Explore the outback the eco-friendly way
By Rachel Pinder
Experience the real outback and give something back to the environment with an eco-friendly trip to Australia’s Northern Territory.
Bring out the Crocodile Dundee in you with a visit to some of the area’s awesome national parks, such as the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge, Litchfield National Park, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, and Kings Canyon, to name just a few!
There’s a huge range of eco-certified tour operators out there, which offer a fantastic way to experience all the region has to offer – with its fascinating indigenous culture, amazing national parks and diverse wildlife.
Get amongst the wildlife
Check out Bamurru Plains, which offers an amazing wildlife experience on the Mary River floodplains, just three hours from Darwin. Their safari-style accommodation is surrounded by savannah woodland teeming with wildlife, reptiles and birds.
There’s also heaps of things to keep you amused during your stay, including trips on the Sampan River to spot crocodiles (April to October), airboat trips across the floodplains, four-wheel drive safaris and wildlife viewing.
| Watch out for crocs - they can move pretty fast and you probably want to keep your limbs! |
Or why not get on the water with a canoe or kayak tour of the Katherine River.
Gecko Canoeing and Trekking offer fully guided canoe and kayak tours of the river’s many different habitats where you can keep your eyes (and ears!) peeled for the huge variety of wildlife around you.
Check out the deserts
Head further south, and find out more about the plants, animals and landscapes of Australia’s deserts and their traditional use by Aboriginal people at the Alice Springs Desert Park.
There’s a lot more to the deserts than just empty barren wastelands, and you can find out more about their rich diverse environment, which is full of thousands of interesting stories waiting to be explored.
Get some Aboriginal culture
If you want to know more about Aboriginal culture, check out Ayal Aboriginal Tours Kakadu, which is owned and operated by Victor Cooper, a traditional owner and former park ranger of Kakadu National Park. Hang out with Victor and listen to his amazing stories about the spectacular rock art at Ubirr, along with his fascinating knowledge of bush tucker and the floodplains in the East Alligator and South Alligator regions.
|Be wowed by the stunning scenery in Kakadu National Park |
Or head out with Davidson’s Arnhem Land Safaris, which focus on the conservation of the cultural and natural environment.
Visit Aboriginal rock art sites (some which date back a whopping 50 thousand years), get up close to crocodiles, watch brolgas (birds) dance or just hang out in the pristine wilderness at Mt Borradaile.
Off the beaten track...
This is a region of vast sub-tropical savannah, up in the northwest corner of Arnhem Land. The only way to get there is by air charter from either Darwin or Jabiru, so it doesn’t get much more isolated than that!
Another way to gen yourself up on Aboriginal culture is by heading to the outback community of Manyallaluk, about 100km from Katherine. Aboriginal guides will take you in search of bush tucker, then why not try your hand at a spot of traditional bark painting, fire lighting, spear throwing and basket weaving.
Life on the ocean wave
Or find out more about how Aboriginal people rely on the ocean with Sea Darwin – which offers a range of interactive eco tour experiences cruising and exploring the marine and saltwater habitats of Darwin Harbour and the surrounding saltwater country. Their tours tell the story of many people who call Darwin home – including the Larrakia people, scientists, environmentalists, fishermen and sailors.
It’s a colourful history spanning thousands of years, which is also explored by Venture North Australia, which specialise in small group, four wheel drive expeditions into rarely seen parts of the Northern Territory. They also hold an exclusive permit to operate a safari-style camp on the remote Cobourg Peninsula, north-western Arnhem Land.
This camp can be found in the Garig Gunak Barlu National Park (Cobourg Peninsula) and is an awesome spot to explore the surrounding regions. Check out the unspoilt wilderness areas, amazing wildlife, Indigenous and European history and fantastic fishing, and that's just for starters.
You can also see the vast remoteness of the outback from a completely different perspective by taking to the skies with Outback Ballooning Pty Ltd. Get airborne just as the sun lights up the rugged Macdonnell Ranges, a short drive from Alice Springs, and watch large red kangaroos bounding along below as the balloon gently floats through the air.
The opportunities are definitely out there to get as far into the outback as you can possibly imagine. You’ll learn so much about the rich and fascinating history which has captivated the Aboriginal people, and find yourself totally absorbed by the jaw-dropping scenery as well as getting closer than you’d ever thought to some pretty special wildlife.
All up, an eco-friendly trip to the Northern Territory is one which will stay with you for a very long time.