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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Australia's Top End: part 1

Check out our latest piece on Australia's Top End on Viator, which is running a series of posts by Terry and I on destinations we've covered and things we've loved during our road trip Down Under. Here's a bit of a taster, but read the full blog over at Viator, where you can also book tours to these places.

The tourism machine of the tropical Top End (the northern half of Australia's Northern Territory) is just now shifting into top gear as the spectacular storms of Banggerreng (the ‘knock ‘em down storm season’, as the Aboriginals call it), become less frequent, marking the end of the Wet Season (October-April). National Park staff begin to grade recently-impassable roads, clean up previously-flooded camping sites, and remove new residents (saltwater crocodiles!) from the swimming holes and the region teems with life. This is by far the best time to visit the Top End, so where should you go?
Kakadu National Park - Australia’s largest National Park (all 20,000 square kilometres of it!) is World-Heritage listed for a reason - for its impressive natural and cultural values. The natural significance comes from its myriad ecosystems and extraordinary diversity of flora and fauna, while the cultural importance comes from evidence of more than 40,000 years of continual inhabitancy by local Aboriginal tribes, including stunning rock paintings.
2. Arnhem Land (pictured) - designated an Aboriginal reserve in 1931, you can only visit Arnhem Land with a permit or with tour operators who have the confidence of the local elders, such as Sab Lord who runs
Lord’s Safaris. Sab grew up with the local indigenous people and Aboriginal artists such as Thompson lead some of his tours. The Injalak Arts and Crafts Centre is excellent, and the 91,000 square kilometres of wilderness is staggeringly beautiful.
3. Litchfield National Park - 100km south of Darwin, this popular park boasts numerous waterfalls, natural waterholes, intriguing magnetic termite mounds that resemble a graveyard full of tombstones, and the striking sandstone pillars of the Lost City.
4. Tiwi Islands - Bathurst and Melville islands, just 80km north of Darwin, are home to the Tiwi Aborigines and a tour here (the only way to visit) allows you to experience an Aboriginal community, and learn about their history, culture and ‘bush tucker’.

Territory Wildlife Park - this exceptional wildlife park, 50km from Darwin, features a range of Territorian habitats, including wetlands, monsoon vine forest, and woodlands, nocturnal houses, aviaries and walk-through aquariums, as well as presentations such as “Tucker Time at the Billabong” and “Birds of Prey”.


Prof Sandy O'Sullivan said...

Oh... I love Litchfield Park... I work at Batchelor Institute which is in Batchelor (the town attached to Litchfield), and I always try to get up there... It's so pretty and entirely underrated... but what about those bloody freaky magnetic termite mounds! I know what you mean about the graveyard, but you definitely have to go there at the right time of the year. There is absolutely nothing I've ever seen even remotely like it... amazing!

Adeje said...

Thanks for this. Brought back some memories of my own visit to Darwin and Kakadu, a really great Australian experience. We arrived from the Red Centre via Katherine and went from Darwin off to Broome. Brilliant times. Unfortunately a few years before the digital photo revolution.

Lara Dunston said...

Hi Sandy - oh, I didn't know you actually travelled there regularly - yeah, I love Batchelor - it's a sweet little place. And love the termite mounds!

Hello Adeje - glad it brought back memories for you! It's a great part of the country isn't it, and that trip from Darwin to Broome is fantastic!

Dainel said...

I came to your blog just when I was surfing on this topic. I am happy that I found your blog and information I wanted.

Lara Dunston said...

Hi Dainel

I'm really glad it was helpful. Make sure you visit the Viator blog as well, as our piece there is much more detailed with a lot more information and links to some of the tours we've mentioned.

Enjoy your trip - you're going to love it!

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