A to Z of Adventure Travel: D is for Darwin

3 02 2009

katherine-gorge-1-mw1“Keep your fingers inside, they’re are crocs down there!         (Katherine Gorge, Northern Territory)


Anyone who has seen Baz Luhrmann’s recent epic ‘Australia’, will be familiar with the city of Darwin. The capital of the Northern Territory, Darwin is a modern and cosmopolitan city which was almost entirely re-built twice, once after the Japanese air raids during the Second World War that feature in the movie, and a second time after Cyclone Tracey in 1974.


Located on the Timor Sea closer to Asia than Sydney, Darwin marks the end of the line for the legendary Ghan train from Adelaide and has a friendly, small-town feel and kilometres of unspoiled beaches. Boasting a tropical climate, Australia’s most northerly major city offers a dry season from April/May to October and a wet season punctuated with tropical cyclones, monsoon rains and spectacular thunderstorms from December to March. Although sadly overlooked by many visitors, Darwin is not only a great destination but is also the gateway to some of Australia’s best natural treasures: Kakadu, National Park, Litchfield National Park and Katherine Gorge.


Kakadu is half the size of Switzerland, covering an area of almost 5,000,000 acres. The park’s diversity supports a huge variety of animal life and more than 280 species of birds – approximately one-third of the entire country’s bird species. It is also renowned for its quintessentially Australian billabongs and offers some outstanding examples of Aboriginal rock art in rocky outcrops that have provided shelter for thousands of years.


Southwest of Darwin sits Litchfield National Park, a slice of the bush home to a vast variety of bird and wildlife and some of the country’s most beautiful water falls. Not only do the falls attract thousands of visitors every year, but they are also a magnet for birds and reptiles.


Finally, Nitmiluk National Park – formerly known as Katherine Gorge National Park – borders Kakadu and is located southeast of Darwin. The park includes a series of gorges on the Katherine River and Edith Falls that have great ceremonial significance for the local Jawoyn people. The gorges can be explored by canoe or for the less-energetic, on cruises aboard flat bottomed boats. Katherine Gorge itself is a spectacular cataract comprised of thirteen gorges, with rapids and falls and is perhaps best appreciated by helicopter.


All of the parks offer a variety of accommodation from well-managed campsites for independent travellers or adventurers, to luxury permanent camps for a comfortable bush experience, and deluxe lodges.


Although not attracting as many visitors as Sydney or the Great Barrier Reef, the Northern Territory offers a superb Australian experience with unrivalled scenery, birdlife and Aboriginal culture….just watch out for the saltwater crocodiles!



Photo and post by: Simon Vaughan




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