About the same size as Slovenia and a whole lot hotter, Kakadu National Park is Australia’s best-known national park for good reason.  

Chock-a-block with billabongs, waterfalls, weird rocks formations and all manner of wildlife, this is where Australia runs wild - Kakadu National Park. ‘Roos bounce about the bushlands, dingoes stalk along rocky outcrops, dugongs wallow off the coast and crocs patrol the waters of Alligator River (we’ll call it a case of mistaken identity). Following a landmark ruling back in 1976, approximately half of the land was returned to its traditional custodians. While nearly half of all Northern Territory land now belongs to Indigenous Australians, many of these communities are closed off to visitors. Kakadu National Park is one of the best places to encounter Indigenous culture through managed intercultural exchanges.

Cash in a few days of your annual leave for a Litchfield 4WD adventure, escape the southern winter chill and soak up the sun in Katherine and Jim Jim Falls (where it’s always warm), or embark on a tail-to-top journey from Alice to Darwin via some of the NT’s greatest drawcards. Go on. Make a splash. 

What to see in Kakadu National Park & The Top End

Travellers swimming in Litchfield National Park

LITCHFIELD NATIONAL PARK

Where else would you find thundering waterfalls cascading into swimming holes and termite mounds rising out of the ground like tombstones, or hear the occasional rustle of a wallaby digging about in the scrubby undergrowth? Welcome to Litchfield, two-ish hours drive south of Darwin. The 1,500 square-kilometre park features monsoon forests, arid bluffs, plunging falls, quiet streams and, yep, those massive termite mounds, pretty much covering the whole gamut of environmental features. So if the thought of bushwalking through red rock gorges, cooling off in tranquil plunge pools and exploring million-year-old sandstone landscapes floats your boat, you’ve come to the right place.   

Katherine Gorge, Northern Territory

KATHERINE GORGE

According to local legend, the Rainbow Serpent Bolung dwells in the deep green waters of Katherine Gorge. And we can believe it. Katherine is basically 13 gorges linked together by river, rapids and waterfalls, and flanked by sandstone cliffs that are probably older than time itself. It’s a pretty spiritual place. As the river winds its way from Arnhem Land to the Timor Sea, it picks up all manner of curious flotsam: freshwater crocs, turtles, kayakers, swimmers and dreamers by the boatload (boatloads of dreamers that is – the crocs tend to swim). 

Sightseeing at Jim Jim Falls, Kakadu National Park

TWIN & JIM JIM FALLS

These falls are both so good there’s two of ‘em (because, you know, one’s a twin and the other’s got two names). Depending on the time of year, these majestic falls in Kakadu National Park either rage with the fury of a thousand hungry dingos, or trickle over the rocks like a lazy snail. Either way, they’re a sight to behold. Although the road to Jim Jim is usually closed during the wet season (because of all that water), it’s well worth checking out during the dry season (especially when you combine it with a dip in the pools below). Twin Falls are usually at their most thunderous between December and May. 

Sunset in Darwin, Northern Territory

DARWIN

Maybe it’s the tropical climate, the wild frontier feel, or the local cast of eccentric characters attracted by both, but things tend to get a little ‘troppo’ (Australian for crazy) up Darwin-way. Just look at the local papers, most of which boast headlines like ‘Frog struck down by lightning’ and ‘UFO cut off my car’. For all its occasional uncouthness, laidback Darwin does possess a real charm. Stroll the sunset markets, laze about on the beach or kick back with a ‘frothy’ at the pub while the locals spin colourful yarns, and you’ll be embracing those NT vibes in no time. 

 

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