“You Never Never Know if you Never Never Go!”
This has been the slogan promoting tourism in the Northern Territory since the 1990s, and it has certainly been effective as nearly a million and a half domestic and international travellers visit every year. Some visit to explore the great beauty, natural wonders and ecological diversity that abounds across the NT, others seek the high adventure of trekking across the outback or canoeing down the majestic gorges of the Katherine River, still others are drawn to learn about and experience the rich culture of the aboriginal peoples whose legacy in the Northern Territory goes back 40,000 years. Whatever brings the visitor to the Northern Territory; it is the perfect place to come for an unforgettable escape.
Below is a quick overview of the areas of interest in the Northern Territory for the holiday traveller, from Darwin at the tip of the Top End to Uluru/Ayers Rock in the heart of the Red Centre.
Darwin is the Northern Territory’s capital and largest city. More than half of the NT population calls Darwin home, and this laid-back tropical town is the perfect base from which to explore the wonders of the Top End. The city is perched next to one of the finest harbours in all of Australia and boasts some of the finest beaches anywhere in the world. Darwin promises visitors a relaxed tropical holiday with any number of attractions and venues to fill their days and nights with memorable holiday fun. World-class restaurants and hopping pubs and nightclubs drive the Darwin scene at night, while the days can be filled taking in the art, culture and rich history of the city. Darwin is known for the number and variety of festivals and events held the year round, and renowned for the fabled outdoors market held on Mindil Beach during the dry season.
The Tropical Top End: Kakadu and Arnhem Land
Outside of the environs of Darwin, the Top End of the Northern Territory is a veritable tropical paradise teeming with wildlife and natural wonder. Kakadu National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is listed for both its natural and cultural significance. Located in the Alligator Rivers region, Kakadu covers nearly 20,000 square kilometres, and the greater Arnhem Land region covers a further 77,000. This is an area of exceptional natural beauty and unique biodiversity, with a remarkable and concentrated variety of wildlife. It is also home to the world oldest living culture, with the descendants of the Aboriginal traditional owners of these lands having lived in the area for at least 40,000 years.
The outback meets the tropics at the unique “Never-Never” lands about the town of Katherine. The Katherine River flows through 13 majestic gorges, some enclosed by imposing 70 metre high walls, and attract thousands of visitors every year to canoe, swim and hike through this spectacular landscape. Anglers and campers are drawn to the remote Gulf of Carpentaria region to the east of Katherine, as well as to the Daly River area with its hot springs. To the southwest of Katherine lies the Victoria River region, also popular with anglers, campers and four-wheel drive enthusiasts.
Tennant Creek and the Barkly Tablelands
Tennant Creek is the regional centre for the middle lands of the Northern Territory. Encompassing vast grasslands, rocky ranges, and some of the world’s largest cattle stations, the Tennant Creek region is known as the NT’s heart of gold in reference to the area’s gold mining heritage and the friendliness of the people. The Aboriginal culture has a strong presence in the area, and the Nyinkka Nyunyu Culture Centre in Tennant Creek is a showcase of the culture, art and traditional stories of the aboriginal Warumungu people.
The Red Centre: Alice Springs and Uluru
The very heart of Australia is called “The Red Centre,” and is a region shaped by the boundless desert landscape, remote aboriginal communities and a rugged pioneering history. Alice Springs is the regional hub of the Red Centre, an oasis in the literal middle-of-nowhere and a town of quirks and character. Nearby is the world-famous icon of Australia: Uluru/Ayers Rock, an awe-inspiring gigantic monolith rising from the surrounding plain that has intense cultural significance not just for the Aboriginal peoples of the area, but also for all Australians.