Northern Territory

Caravanning near Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve, Tourism NT

Capital City: Darwin

 

The Northern Territory is Australia’s least settled state or territory, with vast tracts of desert and tropical woodlands. But to regard this country as empty is to do it a disservice; Aboriginal people have lived and travelled across the territory for thousands of years, and still do. Many non-Aboriginal Australians also see it as the last great frontier because of its remoteness, spectacular landscapes and hardy outback characters.

Desert regions lie towards central Australia, while the tropical Top End is lapped by the Timor and Arafura seas. Although the diversity of landscape and wildlife makes it one of Australia’s most inspiring destinations, visitors should expect a lot of distance between highlights. The tropical coastline and offshore islands are places of special beauty – pearly white beaches interspersed with rocky red cliffs and rich mangrove habitats. The coastal rivers are home to thousands of bird and marine species, and their flood plains carry the annual wet season deluge out into the Timor and Arafura seas and the Gulf of Carpentaria. The rivers are also spawning grounds for barramundi, which attract anglers from around the world.

The north-east includes Arnhem Land, the largest Aboriginal reserve in Australia, which saw the incredible trade and mingling of cultures that occurred between Yolngu people and Indonesian seafarers from the 1600s. Today it is home to many groups who still live a semi-traditional lifestyle. It is also the custodial land of Australia’s most famous Indigenous instrument, the didgeridoo. Here visitors can explore parts of the Gove and Cobourg peninsulas, with their green vegetation, turquoise waters and great fishing. 

The Red Centre is ancient and breathtaking, a land of intense as well as muted tones created by beautiful gorges, rock holes and vistas. While many travellers are drawn to Uluru and Kata Tjuta, the surrounding countryside is equally impressive – from the rolling red sandhills of the Simpson Desert to the undulating grasslands west of Glen Helen. North of Alice Springs, the Tanami Desert is incredibly remote and vastly interesting.

Some more things to do while you're in the Northern Territory

  • Devils Marbles
    Devils Marbles (Karlu Karlu)

    Enormous red and orange boulders balance precariously atop each other against a vast desert backdrop.

  • Mindil Beach Sunset Markets

    Enjoy fantastic multicultural cuisine, live performances and eclectic shopping at Darwin’s favourite market.

  • Old Police Station Waterhole camping area
    Old Police Station Waterhole camping area

    A tranquil waterside campsite for those who like sleeping beneath a starry outback sky.

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Fishing spots

Angling adventures await you in the Northern Territory, whether it be gigantic barramundi in the wilds of Arnhem Land, or barracuda off the tropical reef at Skirmish Point. Of course, nothing beats the excitement of landing a threadfin salmon in Kakadu, or spotting crocodiles while fishing on the evocatively named Wildman River


Eco-friendly activities

Looking for a destination where you can cool off under a waterfall, learn about Aboriginal culture in a five-day Indigenous ‘Bush College’ tour, or trek a legendary outback hiking trail? The Northern Territory’s eco-friendly activities will excite your senses: there’s something in this wild state to suit every green-minded adventurer.


Golf courses

When it’s time to tee off, the Northern Territory provides a spectacular golfing setting at Alice Springs Golf Club. Start off easy on the first hole, but be prepared to work as the following holes present their own challenges.


Restaurants & cafes

Often associated with arid outback and inaccessible wilderness, the Northern Territory will surprise you with its culinary offerings. Darwin boasts tasty Asian eateries, seafood restaurants and down-to-earth cafes, as well as fine harbourside dining. Alice Springs does a wide range of international fare; elsewhere, mouthwatering local barramundi and hearty steaks prevail.


Eco-friendly places to eat

Despite a plethora of eco-friendly activities and accommodation, sustainable dining is yet to really catch on in the Northern Territory. Hopefully the environmentally conscious approach of Darwin restaurant Saffrron will inspire others to follow suit. Meanwhile, much of the seafood served in Territory restaurants is caught locally – a step in the right direction.

Eco-friendly places to eat by region

Popular eco-friendly places to eat


Campsites

Camping in the Northern Territory (especially during the dry season) is a wonderful way to experience the Northern Territory’s abundant natural wonders.

 Pitch your tent within hiking distance of beautiful swimming holes, ancient Aboriginal art, dramatic gorges or iconic rock formations. Go bush in the remote Top End, or fall asleep to the sounds of Kakadu wildlife.


Caravan parks

Caravanning the Northern Territory is exhilarating and unforgettable. Not all roads are sealed, so four-wheel drives are recommended; the wet season can be challenging, too … all part of the fun, of course! For smoother touring, there are plenty of long, sealed highways with access to key attractions. Territory caravan parks are generally well equipped.


Hotels, motels & B&Bs

Finding somewhere to stay in the Northern Territory is as easy as spotting a croc in Kakadu! After a luxury escape? Choose from lavish safari camps or spa suites with ocean views. Mid-range more your style? Welcoming B&Bs and historic resorts are just the start. Road houses and cattle stations are popular budget options.


Eco-friendly places to stay

Sustainable tourism in the Northern Territory has strong Indigenous links, and this is evident in its eco-friendly accommodation. Aboriginal-owned camps and resorts maintain a holistic relationship with the land, central to Indigenous culture and tradition. Staying in Alice Springs? It’s hard to miss this city’s growing use of solar power and sustainable technologies.

Eco-friendly places to stay by region

Popular eco-friendly places to stay


Rest areas

Sometimes it might seem like you’re the only one on the road in the Northern Territory. But from the tropical beauty of Kakadu to the glory of the Red Centre, the rest areas that line the Territory’s highways are a reminder to stop and enjoy the scenery, and get a much-needed break at the same time. The road will be where you left it (although no guarantees in the wet season).

Events

Like the Top End and Red Centre themselves, festivals in the Northern Territory can range from the cultural to the downright wild. Hosting a national Aboriginal art award and a beer can regatta, Darwin epitomises this dichotomy. Rodeos and traditional Indigenous festivals are widespread; then there’s the Camel Cup in Alice Springs …

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