Australia’s outback is located in the heart of the Northern Territory. This mystical region draws visitors from around the world to its inspiring and otherworldly desert landscape.
The red expanse of Uluru, the natural and cultural wonders of Kakadu National Park and the tropical backdrop of Darwin are just a few of the captivating sights in the outback.
We’ve rounded up seven amazing stops in this vast territory filled with natural beauty and activities for adventure seekers & leisure travelers alike.
Uluru & Surrounds
Image by jeaneeem on flickr
Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is a world-renowned destination for getting swept up in the majesty of Australia’s outback.
Located a few hours away from Alice Springs, this natural wonder tantalizes visitors with its powerful presence and subtly changing hues.
There’s no better way to start your day off than on a morning hike around the base of Uluru, catching the glow of the sunrise brighten the reds and oranges of the rock.
Then board a coach to Kuniya Piti where you’ll learn about the rich, sacred culture of the local Anangu people. See incredible aboriginal rock art in the caves throughout the area.
A scenic helicopter tour gives tourists a bird’s eye view of the magnificent desert. Witness the breathtaking views found only in the Red Centre, including the amazing domes of Kata Tjuta and the Mutijulu waterhole.
Spend your night under the stars and witness the desert illuminate on a Field of Light tour. Internationally-acclaimed artist Bruce Munro’s Field of Light art installation has become a global phenomenon with over 50,000 solar-powered stems crowned with frosted-glass spheres, lighting up as night falls.
This particular piece, named Tili Wiru Tjuta Nyakutjaku or ‘looking at lots of beautiful lights’ in local Pitjantjatjara language, creates a glittering field of blue, violet and ochre hues as far as the eye can see.
Enjoy this splendid setting with wine and canapes, or start your morning with a sunrise viewing.
Image by Aldan Jones on flickr
Alice Springs is the perfect base for an outback adventure. This remote town is the gateway to major natural wonders of the outback.
Just a few minutes away are the MacDonnell Ranges, a popular destination for adventure seekers. Natural beauty awaits in this magnificent scenery, housing famous landmarks including the Ochre Pits and Ormiston Gorge.
Enjoy a day trip with a guided tour through the West MacDonnell ranges or stay overnight at one of the many camping spots available.
Alice Springs is also home to the adorable and famous Kangaroo Sanctuary (get ready for cuteness overload on their Instagram). Take a bus to the sanctuary where you’ll meet owner Brolga and hear the story and the passion behind keeping these beautiful animals thriving.
You can also experience the outback from a bird’s eye view on an early morning hot air balloon ride. See local wildlife such as kangaroos and wallabies below you as you silently glide over the outback.
For those seeking more thrills, go on a 4WD cattle station tour below the MacDonell Ranges. Escape to the oldest working cattle station in the Northern Territory as you ride across the ranch through bush tracks and local landscape on an ATV quad bike. You and no more than 9 other riders get to see mountain ranges and wildlife up close. No riding experience required!
As the vibrant capital of Northern Territory, Darwin offers a cool blend of laid-back tropics and exciting outback wetlands.
Tune in to the chilled out vibes at one of many al fresco restaurants or splash into the wave pool in the Waterfront Precinct. Stay out for the famous Darwin sunsets, casting lingering oranges and reds across a deep blue sky.
Just a short one hour’s trip away from Darwin you’ll find Litchfield National Park, home to some of the most breathtaking waterfalls in the Northern Territory.
These spring fed falls attract native wildlife including wallabies, kangaroos, flying foxes and dingoes. Stay dry and enjoy the nature that surrounds you on guided tours to crystal clear waterholes beneath its falls or explore the sandstone relics of the Lost City on a 4WD.
With several waterfalls and rock pools, all you need is a picnic lunch and your swim suit for a perfect day out.
The natural beauty and tantalizing water clarity is irresistible. Swim out to the cascading Wangi Falls or dive into the clear flowing water of the tiered rock pools at Buley Rockhole.
It wouldn’t be an Australian experience without a few crocodiles! A saltwater crocodile cruise on the Adelaide River lets you see these creatures up close as your guide entices the crocs to jump out of the water.
Feeling adventurous? Why not take a dive in Crocosaurus Cove which submerges you in the water alongside the crocodiles! This gem in the heart of Darwin boasts an impressive collection of reptiles with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to swim with crocodiles in the Cage of Death.
If you’re looking for a more laid back nature experience, stop by Mary River National Park. Trek through the wetlands where you can see wildlife in its natural habitat. Lush landscape provides a perfect escape on your way to Kakadu.
Kakadu National Park
Kakadu, Australia’s largest national park, is home to rugged escarpments, lush rainforest, ancient rock art galleries and stunning waterfalls.
Set out to Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls on a 4WD or on a small group tour and dive into their deep plunge pools framed by magnificent cliffs. Relax on the white sand and dip into the cool water of Jim Jim Falls or take a scenic flight above Twin Falls, cascading down sheer rock cliffs.
Explore other swimming holes such as the Gunlom Falls plunge pool or the clear emerald waters of Maguk (Barramundie Gorge) where you can hike to the top of the falls and relax in the top pools.
With Aboriginal rock art dating back 20,000 years, a stop at Ubirr and Noulangie art sites is a must. See a striking depiction of the extinct Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, as well as paintings of fish, turtles, goanna and other important food animals. Marvel at the depictions of creation ancestors on the rock walls of Burrungkuy (Nourlangie), including Namarrgon, the Lightning Man.
Keep an eye out for native wildlife on a Yellow Water Billabong Cruise. As Kakadu boasts Australia’s most diverse bird population, this is a great way for twitchers looking to tick a few birds off their list and even see a crocodile or two!
Katherine & Surrounds
Home to thirteen stunning gorges and cascading waterfalls, Katherine Gorge & Notmiluk National Park calls out to many who want to experience the tropical setting of Australia. Glide along the deep blue water, as your tour guide describes the lush lands in the comfort of a relaxing boat ride.
Love to kayak or canoe? Grab your equipment and push yourself out in the river bank to immerse yourself in the natural beauty that surrounds you. Get an up close view of Katherine’s stunning landscape that is sure to make you fall in love with the Northern Territory.
For nature lovers, Daly River provides a promising destination for camping and fishing. Take a dip in the swimming holes, experience the breathtaking gorges, go fishing for the plentiful barramundi and enjoy your catch over a fire as you camp alongside the wildlife.
Tennant Creek & Barkly Region
Image by Werner Bayer on flickr
Tennant Creek offers visitors a cultural escape to the real outback. Experience the gold rush era of Australia on an underground tour of Battery Hill Mining Centre. You can even try your hand at fossicking to take home your own gold!
Love hearing about local history? Immerse yourself in Aboriginal culture as you listen to stories of ‘Nyinkka’, the spiky tailed Goanna that is responsible for shaping Tennant Creek and the ancient myth that surrounds Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles, the mysterious rock formations in the area.
The rugged beauty of Barkly Region is home to some of Australia oldest cattle stations. Plan your trip in June and experience a bush race and rodeo event at Brunette Downs Races.
Image by Mark Roy on flickr
With its white sandy beaches and clear Arafura Sea, the paradise setting of East Arnhmen land is a gorgeous escape into the wilderness. After a stroll on the gorgeous beach, visit art and craft centers to learn from the locals.
West Arnhem houses Gunbalanya, a large Aboriginal town surrounded by spectacular rock formations. See native artists work and purchase artwork and crafts at the Injalak Art and Craft Centre. Experience how the indigenous people live and take a piece of history home with you.
Ready for an Outback Adventure?
Whether it’s your first trip or your 5th, there’s never been a better time to plan a trip to Australia. The awe-inspiring Northern Territory, one of the best places to visit in Australia, is calling out to you!
Give our destination experts a call 1-888-359-2877 (Mon-Fri 8:30am -5:00pm Central US) and experience Australia’s Outback for yourself.
Posted on: April 23rd, 2018 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments
The Ghan train in Australia is one of the world’s great rail journeys, traversing the vastness of the Outback through Flinders Ranges and into the heart of the Red Centre from Adelaide to Darwin. It’s an elegant train with comfortable interiors and modern suites.
For first time train travelers, we usually recommend enjoying one leg of the journey by traveling from Alice Springs to Darwin or vice versa. It’s an easy way to experience the wonder without committing a bulk of your vacation to something you are unsure of.
However, once you get on the train and start your journey, you might end up wishing you’d spent more time on The Ghan and here’s why…
The Ghan Is Comfortable
Whether you’re socializing in the Outback Explorer Lounge, relaxing in your Gold Service suite or dining in the Queen Adelaide Restaurant, you are going to be comfortable.
The seats are wide, you have generous leg room and you can move from car to car with ease.
The attentive and professional staff will tend to your every need with a warm smile and friendly demeanor.
By night your cabin is prepared with comfortable bunks that will feel like you are sleeping on air.
With Gold Service, luxurious bathrooms and showers help prepare you for a restful night of sleep as you journey through the outback.
The Journey Is Relaxing On The Ghan
When you’re on The Ghan the only thing you need to do is sit back and enjoy the scenic ride.
There is no traffic to deal with and no worry that you’ll get lost in the Outback.
On The Ghan you get to see the countryside without the responsibility of navigating the journey.
Instead, you’ll spend your time reading, sleeping, writing, eating and enjoying choice beverages all while taking in the views.
Pass the time with fellow passengers as you trade travel stories and learn about each others’ home countries over a glass of wine and a plate of nibbles.
The Australian Outback Is Breathtaking
Sure, The Ghan delivers much more than an extended train ride when it comes to comfort and service, but the one thing that will leave you feeling truly inspired is the fantastic scenery.
You’ll likely find yourself staring out the window for long stretches of time.
But it’ll be difficult to tear your eyes away.
You’ll be transported from the lush green hills surrounding Adelaide into the rusty hues of the Red Centre, then on to the tropical splendor of Australia’s Top End.
Be on the lookout for wildlife hidden within the bush – you’re sure to spot kangaroos taking in the fresh, cool air at dusk!
Time to Explore Authentic Outback Destinations
The Ghan offers whistle stops where you can choose to catch a tour or explore on your own for a few hours. This gives you the opportunity to see and experience places off the beaten path.
Going Northbound, you’ll first stop in the pioneer town of Alice Springs.
Alice Springs is a great place to immerse yourself in Aboriginal history. You can visit a working camel farm, see the region’s birds and wildlife or opt for the Spirit of Mt. Gillen Helicopter Flight, a scenic flight that takes you over Simpon’s Gap and the Larapinta Trail.
Your next stop will be in Katherine. You can cruise down Katherine Gorge, hike in Nitmiluk National Park or maybe kayak down the Katherine River. You may just want to wander around town and explore the local attractions.
Travel Southbound and you’ll find yourself in Coober Pedy, the the opal mining capital of the world where more than half of the residents live underground!
Book the Gold Service or above and you can put your credit card away while you’re aboard The Ghan.
Enjoy three gourmet meals per day and have your fill of Australian wines, beers, base spirits and other non-alcoholic beverages.
Your fare also includes various off train excursions and whistle stop tours!
You can bring up to 110 pounds of luggage per person and you’ll receive complimentary shuttle service in Darwin.
Enjoy Some Privacy
During a busy vacation, sometimes all you want to do is find a place where you can be alone, decompress, and take a breath.
On The Ghan Gold Service, passengers can retire to their private sleepers, either a two-berth for traveling companions or singles-berth if you are traveling solo.
The sleepers are comfortable with freshly made-up beds in the evening and seats during the day.
Lay down and relax as the soothing sounds of those big steel wheels rolling down the track lull to you sleep.
The Food Is To. Die. For.
The Ghan serves fresh, regionally sourced Australian food, complemented by a range of all-inclusive wines, beer and non-alcoholic beverages.
You’ll taste everything from Top End barramundi, Margaret River cheeses, and native Australian fare including kangaroo, saltbush and wild rosella flower.
There’s no doubt many Aussie travelers rate the food in and of itself as a huge draw to experience The Ghan.
Journey Aboard The Ghan
The Ghan is one of the best ways you can experience the Red Centre in all its glory. It’s also a great way to travel to Uluru (Ayers Rock). Once you’re in Alice Springs, take a coach over to Uluru and experience the magic of this inspiring outback landscape.
Are you ready to plan your trip to Australia? Whether you want to include a journey on the Ghan in your Australia vacation or want to know more before you book, our travel experts will take care of all your arrangements.
We’ll make this once-in-a-lifetime rail journey happen.
Posted on: December 8th, 2016 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments
Kakadu National Park, located in the Top End of Australia’s Northern Territory, isn’t for everyone.
But if you have adventure in your heart, love nature and enjoy learning about ancient cultures, it’s one of the best places in the world!
It’s one of those unique Australian destinations that is genuinely described as a very spiritual travel experience. With nearly 8,000 square miles of diverse wildness, this park holds a scared place with the Bininj/Mungguy people. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to explore this diverse natural wonderland and Aboriginal culture on your visit to Kakadu.
Here are a few things you might like to add to your bucket list and some tips for travel along the way!
Swimming Holes & Waterfalls!
Image by: NeilsPhotography
Kakadu is a tropical area with two distinct seasons, Wet & Hot (October – April) and Dry & Cool (May – September). But even in the middle of the dry season swimming holes can be found. While you may be tempted to take a dip in any old pool, it’s best to stick to the popular and monitored swimming holes. Kakadu, after all is known for its crocodiles! Always observe the warning signs.
Gunlom – A Pool with a View
Hidden at the top of a waterfall that can only be found after a steep hike, is an amazing little swimming hole with a view that can’t be beat!
One of the most popular tourism attractions in the Top End, monitored by rangers, Wangi Falls is a great swimming hole with a charming waterfall and beautiful surrounds. This guided tour takes you to Wangi Falls and other popular attractions in Kakadu within the Litchfield National Park.
Jim Jim Falls
A highlight for most travelers to the region, Jim Jim Falls (and Twin Falls) is not to be missed! It’s a bumpy ride and a pretty rocky walk to get to the falls, but most people find the sight to be worth the effort! This is especially true right at the beginning of the dry season when the roads are open and the falls are still flowing heavily. They can pull back to a trickle pretty quickly after the rains stop.
Ubirr is one of Kakadu’s unforgettable rocks. Located in the east region of the park, this ancient outcropping of rocks is known for its rock art and panoramic views. Inside several natural shelters you’ll find a collection of Aboriginal rock paintings, dated as far back as thousands of years! Check out this Australian Outback itinerary which includes a guided tour of the area.
Part of South Alligator River floodplain, the Yellow Water provides the ultimate wildlife experience. Cruise the Yellow Water in a canopied boat to see crocodiles, jabirus, sea eagles, whistling kites and more! This Outback wilderness itinerary includes a spectacular cruise on the Yellow Water Billabong.
Maybe seeing termite mounds doesn’t sounds like a great time to you. Well, you haven’t seen these termite mounds. You’ll surely be impressed and amazed at the architectural feats created by these tiny little bugs.
Consider an overnight stay in Kakadu to witness the amazing site of the night sky over Kakadu’s rough edges. Hotels and ‘glamping’ are both available! Try this epic Australia Adventure with 2 nights in Kakadu.
Kakadu is not for the faint of heart. ‘Salties’ (Saltwater Crocs) as well as their more docile cousins, freshwater crocodiles, are found in the waters of Kakadu in extraordinary numbers. Saltwater Crocodiles are the world’s largest living reptiles. On average the crocs in Kakadu are about 16 feet, but they can grow to 20 feet and weight over a ton! You can see the salties jump on this Jumping Croc & Nature Adventure tour out of Darwin. Stay safe in Kakadu while you enjoy the awe inspiriting site of salties in the wild!