A. There is no free camping in or close to Darwin. Commuting some distance for sightseeing becomes more costly that the caravan park fees. We do not like staying in crowded caravan parks or in large towns or cities, but there is often no option.
Although not low cost, but cheaper than the caravan parks is Robbie Robbins reserve (Polo Club grounds) just off the Stuart Highway via Tivendale Road Berrimah. They are not allowed to advertise. They can only take caravans and motorhomes, as by their licence they cannot take campervans, tents, rooftop tents, slideons, swags, sleeping in cars, backpacker vans, or caravan/campers where the beds extend out the end with canvas. Prices are $35 per night powered sites and $25 unpowered. They are readily filled to capacity in peak season. Site availability is reduced during events, and they are closed during the wet season. Pets permitted with usual conditions of being kept on a lead and cleanliness.
What is there further away?
I have previously mentioned Hughes Airfield. However Hughes Airfield has been closed to the public and reserved for the exclusive use of the Northern Territory Volunteer Firefighters. WWII airfields make great unserviced bush campsites when they are open to the public.
To the north east along the coast, Shoal Bay, Leader Creek, and Gunn Point are more fishing camps than camps to commute from. These have some unsealed road, dry weather access. Campgrounds fill on long weekends and holidays. Be crocodile aware in these locations.
Shoal Bay is about 45 kilometres from Darwin, accessed by Taylor Road from Gunn Point Road, and is free. Access includes around twelve kilometres of unsealed road. Current status of camping uncertain.
Leader Creek is around 80 kilometres from Darwin with some dirt road access but suitable for all vehicles, but not free. There are all levels of accommodation, with tent sites starting at $10. Caravan sites unpowered with a few powered.
Gunn Point is at the end of Gunn Point Road and approximately 80 kilometres from Darwin. Unsealed section four wheel drive recommended. Free unserviced camping by the beach. Room for caravans.
There was a very small parking bay opposite “Window on the Wetlands” along the Arnhem Highway but it was barely adequate for a cup of tea stop, not suitable for overnight.
We had planned to stop at Leaning Tree Lagoon on the Arnhem Highway for an overnight to enable us to get into Darwin early in the day to find a caravan park with space for our longer rig, but it is now a day areas only - no camping so had to move on.
We were lucky that in peak season we found somewhere suitable at a caravan park in Darwin at short notice late in the day, but the caravan park we chose is now closed.
Sorry there is no good news answer to your question. We paid the price and stayed right in Darwin. For those with pets, most caravan parks in Darwin do not allow pets.
You can see free camping options along the highways on your way to Darwin here:
A. Australia has more pink lakes than any other country
Lake Hillier, on Middle Island in the Recherche Archipelago, just of the coast from the Cape Arid National Park, kilometres east of Esperance in Western Australia, is a rich and vibrant pink. The intense pink is emphasised for those who see the lake from the air, and being on a small island, this is the usually way of viewing.
Hutt Lagoon at Port Gregory on the mid West coast is a pink salt lake due to the presence of the carotenoid-producing algae Dunaliella salina.
Dunaliella salina are a source of ß-carotene, a food-colouring agent and source of vitamin A. The lagoon contains the world's largest microalgae production plant, a 250 hectare series of artificial ponds used to farm Dunaliella salina
Dunaliella salina is harvested for beta-carotene as a dietary supplement and as a food colouring at Hutt Lagoon. This is also being researched as a cancer treatment.
Additionally Hutt Lagoon provides a commercial supply of Artemia parthenogenetica brine shrimp. Artemia is a specialty feed used by prawn and fish farmers and the aquarium fish trade
Murray Sunset National Park
The Pink Lakes: In spring, four of the park's lakes - Becking, Crosbie, Kenyon and Hardy - turn a vivid pink. Above and at right, viewed early in September and already turning pink.
Lake Tyrrell, Sea Lake
Lake Tyrrell, near the Mallee region town of Sea Lake, is well known for its clear reflections of the sky, while it is not so well known that this lake also turns pink seasonally. Sea Lake campground has full services of power, toilets, showers and laundry for $20 by honesty box, community managed.
What makes a lake pink?
It's the presence of a certain kind of algae that turns these lakes pink, reports TheWorldGeography.com. Once the lake water reaches a higher salinity level than sea water and the temperature rises high enough, the reddish pigment beta carotene begins to accumulate in the algae and, according to a Daily Mail story, the lake turns a brilliant pink colour.
A pink lake is a lake that has a reddish or pink colour due to the presence of algae that produces carotenoids (organic pigments), such as Dunaliella salina - a type of halophile green micro-algae especially found in sea salt fields. From The World Geography
What about other colours?
Lakes occur worldwide in a variety of colours, and one of the most well known in Australia is at Mount Gambier. High on the hill in Mount Gambier is the famous Blue Lake, a volcanic crater lake which is 204 metres deep at the deepest point. It also provides the water supply for the town. During summer, the brilliant turquoise colour occurs. It is caused by calcite crystals coming out of solution in warmer water. The water is a dull grey colour for much of the year.
Only in Australia?
Well know pink lakes outside of Australia are Lake Retba (Senegal), Salina de Torrevieja (Spain), Dusty Rose Lake (Canada), Masazirgol or Masazir Lake (Azerbaijan), Lake Magadi (Kenya), Great Salt Lake (Utah USA). There are also lakes in shades of rusty to blood red, and shades of greens and blues.
April 2016 updated January 2018
Lake Warden and Pink Lake, Esperance (above)
Hutt Lagoon, Port Gregory. See our visit to Hutt Lagoon
A two tone lake near Quairading. See our visit to Quiarading Pink Lake
Pingrup Pink Lakes; these pink lakes are situated along the floor of a broad shallow valley that runs in a north-south direction between Nyabing and Pingrup. They are part of the Chinocup Lake System, and lakes in differing shades of colours can be found in this chain of lakes which stretch from Lake Grace to Pingrup on the course of an ancient river.
Eight kilometres east of Three Springs is series of lakes which turn pink when the weather warms them.
There are other lakes in more isolated areas on the south coastal edge of the state which appear pink when viewed from the air.
There are Pink Salt Lakes along the Princes Highway between twelve kilometres north of Meningie.
Lake Bumbunga at
Lochiel, 125 kilometres north of Adelaide, is a significant pink lake.
Lake Bumbunga at Lochiel, 125 kilometres north of Adelaide, is a significant pink lake.
On the Yorke Peninsula, there are pink lakes near Edithburgh.
Lake Eyre in some seasons
Lakes in Melbourne at Westgate Park have been known to turn pink when evaporation in dry summers causes high salinity.
Loch Lel, Dimboola
Loch Lel Lake Reserve is a short way north west of Dimboola in the Victorian Wimmera region. This is a large salt lake which turns pink in summer.