From the vast wetlands, mighty gorges and waterfalls in Kakadu and Nitmiluk to the ancient indigenous rock paintings in Arnhem Land, the Northern Territory's Top End is the glittering jewel of the north - and one of Australia’s 16 Ultimate Escapes Soul-stirring and steeped in spirituality, the Northern Territory is an achingly beautiful part of Australia, home to larger-than-life scenery and six dramatically different seasons. With its ancient Aboriginal connection, the stories of the Dreamtime are shared on cliff-face galleries, creating the greatest and oldest collections of rock art in the world. In national parks like the Kakadu, a pristine World...
It's not difficult to go outback in the Top End, but sometimes it's hard to find accommodation that 'suits'. Here are three weekend stays in the Northern Territory that are certainly worth your attention, writes Megan Arkinstall Road trip to a brilliant secret: Douglas/Daly, Adelaide River Grove Hill Heritage Hotel and Museum, 16 kilometres off the Stuart Highway in the middle of nowhere, is a total local secret. Built in the heart of the area’s Gold Rush in 1935, the pub is little more than a tin shed – but on the last Saturday of every month (dry season only) the...
Score: 8.63 A few years ago, it wouldn’t have been possible to have wet season travel in the top 100, but thankfully, more and more operators are offering trips to showcase the beauty of their area in the wet. Full gorges, thunderous waterfalls, and verdant deserts, a trip to the Top End during wet season is a trip on steroids – everything’s bigger, except the queues. “And the rates!” adds Jen Pinkerton. “It’s all weather theatrics, mega-strength waterfalls and an abundance of wildlife.” More info: TravelNT Book this adventure with our sponsor Back to the 100 Holidays Subscribe...
Score: 8.45 “Out here,” says the latest campaign for Ayers Rock Resort, “you can touch the silence”. Forgive us for borrowing words from an ad, but there’s really no other way to put it. The specialness of our Red Centre can’t be overstated. And there’s no better way to get there than by road trip. Whichever direction you’re coming from, take your time, allowing the magic of the region to slowly seep into your bones. Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon and the MacDonnell Ranges are equally as spell-binding as Uluru; be prepared. As Lee Atkinson says, “if you only ever go...
Score: 8.13 Tying with a cruise through Arnhem Land is an experience of a very different kind – a 72-kilometre trek along the Larapinta Trail, guided by adventure specialists World Expeditions. Catriona Rowntree can vouch for the operators: “Anything this company puts its name to, you just know will be great,” she declares. The location is pretty hard to beat, too: a six-day round trip from Alice Springs, the track – only completed in 2002 – follows the ridgelines of the West MacDonnell Ranges, taking in vast flood plains, rocky outcrops, deep gorges, waterholes and canyons along the way. Don’t...
Score: 8.07 It’s the road from Katherine to Gove, where the Gulf of Carpentaria meets the Arafura Sea. And if that sounds mysterious and magical, it doesn’t begin to cover the colours of the landscape, the depth of meaning in the indigenous art, and the thrill of survival here. (A vast 710 kilometres and just one petrol station!) If you don’t know that such glorious isolation requires jerry cans of juice, take a 4WD tag-along tour with Great Divide Tours. And if you do, well, the road is yours. Tackle two major river crossings, detour to indigenous community Maningrida and...
Score: 7.943 Between Darwin and Katherine, Litchfield is also midway between paradise and mystery. Once in your lifetime, you just must experience floating in the swimming hole under Florence Falls. Their spectacular double cascades are set in a monsoon forest and flow over the escarpment year-round. But, apart from boasting one of the best waterfalls in the Northern Territory, Litchfield National Park features several other crystal clear waterholes, waterfalls and fascinating sandstone features, most of which are easily accessible via sealed roads and short walking tracks. And another thing – no crocs. We knew you’d like that. Plan your Great...
Score: 7.843 “Consider a world where modern Greeks knew next to nothing about Athenian literature, or English-speakers were only vaguely aware of Shakespearean drama. That is the position in which we stand with regard to northern dance,” wrote Australian journalist Nicolas Rothwell. His quote perfectly sums up the meaning of Garma: to restore and preserve the indigenous culture of the Yolngu people of north-east Arnhem Land. The four-day event is considered one of the largest and most vibrant celebrations of indigenous culture through art, ancient story telling, dance and music and let us tell you, you won’t leave here untouched....
Score: 7.8 Bamurru Plains coined the term ‘wild bush luxury’ to describe their accommodation: a down-to-earth camp with a focus on the finer details like large soft bath towels, high-pressured shower, gourmet food, a wet-edge infinity pool. But it’s the gorgeous Top End environment that’s hero and Bamurru makes the most of it with their selection of activities from gliding on the wetlands on an airboat, taking a 4WD safari around the floodplains and discovering nearby rock art galleries, to name a few. At night, fall asleep to the sounds of the locals (the frogs and owls, that is). From $875...
How to explore the wildly beautiful outback in Northern Territory's Nitmiluk National Park... one step at a time. Words by Cilla Cole. It is perfect. Cascading waterfalls bubble over whirling spa pools, which spill into an infinity-edged rock pool. Pink lilies gather at the rim where a water dragon basks in the sun. The pool is deep and cool with fresh, sparkling water. And we have it all to ourselves. We have arrived at Biddlecombe Cascades, the first campsite on our five-day walk along the Jatbula Trail in Northern Territory’s Nitmiluk National Park, and it feels so good to be...
It’s rugged, remote and sacred – three things that make the Northern Territory’s Arnhem Land both a tantalising prospect, and one that seems disconcertingly difficult for families. A bespoke coastal safari adventure is a fantastic way to introduce families to the incredible secrets of this remote corner of northern Australia. Venture North offers guided safaris around Arnhem Land, the Cobourg Peninsula and Kakadu in luxury vehicles, with small groups, a range of all-inclusive packages and guides with intimate knowledge of the area. The guys will even create a bespoke itinerary for your family or group, based on what you want to...
This is ‘The Lookout’ at Victoria Settlement: a beautiful but harsh landscape in far Northern Territory, where the British made their third attempt to settle the Top End. Sadly, it quickly became known as ‘The Forsaken Settlement’, as nearly every single person who lived here died – though that didn’t stop the English from trying to settle the area again… and again. (Eventually they succeeded nearby, with Darwin. Fifth time lucky.) This particular spot was armed by a rifleman, who was ordered to keep an eye out for any intruding boats – but only one boat ever visited, and it wasn’t from a competing empire looking to conquer northern Australia. Instead it was a French...
If ever you’ve wanted to hike the Larapinta Trail in NT, this may be the incentive you need. World Expeditions has just revamped its two Larapinta campsites, adding sheltered dining and lounge areas, as well as a schmick stainless steel kitchen. Not that the outback campfire has lost its charm. See worldexpeditions.com/au
In the rivers, billabongs and waterholes of the Top End there is pretty much one simple rule: don’t swim unless you want to become a crocodile snack. Thankfully, the waterfalls and river pools of Litchfield National Park are the exception to this. Here, there are several major freshwater swimming holes fed by beautiful waterfalls, most of which are open for swimming and almost all accessible by conventional 2WD vehicles. You can visit all of the most spectacular ones on a day drive from Darwin. The first thing you’ll see when you enter the park is a large group of “magnetic”...
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