If you’re heading to Australia’s Northern Territory, you’ve probably already planned to see the famous sights. Arriving in capital city Darwin, most travellers tour the Top End region seeing Kakadu National Park, Katherine Gorge, and Litchfield National Park, before heading deep into the red centre to visit Alice Springs and Uluru. Nothing should keep you from doing the same; these are astounding, iconic attractions not to be missed.
But the Northern Territory is big – almost six times the size of the entire UK. If you have a little more time to spend here, it’s worth tracking down some of the lesser-known, but no less brilliant places to visit.
Davenport Ranges National Park
Located on the way from Darwin down to Alice Springs, Davenport Ranges is often missed due to people taking a flight or being in too much of a hurry. That’s a shame, because it’s a fine example of rugged outback beauty, with plenty of Indigenous sites to explore and unique Australian wildlife to spot. If you’re driving, it’s a great place to camp and spend the night gazing at the stars, away from any light pollution.
The size and heat of the Northern Territory means frequent rest stops are a must. Where better than spring-fed thermal pools where the water is always 34 degrees Celsius? Bitter Springs, south of Katherine, feels like an oasis in the outback, its crystal clear waters offering the perfect spot to relax and unwind before the next leg of your big adventure.
Most visitors to the Northern Territory stay inland, and don’t even know about the islands that dot the coastline. ‘Big Island’, off the eastern coast, is arguably the pick of the bunch. Think white sand beaches, warm turquoise ocean, and mysterious wildlife. Lounge on the beach, visit fascinating rock art sites, and do a spot of fishing. Bliss.
Garma Festival, Arnhem Land
Australia’s largest Indigenous festival is hosted every year in August by the Yolngu people in north-east Arnhem Land. There’s always a busy program of events, workshops, and traditional ceremonies, allowing visitors to camp out and have fun as well as learn about the lives and culture of Australia’s Indigenous people.
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Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)
A visit to Uluru in the red centre of the country is basically a pilgrimage for any visitor to Australia, but close by you’ll find Kata Tjuta, a similarly striking, significantly lesser-known sight. Only twenty miles west of Uluru, its domed rock formation offers great walks and a fantastic alternative spot to settle down and watch the colours of the rock change at sunset.