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Top 20 Northern Territory Hot Spots
 
kangaroo sign australia 1. Darwin

Darwin is the capital city of the Northern Territory and is a great base for incredible natural attractions such as Kakadu and Litchfield National Park. The Arnhem Highway is a great way to access Kakadu, or to visit the Territory Wildlife Park closer to town. The weekly markets attract plenty of tourists and have an ideal setting right on the beach. There are fantastic bike tracks along the coastal road into Darwin city, which has become a vibrant and relaxed holiday destination.

2. Kakadu National Park

There is no place in the world like Kakadu. With an abundance of wildlife, including crocodiles and birdlife, you will need at least a week to enjoy all this region has to offer. It is situated east of Darwin, and is home to stunning wetlands, Aboriginal art sites and magnificent scenery that will keep you enthralled. There are fantastic, safe camping grounds throughout the area, which is ideal if you choose to stay here. Yellow Water is popular for croc spotting, as well as the stunning Jim Jim and Twin Falls. This is an Aussie top spot you really shouldn't miss.

3. Katherine

Katherine is an ideal base for its nearby majestic attractions, and is the largest town between Darwin and Alice Springs. Katherine Gorge has gorgeous swimming holes, lengthy walking tracks and pounding waterfalls. Canoeing is safe as there are no crocodiles. This is the best way to see the Gorge at its best. The thermal pools of Mataranka, located 100km south of Katherine, are a welcome spot to relax and unwind in the hot springs. There is also amazing scenery at Keep River National Park. Truly an oasis in the desert.

4. Alice Springs

Known as the Alice, this isolated, yet unique town in central Australia is a stone’s throw from the stunning East and West MacDonnell ranges and many other natural attractions. Often used as a base to explore the rugged horizons and landscapes, there is still so much to see within its borders. The Alice Springs Desert Park is a must, as is the Frontier Camel Farm. Also known for the Henlen-on-Todd Regatta, which is a boat race without water, it is a unique town which will keep you captivated and make you keep coming back for more.

5. East MacDonnell Ranges

Just down the road from Alice Springs, you will find the East MacDonnell Ranges. There is so much to see in this beautiful region, with plenty of bushwalking trails rewarding you with some incredible viewpoints. The Trephina Gorge Nature Park has many walks and amazing scenery, and there are also plenty of places to camp. Further along you will come across the Ross River Homestead where you can rest in comfort, and you have the choice of horse or camel riding for some more adrenaline. This is the most accessible of the ranges and a ‘must do’ especially if you are already in Alice Springs.

6. West MacDonnell Ranges

Head west from Alice Springs and you will come across the amazing Western MacDonnell Ranges. Honestly, you could spend weeks here and still not see everything. The Desert Wildlife Park is one of the first attractions you should visit, followed closely by Simpsons Gap and the Standley Chasm.The Wallace Rockhole is a a great place to see Aboriginal rock, as is the Finke Gorge National Park. The rest of this region is spectacular and is best enjoyed in a 4WD.

7. Finke Gorge National Park

The Finke George National Park is a beautiful oasis that can be visited as a day trip, but is best to stay for a few days. The Palm Valley camping ground is a perfect base and is best known for its many palms and lush vegetation. The Gosse Bluff Reserve is definitely worth a visit as it is the site of a crater that is well known internationally. There is also a wonderful bushwalk which leads to Karalanga Lookout, and the Mapaara Walk will give you a fascinating insight into the Aboriginal culture, which is ever present in this region.

8. Simpson Desert

Although vast, remote and mostly inaccessible, the fringes of the mighty Simpson can still be reached from the Alice as a day trip. This desert features some spectacular scenery on the drive on the way, including the beautiful Rainbow Valley in the James Ranges, and Chambers Pillar, which is famous for its Aboriginal carvings. This is perfect for those adventurous at heart because tours are available further into the desert to visit desert communities. There are bushwalking and camel treks, as well as countless 4WD treks on offer. This is one of the most untouched and isolated destinations in the world, and a truly unique spot.

9. Tennant Creek

Take a drive north of Alice Springs and you will find the friendly town of Tennant Creek. This ex gold mining town is steeped in history and is full of opportunities to do some fossicking. There are plenty of attractions outside of town too. The famous Devil’s Marbles are about 100km south from Tennant Creek and are definitely worth the drive out. The Barkley Tablelands also surround the town, with cattle stations dominating the landscape, and plenty of beautiful scenery in every direction.

10. Barkley Tableland

If you are looking for blue skies and far horizons you are sure to find them here. Located east from Tennant Creek towards the Queensland border, the Barkley Tableland is one of the quietest areas of the state. It is almost all cattle stations and long stretches of uninhabited land, but the remoteness of this area still draws many travellers to experience its uniqueness, sunsets and rugged beauty. The only main tourist stop is the Barley Homestead, which also offers camping facilities and is a great place to mingle with the locals.

11. Litchfield National Park

A day trip to Litchfield National Park is a day trip with a difference, and is certainly one of the Territory’s hidden treasures. Everything you would expect to see at the Top End of Australia seems to be compacted into one gorgeous area. Pumping waterfalls, plunge pools and termite mounds are dotted along the drive into the Park, and thick rainforests can be seen in every direction. The Butterfly and Bird Farm is a great place to visit at Batchelor, the closest township to Litchfield. As it is only ninety minutes from Darwin, you will be glad you added this region to your itinerary.

12. Mataranka An easy drive south from Katherine, Mataranka is most famously known for its thermal pools, and travellers visit from all over the state to experience the warm, relaxing, clear waters. It is one of the most pristine and beautiful environments you could encounter, with palms and trees lining the pools and softening the rays of the sun. There is something here for everyone, because there are a number of pools to choose from to suit everyone. Elsey National Park is also cloe by, with the Mataranka Homestead a favourite tourist spot. Bitter Springs is not as well known, but is located north of Mataranka and is another must-see while in the area.

13. Adelaide River Most people are familiar with the cruises that entice a crocodile into the air with a piece of meat. Well, the Adelaide River is where it happens. Located just off the Arnhem Highway and only an hour South of Darwin, there are many cruises to choose from, with something to see around every river bend. There is also plenty of birdlife and stunning scenery along the Adelaide River which stretches for miles. This experience will show you the true beauty of the amazing territory.

14. Berry Springs Berry Springs is such an easy day trip from Darwin that it is a must just for the experience of the cascading rock pools and crystal clear springs that make this an oasis in the desert. Bring your snorkel and facemask as there are plenty of small fish (no crocs!) that nibble at your feet. Many travellers leave in the morning, picnic at the pools and return at dusk as there is so much to see in this one area, you will need an entire day to see it all!

15. Territory Wildlife Park

If you have never been to Darwin before, this is the best way to introduce yourself to the Top End wildlife, birds and reptiles. At least half a day is needed to see everything, as the number of exhibits is extensive, and all the shows and displays simply must be seen. Located in the same area as Berry Springs, just under an hour fromDarwin, this is an amazing experience that simply cannot be missed.

16. Seven Spirit Bay

Seven Spirit Bay would have to be one of the most remote regions in the world, yet is listed for the sake of its sheer beauty and vastness. Situated in Arnhem Land, on the Cobourg Peninsula, there is only a wilderness lodge to stay in which is accessible only by plane. There is birdwatching, fishing and bushwalking available, and the sunsets are unbelievable. Be sure to bring your camera!

17. Arnhem Land This is the real Top End of Australia. Most of this land is owned by the Aboriginal people, but there are still sections that can be visited which are simply beautiful. The East Alligator River, Cobourg Peninsula and Gove are all worth visiting, as is the drive from Kakadu to Oenpelli. Be sure to get a permit before you venture through to the Cobourg Marine Park and Gurig National Park, but if you have the time to visit this untouched, unique region of Australia it will be well worth it.

18. Ayers Rock (Uluru)

Towering majestically out of the red desert floor, Ayers Rock is known world wide as a symbol of the Northern Territory and as one of our country's most famous landmarks. There is nothing like the colourful sunsetsand sunrises that change by the second, and the climb to thetop is worth it although it is very steep at times. You can fly from Alice Springs or drive over 300km passing excellent scenery. There is a cultural centre at the base of Ayers Rock, and plenty of resorts and camping sites for the many tourists that flock to the area. This is an essential must on any Australian outback adventure.

19. The Olgas

Located about 50 kilometres from Ayers Rock, many compare the stark beauty of these rock formations to the wonder of their great neighbour, Uluru. And this is no wonder because they are just as majestic. With treks available through the gorges and outcrops, it is well worth squeezing in a visit here if you are in the area. This region is a photographer's paradise, and all the information you need can be found at the cultural centre at Ayers Rock.

20. Kings Canyon

Just as impressive as it sounds, Kings Canyon is located in the Watarrka National Park and offers majestic scenery. The walk around the canyon can take a couple of hours, but is definitely worth it as you will visit the Garden of Eden pools, and rock formations called the Lost City. There are certain times of year this walk should be attempted, but the incredible views from the canyon make it worth planning into your visit if possible!

Christine Barton




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