This is sponsored content for Tourism NT.
*The Northern Territory is open to all of Australia. If you are coming from a declared hotspot you can still enter, but you will need to quarantine for two weeks. Current information is available on www.coronavirus.nt.gov.au.
All of those "one of these days" experiences; all of those once-in-a-lifetime adventures. They're waiting for you - to see them, to feel them, to cherish them, to savour them.
The Northern Territory is ready to explore. The beating heart of Australian culture and history, the epicentre of its natural beauty and charm. So many of this country's most famous landmarks and attractions can be found in the NT, from Kakadu to Uluru, Kings Canyon to Alice Springs. And with overseas travel on hold, this is the perfect opportunity to check a few local destinations off your list, to visit and appreciate what makes our home so attractive and unique.
It's appropriate that at the geographical centre of Australia lies its beating heart: Uluru. There's an undeniable spirituality to this sacred site of the Anangu people, a feeling that there's so much more to this place than rock and dirt. See it at sunrise or sunset; enjoy a Sounds of Silence dinner; take a walk with a traditional owner; join a camel tour; take an art class. Be forever changed.
This is probably the real surprise for most visitors to the Red Centre. Yes, Uluru is spectacular and moving. But just a few kilometres away lies another mighty rock formation, another natural wonder, another sacred Anangu site that has been inhabited for more than 30,000 years. Kata Tjuta boasts 36 rock domes, rising a whopping 546 metres – higher than Uluru. Take a cultural tour, walk through Walpa Gorge, explore the Valley of the Winds, watch the sunset. Incredible.
Nitmiluk National Park
The 13 sandstone gorges of Nitmiluk National Park, just near Katherine, personify the word "rugged". These beautiful formations have been carved over millennia by water and wind, and they're a truly stunning sight when explored by boat, by canoe, on foot, or even by helicopter. Nitmiluk is also home to well-preserved rock-art sites and natural swimming holes.
Perhaps Australia's best-known national park, Kakadu is filled with natural and cultural wonder, a place in which you can connect with the world's oldest living culture, where you can take in the thunder of waterfalls, the lush beauty of rainforests, the thrill of native wildlife, and the incredible history of ancient rock-art sites. Kakadu is dual-listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List for natural and cultural significance, and you'll never stop to wonder why.
Central Australia's biggest hub has plenty going for it, not least the beauty of its surrounding landscape of the MacDonnell Ranges, making for some astonishing sunsets. There are numerous art galleries in Alice Springs, as well as the historic Old Telegraph Station, where you can soak up some of the town's extensive history. Many avid trekkers and walking enthusiasts also use the town as a base to conquer the Larapinta Trail, enjoy the extensive mountain biking tracks or float across the ranges in a hot air balloon.
Tjoritja / West MacDonnell Ranges
After a long walk through the central Australian hills, what you really want is a pool to soak away your aches and pains: and West MacDonnell National Park has you covered. This national park boasts several refreshing, permanent waterholes, including Ellery Creek Big-Hole and Ormiston Gorge. After tackling something like the 223 kilometre Larapinta Trail, or even just a short stroll looking for Peregrine falcons, you'll welcome the chance for a dip.
Take a dip at the secluded Ormiston Gorge. Photo: Supplied.
East Arnhem Land
If it's adventure you seek, the sort of thrills that will take you far from any experience you've had in Australia before, then East Arnhem Land is your destination. This is one epicentre of Indigenous culture, a place to learn from the local Yolngu people, to take a cultural walk or visit an art centre, to camp out or lap up a glamping experience, to watch the sunset and fish for your dinner. There's nowhere else like it.
NT's Gulf Region
The "Lost City" is well named: even most Australians don't know it exists. And yet this is a sight you have to witness, a sea of ancient sandstone pillars, some up to 25 metres high, the enormity of which is best taken in by helicopter. This is just one of the many attractions in the NT's Gulf Region, a remote and yet wildlife-filled area that has much to offer intrepid explorers. The Gulf Region is also the gateway to many adventures such as Lorella Springs Wilderness Park and Limmen National Park.
A trip to the NT is all about the beauty of remoteness, about taking yourself out of the rat race and enjoying nature – your answer is Kings Canyon. In the heart of Watarrka National Park, it's home to a beautiful six-kilometre rim walk that takes you down to a modern day Garden of Eden; a rockhole surrounded by rare plants and 360 degree views over desert sand dunes.
Do you travel to be immersed in another culture, to go to a place where you don't speak the language, to learn about a history ancient and incredible? Then head straight to the Tiwi Islands, where you will hear the local Tiwi tongue being spoken, where you can view artworks that are famous around the world, where you can kick a footy with locals or head to the beach for a fish.
Also known as the "Devils Marbles", this rock formation – mythologised by the local
Warumungu people as the fossilised eggs of the Rainbow Serpent – is a collection of
massive granite boulders, some up to six metres high, scattered across a valley near Tennant Creek. At sunrise and sunset, it's a photographer's dream.
Litchfield National Park
Litchfield is the Darwin region's best kept secret. A national park full of towering waterfalls and natural swimming holes, a place to take respite from the heat with a swim and a drink. There are plenty of walking trails here that take you past a plethora of natural attractions such as the iconic large cathedral termite mounds.
Indulge all five senses in the NT
West MacDonnell Ranges
Listen to the echoes of wildlife on your hike or coming from the Alice Springs Desert Park. Stop and listen to the wind howling through ancient Standley Chasm.
There's nothing quite like the feeling of being surrounded by cool, fresh water. Dive into the crystal-clear pool of Wangi Falls in Litchfield National Park and be instantly revitalised.
Kakadu National Park
Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park is home to one of Australia's most important rock-art sites, and a gallery to rival any you've seen overseas.
The culinary scene in Darwin is eclectic and sophisticated, with both Indigenous and Asian flavours used to bring the best out of high-quality local produce.
West Arnhem Land
It's the salt in the air that gets you: that smell of the ocean, the smell of health, of freedom, of a holiday away from the ordinary. Savour it on the coast of West Arnhem Land.
There is no better time than now to visit the NT. To plan your trip and discover more visit northernterritory. com/theanswer