Aboriginal Experiences in the Northern Territory
Darwin is the hub from which to explore and savour some of the very best experiences of the tropical Top End of the Northern Territory. Just a few hours drive west of the city is Litchfield National Park where you can go for a refreshing swim in sculpted rockpools and take in the sights of some easily accessible waterfalls. Giant termite mounds, tropical rainforest and savannah woodlands all add to the diverse natural ecosystems. Your local Aboriginal guides can give you access to areas not open to the general public and offer you their own unique cultural and environmental knowledge and insights to make your experience even more memorable and entertaining.
To the east of Darwin is the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park. This small section of the vast Arnhem Land region is considered by some to be an entrée to a more intensive experience in this remote and mysterious stronghold of Aboriginal culture and tradition. In Kakadu a number of Aboriginal operators offer special guided experiences taking in the region’s ancient rock art, prolific birdlife, river boating, billabongs and extensive wetlands. You can camp in comfort with the locals and learn about their customs and traditions first hand. For more exclusive and intensive experiences showcasing some of the world’s greatest cultural and ecological environments, light plane connections make it simple to reach otherwise remote bush safari camps in Arnhem Land and the adjacent Gurig National Park.
To top it all off you can easily access the Gove Peninsula by regular air service and taste the vibrant Yolgnu culture on remote island retreats and through cultural events such as the annual Garma Festival. On the southern edge of Arnhem Land is the internationally recognised Katherine Gorge, the key feature of the rugged Aboriginal owned Nitmiluk National Park. There are so many options here there really is something for everyone, no matter how adventurous you are.
In Central Australia, Alice Springs is the focal point for some of Australia’s quintessential outback experiences. Deep in the heart of the Western Desert, Uluru (Ayres Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) are considered the spiritual heartland for many Aboriginal Australians. These towering rock formations emerging from the red, sand desert have a powerful impact that transcends all human activity in their vicinity. Revered by the local Anangu as one of their most sacred places, cultural identity remains strongly intact here.
While you’re in Alice Springs you can not only visit some of the local galleries and community art centres famous for bringing the Aboriginal dot painting art movement to the world, but even join in an art workshop yourself. You can also get a literal taste of the local life with a bush tucker experience with Aboriginal guides, learn the mission history at Hermannsburg and marvel at the spectacular, multi coloured sand pinnacles at Rainbow Valley, the ancient rock peckings at Ewaninga or the colour and diversity of the MacDonnell Ranges captured so eloquently by the famous Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira.
The Northern Territory is a year-round destination, but take into account extreme summer heat in the inland region and the heat, humidity and rainfall during the wet season of the Top End.
In the tropical Top End, daytime temperatures average between 30 and 35 degrees celsius all year round. The dry season (May – October) has sunny days while the wet season (November – April) is hot and humid with tropical storms.
Away from the coast, there are four distinct seasons. Winter (June – August) has warm days and cool nights while summer (December – February) is very hot with temperatures in the high 30s.