9 Must-See Northern Territory destinations for 2021.
With 2021 in full swing, we’ve listed nine must-see destinations in the Northern Territory, Australia including some lesser-known locations for the seasoned traveller, from the tropical Top End to the Red Centre.
Where the Outback meets the tropics, Katherine is teeming with adventure, culture, hospitality and nature and is one of the must-see Northern Territory destinations. The region is particularly known for its thermal springs, misty waterfalls and deep rocky gorges, and is rich with Jawoyn culture.
Visit sandstone country at Nitmiluk National Park and go on a canoe in the beautiful Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge – you’ll be immersed in the spirituality of Nitmiluk and its amazing sights, including the breathtaking sandstone cliffs, local wildlife and ancient Aboriginal rock art.
Flying under the radar is Limmen National Park, a true paradise for adventurers and anglers alike and known in local circles. A 4WD drive will take you through woodlands, major rivers and floodplains, all bursting with wildlife.
A short ferry ride from Darwin, discover Tiwi Islands, nicknamed the ‘Island of Smiles’. Comprised of two main islands, Bathurst and Melville, the Tiwis are known for their friendly locals, a love of AFL, rich Indigenous culture and unspoilt beaches.
SeaLink’s Tiwi By Design is an immersive art and cultural day-tour introducing you to the Aboriginal community of Wurrumiyanga. It includes a Welcome to Country with a smoking ceremony and totem dances, and a screen printing workshop at Tiwi Design, where you can bring home a traditional Tiwi print souvenir.
The shores of Paddle Pop Rainbow Beach resemble the pastel pinks of ice cream and are the perfect backdrop to set up the picnic blanket and watch the sunset.
Located off the coast of Bathurst Island The Tiwi Islands Retreat is a private, beachfront resort with options for a hotel-like stay or glamping.
One of Australia’s last true wildernesses, Arnhem Land was voted by Vacaay as one of the top five micro-regions to see in 2021 and is one of the top Northern Territory destinations. It hosts Garma Festival, Australia’s largest Indigenous cultural gathering, and offers a diversity of landscapes, from monsoonal forests to savannah woodlands, wetlands, wild coastlines, deserted tropical islands and soaring escarpments.
In East Arnhem Land, check out the pristine Groote Eylandt, famous for its world-class fishing and perfect for a digital detox retreat.
When you’re visiting West Arnhem Land, stop by famous Injalak Arts and Crafts, a gallery showcasing the work of over 200 Indigenous artists, or spend a day in Garig Gunak Barlu National Park, which is fringed with white sandy beaches.
Dual World Heritage-listed and also the largest terrestrial national park in Australia, Kakadu is an incredible nature reserve, teeming with monsoonal forests, wetlands and show-stopping waterfalls. The Park is known for its wildlife, home to a quarter of all Australian freshwater fish species, one-third of Australian bird species and the Territory’s iconic crocodiles.
Some of world’s most incredible Aboriginal rock art can be found here at Ubirr, which include paintings of wildlife (like the extinct Thylacine), stories of the Dreamtime to historical records of the first encounters with Europeans.
Jim Jim Falls is one of the Kakadu’s most recognisable and photographed destinations. Surrounded by monsoonal forest and dramatic cliffs, the 200-metre waterfall cascades into a deep plunge pool and family-friendly beach.
Located just an hour-and-a-half drive south of Darwin, Litchfield is a favourite among locals thanks to its accessibility and pristine natural beauty.
One of the park’s most popular cascading waterfalls, Florence Falls, offers panoramic views of the valley, sandstone plateau and lush monsoon forest.
Another impressive sight is the hundreds of Magnetic Termite mounds, which stand up to 2 metres high and are thought to be at least 100-years-old.
East MacDonnell Ranges
Stretching for more than 100 kilometres east of Alice Springs, the East MacDonnell Ranges were part of a short lived gold rush and have since lived in the shadow of the West MacDonnell Ranges. Now, the East Macs as they’re fondly known, offer some of the best outback spots and landscapes, perfect for bush-walking, camping and four-wheel driving.
Head out on a walk in Trephina Gorge Nature Park, known for its quartzite cliffs and River Red Gum-lined watercourses.
Take a down history lane with Central’s Australia first-ever town, Arltunga, which was once a major gold mine site.
Finke Gorge National Park
A handy day trip from Alice Springs, explore the ancient and spectacular Finke Gorge National Park. It’s an important wilderness reserve, home to The Finke River, one of the oldest rivers in the world, and Palm Valley, which shelters groves of red cabbage palms, unique to this area.
Drive to the park’s various hiking tracks, including The Kalaranga Lookout, which offers amazing views of sculptured sandstone amphitheatre, and the unique Mparra Walk, which introduces travellers to an Indigenous Dreamtime story when walked in a clockwise direction.
Seventy-five kilometres south of Alice Springs is Rainbow Valley, renowned for its scenic sandstone bluffs and cliffs. The rock bands change from ochre red to orange and purple in the early morning and late afternoon, offering some of the Territory’s most magical sunrises and sunsets.
Embark on a 4WD adventure through majestic desert oaks, stopping by Mushroom Rock, an unusual geological formation with a natural tunnel formed by millions of years of wind and rain erosion.
Spend the night camping and be amazed by the clarity of the outback’s night sky.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Considered the spiritual heart of Australia, this park should be on everyone’s travel radar. It is home to Uluru, the world’s largest monolith and Lonely Planet’s top three best places to see in 2020, as well as the lesser-known soaring rock domes of Kata Tjuta (the Olgas).
There’s plenty of life-changing ways to witness the World Heritage-listed natural wonders in person – opt for a Segway tour or camel ride across the desert dunes, or try tandem skydiving for 360-degree views at sunrise.
Choose from a number of walking tracks including the 2.6km Walpa Gorge Walk or 7.4km Valley of the Winds walk, offering unparalleled views of the rugged outback landscape.