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Scenic view of Rainbow Valley, Northern Territory

Things to do in  Northern Territory

As wild as the Aussie Outback gets

The Top End was made for adventures. This vast, desert-cloaked Aussie territory is best explored on an epic road trip, and Uluru and the Red Centre are top of the list of things to do in the Northern Territory. Once you’ve hiked the red cliffs of Kings Canyon, cruised by dozing crocodiles at Kakadu National Park, and swam beneath waterfalls at Nitmiluk National Park, head up to the coast to hang out at Darwin’s sunset markets and lounge on the white-sand beaches of Arnhem Land.

Top 15 attractions in Northern Territory

Uluru (Ayers Rock)

A gigantic monolith of rust-red rock looming over the desert plains of the Australian Outback, Uluru (Ayers Rock) is more than just a postcard icon—it’s the cultural, spiritual, and geographical heart of Australia, one of its most impressive natural wonders, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.More

Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge National Park)

Nitmiluk National Park (formerly Katherine Gorge National Park) offers vast sandstone cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and a series of 13 gorges carved out by the mighty Katherine River. All of this dramatic scenery is located on the ancient lands of the Jawoyn people and is home to some impressive Aboriginal rock art sites.More

Cullen Bay

Yacht-filled Cullen Bay attracts landlubbers with its collection of shops, restaurants, bars, and day spas in one of Darwin’s sleekest neighborhoods. The marina has space for 250 vessels, as well as an assortment of upmarket accommodations where visitors enjoy sea views and easy access to the ferry terminal.More

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

The UNESCO-listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is an iconic Australian destination with two of the country’s most striking natural landmarks: Ayers Rock (Uluru) and the Olgas (Kata Tjuta). A sacred site, the park is co-managed by the Anangu and the government. Watch the sun come up, and learn about Anangu culture and traditions.More

Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT)

The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) showcases a collection of more than 1.2 million natural history specimens and 30,000 art and cultural works. In addition to its seven galleries, MAGNT has a family-friendly Discovery Centre, providing visitors of all ages with fascinating insight into Australia’s history and heritage.More

Tiwi Islands

Located in the Timor Sea, 50 miles (80 kilometers off the north coast of the Australian mainland, the Tiwi Islands are part of the Northern Territory, and offer rich Aboriginal culture and beautiful landscapes. Melville Island and Bathurst Island are the largest of the 11 islands and the ones that most travelers visit.More

Magnetic Termite Mounds

Across fields in northern Australia stand these tall magnetic termite mounds standing up to two meters high. As a habitat created by termites, they’re strategically built to face away from the hot sun and keep temperatures cool. Inside are complex and fascinating architecture and networks of arches, tunnels, chimneys, and various chambers. Thousands of termites live in a single mound and are known to last anywhere from fifty to one hundred years — which can also be the lifespan of one termite queen. Looking at the mounds it’s hard to believe such a small insect could create such a large, elaborate dwelling for itself.There are several types of termite mounds, and in this case ‘magnetic’ refers to the way they are aligned (in conjunction with the earth’s magnetic field.) How the termites are able to consistently determine the north-south orientation to avoid the heat is unknown, and these structures remain a bit of a natural phenomenon.More


It’s hard to grasp exactly what you’re looking at when you see the rock drawings at Ubirr. Here, etched before you on ancient rock that springs from the red dirt Earth, are drawings placed here by Aborigines nearly 20,000 years ago. How the drawings have managed to survive for so long is a fascinating geologic story, but it's one that pales in comparison to the stories told by the drawings themselves.Located in what’s known as the East Alligator Region of Kakadu National Park, Ubirr is a UNESCO World Heritage site that borders on desert magic. In addition to collections of ancient rock art, the site offers sweeping, panoramic views of the surrounding flood plains and fields, and includes a sacred “Rainbow Serpent” painting in one of the three different galleries. According to local Aboriginal legend, the serpent was involved in the very creation of Earth surrounding the site, and is regarded as one of the world’s oldest figures of early creation. To access the ancient rock art at Ubirr, follow the short, one-kilometer walking path that takes 30 minutes to complete.More

Darwin Waterfront Precint

At the southernmost tip of Darwin, fronting the Beagle Gulf, Darwin Waterfront Precinct is the first port-of-call for cruise ships and a buzzing hub of city life. Seafront parks, a swimming lagoon, and a man-made beach draw city-dwellers to the waterside, while the many bars and restaurants tempt visitors to stick around after sunset.More

Mindil Beach

Mindil Beach is Darwin’s flagship beach. With golden sands and palm-fringed shores looking out over the Beagle Gulf, it’s an idyllic spot for sun-seekers and swimmers. It’s also renowned for its tropical sunsets, and crowds turn out at sundown to watch the spectacle and browse the seasonal night markets.More

Parliament House

Australia’s newest parliament house was built in Darwin in 1994, and has been the seat of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly since then. It was designed in a postmodern style and built to suit the tropical climate of Darwin. The entrance features a Northern Territory coat of arms placed at the top of its ceremonial doors.The building overlooks Darwin Harbor, sitting on the site of the former Post Office and Telegraph Station which were bombed during a raid in 1942. There is a state library, portrait gallery, and a massive Main Hall indoors, and the Speakers Green outdoor. The areas function both as parliamentary and government receptions and public exhibitions. Unique tributes to the symbols of the Northern Territory, such as a desert rose in the reception foyer, are present throughout.More

Darwin Aviation Museum

More than a dozen full-size aircraft are on display at the Darwin Aviation Museum (formerly the Australian Aviation Heritage Centre, including a rare Boeing B52 bomber and Japanese planes that crashed in Darwin during WWII. A must for anyone with a passion for planes, it’s one of the city’s most visited museums.More

Defence of Darwin Experience

The Defence of Darwin Experience chronicles the Northern Territory’s role in World War II through a number of powerful exhibits that educate visitors on how the war deeply affected the region and its residents. This multimedia museum offers fascinating insight into the fateful events leading up to and on Feb. 19, 1942, when the Bombing of Darwin took place, killing over 250 people, sinking 10 ships, and kicking off a period of nearly two years of bombings in the Northern Territory. Guests can view historic equipment and artifacts from the war and listen to somber stories of locals’ whose lives were changed forever, as well as firsthand accounts of those who went off to war to avenge the lives that were lost.Immersive exhibits include the Bombing of Darwin Gallery with its 3D helmets and sensory footage illustrating what it would have been like to witness the bombings, plus StoryShare, where locals record their own stories to be shared with museum visitors. Travelers can also record their responses to all they see and learn at the museum. As one of Darwin’s most significant historical sites, the attraction is often included in guided tours of the city.More

Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre

Owned and operated by the Anangu, the traditional owners of Ayers Rock (Uluru, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre offers a place for visitors to discover the myths, legends, and cultural heritage of Australia’s most famous monolith. Just south of the UNESCO-listed landmark, the cultural centre is filled with art galleries, fascinating exhibitions, and multimedia displays.More

Edith Falls (Leliyn)

Cascading down a red rock gorge and filling up a series of rockpools before emptying out into Sweetwater Pool below; Edith Falls (Leliyn falls are among the most visited attractions of the Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge. With its freshwater pools and impressive natural scenery; it’s a popular spot for hikers and swimmers.More
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Top activities in Northern Territory

Kakadu Full-Day Tour from Darwin with Lunch
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Uluru (Ayers Rock) Sunset with Outback Barbecue Dinner and Star Tour
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Tiwi Islands Cultural Experience from Darwin Including Ferry
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Katherine Day Tour from Darwin including Katherine Gorge Cruise
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Uluru (Ayers Rock) Field of Light Sunrise Tour
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Early Morning Ballooning in Alice Springs
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Best of Uluru & Segway

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Full Uluru Base Walk at Sunrise Including breakfast
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Bombing of Darwin World War II Tour with Harbour Cruise
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Top End Safari Camp Day Tour

Top End Safari Camp Day Tour

Litchfield and Jumping Crocodiles Full Day Trip from Darwin
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Darwin Sunset Cruise Including Fish 'n' Chips
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Helicopter Scenic: Extended Uluru & Kata Tjuta
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All about Northern Territory

When to visit

Aussie weather is hot, but the Northern Territory turns up the heat even higher, especially in summer. Temperatures can easily climb over 100°F (38°C) from December through March, and this is also the wet season, when flooding can limit road access to the national parks. A smarter choice is to plan your trip between May and September when the (comparatively) cooler, dryer weather is ideal for hiking and exploring.

Getting around

Both planes and long-distance buses connect Darwin and Adelaide with the Red Centre. Once there, you’ll need your own transport—or to join a tour—to explore the remote Outback region. Further north, Darwin is easy to get around on foot or by public transport, but the only way to get to the Northern Territory’s national parks is by car. Consider a 4WD, especially if traveling in the wet season.

Traveler tips

One of the Northern Territory’s most impressive wildlife encounters takes place on a 1.5-hour speedboat ride from Darwin to Bare Sand Island. Head there at sunrise or sunset to spot flatback and olive ridley turtles nesting and hatching on the island’s protected beaches.

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People Also Ask

What is the Northern Territory best known for?

The Northern Territory is home to Australia’s most iconic natural landmark—Uluru or Ayers Rock—which lies at the heart of the Red Centre. Along with nearby Kings Canyon and the Olgas, other Top End must-sees include the Kakadu National Park, Nitmiluk National Park, and the state capital of Darwin.

Why do people visit Northern Territory?

Travelers venture into Australia’s Red Centre to marvel at the natural wonders of Uluru, Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), and Kings Canyon. In the state's north, Darwin is the gateway to Kakadu National Park (the largest in Australia), Litchfield National Park, and the Katherine Gorge at Nitmiluk National Park.

Is Darwin worth visiting?

Yes. Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory and the gateway to Kakadu National Park. The coastal city is known for its saltwater crocodiles, rich Aboriginal heritage, and lively cultural scene. For fun, watch the sunset at the beach, browse the night markets, and explore Darwin’s foodie hot spots.

How long do you need in the Northern Territory?

For a weeklong trip to the Northern Territory, it’s best to choose one or two destinations—either Darwin and Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks or the Red Centre, Uluru, and Nitmiluk National Park. To see it all, plan a 2-week trip and include the beaches of Arnhem Land.

What is the best month to visit the Northern Territory?

Dry season (May through September) is the best time, as it's when the Outback heat is most manageable, and you’ll have full access to the national parks. Visit in May or June to avoid the crowds, or in August for seasonal events like the Darwin Festival and Uluru Camel Cup.

Is 2 nights in Uluru enough?

Yes, two nights is ideal for a Uluru visit. You’ll be able to watch the sunrise and sunset over Uluru, hike the base walk, and explore neighboring Kata Tjuta (the Olgas). Consider spending three or four nights to include a visit to nearby Kings Canyon.


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