When you think of Australia’s Northern Territory you are immediately flooded with images of Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (Olgas) rising from the red desert floor. While these are both iconic representations of the Northern Territory scenery, they signify just a small section of the vast landscape found in this amazing area of Australia.
North of the Red Center lies the city of Darwin, the gateway to the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, lush Litchfield National Park, Katherine Gorge and the community of Arnhem Land.
The Top end experiences two distinct seasons; the wet season and the dry season. Each brings with it a completely different travel experience exhibiting unique natural displays. The wet season runs from November until April and is characterized by high humidity, monsoonal rains and storms. The dry season runs from May until October and features warm, dry sunny days and cool nights. While most tours and attractions are open year round, weather conditions can restrict travel to some areas during the wet season and some destinations are closed from December to May.
Darwin is a melting pot of cultures with a vibrant outdoor festival and market vibe. Home to a remarkable history from World War II air raids to devastating cyclones – the many museums and galleries tell the story of this extraordinary city.
Spectacular electrical storms descend upon Darwin during the wet season with locals siting back to watch the roll in from the comfort of a beachside restaurant or bar. The cooler weather then rolls in, characterized by clear skies, crisp evenings and misty mornings. The outdoors comes alive as people take advantage of the weather with open air deckchair cinemas, spectacular sunsets and the Mindil Beach Market offering key experiences.
Immerse yourself in the cultural and natural wonder that the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park offers. Just three hours from Darwin, visitors get the chance to spot wildlife, hike to spectacular waterfalls, jump into sparkling waterholes and gaze upon of the world’s largest collection of accessible rock art. Enjoy thundering waterfalls and dazzling lighting shows from January to March, while August and September are the ideal months for birdwatching with millions of birds converting on the vanishing waterholes and rivers.
The waterfalls of Litchfield National Park make a dramatic return during the summer. Florence Falls is located within a monsoon forest where double waterfalls tumble into a spectacular swimming hole. Enjoy the panoramic views before following the 160 stairs down to the deep, cool plunge pool for a refreshing dip. Take a hike to the top of Tjaetaba Falls, a sacred Aboriginal site, for a serene view of the surrounding bushland, and make sure you stop at Wangi Falls, Litchfield’s largest and most accessible waterfall, which is a spectacular site in the wet season.
Discover Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge) by foot, canoe, boat or helicopter. Made up of 13 gorges carved from ancient sandstone, this world-famous park offers spectacular walking trails to allow visitors to experience the expansive landscapes. Rainforests, gorges, swampland, woodlands, rivers and rocky outcrops are all offered throughout the area, and for those looking for a less energetic tour – try a scenic cruise or helicopter flight to take in the views. You won’t forget the aerial view of Katherine Gorge when it is brimming with water during the topical summer. The powerful waterfalls and maze of ancient sandstone provide a stunning spectacular from the seat of a helicopter.
North of Kakadu National Park lies the wholly Aboriginal owned Arnhem Land – a vast unspoiled wilderness rich in Aboriginal culture. Fish from spectacular beaches on the Gove Peninsula and the rivers and oceans of the Cobourg Peninsula, join an Aboriginal guide on a tour of Mt Borrodaile and watch Aboriginal artists at work in the traditional community of Oenpeli.
Leave your daily routine behind for the volatile beauty of Australia’s Top End, you won’t regret it. For more information, check out Down Under Answers.
Editor’s note: Down Under Answers is a sponsor of Budget Your Trip.