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The road tripper's guide to where to stay in the NT

Just like the diversity of its natural icons, activities and characters, there’s plenty of accommodation options across the Northern Territory.

Choose from luxury resorts, safari-style glamping, hotels and serviced apartments to well-equipped caravan and camping grounds — there are places to suit every creature comfort and budget.

Many have restaurants, bars and pools to refresh and relax in after those adventurous days, and some allow you to share your exhilarating experiences with your pets, so they aren’t left at home.

To help plan where to stay during your NT road trip, we’ve created this easy guide.

Darwin

The Northern Territory’s capital city, Darwin is unlike any other. While there are many high-rise buildings, its relaxed and laidback lifestyle encourages you to take your time and go with the flow. Linger longer over good coffee in one of the cafes, tingle your tastebuds with multi-ethnic cuisines and open-air markets, toast the sensational sunsets with tropical cocktails or enjoy the lively nightlife on Mitchell Street. Rest assured, whatever accommodation you choose, whether it’s lazing around the beachside lagoon pool at Mindil Beach Casino Resort, tasting a different morsel of Territory cuisine every night while kicking back at any of the Darwin Waterfront Precinct properties, or unhooking the caravan or pitching a tent at the pet-friendly tropical surrounds of Free Spirit Resort; you’ll find all the comforts you expect and more while staying in Darwin — you may not want to leave. Check out the complete Darwin accommodation guide for more places to stay during your trip to the Top End.

Litchfield National Park — Batchelor region

Being close to Darwin, many people do a day trip to Litchfield National Park. By staying longer, you’ll not only discover more; you’ll unwind in ways you never thought possible — having a natural waterfall massage, rejuvenating walks with nature, or a helicopter flight with sunset drinks between towering termite mounds. There’s a range of equally satisfying accommodation like the luxury secluded bush cabins at Hideaway Lodge, spacious pool view rooms at Litchfield Motel, a converted Viscount caravan at pet-friendly Litchfield Tourist Park or sleep under the stars listening to the sounds of tumbling waterfalls at Wangi Falls campsite.

Kakadu National Park — Jabiru region

Kakadu is millions of years old, but the selection of accommodation offers modern comforts for all visitors. Think exclusive to romantic, family to backpacker and back to basics. You’ll be impressed by Bamurru Plains on the edge of Kakadu, offering luxury safari-style lodges — rivalling those in Africa. Stay inside the huge crocodile body of the Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel or Aurora Kakadu Lodge in Jabiru or head to Cooinda Lodge – the perfect base within the park that has everything from camping to cabins close to Yellow Water Billabong. Take your pick of deluxe to budget cabins, hotel rooms, caravan, and camping sites mean it’s easy to find Kakadu-based accommodation to suit your taste and budget. Check out the full list of Kakadu accommodation ideas.

Nitmiluk National Park — Katherine region

Nestled on the banks of the Katherine River, the NT’s fourth largest town, Katherine, is a gem amongst its rugged surrounds. Soak in thermal springs, canoe, walk and cruise Nitmiluk’s towering gorges and enjoy gourmet to country cuisines. Be pampered year-round at the five-star award-winning Cicada Lodge next to Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge, camping and chalets are also available at Nitmiluk Caravan and Campground, or stay at pet-friendly Knotts Crossing Resort with motel rooms or cabins and devour award-winning cuisine at their restaurant.

Situated in Elsey National Park, Mataranka is where the red-ochre outback meets the tropical savannah woodlands. Accommodation choices are as rustic and adventurous as their bushland setting. But you won’t face the trials or tribulations described in Jeannie Gunn’s book and film “We of the Never Never”. From a lavish homestead stay at O’Brien’s working cattle station Coodardie, to cute cabins, caravan or camping at Mataranka Homestead steps away from the spring-fed, clear waters of Mataranka thermal pool, it’s easy to relax and rejuvenate. There’s something for everyone in and around Katherine, even a station life experience at Bullo River Station. Check out more accommodation options in the Katherine region.

Arnhem Land

Arnhem Land’s sprawling 100,000 square kilometre wilderness is mostly untouched, and the accommodation on offer is equally as intriguing as its landscapes. With roads and flights making it easily accessible, choices for how and where to rest your head have also grown and now include exclusive eco-wilderness lodges such as Davidson’s Arnhemland Safaris or Banubanu Wilderness Retreat on Bremer Island, pet-friendly Walkabout Lodge in Nhulunbuy and back-to-nature basic campgrounds on the mainland and nearby islands. Get the full list of places of stay in Arnhem Land.

Tennant Creek

Australia’s golden heart, Tennant Creek is a popular stopover on the north-south drive through the NT offering several motels, cabins, caravan and campgrounds. Its past is exciting, and the locals extremely welcoming. Be sure to catch a sunrise or sunset at Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles, six-metre-high balancing red rocks that are fossilised Rainbow Serpent eggs according to local Warumungu Aboriginal people and picnic at Kunjarra/The Pebbles sacred site. If your accommodation doesn’t have a swimming pool, you can splash around at Lake Mary Ann. Discover where to stay in Tennant Creek.

Alice Springs

Resting at the foothills of the craggy red-rocked MacDonnell Ranges on the banks of the mostly dry Todd River, Alice Springs is Australia’s spiritual and physical heart and a region on many a bucket list. Discover its café culture, culinary delights, wildlife experiences, adventure activities, peaceful hot air ballooning and swimming in the surrounding gorge waterholes (there are no wild crocodiles in the Red Centre). Choose from international brands of Mercure Alice Springs Resort and Crowne Plaza Alice Springs Lasseters 4.5 star hotels, Quest Serviced Apartments and pet-friendly places like rustic Ooraminna Homestead B&B and the charming oasis, Heritage Caravan Park — all extremely comfortable, contemporary and laden with outback hospitality. For those looking for backpacker-style accommodation, head to the Jump Inn's (they have a great bar) or YHA Alice Springs. See the full Alice Springs accommodation guide for more information.

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park — Yulara

Uluru/Ayers Rock is one of the world’s most recognisable Australian icons and a magnet for people of all ages. Find five-star luxury glamping tented pavilions at Longitude 131. Perched on a sandhill the rooms have awe-inspiring views of Uluru — you don’t have to leave bed to see Uluru’s magical change of colours during the day. For those looking for options in between, choose from Sails in the Desert, Emu Walk Apartments and camping at Ayers Rock Campground is on lush grassy lawns under a million-star night. Ayers Rock Resort, Yulara encompasses a Town Square and is managed by Voyages. Some packages include a sunrise or sunset at Uluru and Field of Light, and a Tali Wiru or Sounds of Silence fine-dining dinner on the red sandy desert with Uluru and Kata Tjuta as your backdrop. There are many free activities on offer, plus a free bus service around the resort, and to and from Yulara airport. If you wish to self-drive, vehicle hire is available at the airport — remember to book before arrival. Check out more places to stay during your trip to Uluru.

Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon)

Three hours' drive from Uluru is Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon), an incredible haven forged over 400 million years. Its jaw-dropping brilliant orange sandstone walls soar 270 metres above sea level. Walk the rim and marvel at the peace and serenity. Choose from the caravan and camping sites to cabins or the new glamping tents at Kings Canyon Resort. For a more exclusive experience head to Kings Creek Station. No matter where you rest your head, you’ll wake up to bell birds singing.

Remember to book accommodation in advance to ensure there is availability.

Looking for more ideas for your road trip? Check out how to Drive the NT.

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