A Travel Guide to Australia’s Top End
The Northern Territory of Australia is a colossal place and navigating through it certainly requires some forethought. It is so vast that it has different climates in its northern and southern half. The top half of the Northern Territory is called the Top End, and it has a tropical rainforest-like environment. The bottom half is called the Red Centre and has a more arid desert country feel to it. Australia Top End is astounding, with many beautiful places to visit.
Darwin, the capital city of the Northern Territory, with the remote Arnhem Land, which is a must-see reserve in the Northeast of Top End Australia. Moreover, there is the Katherine Gorge of Nitmiluk Park is a sight to behold. Last but not least is the massive Kakadu National park that you have to pay a visit to.
When and how to visit the Australia Top End
The tropical Top End's climate can often be a problem for tourists. People who travel during the dry season from April-September get to enjoy the warm sunny days and cool nights. The Northern Territory dry season heralds the start of many outdoor festivals and exciting events. During this period you will have the luxury of clear skies and minimal rainfall so that none of your plans gets drenched.
The wet season of the Top End of Australia is from October-April. It is a tumultuous time of humid weather, flash floods, and heavy rainfalls. Despite that, you will still be able to traverse Northern Australia, and you will also get cheaper flights and accommodation during this time.
If you want to enjoy a high range of outdoor activities, then May-June is the best time to travel to the Northern Territory since the humidity is comfortable. Planning well for this magnificent place ensures that you hit all your bucket list items without any hassle.
How to get to and around the tropical Top End Of Australia
Are you looking for a travel guide to the Top End? Well, there are many options for you to consider during your Top End adventures. Australia's Northern Territory is easily accessible through any Australian Airport. There are many modern domestic and international airports in Darwin. The peak season for taking Top End flights is June-August so definitely think about making your bookings well in advance.
Travelling through Australia to get to the Northern Territory is exciting if you take the Stuart Highway, also called the Explorer's Way. It stretches from Adelaide through Coober Pedy into the Northern Territory and allows you to see the town of Katherine, Tennant Creek, and Alice Springs. An often overlooked way to traverse through Northern Territory's Top End is by taking the Ghan train. It is a famous luxury train that travels from Adelaide to Darwin via Alice Springs and Katherine. It is an excellent means of transport for your Top End trips.
A popular way to travel here is by renting out a campervan. They can house almost six people and are a home on wheels for you to travel to any spot that you fancy. You could take a bus, which is a way to experience the Outback at a slower pace. There are many buses between Adelaide, Alice Springs and Darwin. They are an affordable means of travel but a great way to see the vast expanse of the Outback.
What to do and see in Northern Territory's Top End
If you're wondering what to see in Australia's North, rest assured that you will never fall short of things to take delight in. The first place on your exploration list should be the Top End Darwin City, which is a hybrid of Australia's rustic Outback and most modern cosmopolitans. It's a place with an abundance of stalls selling local art and craft, Darwin's top restaurants, unforgettable beach markets, the unique Deckchair Cinema, and a lot more. It has a rich history of Aboriginal culture and many galleries that you can explore to understand its history. After experiencing the top things to do in Darwin, you can take a trip to Litchfield and enjoy a picnic as well as a glorious walk through its lovely rainforests. Catch a glimpse of the incredible Wangi falls or the fascinating Florence Falls on your way.
The Northern Territory of Australia's most well-known attraction is the Kakadu National Park. It is the one place brimming with incredible wildlife, gorgeous waterfalls, ancient rock art sites, and serene camping spots. You could also take a trip to Berry Springs, which is a small town situated just 45-minutes from Darwin Top End. This Nature Park has shaded picnic and barbecue areas. You can bring your goggles to explore the fascinating underwater world in its clear pools and observe the animals in their natural habitat. The park focuses on native Northern Territory animals, so it's a unique experience.
Thrilling Top End National Parks
Some of the best things to do in the Northern Territory are to visit its extraordinary parks, like the Litchfield National Park, the Nitmiluk Park, and the Kakadu National Park. These parks of the Top End are easy to access, with the bonus of spectacular views. They are spots where you can truly feel connected to the native plants, birds, and wildlife abounding in Australia.
Kakadu national park is listed as a world heritage site because of its Aboriginal rock art sites, rich biodiversity, and its powerful waterfalls. The Nitmiluk National Park is a fantastic place to pay a visit to and see its network of magnificent gorges, including the well-known Katherine River Gorge. If you are short on the time that you can spend at Kakadu or Nitmiluk National parks then taking a trip to Lichfield is your best option. It is a small place packed with incredible experiences and easy accessibility to all of its attractions.
The Top End's national parks are the perfect escape for those in search of the peaceful embrace of nature. You can experience each of these spots by taking tour packages, or you can explore the Northern Territory Outback destinations on your own.
The Kakadu National Park And Arnhem Land
Kakadu attractions are some of the main reasons why travellers visit the Top End of Australia. Here is a guide to some of the spots in the national park that you definitely should pay a visit to.
Jabiru is a small town that is situated within the national park. It is known as the commercial and accommodation hub of Kakadu National Park. It has so many useful services like a bank, a post office, a bakery, and even a supermarket. If you are looking for something fun to do at Jabiru, the town lake is an excellent spot for picnics. You can also go freshwater fishing here, which is one of the best things to do in Kakadu. You can set up your camp at this quaint town since it allows easier access to Ubirr and Nourlangie.
The Bowali visitor centre, which is a crucial area of the national park, is nearby. It provides extensive information on all of the things to see in Kakadu. It has an extensive collection of videos, books, free brochures, maps and a guide to Kakadu. So don't overlook this tiny haven during your trip, because it packs a punch.
• Mamukala Wetlands
The Mamukala Wetlands is a hub of birdlife with a bird hide where you can see thousands of native Australian bird species congregating together in the wet season. It is ideal for long walks, ranging from one to four kilometres. The South Alligator Area is the main attraction of these wetlands. It has an observatory platform for you to admire and listen to the many birds. It is an excellent spot for walks through the woodlands, boating, and taking picnics.
• Cahills Crossing
Cahills Crossing is an attraction on the East Alligator River leading to Arnhem Land. It is quite an interesting spot because the water rises and subsides across the road, giving you only a short time to make it across during low tide. It is also a hotspot for saltwater crocodiles. You need a permit to be able to use Cahills Crossing since it allows entry into Arnhem which is protected aboriginal land. Once into Arnhem Land, you can get a unique perspective on the rock art of the indigenous community, which is fascinating to behold. The Guluyambi Cruise along the East Alligator River allows you to enjoy the place with an Aboriginal guide.
• Kakadu's Waterfalls
You cannot dream of missing the glorious waterfalls of Kakadu National Park. The Jim Jim Falls are the Kakadu's falls that you can visit during the dry season. To enjoy the falls to their fullest, you should take a scenic flight over it. Jim Jim Falls also has lots of plunge pools for people to swim in. The Twin Falls is one of the famous Northern Territory attractions. They are situated 10 km away from the Jim Jim Falls. You can access these incredible locations by taking a boat or shuttle service. Moline falls, or Moline Rockhole is the hidden gem of Kakadu's waterfalls. Its crystal clear water lets you see little fish swimming around. It is located in the southern part of Kakadu national park. After enjoying Moline falls, you can take a trip to Gunlom Falls, which is just a short distance from it. It is well equipped with toilets and showers, so it is an excellent spot for camping.
• Aboriginal Art Sites
Situated within Kakadu National Park, Nourlangie is an excellent spot to see Aboriginal rock art. It has rock shelters many lookout spots with gorgeous views, and walking paths to explore. Ubirr Rock is another aboriginal rock art site that is located on the East Alligator Area. It has a fantastic climb that takes you to the top of the rock to enjoy a great view over the Arnhem Land and the floodplains. Visiting Aboriginal rock art sites is the best Kakadu itinerary to do during the wet season.
One of the best ways to make the most out of your trip is to take a Kakadu tour.
The Litchfield National Park
The Litchfield, national park is a quaint spot of the Top End's Northern Territory that is picturesque and spellbinding. Litchfield is an hour and a half from Darwin situated south-west of it. It has so many icons that make it Australia Top End's best attraction. It is a good place to take a day trip, unlike Kakadu, which needs far more time to soak in. Some of Lichfield's attractions are:
• The Magnetic Termite Mounds
At Litchfield, you can see its fascinating cathedral and magnetic termite mounds. They are situated just within the park's entrance and are a stunning sight to behold, with some reaching almost five meters. You can find a lot of new information about these termite mounds on the displays situated around the site.
• Florence Falls
The park's waterfalls are amazing and provide you with many great photo opportunities. Florence Falls is the biggest attraction of Litchfield National Park. You can take a nice short walk through the Shady Creek Walk, which leads straight to its plunge pool. There is also a park with toilet facilities and many picnic spots. You can also take the Florence Creek walk to reach Buley Rocky holes. It is a place for a refreshing swim in Litchfield. It is open for most of the year and is an excellent spot to relax while being surrounded by the National Park's scenic bush.
• The Wangi Falls
The Wangi Falls is a frequently visited tourist attraction in Litchfield Northern Territory. Its large swimming spot is ideal for families with kids. There are also a lovely viewing platform and many facilities for camping and caravans. You can stretch out on the grass nearby or take a hike behind the waterfalls.
• The Tolmer Falls
This is Lichfield's plunge waterfall that you can view from a platform or by taking a short walk along the Tolmer creek. With an abundance of trees and a series of breath-taking falls, this is a magnificent place to be. The waterfall's drop is roughly 102 meters, which are fascinating and unbelievable. You can spend a lot of time here just taking in the beauty of this place.
All of Litchfield's attractions are close by and easy to explore without driving around too much.
The Nitmiluk National Park and Katherine Gorge
The Nitmiluk National Park was formerly called the Katherine Gorge National Park since the gorge is its biggest attraction. You can take in its splendid beauty through a couple of different ways:
• Boat Cruises Along Katherine Gorge
If you love to travel by water, then you should take one of the boat cruises that operate all year round. These easy-to-book cruises allow you to experience the pristine wilderness of Katherine Gorge in a short period. If you are on your way to Alice Springs or taking a train stop when travelling by the Ghan, a short 2 or 4-hour cruise will work out well for you. For those seeking adventure, you can travel by canoe or kayak mainly during the time from May to November.
• Katherine Gorge Scenic Flights
One of the exciting things to do in Katherine Gorge is to take a scenic flight over it. There are many types of flights that you can choose varying from just 8 minutes to 45 minutes long. They give you a bird's eye view of the gorge and its diverse landscape. The best part is that you do not have to lose out on this experience during the wet season!
• Katherine Gorge Hiking
The most fun way to see the gorge and connect with nature is to take a hike! Katherine Gorge is a paradise for bushwalkers, and it has many amazing trails open during the dry season. You can make your pick from short and easy walks to full-day hiking trails. These trails allow you to explore flood plains, swimming holes, rocky slopes, and all that Katherine Gorge has to offer.
Where to stay in the marvellous Top End of Australia
For visitors at the Top End Northern Territory, there is an appealing range of accommodation to stay on your Top End Trip. From the luxury hotels to the motels, cosy bed and breakfast accommodations, camping caravans, and homestays, the Top End has the best to offer.
Budget Stay: Hostels
There are bed and breakfast guest houses that you can spend your time. They are family-run and have a homely feel to them. You can not only get this comfortable accommodation at reasonably reasonable prices, but there is also the bonus of home-cooked meals and good company. The top-end accommodation is a haven for backpackers or those looking for budget places to stay.
Hostels are the hidden gems of the accommodation scene. There are so many benefits from staying at hostels like gathering with fellow travellers, having cooking facilities, a TV area, and laundry rooms. It is a remarkable option for solo travellers to Australia.
Stay in Hotels or Luxury Lodges
If you drive by yourself and do not fancy camping or staying in budget accommodation, there are a few luxury lodges in the national parks and resorts. In Darwin, you have a large selection of hotels to suit all budgets and with all kinds of facilities, from serviced hotel rooms to basic bed and breakfast rooms.
If you are looking for luxury lodges and resorts in the national parks check out the links here below:
Swapping your house or renting a house
An excellent option for those looking to stay independently is renting a house in the Top End. It is useful for families on a trip and gives you the freedom of staying in your own home. It is much cheaper than staying at a hotel, and it gives you the same level of privacy. A unique way to score suitable accommodation in Australia is to swap your home while on holiday. This allows you to stay in a real home without paying for your accommodation on your Northern Territory trip.
Camping in Northern Territory's Top End
A fun experience during your trip is going on one of the Northern Territory camping tours or renting a campervan during your stay. This house trailer allows you to go to any place you want, stay at national parks, and enjoy the freedom of sleeping in the outdoors.
Camping in the Australian bush, dining at a campfire and spending the night under the spectacular Australian night sky is an unforgettable experience. If you are on an extended trip around Australia's Top End, you could even choose to buy a campervan and then re-sell it at the end of your journey.
You should not feel confined to stay at any one kind of accommodation during your Top End trip. There is such a wide variety of unique and affordable options for you to take your pick from. So choose a fantastic place to stay at and make the most of your Northern Territory trip. It is an excellent location that will make you keep coming back for more.
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More detailed travel guides
If you plan to spend more time in the above national parks and in the Top End capital city, check out our
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