As well as being famous for outback landscapes and a giant red rock, there is a surprising amount of other things to do in the Northern Territory (NT).
If we forget about Kakadu National Park and Uluru for one moment (these main attractions require mini-trips to themselves), here are 6 other places not to be missed when visiting Australia’s NT:
(These places are all visit-able by campervan too – no 4×4 required!)
1. Devils Marbles
Some of the coolest rock formations I’ve ever witnessed! These huge marble-shaped rocks dominate the landscape, making it look like something out of Star Wars. Some are extremely spherical and balanced in precarious positions – providing many awesome photo opportunities.
Beyond the more spherical marbles, you can take a walk through this unique and interesting landscape. A great time of day to visit is in the late afternoon – take a wander around before the sun goes down and then take photos as the light softens and creates a brilliant golden glow. The Devils Marbles are located in the centre of the NT, just off the Stuart Highway.
2. Katherine Gorge
Located in the Nitmiluk National Park are 13 incredible sandstone gorges. The most accessible of these – the closest to the car park – is the grand Katherine Gorge.
However, I would recommend venturing further away if you can. There are great views to be had from Baruwei Lookout, and even more seclusion at the corner of the river nearest Southern Rockhole.
Visiting Katherine Gorge is definitely one of my favourite things to do in the Northern Territory – I came expecting very little and went away mightily impressed!
3. Elliot (fruit bats)
The tiny nondescript village of Elliot is home to thousands of residents. But most of these are not human residents…they are fruit bats! Thousands of these flying foxes (same name as fruit bats) dwell in the trees of a park next to the main road. You can watch in awe as they squabble for every inch of branch space and occasionally fly around en-mass.
This isn’t the most exciting thing to do in the NT, but if you haven’t seen fruit bats before then it certainly is an interesting spectacle!
Top tip – wear a hat!!!
4. Magnetic Termite Mounds
Truly a sight to behold! These termite mounds possess some unique and interesting properties. They are flat in shape – much like a piece of cardboard stood horizontally – and are aligned to limit the heating effect of the sun and thus maintain a cool environment inside. The thin sides of the mounds point North-South whilst the flat sides are oriented East-West. This is where the magnetic termites get their name from – aligning their homes almost perfectly with a North-South compass needle.
As well as the magnetic mounds, there are some even taller Cathedral Termite Mounds – the biggest of which reach over 4 metres!
This high concentration of termite mounds can be found in Litchfield National Park. They are located right next to the main Litchfield Park Road so are easily accessible by vehicle. Information boards will educate you on their unique features so a guided tour isn’t really necessary. There are also public toilets at this site for convenience.
5. The Cascades
Further south and west in Litchfield National Park are a series of waterfalls and pools suitable for swimming in. One of the more secluded but still easily accessible locations is called The Cascades. A series of pools tumble down the raw rocky landscape to a larger and deeper pool at the bottom. The top pools tend to be exposed to the sun and require a longer uphill hike. Whereas, the bottom pool is shaded for much of the day and nearer the car park.
To find this particular spot, search Google Maps for ‘Cascades car park NT’. The falls and pools are located Northeast of the car park.
6. Douglas Hot Springs
Just south of Litchfield National Park lie the Douglas Hot Springs. They are not yet a major tourist destination – definitely worth checking out for a relaxing afternoon! Beware of 2 things though:
- The scorching hot sun in the Northern Territory will burn any skin to a crisp. The morning is therefore a good time of day to visit, otherwise be sure to seek some shade!
- In terms of the water temperature, the heat from the hot springs is rather scattered – some sections are boiling hot whilst others are relatively cool. I’d recommend dipping a finger or toe to test the water before jumping in!
For some slightly more touristy hot pools, check out Mataranka Thermal Pools. They are still naturally occurring but have handrails, easy access steps and some picturesque boardwalks in the surrounding palms.
So, those are my favourite things to do in the Northern Territory. Which one sounds best to you?