Guide to the Australian outback .. the Northern Territory

Camels in the Outback

Heritage listed National Parks, Aboriginal culture and magnificent desert monoliths … the Northern Territory has it all.

The Northern Territory is vast and commonly known as the Australian Outback.  It extends south of the township of Alice Springs, to the northern capital city of Darwin and neighbouring islands.

Northern Territory, AustraliaDespite its large geographical footprint, just over 250,000 people live in the Northern Territory.  They are some of the friendliest Australians so be sure to say hello!

Connect with the oldest living culture on earth and learn about the deep spiritural connections to the land.  Aboriginal people maintain their ancient heritage through cultural practices such as storytelling, art and traditional languages.

Travel beyond Australia’s big cities like Melbourne or Sydney to experience the Australian Outback – one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Make the Territory your next adventure!

Don’t Miss …

  • Enjoy a perfect Sunrise at Uluru
  • Swim in the gorgeous waterfalls in Litchfield Park
  • Experience Mindil markets at Sunset

Things to do in the Northern Territory

Travel beyond Australia's big cities to experience the Australian Outback. Make the Territory your next adventure! Click To Tweet

See sunrise at Uluru

Standing 350 metres (1150 feet) high, ringed by ghost gum trees and waterholes, Uluru.  For the ancient Anangu people, Uluru is a place a great spiritual power. It is many things to the Anangu, including the centre of the universe and the home of the Earth Mother.  Uluru is at its most captivating at sunrise and sunset when the rock’s surface shifts through a rich spectrum of beautiful colours.  Read more about Uluru …

Walk the West MacDonnell Ranges

Ormiston GorgeThe West MacDonnell ranges stretch some 110 kilometres (68 miles) beyond Alice Springs, displaying the familiar landscape of Albert Namatjira watercolours.   Without a doubt, the clear blue skies and rich ochre rocks in vivid yellows and oranges will take your breath away.  Beautiful swimming holes, desert walks and peaceful surrounds close to nearby Alice Springs.  Simpsons Gap, Standley Chasm and Ormiston Gorge are some of the most popular places to visit.

Stop off at the Devils Marbles 

Devils MarblesA place of ancient Aboriginal dreaming, the Devils Marbles are a ‘must stop’ destination when driving through the Northern Territory.  A surreal collection of massive granite boulders strewn across acres of sparse desert country just 110 kilometers south of Tennant Creek in Central Australia – one of the most spectacular sights to be seen.

Swim at Mataranka & Bitter Thermal Springs

About 100 kilometres south of Katherine is Mataranka & Bitter Hot Springs.   Refreshing natural hot springs are a popular rest stop for tired weary travelers.  Agile WallabyThe sandy-bottomed Mataranka Thermal Pool is alive with fish and freshwater turtles. Explore it with a snorkel in hand.  The site’s sister lagoon, Bitter Springs, is a 10 minute drive away.

Visit Nitmiluk National Park

Located on the lands of the Jawoyn people, the rock art sites are showcased throughout the park.  You can learn about the Jawoyn people’s connection with the land at the Nitmiluk Centre or take a boat cruise of the first few gorges. With a network of 13 gorges in the Katherine River, Nitmiluk National Park is ideal to explore by canoe.

Eat at Darwin’s Mindil Market

Mindil Beach Sunset Market runs on Thursday and Sunday nights from April to November and features street performers, children’s rides, musicians, craft stalls and an eclectic range of Asian, Greek and Italian and local food stalls.  Try local favourites such as a Thai papaya salad or be bold and visit Go On Be Game, a stall serving kangaroo, crocodile and buffalo fillet burgers.  Mindil has one of the most magical sunset outlooks ever!  Don’t miss it!

Sunset at Mindil Beach markets

Discover Litchfield National Park

Litchfield National Park is a must see if you’re in the Top End.  It’s home to several stunning waterfalls that cascade into crystal clear pools like Buley Rockhole, Florence Falls and Wangi Falls, iconic magnetic termite mounds and clusters of weathered sandstone pillars at the Lost City.   Swimming under the falls and relaxing in waterholes is a favourite pastime for visitors and locals alike.  It is a popular day tour destination from Darwin or Katherine, but many visitors choose to stay overnight in one of the campgrounds.  Beautiful walks leave from most popular sites.

Experience Kakadu

World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park is famous for its magnificent landscape and hosts all six of the Top End’s ecosystems: stone country, wetlands, savanna woodlands, tidal flats, hills and basins and flood plains.  You will see an abundance of birdlife unique to this area, crocodiles and other reptiles in the wild, rare plants and so much more.  Climb to the top of Ubirr Rock to see vast expanses of the wetlands of Kakadu and experience some of Australia’s most ancient Aboriginal rock art.

Rainbow Honeyeaters

Visit the Tiwi Islands

Dubbed the Islands of Smiles, the Tiwi Islands − Bathurst Island and Melville Island − lie about 80km north of Darwin, and are home to the Tiwi Aboriginal people.  A visit here is one of the cultural highlights of the Top End.  The Tiwis are well known for producing vibrant art and champion Aussie Rules football players and specialise in wooden sculptures, traditional painting and vibrant, modern handcrafted fabric designs.  Artists are often around to have a chat and share the stories behind their creations.

HOW TO GET THERE

To explore the Northern Territory, catch the Ghan train from South Australia, or fly into Alice Springs with Qantas or Virgin Airways.  Alice Springs is a two hour (and a bit) flight from Sydney.

To arrive in the Top End, continue north on the Ghan or fly into Darwin with Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar or Tiger Air from most capital cities in Australia. Darwin is a 4 1/2 hour flight from Sydney.

If you don’t mind driving long distances, the Northern Territory is an ideal road trip destination – hire a campervan from Alice Springs or Darwin.

The Northern Territory represents the ‘real’ outback and certainly a place to experience the real Australia.   Be sure to take home the Territory Experience!

Have you been to the Northern Territory yet?  Make it your next adventure!  As they say … if you never, never go … you’ll never, never know !