Argyle Resort is stunning for its location and swimming, also handy to have park that has excellent facilities with restaurant, pub and beautiful swimming pool.
  7. Our top tip for other families planning a 4WD campervan holiday?
    • Have a rough meal plan ready for picking up your campervan so you can shop before picking up your campervan, also freeze items, so they cool your fridge down from pickup.
    • Pick your timing for travelling in the top end and WA. There are two options visit during the peak periods from April to August and deal with more visitors in the remote areas, or visit just outside of the peak areas and deal with higher temperatures with the tradeoff being less crowded. We adjusted to the heat and loved visiting without the crowds.
  8. A Quick and Easy thing to cook while on the road? Risotto is a great one-pot wonder! It's straightforward to make over a camp stove and is always a crowd pleaser with kids.
  9. Our most significant memory of the whole Britz campervan holiday? Family time was mucking about in the waterholes in Emma gorge and El Questro Gorge, and playing UNO in our camp chairs in the evening.
  10. Where would you stay before or after pickup in Darwin? We would recommend checking out Mantra Hotels in Darwin. We stayed at the Darwin Mantra Esplanade which was perfect for our families needs to help us prepare for the road trip.

After having such a fun family road trip, I would really encourage other families to try and do something in the way of a family holiday that sees them push the family out of a "vanilla family holiday experience", and try something that provides a sense of adventure and difference. You only have try it once, by taking a different path for your next family holiday with kids might just open up a whole set of new experiences. 

Do you have any great family road trips you would like to share with us, feel free to get in contact we would love to share your family adventures? 


James Hayward

James is the founder of Little Nomads a family-focused​ travel site where he shares his experiences about travelling with kids. You can have a conversation with James on twitter @littlenomads or via his Facebook page.

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