Australia’s top end at its best!
Famous for its vast expanses of red dirt punctuated by large monolithic rocks, the Northern Territory’s more than just endless stretches of outback desert and dirt roads. Uluru-Kata Juta National Park in Ayers Rock is perhaps the Northern Territory’s most iconic attraction, with the stark image of a blazing red rock against a purpling sky gracing the pages of travel magazines across to world. From the Red Centre to the Top End, you’ll find an array of landscapes steeped in Indigenous and colonial Australian history.
The third largest town in the Northern Territory, Alice Springs sits 200 hundred kilometres from the geographic centre of Australia. The area supports over 50 species of native mammals and over 230 species of reptile and bird life. Alice Springs is known for its extreme temperatures, from subzero nights in the desert to blazing 50° days. Before pioneer settlement in 1862, the area now known as Alice Springs was the traditional home of the Arrernte Aboriginal people. Alice Springs is one of the driest places in Australia and visitors to the area should ensure they have sufficient water supplies when exploring the surrounding desert or heading up the Stuart Highway. Alice Springs’ isolated location makes it a popular stopping off point for four-wheel drive adventurers and tourists keen to explore Australia’s rugged outback.
Located 500 kilometres from Alice Springs and 1000 kilometres from Darwin, Tennant Creek is the gateway to the Barkly Tableland, a sprawling expanse of grass plains that stretches over 240,000 square kilometres from the Northern Territory into Queensland and is home to some of the largest cattle stations in the country. Local attractions include the Mary Hill Dam, Devil’s Marbles, Battery Hill Mining Centre and Nyinkka Nyunyu Culture Centre. Due to the sparsity of towns and roadhouses along the Stuart Highway, Tennant Creek is a must-stop destination for travellers to refuel and resupply. Many locals and tourists head to the Mary Hill Dam for some much needed water based recreation after a tough day in the heat and the dust of the local area.
The town of Katherine sits on the edge of the Katherine River, 320 kilometres east of Darwin and was originally established as an outpost for the Overland Telegraph line; it now supports local mining, tourism and the nearby RAAF Base Tindal. Katherine is a popular destination for Australia’s Grey Nomad population of retirees who pack up caravans and tour Australia’s warmer climes during the rest of the country’s cold months. Katherine is an ideal location from which to explore the plethora of surrounding nature based activities, including hunting, bushwalking, caravanning, caving, canoeing and fishing. If you’re interested in water sports beware – the Northern Territory has a large population of crocodiles in most of its waterways and river systems.
Kakadu and Arnhem Land
Kakadu National Park covers over 19,000 square hectares of the Top End is World Heritage listed site. The pristine landscape is filled with abundant populations of birds, plants and other wildlife. A world renowned destination for avid four wheel drivers, birdwatchers and nature tourists, Kakadu offers visitors an opportunity to marvel at the depth of Australia’s natural beauty. Popular points of interest include: Jim Jim Falls, Koolpin Gorge, Norlangie Rock Art Site, Gunlom Plunge Pool, Twin Falls, Yellow Water Billabong and the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre.
Kakadu streches up into Arnhem Land which reaches out to the middle of Australia’s Northern coast, the Arafura Sea and the Gulf of Carpentaria. From rainforests to fish filled rivers, savannah woodlands to rugged coastland, Arnhem Land boasts some of the most pristine wilderness in all of Australia. Access to Arnhem Land is restricted and travellers are advised to travel to Arnhem Land on a tour with trusted local operators.
Be dazzled by Darwin’s rich history and lush parks and nature reserves. Darwin is a multi-cultural hub in Australia, playing host to over 40 interwoven cultures from across the world and Asia Pacific Region. The Foreshore area is stacked with luxurious hotels, eateries and bars. Downtown Darwin’s awash with history, which you can check out at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. For a nice dinner out, go where the locals go and try Hanuman, fusion Indian restaurant.
Wander around the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets or enjoy cinema under the starts at Deckchair Cinema. Visit monsoon vine forest at the George Brown Botanic Gardens or explore the diverse underwater delights of the Northern Territory at the Indo-Pacific Marine Exhibit.
Visitors should be aware that the Northern Territory experiences polarising climate seasons: the Wet and the Dry. These seasons are more pronounced in the Top End of the state but travellers should take the seasons into account when planning their travel as many roads across the region are located on floodplains and are closed or impassable during the Wet. The Wet runs from November to April while the Dry is from May to September.
Whether you’re looking for a tour through Australia’s Red Centre or the lush bush and watery delights of the Top End, you’ll need a car to get around the Northern Territory. Check out Europcar’s car hire deals to set you exploring the historical and ecological delights of Australia’s Northern Territory.