Fit Tales from the Top End

A walking adventure awaits at every turn in the Northern Territory.

Nothing personifies the world’s expectation of the Australian bush like the Northern Territory. Tourists from every part of the world descend on this unique and sacred land to experience its wild, harsh beauty and deep cultural and historical significance. Whether you’re in Darwin in search of city sights, exploring a world famous national park or visiting a revered natural wonder, keeping active on your Top End holiday is a breeze with the plethora of outdoor walking adventures awaiting visitors to the Territory.

The beauty of Darwin

Situated on the Timor Sea and sprawled along the expansive waterfront of Darwin Harbour, the Northern Territory’s capital beckons outdoor enthusiasts keen to explore the city and its surrounds on foot.

Many pretty beaches are located close to the city and are perfect to stroll and enjoy a sunset; try Mindil Beach, Causarina Beach or Fannie Bay Beach. Aim to visit Mindil on a Thursday or Sunday and take in the Mindil Sunset Markets (open from the end of April through to October) each year), where an array of cuisine, together with local arts and craft can be sampled. If it’s a swimming spot you’re chasing, walk to the Darwin City Beach in the Wharf Precinct, which provides a protected area for swimmers set against this developing leisure hub.

You can also hire a bike and experience the locale on one of the city’s many bike paths or visit the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens and take a stroll or a cycle through 42 hectares of lush gardens before refueling at Eva’s Café.

Darwin is not only an important historical site for local Indigenous Australians, it was also the site of Australia’s frontline defence during the Second World War. Visitors can explore Darwin’s historic sites with a guided local walking tour. Alternatively, take a self-guided walk along the Waterfront Precinct to experience some for the city’s most important land marks, or stroll along the Esplanade and follow the World War II walking trail.

Located on Darwin’s Frances Bay, Charles Darwin National Park has an extensive network of walking and biking trails. Here you can explore one Australia’s most significant wetlands and capture great views of Darwin Harbour from the looking platform in the park’s picnic grounds.

Get your adventure on

An hour’s drive south of Darwin, Litchfield National Park is home to beautiful, misty waterfalls, gloriously clear waterholes and hundreds of animal species.  Fit and experienced hikers can fully explore this stunning ecosystem of flora and fauna on the multi-day Tabletop Track.   If you after an easier walk and a spot of swimming, try the Shady Creek and Florence Falls track or experience the parks beautiful collection of waterfalls on the Tolmer Falls or Wangi Falls tracks. Adventure seekers should always follow signage, carry plenty of drinking water and swim only in the areas deemed safe to do so by local experts. Experienced four-wheel drivers can also hire a vehicle during the dry season and explore the remote sandstone outcrops of the Lost City, a rock and pillar formation spread over an area the size of a town and estimated to be over 500 million years old.

Kakadu National Park of world-wide famed is spread across almost 20,000 kilometres and is dual listed on the World Heritage List for both its natural and cultural significance.  Located an easy 90 kilometers west of Darwin, the park is a spectacular geological and historical wonder, providing insight into the history of Aboriginal culture dating back over 65,000 years ago. Enjoy spectacular walks of varying difficulties to view untouched bush and ancient rock formations, sacred to Australia’s Indigenous People both past and present. Boat your way through the Kakadu wetlands or book a 4WD tour to explore further afield. While sizzling summer temperatures make swimming in one of the parks’ rivers almost irresistible, avoid taking a dip here due to the presence of crocodiles. Be sure to follow all signage and instructions upon entering the park.

Breathtaking Uluru

A visit to the Territory (and some say Australia) isn’t complete without seeing the spectacular beauty of Uluru, or Ayres Rock as it is known in English.  Located approximately 5 hours drive from Alice Springs or half an hour from the town, Yulara, and boasting its own airport, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is considered sacred by the Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara people who are its traditional landowners and guardians.  Tourists are welcome to visit many of the park’s sites which hold deep cultural and historical significance for the Aboriginal People, but some sites cannot be accessed.

Begin your exploration of this awe-inspiring destination at the Cultural Centre and learn about the park’s history, its traditional owners and the natural environment with free presentations running on weekdays. To fully experience Uluru and its immediate surrounds, take the Uluru Base Walk, a 10.6km trail which as its name suggests, traverses the base of the rock and hosts a wide range of animal and plant life and geographical formations. For something a little shorter but just as beautiful, try the free guided Mala walk, an easy 2 kilometer trail along which your guide will discuss the history of the Mala people, traditional Anangu culture and rock art. It is important to note that while climbing Uluru is not yet expressly forbidden, visitors are asked not to attempt to summit the rock out of respect for the traditional land owners, who hold a deep cultural and historical connection to the rock.

Kata Tjuta, or ‘the Olgas’, comprise of 36 domes of various size and lie about 50 kilometers west of Uluru by road within the park. These domes can be explored from various vantages via several well-trodden walking trails. If you’re keen to immerse yourself in the land, try the full circuit walk or the Karingana Lookout track along the Valley of the Winds trails. For those not wanting to make the full journey to Kata Tjuta, the domes can be viewed by from the Kata Tjuta dune viewing area via an easy 600m track located 26 kilometers from Uluru. Visit the viewing areas at sunrise or sunset for a truly breathtaking experience.

If you’re after a guided tour of the Red Centre, many operators work in the area to provide visitors with a variety of experiences both in and outside of the park, including camel tours, scenic flights and four-wheel drive tours.  You can also relax and rejuvenate at Sails in the Desert, a premium resort located less than half hour drive from Uluru itself, which offers visitors a variety of accommodation styles and activities.

Getting there

Book your Virgin Australia flight today and experience the true magnificence of the Northern Territory.  

Flights to the Northern Territory: Virgin Australia operates flights to Darwin, direct from Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide, flights to Ayers Rock (Uluru) from Sydney and Adelaide and flights to Adelaide from Brisbane.

Northern Territory Holiday Packages: Virgin Australia Holidays offers great Darwin holiday packages, Kakadu National Park holiday packages and Ayers Rock (Uluru) holiday packages.

Northern Territory Hotels: Establish a great base from which to explore it all, with a wide choice of hotels on offer with Virgin Australia Holidays.

Northern Territory Car Hire: Take to the road and discover the splendour of the Top End with great deals on car hire from our partners. 

 

Words by Rebecca Walker - Published 20 November 2018
Quick Facts 
Population Approx 112,000
Area 112 km2 (city area)
Time Zone GMT +9.5
Languages English (official)
Currency Australian dollar (AUD)
Electricity 220–240v 50Hz
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