Top End

The Top End is the northern, tropical part of Northern Territory, Australia.

Cities

Other destinations

Understand

The Top End of Northern Territory is a tropical area, home to Kakadu National Park, the largest national park in Australia. It contains the highest concentration of Aboriginal rock art in the world and amazing nature and wildlife. A perfect example of Top End living can be found in Darwin, with its relaxed lifestyle and warm weather all year round. A colourful history and fascinating cultural mix make it the perfect place to experience culinary delights or wander through some of the weekly markets.

The Victoria River is the longest river in the Northern Territory and is the lifeline to some of the biggest cattle stations in the NT. The region is also home to "Coolibah Station" where the reality series Keeping up with the Joneses was filmed. Its captivating landscapes stimulate a deep connection to the land and its people.

Culture

Tutini burial poles left after a Pukumani ceremony, Tiwi Island, NT

More than 50 nationalities make up Darwin's 100,000 population, including the area's traditional landowners, the Larrakia Aboriginal people. The cultural and culinary benefits of such a melting pot are best experienced at Darwin's weekly markets, variety of restaurants and through the annual calendar of festivals and other Darwin events.

In Kakadu Aboriginal guides enjoy teaching visitors about the daily aspects of their culture on various tours of the park. However the Bininj/Mungguy culture has its own set of social behaviours and customs, which are considered good manners. Show respect by not entering restricted areas. They may be sacred sites, ceremonial sites, burial grounds or even someone’s home.

Talk

English is the most common language spoken in the Top End. Hundreds of different Aboriginal languages are spoken by the indigenous people in the, including Yolgnu Matha in Arnhem Land, which is the second most spoken language in the NT after English. The Top End is very close to Asia and has a large Asian culture (including language and food) that is most seen in Darwin.

Get in

Regular interstate domestic flights arrive into Darwin.

From South Australia, driving north you can take the Explorer’s Way (Stuart Highway) from Adelaide through Coober Pedy into the Northern Territory. Travel along the Victoria Highway as it winds past immense escarpments split by the mighty Victoria River. Gregory National Park protects the area's colourful scenery featuring grassy plains, boab trees and majestic gorges carved out of sandstone escarpments.

The famous Ghan train travels from Adelaide to Darwin via Alice Springs and Katherine and The Inlander from Queensland.

Get around

By car is the best, and possibly the only way to get around.

See

Ubirr rock art, Kakadu National Park

The Top End has some world-famous natural and cultural attractions that can’t be missed. The Victoria River, affectionately known as "The Vic" is the backbone of the region. The Vic is a lifeline for pastoral properties; a guardian angel for aboriginal heritage; a tour guide for recreational pursuits. As protective as The Vic can be she can also be unrelenting in her domain. In flood her power is awesome; in arid times she demands survival.

Itineraries

Do

Twin falls, Kakadu National Park

The Top End offers the visitor an amazing array of activities to immerse yourself in, from the adventurous to the more subdued. Most tours leave from Darwin. Whether it’s a 4x4 trek in the National Park, desert discovery, nature watching, fishing or cruising the mighty Vic, hiking and bushwalking, scenic flying, photography, experiencing the wet season and its thunderstorms or sipping your favorite beverage at sunset, the region offers an experience for you. The escarpment country is beautiful and in the wet season waterfalls flow straight off the escarpment.

You can take a scenic helicopter flight with Coolibah Air from the Victoria River Roadhouse over the escarpment, Gregory National Park, the mighty Victoria River and Coolibah Station; home to 'The Joneses' a family who have become recent television stars after a reality documentary based on their life on the station called Keeping up with the Jonese aired on national television. The Victoria River is a mecca for fishing and produces some of the Territory’s best and biggest Barramundi. “Barra” can be caught all year round but the best time is on a neap tide, between the months of March to late May-coinciding with the end of the monsoon season called the “Run-off”.

If travelling the Buntine Highway be sure to stop in at the Top Springs Motel for a cold beer, enjoy a real outback meal, and have a yarn with a local. Top Springs is located at the junction of the Buntine and Buchanan Highways, 291 kilometres south of Katherine. The Top Springs Motel is located on the Savannah Way drive and is a fantastic rest stop with an awesome reputation as a colourful outback pub. The Top Springs Hotel is in the heart of cattle country and a good base for four-wheel-drive adventures on the way to Gregory National Park and the Victoria River Region.

Further west is the small township of Timber Creek. Fishing is Timber Creek's biggest drawcard however Max's Victoria River Cruises is a must do experience when travelling through Timber Creek.

Gregory National Park sits at Timber Creek's doorstep and covers an area of around 13,000 square kilometres. The Park features spectacular escarpment landscapes, prolific wildlife, ancient boab trees and significant remnants of Aboriginal and European history. There is also an extensive network of four-wheel-drive tracks in the Park.

Situated 170 kilometres west of Timber Creek is the Keep River National Park, which is a photographer's dream, the Park encompasses towering sandstone landforms that radiate a myriad of colours at sunrise and sunset. The area is best explored on foot, following well-marked bushwalking trails. There are two camping areas in the Park with barbecues, tables and pit toilets.

Fishing in the Northern Territory is world class and there are many diverse fishing habitats on offer. Most tours leave from Darwin, Arnhem Land is home to some truly adventurous fishing spots.

Eat

Mindil Beach Markets, Darwin

Make sure you take in the culinary delights of multi-cultural Darwin while in the Northern Territory. There’s a great range of outdoor eateries, exotic local produce and a diversity of culinary choices on offer.

Great eating areas in Darwin include:

Drink

The Northern Territory is famous for its legendary outback pubs. Every small town has somewhere you can drop by to chat with the local characters or learn some history. For some more sophisticated nightlife, head to the numerous clubs and bars in Darwin and check out some local music at Brown’s Mart.

Please note, within certain areas of the Northern Territory, there are restrictions on the consumption of alcohol in public places. More information on specific restrictions can be found at the Tourism Northern Territory website

Stay safe

Much of the Top End is the Australian 'Outback' Be prepared and plan your trip before you start it. Plan fuel stops and always carry extra fuel as on some highways fuel and towns can be up to 800 kilometres apart. It is advised to carry a satellite phone or HF radio for emergencies if leaving the major roads. Water and food are also very important. If you become stranded in the outback stay calm and stay with your vehicle so emergency services are able to locate you. If you have communication devices use them. Mobile (cellular) phone coverage is limited to the regional centres.

Stay safe

WARNING: Two species of crocodile can be found in Kakadu, the freshwater and the estuarine or saltwater crocodile. Estuarine crocodiles (Ginga), (Crocodylus porosus) often called ‘salties’ live in freshwater and estuarine areas, such as floodplains, billabongs, rivers and coastal waters. Estuarine crocodiles are aggressive. They have attacked and killed people in Kakadu. For your safety, please obey all crocodile warning signs – do not enter the water and keep away from the water’s edge.

Freshwater crocodiles (Madjarrki), (Crocodylus johnstoni) are only found in Australia, where they live in freshwater rivers, creeks and plunge pools such as Maguk and Gunlom. Freshwater crocodiles are usually shy animals but can become aggressive if disturbed, so do not approach them.

In some visitor areas access is only available after park staff have trapped and removed any estuarine crocodiles that have moved in during the wet season. These areas, known as crocodile management zones, are extensively surveyed at the start of each dry season to ensure the risk for visitors is reduced. Traps remain in place for the entire dry season as estuarine crocodiles may move in at any time.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, March 23, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.