An oasis in the red desert. Pic:

4WD access, check. Amazing scenery, check. Comfortable campground, check. Cool water swimming holes, check. What more could you ask for in weekend getaway out of Darwin?

Umbrawarra Gorge Nature Park protects an isolated gorge framed by blazing red cliffs. A gurgling creek meanders through the base of the gorge during the dry season, which becomes a torrent during the wet.

The park is located just under 250 clicks out of Darwin, so it’s far enough away to keep daytripper numbers under control, but close enough for an overnight strike mission.

The scenery is unforgettable and is best viewed from the walking track that follows the creek at the base of the gorge. Relaxing on the sandy bush beaches that fringe the cool water swimming holes at the base of the gorge after a refreshing afternoon plunge is hard to beat.


4WDING: Access to the park is by 4WD only, due to the unsealed, heavily corrugated road. The final 22km of the access road contains a few steep sections and creek crossings.

SWIMMING: The cool rocky pools at the base of the gorge are irresistible on hot days through the early dry season, although there’s often hardly any water left by the end of the dry.

HIKING: A walking trail follows the creek at the base of the gorge for 1km. If you want to make it all the way to the top of the cliff, you’ll need to be prepared to hop through the rocky pools and potentially get wet.


LOCATION: The park is 245km from Darwin and access is via the Stuart Highway. Approximately 3km south of Pine Creek, turn west onto an unsealed road that leads to the park.

CAMPING: There is a campground available which is equipped with toilets, picnic tables and barbeque facilities. Campers must provide their own drinking water. Camping fees apply and are payable via honesty box provided at the campsite.

FUEL: Fill up in Darwin.

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