Around 3km from the WA/NT border, Keep River National Park is a hidden gem bursting with life and landscapes more than worth a visit. 


We acknowledge that this adventure is located on the traditional Country of the Miriwoong and Gajirrabeng people who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

About Keep River National Park

Keep River National Park is one of the smaller national parks in the Northern Territory, but its sandstone formations, boab trees, and remote sweeping landscapes make it one of the most beautiful. Here’s where to hike and camp through Keep River National Park.

Read more: Remember to leave no trace!


How to Get to Keep River National Park

Keep River National Park is a 5 hour 15 minute drive from Katherine, NT and a 55 minute drive from Kununurra, WA along the Victoria Highway. 

All roads in the park are unsealed and corrugated with a few soft, sandy stretches too. NT Parks and Wildlife doesn’t specify that a 4WD is needed. My mates and I drove in a 2WD with low clearance, and although it was a bumpy ride, we didn’t run into any trouble. 

However if you’re visiting during the wet season (November-April) road closures are possible, so it’s best to call ahead and check road conditions before you go.

Places to Stay in Keep River National Park

There are two campgrounds in Keep River National Park – Jarnem Campground and Goorrandalng Campground.

We pitched our tent at Goorrandalng Campground which is the first campground in the park and offers magical views of a towering bluff, just beyond the campground limits.  

Here you’ll find ten campsites, fire pits, picnic tables, and a drop toilet. Generators are also allowed here.



Jarnem Campground is deeper into the park with 13 campsites available. It offers much of the same facilities, as well as a water tap (which still needs to be treated), however generators are a no-go here. 

Sites at both campgrounds need to be booked in advance through the NT Booking System. We were surprised to find Goorrandalng Campground almost full the night we stayed!

Things to do in Keep River National Park

Goorrandalng Walk

Distance: 2km
Duration: 45 minutes
Difficulty: Intermediate

I’m not sure if it was the fact we’d just spent 8.5 hours in the car, the timing was perfect, or simply the gorgeous lighting of the outback at sunset, but this walk was phenomenal. 

Starting from Goorrandalng Campground, the 2km loop slowly climbs up through a variety of sandstone formations, with an ever-present majestic bluff expanding as you walk. 



Once you’ve gained a bit of elevation and passed a picture-frame-perfect rock formation, the whole park opens up around you with sweeping views across to an escarpment in the distance, and a city of those honeycomb sandstone formations reminiscent of the Bungle Bungles. 



We hiked right on sunset, so the bluff above us and the escarpment to the east were spectacularly lit up, and the rock changed colours over the course of our hike.

Unfortunately, that did leave the Bungle Bungle-esque rocks to the west somewhat in shadow, but this bushwalk is so easily accessible from the campground and gorgeous, hiking it twice at different times of day is a treat! 

Take notice of the unique flora and differing flora around as you go and make sure to read the signs about the Brolga dreaming too. 


Jarnem Loop Walk

Distance: 6.5km
Duration: 2 hours
Difficulty: Intermediate

The Jarnem Loop Walk ties together a few walks in the area including the Langgerrbi / Nigli Gap Walk and Jarnem Lookout Walk. The difference in distance between doing a single one of these walks and walking the whole loop is minimal (around 1.5km) so if you’ve got the time, it’s worth doing the whole thing. 

The trail starts at Jarnem Campground and wanders through an open field (which can be quite hot in the middle of the day!), before entering under a canopy where the loop begins. At this junction, we headed right towards Jarnem Lookout. 

Read more: How To Hike in Hot Weather



The trail wanders alongside a rocky hill before turning up a steep gully and starting the ascent to the lookout. Make sure to look back as you climb here, the growing view is quite pretty flanked by the sides of the gully. Another short climbing detour takes you to the lookout itself where you gain perspective of the honeycomb sandstone structures you’re about to walk to. 



Back down the hill and across another open plain, the vegetation soon changes as you approach another set of Bungle Bungle-style rock formations. 

Be sure to stop and marvel at Langgerrbi / Nigli Gap, a shelter once used by the local Miriwoong people where rock art can still be seen. 



The trail weaves around the towering striped sandstone pillars, which are particularly impressive with lush palms and pandanus dotted around them, before linking back up to the start of the loop. Take the same trail through the open field back to the campground. 

Word is this hike is unreal at sunset as well, we walked it in the mid-morning, so missed the dance of sunset colours.


History of Keep River National Park

The area in and around Keep River National Park has been home to the Miriwoong and Gajirrabeng people for thousands of years. Their enduring presence can be seen in many sites across the park, including the cave and rock art at Langgerrbi / Nigli Gap, a stone structure at Ginger’s Hill, as well as paintings and a midden along the Jenemoom walk.


Skill Level


Although the hikes aren’t too strenuous, the trails are quite rocky, uneven, and exposed at times. The entire park is quite remote and with few facilities available, so campers need to be mostly self-sufficient.

Essential Gear

  • Walking shoes
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Camera
  • Something to sleep in
  • Water containers & water treatment (or BYO water if you have no way to boil the water available)
  • First aid kit

What’s it like to visit Keep River National Park?

My mates and I stumbled across Keep River National Park, somewhat by chance. On a road trip from Darwin to Kununurra, I was looking for a campground close to WA, but still on the NT side of the border that was 2WD accessible and not too far off the highway. 

Keep River offered us just that, plus the promise of ‘striped sandstone structures, which can be likened to the Bungle Bungles’. Perfect! We weren’t able to get to the actual Bungle Bungles on this tight-turnaround road trip, so if Keep River could offer us a taste, that’d delight our senses for sure. Boabs are also scattered throughout the campgrounds and the entire park, making for a very unique landscape experience. 


Tips for Visiting Keep River National Park

On the drive into the park and at Jarnem Campground there are ‘Drinking Water’ taps, however this water still needs to be boiled before drinking. 

There’s a quarantine checkpoint on the WA/NT border, and if you’re travelling from the NT into WA, you won’t be allowed to take in any fresh fruit and veg, honey, or unprocessed nuts. Keep River is a great last stop to eat all those pesky foods before crossing the border!

There’s no reception within the park, but you can get reception at the WA/NT border 3km down the road. There’s also a public payphone at the Ranger Station. 

Please note! Saltwater crocodiles live in the waterways of Keep River National Park. There’s a strict no swimming policy in all of the park’s waterways.

Read more: How To Stay Safe in Croc Country

Keep River National Park FAQs

Where is Keep River National Park located?

Keep River National Park is located in the Northern Territory, 3km from the NT/WA border along the Victoria Highway.


How do you get to Keep River National Park?

Keep River National Park can be reached by driving along the Victoria Highway between Katherine, NT and Kununurra, WA.


When is Keep River National Park open?

Roads in Keep River National Park may close sometimes during the NT’s wet season (November-April). The park should be open at all times during the dry season (May-October).


Are there crocodiles at Keep River National Park?

Yes! Saltwater crocodiles are very likely to inhabit all the waterways in Keep River National Park. Do not swim in any of the waterways in the park.


Do you need a 4WD to get to Keep River National Park?

No, but the roads in the park are unsealed and corrugated. A 2WD should be capable, however a 4WD will be more comfortable.



Feature photo thanks to @rachoconnor_