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The Top End

Mappa del Top End australiano

The Northern Territory is huge—six times the size of Victoria or roughly France, Spain and Italy combined. It’s so big that it has different climates: tropical and rainforesty in the northern half and semi-arid desert country towards the bottom. We call the top half the ‘Top End’ (the bottom bit is the ‘Red Centre’).

The Top End chunk of the Northern Territory covers four main areas:

  • Darwin, the NT’s capital city at the northern tip of the Top End
  • World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, three hours east of Darwin
  • remote Arnhem Land, a 90,000 square-kilometre reserve in the north-east corner of the NT
  • the Katherine area, about three hours south of Darwin.


The Top End’s tropical climate allows for a year-round outdoor lifestyle, which locals and visitors are renowned for making the most of.

The dry season, from April to September (when southern Australia is freezing through winter), brings warm, sunny days and cool nights.

That sees a packed Top End calendar of outdoor festivals and events, people cruising on the harbour and fishing for barramundi, and waterfront restaurants and outdoor bars brimming with people having a good time. The Top End is also known for its rich wetlands, wild rainforests and cascading waterfalls, which are all on show at nearby Kakadu and Litchfield national parks. Birds congregate in their thousands around the Top End’s wetlands, as do other iconic animals like the saltwater crocodile.

There are plenty of opportunities to encounter crocs—safely—in the Top End: on a river cruise, at dedicated crocodile parks and in the famous Cage of Death in Darwin city.

Do Darwin

Darwin is a modern, tropical city that offers a special blend of cosmopolitan and outback adventure. You can make it as action-packed or as laid back as you like. There’s no shortage of things to do in Darwin.

Wander around the many stalls selling local art and craft and serving food from every corner of the earth—Thai and Indian to Brazilian and Portuguese—at the famous Mindil Beach Sunset Markets. Watch a movie under the stars at the Deckchair Cinema, or join a three-course dinner cruise on Darwin Harbour (many times the size of Sydney’s). Board the hop-on, hop-off bus to take in the city’s sights.

Explore Darwin’s rich history and its Aboriginal culture at the many excellent art galleries and history attractions. Ride the swell at the Wave Lagoon and soak up the outdoor lifestyle at the Waterfront Precinct with its restaurants, cafes, shops and sprawling lawns. Or jump on a fishing day tour out of Darwin to land a famous barra.

Pack a picnic and take the easy day trip to Litchfield National Park (1.5 hours from Darwin) to bushwalk through rainforest then swim under spring-fed waterfalls at Wangi and Florence falls or soak in the tiered rock pools shaded by rainforest at Buley Rockhole.

Board the ferry or a light plane to the Tiwi Islands to meet local Tiwi artists, explore the islands and make your own piece of art.

When the sun goes down, Darwin comes alive with some of Australia’s best restaurants and eateries, bars and pubs, theatres, nightclubs and an international-standard casino.

Do Kakadu

Oodles of Aussie and international travellers think Kakadu is one of Australia’s best-kept travel secrets. And it’s just three hours drive from Darwin.

Kakadu is World Heritage-listed for both its natural and cultural values—and for good reason. Kakadu is brimming with native wildlife, some 280 species of birds and giant crocodiles. See them on an early-morning cruise on Yellow Water Billabong.

Kakadu’s Aboriginal rock art is some of the oldest and best-preserved in Australia. Visit the rock art galleries at Ubirr, Nourlangie and Nanguluwur and see their fascinating record of Aboriginal life over some 20,000 years.

And Kakadu has some of the Top End’s most iconic landscapes—waterfalls, rugged escarpments, sandstone outcrops and rainforests. Explore it yourself or join one of the many tours running from both Kakadu and Darwin.

Le migliori destinazioni del Top End

Cose da fare e da vedere nel Top End

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#NTaustralia

Soak up your outback surrounds in style 😉 @KingsCanyon Resort's deluxe spa rooms take bath time to a whole new level 🙌 Located roughly halfway between #AliceSprings and #Uluru, #KingsCanyon and Watarrka National Park are more than just a day trip destination with a number of bush-walking options which take in the sights and let you marvel at the sheer natural beauty, along with adventure activities and cultural experiences. After a big day of exploring, you can return to your room and hop in the tub which has beautiful views of the rocky escarpment. Cheers for tagging #NTaustralia, @fleurj! ​#SeeAustralia #RedCentreNT

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Keeping cool, NT style! 💦 If you're a big fan of waterfalls like us, a visit to #Litchfield National Park is definitely a must! Fed by twin falls and fringed by shady trees, Florence Falls ranks as one of the park's front runners, particularly as it's swimmable almost year round. Reaching the fall's glistening jade-green swimming hole is half the appeal 👉 the walk is short, relatively easy and showcases the dramatic contrast between mighty sandstone escarpment and lush monsoon forest. An easy day trip from #Darwin, Litchfield may be a fraction of the size of Kakadu, but when it comes to swimming opportunities it packs a serious punch 👌 Cheers for tagging #NTaustralia, @outtaorbit_! ​#SeeAustralia #TourismTopEnd

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Don't mind us... we're just marble-ing at the view! 😜 A drive through our country’s heart is one every Aussie (and visitor!) should make, especially with so many amazing stops along the way, including the #DevilsMarbles (#KarluKarlu)! ​The Devils Marbles are piles of huge, and some not so huge, red and orange-coloured granite boulders, which look as though they’ve been dropped in the middle of the outback. This conservation reserve is special to the local aboriginal groups - the Warumungu, Kaytetye, Alyawarra and Warlpiri people, who call it Karlu Karlu, which roughly translates to ‘round boulders’. These formations come into their own at sunrise and sunset, when the soft light illuminates the changing colours of the granite, transforming them from stunning pinks to bright reds. Stay overnight at the bush campground or alternatively, you can find Devils Marbles Hotel just 8 kilometres down the road. Cheers for tagging #NTaustralia, @floboniface! #SeeAustralia #RedCentreNT

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Need some inspo to get out of bed earlier? This should do the trick! @beyond925 recently captured this stunning sunrise overlooking @Darwin.Waterfront and @stokeshillwharf, #Darwin's very own leisure land with swimming lagoons, lush lawns and waterside restaurants. The NT's capital isn't just crocodiles and palm trees, Darwin offers travellers the chance to mix the outback with the city and the coast while also taking in some incredible sunrises and sunsets 💜 Cheers for tagging #NTaustralia, Karen! ​#SeeAustralia #TourismTopEnd

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@markgrayphoto described this sunrise at #KataTjuta (#TheOlgas) as “quite possibly the best I have ever seen in the NT". It's not hard to see why! This stunning shot was taken from the dune viewing area, one of the many designated viewing areas inside the national park. The platform here provides amazing views of Kata Tjuta and Uluru in the distance. Just 35 kilometres west of Uluru, the domes of Kata Tjuta sit shoulder to shoulder and form a spectacular and unique configuration of deep valleys and steep gorges spread over more than 20 kilometres (12.4 miles). ​You can explore these ancient red ''rockbergs'' via walking trails that range from easy strolls to longer, more difficult tracks or view them from the air on a scenic flight. Cheers for tagging #NTaustralia, Mark. ​#SeeAustralia #RedCentreNT

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Visiting #Darwin? Make sure you hop on a scenic helicopter flight like @robmulally, who witnessed this spectacular sunrise over the winding Adelaide River with @airborne.solutions 🚁 This iconic river is known for its large population of saltwater crocodiles, arguably one of the NT's most fascinating animals. One of the best ways to see them in their natural environment is on a 'jumping crocodile cruise' with @jumpingcrocodilecruises or @adelaiderivertours. Watch as they rise (often vertically!) in the air to catch food as your knowledgeable guides explain more about these ancient creatures. Cheers for tagging #NTaustralia, Rob! ​#SeeAustralia #TourismTopEnd

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#KingsCanyon, have we told you how magnificent you look lately?! Only three hours from #Uluru, this speccy location features 100 metre high ancient sandstone walls 🙌 Lace up your walking boots and explore the Rim Walk 👉 this challenging but rewarding hike is 6 kilometres in length and skirts the edge of the canyon for much of the trail, providing Insta-worthy views of the cliffs and surrounding landscape. Our tip: As the weather warms up, it's best to start the walk bright and early - we promise the views at sunrise will be well worth the early wake-up! ​Cheers for tagging #NTaustralia, @roaming_offtrack. ​#SeeAustralia #RedCentreNT

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Great news, gang... the #FieldofLight at @ExploreUluru has been extended indefinitely from its previous close date of 31 December 2020! The exhibition, aptly named Tili Wiru Tjuta Nyakutjaku or ‘looking at lots of beautiful lights’ in local Pitjantjatjara, is Bruce Munro's largest work to date, with more than 50,000 slender stems crowned with radiant frosted-glass spheres. The installation covers an area of more than seven football fields and invites visitors to wander through the network of pathways and watch this fantasy garden softly change colour from sunset to sunrise Cheers for tagging #NTaustralia, ​@imlukemackenzie! ​#SeeAustralia #RedCentreNT #ExploreUluru

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Nothing puts a spring in your step like the crystal clear waters of Bitter Springs! Rather inappropriately named for such a sweet spot, this sandy-bottomed lagoon has startlingly turquoise water 💦💙 Located an hour south of #Katherine in Elsey National Park, the natural spring-fed stream is wonderfully warm and surrounded by tropical woodlands. You'll float fancy-free a couple of hundred metres downstream before reaching a ladder at the end, where you can hop out and do it all over again! Our tip: Bring a swimming noodle - it makes the experience even more relaxing 👌 Cheers for tagging #NTaustralia, @overlandtravellers. ​#SeeAustralia #TourismTopEnd

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Do Arnhem Land

Experience ancient Aboriginal culture, dramatic landscapes and true Australian wilderness in Arnhem Land, one of the last untouched regions of the world.

This remote 90,000 square-kilometre reserve to Darwin’s east is wholly Aboriginal-owned land and has some of the Top End's most spectacular natural destinations, with beautiful scenery, rugged coastlines, remote islands, tropical rainforests and wetlands, towering escarpments and savannah woodland.

Stay in a beachfront eco retreat or explore Arnhem Land’s natural treasures at a safari lodge.

Into fishing? Arnhem Land is renowned for its prime, untouched fishing habitats teeming with prized sport and reef fish. Fishing lodges are dotted all over Arnhem Land, or you can join a charter from Darwin.

Do Katherine

The Outback meets the tropics in Katherine, a town three hours south of Darwin and home of the famous Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge.

Katherine has plenty of accommodation options and is your base for taking on the area’s many opportunities for adventure: fishing, camping, hiking, swimming, soaking in hot springs, cave tours, helicopter flights, canoeing, speed-boating, four-wheel driving.

Bring your hiking boots—Katherine is home to one of the world’s best bushwalks: the five-day, 58 km Jatbula Trail that takes in waterfalls, monsoon rainforest, stone country and Aboriginal rock art, camping alongside swimming holes.

For a softer adventure, take in Nitmiluk Gorge aboard a dinner cruise and stay in five-star luxury at the resort right at the gorge.

The Nitmiluk Visitor Centre explains this icon’s significance for the Jawoyn and Dagomen people.

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