Northern Territory — Overview
Known by locals as “the Never Never,” the Northern Territory in Australia is more than meets the eye. The region’s unforgiving climate and stark landscape may not appeal to travelers at first glance. However, upon closer inspection, Australia’s most remote region gives way to some of the world’s most inspirational natural attractions. Even to this day, the Northern Territory is still considered to be one of the world’s final frontiers.
The Northern Territory’s claim to fame used to be Ayers Rock, which is now known by its indigenous name ‘Uluru’. However, over the last two decades, a host of new and astounding natural phenomena has begun to capture the attention of the global tourism industry. Sites like Kakadu National Park, Katherine Gorge, Victoria River and Elsey National Park are among the Northern Territory’s up-and-coming tourist magnets. The Top End’s tropical landscape combined with the dry Red Centre make this region a tremendous holiday choice for adventure-minded individuals.
The cities, towns and settlements of the territory also add an important feature to the intriguing landscape. Darwin is the capital city, and although smaller than other capitals around Australia, is the Northern Territory’s liveliest conurbation. This rich, cosmopolitan city has an interesting history of colonial development and wartime significance. Alice Springs, the heart of Australia, is also worth visiting for its rural culture and entertaining events. Indigenous culture is more prevalent in the region than any other part of Australia. Hence, visiting Aboriginal communities is highly recommended. Places like Barunga and Gove in Arnhem Land are drenched in Aboriginal traditions and heritage.
Darwin has the highest number of hotels and accommodations in the Northern Territory. Some of these are world-renowned hotel chains that offer luxury accommodation at high-end prices. Nevertheless, budget travelers can find plenty of motels and hostels when visiting Darwin. As tourists head outside the main city, accommodation becomes more limited, and so too do restaurant options. However, visitors shouldn’t have any trouble staying comfortable while traveling, as locals tend to be extremely friendly to tourists, and rural towns cater well for visitors.
Darwin International Airport is the main entry point into the Northern Territory. However, inter-state domestic flights are also handled at Alice Springs. The only other options for getting into the region are by road or rail. The Ghan is the Adelaide to Darwin rail link, which although picturesque, is slow and quite expensive. Several highways feed into the territory. From South Australia, the Stuart Highway is the busiest roadway into the region. The Barkly Highway (from Queensland) and Victoria Highway (from Western Australia) are also available.
Most tourists take tour vans and buses to reach the sites outside of Darwin, Alice Springs and other large towns. However, those visitors who opt for hired vehicles need to be wary when driving. Most roads are paved, but some landmarks need to be accessed via unsealed tracks. In the wet season, roads can become inundated in a matter of hours, so drive with caution at all times.
- Take in the views of the Red Centre from atop Uluru
- Boat or canoe down the spectacular Katherine Gorge
- Uncover the Northern Territory’s Indigenous culture
- Ride a hot air balloon from Alice Springs to the rural lands
- Explore Kakadu National Park and go bird-watching in the spring
- Discover Darwin’s wartime heroics and disasters
- Walk through Australia’s most remote landscapes on foot