Hiking in Kakadu National Park

National Parks Near Darwin Not to Miss

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In the Top End, the area around Darwin is home to some of the best national parks in the Northern Territory. With more than five national parks all within a few hour’s drive of Darwin, it is hard to decide which one to visit. Whether you are in Darwin for the history or have come to visit the expansive nature of the wild and rugged Northern Territory, there is a national park near Darwin just for you. We have put together a list of all of the national parks near Darwin, and what makes them great, to help you plan your visit to Australia’s Top End.

National Parks Near Darwin

There are plenty of awesome national parks near Darwin to explore and, in fact, it is one of the best things to do in Darwin. From thundering waterfalls to ancient Aboriginal rock art and epic multi-day adventures to incredible wildlife, there is something for every type of outdoor enthusiast in the many national parks around Darwin. Find out which national park near Darwin is best for you.

Looking for the perfect camper to tackle the Top End?

Charles Darwin National Park

The closest of all of the national parks in the Top End to Darwin is the Charles Darwin National Park. Just a stone’s throw away from the city center, those visiting Darwin for all its steeped history will likely be intrigued by the history that surrounds this national park. Historic sites from World War II are scattered through the park accessible by a walking and cycling track.

The national park also protects Port Darwin, an important wetland in Australia. There is also a lookout with spectacular views over Darwin.

Charles Darwin National Park is free to enter and open from 8:00 am – 7:00 pm daily.

Litchfield National Park

Sandy Creek falls in Litchfield. Litchfield is one of the best national parks near Darwin.
Just one of the stunning waterfalls found in Litchfield National Park near Darwin

Just over an hour from Darwin, Litchfield National Park is a favorite with locals and a great spot to experience some of the magnificent waterfalls that the Top End is renowned for. Although it is not as well known as some of the other national parks in the Northern Territory, Litchfield is nevertheless one of the best national parks near Darwin.

The park is free to enter, easy to navigate, and for the most part accessible with a two-wheel drive. There are some seriously stunning waterfalls including Wangi Falls, Tolmer Falls, Florence Falls, and Tjaynera Falls. A number of short walks, most of which end at the stunning waterfalls, allow visitors to navigate the park. Litchfield offers a number of well-maintained camping areas with good facilities. There is also a multi-day, 39-kilometer walking circuit known as the Tabletop Track which takes walkers past Litchfield’s most notable attractions.

The only downside to Litchfield National Park is its popularity with locals which can make it difficult to get a campsite during weekends and holiday periods. It also means the falls and walking tracks can get busy. If possible, try to visit during the week outside of school holiday periods.

If you do not have your own vehicle, there are several tour operators out of Darwin. We recommend the Litchfield National Park and Jumping Crocodiles Tour!

Djukbinj National Park

For a chance to see some of the Top End’s famous wetlands, consider visiting djDkbinj National Park. Closer to Darwin than Kakadu National Park (only an hour’s drive from Darwin), visitors will still have the chance to see some of Darwin and the Northern Territory’s billabongs.

The best way to see Djukbinj National Park is via the 24-kilometer scenic drive from Scott Creek to Twin billabong. Birdwatchers will enjoy the various lookouts along the way as Djukbinj is a major breeding ground for magpie geese, herons and egrets.

The Djukbinj National Park is usually accessible only from December to March due to the abundance of rainfall in the area. Entry to this national park near Darwin is free.

Mary River National Park

Home to one of the largest population of saltwater crocodiles in the Northern Territory, Mary River National Park is the closest national park near Darwin where you are likely to see a croc or two. It is also one of the most popular places in the Northern Territory to catch a few barramundi, a fact known to most keen fishermen in Australia.

Four wheel drive enthusiasts will be keen to explore the Hardies 4WD Track which explore the southwestern section of the Mary River National Park or the 32-kilometer Wildman 4WD Track that explores the northeastern section of the national park. Both 4WD tracks are only open during the dry season which runs from May to October.

There are two campgrounds in Mary River National Park that are accessible by two-wheel drive.

Kakadu National Park

The impressive Aboriginal rock art is only one of the reasons why Kakadu National Park is one of the best national parks in the Northern Territory.
The impressive Aboriginal rock art is only one of the reasons why Kakadu National Park is one of the best national parks near Darwin

Consistently ranked among the best national parks in the Northern Territory (in fact, one of the best national parks in Australia), Kakadu is a very special place. Kakadu is the largest national park in Australia at almost 20,000 square kilometers. It also holds the distinction of being one of just 25 World Heritage Sites recognized for both natural and historical significance.

The sprawling Kakadu offers a myriad of experiences, activities, and environments. Here you will find unparalleled biodiversity, a wide range of natural habitats and environments, a spectacular monsoon cycle, and a place of deep cultural and historical significance to the traditional owners of Kakadu that have called this place home for countless millennia.

It takes three hours to get to Kakadu from Darwin and another three hours just to drive through the park. You could easily spend a week or more taking in all Kakadu has to offer. Activities here include walking, swimming, spotting wildlife, observing aboriginal rock art, cultural displays, demonstrations, ranger-guided tours, and a range of commercial tours.

But, with so much park, seasonal variability, and a perceptible lack of park management, planning a visit to Kakadu is not exactly straightforward. Add in the cost of entry and commercial tours, the vast distances, as well as accessibility issues around road conditions, seasonal closures, and traditional owner interests, and organizing a successful trip to Kakadu can quickly become a daunting experience.

While Kakadu is undoubtedly one of the best national parks near Darwin, visitors should be fully aware of the scope and scale of the park well before they arrive. Get started with our list of the best camping tips for this sprawling national park.

Nitmiluk National Park

Kayaking Katherine Gorge is one of the bet things to do in Nitmiluk, one of the best national parks near Darwin
Kayaking provides a unique perspective of Nitmiluk, one of the best national parks near Darwin

The Nitmiluk National Park was a particular highlight for us during our time in the Northern Territory. Home to the mighty Nitmiluk Gorge, stunning waterfalls, and fabulous swimming holes, Nitmiluk is more than worthy of its place on the list of the best national parks near Darwin.

We spent two weekends soaking in just some of the incredible experiences on offer in Nitmiluk. Kayaking adventures, multi-day hikes, wildlife cruises, swimming holes, waterfalls, and stunning views will keep visitors busy over an action-packed weekend or longer stay.

Three and a half hours from Darwin, Nitmiluk is further away than some of the other best national parks near Darwin, but it is still within striking distance for an overnight or weekend trip. And that’s probably the shortest amount of time you would want to spend in this impressive place.

From short day walks to the iconic Edith Falls or Sweetwater Pool, to the Jatbula Trail, a 62-kilometer trail traversing the mighty Nitmiluk Gorge, you will find some of the Northern Territory’s premier hiking experiences with Nitmiluk.

Kayaking in the Nitmiluk Gorge offers the opportunity to explore the park from a different perspective. Half-day to overnight kayak hire allows for a self-guided adventure through the nine gorges of Nitmiluk at your own pace. Keep your eyes peeled for the freshwater crocodiles that call Nitmiluk home. Pack your sleeping bag and take the opportunity to spend the night at one of the three camps along the gorge.

While you might be pulled out of your immersive natural experience by the helicopter flights buzzing above from sun up to sunset and it may get a bit busy on the weekends and holidays, Nitmiluk remains one of the Top End’s greatest natural attractions and one of the best national parks near Darwin.

Where to Stay to visit Darwin’s National Parks



Litchfield, Kakadu, and Nitmiluk, are without a doubt some of the best national parks near Darwin, but there are many more waiting to be explored. Which national parks near Darwin did you love? Let us know in the comments below!


Looking for more to do and see in the Top End, check out these articles!


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