8 Must Dos In The Northern Territory's Top End

24 July 2014
Read Time: 3.7 mins

The beat of the Northern Territory's heart can be felt high above its skies and deep within its gorges, pushing you to see and do things you've only ever dreamed of. From zooming through crocodile filled waters to watching the sun set over vast landscapes, the Flight Centre marketing team were recently lucky enough to be introduced to the Territory's 'Top End'. Coming back with countless tales and snapshots, the team shared their top eight Northern Territory must dos.

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1. A feast for the senses at Mindil Beach Markets

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 A classic Mindil Beach sunset

As the sun throws out orange, pink, and red hues, a large swag of Darwinians and tourists alike make their way to Mindil Beach. Once there is only soft twilight remaining, the sunset watchers wander across to the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, open every Thursday and Sunday evening between May and October.

Drawing influences from Thai, Sri Lankan, Indian, Chinese and Malaysian cuisine, with Brazilian, Greek and Portuguese flavours on the menu as well, these markets are a foodie’s nirvana. You can even embrace the spice of life and test your tolerance at the Chilli Stand.

The Mindil Beach Sunset Markets also boast a huge range of local arts and craft, plus musicians and performers along the palm-lined boulevards, making it the perfect place to pick up your souvenirs and soak in the local vibe.

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2. The Ultimate Tour's 3-in-1 adventures

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 Join the aptly named Ultimate Tour

Channel your inner James Bond and travel on airboats, helicopters and floatplanes (yes, all three!) on the Ultimate Tour. You will feel like you are in a movie as you lean out of the open doors of the helicopter, or zoom past crocs, buffalo and wild boars atop the river.

Test your limits by skimming over the swamp in an airboat through the rainforest channels; flying and swooping on a helicopter flight over the floodplains of Litchfield National Park; and making a spectacular landing on the pristine Sweets Lagoon.

This thrilling half-day adventure is suitable for everyone and is run by Matt Wright – a highly experienced chopper pilot and star of the National Geographic series Outback Wrangler. Matt has seen almost every corner of NT and is now on a quest to bring that sense of adventure to NT visitors with his tours.

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3. Time to wonder at Nadab Lookout, Kakadu

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 Sunlight fades across Kakadu National Park

Arriving at Nadab Lookout in Ubirr, Kakadu National Park, just in time to watch the sun slink away rewards you with sublime natural beauty. Here, photographers have the opportunity to snap one of the most spectacular sunsets in all of Australia.

The experience is enhanced by the walk to the lookout, which takes you past Nourlangie Rock – famed for its well-preserved Aboriginal rock art. Wander through the World Heritage listed Ubirr Park to see more examples of ancient Aboriginal rock art, dating back some 20,000 years.

Your local guide can provide a comprehensive history of this beautiful art form, where the pictures tell a thousand words about everyday activities of Australia’s first inhabitants.
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4. Wetland wandering on a Billabong Cruise

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 Dawn breaks on the Billabong Cruise

Once you've seen the majestic sunsets, why not complement the experience by catching an equally amazing sunrise? Hop aboard a Yellow Water Cruise from Gagudju Dreaming, which takes you into Kakadu’s most famous wetland just as dawn breaks.

Located at the end of Jim Jim Creek, the cruise takes you along the largest river system in Kakadu, rambling through extensive wetlands, floodplains and backwater swamps.

Aboard the cruise, you can see the iconic Australian environment up close, spying wildlife that live above and below the water. The finishing touch? A hearty breakfast at Cooinda Lodge.

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5. A wild ride with Spectacular Jumping Crocodiles

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 Lunch is served!

Crocs and the NT go hand-in-hand, making the Spectacular Jumping Crocodile Cruise a definitive Top End experience. Four-to-six metre long crocodiles are enticed alongside the boat; as they sidle up close, you get to see just how enormous these creatures really are!

The crocs know the sound of the boat means one thing: lunch! They are happy to display their natural jumping ability to get a hold of the food, leaping metres out of the water at less than an arm’s distance away.

If you do the cruise, allow time to experience Window on the Wetlands – an award-winning interpretive centre – and the Crocodile Express as well. The Express is a scenic drive through Darwin’s rural area, showcasing the beautiful wetlands with a local tour guide to lead the way.

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6. Learn the land with Pudakul Cultural Tours

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 Flight Centre does the NT differently

Pudakul Aboriginal Cultural Tours deliver a great introduction to aboriginal culture, packed with local knowledge and history. Pudakul is an Indigenous family-owned and operated organisation, where visitors are taken on a cultural journey and offered an insight into traditions, living off the land and Aboriginal arts.

You can broaden your cultural knowledge and learn about about the range of rocks and tree sap used for dyes, as well as the different berries that suck out the oxygen in the local waterholes to drive the fish to the surface. The Pudakul tour gives a rich understanding of the local Aboriginal culture and their deep connection with the land.

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7. Take to the skies on a Kakadu Scenic Flight

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 Darwin's scenic planes ready to jet off

To truly get the scale of the Northern Territory, there's no better way than taking to the skies. You can gain a bird's eye perspective on this 30-minute flight, soaring over ancient escarpments, winding rivers and billabongs.

Whatever you imagine the Territory landscape to be, your expectations will be blown away when you see the diversity of vistas from the flat, rocky outcrops of Arnhem Land to the Magela Flood Plains.

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8. Get snap-happy at Crocosaurus Cove

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 Braving the croc cage-swim

Crocosaurus Cove, conveniently located in Darwin’s CBD, allows visitors to get up close and personal with these impressive ancient locals.

At the Cove, you can meet Australia’s iconic saltwater crocodiles by either feeding them, swimming in a croc-proof cage or cuddling the prehistoric predators (just the baby ones, of course).

Upstairs, the Turtle Sanctuary offers visitors the chance to meet some of the Top End’s cutest inhabitants, including red and yellow face turtles, snapping turtles and pig nosed turtles, which call the local waterways home.

 

The Flight Centre marketing team spent four action-packed days in the Northern Territory, giving them just a quick taste of the 'real' Australia. They all say that they are desperate to return to see more, next time bringing their parents, their partners and their kids along to share the experience.

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