Sparsely populated Northern Territory is as far away from urban chaos as humanly possible. As you travel up the Stuart Highway, you’ll feel a certain kind of peace that only this part of colourful rural Australia can give you, with its blue skies, red and yellow desert expanses in the south, and green swatches of rainforest in the Top End. The Northern Territory is also quite wild; expect to see lots of crocs in the water and barely a car on the road. As you head north, you’ll notice just how isolated this part of Australia is, with Alice Springs and Darwin seemingly worlds apart. Much of the Northern Territory is also home to many different groups of Aboriginal Australians, and you might be able to pick up on a little Aboriginal heritage at places like Uluru or Kakadu. You’ll enjoy all the sights and sounds of the Northern Territory – just make sure you come prepared.
Darwin City is the largest city in the Northern Territory, but it’s the smallest capital city in all of Australia as well as Australia’s only tropical capital. Though it is a small city, don’t discredit Darwin for it is a cosmopolitan and vibrant place. For information on Darwin.
After you leave Darwin, the Top End really opens up, with National Parks and great beaches, bushwalking paths, and great campsites. A place like Litchfield National Park is an undervalued treasure for great walks, campsite,s and swimming holes, with amazing feats of nature like magnetic termite mounds popping up in the most unexpected of places, while Kakadu National Park shines brightly with its crocodile-infested waters and rock paintings dating back over 25,000 years. It’s not just about the wildlife, either; towns like Katherine will draw you in with its history museums and other attractions. To learn more about any of these locations, feel free to click on their links.
– Where to stay: Darwin and Katherine are both great places to stay while in this part of the country, and they are only four hours away from each other (a very short amount of time for the Northern Territory). We suggest Darwin just because there are more things to do in the capital city than in much smaller Katherine, but if you’re heading south on the Stuart Highway, then Katherine’s the way to go.
• Visit the Territory Wildlife Park on the way to Litchfield, seeing the best of Australia’s wildlife in an open-air zoo, from birds of pray to the large aquarium.
• Swim with the fish in the pools surrounding Wangi Falls, Litchfield’s most popular attraction, surrounded by rainforest and roosting fruit bats.
• Learn how the Kakadu mining industry tries to be in sync with park conservation in Jabiru, or head out for a bushwalk in the park near Ubirr, where there are loads of paintings dating back thousands of years.
• Visit Outback Heritage Museum in Katherine to see a selection of historical photos as well as some great exhibits about this isolated part of Australia.
• Head out on a crocodile adventure tour, either trying to spot the salties on a cruise by day or by night. Just don’t stick your hand in the water.
Driving down the Stuart Highway is a little like driving through the apocalypse; you’re not going to see very many people if you decide to take the 17-hour drive down the road from Darwin to the regional centre of Alice Springs, with few towns from point A to point B. South Katherine the Northern Territory opens up in all of its resplendent isolation. Towns like Tennant Creek are few and far between, and when these towns pop up it’s always best to take a rest. You might even be able to see the Ghan, the train that links this area irrevocably to the rest of Australia. If you’re just interested in the town of Alice Springs, click on the link above to find out more information.
– Where to stay: If you’re considering driving all the way from Darwin to Alice Springs, it’s not necessarily a decision of where to stay but more of whether you can find a place to stay. There’s a few hostels in Tennant Creek if you need to stay the night, but once you get to Alice more options start to appear.
• Visit the exhibitions at Nyinkka Nyunyu, a conemporary Aboriginal art museum and one of the best in the Northern Territory, located in Tennant Creek.
• Also in Tennant Creek, visit the Battery Hill Mining Centre for an up close and personal look at how gold-bearing ore was crushed and treated way back when.
• Driving down the Stuart Highway, stop at such places as the Wycliffe Well Roadhouse & Holiday Park for a wackier side of Northern Territory culture – the place is apparently a UFO hotspot.
• Visit the Alice Springs Desert Park, where creatures from all over Australia are on display in one central location.
• Located in Alice Springs as well, the Museum of Central America is one of the larger natural history museums in all of Australia.
About five hours away, driving from Alice Springs, Uluru is probably one of the most iconic locations in all of Australia, out in the middle of the Outback in beautiful isolation. Once solely named Ayers Rock, the rock is incredibly important to the Anangu people, who have been its caretakers for centuries. For more information on the incredible monolith, visit Uluru.
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