Nowhere else in Australia do you feel the same tangible connection between people and country. Darwin has a humming multicultural vibe evident in its food, markets and galleries.
Beyond the capital, explore the split personality of the Northern Territory’s wet and dry season in the stunning Kakadu and Litchfield National parks. The Red Centre home to Uluru, Kata Tjuta and the West MacDonnell Ranges, is a spectacular landscape deeply woven into Australia’s national identity.
The Top End and Red Centre have very different Climates. The Top End has a wet season from November to April when it is hot, humid with thundery monsoon storms. Some attractions have limited access in the wet season. The Dry, from May to October is much less humid and, obviously, dry and is the best time to explore the Top End.
The Red Centre gets to over 40 degrees from November to March. Exploring the area’s natural wonders then is uncomfortable bordering on hazardous. From April to October evening temperatures can get down to freezing but the days are perfect for sightseeing.
Travellers must pay attention to the warning signs around Top End waterways – this includes beaches, rivers and lagoons. Crocodiles and jelly fish, or stingers, are a danger to swimmers. Unless you see a sign saying that a body of water is crocodile-free, assume it isn’t.
Stinger season goes from the start of October to the end of May. Stingers aren’t only around beaches; they can extend into rivers and estuaries as well. Fresh water areas like Berry, Howard and Mataranka Springs are generally safe places to cool off. The waterholes and lagoon in Central Australia are generally safe too.
The top and bottom of the Northern Territory are very different. In the Red Centre you have Uluru, Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) and the MacDonnell Ranges. These amazing rock features, canyons and gorges are set in an ancient dessert landscape. It is an isolated and beautiful place.
The Top End is a tropical environment. The red earth of central Australia is replaced by the tropical forests, lagoons, and rivers born of the annual monsoon. Kakadu, Litchfield, Nitmiluk, Tiwi Islands Fogg Dam and Darwin’s sites have a beauty and atmosphere quite different to the Red Centre but no less magical.
You will need a permit to enter two of the Territories most popular parks – Kakadu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta. These can be purchased online through Parks Australia. Other popular spots like Nitmiluk and Litchfield National Parks are currently free to enter.
Camping permits are not required for camping in designated park campsites. You will need a permit to use campgrounds in Aboriginal reserves like Channel Point Coastal Reserve and Garig Gunak Barlu National Park on the Cobourg Peninsula.
It is a short walk, a couple of minutes at most, along a dirt track to the Field of Lights viewing area on top of a sand dune. We made our way there with the help of the torches on our phones.
As we rounded the last corner the Field of Light came into view. Our group, who were now chatting away, fell into an awed hush as we took in the amazing sight.
The Red Centre is a beautiful, dramatic landscape full of cultural significance. To really immerse yourself in the environment, you can’t beat getting on your walking shoes and going for a hike.
Alice Springs is more than stop over on your way to and from Uluru. This Central Australian town has a lot of attractions from botanic gardens to wildlife parks. Here’s some of the things you can up to in Alice.
Central Australia has a rugged beauty and there are lots of fun ways to experience it. From a Segway tour around Uluru to floating through the waterholes of the West MacDonnell Ranges on a lilo, the Red Centre has adventure for you.
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