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Northern Territory, Australia (Darwin, Alice Springs, Ayers Rock, Uluru...)

The Northern Territory is a hot, ruggedly beautiful area of Australia that was settled by the British to ease their fears of French or Dutch settlement. The Northern Territory is located in the far northern part of Australia. The most famous landmark is Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock. Tourists are able to visit Uluru and there are plenty of tours that will take you there. Other Outback geographical features include the Olgas and the MacDonnell Ranges.

Uluru - Australia's Outback Northern Territory
Uluru - Australia's Outback Northern Territory
Australia's Outback Northern Territory
Australia's Outback Northern Territory

Along with the red deserts, the Northern Territory is home to many of Australia's spectacular national parks. One beautiful example is Kakadu National Park which will expose a visitor to much of the Northern Territory's rugged landscape and wildlife such as eagles, giant lizards, crocodiles and emus.

The Northern Territory is also home to much of the Australian Aboriginal culture. The Australian Aboriginals are Australia's original inhabitants and they have a great culture and history to share with you.

Whether it's a visit to the Northern Territory's largest city, Darwin, panning for gold, a camel ride through the desert, a visit to the Kakadu National Park or a boat ride down the Katherine Gorge, the Northern Territory will give you a wonderful flavour of northern life in Australia.

 

The climate can be very hot in the Northern Territory. Make sure that you are prepared. Many people feel that the best time to go is in the winter which is the dry season. During the winter the temperatures may still reach into the 80's and 90's.

Some Key Attractions:

Darwin is the largest city in the Northern Territory, with a population of approximately 70,000 people, and is Australia's northern gateway. Darwin was settled to stop the French and Dutch gaining a foothold in Australia and was settled in 1864. The Port of Darwin was first named after Charles Darwin by British captain, John Lort Stokes in 1839. Gold was discovered to the south of Darwin in 1871 which led to a rapid expansion. Later, Darwin played a major role for Australia in World War 2 as it became an allied base against the Japanese. It is not a well known fact internationally that Darwin was attacked by the Japanese 64 times during the war and 243 people lost their lives. Darwin has had to face the wrath of nature as well as war. On Christmas Eve in 1974, Cyclone Tracey headed towards and hit Darwin with immense force. The city was decimated by 175 mph winds, 66 people died, 30,000 residents were airlifted out of the area and the city was eventually rebuilt.

Most of the site seeing for international visitors is outside of Darwin and therefore Darwin is a good springboard to see what the Northern Territory has to offer and to experience the Australian Aboriginal culture.

The best way to get to Darwin, from other major cities such as Sydney, is by air. There are roads but we do not recommend this unless you are on a guided tour or are experienced in driving through the hostile Outback.

Kakadu National Park is an 8,000 square mile park in Australia's hot Top End and is listed as a World Heritage Area. The land is owned by the Australian Aboriginals and is leased back to the Government. The Park is a diverse and beautiful assortment of geographical features as well as interesting flora and fauna. There are 75 reptile species, 60 mammal species, 1,200 plant species and 10,000 insect species. Major attractions in the Park include Twin Falls, Nourlangie Rock, Gunlom Water Hole and Yellow Water just to mention a few. The best way to get there is by road. The park is 153km (95mi) by road from Darwin. Tours of Kakadu are available and very worthwhile.

Arnhem Land is located in the far North of Australia's Outback Northern Territory. There's something extra special about arriving as a visitor to one of the Top End's tiny, far-flung coastal communities. Hordes of free-spirited children stop their beachfront acrobatics to mill around and chatter. Friendly ladies in colourful dresses lead you gently by the arm to their favourite museum exhibit. More...

Jim Jim Falls is one of Kakadu's most popular gorge destinations. To reach it, you'll need to walk 1km through monsoon forest to find the deep pool at its base, surrounded by soaring cliffs. Twin Falls greets you with crystalline sandy beaches and dense forest surrounding the permanent plunge pool that you can reach by paddling up the gorge on an air-mattress.

Litchfield National Park is located 85 miles south of Darwin and is a great recreational spot for swimming in deep crocodile-free pools. There are waterfalls such as Florence Falls. Look out for the giant termite mounds as a point of interest. The best way to get there is by car from Darwin or take a tour.

Darwin Crocodile Farm: If you want to see Australia's famous reptile, the crocodile, this is the place. The best way to get there is by car or a tour from Darwin as it is only 25 miles south of Darwin.

Katherine is a small town located 185 miles south of Darwin on the banks of the Katherine River. It was home for thousands of years for the Australian Aboriginals but is now a tourist town and a spring board to various attractions such as the Katherine Gorge and the Cutta Cutta Caves. Katherine Gorge is 30 miles from Katherine and is a series of gorges running through red sandstone cliffs. These gorges have been cut out by years of rain and they are estimated to be over 1 billion years old. The best way to tour this area is by boat.

Alice Springs is the other main city in the Northern Territory and is built inland in the desert, right in the middle of the Australian continent. It is the unofficial capital of this area of Australia called the Red Centre. Alice Springs developed in the 1880's after the overland telegraph was built in the 1870's. The population is approximately 20,000 but there are currently over 400,000 visitors per year as this is a good place to base yourself to see some of the natural wonders of central Australia.

Ten minutes from Alice Springs is the Alice Springs Desert Park which is a 3,200 acre park which is home to 120 animals and 320 plants from this desert area. West of Alice Springs are the beautiful MacDonnell Ranges which change colours with the changes in daylight. Other attractions and activities include camel safaris through the desert and balloon rides at sunrise.

The Larapinta Trail is an exciting new long distance walking track through the spectacular West MacDonnell Ranges across the heart of Central Australia. When completed the Larapinta Trail will span 250kms, beginning at the Alice Springs Telegraph Historical Reserve and finishing at Mt Razorback. For the fainthearted, it's not necessary to attempt the entire length, the Trail can be done in individual sections.

Uluru (Ayers Rock): Perhaps Australia's most famous feature, Uluru is approximately 290 miles from Alice Springs and can be best accessed by car or tour. It is also possible to fly to Uluru. Uluru was formerly known as Ayers Rock and the name was changed when the Australian Government handed the title over to the Australian Aborigines in 1985. The Rock is sacred to Aborigines and it is shrouded in Aboriginal myth and legend from years past. Uluru is on the World Heritage list and is a single rock made up of sandstone which is rich in crystalline minerals that make it's colour change throughout the day. When it is wet, it is purple or black and on sunny days it appears red or orange. Uluru can be climbed and is done so by thousands of tourists every year. Be warned, it is over 1,200 feet high and many people don't make it all the way.

The Olgas are domed shaped rocks that rise to 1,790 feet from the desert plains. They are 17 miles from Uluru and a walk through these giant rocks is entertaining.

Tennant Creek is the second largest town in the Red Centre. It was settled in the 1870s when it was chosen as a telegraph station. Tennant Creek is 310 miles north of Alice Springs.

Devil's Marbles Conservation Park is located 65 miles south of Tennant Creek and is home to a collection of huge spherical boulders made of red granite. These rocks are estimated to be over 1.5 billion years old.


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