If you’re looking for the stereotypical, laid back Aussie, the Northern Territory is where you’ll find them.
Here, thing’s go at a slower pace and you’ll hear more Straya slang than you can translate – Oh and if you were offended by the Australian use for C**t, you won’t want to purchase any of the NT merchandise…
Here are my reasons you should definitely visit:
At the very top is tiny Darwin. A humid holiday haven for the rest of Straya. With every cafe, bar, Irish pub, a tourist attraction (Croc-o-soaurous Cove I say no more) all packed into two streets which come alive after dark, this place is more like a miniature Magaluf.
This is a place where the police roam on segways.
While not at all what I had in mind, it was ever entertaining.
We timed our visit with the much celebrated Asian food festival which included a parade, and the Arafura Games; a sort of Olympics for nations which sit on the Arafura Sea, took place on Darwin’s stunning waterfront.
Possibly Australia’s most commemorated days, Anzac Day – marking the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australians and remembers the fallen in conflicts since, also took place during our visit.
With a number of military bases including naval, in Darwin, we expected the huge turn out. What we did not realise, was unlike Remembrance Sunday, where ceremonies are held at 11am, Anzac Day commemorations take place as the sun rises.
After this, the major national holiday gets into full swing Aussie style – which broadly speaking, means bars and restaurants are overflowing.
Baring in mind the mass of people in uniform in Darwin on this day, it pretty much looked like a scene from a film where a war had just been won or truce announced and beer was flowing as much as the swaying officers on the street… you get the gist.
Darwin Military History
As a strategic military base, Darwin was the target of Japanese air raids in 1942, with more bombs dropped on the city than on Pearl Harbor.
Australia’s landscape was pretty much untouched by the war otherwise so it is pretty interested to take a look at what took place and the impact the war had on the Top End.
You can visit the WWII Oil Storage Tunnels in the city for more.
Mindil Beach Sunset Market
Head to Mindil Beach Thursdays 5pm – 10pm and Sundays 4pm – 9pm in April through to October for these not to be missed markets.
Crowds gather on the beach with take out from food stalls and watch the sun set on the horizon. It’s pretty special.
Then you can mooch the markets in the warm evening air.
C U in the N T
“It was the gonzo tourism campaign promoting a more literal sort of Down Under.
“Now, the Northern Territory’s official tourism department has welcomed an advertising standards ruling that the controversial and globally shared “CU in the NT” slogan is obscene and offensive.”www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-05/nt-tourism-department-welcomes-asb-ruling-against-cu-in-the-nt/8163114
“It’s in our blood. We’re from the Territory.”
I get the impression that generally, Australian’s of other states assume Northern Territory folk are somewhat, roughewn, alienated, unwelcoming or just plain ‘simple.’
The NT folk are some of the most heartwarming and open that I have met in Australia. And they’re your stereotypical laid back Aussie souls.
They have made life in a hot, humid climate with vast terrain. They are not scared to put hard work in to anything and everything.
That’s how one cowgirl mum of two put it to me describing the distance she journeys for family days out, weekends away, the everyday routine, the family’s general outlook on life.
Sure some of the folk look a bit skewiff and dusty round the edges bit they have smiles or gold.
(Pictured: The most basic but welcoming campsite with Des, Telka and their kids. Little Romper Stock Camp lets you sleep on their grounds and sort you out with hot tea from the Billy on the camp fire and fresh Johnny cakes every morning.)
…and when it comes to the small town feel of Darwin – it’s inhabitants are the most open to cultural differences as I have come by in all Australia.
The NT is recognising its traditional landowners in a way that, for the first time in Australia, truely doesn’t feel forced.
Here I rarely heard racist jokes about the Aboriginal community.
Said community was vastly apparent, both in the less comforting drinking and noise, begging on the streets after dark and poverty way that we have witnessed particularly in Cairns and Adelaide….
But also in a new and inviting way; we witnessed aboriginal families attending events, teenagers in mixed race friendship groups at the night markets. When we went to the opening ceremony of the Games the local MP gave a speech in Laragiya (traditional Larrakia language) and a fantastic performance remembering the Larrakia heritage.
The first national park we visited is doable in a day trip.
Start with the giant termite mounds and continue into the park waterfall hopping.
Look for signs advising unsafe swimming due to crocs – but most will take a dip at Buley Rockpool and come out alive.
Jumping Croc Tour
I’m not one for tours but this is a must do and a great price!
We took the Spectacular Jumping Croc tour (cheap to drive to it yourself than use a tour operator in Darwin!) for around $45 per adult .
The family run business I quaint but professional and they make sure everyone gets that desired jumping croc photo.
It was also super informative!
It’s the largest national park in Australia, covering almost 20,000 square kilometres and filled with excellent wild life, crocs, waterfalls, Aboriginal rock art and epic views.
You can spend a few days here out of wet season.
My favourite point is Gunlom, located on Waterfall Creek. Hike to the top of the water fall and take a refreshing dip in the natural infinity pool!
Mataranka & Bitter Springs
The small town of Mataranka is a must stop as you head south toward the outback.
It is renowned for its thermal springs – of which there are two perfect swimming spots; Mataranka and Bitter Springs.
Mataranka is accessible through Mataranka Homestead camp ground. Just walk right through and you will find perfectly set up steps into the springs.
For a more natural feeling set up try Bitter Springs just down the road.
It’s recommended to take a noodle so you can float effortlessly down stream with the current.
When I asked if there were crocs in these waters I was reassured by an Aussie with: “Nah yeh only freshies here so you’ll be right mate.”
Many enjoy a float down Bitter Springs in the dark, taking in the stars and little visibility of exactly where they are in the stream… I passed.
Daly Waters Pub (and Rodeo)
This is an absolute must stop: Daly Waters Pub. The pub felt like a real pub! Like you find back in the UK with the aroma of tap beer, bar stools and rugged furniture.
It is however far more Australian outback looking thanks to the endless array of women’s bras handing above the bar!
This is a cowboy pub and it hosts huge rodeo weekends regularly.
We were lucky enough to stumble upon on one such weekend… what entertainment!
Camping is available but busy next to the pub so get booked in – and embrace the rodeo fashion, drinking etiquette and bus riding entertainment like nothing you have seen before.
And finally, you can’t beat a Northern Territory sunset.