Top End

Darwin, Kakadu, Litchfield Park, Katherine Gorge, crocs and barrumundi - all here in tropical Australia.
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Page Updated: 17 Jun 2015

Go to top Description

The Northern Territory has two distinctly different regions - the Red Centre in the south of the territory and the formidable tropical coast of the Top End that abounds with reptiles, birds, escarpments, waterfalls, and gorges.

The Territory's capital city Darwin is at the commercial centre of the Top End. Often hit by severe cyclones Darwin is a new looking city since it was totally rebuilt after being flattened by Cyclone Tracy on Xmas Day 1974.

Territorians are an interesting breed - they live in extreme conditions. The dry season from May - October sees them outdoors enjoying markets, sunset Jazz concerts, the annual mud crab tying competition, the beer can regatta and all manner of bizarre and wacky antics. Reputed to be Australia's biggest beer drinkers, the Territory has its own beer - the Darwin Stubby in a 2.25 litre bottle. It is a lively, modern place with a young population and high tourism. Asia's closest neighbours, Darwin's food scene is influence by excellent Thai, Indonesian, Malay and other Asian fare.

Darwin is one of the best cities in Australia for backpackers. Entire areas of the city centre are dedicated to the low budget traveller with the backpacker strip of hostels, guest houses, cafes, takeaways, street stalls, Irish theme pubs, nightclubs and late night traders servicing the traveller.

The Top End transforms into a watery floodplain during the monsoonal wet season that builds up in October resulting in daily downpours from Dec - March during the cyclone season. This is also the season for marine stingers and signs warns people to stay out of the water from October - March inclusive.

The Top End's best known feature is Kakadu National Park, recently declared a World Heritage area. Breathtaking escarpments give way to open wetlands and rainforest pockets. An incredible diversity of birdlife, plants and aboriginal art makes this a very special place. Rivers such as the East Alligator are favourites with barramundi fishermen although the threat of large saltwater crocodiles only increases the exhilaration. Popular attractions within Kakadu are Ubir Rock, Nourlangie Rock, Jim Jim Falls, Twin Falls, Cooinda and the 4WD tracks to Two Mile Hole, Four Mile Hole and West Alligator Head.

Although Kakadu is the area of the Top End given the most credit, there exists many other special places worthy of visiting.

Litchfield Park just 2 hours drive south of Darwin along the bitumen is full of fascinating magnetic termite mounds, rainforests, rock pools and waterfalls, making it a popular day spot for locals.

Further south near Katherine is the exceptional Katherine Gorge - a series of 13 gorges formed where the Katherine River has cut through the sandstone plateau many millions of years ago. The gorge system is breathtaking and activities are focussed on capturing its beauty. You can take a tour on a punt and listen to the history of both the Nitmiluk traditional owners and the geological formation or you can take yourself upstream in a canoe. There are crocodiles in the river but these are the freshwater variety and are harmless to humans.

30km south of Katherine are the Cutta Cutta Caves, although these limestone caves 15m deep can be affected by rising water levels during the wet season.

Further south again, the Mataranka thermal pool near the headwaters of the Roper River on the Stuart Highway is an excellent spot to refresh.

Of great fascination to many people is the aboriginal reserve called Arnhem Land that takes up a vast chunk of land on the NorthWest coast of the Top End. Access is possible only from either Katherine or Kakadu although permits must be arranged in advance.

Also accessible via Arnhem Land is the beautiful Coburg Peninsula, protected by the Gurig National Park. The remote parks lies 570km east and north of Darwin and bookings are essential. Activities here include fishing, diving, 4WD and soaking up the atmosphere.

Bathurst Island and Melville Islands lie off the coast of Darwin in the Arafura Sea. Populated by aboriginal communities you can visit these twin islands by plane from Darwin airport.

There are many other fabulous parks and features within the Top End not listed here, and this is intended merely to whet your appetite. As they say, "You'll never never know, if you never never go".

Go to top Treks

Carpentaria HighwayCarpentaria Highway
The Carpentaria Highway is a 381 kilometre highway, which runs from near Daly Waters to Borroloola in the Northern Territory Australia. It is a sealed road and is part of National Highway 1.
Gregory National ParkGregory National Park
Gregory NP is around 13,000 square kms comprising of two sections - a smaller northeast section along the Victoria Hwy and a much larger southern section between the Victoria and Buntine Highways. This trek, which is entirely in the latter, contains a network of rather challenging 4WDing in a very remote and scenic region, taking in famous icons such as the Bullita Stock Route.
World renowned Kakadu has plenty to offer the international and local tourist. The diversity and many attractions including amazing rock formations, rare wildlife, Aboriginal art and fascinating escarpments are all part of Kakadu National Park.
Situated 130kms from Darwin, Litchfield is an excellent day trip or long weekender. Magnificent waterfalls, scenery and offers 4WDers a couple of challenging tracks.
Roper BarRoper Bar
This part of Australia is extremely remote and uninhabited. A 4WD trek through these parts can be an extension of the Gulf Track on your way further up North to Darwin or Arnhem Land.
Savannah WaySavannah Way
This transcontinental road trip, stretches from the historic pearling town of Broome on the northwest coast of WA; travelling past Katherine in the heart of the NT, and finishing at the tourist hotspot of Cairns in the northeast coast of QLD.[Feature Story]
Tablelands HighwayTablelands Highway
The Tablelands Highway is a 375 kilometre single lane sealed road in the Northern Territory. It runs from Barkly Homestead on the Barkly Highway to Cape Crawford on the Carpentaria Highway.

Go to top Top End Weather & Climate

Closest Weather Station

Darwin Harbour at 22/02:00am CST
Distance from Darwin 0.94km S
TemperatureFeels LikeRel. HumidityDew PointPressureRainfallWind DirectionWind SpeedGusts

Closest Climatic Station

Darwin Airport
Distance from Darwin 6.72km NE
Mean Max. °C31.831.431.932.732.030.630.531.432.633.233.332.6
Mean Min. °C24.824.724.524.022.119.919.320.423.024.925.325.3
Mean Rain mm423.8374.6322.1101.


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