Explore the Northern Territory of our beautiful homeland
Student Flights’ Anne Staines travels to the Northern Territory of Australia. Anne starts her trip in Alice Springs in the Red Centre and then flies north to Darwin. Anne visits Uluru, Kings Canyon and the Olgas. Further north, she explores Kakadu, Litchfield and Katherine Gorge. Anne, tell us about your great outdoor experience.
If you’re looking for a holiday destination that will offer something truly unique and refreshing you can’t look past the Northern Territory. It’s a must see for international tourists but also something every Aussie should do. I’ve travelled extensively throughout exotic parts of the world but to this day, my trip to the NT one of my favourite experiences. The hardest choice you’ll have to make is Red Centre or Top End? I believe the only answer, budget and time willing, is to do both in the one trip.
I was lucky enough to do just that, starting my trip in Alice Springs where we joined a three day Red Centre tour with Adventure Tours. If you do this trip, you’ll find it hard to pick a favourite moment. Watching the sunset over Uluru (Ayers Rock) while drinking a beer is a great start, but wait until the next day when you get to explore it up close and walk the ten kilometre circumference. The next morning, while using your sleeping bag for extra warmth, you will watch the sunrise over the Olgas (kata tjuta). It’s like a moving painting as the sky and rocks change in colour, something a photo can’t capture. The final prize is walking through Kings Canyon. If you make it up heart break hill alive you’ll get to see an alien landscape.
After a night in Alice Springs we made our way by air to Darwin, the gateway to Kakadu and home of the saltwater croc. From here we joined our group in a twelve-seat trooper and spent five days exploring Kakadu, Litchfield and Katherine Gorge. Your first stop will be a wildlife cruise. This is not your typical ‘cuddle a koala’ touristy event. You will see beautiful birdlife, including cranes and brolgas, but more importantly, huge salt water crocs in their natural habitat. No one is making them jump out of the water to eat some chicken off a stick like they do in the reptile parks. I can tell you that when less than a meter and a small tin boat is all that stands between you and these dinosaurs, it’s still plenty breathtaking!
The highlight of this trip has to be scaling to the top of Jim Jim Falls. This isn’t the only time on your NT trip you will be able to marvel at the clear blue perfect skies, against the rich red rocks and green gums while your guide shares a dream time story. A near runner-up for top moment is kayaking through Katherine Gorge. You can take a small ferry up the gorge but it doesn’t come close to making your own way on a twin kayak. You can float under overhanging parts of the towering walls and listen to the lapping water echo or take some time to hang out on one of the many small beaches along the way. Just make sure you avoid the beaches with crocodile nesting signs! Luckily this isn’t the only chance you’ll get to venture into water in this croc infested part of Australia. Litchfield National Park is the final leg on this trip and it has some of the most amazing water pools where you can wash off the dust and grime from five days of hard exploring.
I opted for the true Swag experience. There is something extremely freeing about going to sleep under the open sky, you haven’t seen the stars until you’ve watched them from the centre of Australia with no unnatural light for miles. But of course, if you want to move into your tent at some point throughout the night you do have that option, especially if you are lucky enough to be part of the 1% of people who get to see the Red Centre when it’s raining! Camping is strictly regulated in these parts of Oz, so even though you may be ‘roughing it’ you will always have bathroom facilities nearby.
Each afternoon, you will help your guide collect firewood so they can build a massive bonfire to sit around while you all chip in to help cook dinner and then chat and have a beer in the glow of the fire. I guess you’ve got the point by now that I am a fan of the NT! Overall, if I can give you one final word of advice, it would be, don’t expect everything to go like clockwork in the NT, it can be like a different world on its own time frame, but you can expect a genuine experience. Get there soon!
Looking for more information about travelling through Australia’s Northern Territory? Contact [email]text=Anne Staines[/email], a Team Leader with Student Flights based on the St. Lucia Campus of The University of Queensland where she can be reached at 1300 052 966 or by [email]text=email[/email].
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