See below for all journeys to the NT
The magnificence of the Northern Territory is a vastness like no other. From the arid red centre to the tropical far north of the Top End its contrasting landscapes are an experience like no other. Ancient Aboriginal culture and history, spectacular scenery and iconic landscapes, rugged coastlines, remote islands and extraordinary wildlife, the NT is just waiting to be explored.
Darwin & Surrounds
The tropical capital of the Northern Territory, with its balmy nights, laid back lifestyle and year-round adventure, Darwin is a small city with a big heart. The harbour is surrounded by mangroves and pristine tidal waters which are dotted with sunken ships from WWII, being bombed by the Japanese in 1942. A visit to the iconic Mindil Beach Sunset Market is a must, with over 200 unique stalls selling local and international cuisine, arts and crafts. Darwin has a strong Aboriginal culture which is reflected in the vibrant art that fills the streets, galleries and museums. Two stunning national parks are located in close distance from Darwin, Mary River National Park 150 kilometres east which has the largest population of saltwater crocodiles in the NT and Litchfield National Park with its spring-fed waterfalls and water holes.
And don’t forget Tiwi Islands, famous for their peoples traditional lifestyle, amazing artwork, and vibrant fabrics and textiles. Located 80 kilometres north of Darwin, the ‘Island of Smiles’ is definitely worth a visit if you have the time.
Kakadu & Arnhem Land
The World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park is a three hour drive east from Darwin and is Australia’s biggest national park, covering 20,000 square kilometres. With ancient landscapes and rock art (over 5,000 sites), lush rainforests, dramatic waterfalls and an abundance of wildlife, here you will connect with the oldest living culture on earth. The Bininj/Mungguy people have called Kakadu home for 65,000 years, and here you can learn about their ancient culture. One of Australia’s last true wilderness areas, Arnhem Land is a spectacular and ancient natural wonder. At just over a 10 hour drive from Darwin this remote Top End destination is home to a Word Heritage-listed national park, rugged coastlines and sandy beaches. Brimming with wildlife, from the region’s largest predator – the saltwater crocodile, to dugong, turtles and hundreds of bird species which include the jacana, brolga and jabiru. With several indigenous art centres in Arnhem Land, including the community of Yirrkala – famous for the 1963 bark petitions and their amazing art centre.
Katherine & Surrounds
The big country town of Katherine is a three hour drive south of Darwin and just 30 kilometres north-east of the spectacular Nitmiluk National Park, home to the world-famous Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge. Carved from ancient red sandstone with dramatic cliffs and 12 kilometres of gorges, take a cruise or a canoe trip along the serene waters for an experience you will never forget. You can also walk it, with more than 100 kilometres of trails around the gorge, each one offering a different view. One of the best ways to see its sheer size is by scenic flight. From the Cutta Cutta Caves Nature Park – Australia’s only tropical limestone cave system, the Katherine Hot Springs – natural thermal springs situated on the banks of the Katherine River to the Katherine Museum – holds an eclectic collection of Aborignal artifacts, tools, furniture and pioneer memorabilia to Elsey National Park – best known as the setting for the classic Australian novel ‘We of the Never Never’ and Mataranka, home to a pristine sandy-bottomed thermal pool.
Tennant Creek & Surrounds
Established in the 1870s the old gold mining town of Tennant Creek was home to the largest open-cut gold mine in Australia. A vast land of spectacular blue skies this is a great stop over point while driving the Stuart Highway, the major highway running from Darwin to Port Augusta in South Australia. Located between Alice Springs and Darwin this town of rich history and Aboriginal culture was the chosen site for a telegraph station as part of the Overland Telegraph Line that connected the outback to the rest of the world. Re-live the gold rush era on an underground tour at the Battery Hill Mining Centre, and try fossicking for your own gold.
Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve, located just over 100 kilometres south of Tennant Creek is a protected area of the Warmungu people. The Devils Marbles are a collection of massive granite boulders strewn across a valley and believed to be the fossilised eggs of the Rainbow Serpent, the creator of all things and the source of all light in Indigenous culture.
East of Tennant Creek is the beautiful Davenport Range National Park. You can only access this out-of-the-way place with a high-clearance 4WD but for those who love outdoor adventure and serenity this is a great place to get away from it all, with its permanent waterholes, camping sites and diverse wildlife to enjoy.
Alice Springs & Surrounds
Nestled between the spectacular East and West MacDonnell Ranges Alice Springs is a remote but lively town famous for its natural surrounding beauty. With a rich Aboriginal history, reflected in its many excellent art galleries, museums and a great cafe and dining scene it’s a wonderful base to explore the nearby ranges, gorges and national parks with its many walking trails. From the leisurely to the experienced walker – the iconic 223 kilometre Larapinta Track stretches through the West MacDonnell National Park. These ancient landscapes sculpted over time have so much stunning beauty. From spectacular natural water holes like Ormiston Gorge, with its towering red walls and icy cool waters to cool off in, to amazing Aboriginal sites of significance including the Ochre Pits – mined for generations by the local indigenous people for ceremonies, trading and medicinal purposes.
Uluru & Surrounds
This World Heritage-listed area is home to two of Australia’s most famous and ancient rock formations, the spectacular sandstone monolith Uluru / Ayers Rock and the magnificent and equally spectacular Kata Tjuta / The Olgas. A must-do is to get out and explore these ancient rocks, choose from a number of walking tracks ranging from short & easy to more longer & difficult. To a three hour hike around the soaring red domes of Uluru (Mala Walk) to a short walk to the dune viewing area where you can sit and take in a panoramic view of the magnificent ancient wonder of Kata Tjuta, there is so much to explore.
Watarrka National Park, a three hour’s drive from Uluru is home to stunning Kings Canyon with its soaring sandstone walls and lush green valleys. There are many walks to choose from but if you are relatively fit (the first part up is the most challenging) then you will be rewarded with stunning 360 degree views from the top. Best done in the early hours of the morning before it gets too hot, this 3 – 4 hour walk will certainly be a highlight of your trip here. For the less active there are a range of other shorter walks around the bottom of the canyon.
Best Time to Travel
The NT is vast, very vast and with the state having two different climates – the tropical climate of the Top End (there are two seasons here – Wet/Tropical Summer and the Dry) and the semi-arid climate of the Red Centre (there are four distinct seasons here), choosing the best time to visit depends on what you would like to see & do.
The Top End
DRY SEASON – MAY TO OCT: Sunny days with little to no rain and lower humidity – average temperatures around 21 to 32°C. Travelling is more comfortable with the majority of major sights open and outdoor activities easier to access.
WET/TROPICAL SUMMER – NOV TO APR: Expect similar days of 25 to 33°C but with a much higher humidity level of around 80%. It is the time for rain with spectacular storms and lightning. Some favour this time of year over the dry season due to the transformation of the landscape – an abundance of wildlife, waterfalls flowing & lush green lands flourish. However some sites & attractions can close due to flooding and inaccessibility.
The Red Centre
This part of the NT has four distinct seasons and a much drier climate in comparison to the Top End, with light rainfall intermittent throughout the year. The desert regions can be quite hot during summer, with averages of 20 to 35°C (it can soar up to 40°C ) and near freezing at night in winter, average 3 to 20°C.
SUMMER – DECEMBER TO FEBRUARY
AUTUMN – MARCH TO MAY
WINTER – JUNE TO AUGUST
SPRING – SEPTEMBER TO NOVEMBER
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