The Northern Territory is without a doubt one of Australia’s most iconic holiday destinations, but while international tourists usually include it on their itineraries, many Aussies have yet to tick it off their bucket list. Now that international travel is off the table amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s never been a better time to plan a short holiday in Australia. And if you’re looking for slightly more interesting travel ideas during COVID-19 than the typical beachside escape, a flight to Darwin, Uluru or Alice Springs might be just the ticket.
Why visit the Northern Territory?
If you’re looking for (relatively) short trips from Sydney, a flight to Darwin (4.5 hours), Uluru (3.5 hours) or Alice Springs (3.5 hours) is definitely worth considering. Due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions it’s currently more affordable and less crowded in the Northern Territory than it’s ever been, making it the perfect time to grab a great deal and skip the long lines when visiting some of Australia’s most stunning natural attractions. From the unforgettable Red Centre and ancient Indigenous rock art, to the territory’s 24 national parks, and 73 nature reserves, conservation areas, historical reserves and marine reserves– the Northern Territory is a must-visit destination for every Australian.
What to do in NT
There is so much to see in the Northern Territory, so if you’re just planning a short trip from Sydney, you’ll probably need to choose between visiting what’s known as the Top End (the northernmost section of the Northern Territory, flying into Darwin) or the Red Centre (the outback region of the Northern Territory, flying into Uluru or Alice Springs).
The Top End of the NT encompasses the territory’s capital city of Darwin, as well as plenty of rugged natural attractions, including breathtaking National Parks and sandstone escarpments bearing rare and ancient Indigenous rock art.
Source: Kakadu Tours and Travel / Shaana McNaught
Darwin is the only Australian capital city with a tropical climate, making it a great option for travellers looking for a tropical getaway without leaving Australian shores. It boasts a vibrant dining scene with plenty of fresh seafood as well as unique local produce and traditional bush tucker foods such as Kakadu plum, lemon myrtle and even edible ants.
Kakadu National Park
Australia’s biggest National Park is located three hour’s drive from Darwin and has received World Heritage status for both its natural and cultural value. The lush rainforest and natural wetlands are home to native wildlife including crocodiles and migratory birds and the Park also houses indigenous rock art that dates back thousands of years, most notably the Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) rock art site.
Source: Kakadu Tours and Travel
Litchfield National Park
Just an hour’s drive from Darwin, this lesser-known National Park is filled with stunning waterfalls (Florence Falls, Tjaynera Falls and Tolmer Falls are three of the best), enormous termite mounds and a freshwater rockpool called Bluey Rockhole where you can cool off after a long trek through the Park’s monsoonal vine forest.
Source: Manfred Gottschalk / Getty Images
Hop on the ferry from Darwin to the Tiwi Islands and explore this unique enclave of Aboriginal culture. The inhabitants of Tiwi Island are predominately of Aboriginal descent and visitors can witness their traditional lifestyle and thriving art culture as well as enjoy cultural and wildlife tours let by Aboriginal elders.
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Also known as Central Australia, the Red Centre is a vast outback region with Alice Springs at its heart. The region encompasses red desert, sprawling mountain ranges and gorges, and is home to native wildlife, ancient Indigenous culture and of course, the magnificent Uluru.
Uluru Camel Tour, Northern Territory. Source: Tourism NT
One of the greatest natural wonders of the world, this stunning and iconic rock formation holds a deep spiritual significance to Indigenous Australians. The 550 million-year-old sandstone monolith can be explored on a walking tour led by an Aboriginal elder, a camelback tour or by car and visitors can also enjoy dinner under the glittering stars in this magical location.
A hot air balloon ride over Uluru at sunrise is spectacular. Source: Tourism NT
This is the place to truly explore the outback and dive into the desert landscape of Australia’s Red Centre. You can watch the sun set over the desert in a hot air balloon, ride a camel over the dusty red dunes or take a trek through the nearby West and East MacDonnell Ranges which stretch out either side of Alice Springs.
This guide is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the endless attractions the Northern Territory’s Top End and Red Centre have to offer. This beguiling region is undoubtedly one of the best short trips from Sydney and your best chance of experiencing the excitement that comes with visiting somewhere completely new, without actually leaving the country. While you might be swapping your car for camelback from a few days, you’ll want to make sure it’s safely awaiting you on your return. Park on King offers high-security parking with 24/7 security monitoring and it also happens to be the cheapest option for Sydney Airport parking, making it a no-brainer when deciding where to park your car while you’re on holiday. If you’re heading off to the Northern Territory (or anywhere else), grab a free online airport parking quote and make your booking early to get the best rate.