Northern Territory and Australian Outback
A wild journey spanning from vacuous plains to a distant ocean shore, travel to Northern Territory for an unforgettable expedition into the Australian Outback.
Although Northern Territory comprises roughly twenty percent of the country, only one percent of Australia’s entire population inhabits the vast region. Spend enough time here, and it can be hard to shake the feeling that you’re the last one standing at the end of an apocalyptic thriller. With more animals than people, the untamable Outback is a place so remote and impenetrable, that many acres of it have not felt the press of human footprints for several decades.
Australia’s Northern Territory is one of the last remaining Outback regions where it’s possible to experience the grandeur of unsullied nature first hand. Trek across iconic natural landscapes, canoe through imposing gorges, and discover earth’s most hidden corners on a 4-wheel driving tour. View ancient cave paintings, rock carvings, and other relics which illustrate the 50,000 year history of the Aborigine Culture while exploring the Red Centre, Uluru, and Kakadu National Park.
At the heart of the Red Centre is the town of Alice Springs, the gateway to Kata Tjuta Park and Uluru. A thriving outback town famous for its remote location and rustic buildings, Alice is an oasis of civilization in an otherwise unbroken expanse of desert.
The slang term for the northernmost part of Northern Territory is the “Top End.” Lush, green and tropical, it is a total contrast to the harsh, arid beauty of The Red Centre. The Top End occupies the huge square section on the north coast of the Australian map, the entire eastern half of which is designated as the Arnhem Land Aboriginal Reserve. The Yolngu people own and occupy this region, with a population roughly numbering 17,000. The people of Arnhem Land practice a unique fusion of modern and traditional habits—for instance, a typical day might be spent hunting, followed by an evening hanging out with friends and family in front of the television.
The Top End has a humid tropical climate with a marked dichotomy of seasons: a very wet and rainy season from November through April, with very intense rainfall between December and March, and a dry season lasting from May to October. The average annual rainfall in the northern zone is 1700 mm, with the wet season colloquially known as “The Big Wet.” The easiest time to travel to the area is the dry winter season between May and September, though the wet season is known to be spectacularly beautiful in its own right. The semi-arid central regions can be visited all year long, though travelers should consider the extreme hot summer days and long, cold winter nights when making arrangements.
The capital of Northern Territory is Darwin, a vibrant, cosmopolitan city located on the Top End along the coast of the Timor Sea. Australia’s northern doorway to Asia, Darwin gained prominence during World War II as the base for action against the Japanese in the Pacific. By 1974, Darwin was a growing settlement, though this changed dramatically when Cyclone Tracy razed the city, an ominous reminder that the elements here can never be entirely reined in. Darwin has since been rebuilt and is an important base for travel to the more remote regions of Northern Territory, including Kakadu, Litchfield and the Tiwi Islands.
Exploring Darwin’s city center is easy and best done on foot. Walk or bike along paths encompassing the city’s perimeter with views of Darwin’s famous harbor. The city comes alive at night with the excitement of hotels and nightclubs reverberating with DJs and live music. Enjoy a meal at Cullen Bay or visit the casino at Mindil Beach.
Check out the open-air markets at Nightcliff and Mindil Beach, featuring stalls of unique products from local arts and craftspeople and authentic, fresh cuisine from all over the country. Darwin cooking is renowned for its distinct flavors of the Outback, including buffalo, kangaroo, mud crabs, crocodile, and barramundi. The markets are alive with street performers, including musicians, dancers, poets, and other artists.
Those who travel to Darwin can choose from exceptional lodging options, including the Holiday Inn Esplanade Darwin, and the Novotel Darwin Atrium conveniently located in the city center overlooking Darwin Harbor.