Things to Do in Northern Territory - page 3
The vast Mary River Wetlands, located in Australia’s Northern Territory, are home to massive saltwater crocodiles, abundant bird life and massive barramundi (Asian sea bass).
The Arnhem Highway crosses five floodplains, which are prime habitat for brolgas, egrets, black-necked storks, sea eagles and magpie geese, between Darwin and Jabiru. Yet, most visitors find it more enjoyable to experience the Mary River Wetlands from the water. Airboat rides explore the Mary River floodplains and lush monsoon forests, offering a rare chance to spot the area’s abundant bird life, introduced water buffalo and native monitors and wallabies in the plentiful paperbark forests. Adelaide River cruise hosts dangle bait to draw saltwater crocodiles into view and high out of the water.
For self-guided visitors, it is also possible to view these powerful reptiles from a viewing platform at Shady Camp. Other places to explore include the Brian Creek Monsoon Forest, North Rockhole, and Couzens Lookout. In the dry season, it’s possible to explore many unsealed roads in a standard vehicle; however, in the rainy season a 4WD is recommended.
Sport fishermen come from all over to land the famed barramundi, renowned for its good fighting ability. Landing a 100-pound barramundi isn’t easy, but casting a line at Shady Camp, Corroboree Billabong, or in the Adelaide River provides the best opportunity.
The Kangaroo Sanctuary in Alice Springs shot to fame in 2013 when the TV series Kangaroo Dundee aired in England. Showing the daily life of sanctuary owner Chris “Brolga” Barnes, the series depicted the ins and outs of running a wildlife sanctuary and rescue center for baby kangaroos.
The site was founded in 2005 before expanding from a small rescue center to also include a wildlife sanctuary four years later. More expansion is expected, and Central Australia’s first wildlife hospital is currently being built on the site. Covering 90 hectares, the sanctuary is home to more than 25 kangaroos.
On a guided sunset tour of the Kangaroo Sanctuary, visitors can get up close to an Australian icon, the red kangaroo. Travelers walk the grounds and meet many kangaroos while learning about their care.
Mt. Gillen is located within John Flynn’s Grave Historical Reserve, which was named to commemorate Reverend John Flynn, who established the lifesaving Royal Flying Doctor Service. The grave is a memorial to both the man and the bridging of the gap between outback communities.
The Flynn’s Grave memorial lies at the foot of Mt. Gillen, where an informal and unposted trail leads to the summit. Although not an officially recognized track, it is a popular one and is quite well worn. A walkers’ gate approximately 150 feet (50 meters) from the Flynn’s Grave memorial marks the beginning of the track.
With a second branch in Darwin, Mbantua Fine Art Gallery and Cultural Museum (Mbantua Aboriginal Art Gallery) is a privately owned gallery in the heart of Alice Springs specializing in Aboriginal artworks. Buy everything from affordable souvenirs to investment-grade pieces by noted artists, via bark paintings, boomerangs, and gifts, or browse their permanent collection.
Simpsons Gap is one of the most prominent areas in the West MacDonnell Ranges, home to one of the most well-known waterholes of the Alice Springs region.
There are a few bush walks nearby, including the short Ghost Gum Walk and longer Cassia Hill Walk, which takes one hour each way. Longer walks around Simpsons Gap include the Woodland Trail, which connects Simpsons Gap with Bond Gap on an 11-mile (17-km) return track, and sections one and two of the Larapinta Trail. Visitors also have the opportunity to picnic at Simpsons Gap, with gas barbecues available for free use, or opt for a bicycle ride along a sealed track.
The rare black-footed rock wallaby is often seen at Simpsons Gap, best seen in the early morning or late afternoon. The wallaby is one of several creatures unique to Australia’s Red Centre.
One of the star attractions of central Australia’s West MacDonnell Ranges, Ormiston Gorge has stark red walls that house an almost permanent waterhole and attractive ghost gum trees. Facilities include a visitor center, a campground, and a kiosk, while the gorge forms the trailhead for sections 9 and 10 of the Larapinta Trail.
Formed by millions of years of erosion and precariously perched in the desert, Karlu Karlu(Devil's Marbles Conservation Reserve) is one of the most famous geologic sites in Australia’s desert interior. Located on the lonely stretch of highway between Alice Springs and Darwin, Karlu Karlu is a sacred stretch of rock strewn Australian landscape. A few of these rounded, eroded “marbles” are upwards of 20 feet wide, and are delicately perched on top of each other in ways that barely seem real. The slightest breath of wind, it seems, would topple the rocks and send them crashing to the dusty red earth below. These rocks, however, have stood in this spot for millions of years, and form parts of sacred creation tales for the area’s original inhabitants. There are no official trails in the park—just informal, well-worn paths—and the desert landscape’s epic silence improves with each step from the road. In the peak of the day, the boulders appear flat, completely lifeless, and really not all that special, though all of that changes in the hour before sunset in the light of the soft desert glow. A primitive campground allows travelers to camp amidst the towering rocks, and catch the afternoon light performance before all the stars come out. And, while it’s easy to photograph the famous marbles without even leaving the parking lot, the best way to experience the park is to walk amidst the landscape—where boulders seem to have gotten stuck after raining down from the sky.
A highlight of any visit to Australia’s Red Centre, the Sounds of Silence is an unforgettable way to discover Uluru (Ayers Rock). From watching a romantic sunset over this nature's made landmark to dining beneath the desert's bright stars—it’s an outback experience like no other.
The UNESCO-listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is an iconic Australian destination with two of the country’s most striking natural landmarks: Ayers Rock (Uluru) and the Olgas (Kata Tjuta). A sacred site, the park is co-managed by the Anangu and the government. Watch the sun come up, and learn about Anangu culture and traditions.
Devoted to desert flora, the 40-acre (16-hectare) Olive Pink Botanic Garden is home to more than 600 central Australian plant species, a network of walking trails, a visitor center with exhibitions, and the Bean Tree Cafe. It takes its name from its founder, the illustrator, activist, gardener, and anthropologist Olive Pink.
More Things to Do in Northern Territory
It's amazing what a few scraps of breadflung to a mullet can start. That's what a resident of Doctors Gully did in the 1950s, and it didn't take long for the local fish to realize they were onto a good thing. The number of fish turning up for a free meal grew and grew, the word got around, and these days it's turned into Aquascene, a healthy tourist attraction.
Every day at high tide (the tides vary, naturally, so you'll have to check the local paper or contact Aquascene for exact feeding times) a deluge of fish flood into the shallow bay, napkins on, as it were.The original mullet population havebeen joined by a host of other species including catfish, milkfish and bream.
Darwin's Crocodylus Park is a must-see for any and all reptile-enthusiasts making their way through Australia's Northern Territory. With an emphasis on conservation, research, and education, visitors can speak with the researchers and crocodile handlers who study the toothy critters, and who are in charge of the feedings and guided tours at this popular indoor and outdoor attraction. Brush up on all of your crocodile trivia inside of the museum, before venturing outside to see freshwater crocs and their massive saltwater cousins. You’ll also find lesser known species of crocodiles from the Philippines and Papua New Guinea, as well as a collection of American alligators that linger on the banks. Lest you think it’s just crocodiles here, you’ll also find lions, emus, iguanas, and enormous Burmese pythons, in addition to tigers, monkeys, capuchins, wallabies, and red kangaroos.
Upgrade your experience to include a guided cruise through the park's waters, where you'll have the chance to observe large saltwater crocodiles in their natural environment.
With its waterfalls, waterholes, and lush rain forests, Litchfield National Park has no shortage of spectacular scenery. Just a short drive from Darwin, it’s also known for its magnetic termite mounds that tower up to 7 feet (2 meters) tall. These sculptural cairns were built by termites.
Facing the sea, Lyon's Cottage was - at the time of its building - the first stone house built in Darwin for 30 years and is the only surviving example of colonial bungalow architecture in the city. It's made from locally quarried stone and now houses a museum.
It was built in 1925 from the same porcellanite stone used to construct many of Darwin's major public buildings, including Fanny Bay Gaol and Government House. The architecture of the house is similar to many that the British built in other colonies such as Singapore and Malaysia.
It came through the bombing of Darwin without damage, although it was occupied by the US army. Ironically, Cyclone Tracy saved its life. It had been sold and scheduled for redevelopment, but after the cyclone it was repaired and became today's museum, featuring local and early European history.
The Myilly Point Heritage Precinct is a small group of houses built in the 1930s by the architect B.C.G. Burnett. They are the only remaining examples of this particular pre-war housing style.
The Myilly Point houses are light and breezy in feel, with pale colors. They're raised for ventilation and represent a European aesthetic sunnily adapted to their tropical climate.
The houses in the Myilly Point Historic Precinct were created for top-level civil servants. Burnett House is the pick of the bunch, and is an unusual type of house called a 'Type K.' It took some hits during WWII and Cyclone Tracy, but has since been restored and functions as a museum.
It sits in a heavenly tropical garden. Take a stroll through the house, chat to the volunteers and (on a Sunday) take high tea, complete with scones, on the veranda.
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