Tours of the North Territory of Australia
Any backpacker will back us up on this: no two places in Australia are the same. Whether you’re chilling on the beach or cuddling up to a koala, there are certain boxes to tick when it comes to the quintessential Australian adventure.
Between hostels, overnight busses and obligatory snaps in front of famous landmarks (Sydney Opera House we’re looking at you!), why not head north and explore all that the Northern Territory has to offer.
We’ve put together a bucket list of the best places to check out:
The Red Centre, Alice Springs and Uluru
The Red Centre is the collective name for the vast region encompassing Alice Springs and Uluru. While the prospect of a six-day drive covering 1135km can be a little daunting, the views and traditional culture you’ll experience throughout the Red Centre are worth it.
Start your road trip at Alice Springs which is renowned for vibrant galleries featuring traditional indigenous art and exhibiting modern interpretations of the art form by local artists. Further down the route, be sure to stop at Kings Canyon and take in the rocky, red landscape that the Australian outback is famous for before heading to Uluru.
At a towering height of 384 metres, and steeped in Aboriginal history and culture, Uluru is one of Australia’s most distinct landmarks. For a truly unforgettable experience, visit Uluru at sunset and witness the changing red and orange hues of the rock and the landscape before settling in for a night under the stars.
For one last chance to take in the unique landscape and vast expanses of The Red Centre, drive 100km east of Uluru to Mount Conner. At 300 metres, this imposing flat-top mountain dominates the horizon. The only way to really explore the area is via a four-wheel drive tour. Enjoy the bumpy terrain of the outback and discover the colossal inland salt lake. See if you can spot the kangaroos and wallabies as they hop by!
Litchfield National Park
If you’re feeling adventurous, take some time to reconnect with nature and head out for a camping trip at Litchfield National Park. Famed for its hiking trails, the park offers forests, gorges and a chance to take a dip under the iconic cascading waterfalls which have carved out the stunning landscape over time. With crystal clear waters the plunge pool at Florence Falls is a great stopping point for a refreshing swim and is, of course, a perfect setting for an Instagramable snap!
If hiking is more your thing and you’re keen for a challenge, the Tabletop Track provides a 39km bushwalk allowing visitors to traverse the local creeks and woodlands.
The Top End, Katherine and the Surrounding Areas
Due to its sheer size and coverage (1.421km2 to be exact) the Northern Territory boasts both tropical and dry desert climates. The Top End, the most northern half of the state, is a tropical haven home to Darwin, Katherine and its surrounding areas.
With stunning natural scenery, a luxury retreat, well-trodden hiking routes and areas rich in Aboriginal culture, you’ll want to take your time backpacking through Katherine and the surrounding areas. Nitmiluk Gorge is a firm favourite among backpackers in the region who are searching for a sense of adventure. Canoeing along the gorge is a great way to explore the area! With unique Aussie wildlife to spot, secret waterfalls to search out and Aboriginal art adorning the cliffs, the Nitmiluk Gorge is a great place to make memories!
The area surrounding Katherine is also famous for hiking trails, if you’re up to it you could attempt the mighty Jatbula Trail. The 62km walk will take you through rainforests, along rivers and set you on a path to discovering some of the most secluded waterfalls in the Northern Territory. Grab your camping gear and plan 6 or more days for this expedition. Just a heads up to remember to book your permit ahead of time as they tend to sell out.
Kakadu National Park
The history and culture of Kakadu National Park set it apart from other destinations across the Northern Territory. A visit to the park is your chance to take in some traditional Aboriginal rock art. Dating back over 20,000 years in some cases, these paintings provide a record of the early human experience and even depict early interactions with European settlers.
Finally, onto the biggest and most famous city in the Northern Territory. With its tropical climate and blue skies for days on end, Darwin is something of a haven for backpackers looking to escape the cold winters of the southern states. Why not enjoy a change of pace from life in the outback and explore the city’s bustling markets? Make a night of it and check out the stalls filled with street food and arts and crafts by local artists. Keep an eye out for live music and fire twirlers if you want to take your evening up a notch.
Darwin is also home to some of the best seafood in Australia! Proximity to the ocean means only fresh seafood makes it into the local restaurants. Barramundi and mud crab are popular choices if you’re looking to sample some local flavours. On that note, if you’d rather do the fishing yourself head over to the Adelaide River to catch barramundi straight from the wetlands!