The northern part of Australia represents the true country for many people. The indigenous peoples are rustic and simple and apparently their culture and customs that are ancient and spiritual seem to rub against the current Western modern culture.
Filled with natural beauty and deep spirituality, places such as Darwin and Kakadu, Uluru and the Red Centre in Australia (where the sand is actually red!) offer great experiences for the tourist. Given below are five reasons why a visit to the Northern Territory is a must.
Uluru is all about the Ayers Rock. How many ever times you may have seen it on postcards and pictures, the experience is one of a kind when the view is face to face. The rock is about 3.6 km long and rises to about 348 m from the sandy environment. It is believed that about two-thirds of the rock actually lies below the ground level.
Close encounters with the rock reveal a pitted surface, many parts of which have their own sacred meanings to the local Anangu people. Sunset over Uluru is a great experience with the rock turning different colors: from ochre brown to a burnished orange to deeper shades of red and finally ending with charcoal black. There is a reverse play of colors during sunrise at Uluru.
Kakadu National Park
Kakadu is an ecologically and biologically diverse national park that has different landforms, major river systems, and a remarkable variety of wildlife. Believed to have been inhabited continuously for over 40,000 years, the reserve park is home to rock carvings, cave paintings, and interesting archaeological sites of the inhabitants of the region: the hunter-gatherers of the prehistoric times to the aboriginals who currently live there. The Kakadu National Park occupies a position in the UNESCO World Heritage List because of the natural and cultural values that it possesses.
The Kakadu National Park is best explored with the help of local guides who will take you through the coastal riverine plains and wetlands that teem with wildlife. It has a tropical monsoon climate comprising of marked dry and wet seasons.
The Tiwi Islands
A part of Australia’s Northern Territory, the Tiwi Island comprises of two islands namely the Melville Island and the Bathurst Island. It lies 80 km to the north of Darwin and is inhabited by the local Tiwi people. The culture and language of the Tiwi people are distinct and they have been living there even before the European settlement in Australia. It has dense forests and secluded waterfalls.
The Tiwi Islands are famous for their indigenous art. Wood carvings of birds are popular and so are designs on fabric. The fabric art is similar to Indonesian batik that uses wax as a method to resist dyeing. The pukumani or burial poles are distinct features of their culture. They are carved and painted with mythological figures and are placed near graves.
Tourism is restricted in the islands; however, one can make use of the daily tours that are organized from Darwin.
This lies about 30 km from the Katherine town. There are 13 gorges sculpted by the Katherine River in its course of flow from Arnhem Land to the Timor Sea. The Katherine Gorge is the backbone of the 2900 odd square kilometers Nitmiluk Park and its northern edge borders the Kakadu National Park.
The Katherine Gorge is carved through ancient sandstone and is a combination of rapids and falls. During the dry season, the waters are placid and you can explore the gorges in a canoe or a flat-bottomed boat. The gorges also boast of the presence of freshwater crocodiles that are harmless to humans. However, when the river is full, saltwater crocodiles do enter the waters, but they are turned back into lower levels. Swimming is prohibited during the wet season. Cruises make it to as far as the fifth gorge.
Litchfield National Park
Covering an area of approximately 1500 square kilometers, The Litchfield National Park lies about 100 kilometers to the southwestern side of Darwin. This park is named after a pioneer by name of Frederick Henry Litchfield who explored the territory.
The Litchfield Park is renowned for swimming, camping, and bushwalking. Swimming is particularly popular with waterfalls that plunge into swimming holes and are safe. There are many walking tracks and the Tabletop Track is a popular 39 km bush-walk across tropical rainforests, creeks, waterfalls and crystal clear pools. The park encompasses a major portion of the Tabletop Range, which consists of sandstone plateaus and cliffs.
The magnetic termite mounds built by thousands of termites that are oriented in a north-south direction and the Blythe Homestead are other popular tourist attractions.