It's a long way from Melbourne to Kakadu National Park. For perspective in North America, think of going from Miami to Quebec City and you'll have an idea of how far the journey is. The trip from the bottom of the state of Victoria to the top of the Northern Territory encompasses 2,320 miles (3,733 km), making flying the most sensible way to make the trip.
Renting a car or a camper van allows you to make the 40-hour drive, which takes you through beautiful Adelaide and then straight through the heart of the Outback, past Alice Springs and (with a side trip to the west) Uluru. Driving allows you to take your time, seeing all the sights along the way. But remember that the Outback is a vast desert, so know that for a large part of the drive your view will be miles of red dirt in every direction.
Taking the train is an interesting option, if you combine riding on the 10-hour The Overland train from Melbourne to Adelaide, then connecting to a famed train known as The Ghan. That luxury train takes three days (two nights) and travels from Adelaide to Darwin. From Darwin, Kakadu is about a three-hour drive, accomplished by booking a tour, renting a car or hiring a private driver.
To leave all the planning and trip transfers to our talented local specialists, consider booking the Ultimate Australia - 16 Days tour, which begins in Melbourne and takes you on to Adelaide, Uluru, Darwin and Kakadu, Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef and concludes in Sydney. If a solo driving adventure is more to your liking, the Self-Drive Outback Adventure: Adelaide, Uluru, Kings Canyon, Alice Springs, & More - 14 Days is exactly the tour for you. You'll need to get from Melbourne to Adelaide, a trip our local specialists can arrange for you; then your personal outback adventure includes all the highlights of the legendary Outback, including the underground city of Coober Pedy and Kakadu National Park.
Duration: 4.5 hours
Daily nonstop flights from Melbourne to Darwin (the gateway to Kakadu National Park) happen on Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar. If you leave in the morning, you can continue on the same day via rental car, hired car and driver or via a planned tour to Kakadu, which will take nearly three hours to drive. To see it from the sky, take a scenic flight of 30 or 60 minutes. Our local specialists are ready to advise and help you book the best options for Kakadu tours.
By Rental Car or Camper Van
Duration: 40 hours
It's a long road trip from Melbourne to Kakadu, so plan to take your time. The 40-hour drive time is the fastest you can do it, so plan on more time to stop and see the sights along the way. Note that renting a four-wheel-drive vehicle is advised, as is carrying a spare tire or two and plenty of water, for making your way across the vast Outback desert is a dry trip. Our local specialists can assist you with finding the best vehicle rental choice for your personal needs.
Duration: 4 days
Train lovers can take two famous train rides between Melbourne and Darwin (then add on a Kakadu tour from nearby Darwin). Begin with The Overland, a 10-hour train ride between Melbourne and Adelaide. That full-day trip sets out twice a week in that direction (Tuesdays and Saturdays) and has been running for 130 years.
To continue on to The Ghan, which leaves Adelaide on Sundays and arrives in Darwin on Tuesdays, take the Saturday train and spend the night in Adelaide. The Ghan trip fare is all-inclusive and features sleeping suites and fine dining. Once you arrive in Darwin, you'll need to arrange to make the three-hour drive to Kakadu, or perhaps take a scenic flight to that national park.