The Northern Territory: Top Tips

Published 08 February 2017

Lucy Tolley

Lucy Tolley

Australia is known for a lot of things. It’s got great beaches, rad surfing, plenty of sunshine and slick cosmopolitan cities. However there is a part of Australia which is so truly wild that some Australians themselves don’t even visit. And what a mistake that is.

The Northern Territory (NT) is Australia’s largest state; it’s so large that the UK could fit into it 5½ times. However, it has a population of just 240,000. If you are anything like me and enjoy open spaces and a little adventure, this is one place you cannot afford to miss.

Welcome to the Northern Territory

Welcome to the Northern Territory image: Lucy Tolley

Below are my top tips for anyone considering a trip to the Australian Outback.

Rock art in Kakadu National Park

Immerse yourself in Aboriginal culture

The Northern Territory has a strong population of indigenous people who have lived on this land for millennia, long before colonisation.

Throughout the Northern Territory there are strong links to this ancient tribal culture. Many indigenous culture centres are located within NT territory, which provide an amazing insight into the history, traditions and artworks of the local people. Visit the art galleries and meet the artists themselves, play an iconic didgeridoo, or learn about aboriginal bush survival techniques. There are many opportunities in this land to get up close and involved in the aboriginal history which is so prevalent in the territory.

Lucy at Katherine Gorge

Lucy at Katherine Gorge image: Lucy Tolley

Visit the national parks

The Northern Territory has amazing scenery, from vast open plains, to lush tropical rainforest and impressive rocky outcrops.

There are various National Parks dotted around this enormous state; below are my top three.

Waterfall in Nitmiluk National Park

Waterfall in Nitmiluk National Park image: Lucy Tolley

Nitmiluk National Park

Nitmiluk National Park is located close to the town of Katherine, in the region known as the adventure territory. Here, the Katherine River winds through the Katherine Gorge to the magnificent Edith falls. With many hiking trails and river excursions to choose from, we skipped up to a viewing point overlooking Katherine River and weren’t disappointed with the imposing views across the rugged gorge.

A canyon and river in Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park

Probably the most famous of all of all Northern Territory parks, Kakadu is covers an enormous area, offering a diverse terrain including wetlands, forest and sandstone escarpments. You can view ancient aboriginal rock paintings, go on the hunt for wildlife, relax by a billabong or hike along one of the many walking trails. There are lots guided tours available; alternatively, if you prefer, you can hire a car and explore this magnificent wild place under your own steam. Warning: be sure to know the park rules and watch out for crocs!

Termite mound in Litchfield National Park

Termite mound in Litchfield National Park image: Lucy Tolley

Litchfeld National Park

Located close to Darwin, Litchfield is one of the lesser-known national parks, making it much quieter than its big sister, Kakadu. Follow the dusty hiking trails to various watering holes, where you can take a refreshing dip underneath the cascading waterfalls. Wander through the enormous termite mounds and explore the lush tropical rainforests. It’s a secret, but Litchfield is definitely my favourite national park in this state.

Driving in the Northern Territory

Driving in the Northern Territory image: Lucy Tolley

Drive yourself

There is no better way to appreciate the emptiness of this vast expanse of land than to drive it. Hire a car, get on the highway and cruise along the dusty roads, making sure to stop off at the local pubs along the way for a cooling drink and a chat with the friendly locals.

Charlie the buffalo, Adelaide Inn

Charlie the buffalo, Adelaide Inn image: Lucy Tolley

I stopped off at the Adelaide Inn, located close to Litchfield. They have a stuffed buffalo named Charlie mounted on their bar, a great photo opportunity for any avid Crocodile Dundee fans.

Driving in this enormous state is a humbling experience, but be road-wise. Carry water at all times, watch out for kangaroos and get out of the way of road trains, because they stop for no one!

Waterfront in Darwin, NT, Australia

Darwin's waterfront

Make time for Darwin

Darwin is based at the northern tip of the Northern Territory. It’s a fresh, clean city with an elegant waterfront looking out to the turquoise blue waters. There is a wide selection of bars and restaurants to eat and drink from and an assortment of shops and art galleries to browse.

For culture, try the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, while nearby Mindil Beach holds a sunset market offering tantalising flavours of the Asia-Pacific, as well as local arts and crafts.

Crocodile jumping out of the water in Darwin

Jumping croc

Look out for wildlife

Australia is packed to the brim with wildlife. Some of it is cute and cuddly, some of it, a little bit scary.

When you are out and about keep your eyes peeled for any wildlife spots. Kangaroos are everywhere, and emus can often be spotted strolling in the distance. When driving along a quiet road we spotted an elusive dingo and a lazy porcupine, and we got a little too close for comfort to a slithery snake when hiking. Furthermore, Australia is well-known for spiders and the infamous saltwater crocodile, the largest of the crocodile family. Many tours take you to see the crocs – one of my highlights was getting up close and personal with this terrifying beast.

The Northern Territory is an empty, wild, desolate place with an intriguing history and strong spiritual links. This is a special place that should be on everyone’s bucket list. 

Inspired to visit the Northern Territory? Take a look at Round the World Experts' Northern Territory holiday ideas and give our Experts a call today.

You might also like:

8 Things to Do in the Northern Territory

7 Outback Wonders You Might Not Have Heard Of

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