From crocs to curries, beer cans to beanies, there’s no time like the present to visit the Northern Territory. Here’s looking at you, millennials.
“I feel about 20 per cent more Australian right now,” muses one of my fellow Gen Yers as we walk towards the base of Uluru. Gazing up at its crevices, I have to agree.
I always thought of the Red Centre – really, the Northern Territory as whole – as that one-day destination, a place where grey-haired cashed-up tourists rolled from luxury resort to big-name sights, cameras at the ready. How wrong I was.
Visiting the Red Centre as part of a contingent of millennials wasn’t how many of us thought we’d ‘do’ the Northern Territory for the first time, yet now I can’t imagine a better way to have done so.
Placing the Northern Territory on a bucket list is doing it – and yourself – a disservice. This northern region is a place of deep divine awakening, of rich cultural heritage, of beautiful landscapes borne from ancient indigenous legends.
Today, direct flights from major capitals are aplenty, accommodation spans everything from backpacker-friendly hotels to honeymoon hotspots, and the state’s cultural canon couldn’t be more exciting. Though terracotta-coloured plains, emerald-green rainforests and brilliant blue islands all set the scene for Instagram-worthy moments, they also serve as the backdrop to a host of special events – some of Australia’s most quirky, in fact.
The Top End isn’t just known for its laidback lifestyle, but a curious lineup of things to do. Foodies gravitate towards Darwin to taste their way through the weekly Mindil Beach Sunset Market, but those who plan their visit over April 22 and 23 will be treated to even more gastronomic goodness as part of the Territory Taste Festival.
The fun – and party – doesn’t end in May or June either, with the outdoors Bass in the Grass festival on May 20 (Darwin’s biggest event), followed by the electronic sounds of the Summer Sessions Beach Party between June 9 and 11. If you’re not musically motivated, visit in July and you can watch a comical scene of boatloads of people furiously paddling DIY beer-tinny boats from Mindil Beach as part of the iconic Darwin Lions Beer Can Regatta.
Down in Alice Springs, the closest thing to a seaside escapade you’ll find is the desert-slogging Henley-On-Todd Regatta, another lively ‘boat’ race held in a dry riverbed on August 19. The city is also worth a visit in June, when non-ironic hat markets pop up all over town for the Beanie Festival. Hipsters, the NT has got you covered, too.
From the barren expanses of Alice Springs to the cosmopolitan hub of Darwin, the NT is the spiritual heart of Australia and one that deserves your time and full attention while you’re young.
We live in an age of instant gratification, where social media likes are currency and the millennial mindset is all see, do, experience now, not just in three decades time. So whether you plan to skydive, swim, hike, ride, eat or festival-hop your way across the state, you’re guaranteed a veritable smorgasbord of holiday highlights. Trust me; I’ve got a group hashtag full of orange-hued selfies to prove it.