Why the NT is your next ‘international’ destination
Got itchy travel feet? Been missing those worldly wonders, culturally different cuisines and getting lost in nature?
A Northern Territory holiday has all this in spades. Flights are no more than three or four hours, and there’s no changing money or language lesson costs.
The NT’s massive natural wonders, spectacular waterfalls, vast clear blue skies, star-filled nights, wonderous wildlife, larrikin locals, quirky experiences and culinary magic guarantee it’s different in every sense — and without the crowds, it will energise your soul.
1. Take a hot air balloon ride that rivals Turkey’s Cappadocia
Float across Australia’s Red Centre in a hot air balloon with Outback Ballooning looking towards the MacDonnell Ranges. Majestically peaceful, without the cast of thousands it surpasses Turkey’s Cappadocia. Your finale of light refreshments on thousands of years old silky red sands in Australia’s heartland is rejuvenating.
2. Exchange Iceland’s Blue Lagoon for a soak in the Top End’s own natural thermal springs
Prefer emerald green and natural thermal turquoise waters to float away the hours? Forget Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, the palm-lined, spring-fed Mataranka Thermal Pool or Bitter Springs are your heavenly solaces, restore your equilibrium while chilling to surrounding birdsongs.
3. Swim in outback waterholes that are easier to access than Grand Canyon’s Havasu Falls
Throughout the Red Centre there are easily accessible, crowd-free and croc-free waterholes to splash around in. Hidden between towering red rock walls, around an hour’s drive from Alice Springs relax in the cool and refreshing waters of Ellery Creek Big Hole, Glen Helen Gorge, Ormiston Gorge and Redbank Gorge at the base of Mt Sonder. All have walking trails and camping nearby, and your only neighbours are beautiful birds, curious lizards and marsupials.
4. Do more in helicopters around the NT than New Zealand’s Milford Sound
Helicopter trips make short work of distances in the NT and allow access to some of the world’s most breathtaking slices of nature and land to absorb your surroundings.
From Wangi Falls get a birds-eye view of the tabletop escarpment region, land at some of the more remote surrounding waterholes or privately toast a sensational sunset amongst the massive magnetic termite mounds.
Take a heli-fishing tour to catch that elusive barramundi on a Top End isolated beach or waterway. Drink your way around the Top End on a Heli Pub Crawl to five unique and out-of-the-way ‘pubs’ including Dundee Beach, Crab Claw Island and Goat Island on Adelaide River for a refreshing ale and substantial lunch. Fly over plains, lagoons and rivers spotting crocodiles basking in the sun, herds of buffalo, wild horses and myriads of birds along the way.
5. Get a guaranteed face-off with numerous Top End crocodiles
Forget about looking for the Loch Ness Monster, in Scotland, come and smile at the Top End’s many crocodiles. While you can do this in Darwin, seeing them in their natural habitat is unforgettable. Learn about these prehistoric monsters on an Adelaide River cruise or take an Outback Floatplane half-day adventure to get a real feel for their homelands. Land on a remote lagoon, join the flat cruise boat for a cooked breakfast or lunch while nature surrounds you. Jump aboard an airboat for a spin around the surrounding wetlands and say hello to several resident crocs before having the opportunity to do a cage swim in their home waters beside the boat.
6. Only the Northern Territory has the world’s oldest outdoor art galleries
Nowhere else in the world will you find the numerous selection of centuries-old rock art sites that you’ll encounter throughout the Territory. Get back to nature and awaken your senses while viewing these magnificent outdoor art galleries via a range of invigorating walks around Kakadu’s Ubirr and Nourlangie, Mt Borradaile in Arnhem Land and Uluru in the Red Centre.
7. Satisfy your soul with an NT safari stay instead of Africa
Extend your natural wilderness experience without compromising comfort in real beds. The NT has several stunning African-style safari camp options including Outback Wrangler, Matt Wright’s secluded Top End Safari Camp near Finniss River with gourmet meals, beverages and outback adventures on offer.
Hideout in Hideaway luxury cabins in Litchfield National Park; get treated like royalty at five-star Cicada Lodge at Nitmiluk Gorge or relax and recharge at Bamurru Plains luxury tented bungalows on the Mary River floodplains, west of Kakadu National Park.
At Watarrka National Park/Kings Canyon wake up to peaceful crested bellbirds singing and drown in the jaw-dropping desert views at Kings Canyon Resort or Kings Creek Dreamtime Escarpment — a working cattle and camel station set amongst desert oaks.
8. Swap the crowds on Hawaii’s Waikiki beach for turtles and East Arnhem Land’s Aboriginal culture
Share the vast white sands with local turtles, enjoy fishing and learn Yolngu Aboriginal culture at eco-friendly deluxe beachfront Banubanu Beach Retreat on Bremer Island in north-east Arnhem Land. East Arnhem Land is filled with remote and rugged coastlines, and white sandy beaches. This area can be accessed from Darwin by flight or by taking the Central Arnhem Road via the turnoff 50 km south of Katherine.
9. Experience some of the best outdoor dining experiences in the world
Move over Europe, the Northern Territory’s culinary creations will tantalise your taste buds and satisfy your wildest cravings. Choose sophisticated white-tablecloth fine-dining under a million stars overlooking Uluru and Kata Tjuta at the Sounds of Silence or Tali Wiru; cruise along the ancient gorge of Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge on the Nabilil Dreaming Sunset Dinner Cruise or get back-to-bush with Bob Taylor with RT Tours in the Red Centre. Not to mention the satisfaction of a sizzling sunset cruise on Darwin Harbour — all are guaranteed to be memorable epicurean experiences.
10. Salivate your way through all of Asia’s favourite foods at Darwin markets
With Asia our closest neighbour it’s not surprising that you’ll feel disorientated with the aromatic Asian delights and markets on offer in Darwin.
While Parap Markets on a Saturday morning is the local’s favourite (along with Mary’s world-famous laksa), Mindil Beach Sunset Market is unmissable. It’s the perfect way to end a dry season Thursday or Sunday between May and October. With endless local handicraft and food stalls, it’s always challenging to choose which looks or smells the best to accompany you on the beach to watch another amazing day disappear in an array of burnt oranges, reds, blues and purples while being serenaded by local musicians.
Check out why the NT is the answer to your holiday.