With its enchanting forests and cool waterholes, the enticing harbour and festivals, taking a step back through history and enjoying a river cruise – the city of Darwin is a dynamic and fascinating place to visit. The city is located on the edge of a harbour and was named after famous naturalist Charles Darwin. It is one of Australia’s most cosmopolitan cities and is home to a great number of attractions, as well as being the gateway to some of Australia’s best known natural wonders, all within driving distance, including Kakadu, Katherine Gorge and Litchfield, where you can experience flora, fauna and Aboriginal culture at its best.
In Darwin you will find an abundance of international and common cafes, restaurants and casual dining, and accommodation to suit every budget. And the city’s predictable temperatures and modern atmosphere make it an ideal holiday destination.
World Heritage Listed Kakadu National Park is located in the Alligator Rivers region of the Northern Territory, covers almost 20,000 square kilometres and has 25 walking trails. It is the largest national park in Australia and is home to lush rainforest and rock art galleries which date back more than 40,000 years. It is one of the most biologically, ecologically and geolocially diverse regions on the planet. Explore the park’s estuaries and tidal flats, floodplains, outliers, hills and basins, the stone country and lowlands; learn about the local Aboriginal culture from the traditional owners - the Bininj/Mungguy people and visit the 500 kilometre Arnhem Land, which extends from Kakadu to Port Roper on the Gulf of Carpentaria and around the coast to the East Alligator River.
The town of Katherine extends from the Gulf of Carpentaria near the Queensland border, towards the Kimberley in the west. The town itself is the fourth largest in the Northern Territory and is a great base if you want to explore the region. With the Katherine River flowing through the town, the close proximity to Nitmiluk Naitonal Park, Katherine Gorge and the abundant wildlife, there are plenty of options for the traveller. You can canoe, cruise and swim between sheer cliffs to the sandy freshwater beaches of the gorges, and view ancient Aboriginal rock paintings high on the rock faces. While in the area, you might also take time to visit the Elsey or the Judbarra/Gregory National Parks, to the Gulf Region, Daly River and Mataranka.
Alice Springs is surrounded by red sand desert and is a thriving centre, with an intriguing history dating back many thousands of years, from the Aboriginals that inhabited the area, to the more recent gold diggers and outback pioneers. Alice Springs, also known as “The Alice”, is an area of traditional art and natural wonders, and is also the gateway to one of the most famous places in Australia - Uluru. Alice Springs offers stunning scenery, art, culture, nature and wildlife activities including the Alice Springs Reptile Centre, School of the Air, Royal Flying Doctors, Telegraph Station and camel riding. The Alice Springs Desert Park is another must see and is an environmental education facility that sits on more than 3,000 acres, offering visitors the opportunity to experience the variety of the deserts of central Australia.
The Red Centre
The “Red Centre” is named as its’ surrounded by red sand desert, with the centre being Alice Springs. It has been inhabited for thousands of years and has a rich Aboriginal history, as well as gold digging and outback pioneers.
The “Red Centre” is also home to the world famous Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park – the home of Ayers Rock. Uluru is the heart of the Northern Territory and is best seen from the skies, from the walking track at its base or, something a little different, from the top of a camel’s back. Uluru rises 348 metres above the plain, more than 860 metres above sea level and has a circumference of 9.4 kilometres. It is the world’s biggest monolith and is easily one of Australia’s most recognisable icons.
Near Uluru you will find Kata Tjuta, also known as The Olgas, a spiritual site believed to be created by the Anangu ancestors. Kata Tjuta stands for “many heads” and it consists of a group of 36 dome shaped boulders believed to have risen up from the desert floor, formed through more than 500 million years of erosion. These grand rounded rocks are a magnificent sight; the tallest is around 546 metres high.
Watarrka National Park is the home of Kings Canyon where you can experience magnificent views across the rugged bluffs and gorges. The national park is home to 600 species of native plants and animals, many of which are rare or unique to the area; the tropical pools of the Garden of Eden; and the Lost City.
If you’re planning a driving holiday, a popular route which will see you exploring the best of the Northern Territory is to follow the Explorer’s Way - a 3,245 kilometre North to South route that follows the path of explorer John McDougall Stuart who was the first person to make the trip in 1862. Explorer’s Way stretches from Darwin to Adelaide in South Australia and it was blazed for the Overland Telegraph – a telegraph line connecting Darwin to Port Augusta that was completed in 1872.
A drive along Explorer’s Way will take you past ancient landscapes where Aborigines have lived for tens of thousands of years. Watch as the landscape turns into a sea of colours, textures and fragrances; see the amazing termite mounds that dot the State, wonder at the rainforests and waterfalls and embrace the abundant flora and fauna as you truly experience the centre of Australia.
DON'T MISS EXPERIENCE
River cruise at sunset
Mindil Beach Sunset Markets between May to October
Beer Can Regatta, July
Watch a movie under the stars at the Deckchair Cinema
Walking tracks at Litchfield National Park, including the 3.5 kilometre trail along Walker Creek and the treacherous Tabletop Track
Explore the billabongs at Mary River National Park