Northern Territory Travel Guide

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Alice Springs - This is a great centre from which to explore the McDonnell Ranges where there are some spectacular natural gorges and waterways. Evidence of Aboriginal art, and their ancient culture, can also be found in the rock carvings and artifacts. Australia's best known landmark, the giant monolith Uluru, is within easy reach of Alice Springs, along with the Olgas and the Yulara Resort, all situated in Uluru National Park. The traveler with a sense of adventure can, using Alice Springs as a base, explore such places as Palm Valley, the spectacular gorges of the MacDonnell Ranges and Kings Canyon. Hot air balloon flights are available over the ranges for an unforgettable experience.

Darwin - Darwin is an excellent base from which to explore The Northern territory. The attractions of this completely natural environment are to be found in an area of immense proportions. To the east is Arnham Land and the Kakadu National Park, to the west is the Western Australian border, and to the south is Alice Springs. Wartime memorabilia can be found at the Artillery Museum, located in a World War II command blockhouse in Darwin. Darwin's Chinese temple is another notable attraction.

Katherine - Local people claim that once you visit this area, you might not want to leave again. The Nitmiluk National Park is probably the most beautiful of all the National Parks in the region, because of the delicate rainforest which grows in the gorges. The Katherine Canyon has a tunnel-like cathedral leading to Butterfly Gorge for obvious reasons. The Hanging Gardens, where rock springs and shade have encouraged the growth of delicate ferns, and swallows' caves, where tiny martins line the roof with mud nests, are just some of the sightseeing possibilities. Mataranka is another perfect spot where a crystal clear thermal pool can be found. Cutta Cutta Caves, south of Katherine, is an underground system of caverns stretching over 700 meters. Finally, Victoria River features the impressive sandstone Stokes Ranges, with its rock formations and superb fishing.

Tennant Creek - Halfway between Katherine and Alice Springs, the Barkly Tablelands and Tennant Creek represent the traditional Northern Territory with it's remote, tiny settlements, colourful outback pubs, friendly people and flourishing mining ventures. South of Tennant Creek, near the settlement of Wauchope, is one of the best known and strangest of the Territory's rock formations, The Devils Marbles. These huge boulders spread along a broad shallow valley where they rest on top of each other. Just west of Tennant Creek are the sister rock formations The Devil's Pebbles. At Tennant Creek there are many buildings of interest. Some of these are the Old Tennant Creek Hospital, the National Trust Headquarters, and the old Catholic Church.

Beaches

Darwin's Beaches - Darwin has plenty of beaches, but it would be wise to keep out of the water during the wet season, because of the deadly box jellyfish. Popular beaches include Mindil and Vestey's. In north Darwin there is a stinger net protecting part of Nightcliff Beach. A stretch of the 7km Casuarina Beach further east is officially designated for nudies.

Outdoors

The Kakadu National Park - The park covers some 20,000 square kilometers of woodland and forest including the Arnhem Land escarpment, and it is Australia's most spectacular and beautiful National Park. Aboriginal rock art, along with waterfalls and huge wildlife-filled flood plains, make this a truly memorable place to visit. The traditional home of the Gagudju people and examples of their rock art can be viewed in the 120 known galleries found close to the escarpment.

The Botanical Gardens - These gardens have over 400 species of the Top End's tropical plants on display, as well as a giant amphitheatre where the local population enjoy outdoor concerts. Important collections of Aboriginal, Balinese and New Guinean artifacts can be viewed at the Museum of Arts and Sciences, along with the works of Australia's most famous artists.

East Point Reserve - This spit of undeveloped bush land, north of Fannie Bay, is good to visit in the late afternoon when the wallabies come out to feed. A cool breeze usually springs up as you watch the sun set across the bay. There is also a salt-water, jellyfish-free lake where swimming is possible all year round

Litchfield National Park - The 650 sq km national park is well worth a visit. The park, 140km south of Darwin, encompasses much of the Tabletop Range, a wide sandstone plateau surrounded by cliffs. Four waterfalls, which drop off the edge of this plateau, and their surrounding rainforest patches are the park's main attractions. The swimming holes at the bottom of these waterfalls are beautiful spots for a dip. Visitors can camp at the park, and there are cruises of the Reynolds River system that runs through the park. You can either take your own car to Litchfield, or go on an organized tour from Darwin.

Moving around

The airport is only 13km from Darwin and is serviced by a shuttle bus. Darwin has a fairly good city bus service, but it is only in full swing from Monday to Friday, and it shuts down entirely on Sunday. Several private bus companies do a shuttles between Darwin's major places of interest. There is an extensive network of bicycle tracks, and bikes can be rented or borrowed from many of the backpackers' hostels. Sealed roads include the three major interstate links, the Stuart Highway from Darwin to the South Australian border, the Barkly Highway from Tennant Creek to the Queensland border and the Victoria Highway from Katherine to the Western Australian border.

Darwin is a first port of call for many international aircraft flying from Asia. From Darwin there are connections to all Australian capital cities. The Port of Darwin is the foremost deep water port in the north of Australia. There are two other major ports in the Northern Territory, they are Milner Bay and Grove, both managed by mining companies.

National festival and holidays

The Beer Can Regatta - This is one of Darwin's oddest annual events. Happening in June each year, vessels constructed almost entirely of beer cans, race on Darwin Harbour. Mindil Beach is the venue for the recycling of copious empties into a variety of seacraft. There is also a thong-throwing contest. This is a fun festival for the whole family, and there is lot to see and do in the Harbour area during the festival.

Mud Crab Tying Championships - Another of Darwin's odd events, happening in August each year. Contestants use their bare hands (and feet) to deftly tie up huge mud crabs. The contestant, that has the most crabs tied up at the end of the competition, is crowned the champion crab-tier. This event is not for the faint-hearted.

Festival of Sydney - This is three week of festivities, with activities for absolute everybody to enjoy and appreciate. Happening in January each year.

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras - Sydney's proud gay community's festival begins at the end of February and lasts three weeks, ending with an extravagant parade and an all-night dance party.

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