The Northern Territory is a haven for young travellers who enjoy their freedom, have a sense of adventure and want to experience one of the oldest living cultures on earth.
There aren’t many places in the world where you can fish in tropical waters, kayak through magnificent gorges, dive into crystal clear waterholes, explore desert terrain, marvel at indigenous art, and trek, walk, ride or drive through some of Australia’s most diverse landscapes.
Backpackers usually come to the NT from all over the world seeking adventure first. It’s only after experiencing the relaxed, outdoor lifestyle that many decide to stay and work.
The Northern Territory is divided into two diverse landscapes, the tropical Top End and the iconic Red Centre.
The Top End is best introduced by Darwin, a tropical paradise and gateway to nature’s playground. From Darwin, visit Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks to see ancient Aboriginal rock art, thundering waterfalls, crystal clear swimming holes, crocodiles and other wildlife. Katherine is also just a 3 hour drive from Darwin and famous for the stunning Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park.
The Red Centre is where to go to feel and experience the real outback. Alice Springs is the basecamp for adventure - with waterholes, biking and hiking trails, wildlife centres and 4WD tracks. Lace-up the hiking boots in Kings Canyon and discover the spectacular views of Watarrka National Park. Conclude the Red Centreadventure in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Watch the sunrise over Kata Tjuta, hire a bike and explore the 10km base of Uluru, or see it from high above on a skydive!
- Experience Australia’s only crocodile dive, fittingly named the ‘Cage of Death,’ at Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin.
- Swim under waterfalls and dive into crystal clear plunge pools at Litchfield National Park.
- Climb to the top of Gunlom Falls, nature’s own infinity pool, for panoramic views of Kakadu and Arnhem Land.
- Explore the stunning gorges in Nitmiluk National Park by foot, kayak, boat or helicopter.
- Cuddle a baby kangaroo at the Kangaroo Sanctuary, home to Kangaroo Dundee in Alice Springs
- Leap out of a plane and skydive over Uluru and Kata Tjuta
There’s a huge range of accommodation options in the Northern Territory from trendy backpacker hostels to eco-retreats, fishing lodges, safari ‘glamps,’ and five-star hotels.
If planning to go bush and spot wildlife, hike, paddle, pedal, or to just take in the natural environment, stop at quality tourist parks to pitch a tent, park the van or enjoy the facilities of a self-contained cabin.
- Chilli’s Backpackers & The Youth Shack are two of Darwin’s funkiest hostels fitted out with an outdoor pool and spa, bar, travel desks and even a job search service.
- Located on Darwin’s party strip, Melaleuca on Mitchell boasts a leisure deck, waterfall hot tub and poolside bar – party!
- There are many places to stay in Kakadu National Park including campgrounds and budget accommodation in Cooinda and Jabiru.
- Housed in a historic movie theatre in the centre of town, Alice Springs YHA is conveniently located close to shops, cafes and pubs.
- Kings Canyon Resort and the Outback Pioneer Hotel & Lodge at Ayers Rock Resort both offer budget accommodation options and camping facilities
The Northern Territory is renowned for its perpetual sunshine, spirit of adventure, diverse landscapes, active social scene, rich culture and legendary laid-back lifestyle.
With a constant celebration of life outdoors, locals and travellers alike lap up the open-air cinemas, vibrant markets, quirky festivals, alfresco pubs, world-class walking trails and epic road-trips.
Camp near a billabong, picnic on a mile-long beach, ride a camel through the outback, go off-road four wheel driving, fish for a famous barramundi, visit a working cattle station, swim under a pummelling waterfall, trek through the savannah, cruise through a vast wetland, canoe up a river or enjoy an Aussie BBQ with friends.
The Territory is also home to an eclectic mix of cultures whose outdoor lifestyle is complemented by a colourful calendar of art and cultural events.
- Immerse in the ancient stories, bush tucker, artworks, traditional dance and sacred sites of the local Aboriginal people.
- Cool off in natural plunge pools and waterfalls in Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks or soothe the body and mind in the Mataranka thermal pools (Katherine region).
- Pack the car or campervan and embark an epic road trip. Popular self-drive routes are the Nature’s Way in the Top End or Red Centre Way in the Red Centre.
- Appreciate untouched wilderness on a bushwalk, from rugged trails to well-worn paths throughout the Northern Territory.
- Ask Darwin locals when the next Sandbar Party is. The exposed sandbar in the middle of the Darwin Harbour is the perfect spot for wakeboarding, a game of cricket, or dancing the day away to endless summer beats
- Get amongst the action at one of Alice Springs’ quirky events like The Camel Cup and the Wide Open Space Festival
- Darwin boasts a thriving market scene including the famous Mindil Beach Sunset Markets and jam packed major events like the 18-day Darwin festival.
Considered a hot destination to work, play and party, there are heaps of hostels and bars to meet fellow travellers and lifelong friends – from Darwin’s buzzing Mitchell and Smith Streets and vibrant market scene, through to the quirky bars in Alice Springs and outback pubs in between.
The Northern Territory is ‘Festival Territory’ and the winter months especially are an exciting time of year for festivals and events. The weather sets the perfect stage for a calendar serving up sporting events, theatre, cabaret, dance, live music, art and cultural experiences.
- Mitchell Street is regarded as the nightlife and entertainment district of Darwin with its sidewalk cafes, restaurants, markets, open air bars, Aussie pubs and nightclubs.
- Soak up the Daly Waters Historic Pub’s friendly atmosphere whilst relaxing with a cool drink at the bar. Crammed with decades of memorabilia, learn about the pub’s colourful history.
- Alice Springs is home to a number of quirky waterholes and backpacker bars such as The Rock Bar, Monte’s and Epilogue.
- The Red Centre is famous for its outback pubs such as the Outback Pioneer Lodge (Ayers Rock Resort) and the Thirsty Dingo (Kings Canyon). Cheers a mate whilst singing “do you come from a land down under!”
- Litchfield National Park
- Kakadu National Park
- Nitmiluk National Park
- Alice Springs
- Kings Canyon National Park
- Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
- Chilli’s Backpackers
- The Youth Shack
- Melaleuca on Mitchell
- Kakadu National Park
- Alice Springs YHA
- Kings Canyon Resort
- Outback Pioneer Hotel & Lodge