the fp is things-to-do
Things to see and do in Northern Territory
Northern Territory Tourist Commission in the USAAddress: Suite 300, 1334 Parkview, Manhattan Beach,
Telephone: (310) 545 3402.
Northern Territory Tourist Commission in the UKAddress: Australia House, Melbourne Place, Strand,
Telephone: (020) 7438 4641/2.
Attractions in Northern Territory
Experience desert life in Alice Springs
There's nowhere quite like Alice Springs, largely because of its back-of-beyond desert location. More than 25,000 people call it home, however, and it retains a cultural appeal thanks to some first-class attractions. Top picks include the School of the Air and the wildlife-packed Alice Springs Desert Park.
Feel small at Uluru
Little can prepare you for the scale of Uluru, the world's largest monolith and a hugely important part of Aboriginal spirituality. Note that climbing ‘the Rock’ – while still possible – is considered a gross sacrilege by many. As of 26 October 2019 climbing Ayers Rock will be prohibited. The walk around its base is a fine alternative, and gives good insight into its multiple faces.
Get multicultural in Darwin
Take in the tropical, multicultural charms of Darwin, the territorial capital. The city has benefited from recent investment and has some impressive modern developments – including a swimming lagoon and war museum – to offset its bar-heavy, small-town feel. Don't miss the twice-weekly Mindil Beach Night Market.
Get wet in Litchfield
Swim in one of the territory's many waterholes and waterfalls: recommended are those at Litchfield National Park, which sits a short drive south of Darwin. Crocs can be an issue at certain times of year, but alerts will be in place if this is the case. Otherwise, dive in and enjoy.
Have a cold one at Daly Waters
Have an ice-cold beer at the quirky Daly Waters Hotel, a historical pub and one of the oldest buildings in the Northern Territory, built in 1893 in a remote spot along the Stuart Highway. The bar is decorated in underwear left by past clientele, and there's often live entertainment in the courtyard.
Head into the MacDonnell Ranges
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 reward, but it's the West Macs, with remarkable stand-out features such as Ormiston Gorge, that warrant the most time.
Kakadu National Park
Tumbling waterfalls cascade into crystal-clear rock pools in Kakadu National Park, Australia's largest national park. It's 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.
Sail out to the Tiwi Islands
By visiting the Tiwi Islands – a small offshore archipelago comprising of Bathurst Island and Melville Island, reachable by ferry – you'll be experiencing Aboriginal islands with a unique culture largely sheltered from the mainland (although that said, the locals are huge Aussie rules fans – try to time your visit with a match).
Soak in natural hot springs
Few things are more appealing to a highway-fatigued road tripper than the prospect of a soak in natural hot springs, making the thermal 'bathtubs' at Mataranka deeply appealing. The clear waters, with a constant heat at body temperature, surrounded by palm forest, are a recipe for refreshment.
Spot crocs in the Top End
Go on a boat cruise and explore the waterways along Kakadu's South Alligator River or scenic Yellow Water Billabong, spotting crocodiles as you go. A fully grown 'saltie', seen close at hand in the wild, is an unforgettable sight. You may also catch a glimpse of the graceful jabiru (Australia's only stork) wading among the water lilies.
Stop off at The Devils Marbles
The long drive down the Stuart Highway holds a number of worthwhile detours, including the so-called Devils Marbles, impressively vast boulders strewn across a barren landscape north of Alice. They're close enough to the road to form an easy stop-off. Aboriginal belief holds that they were once serpents' eggs.
Take a helicopter ride
Take a scenic helicopter ride above Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge, one of Australia's great natural wonders. All 13 of the park's gorges – which follow on from each other in one connecting line – have their own colours and characteristics. Canoe hire and dinner cruises are also available.
Visit Arnhem Land
East of Kakadu – and utterly dwarfing it in size – 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. It's a special and spectacular part of the country.
Walk the rim of Kings Canyon
Often overshadowed by Uluru to the south, Kings Canyon is another epic natural formation in Australia's outback heartland. Get up early to walk the rim of the canyon itself, which affords stunning views across the landscape. Take a rest at the 'Garden of Eden', a sheltered green waterhole.