As your travel around the Northern Territory, you can utilise the helpful service and information provided by the local Visitor Information Centre. Visit travelnt.com for a comprehensive guide to Northern Territory Visitor Information Centres.
The population of the Northern Territory is around 200,000. Darwin: 100,000, Alice Springs, 27,000
The Northern Territory has two very distinctive climate zones. The northern region starts the year with warm, tropical rain then moves to warm and sunny days and cool nights mid-year. The end of the year is pre-monsoonal season, which produces amazing lightning storms.
Central Australia is semi-arid and experiences Australia's four typical seasons: summer, autumn, winter and spring. The monsoon rains do not extend this far south so the weather is quite different to the Top End in that there is no tropical rainy season.
About one quarter of the Territory's multicultural population is Aboriginal. Darwin is considered Australia's most culturally diverse city with more than 50 nationalities making up its population.
World Heritage listed national parks Kakadu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta, an Aboriginal culture that's thought to be 50,000 years old, diverse flora and fauna - from the lotus lily to the saltwater crocodile, barramundi fishing, amazing sunsets and tropical lightning displays in the northern region, outback beauty and adventure in Central Australia.
Darwin has an international airport and there are domestic airports at Alice Springs, Uluru/Ayers Rock, Katherine and Tennant Creek. The Ghan train links Darwin with Adelaide and stops at Alice Springs and Katherine en route and Darwin is a major cruise port destination. The main towns also offer most transport options: taxis, buses, private hire cars, limousines, light plane charters and coaches and visitors can hire a car in the main towns.
Road trains are prevalent on Territory roads - huge trucks that can be the length of 10 cars. Allow at least one kilometre of clear road ahead before overtaking, taking care not to veer off the road.
Stock and wildlife - Many sealed and unsealed roads in the Northern Territory are unfenced, so beware of stock and wildlife. These can include birds, cattle, kangaroos and camels. Wildlife is most active early in the morning and late at night, so driving during these times should be avoided.
Floods – in the Territory's northern regions, flooding is common at certain times of year. Do not attempt to cross flooded bridges or causeways unless absolutely sure of the depth and any road damage.
Safe Swimming - Swimming in Territory beaches, billabongs and rivers is not recommended due to the presence of crocodiles and Box Jellyfish. This is generally sign-posted, but if you're not sure, don't swim.
Fatigue – The Territory is a big place, and driving long distances can cause fatigue - one of the most common causes of serious accidents. Stop and rest for 15 minutes at least every two hours when driving.
Weather – it can be very warm in the Territory and it's important to drink plenty of water (at least eight glasses a day, more if active), wear a hat and sunscreen.
Speed limits – In the Northern Territory there is no speed limit on most open roads, however travellers should drive at a speed that suits the road, vehicle, weather condition and their driving experience.
The NT boasts many, many famous Aboriginal artists who sell their work to collectors all over the world, including Albert Namatjira (deceased), Robert Puruntatameri (pottery), John Martin Tipungwuti (scultpure), Jean Babtiste Apuatimi (painting/ screenprinting) and Nina Puruntatameri (painting).
The NT has produced some exceptional musicians, including Sophie Koh, Jessica Mauboy, Shellie Morris, Yothu Yindi, Djalu Gurruwiwi (didgeridoo) and Sara Storer.
Well known actors coming out of the NT include Tom E Lewis, David Gulpilil and Fiona O'Loughlin (comedian).
Well recognized writers from the NT include, Sara Henderson (deceased), Marlee Ranacher, and Tom Cole.
Jimmy Shu is a renowned chef and owner of the Hanuman restaurants in both Darwin and Alice Springs.
Food & Wine
With more than 50 nationalities making up its population and the proximity of South East Asia, it is no surprise that Darwin serves up a rich diversity of culinary experiences. Fresh produce abounds, with Top End fare offering visitors a truly unique fusion of contemporary Australian, Mediterranean, Indian and South East Asian cuisine.
From Thai paw-paw salad, Malaysian laksa and Indonesian satays, to the traditional Greek baklava or char-grilled octopus, Indian mango lassi and quintessential Australian steak; Darwin’s taste for the exotic delivers an array of gastronomic choice.
There are also a number of markets in Darwin that are not to be missed:
Nightcliff Markets, Darwin - unwind and feel the ambience of the Nightcliff Markets. Set in the Nightcliff Shopping Centre, the markets are an ideal place for a lazy Sunday coffee or a cool and refreshing tropical fruit salad.
Parap Markets, Darwin - the Parap Markets, located close to the city, in Parap, will tantalise your senses with a mixture of Asian cuisine and the aroma of freshly grounded coffee. The Parap Village Market is a great place to shop and is a favourite among locals and visitors alike. Browse the markets, winding through stalls of local produce, local arts and crafts, entertainment and delicious cuisine fromaround the world.
Walks & Treks
Territory parks and reserves are designed with walkers in mind, so there are lots of short walks to enjoy. Typically major attractions within parks have a short walk nearby so you can get off the beaten track and enjoy the beauty and the quiet of the bush. Short walks are usually between 500m and 3km. There are usually signs near car parks that provide maps, distances, grade and safety information:
Tolmer Falls Walk, Litchfield National Park - time 45 minutes. An easy walk, although rocky in parts. Start at Tolmer Falls lookout. A pleasant alternative route backto the car park from the Tolmer Falls Lookout. It takes you through typical Top End sandstone country and along Tolmer Creek and a tributary. Swimming is not permitted above the falls.
Shady Creek Walk, Litchfield National Park (Florence Falls Area) – a 30 minute easy walk. Start at Florence Falls Picnic Area or the Plunge Pool. This beautiful walk along Shady Creek is a good alternative to the main track to the plunge pool that has 160 stairs! Signs along the way introduce you to two of nature’s ‘gardens’, the cool monsoon forest and the open
Florence Creek Walk, Litchfield National Park – allow 1 and a half hours for this walk. Start at Upstream Picnic Area or Buley Rockhole. This walk follows Florence Creek between Florence Falls and Buley Rockhole.
Kings Creek Walk, Watarrka National Park - you can complete this walk within an hour and suitable people seeking a less strenuous walk than the Rim Walk. It meanders along Kings Creek, ending at a viewing platform with stunning views of the sheer Canyon walls. Follow the same track to return to the carpark. Sturdy footwear is essential as the track can be rough underfoot.