Vehicle rental choices in Darwin for NT trip

Old Mar 18, 19, 10:15 pm
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Vehicle rental choices in Darwin for NT trip

I'm going to spend 10 days in the NT in early August with my wife and 8-year old daughter. So far we've booked 4 nights in Darwin (during which we intend on doing 1 or 2 day trips e.g. to Litchfield NP), then 4 nights in Cooinda (to explore Kakadu) and finally 3 nights in Katherine. The one part I haven't yet sorted is vehicle rental.

I'm aware that there are a number of sights that aren't accessible without 4WD, yet I've read that rental vehicles aren't allowed along unmade roads anyway. Is there any point in spending the extra money on a 4WD? It seems not but maybe I've misunderstood this point.

If we can't drive down unmade roads are there any day tours (or other forms of transport) whereby we can get picked up from inside the park to visit some of the less accessible places? All the tours I've seen are multi-day ones originating in Darwin which isn't something we wanted to do.

Anyway we're interested in sightseeing, photography, swimming holes and a bit of moderate hiking (maybe up to around 7-8km at a time). If anyone has any thoughts, suggestions or recommendations about any of this then I'd be very grateful.
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Old Mar 18, 19, 11:10 pm
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If you've never been before, there are plenty of fabulous things to see and do that wont require anything more than a regular hire car. I recommend not choosing a super compact car as they aren't as comfortable nor hold the road as well for many hours driving high speed on the highways. The big gotcha with rental cars from Darwin is they sometimes limit your mileage per day to only 100km with outrageous per/km fees thereafter. Make sure they company you choose doesn't do that!

Litchfield is excellent for your interests, especially so because there are so many beautiful places to swim after you've been hiking (though you don't have to hike for miles to visit them if you don't want to). Kakadu is certainly spectacular but a little more hard work and less places to swim because of the crocodiles. If you don't have a 4x4 I'd recommend taking a scenic flight in Kakadu. As for Katherine, I highly recommend hiring canoes and paddling up in Katherine Gorge, stopping along the way for swimming and a picnic.
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Old Mar 19, 19, 12:17 am
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Thanks! My wife and I have been before, at least to Darwin, Lichfield and Katherine (but not Kakadu) - albeit about 18 years ago and with a very short visit (just a few days overall) so planning to spend a bit more time this go around.
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Old Mar 22, 19, 3:48 am
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August is great time to visit as middle of the dry season. Roads become impassable unexpectedly in the wet season. You can get 4x4 rentals that allow off paved roads but they are much more expensive and sounds like you don't want/need that. If you do go hiking be sure to have a PLB device with GPS (cheap enough to buy and can save your life). https://www.arnoldsboatshop.com.au/s...SABEgJ7hvD_BwE
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Old Mar 22, 19, 6:13 am
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Regarding 4WD it all depends on the rental agreements.

There are times when you rent a 4WD, and it allows use on unsealed but it doesn't allow use on '4WD-only' roads. There is still some benefit, as some unsealed roads not marked '4WD Only' are still easier in a 4WD, particularly with ground clearance. And in some cases there are off-road car parking spots at landmarks where a car can't fit but your 4WD can, etc.

Another benefit is that many normal rental cars prohibit driving on unsealed roads. So if a 4WD allows that, it can help you see more (at least less insurance risk).

If your 4WD is only allowed to drive on sealed roads, no benefit really.
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Last edited by CPMaverick; Mar 23, 19 at 6:03 pm
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Old Mar 22, 19, 6:38 am
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No night driving in the NT

Also make sure you read the fine print.
Hertz does not allow driving at night in the NT.

https://www.hertz.com.au/rentacar/productservice/index.jsp?targetPage=AU_Safe_Driving_2015.jsp&left NavUserSelection=globNav_3_5_1&selectedRegion=Aust ralia and New Zealand

if you get stuck and it is night you might void your contract. Their logic is due to animals being more mobile at night.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 12:14 am
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1. In my reading of car rental contracts in Oz, typically you need a 4x4 or AWD to be allowed to drive off sealed roads.

2. Many companies have further restrictions- like Bloomfield track, or other noted roads or regions. The local company will usually list these on your agreement/contract

3. While rental companies may not permit the use of the car off road, the restrictions around 'night driving' CAN BE more nuanced. SOME allow you to drive at night, BUT you will be 100% responsible if there is an accident. This can be an important distinction- if you are using a car in a way that is not permitted by the contract, you might find you have no cover- Nothing with the company AND nothing with your own policy or with your credit card. However if you are simply driving at night, which is permitted, but they dont cover an accident, your travel policy or CC policy may still cover. (This was the case when I drove a hertz 4x4 car on KI in 2016- it may have changed since then, although what is on a web page isnt binding, so read the fine print)
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Old Mar 23, 19, 6:05 pm
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Just don't drive at night. Period.

Besides any financial risk, an accident with a native animal is not going to be a fun experience.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 7:00 pm
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Originally Posted by CPMaverick View Post
Just don't drive at night. Period.

Besides any financial risk, an accident with a native animal is not going to be a fun experience.
to be honest, any kind of accident- native, imported, or other isnt fun...

I had an 8AM flight out of kingsote; 60km drive from Snellings Beach. I wasnt going to ruin a day on KI by staying 'at the airport' for the last sunset, dinner and evening'. Was diligent, allowed 1.5hrs to do the drive.

Wife and I counted over 35 animals on or along the road on that single trip. Didnt hit any.

(Try driving around here -northern california- in deer mating season. Ive been hit in the side door by deer.)

Having said all that, we did agree that telling people not to drive sunset to sunrise is prolly a decent suggestion.....

Last edited by Exec_Plat; Apr 2, 19 at 3:13 pm Reason: clarity
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Old Apr 1, 19, 2:17 am
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I grew up in Darwin and you don't need a 4WD to get to the places you listed as all the roads are sealed (paved).
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