Litchfield National Park
It may not be as well known as Kakadu, but many Territory locals rate Litchfield even higher. Our response? Why not visit both? The rock formations and the rock pools in cliff shadow here are simply stunning and Litchfield is smaller and more manageable than Kakadu.
The Arnhem Highway (Rte 36) connects Darwin to Kakadu National Park – it branches off towards Kakadu 34km southeast of Darwin – and while many travellers stop for little more than petrol along the way, there are a number of worthwhile sights and activities if you have the time.
The little town of Batchelor was once so sleepy the government gave blocks of land away for a time to encourage settlement. That was before uranium was discovered and the nearby Rum Jungle mine developed (it closed in 1971 after operating for almost 20 years). These days, Batchelor is an important gateway and service centre for neighbouring Litchfield National Park.
Blink and you'll miss this tiny highway town, 111km south of Darwin. There's little to detain you but the Adelaide River War Cemetery bears an important legacy: a sea of little brass plaques commemorating those killed in the 1942−43 air raids on northern Australia. Pretty Robin Falls is just south of Adelaide River.
The Tiwi Islands − Bathurst Island and Melville Island − lie about 80km north of Darwin, and are home to the Tiwi Aboriginal people. A visit here is one of the cultural highlights of the Top End. The Tiwis (We People) have a distinct culture and today are well known for producing vibrant art and the odd champion Aussie Rules football player.
The Daly River is considered some of the best barramundi-fishing country in the NT and the hub is this small community. There's a shop and fuel here and visitors are welcome without a permit, but note that this is a dry community (no alcohol). Other than fishing, there's a fine art centre and a fine arts festival.
Mandorah is a low-key, relaxed residential beach suburb looking out across the harbour to Darwin. It sits on the tip of Cox Peninsula, 128km by sealed road from Darwin but only 6km across the harbour by regular ferry. The main reason to visit is for the ferry ride across the harbour and to throw in a fishing line off the jetty here.