You Call that a Trip?! This is a Trip.
The Top End of Australia is, as its name suggests, the area in the far north of the country. Although it's probably the least-visited part of the country among people backpacking in Australia, it has some of the best sights and things to do. Fascinating culture, mind-blowing scenery and adventures around every corner. These are five of the many highlights.
Check out culture and wildlife in Kakadu
World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park spans over 20,000 square kilometres and is a place of immense beauty. If you are searching for Australia’s indigenous cultural homeland then this is the place to be. Aboriginal rock art dating back more than 40,000 years can be found at multiple sites throughout Kakadu, including Nourlangie and Ubir, where I was fortunate enough to see it first-hand.
This is also where I realised where all the Australian wildlife has been hiding. Kakadu boasts fish and bird species that don’t exist anywhere else on the planet, and you don’t have to search for long to see one of most famous icons of the NT: the saltwater crocodile. These beauties can grow up to 6m, and with twice the bite force of a shark, you’d be best sticking in the boat. If you want to get up close to one in safety, plan a visit to Darwin’s Museum and Art Gallery to see the famous ‘Sweetheart’ who lies stuffed and on show.
Find an authentic experience in Arnhem Land
The name Arnhem Land is a reminder of Australia’s often forgotten Dutch connection and is a place that’s difficult to visit unless with a tour guide. Unlike Kakadu to its left, to enter Arnhem Land you need a permit and the rules are very strict. For this very reason Arnhem Land is an extremely spiritual place where, unlike almost everywhere else in Australia, the Aboriginal culture is untouched and allowed to flourish.
We visited Gunbalanya (Oenpelli) to meet up with a few locals at the Injalak Art and Craft Centre, and after seeing them at work we were taken up a hill to an ancient burial site. Speaking in whispers they explained their sacred place, showed us rock art, and gave us a glimpse into what they believe and their way of life.
Swim under epic waterfalls
Swimming in a waterfall is everything you think it is and more. There are so many to choose from in the Northern Territory .If you like your infinity pools head to Gunlom in Kakadu where there are three pools, each layering down from the next but all accessible. The path to it however is a tough one to navigate and only open during the dry season (May – October) so if you struggle with heights and drops maybe give it a miss. If not, get your trunks out.
Another one of note is Florence Falls in Litchfield National Park, a single pool much greater in size than Gunlom. See how close you can get to the fall without being swept away or simply relax and bask in the shallows whilst lapping up the tropical heat. It’s worth taking along a mask as there are plenty of fish to spot at both sites.
Cruise Darwin Harbour at sunset
Darwin Harbour Cruises offer day or sunset cruises to all those who want to get a flavour for the capital of the NT. We went on the sunset cruise where they serve food and drink on-board so we sat on the front deck and took in the surroundings. Darwin doesn’t get any clouds in the dry season so you are guaranteed a good view on whatever night you pick. Day cruises on board the Charles Darwin last 2 hours and evening ones 2.5 hours. All leave from Darwin Port.
Take a morning boat ride at Nitmiluk Gorge
A truly stunning start to any morning, the Dawn Break cruise is simply unbelievable. Wildlife is beginning to stir and through the early morning mist you see a landscape stopped in time. In the wet season the water overlaps many of the 5 metre plus rock edges but in the dry they are there for all to see. The cruise breaks halfway for a short walk to another boat, giving you a great chance to get some holiday snaps. For any photographers out there this is an excellent spot.
See top of Australia and more with this amazing ticket
Our Eastern Aussie Islander multistop flight package is a brilliant deal and allows you to take in some of the best bits of Australia, including the Top End and legendary East Coast. Not only that, you'll also visit Thailand, Singapore, Fiji and Hong Kong!
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