A New Perspective of Uluru. Wide-angled lens perspective of the iconic monolith from the sunset viewing platform at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
The Northern Territory is a vast federal territory in Australia – and the epitome of what you think of when you hear the word “outback”. Though the area spans 548,600 square miles (1,420,867 square kilometers) only 250,000 people call the Northern Territory home.
So what can you see and do in such a remote and barren land? A good place to start is the Red Centre – so-called because of the deep red soil, thanks to the high iron present in the ancient earth. In the World Heritage-listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park you’ll find Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) and Uluru (Ayers Rock) – awe-inspiring large domed rock formations, while a hike through Kings Canyon or the West and East MacDonnell Ranges will leave you speechless with spectacular views of the horizon. One of the only towns for thousands of miles, Alice Springs, is a good place to stay, meet other travelers and seek out the local nightlife.
Further up north is Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory and one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. Here, you’ll find a unique blend of the outback and a modern city, with shops selling Aboriginal arts and crafts, delicious Australian and international cuisine, and access to nearby nature retreats. Less than two hours’ drive from Darwin is Kakadu National Park, approximately half the size of Switzerland and featuring Aboriginal rock art, incredible ancient rock formations, and a plethora of flora and fauna.
Don’t forget that visiting at different times of the year will expose you to the drama of the wet season, when the rain is relentless; while the dry season means you’ll be scavenging for the last remnants of water left in the soil. And while being close to the equator means that days are typically hot and dry, in the Red Centre winters can mean that nighttime temperatures can reach below 0 degrees celsius, so bring warm clothes!
But this is just scratching the surface for such a vast region of land. Whether it’s seeing ghost gums or countless termite mounds on long stretches of road, or meeting Aboriginal communities whose ancestors co-existed on this land for up to 70,000 years (or more!) ago, the Northern Territory is a great place to visit and explore.
Folds of Uluru. Close-up detail of geological formations of Uluru.
“Beware! No breakdancing on saltwater crocodiles!” – Seriously though, there is a very dangerous risk of getting too close to the water and winding up being lunch for one of these huge reptiles. Kakadu National Park.
A jabiru (or black-necked stork) at the Yellow Waters billabong in Kakadu National Park.
Cruising on the Yellow Waters billabong in Kakadu National Park.
A tiny rock wallaby is spotted amongst the boulders at Simpson’s Gap. Western MacDonnell ranges.
There are many nooks and crannies that one can visit at the great monolith of Uluru, that reveal much more of this sacred Aboriginal site than the typical viewing platforms for sunrise and for sunset.
Perhaps contrary to expectations, this ancient monolith is not all smooth! Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Silhouette of Uluru. A view toward Uluru from the Kata Tjuta sunrise viewing platform (zoom lens recommended!).
Early Morning Light. Rays of sunrise on the flora at Kata Tjuta.
Watch Out For Turtles! A warning sign to prevent long-necked turtle casualties on the vehicle-accessible road at Fogg Dam, a handful of kilometres off of the Kakadu Highway.
A close-up of a magnetic termite mound at Litchfield National Park. These termites build their mounds so as to align them on a north-south axis. This allows the termite colony to benefit from the warmth of the sun in the morning and in the evening with the hottest part of the day minimized as the sun shines down on the narrowest part of the mound from directly overhead.
An iconic kookaburra (a relative to the kingfisher) at the Northern Territory’s capital of Darwin.
Waterfalls at Litchfield. Wangi waterfalls at Litchfield National Park.
Spectacular cloud formations catch the sunrise light at King’s Canyon National Park.
Burrunggui (Nourlangie) Rock Art. Ancient aboriginal rock art is featured at the Anbangbang gallery at Burrunggui rock (recently known as Nourlangie Rock). Kakadu National Park.
The iconic image of this most famed of monoliths, as taken from the sunset viewing platform. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
A close-up of a saltwater crocodile (a.k.a. “saltie” in the Northern Territory).
Don’t leave a visit to Australia without a trip to Northern Territory. ‘Nuff said.