The 10 best reasons to visit the Northern Territory
From sharing a laugh with larrikin locals to stunning outback adventures, there are countless unique experiences to be had in the Northern Territory.
We don’t have time to list every reason, so we’ve narrowed it down to ten.
Here they are – the best of the best – the top ten reasons to visit the Northern Territory.
1. You’ll discover a rich culture
The NT has a rich and proud tradition of embracing its Aboriginal history. From the secluded beauty of Nhulunbuy, to sharing stories of the Dreaming in the shadow of Uluru, to showcasing Aboriginal art in one of many galleries located throughout the Northern Territory, our connection with native culture is unmatched.
If you’re in Darwin, take a 30-minute flight or 2.5-hour ferry north to discover the beautiful Tiwi Islands and find out why they’re nicknamed the ‘Island of Smiles’. In the Red Centre, why not check out modern Aboriginal art at the Parrtjima Light Festival? In Kakadu National Park, the Guluyambi Cultural Cruise blends modern comfort with stunning scenery and traditional storytelling.
2. Your taste buds will be tantalised
You know the Northern Territory is a feast for your eyes and ears, but it’s also one for your taste buds. In recent years the emerging gastronomy scene, which blends Aboriginal and European cuisine in a contemporary fashion, has developed a reputation as one of the world’s best.
The NT is the only place to get real bush tucker – Uluru Bush Tucker Journeys and the Top End’s Intrepid Native Food Tours are a couple of standouts. In Alice Springs, try Epilogue Lounge for modern cuisine or Overlanders Steakhouse for great steaks and outback decor.
In Darwin, Wharf One or The Precinct offer waterfront dining, while the Mindil Beach Sunset Marketslet you sample some of the best local and international cuisine on offer. In fact, Darwin is famous for its markets, and the food vans at East Point and Nightcliff foreshore will also send you home with a smile and a full tummy.
3. You’ll uncover the real Australian Outback
The closest most people get to the Aussie Outback is watching Crocodile Dundee or reruns of The Flying Doctors.
In 3 hours, you could fly from the hustle and bustle of Sydney or Melbourne right into the real Australia.
Check out internationally renowned sites like Uluru or Kakadu National Park, or spend some time getting to know the laid-back locals of Darwin or Alice Springs. Footwear might be optional, but a true NT storytelling experience is guaranteed.
There are heaps of Australian Outback tours to choose from, and plenty of iconic Aussie locations – from Daly Waters pub to the Adelaide River Inn (where Charlie the Buffalo from Crocodile Dundee is taxidermied and on display).
4. You’ll explore otherworldly landscapes
From the natural waterholes in the Red Centre to the sprawling wetlands of Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks, the NT has more diverse landscapes to explore than most countries. You’ll feel like you’ve stumbled into another world.
In fact, in the NT, otherworldly landscapes and experiences are part of the attraction. Explore the two-metre high magnetic termite mounds in Litchfield National Park and wonder why they are perfectly aligned from north to south. Be mesmerised by the hypnotic sunset over the wetlands at Ubirr in Kakadu National Park. Find the hidden tropical oasis of Palm Valley right in the middle of the desert in the Red Centre. Wonder at how the boulders at Karlu Karlu (also known as The Devils Marbles) near Tennant Creek don’t tumble over. Spot some aliens at Wycliffe Well, the UFO capital of Australia, during a pit-stop on your road trip.
5. You’ll meet local celebrities
No trip to the Territory would be complete without spending some time with the locals – Australia’s weird and wonderful wildlife. The NT is famous for crocs in the Top End and kangaroos in the Red Centre.
Dive into the ‘Cage of Death’ with a big saltwater crocodile at Darwin’s Crocosaurus Cove and make a new scaly mate at the Alice Springs Reptile Centre. For a different kind of snap, get a photo with a marsupial or native bird at the Top End’s Territory Wildlife Park or the Alice Springs Desert Park.
And then there’s Adelaide River Jumping Crocodile Cruises where you’ll see these large predators propel themselves from the water to catch their lunch. You won’t believe how high they can jump!
6. You’ll have unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime adventures
Travelling is not just about souvenirs, selfies and suntans – it’s the experiences you never forget that make you want to return. Take an Outback Floatplane Adventure to the picturesque Sweets Lagoon for the Ultimate Tour. Beat the city heat by flying off for a swim at a private waterhole, courtesy of Litchfield Helicopters.
If you’re feeling thirsty, what about the Heli Pub Tour – you’ll paint the Territory red at some excellent Aussie pubs, all while being chauffeured in a chopper. Whatever your friends did on their holiday, it certainly won’t be as cool as this!
7. You’ll reignite your spark
The distractions of everyday life mean that a romantic connection can be neglected. So, sometimes, travelling isn’t just about the people you meet – it’s also about reconnecting with the one you know best.
Get the fire burning again with a camping trip to the Outback – where it’s just you, your partner and 100,000 stars shining brightly. If you don’t feel like pitching a tent, there's a range of glamping – glamorous camping – options, combining the comfort of a five-star resort with the serenity of a swag. Some favourites include The Dreamtime Escarpment tents at Kings Creek Station and Longitude 131 at Uluru.
Catch up over a cocktail as the sun sets in Katherine, the Red Centre, or over Darwin Harbour. There are romantic dining experiences aplenty, such as Tali Wiru at Uluru, Nabilil Sunset Dreaming Cruise in Katherine, and Under a Desert Moon at Kings Canyon Resort.
8. You’ll reconnect with friends & family
Visit the Northern Territory and create new memories that will last a lifetime. A family holiday or a getaway with friends might be just what the doctor ordered.
Rent a car or bring your own to discover the Territory on a self-guided driving tour. Every stretch of road in the NT has highlights and unique features, so getting there really is half the fun. Try the Nature’s Way route through Kakadu, Katherine and Litchfield National Parks, or the Red Centre Way from Alice Springs to Uluru.
9. You’ll uncover local treasures before the whole world does
The Territory doesn’t begin and end at Uluru. While the majesty of the iconic monolith at sundown needs to be seen to be believed, Katherine, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs and Darwin also have hidden secrets that must be experienced first-hand.
Go waterhole hopping in Tjoritja, the West and East MacDonnell Ranges or bushwalking through one of the Red Centre’s unique hiking tracks, like the Larapinta Trail. Discover Bitter Springs and Mataranka Thermal Pools in Elsey National Park – these thermal springs are a true hidden gem. In Darwin, explore the city by foot or by scooter, sampling some great cuisine and check out some local art while learning about the city's remarkable history.
10. You’ll discover events & festivals you never knew existed
Territorians love to party, so all year round there are exciting events and festivals that you won’t find anywhere else. Build a vessel entirely out of beer cans at the Beer Can Regatta. Will it float? It doesn’t really matter!
Cheer on a winner at the Camel Cup in Alice Springs, the world’s greatest camel race, or bait your line and become a millionaire during Million Dollar Fish.
Be astonished at the Uluru Field of Light, an open-air light gallery of more than 50,000 solar lights, developed by famed British artist Bruce Munro. The installation has been extended indefinitely – see why it’s earned international acclaim.
Experience Aboriginal culture at the Barunga Festival, which celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music, sport and culture and attracts music acts from all around Australia. Check out the Darwin Festival each August – an annual extravaganza which celebrates Australian multiculturalism, with a range of concerts, art installations, theatrical performances and creative events.
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