Native flavours, Indigenous art and hot air ballooning across a vast desert land at sunrise: there’s much more to the Northern Territory than meets the eye.
The Northern Territory is a constant source of curiosity for travellers and locals alike. Here lies a landscape as ancient as time itself, with landmarks that have withstood millions of years, imbued with a longstanding Indigenous culture. Beyond the iconic big red rock (you know the one we’re talking about), there’s so much to discover in this enthralling part of the country. Whether it’s chef-hatted restaurants in Darwin, unrivalled outback accommodation and epic hikes, swims and scenic flights – discover the jaw-dropping things to do in the Northern Territory.
What better way is there to connect with the land you visit than by sampling its native food under an open sky? At Discovery Kings Canyon resort, join the Under a Desert Moon experience to feast on a five-course, outback-inspired dinner paired with Australian wines underneath a starry night sky.
If there’s one thing you must do at Kings Canyon, it’s the Rim Walk. This six-kilometre circuit trail delves into the Garden of Eden (a lush waterhole home to rare native plants) before resurfacing along the crest where 360-degree views of the surrounding red sand dunes will take your breath away – if the walk hasn’t already. For another perspective, a helicopter flight over the canyon is an exhilarating option.
Put yourself in the Red Heart of Australia at the halfway point between Uluru and Alice Springs when you stay at Discovery Kings Canyon. Enjoy a taste of outback luxury, whether you opt to stay in a Superior Glamping Tent or a Deluxe Spa Room, complete with a private balcony and spa bath overlooking the rugged landscape.
For a romantic dinner date out in the desert, it’s got to be Arnguli Grill & Restaurant at Desert Gardens Hotel. Australian produce sings with local Indigenous flavours – try the native tasting platter for a generous selection of dishes using locally-grown spices, grains and seeds. Don’t forget a glass or two of premium Australian wines to go with it.
There’s something for everyone at Uluru. If you’re an art aficionado, head to the Gallery of Central Australia (GoCA) which showcases the brilliant work of emerging Indigenous artists. For something more active, join a segway tour around the base of Uluru. For more jaw-dropping ancient landscapes, embark on a leisurely hike around Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) at sunset.
Discover your sanctuary in the desert at Ayers Rock Resort. Complimentary guest activities like sampling bush tucker, stargazing and listening to a didgeridoo performance make a stay here fascinating, while facilities like a refreshing swimming pool, the Red Ochre Spa and access to the several bars and restaurants on the complex ensure your absolute comfort.
Did you know Darwin is a gourmand’s dream? Here, everything from fine dining and chef-hatted restaurants to locally made gins are at your fingertips. For fresh seafood along the esplanade, secure a table at The Darwin Club. When you’re craving succulent steak, indulge at Char Restaurant. For a casual affair with award-winning wines, it’s got to be Pee Wee’s at the Point.
Darwin is the gateway to the Top End, and here you’re perfectly placed to explore the waterfalls, sacred Indigenous sites and native wildlife at Litchfield National Park –or if you’re looking for a wildlife encounter closer to the city, get your thrills at Crocosaurus Cove. For food stalls and arts and crafts, spend an evening at Mindil Beach Sunset Markets.
After a day exploring Darwin’s balmy streets, the contemporary Ramada Suites by Wyndham Zen Quarter Darwin is a great place to retreat for a blast of air conditioning and a comfy bed. These self-contained apartments each feature a balcony, fully equipped kitchen and laundry facilities – plus there’s a rooftop café onsite.
Who would’ve thought a spot for delicious Indian, Thai and Pan-Asian cuisine could be found in the centre of Australia? The sister restaurant of the Darwin outpost, and arguably the Red Centre’s best eatery, Hanuman serves up a tantalising menu of soft-shell crab, hanuman oysters with Kashmiri chilli and fragrant rose petal garam masala, and aromatic beef massaman.
While you’re here, it’s well worth making the hour’s journey to the West MacDonnell Ranges, home to the towering cliffs and waterholes of Simpsons Gap. For a quintessential desert experience, meet the resident camels and enjoy a sunset ride across the shifting colours of the ranges. Want a breathtaking birds-eye view of the landscape? Wake up early for a hot air balloon ride over Alice Springs at sunrise.
Find your home in the heart of the Red Centre at Crowne Plaza Alice Springs Lasseters, an IHG Hotel. This outback oasis stands in the shadow of MacDonnell Ranges and offers modern comforts like a swimming pool, poolside café, an onsite day spa and a mouthwatering burger joint.
Planning a stay in the Northern Territory’s capital? Read 6 Reasons to Head North to Darwin.
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Hero image by Annie Nguyen, courtesy of Tourism NT.