DRIVES AND ROAD TRIPS

Straight to the Top (End) – your cheat sheet to the NT

The NT offers visitors the ride of a lifetime. Location: Alice Springs area. Credit: Tourism NT/Jay French.

A visit to the NT should be on the bucket list of every Australian.

Breathtaking nature, mind-boggling history, and a unique culture are all hallmarks of this massive territory.

The NT is fascinating and dramatic, beautiful and brilliant, iconic and memorable. And it provides some of the most incredible experiences imaginable.

Do you want to get to know the Top End in a short amount of time? Then you’ll love this handy cheat sheet to the NT.

Absorbing: Darwin is loaded with appeal. Credit: Tourism NT/Rachel Stewart.

What are the best NT national parks?

There are dozens of spectacular national parks in the NT, but you can’t miss at least one of these beauties…

Kakadu National Park

This is Australia’s largest national park complete with World Heritage status. Highlights abound: incredibly diverse landscapes dotted with waterfalls, wetlands, and gorges as well as ancient rock art.

Location: Approx. 250km from Darwin and 300km from Katherine.

Kakadu is Australia's largest national park and bursts with goodies. Credit: Tourism NT/Salty Wings.

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

This icon is World Heritage listed, too. Uluru makes for a breathtaking sight that postcards can’t do justice, and the domed rocks known as Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) are just as spectacular. Viewing opportunities abound as do memorable experiences.

Location: Approx. 460km from Alice Springs.

Truly breathtaking sights and experiences await visitors to Uluru-Kata Tjuta. 

Litchfield National Park

Notable for its gorgeous waterfalls and funky termite mounds. Historic ruins contrast with the many natural features.

Location: Approx. 120km from Darwin.

Florence Falls is a star of Litchfield National Park. Credit: Tourism NT/Taylah Nilsson.

Nitmiluk National Park

Dominated by imposing sandstone gorges, including Katherine Gorge, and teeming with watering holes, rainforest, and Aboriginal rock art.

Location: Approx. 30km from Katherine.

Katherine Gorge is seriously epic. Credit: Tourism NT/Katie Goldie.

Tjoritja West MacDonnell Ranges National Park

Swimming holes, gorges, ochre pits, and famous formations like Simpsons Gap are among its wealth of treasure.

Location: Starting from just 10km from Alice Springs.

Gems like Ormiston Gorge abound throughout Tjoritja West MacDonnell Ranges. Credit: Tourism Australia/Nicholas Kavo.

What about something else on the nature trail?

You’ll be blown away by the underground awesomeness that is Cutta Cutta Caves Nature Park, 25km from Katherine. The park is filled with ancient limestone caves, boasts five species of bats, and is rich with bird life and Aboriginal culture. Not to be missed.

A visit to Cutta Cutta Caves make for a fascinating experience. Credit: Tourism NT/Shaana McNaught.

What are the best photo ops?

If you have any memory on the camera or phone after visiting those treasure-filled national parks, point the lens towards Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles, a collection of granite boulders located 100km south of Tennant Creek.


Photo ops abound at Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve. 

Some Red Centre locals will tell you that Kings Canyon, 320km from Alice Springs, is more impressive than Uluru, and the towering sandstone walls of this iconic creation are simply jaw-dropping.


Kings Canyon is dazzling.

Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve is filled with sandstone bluffs and cliffs that change colour with the sunlight. Best reached with a 4WD, it’s 100km from Alice Springs.

Or simply head to the top of Anzac Hill in Alice Springs and enjoy panoramic views of the town and its surrounds.

Enjoy sweeping views of Alice Springs from the top of Anzac Hill.

Is there anywhere to take a refreshing dip?

Berry Springs Nature Park is hard to beat. It’s an easy drive from Darwin (and even easier from BIG4 Howard Springs) and features incredibly inviting swimming pools in tranquil, shaded surrounds. What’s more, the park has a series of prized walking tracks and fascinating World War II relics.

Cool off at irresistible Berry Springs Nature Park.

What about something quirky?

You haven’t experienced the NT until you’ve visited one of its iconic pubs. The Humpty Doo Hotel near BIG4 Howard Springs teems with character, and its menu is as interesting as they come.

Daly Waters Historic Pub is legendary and has all sorts of memorabilia and other items to check out over a cool drink, such as a collection of bras that hangs from the rafters.

Make sure you visit the legendary Daly Waters Historic Pub when in NT. Credit: Tourism NT.

Can I get up close to wildlife?

You sure can! The NT is crammed with a host of unforgettable wildlife attractions and experiences.

In Darwin, Crocodylus Park and Crocosaurus Cove provide thrilling encounters with imposing saltwater crocodiles. The latter features a Cage of Death attraction that is both terrifying and exhilarating.

Further south, jumping-crocodile cruises at Adelaide River allow for more ‘intimate’ interaction with these engrossing marine reptiles.

Territory Wildlife Park at Berry Springs is packed with a wide assortment of creatures great and small and includes a superb aquarium.

Crocosaurus Cove's Cage of Death offers an electrifying experience. Credit: Tourism NT/Shaana McNaught.

Without doubt, one of the premier attractions in the Red Centre is Alice Springs Desert Park. It showcases a massive variety of animal life, and the free-flying bird show is not to be missed. Or be amazed by the colourful collection of creatures at Alice Springs Reptile Centre.

Captivating creatures abound at Alice Springs Reptile Centre. Credit: Tourism NT/Shaana McNaught.

What are NT's best historical and cultural attractions?

The Top End has a cluster of gripping cultural attractions led by the must-visit Darwin Military Museum and its Defence of Darwin Experience, which details the NT’s role in World War II through a series of interactive displays.

A wide range of thought-provoking themes are covered at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, while there are yarns aplenty to uncover within the walls of Fannie Bay Gaol.

Katherine Museum is a little gem with a diverse collection that includes old aircraft. While in town, check out Top Didj & Art Gallery, which provides a great insight into Aboriginal culture.

Darwin Military Museum is must-visit material. Credit: Shaana McNaught/Tourism NT.

Araluen Cultural Precinct in Alice Springs has a host of absorbing attractions that include the Museum of Central Australia and a comprehensive art gallery.

While in Alice, the John Flynn Trail celebrates the life of the Royal Flying Doctor Service’s founder and incorporates various first-class historical attractions. Or take a wander through the arid zone Olive Pink Botanic Gardens.

Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, and Barrow Creek all have telegraph station historical reserves that delve into an interesting era of communication in Australia.

Relive the past at Alice Springs Telegraph Station Historical Reserve. Credit: Shaana McNaught/Tourism NT.

Where are some great places to eat in NT?

The Darwin Waterfront is the place to go with its collection of seaside cafes, restaurants, and bars. Families will find even more appeal in its wave pool and recreation lagoon.

In Alice Springs, head to Todd Mall and people-watch from a cool café by day and feast on delicious seafood at Barra on Todd restaurant and bar by night. And on weekends, the famous Sunday morning pancake breakfast at BIG4 MacDonnell Range Holiday Park will start your day on the right note.

In Katherine, you can’t go past Marksie's Stockman's Camp Tucker, which combines delicious bush food with top-notch entertainment.

Darwin's vibrant waterfront precinct is perfect for a bite to eat or to quench a thirst. Credit: Tourism Australia/Nicholas Kavo.

What about some markets?

You must stop by the iconic Mindil Beach Sunset Market in Darwin, which is a regular crowd magnet. Featuring a whopping 200-plus stalls, it includes everything from food and drink to arts and craft each Sunday evening (in season). Or enjoy a Sunday morning full of fun for the senses at the Nightcliff Markets.

The Mindil Beach Sunset Markets are a Darwin institution. Credit: Tourism NT/Mindil Beach Sunset Markets.

Are there any microbreweries in the NT?

Yes! The craft-beer trend has gathered speed in the Top End. Six Tanks Brewing Co. is centrally located in Darwin and is joined by Beaver Brewery and One Mile Brewery. Further south is Purple Mango Brewery and Café in Marrakai, and you’ll find Alice Springs Brewing Company in the Red Centre.

Get your craft beer fix at Alice Springs Brewing Company. Credit: Tourism Australia/Nicholas Kavo.

Where can I stay?

BIG4 parks are planted in prime locations within the Northern Territory. More here.

Isn’t it time you reached the Top End? Book your NT escape now.

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