1. LITCHFIELD NATIONAL PARK
Swim in beautiful waterfalls and waterholes including Florence Falls and Buley Rockhole in this accessible national park, just 90 minutes’ drive south of Darwin. You can also explore The Lost City, a series of sandstone rocks that evoke the remains of an ancient civilisation, and marvel at the Magnetic Termite mounds, which stand up to two metres high and are thought to be at least 100-years-old.
2. ULURU, RED CENTRE
Walk or cycle around the base of this famous landmark, passing waterholes, caves and rock art. The best way to immerse yourself in the experience is to book a tour with an Indigenous guide to hear Tjukurpa (creation stories). Be sure to catch the wonder’s incredible changing colours at sunset and sunrise from one of the five public viewing platforms. You can also explore the desert in style with a Segway tour, partake in a camel ride, and experience a dot painting workshop. Stay at the nearby Ayers Rock Resort, which offers everything from camping to apartments to the five-star Sails in the Desert hotel.
3. MINDIL BEACH SUNSET MARKET, DARWIN
This vibrant and multicultural market at Mindil Beach is a must on any visit to Darwin. Held from late April to late October, there’s plenty to keep the family entertained with arts and craft vendors, buskers and food stalls offering everything from local delicacies, such as crocodile, to international cuisine. Pack a picnic blanket and sit back and relax as you watch the sunset over the Arafura Sea.
4. TOP DIDJ CULTURAL EXPERIENCE & ART GALLERY, KATHERINE
Indigenous artist, Manuel Pamkal, gives a rare personal insight into his culture during this hands-on, family-friendly experience near Katherine. After playing a traditional welcoming tune on the didgeridoo, he shares stories about growing up in the bush, living off the land, tribal life and his family tree. He also teaches the technique of Rarrk painting (cross hatch) with a reed brush, how to throw a spear at a fake kangaroo target and lighting a fire by rubbing two sticks together.
5. KAKADU NATIONAL PARK
Take the kids on a spectacular jumping croc cruise on Adelaide River, where you’ll be able to see the famous creatures up-close, and learn about the floodplain systems, in Kakadu National Park. Covering nearly 20,000sq km, the park also provides wonderful opportunities to swim in places such as the pool at the base of Jim Jim Falls and Maguk Gorge and see Indigenous rock art sites, including paintings of the extinct Thylacine at Ubirr.
6. PARRTJIMA – A FESTIVAL IN LIGHT, ALICE SPRINGS
See the walls of the ancient MacDonnell Ranges illuminated during this Indigenous light festival, which returns to Alice Springs from April 9 to 18. The free, family-friendly event promises a sensory experience like no other, with large-scale sculptural installations, live music, talks and workshops. This year’s theme, Future Kultcha, is based on the timeless oral way of learning among generations of Aboriginal people.
7. MATT WRIGHT’S EXPLORE THE WILD TOURS
Embark on a thrilling outback adventure created by the star of National Geographic’s hit TV show Outback Wrangler. Matt Wright’s Explore the Wild tour series includes an adrenaline-pumping ride on an airboat, while the all-inclusive and family-friendly Top End Safari Camp package includes an exciting crocodile encounter, glamping and stargazing around a fire pit. You can also book custom tours with the man himself.
8. ARNHEM LAND, TOP END
Discover Indigenous art and culture in Arnhem Land, a remote 90,000sq km reserve east of Darwin, which is one of the least inhabited regions of the world. Wildlife is prolific throughout the region, and includes saltwater crocodiles, dugongs, nesting turtles and hundreds of bird species, such as jacana, azure kingfishers, magpie geese, brolga and jabiru. Book a tour with Davidson’s Arnhemland Safaris to explore lily-covered billabongs and wetlands, stay in a safari hut, fish for barramundi in the lodge’s private billabong and see some of Australia’s best Indigenous rock art, with 50 000-year-old paintings of spirits and animals including snakes, dugong and turtles.
9. NITMILUK NATIONAL PARK, KATHERINE
Hike, paddle a canoe or cruise through the awe-inspiring Nitmiluk Gorge, around 300km south of Darwin. Despite its name, the gorge actually consists of 13 impressive gorges carved from the ancient sandstone, stretching over 16km and separated by natural rock barriers and rapids during the dry season. Cool off in the tranquil waters of Leliyn (Edith) Falls, on the park’s western boundary. Be sure to pop into the Nitmiluk Visitor Centre to learn about the cultural and spiritual significance of the gorge for its Traditional Owners, the Jawoyn and Dagomen people.
10. EARTH SANCTUARY, ALICE SPRINGS
Australia’s Outback is known for having some of the world’s clearest night skies, making it an ideal location for stargazing. For a truly magical experience, book a stay at Earth Sanctuary, which offers Australia’s only space camp. Sleep in one of six intergalactic-style domes, available in glamping or swag style, and take advantage of the observatory’s astronomy tours.
11. DARWIN’S HERITAGE TRAIL
Take a scenic walk and learn more about the city’s war history on Darwin’s Heritage Trail. At Stokes Hill Wharf, the Royal Flying Doctor Service Darwin Tourist Facility uses virtual reality and holographic technology to transport you to the WW2 bombing scene of 1942, complete with films, storytelling ‘ghosts’ and simulated cockpit experiences. Darwin Military Museum and Defence of Darwin Experience host an amazing collection of artefacts, from uniforms to artillery, and play wartime footage and interviews with veterans.
12. CROCOSAURUS COVE, DARWIN
Pet a baby crocodile or feed a juvenile croc from the Fishing for Crocs platform at this Darwin attraction, which has the world’s largest display of Australian reptiles. There are nine interactive shows daily. Brave parents and teens aged from 15 can try the Cage of Death, where you spend 15 minutes in a glass cage and come face to face with an adult crocodile in its pen.