Australia’s only tropical capital of the Northern Territory, Darwin is more than just a gateway to the wonders of the Top End. Spend a few days here and soak up the balmy and relaxed atmosphere in this meeting pot of cultures, where everyone is welcome. Darwin can certainly feel removed from the rest of the country – just the way the locals like it! More than 50 nationalities live here, clearly represented in the city’s wonderful markets.
Katherine Gorge, Nitmiluk National Park
Whether you’re exploring it by foot, boat, helicopter or kayak, Katherine Gorge is a powerful reminder of the forces of nature. The Katherine River, flowing from Arnhem Land, forged a series of 13 gorges through ancient sandstone to create this natural wonder. The stories of the National Park come alive amid it’s towering escarpments, idyllic waterways, cascading waterfalls, caves, beaches and Aboriginal rock-art sites.
Uluru and the Outback
Nothing can prepare you for the immensely, grandeur, changing colours and stillness of Uluru – a sight that will sear itself into your memory. This World Heritage – listed icon has attained pilgrimage status for many Australians. Equally impressive Kata Tjuta and the surrounding desert are of deep cultural significance to the traditional owners, the Anangu people.
Alice Springs is the biggest town in the Australian outback, and urban oasis, while Yulara is Uluru’s busy service town 20km form ‘the Rock’
The first sighting of Uluru (Ayres Rock) on the horizon will astound even the most jaded traveller. Solitary and prodigious, it’s 3.6km long and towers 348m above the surrounding scrub.
No journey to Uluru is complete without a visit to Kata Tjuta (also known as the Olgas), a striking group of domed rocks huddled together about 35km west of the Rock.
Kakadu National Park
It is hard to get your head around the scale of Kakadu National Park. Set in the tropical Top End, and an easy three-hour drive from Darwin, it is one of the most significant environments in the country and a cultural treasure
Kakadu is more than a national park: It’s a vibrant, living acknowledgement of the elemental link between the Aboriginal people and the country they’ve nurtured for millennia. At almost 20,000 sq km, it’s a truly spectacular ecosystem, overrun with wildlife and dotted with waterfalls and mind-blowing ancient rock art.
Indigenous Rock Art
Kakadu is one of Australia’s richest, most accessible repositories of Aboriginal rock art. There are more than 5000 sites here, which date from 20,000years to 10 years ago.
Kakadu is home to 60 mammal species, 280-plus bird species, 120 species of reptile, 25 frog species, 55 freshwater fish species and at least 10,000 different kind of insect.
Halfway between Uluru and Alice springs in Australia’s Red Centre lies a perfect excuse for a stopover: Kings Canyon. Located in Watarrka National Park, this ancient formation of gorges, waterholes and vertical sandstone walls rising up to 100 meters is hundreds of millions of years in the making.