There are a number of excellent national parks in Australia, and four of the best are located in the beautiful Northern Territory. We’ve taken a look at them here.
Kakadu National Park represents a different side of the Northern Territory. Home to lush floodplains and bountiful estuaries, Kakadu contains a diverse range of animal and plant life — 280 species of birds (around 1\3 all the species living across Australia), and everything from Mangrove roots to towering, buttressed rainforest trees.
Kakadu also stands as one of the premier preservations of Indigenous Australian culture, religion, and art, with hundreds of distinct cave painting locations dating back to 20,000 years ago. On top of this, it houses countless pathways, camps, and artifacts from thousands of years of Aboriginal inhabitation.
This is a place where you’ll never want for activities. Check out one of the towering waterfalls, or go for a tour of the rivers by boat (watch for crocs!). Anyone looking for a little history can visit one of the Cultural Centres, or go straight to the art sites themselves.
The weather around Kakadu dictates what kind of experience you’ll have. During Gudjewg (Monsoon) season you won’t want to be roughing it in a tent, but a huge amount of new flora and fauna pop up to compensate. Come a few months later, in Banggerreng (‘Knock ‘em down storm), and clear skies abound, plus winds will have blown down the giant Speargrass plants, allowing you a better look at the shorelines. Make sure to check the current season before booking a trip.
Stanislav Fosenbauer / Shutterstock.com
Kata-Tjuta, home to Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) and Kata-Tjuta itself, is one of the top tourism spots of Australia. Fortunately for those of us trying to get away from the crowds, it’s got a huge, rich expanse of hiking and camping spots to go alongside the guided tours.
Uluru and the Kata-Tjuta mountains are both gigantic Sandstone mountains clothed in the same rich-red hues as the outback bulldust. During the day they stand as majestic testaments to the beauty of the Territory’s countryside, and at sunset they have a purpley-blue glow as the sun’s dying rays catch their tips.
If you’re looking for a place to appreciate some Aussie beauty, the ochre hues of Kata-Tjuta mountains are home to a number of great hiking spots and day-walks. These can be done guided and unguided, and are freely available for people of all skill levels.
Litchfield National Park
Depending on who you ask, Litchfield is either the lesser Kakadu, or in a class of its own high above it. Sharing the throne of wetland national park with its over-achieving sister, Litchfield has a warm reputation as Kakadu without the crowds. By all accounts, you’re more likely to have an authentic bushland experience at Litchfield without having to go off the beaten track.
Litchfield is famed for its fauna; you’ll see kangaroos, wallabies, sugar gliders, scaly monitors, frill-necked lizards, and too many birds to mention on your travels, and it’s also home to a colony of rare Ghost Bats.
Containing pockets of preserved jungle, and with multiple major rivers flowing through it, Litchfield is renowned as having some great spots to take a dip. Don’t wander off to anywhere that isn’t explicitly recommended though, because it’s also home to some nasty crocodiles down by the Finniss River.
You’ll find Litchfield just over 100km south of Darwin, making it the most accessible park on the list to get to from a major city. One of the main attractions of the park is located just off of the entrance, in the form of the Magnetic Termite Mounds — a group of gigantic 2+ meter high termite hills all eerily facing the same direction, dotted out across the fields
If you’re looking for lush vegetation, killer views, and some magnificent natural waterfalls and rock formations, Litchfield is easier to get to than Kakadu, and you won’t have to share with the tourist crowds.
Do you like gorgeous gorges and don’t mind getting your feet wet? Nitmuluk has you covered.
Nitmuluk National Park is comprised of a series of cliffs and valleys, through and under which the Katherine river flows. A second series of rivers and gorges create Edith Falls.
The main reason to come to Nitmuluk is to cruise down the Katherine river channel. Depending on your taste, you can choose to head down in style and luxury on a tour boat, or slog through with determination on a canoe or kayak. If you’d rather see it from the air, you can fly down in a helicopter ride, but you’ll miss out on the ground-level scenery and the chance to experience the winding trail through the gorges from below.
Nitmuluk is a wonderland for anyone with a love for the water. While swimming is prohibited in the wet season, the water levels in the dry season make for idyllic, secluded spots to relax in under the shadow of the towering sandstone walls.
Fishing in the area is another popular pastime for tourists (just remember to obey the park rules), as the Katherine is home to Barramundi, Bream (and Black Bream), Mullets, and Catfish. If you’re not an experienced angler, you can book a fishing tour that’ll cover your bases.