The Home of the Australian Outback – Northern Territory

By Jace Sinclair
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The Northern Territory (NT) is an Australian territory in the central and central northern regions of Australia. It is vast, encompassing from the center of Australia’s map, near Uluru and the town of Alice Springs, to the capital city of Darwin and its adjacent islands.

Territorians are some of the friendliest chaps you will find. Strong indigenous cultures offer thriving art practices, ancient storytelling, and deep spiritual tradition, while diverse national parks provide outstanding landscapes.

Venture the Northern Territory from the Australian Outback to the wonderful Nitmiluk National Park.

The Australian Outback – Northern Territory

Australian Outback – Northern Territory

The Australian Outback from the Northern Territory is more than just the area around Uluru or Ayers Rock. In fact, by one definition it is most of the country.  Because much of the continent is so dry, most of the population in Australia lives along the east coast, with a fair number of people also living along the southern coast and the west coast.

All the rest of the country...the part that is less populated is considered the Australian Outback.  OK — If you’re planning a trip to Australia, and you want to see some of the Outback, you don’t want this big generalized definition.  You want to know where to go and what to see.

This will come as no surprise, but what you want to see first is the iconic symbol of The Red Center. That big monolithic rock we mentioned right at the beginning. It’s known to many as Ayers Rock, but its proper name among the Aboriginal native population is Uluru.

You could drive to Ayers Rock, then you’d really get a taste for the Australian Outback.  It’s a long way from anywhere, 280 miles (462) from Alice Springs, and Alice Springs is pretty much in “the middle of nowhere” or the middle of the Outback, or in the Red Center, as you please.

Australian Outback – Northern Territory

Fly in.  You can join a tour or travel independently.  Rental cars are expensive around Uluru, but so are tours.  You are pretty much limited to one or the other.  The roads you will be driving on are two-lane, and many of them are dirt roads, but all are well maintained.

Australian Outback – Northern TerritoryRemember, you will be driving on the left.

There is a surprising range of accommodations for staying near Ayers Rock. All of these are all located in Yulara which is a township/resort that is about 5 miles (8 km) from the entrance to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.  (And about 11 miles or 18 km from Uluru itself.)  The accommodations range from five-star hotels to hostels to a campground.

There are a variety of restaurants and snack bars and a small grocery store.  Within this resort area, you can walk or take a free shuttle bus to get around.  You might want to stay in one hotel but eat at another. That’s easy.

You should plan to spend two or three nights to see even this small section of the Australian Outback.  You can hike around Uluru, and you want to see it at various times of the day.  It really is an awe-inspiring sight.  You shouldn’t climb Ayers Rock if you have respect for the Aboriginal People‘s wishes.  They consider it sacred, and they will ask you not to.

You will also want time to visit Kata Tjuta (which used to be known as the Olgas).  You can drive out to see them, but to really appreciate them, you should allow time for a hike. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water!

You would need to allow weeks and weeks to explore all of the Australian Outback, but you can get a great taste for how beautiful it is by just visiting the Red Center around Ayers Rock.

Wonderful Nitmiluk National Park Australia

Australian Outback – Northern Territory

If you are not convinced of the beauty of Australia’s Northern Territory, then you only need to visit Nitmiluk National Park, and your opinion will completely change forever.

This approximately 292,800-hectare national park is home to the Jawoyn Aboriginal people and co-managed by the Park and Wildlife Service of the Northern Territory.  Nitmiluk will captivate you with its gorgeous sandstone landscape, wide valleys and number of cultural sites.

The highlight of the park is undoubtedly, the Katherine Gorge. This spectacular deep gorge is carved through ancient sandstone, where the Katherine River freely flows. The best way to maximize your visit to the gorge is to do an overnight trip here. But if camping is not your cup of tea, you always have other accommodation options nearby.  Once you reach the gorge, you can further explore its magnificence by hiking or canoeing. Another more comfortable and relaxed alternative is to go on one of those regular boat cruises that take passengers to different parts of the gorge.

You can reach Nitmiluk National Park in the topmost section of the Northern Territory.

Katherine is the main gateway to Nitmiluk and is served by all sorts of public transportation such as planes, bus, and train. From here, you can reach the park via two main access points. One of which is situated 30 kilometers northeast of Katherine. The other access point is through the western part of the Park, through the Leliyn or Edith Falls. You can reach this entrance by turning off Stuart Highway. A number of travelers do an overnight in Katherine and leave for the park early in the morning. Nature lovers choose to camp within the park, particularly at the Nitmiluk Caravan Park at Katherine Gorge.

You may visit Nitmiluk National Park at any time of the year, but the period of May through September offers the most ideal weather. During the wet season, there is a strong occurrence of flooding of the Katherine River thus restricting some of the usual activities in the park.

Australian Outback – Northern Territory

It is arguably more convenient to drive your own transport when going to Nitmiluk. But in case you don’t have one, you can always make use of the shuttle bus service from Katherine. The earliest bus leaves from the town at 8 am.  But take note that it only goes back and forth the park three times a day.

The bus drops you off at the Nitmiluk National Park Visitor Centre, which is actually an excellent starting point of your exploration.

While here, you can get an overview of the park’s landscapes and more information about the Jawoyn Aboriginal people. The visitor center is also the right place to get maps and guidebooks as well as sign up for a camping spot in the caravan park. You may also purchase your ticket to Katherine Gorge cruise here.

Once you enter the park, your imagination will be instantly captivated by its beauty. Go for a leisure stroll along the riverbanks or kayak the unknown waters. If you want to sweat it out, tackle the challenging five-day hike along the Jatbula Trail. The trail, which stretches to 66 kilometers, showcases luscious flora, Aboriginal rock art, waterfalls, and other wildlife habitats. But Jatbula is only one of the many walking trails in Nitmiluk. All these trails have a story to tell and surprises to reveal to adventurous hikers.

Launch yourself into an out-of-the-ordinary travel experience. Northern Territory is a place that will linger in your memories forever.

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