From Kakadu to Uluru, from Darwin to the outback, the Northern Territory has stirring landscapes, abundant wildlife and a soulful Indigenous story.
Call that Australia? This is Australia. Ever since Crocodile Dundee brought Kakadu to the world's attention, the Northern Territory has been on the radar for its impressive portfolio of quintessentially Aussie landforms: Uluru and Kata Tjuta rising improbably from the desert; the great sandstone escarpments and pristine coastline of Arnhem Land; and the vast (and we mean vast) stretches of outback flecked with sand dunes, gravel plains and monsoonal mangroves. Perhaps more than anywhere else in the country, it's hard to escape the feeling that here lies eternity, and that human beings are very much secondary to all that wild beauty.
Native Australian Wildlife
The Northern Territory's astonishing and varied terrain provides habitat for some of the last and largest surviving populations of native wildlife in the country, animating an ancient and thinly populated land. Kakadu is the obvious star, whether for birding or mammals or saltwater crocs in the East Alligator River. The West MacDonnell Ranges, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and Pungalina–Seven Emu Wildlife Sanctuary are all very different, but each offers the chance to witness Australia's charismatic fauna. And way up north, in the remote Cobourg Peninsula, marine mammals and sea turtles add depth and excitement.
If wildlife animates the Australian outback, it is the Territory's Indigenous population that gives it soul. And unlike elsewhere in Australia, it's relatively easy here to cross the cultural frontier and meet Indigenous people on their terms. It could happen when your Indigenous guide takes you on an intimate exploration of country. Or as you sit in quiet conversation with artists at work in one of the Territory's many Indigenous art centres. Or when you lose yourself in the rituals and ceremonies of an Indigenous festival. Wherever it happens, it will provide some of the more special memories from your time here.
While it's easy to identify the more obvious elements of the outback's appeal, there's one thing that's less easy to quantify: its strange, almost mystical allure. There's something about this place, an intangible call that defies easy explanation, something spiritual that echoes through so many moments out here. You'll feel it when you first lay eyes on the Rock, as the sun dips below the horizon beyond the escarpments of Kakadu, and when you stop in the middle of nowhere and find yourself enveloped by silence. In such moments lies the mysterious call of the outback.