Adventures in the Northern Territory
If you’ve always fancied seeing the real outback and learning how to survive in the wilderness, fishing for barramundi in croc-infested waters or beating your fear of heights by abseiling down a rockface, then Australia’s Northern Territory is a top choice.
With its tropical weather, rich indigenous culture, national parks and laid-back lifestyle, Australia's Northern Territory
holds a special appeal for travellers.
Be aware that typically the Top End has a 'build-up' season from November until December when it is hot, sticky and humid. Then the rains come in January until March.
The best time to go is from April to September/October, with expected temperatures of 32 degrees and low humidity.
Every year, over 1.5 million visitors come to experience the Northern Territory's unique natural and cultural features, which include the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park, rugged Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge and the modern, tropical capital of Darwin.
Check out our guide to the very best of the Northern Territory, from wildlife cruises on Kakadu’s famous Yellow Water Billabong, to Darwin
's famous sunset market at Mindil Beach.
1. Swimming in Litchfield National Park
The crystal-clear swimming holes have made this park a favourite with the Darwin locals. Just a 1.5 hour drive from Darwin, Litchfield National Park embraces a landscape of rugged sandstone escarpments, spring-fed streams, monsoon rainforest, waterfalls and historic ruins. Spend a day in the park taking a quick dip in each of the plunge pools and rockholes, or stay a bit longer and explore at your leisure. Here are a few favourite pools for swimming:
- The plunge pool at spectacular Florence Falls – a double waterfall set amid the monsoon forest
- Buley Rockhole – a series of cascading waterfalls and rockholes located just 80m from carpark
- Wangi Falls – one of the park's best swimming and picnic spots
2. Kakadu National Park
Rugged escarpments, lush wetlands, plunging gorges and cascading waterfalls exist side by side in the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park. Here are just some of the ‘must do’ activities around Kakadu:
- Cruise the Yellow Water Billabong and spot birds, animals and big crocodiles
- Take to the air in a light aircraft during the Tropical Summer (November – March) for a breathtaking view of Kakadu's majestic Twin and Jim Jim waterfalls.
- Head to Gunlom Falls at the southern end of the park where it feels like you're standing on the edge of the world
- Take an Aboriginal cultural cruise on the East Alligator River
- Go Birdwatching at Mardugal Billabong or take the Mardugal Billabong Walk
- See one of the largest concentrations of Aboriginal rock art in the world with galleries at sites like Ubirr and Nourlangie Rock
3. Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge)
While its star attraction is undoubtedly the famous Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge), Katherine and its surrounds offer great fishing, hidden natural wonders and a rich indigenous and pioneering history. The area was renamed 'Nitmiluk' – meaning 'cicada place' – in 1989, when its traditional owners, the Jawoyn Aboriginal people, gained title to the land. Here are just some of the many attractions and activities you can enjoy in and around Katherine:
- Cutta Cutta Caves Nature Park
- The Katherine Hot Springs
- Leliyn (Edith Falls)
- Stunning waterfalls and rock pools
- Over 100km of walking tracks
- Canoeing, cruising and swimming between sheer cliffs to the sandy freshwater beaches of the main gorges
- Aboriginal rock paintings
- Wander through the Cycad Gardens
4. Fishing on the Daly River
With its scenic surrounds and diverse wildlife, the Daly River is a favourite spot for travellers to spend time camping, fishing, bushwalking and swimming. Famous for its large barramundi, Daly River is one of the Top End's most popular waterways for recreational fishing and boating, and hosts two major annual fishing competitions – the 'Barra Classic' and the 'Barra Nationals'. Powerful saltwater crocodiles lurk beneath the tranquil waters, so if you are fishing here, always observe the crocodile warning signs.
5. Mindil Beach Sunset Market
Darwin's largest and most popular weekly market is held every Thursday and Sunday night from April to October. The combination of great food and entertainment, a huge variety of stalls and an electric atmosphere make it a must to visit – bring along a picnic dinner and dine on the beach as you watch the spectacular tropical sunset. Other well known markets include the Saturday morning Parap Village Markets, the Sunday morning Nightcliff Markets, Rapid Creek Markets (Darwin's oldest markets) and Palmerston's Friday night markets.
Editorial courtesy of Tourism Top End and Images courtesy of Tourism NT