15 July 2019
If you want a taste of the rugged beauty of Australia’s Outback, there is no alternative to the Northern Territory.
Known colloquially as the “true Outback”, the Northern Territory is bursting with unforgettable adventures waiting for you to discover.
Here are four Outback experiences that you won’t soon forget:
From the strange mélange that is platypus to the cuddly koala, Australia’s iconic animals are quite unlike anything else in the world. Home to over 150 species of mammal, 400 species of bird, 300 species of reptile and countless more amphibians and fish species, the Northern Territory is one of the best places to find Australian wildlife.
It’s also full of opportunities to get up close and personal. Start by shaking hands (paws?) with Australia’s most famous animal at the Kangaroo Sanctuary in Alice Springs. Or spend some time with reptiles like the blue-tongued lizard in Alice Springs Reptile Centre. You won’t want to miss the supervised handling sessions, which let visitors touch some of the friendlier animals.
Adrenaline rush seekers won’t be left wanting either: Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin is home to the “Cage of Death”, Australia’s only “crocodile dive” that lets visitors swim just inches away from the monstrous Australian saltwater crocodile — encased in a protective cage, of course.
If that’s a bit too close for comfort, you can always catch the Jumping Crocodile Cruises along Adelaide River to see these magnificent predators in their natural habitat.
If you’re looking to commune and connect with nature, the Territory offers some of the most spectacular expanses of unspoilt wilderness in the world.
The vast stretch of Kakadu National Park is home to a great number of beautiful sights, but perhaps none is more gorgeous than the palm-fringed oasis that is the Yellow Water billabong. Taking a cruise on the billabong is a birdwatcher’s dream: at least 60 species call the Kakadu wetlands home, among them jabirus (black-necked storks) and brolgas. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot white-bellied sea eagles circling overhead too.
Want to truly immerse yourself in nature? Glamping is one of the most popular activities in the Northern Territory. The Aboriginal-influenced Cicada Lodge in Nitmiluk National Park and Wildman Wilderness Lodge in the Mary River wetlands offer some of the most eco-friendly and luxurious accommodations to spend the night in the wild, with service that you’ll never forget.
Or take a day trip to Litchfield National Park’s world-famous waterfalls. Dive into the thundering Florence Falls and rushing Wangi Falls for a refreshing swim. Then have a traipse down the Florence Creek Walk to the Buley Rockhole, and soak in some of the whirlpools carved out by nature.
But of course, no section on the Territory’s beauty would be complete without mentioning the splendour of Uluru (Ayers Rock). Depending on the time of day, this iconic sandstone monolith can look drastically different, from flaming red in the morning sun to cool blue or purple as dusk falls.
The sheer quality of the cuisine in the Northern Territory is perhaps its best-kept secret. In keeping with its rugged image, the best culinary experiences in the state are closely intertwined with nature.
No fish is fresher than the one you catch yourself, and all Territorians know this. Several places in the Top End, including Darwin, offer fishing tours to catch and cook your own barramundi — that famously tenacious but delicious resident of Northern Territory waters. Its moist, soft and delicate flesh is perfect no matter how it’s prepared, whether grilled, pan-fried or steamed.
For a truly one-of-a-kind experience, the Sounds of Silence Dinner at Uluru is extremely popular — and for good reason. Sip champagne, enjoy gourmet cuisine prepared by a master chef and relax to the gentle strains of a didgeridoo under the evening Outback sky. After the main course, a “star talker” will take you through the stars that are visible that night, and even provide telescopes to enhance your stargazing experience.
But you’ll truly find yourself spoilt for choice at the Mindil Beach Sunset Market in Darwin, open every Thursday and Sunday from end April to end October every year. With over 200 stalls every year, no visitor leaves the market with a craving unsated: Its food offerings range from crocodile and kangaroo burgers to French crêpes to Greek souvlaki to even pickled octopus. Make sure you bring an empty stomach.
The Northern Territory has been home to many Aboriginal tribes for more than 40,000 years, and the land proudly bears the marks of their culture in painting, sculpture and even cuisine.
As such, the Territory also offers its visitors a unique opportunity to share in the millennia of Aboriginal culture. Perhaps the biggest artistic draw for visitors is the stunning rock art at Kakadu National Park. Some of the paintings at the Ubirr and Nourlangie sites are more than 20,000 years old, making them among the oldest pictorial records known to man.
Aboriginal culture is also on proud display in the cuisine of the Northern Territory. Nitmiluk National Park offers guests the chance to go on the Nabilil Dreaming Sunset Cruise, a three-course dinner — prepared on the spot — on a cruise down the Nitmiluk Gorge. Be regaled with tales of the history and culture of the Jawoyn people as you tuck into the freshest of Australian produce.
Inspired by what you’ve seen of this proud culture? Let local experts teach you the ways of their art. Maruku Arts at Uluru offers a genuine Aboriginal dot painting experience under the supervision of Aṉangu artists. There, you’ll learn about the symbols and techniques used to depict the time of Creation, through dot painting and sand drawing, and even get to take home your own work as a personal memento.
Keen to have your own Outback adventure? Darwin, the gateway to the Northern Territory, is just a short 4.5 hour flight away — comparable to a trip to Taiwan, Japan or Korea.
So there’s really nothing stopping you from making a lifetime’s worth of memories in Australia’s wildest state. Pack your bags and get ready for a top experience down under.
Visit northernterritory.com/sg to find out more about the Northern Territory.