Things to do in the Northern Territory
From its rugged landscape to its indigenous culture and exotic wildlife, it’s no wonder that the Northern Territory’s economy revolves primarily around tourism. Travellers to this region are drawn to the Northern Territory for a range of reasons - adventure, relaxation, culture, and cuisine - only to return again and again. Below we’ve listed some of the most popular things to do in the Northern Territory. For more ideas or to plan these into an Australia holiday itinerary, call us today.
The beating heart of the Outback, Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) is located in Australia’s Red Centre, specifically in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Dating back over 550 million years, the sandstone formation reaches 348 metres high and is a sacred landmark within Australian indigenous culture and spirituality. In additional to its cultural significance and impressive size, Uluru is also beloved for its changing colours throughout the day, making sunset a very popular time to see the formation as it changes from red to orange, pink and purple as the sun goes down.
How to do it: There are plenty of guided tours and ways of exploring Uluru but a favourite way to see the World Heritage-list site is on the Sounds of Silence dinner. The experience starts with sipping sparkling wine as the sun sets over Uluru followed by a seated Australian-style dinner set up under a canopy of stars. The dinner is included in our Sydney, Rock & Reef holiday itinerary.
The capital of the Northern Territory, Darwin enjoys an incredible multicultural population thanks to its close proximity to Southeast Asia - it’s quicker to fly from Darwin to Bali than to Sydney. As a result Darwin is home to people from the Philippines, India, Indonesia, China, Thailand, Japan and Malaysia as well as Greece, Germany, New Zealand and Australia’s largest Aboriginal population. With this mix, Darwin is famed for having one of the most diverse food scenes in the country.
How to do it: With so many cuisines to try in Darwin, one of the best places to start is at one of the food markets such as the Mindil Beach Market (pictured above) or Parap Village Market. For restaurant dining, there are plenty on offer along the Darwin Waterfront Precinct. In terms of what to choose, Darwin reverred for its authentic Southeast Asian food and fresh seafood, particularly barramundi.
Located just three hour’s drive from Darwin, Kakadu National Park is Australia’s largest national park, covering an incredible 7,646 square miles, equal to nearly half the size of Switzerland. Within the park lies in an incredible biodiverse landscape home to over 2,000 plant species and a thriving wildlife population including wallabies, water buffalo, 280 bird species and over 10,000 crocodiles. The park is also a World Heritage listed site and a sacred area for Indigenous Australians, who have lived within the area for over 50,000 years. Their history and culture can be learnt about via the park’s rock paintings, one of which dates back over 20,000 years.
How to do it: One of the best ways to see Kakadu National Park is on a cruise of the Yellow Water Billabong. The cruise experience varies depending on whether it’s the dry season (little water and plenty of animals to see), or the wet season (plenty of water and lush vegetation), but no matter what time of year you visit you’ll always be sure to see one of the region’s crocodiles. A cruise of the Yellow Water Billabong is included in our Northern Territory In Depth Holiday.
Further south around a 3 hours’ drive from Darwin lies Nitmiluk National Park, home to a number of scenic waterfalls and bush walks, as well as the breath-taking Katherine Gorge. Carved by the Katherine River through ancient sandstone, the Katherine Gorge is actually made up of 13 gorges which can be explored by canoe or flat-bottomed boat. Depending on the time of year, Nitmiluk also has a few scenic spots you can swim in, including Edith Falls and the Southern Rockhole, both of which feature beautiful waterfalls.
How to do it: The best way to see Katherine Gorge is by a cruise which, by sailing between the sheer rock sides of the gorge, allows you to get a sense for its impressive size. Along the cruise you’ll also be able to see a range of wildlife from wallabies to fresh water crocodiles, as well as learn about the traditions and customs of the local Jawoyn people. The NitNit Dreaming cruise of Katherine Gorge is included in our Northern Territory In Depth Holiday.
With warm weather year round in Darwin, going for a swim in one of the city's nearby freshwater pools is a popular local past time. One of the most popular spots is Litchfield National Park. Spanning around 1500 square kilometres, Litchfield is beloved not only for it’s many swimming holes and waterfalls, but also for it’s unique fauna including wallabies, dingoes, possums, crocodiles and termites, of which you can see their unique magnetic termite mounds aligned in a north to south direction to regular temperature.
How to do it: Litchfield is located an hour and a half’s drive south from Darwin. Once at the park, the two most popular swimming spots are the Buley Rockhole and Florence Falls, both of which are easily accessed with parking nearby.
Ride The Ghan train through the Red Centre
One of the world’s great rail journeys, The Ghan is a scenic train that runs between Darwin and Adelaide, stopping en route in Alice Springs and Katherine, through the centre of Australia. Onboard, The Ghan is an all-inclusive experience featuring private cabins and various restaurants and lounges. All up the journey takes two nights and includes a stop in Alice Springs.
How to do it: The Ghan can be boarded in Darwin, Adelaide or Alice Springs. A ride on the Ghan train in a Gold Service cabin from Darwin to Adelaide is included in our Luxury Trains of Australia itinerary.
For more ideas on things to do in the Northern Territory, see our Northern Territory holidays or talk to one of our Experts today.