The Northern Territory of Australia by:John MorradThe Northern Territory of Australia is equivalent in size to France, Italy and Spain combined and Australia's outback Northern Territory is bordered by Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia.
Blessed with an abundance of natural environments the Northern Territory is famous for its spectacular wildlife.
The Northern Territory has an environment that ebbs and flows with the seasons, of contrast and colour, where change is the only constant, of awe inspiring iconic wonders, the World Heritage National Parks of Kakadu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta (Ayers Rock), of flora and fauna as diverse as desert blooms are to lotus lilies and the fearsome saltwater crocodile is to the Brolga, the elegant dancing bird that is the Territory emblem.
The Northern Territory's indigenous culture, the Aboriginal people, hold a deeply spiritual connection to the land that dates back tens of thousands of years, yet can still be shared in the present day through commercial art galleries, a walk in the desert in search of bush tucker, a visit to the ancient rock art sites, community events or touring that involves a story-telling session. No! No!!..... XXXX is a beer.....
Australia's Outback Northern Territory is renowned for its colourful characters.
The type you'd meet at one of our legendary Northern Territory outback pubs, cattle stations or country towns.
Uncomplicated, larger than life, and only too willing to share a yarn or two.
It's hard not to fall in love with their down to earth attitude.
Welcoming, friendly and laid back, you'll be struck by the spirit of the people.
Time to head for cover.
Lively and cosmopolitan, brave and creative, Darwin the Northern Territory's capital, is as much a state of mind as it is a city, where more than 50 different cultures share an easy-going lifestyle.
Located on a peninsula with the sea on three sides, Darwin is a place that has never known winter.
Most of the year is warm and dry with endless blue skies that are punctuated by a period of steamy, sultry weather bringing spectacular storms and cleansing tropical rain around Christmas.
Nature abounds in and around the city, and parks contain an abundance of tropical flora and fauna. Some Northern Territory wetlands.
The relaxed pace, outdoor lifestyle and al fresco dining make Darwin a special place to live and to visit.
The Top End of the Northern Territory is a vast area of tropical savannah woodland containing mighty rivers, untouched coastlines and massive cattle stations.
Experience the national parks of Litchfield or the World Heritage listed Kakadu with rugged escarpments, lush wetlands, plunging gorges and waterfalls.
Jump in a luxury four wheel drive and discover the untouched wilderness of the Northern Territory's Arnhem Land, or take a 30-minute flight to immerse yourself in the culture of the Tiwi Island people.
The bustling Northern Territory outback town of Katherine, 300 kilometres south of Darwin, lies at the heart of a region that stretches from the
Gulf of Carpentaria.
Katherine's surrounds include some of the most incredible fishing regions in Australia, a treasure trove of tucked-away hot springs and a diverse indigenous and pioneer history.
Mud crab for dinner...yum!
Darwin's cuisine reflects its diverse mixture of more than 60 nationalities, resulting in wonderful experiments in fusion cooking.
Darwin is also famous for its local mud crabs, barramundi and prawns, and visitors to the Northern Territory can sample crocodile, camel and buffalo meat and unique Northern Territory fruits.
A walk around the city reveals a huge range of restaurants and a buzzing nightlife. Mindil Beach markets.
A trip to the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, held from May to October each year, is a unique experience.
Local arts and crafts and goods imported from nearby Asia are on sale.
Wander through the stalls while musicians and street performers entertain you, and indulge in the mouthwatering variety of Asian cuisine on offer.
There are also the year-round weekend markets of Parap, Nightcliff and Rapid Creek.
The awesome spectacle of crocodiles at feeding time will keep everyone spellbound at Crocodylus Park on the outskirts of Darwin.
Take a sunset dinner cruise around Darwin Harbour on a fully restored pearl lugger.
Experience the dramatic splendour of Litchfield National Park with a dip in the crystal clear waterfall pools and swimming holes, just south of Darwin.
Join a day trip to the Tiwi Islands and tour the community, meet the people and buy quality prints, pottery and art from the local art centres.
Visit Nitmiluk National Park and explore Katherine Gorge.
Take a two to eight hour boat cruise or perhaps canoe the first two gorges.
Bush tucker, I'd have to be real hungry....
Spend the day at Manyallaluk Aboriginal community learning about Aboriginal lore, bush medicines, bush tucker and arts and craft.
Visit the beautiful Mataranka thermal pools and the replica of Old Elsey Homestead made famous by the story "We of the Never Never."
Get right off the beaten track and discover some of the most spectacular natural scenery in the Top End with a four-wheel drive expedition through the Gregory and Keep River national parks in the Victoria River region Yup, there WILL be crocs in here....
Experience the dramatic splendour of the majestic Twin Falls and Jim Jim Falls.
Both waterfalls boast white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters set amid the red ochre of the Arnhem Land escarpment.
Take a guided walk through the bush with local Northern Territory Aboriginal women from the Kakadu area.
Taste and learn about bush foods, see ancient rock art and see how they make a range of everyday items.
For a breathtaking and unforgettable sunset experience, take in the panoramic view of the wetland from Ubirr Rock.
No journey to the Northern Territory would be complete without a cruise on the palm-fringed Yellow Water billabong, home to crocodiles and more than 300 species of birds.
Darwin, Australia's only tropical capital city, boasts a population of 80,000, with 20,000 more in the city of Palmerston and the surrounding rural area.
Approximately half of the Northern Territory's population lives within a 40-kilometre radius of Darwin and, like the city itself; on average the residents are younger than the rest of Australia.
It may be the city's relaxed lifestyle, the magnetism of its attractions, the monsoonal storms or the smell of the tropics, but people who experience Darwin never forget it.
Due to its close proximity to South East Asia, Darwin is influenced by its northern neighbours and by more than 50 different cultures that live harmoniously in the city.
It's this fantastic mix of cultural character, mystery, beauty and unlimited potential that leaves an indelible image on the minds of all who visit. You can't swim here either...
World renowned and recognised as a significant cultural and geographic region, the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park is one of our nation's most prized treasures.
The name Kakadu comes from the Gagudju-speaking people, a language used in the northern parts of the area at the beginning of the 20th century.
Occupying 19,804 square kilometres, the national park is accessed from the Arnhem Highway.
The commercial centre of Kakadu is Jabiru, 250 kilometres from Darwin.
Kakadu shelters an amazing collection of flora and fauna, from sinister crocodiles to beautiful waterlilies.
Kakadu houses more than 1600 species of plants, 60 species of mammals, 290 species of birds, 120 species of reptiles, 25 of frogs and 55 of fish.
Katherine is the adventure territory, ideally situated between the Top End and the Red Centre to allow you to experience all that the Outback has to offer.
Located 317 kilometres south of Darwin on the Stuart Highway, Katherine boasts numerous natural attractions and a diverse history.
A journey to Katherine is not complete without exploring the Nitmiluk Katherine Gorge: consisting of 13 stunning natural gorges framed by dramatic sandstone cliffs and the mirage-like swimming hole at Edith falls. Thats dinner taken care of...
Further north lies one of the best fishing locations in Australia, Cobourg Peninsula, situated 350 kilometres north-east of Darwin.
This pristine region is surrounded by Gurig National Park and Cobourg Marine Park and offers a wealth of flora, fauna and historic Aboriginal aspects.
The Northern Territory's first flora and fauna reserve is home to Seven Spirit Bay
Spanning 1000ha, this unique property is secluded within national parklands in Arnhem Land and surrounded by marine park waters.
Arrive by light plane to a lodge that overlooks sapphire blue waters.
Experience the extraordinary.
Situated on the Cobourg Peninsula, within one of the most magnificent and untouched tropical areas in the world, is part of Aboriginal Arnhem Land, where entry is by permit only and extremely limited.
The adventure to this remote wilderness region begins with a 45-minute scenic flight in a light aircraft, travelling north-east from Darwin over Van Diemens Gulf to the Cobourg Peninsula.
On arrival at Vashon Head, Midjari private airstrip, the host will greet you and transfer you to the lodge by safari vehicle.
In Central Australia the results of God's handiwork are overwhelming.
What a view!
The vast and ancient red desert regions of Central Australia allow visitors to appreciate the unspoiled wonders of Australia's interior.
Nestled between ancient ranges that glow red in the evening light is Alice Springs, situated on the banks of the Todd River, which remains dry most of the year.
Surrounding Alice Springs are stunning natural attractions such as Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon, Devils Marbles, The MacDonnell Ranges and unexpected waterholes and spectacular rock formations that look as if the paintings of Namatjira have come to life.
To the north is a region of vast grassy plains and big skies featuring the iconic cattle stations of Newcastle Waters and Brunette Downs and the historic gold mining town of Tennant Creek. Central Australia has excellent cafes and restaurants with diverse and tantalising dishes on offer.
Feel like a seafood meal?
No problem - one local restaurateur flies in fresh seafood regularly and many serve delicacies like camel, buffalo, emu, rabbit and kangaroo.
Entertainment options also abound in the Alice; from live bands to stage performances and dinner shows that incorporate performances by Indigenous dancers.
For a real outback experience, dine at a Northern Territory cattle station homestead or enjoy a meal from a camp oven cooked over the coals. Didgeridoos just waiting for you.
Most people are drawn to Alice Springs and the Red Centre for reasons other than shopping, however if you are in the market for Aboriginal art or handicrafts, then look no further.
The Aboriginal Art and Culture Centre sells high quality Aboriginal art sourced directly from Central Australian Aboriginal communities thereby helping support the local Indigenous economy.
Home to some of the most interesting cultural and historical attractions in the region, the precinct encompasses performing and visual arts, the natural history of the region,
To the west of Alice, the Desert Park aims to prove the desert is not a desolate wasteland but is instead teeming with life.
The Birds of Prey show is not to be missed.
Peace and quiet.
Take an early morning hot-air balloon ride and rise above the ancient desert ranges and river beds that surround Alice Springs.
Here the skyscrapers are made of rock, not steel, and the best show in town is the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
No visit to Alice Springs would be complete without a tour of the Royal Flying Doctor Service operations base, where young and old alike will marvel at the achievements of this essential outback service.
Your first stop off on any visit to Uluru should be the Uluru - Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre where you can learn about the traditional owners and the stories behind this World Heritage icon. Uluru, aka Ayers Rock.
Put your walking shoes on and stroll through the ancient Central Australian desert landscape through the mighty Olgas Gorge and the mystical Valley of the Winds at Kata Tjuta.
Learn the local Aboriginal culture on a guided tour around the base of Uluru or capture the colours and magic of a sunset over Uluru from the hump of a camel.
Experience the thrill of a helicopter ride over the rugged and spectacular Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon), one of the outback's great hidden treasures.
Revel in a slice of paradise with a swim in the cool waters of the desert rock pool at the Garden of Eden.
Explore Tennant Creek's gold mining history with a visit to Battery Hill Cultural Centre.
Visit the Nyinkka Nyunya Art and Cultural Centre, which offers visitors an opportunity to learn about Aboriginal life, history and land in the Tennant Creek region.
The devils what.....?
Marvel at the mystical beauty of the Devils Marbles on a self-drive tour on the Explorer's Way or get right off the beaten track with a four wheel drive expedition to the remote Davenport Ranges.
Get a key from the Tennant Creek Visitor Information Centre and visit the old telegraph station, which houses a museum depicting the activities of the times and includes good interpretive signs to guide visitors around this once remote and lonely facility.
Alice Springs has evolved into a modern outback town, with all the creature comforts of a capital city.
It is the hub of Central Australia, making it the perfect base for your explorations of the region, as it was for the first explorers, from Uluru in the south-west to Tennant Creek in the north.
Unlike many parts of Australia, it's nature that overwhelms you in the Red Centre.
Historically and culturally significant icons of Aboriginal and Australian culture, like Ayers Rock/ Uluru hold the true outback spirit that make this country great.
The Aboriginal presence here is strong - their cultural and spiritual connection to this region echoes in every rock and landmark.
You'll have numerous opportunities to learn about and understand Aboriginal culture when you visit The Centre.
Few visitors to Uluru return unchanged.
It's easy to see why the Rock and the surrounding land has such huge spiritual significance for the Anangu Aboriginal people.
It lies in Australia's Red Centre like an enormous, moody heart.
Uluru is 9.4 kilometres in circumference and the icy-green and grey vegetation at its massive feet offers a refuge for wildlife.
It is immense in size - yet more than two-thirds of the rock is actually hidden beneath the ground.
Then there's its sheer beauty: it outshines even the brilliant sunset, arraying itself in a multiplicity of hues from black to purple, blue to brown, orange and red throughout various times of the day and during changes in weather.
Uluru's cousins, the Olgas, or Kata Tjuta, make another sacred site just 32 kilometres away - a collection of 36 steep, rounded, russet domes over an area of around 3500 hectares.
Wherever you go and whatever you do in the Northern Territory, don't forget the prime directive.......enjoy,
About the author
Hi, my name is John Morrad, I'm the author of The Discount Travel Guide.com and I have lived, worked and travelled the length and breadth of Australia since arriving from England as an immigrant in 1974.
My website, http://www.the-discount-travel-guide.com is my contribution to those who visit Australia on holiday or those who are just interested in the country and it's people.
This article is copyrighted, you may reproduce it as you please providing you leave the references and links in place.
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