If the Northern Territory isn’t near the top of your bucket list, it will be after reading this article. From jumping crocodiles to panoramic canyons, here are the attractions you must visit when exploring the Northern Territory.
See the jumping crocodiles of the Adelaide River
Crocodiles are synonymous with the Northern Territory. To learn more about saltwater crocodiles and to (comfortably) see them in their natural habitat, check out the jumping crocodile cruises on the Adelaide River. A great day trip option from Darwin, there are several local tour companies offering cruises during the dry season. The enthusiastic guides will tell you more about the crocodiles — who they personally know by name — as they jump out of the water to reach meat dangling from a pole off the boat.
Although it’s only held on Thursday and Sunday evenings between April and October, the Mindil Beach Sunset Market is an iconic Darwin attraction. It features live music, performances and over 300 stalls, including up to 60 stalls serving international cuisine from places like Southeast Asia, South America and North Africa. The other stalls are stocked with jewellery, indigenous artwork, leather products and more. The tropical sunsets at Mindil Beach are worth the visit as well.
Uluru is the Northern Territory’s number one attraction. It’s the World Heritage Site and natural wonder that’s visited by 300,000 people annually (which is more than the state’s entire population). Uluru is a sacred site, both culturally and spiritually, to the local Aboriginal Anangu people. Things to do at Uluru include walking around its base, watching it change colour at sunset, visiting the Cultural Centre and also exploring Kata Tjuta nearby.
The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in Darwin is the state’s premier cultural organisation. There are over 1.2 million natural history specimens, as well as more than 30,000 items of art inside the museum and art gallery. Some of its collections include indigenous and Australian art, maritime history, natural sciences and a Cyclone Tracy exhibition. Don’t miss seeing Sweetheart either — a mighty male crocodile that used to rule the billabong.
Kings Canyon is located within the remote Watarrka National Park. It’s home to red sandstone walls, breathtaking desert vistas, gorges and lush palm forests. The national park itself is an important conservation area for over 600 native plant and animal species. See the best of Kings Canyon by following the six-kilometre (3.7-mile) Rim Walk. Ensure you stop at the Garden of Eden’s permanent waterhole and the Lost City’s ancient rock formations. To complete your Kings Canyon experience, spend the evening at the Under a Desert Moon event at Kings Canyon Resort.
Learn more about many of Australia’s beloved animal species at Territory Wildlife Park. The park has several different habitats, including the Billabong, which is home to pelicans, freshwater crocodiles and turtles. Then there’s the Aquarium, where you can spot a four-metre long saltwater crocodile, and the Woodland Wallaby Walk. The Monsoon Forest Walk includes walk-through aviaries and viewing areas, and the Flight Deck has several daily presentations as well.
There are plenty of natural attractions to enjoy within Kakadu National Park. The World Heritage-listed national park, which also happens to be Australia’s largest, is home to some of the finest examples of ancient Aboriginal rock art. There are 20,000 year-old rock art galleries located at Nourlangie and Ubirr. The latter is known for its panoramic sunsets as well. Other things to do in Kakadu National Park include a Yellow Water billabong cruise and swimming at Jim Jim Falls and Gunlom Plunge Pool.
Darwin’s Crocosaurus Cove is home to Australia’s only crocodile dive. Called the Cage of Death, this experience involves you being lowered into a pool that’s home to a very large saltwater crocodile. A thin layer of perspex is the only thing between you and the not-so friendly giants. Staff members engage with the crocodile, to ensure the experience is one you’ll never forget. Crocosaurus Cove is also home to the world’s biggest display of Australian reptiles.
Located in Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve, the Devils Marbles are a sacred site to the local traditional Aboriginal land owners. The site is managed by both the traditional owners and rangers from the Parks and Wildlife Service of the Northern Territory. Devils Marbles is a landscape that’s dotted with large red granite boulders. Up to six metres across, the boulders are naturally stacked in precarious positions and look even better during sunrise and sunset.
Elsey National Park is known as the setting of the renowned Australian novel, We of the Never Never. Today, it’s home to two beautiful thermal pools, at Bitter Springs and Mataranka. Bitter Springs is a 500-metre waterway that’s fed by an underground spring and surrounded by tropical woodlands and cabbage palms. Meanwhile, the sandy-bottomed thermal pool at Mataranka is more well-known and sits at a comfortable 30 degrees.