Things to see and do in Northern Territory
Attractions in Northern Territory
Alice Springs: Experience desert life
There is nowhere quite like Alice Springs, largely because of its back-of-beyond desert location. Affectionately called "the Alice" or simply "Alice", it has about 25,000 residents and is a great base for exploring the nearby natural wonders such as West MacDonnell Ranges (9km or 6 miles), Devils Marbles (412km or 256 miles), Uluru (468km or 291 miles) and Kings Canyon (473km or 294 miles).
Arnhem Land: Australia's last true wilderness
East of Kakadu lies the near-pristine expanse of Arnhem Land, a permit-only area that remains in Aboriginal hands. Various operators offer tours into the region, ranging from one-day excursions to multi-day fishing trips. This is truly a special and spectacular part of the country.
Daly Waters: Check out the famous pub
Have an ice-cold beer at the quirky Daly Waters Pub, a historical pub at the intersection of the Carpentaria Highway and the Stuart Highway. Built in 1893, it is one of the oldest buildings in the Northern Territory. The bar is decorated with memorabilia and banknotes left by past clientele.
Darwin: The capital of the Northern Territory
Take in the tropical, multicultural charms of Darwin. The city has transformed from a laid-back frontier town to become a sophisticated city made up of people from 70 different ethnic backgrounds. Worthy diversions include Mindil Beach, Crocodylus Park, Crocosaurus Cove and Deckchair cinema, to name but a few.
Devils Marbles (Karlu Karlu) Conservation Reserve
The long drive down along the Stuart Highway holds a number of worthwhile detours, including the so-called Devils Marbles, impressively vast boulders strewn across a barren landscape, some are precariously balanced atop one another. Accounts of local Aboriginal people believing the boulders to be eggs of the mythical Rainbow Serpent are incorrect. In reality, a number of Aboriginal Dreaming stories have Karlu Karlu as their setting but none of which are about serpents.
Kakadu National Park
Tumbling waterfalls cascade into crystal-clear rock pools in Kakadu National Park, Australia's largest national park. It has been listed by UNESCO for both its natural and cultural value, which neatly sums up the park's sweeping magic. At Ubirr (Obiri Rock) and Nourlangie Rock there are galleries of Aboriginal rock paintings, many dating back over 20,000 years.
Saltwater crocodiles are common in Kakadu National Park, particularly along South Alligator River and around the scenic Yellow Water floodplain. Go on a boat cruise to spot crocodiles and birdwatch. Website: https://parksaustralia.gov.au/kakadu/.
Litchfield National Park
Expect stunning waterfalls that cascade into crystal clear pools – Florence Falls, Buley Rockhole, Tolmer Falls, Tjaynera Falls and Surprise Creek Falls are popular spots to enjoy a refreshing dip.
Spreading east and west of Alice Springs are the rugged MacDonnell Ranges – split, in colloquial terms, into the East Macs and West Macs. Both hold plenty of rewards, but it is the West Macs (West MacDonnell National Park), with remarkable stand-out features such as Glen Helen Gorge and Ormiston Gorge, that warrant you to spend a good amount of time exploring.
Mataranka: A recipe for refreshment
About 107km (66 miles) south of Katherine, the thermal pool at Mataranka appeals to highway-fatigued road-trippers. Surrounded by palm forest, the clear waters have a constant temperature to soothe aching muscles, a recipe for refreshment.
Nitmiluk National Park
Made up of 13 gorges, the spectacular Nitmiluk Gorge (formerly known as Katherine Gorge) is one of Australia's great natural wonders. While most visitors take a cruise to see the first few gorges, or canoe to the fourth, sixth and ninth gorges, you can take a helicopter tour for sensational aerial views over all 13 gorges.
Fishing, croc-spotting, crabbing and birdwatching are the biggest drawcards of Tiwi Islands, about 80km (50 miles) to the north of Darwin. Visitors will also experience the unique Aboriginal culture here. And if you are a fan of Australian rules football, you will feel right at home.
Uluru: Be awestruck at the sacred site
Little can prepare you for the scale of Uluru or Ayers Rock, a large monolith in the heart of the Northern Territory's arid "Red Centre". This place is hugely important to the Aboriginal culture and is sacred to the Pitjantjatjara Anangu, the Aboriginal people of the area. Note that climbing 'the Rock' is banned after 26 October 2019. The walk around its base is a fine alternative though, as you can observe how Uluru changes its colour particular at dawn and sunset.
Watarrka National Park: Kings Canyon
Often overshadowed by Uluru to the south, Kings Canyon is another epic natural formation in Australia's outback. Get up early to scale the mighty Kings Canyon to catch the spectacular sunrise across Watarrka National Park.