Reliable Camping Spots In The NT

Have you ever driven 6 hours to a campsite thinking it would have a shower, drinking water or a fire pit only to find that it’s an open paddock in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a fence to greet you?

What do you do in that situation? If you’re packing just a 4WD, you might have to call off the trip or book a room at the nearest pub.

There is one way to always be prepared for rain hail or shine (so to speak) …

A camper trailer from Mars Campers that has all of the necessary features you need if your campsite is severely lacking in promised amenities. ‘Fixed for maintenance’ isn’t going to cut it when you’re thirsty, hungry and cold.

A camper trailer like ours has the reliability to make it to the campsite no matter the road and the versatility to come with features like a cooking stove, water tank or fridge, for when you’re stuck in a pinch.

It’s a great companion for when a website says they have certain facilities, but half of them are either missing or broken. Here at Mars, we like to test campsites just as vigorously as our camper trailers.

Your next camping trip to the Northern Territory doesn’t have to be a guessing game with these campsites that actually have what they promise.

I Just Want Camping That Tastes Like Real Camping

We’re not sure that’s ever been said before, but it’s a common argument that campers make. Why is it that having a shower on a camping trip can make some campers label you as a wuss?
Well, we’re here to say, that’s a load of rubbish and camping is what you make of it.

Camper with heavy cargo crossing river

Some people enjoy staying clean while exploring the wilderness and that’s their right to do so. You can go camping with more than a knife and a flashlight these days and still have a messy, true blue, old school camping experience.

We’ve got a great list of places in the NT that offer facilities to make your camping trip a little bit easier.

Camping In The Northern Territory

The Northern Territory Government has been on the money in giving tons of information for campers visiting the state. When visiting the northern side of this country keep these things in mind:

– All camping in the NT requires payment

Camp fees are dependent on what category they fall under.

Category A
These campsites have the most facilities like showers, toilets, bins, tables, cooking facilities, BBQs and water.

Cost includes $6.60 per adult, $3.30 per child and $15.40 per family.

Category B

This category offers toilets, tables, BBQs and water.

Cot includes $3.30 per adult, $1.65 per child and $7.70 per family.

Category C

Category C campsites are outdoor education and youth camping areas.

Category D

Category D camping is managed by commercial businesses.

– Bush camping

Bush camping will have no facilities and requires a permit for camping or overnight walking.

When it comes to living it up in the bush, you’ll mostly be looking at category A, B and if you’re feeling really Bear Grils like, bush camping

There are only a select number of campsites that offer ‘category A’ facilities. Here’s our list for the places you need to visit.

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The National Parks You Need To Visit

There are many national parks to choose from in the Northern Territory, 24 in fact, but of those 24 only 2 of them offer ‘category A’ campsites.

Finke Gorge National Park

The Palm Valley campsite in Finkie Gorge is something out of a movie. Picture the watering hole from the Lion King but with way more vegetation.

It’s a pretty damn good view as the blue water reflects the deep orange sandstone earth and rock of the Finke Gorge National Park. The blue and orange are then made even more vibrant next to the tall green palm trees throughout the park. No matter how tough you are, this will turn you a little bit mushy.

The national park boasts the oldest river in the world, the Finke, which is approximately 350–400 years old. You’ll also find the red cabbage palm tree which only grows in the national park.

To find Palm Valley, you might need some help from a trusty map. It’s about a 2 hour from Alice Springs. The last section of the trip is 4WD access only.

camper moving on a mud road surrounded by trees

When To Go And What To See

The park is accessible all year round with the most popular period falling between April to September when the weather is cooler.

The campsite comes with toilets, HOT showers, drinking water, gas BBQs, fire pits and picnic areas.

The landscape of Finke Gorge can be pretty barren beyond a few bushes and rising hills, but Palm Valley is a lovely exception with shady sites and areas to rest.

There are 4 trails to do around the Palm Tree area:

1. The Kalaranga Lookout — 1.5 km in 45 minutes
This is the shortest walk and comes with a 20-minute climb, not like a full on 90-degree rock climb, but more of a leisurely stroll up to a lookout.

Sitting outside your camper and watching the sun paint a red velvet stroke across the horizon is nice but it looks way better with your bum plonked on some old rocks.

2. The Arankaia Walk — 2 km in 1 hour
This walk is something out of Jurassic Park because it takes you through the heart of the Gorge. It’s like a prehistoric world met the Grand Canyon as you walk around the centre with giant red cliffs all around you.

3. The Mpaara Walk — 5 km in 2 hours
The Mpaara walk takes you along hills of the gorge as you look out along Finke National Park.
There’s a rare blend of natural shrubs, old forsaken trees and a dense woodland area next to the Finke river; a bizarre but captivating thing to see.

4. The Mpulungkinya Walk — 5 km in 2 hours
The Mpulungkinya Walk takes you along, and something through, the Finke River. Pack your gumboots for this one. The slender and tall palm trees tower over the small shrubs at your feet. In some areas, you’ll find the palm trees so tightly packed you can even walk through them.

Chill Out In The Hot Springs

The Tjuwaliyn Hot Springs Park, otherwise known as the Douglas Hot Springs, is an area of the Douglas River where thermal pools have attracted visitors from all parts of Australia.

The river is nothing special, looks exactly like a normal river would, except for the fact that the water is actually quite warm; hot even. Like you needed extra heat in the NT.

There are heaps of springs and creeks to dip your toes in around Douglas, some of which offer a variety of warm and cooler waters. For many campers it’s sort of a mini adventure finding the best temperature water for you to spend your sunny arvo in — just make sure you reserve that spot.

It’s one of those experiences you can’t quite grasp until you’ve seen and done it because we all expect an Australian creek, river or lake to be F*&^$#% cold.

When To Visit the Douglas Hot Springs

During the wet season (October-April), the river is a no-go. But any other time of year it’s a perfect and quiet destination for campers to go and visit.

The site has toilets, BBQs, showers, fire pits, picnic tables but no drinking water. While it’s on the lesser side of amenities available, the river is well worth visiting and doesn’t get too busy even during peak holiday seasons.

Nothing Like A Nature Park

While the Douglas river has spots that are nice and warm, the Flora River is something completely different. It’s a crystal clear emerald coloured river that isn’t nearly as friendly as Douglas because this one is home to saltwater crocodiles.

Crocs aren’t the only ones that call Flora River home with this stretch of water being a great place to catch bream, barramundi and grunter.

There’s also one other creature that lives in the river and its one that you probably haven’t heard of; the pig-nosed turtle. If you’ve never seen one before, it’s a pretty spot on named turtle because it really does have a pig’s nose.

While there’s plenty of wildlife to see in and around Flora River the campsite is thankfully well-equipped and croc-free.

The Lorrngorl Campsite

The park is closed between November through to May as the area often has heavy rain.

The Lorngorl campsite offers drinking water, toilets, showers and fire pits for campers. There are boating and fishing requirements for your stay near Flora River. You can check out the full list fishing and boating rules here.

Next Steps

Heading up north some time soon? Whether you’re visiting the sandstone national parks, the warm waters of the hot springs of the croc-filled lakes of the NT, travel with a companion that’s always got your back. Here at Mars Campers, we have a range of camper trailers that can get you from A to B safe and sound. Contact the Mars team today for any assistance regarding your next camper trailer.

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