Compiling a top 5 list for Australia’s Northern Territory is no easy feat. It seems everywhere you turn you can view a sight with oodles of “wow” factor, from the tropical environs of Darwin to the looming Great Red Centre with its spirituality and natural splendour. The following sights offer a mere sampling of what makes this diverse region so special.
Visitors travel from far and wide specifically to visit Uluru, or Ayers Rock. Although the iconic image is one you’ve probably spotted in travel brochures and on postcards many times, it’s a whole different story in person. Rising up 348 metres from the desert brush below, this alien red rock stretches 3.6 kilometres in length and is studded with sacred sites to the local Anangu population. One of the other aspects that make this site remarkable is the way it changes colours in the sun’s rays, shifting from brown to rust to a deep grey in the evening.
2. The Olgas
Together with Kings Canyon and Uluru, the Olgas form an impressive triad in Australia’s Red Centre. Many visitors are even more moved by the Olgas than by Uluru, with their rounded shapes and magnificent height. This rock formation is comprised of 36 domed stones standing next to one another, forming a series of rugged gorges and stark valleys. The tallest Olga mountaintop stands 200 metres higher than Uluru. Like Uluru, the Olgas are considered to be sacred so they’re better to revere than climb.
3. The Tiwi Islands
Bathurst and Melville Islands are situated 80km to the north of Darwin, making them one of Australia’s most remote destinations. You can access them via a 20 minute flight, or take a picturesque ferry ride across the Timor Sea. Home to the native Tiwi people, the islands have their own unique culture and are particularly well known for their vibrant art and culture. You can view traditional dancing, take part in an art demonstration, or enjoy the lush tropical breezes with a walk along the shore.
4. Katherine Gorge
The Katherine River has carved out a series of 13 deep gorges into the sandstone of this region. Katherine Gorge is a spectacular sight, with its rugged red walls and crystalline rapids. Take a hike along the top or take a canoe along the river to enjoy the contrast between the rapids and the deep, still waters that divide them.
5. Kakadu National Park
To see the best of Kakadu, you’ll want to have a rugged vehicle at your disposal. You can check local listings site carsales.com.au for something that will take you through such diverse habitat as the mangrove forests, wetlands, and mountainous terrain. You’ll need 4WD to access sites like Twin Falls and Jim Jim. This national park is home to an extraordinary array of bird and reptile life, and you’ll see crocodiles sunning themselves next to cryptic Aboriginal rock art.
These five sights are must-sees for any visitor to the exotic Northern Territory. From crashing rapids in the Katherine Gorge to the shifting colours of Uluru at sunset, there’s no shortage of picture-perfect moments to enjoy.