Tue, 22 Jan, 2019
Easy Northern Territory adventures you need to try
The Northern Territory is on everyone’s wish list and these incredible Northern Territory adventures are going to make you want to go sooner.
We’ve found camel tours, helicopters, fast boats and slow canoes. Here are 10 unique ways to immerse yourself in the Northern Territory
Segway tour at Uluru
One thing many people don’t realise about Uluru is that it is huge. The walk around the base is 12km.
To see Uluru from all-angles, why not jump on a Segway?
Segways move when you lean forward. They are sturdy, easy to manoeuvre and safe for over 50s.
Uluru Segway Tours run trips from most resorts to and around Uluru. Our favourite is the Uluru Sunrise and Segway Tour. The organisers will pick you up at your hotel 60 minutes before sunrise. Between May and September, the mornings can be chilly – so bring warm clothing and gloves.
Once there, you can enjoy a magical sunrise with a light breakfast, tea and (most importantly) coffee.
An experienced local guide will lead you into the Mutitjulu Waterhole. It’s an easy walk from your breakfast spot. Then hop onto a Segway for the cruise around the full 12km base of the rock. This tour takes about five hours.
Where: Uluru Northern Territory
Price: Tours start at $129
Camel ride at Uluru
Segways not your style? You could opt to see Uluru by camel.
Australia is home to the world’s largest herd of camels. Up to 750,000 of them roam free in the outback. The camels were imported into Australia in the 19th Century from Arabia, India and Afghanistan.
Then the combustion engine came along. Camels were no longer needed, and thousands of them were released into the wild.
To ride an outback camel really is a uniquely Australian experience. Uluru Camel Tours has sunrise and sunset tours of Uluru as well as an express camel ride.
The sunset tour takes 2.5 hours and offers incredible views of Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Skilled cameleers tell families stories of the territory, its flora and fauna. But the highlight has to be the spectacular sunset, watched from a sand dune. On return to the farm, guests can indulge in outback foods such as damper and enjoy a cool glass of beer, wine or sparkling wine.
Where: Tours depart from 10 Kali crt Yulara NT
Price: From $80
Quad riding at a cattle station
Undoolya Station, 15 minutes from Alice Springs, is the oldest working cattle station in the Northern Territory. The property is named after the Indigenous word meaning “shadow”. The Government granted Edward Bagot a pastoral lease for the station in 1872. William Hayes bought the property in 1907 and the sixth generation of his descendants still continue to run this incredible working cattle station.
Undoolya and the neighbouring Garden Station, also owned by the Hayes Family, are 3500 square kilometres combined. That’s almost the same size as Luxembourg.
Apart from cattle, the Hayes family also grow grapes. Rocky Hill Table Grapes has 60,000 white grape vines over 60 hectares of the property.
The Undoolya Discovery Tour departs from Alice Springs and takes families through this unique outback property on quad bikes. You will need to wear enclosed shoes and comfortable clothing. Long pants, sunglasses and sunscreen are a must. Choose from the Quad Rush, a fast thrilling tour for adrenaline-lovers, or the more relaxed outback discovery tour where you can spot some of the unique territory wildlife at a slower pace.
The station also has four-wheel drive tours across both properties.
Where: Undoolya Station Alice Springs
Price: From $140
Hot air balloon ride in Alice Springs
One of the best things about outback Australia is the silence. A balloon tour keeps that peace and quiet and offers stunning views over this unique landscape.
Wake before dawn to catch the best part of the day. Outback Balloon Adventures has 30-minute and one-hour balloon flights with views over the West MacDonnell Ranges. Keep an eye out for wallabies and red kangaroos as you drift over the desert and mulga scrub. At the bush landing site, indulge in fruit juice cocktails, banana bread, muffins and champagne.
The balloons fit between two and 24 people. Outback Balloon Adventures also does exclusive charters.
Where: Hotel Pickup, Alice Springs, Northern Territory
Price: $295 – $390
Four-wheel driving in Iytwelepenty / Davenport Ranges National Park
Looking for a remote adventure? Want to see the real NT? This is the tour for you. The Iytwelpenty or Davenport Ranges National Park is the traditional home of the Alyawarr, Wakaya, Kaytete and Warumungu people.
It’s also a refuge for waterbirds and has an extensive network of waterholes. The best place to swim is the Old Police Station Waterhole. But beware of submerged logs and rocks. Do not jump or dive into the water.
Hire a reliable 4WD and head to the park via the Stewart Highway. Turn off either at Bonney Well along Kurundi / Epenarra Road of at Taylor Creek along Murray Downs / Hatches Creek for a more scenic route. Experienced four-wheel drive travellers can take the Frew River Loop 4WD track off the Murray Downs / Hatches Creek Road for 17km of challenging driving.
Where: Davenport Ranges National Park Stuary Highway Davenport NT
Contact: Tennant Creek Ranger Station phone: (08) 8962 4599
Helicopter flight over Nitmiluk Gorge, Katherine
Nitmiluk National Park is a three-hour drive from Darwin. It has rugged sandstone cliffs, spectacular waterfalls and deep pockets of lush rainforest. It’s pronounced Nit-me-look which means “cicada place” in the Jawoyn language.
This is the land of the Rainbow Serpent (Bolung) Dreamtime story. A helicopter flight allows you to appreciate the geography, the scale and the incredible colours of this unique landscape. From above, the snaking 13 gorges are all visible.
Helispirit offers helicopter tours over Nitmiluk Gorge in Katherine. Choose from 8, 12, 15, 20, 30 or 45-minute flights through the gorge. If you are travelling with pets, you can leave the dog in the shade at base camp while the fly. Expect to fly over sheer canyon waterfalls, past rocky escarpments and through deep cool canyons. This is a once-in-a-lifetime thrill.
Our top tip: Read the Rainbow Serpent story before you fly. According to the Jawoyn people the Bolung still lives in the deep pools of the gorge and care must be taken not to disturb him.
Where: Lot 5449, 1425 Gorge Road Katherine NT
Price: $95 to $485
Guided canoeing tour through Nitmiluk Gorge
If you prefer your adventure on the ground, check out the Katherine River canoe tours.
The sheer sandstone walls of Nitmilik Gorge were formed by layers and layers of compressed sand once deposited by an ancient sea. Movements in the earth’s surface split the rock, creating fault lines that eventually filled with water.
Nitmiluk Tours takes families on a scenic cruise to the second gorge. From there, you can pick up a canoe and travel as far as the ninth gorge. You can camp overnight, but you will have to book a spot. Day-trippers should only canoe to the fifth gorge if you want to make it back home on time.
We recommend the Malappar Traveller Tour. It takes 4.5 hours at a relaxed pace in single or double canoes. The canoe tours are seasonal, running from June to November. The tours begin once the National Parks have completed their annual safety and crocodile survey.
To catch a glimpse of the gorge’s spectacular wildlife you will need to be quiet and patient. You should be able to spot water monitors, cormorants, northern snake-necked turtles and barramundi. Crocodiles are rare. If you do see one, do not approach it.
Where: Nitmiluk National Park
Price: $42 to $164
Yellow Water Cruises, Kakadu National Park
Kakadu’s rich ever-changing wetlands are home to one-third of Australia’s bird species including the distinctive Jabirus and brilliant brolgas. Crocodiles lurk on the banks and in the water and buffalo roam the floodplains.
Kakadu Tourism is the only company that can take you to the sensational Yellow Water Billabong. The company has six cruises each day from 90 minutes to two hours. The most popular tours are the sunset and sunrise cruises.
The cruises offer a fascinating commentary on how the Indigenous Bininj people use the wetland’s flora and fauna.
Where: Kakadu Hwy, Kakadu NT
Price: From $72
Darwin Airboat, Darwin Harbour
Hop on board a custom-built V8 airport for a unique thrill. The 45-minute tour starts at Stokes Hill Wharf in Darwin and heads through Darwin Harbour towards the city’s scenic mangroves.
Your heart will race as the tour guide pumps the accelerator for a “hot lap”. Expect to also spend some time chilling out and scouring the landscape for birds, fish and reptiles – especially crocodiles.
Where: Dock 1, Stokes Hill Wharf
Price: $165 adults, $115 kids
Pristine plunge pools of Litchfield National Park
Ever seen those amazing photos of people in a natural plunge pool gazing over rugged outback scrub below and thought – I need to go there? That is Litchfield National Park. And it’s just as stunning as it looks in photographs.
Litchfield has seven main waterfalls and pools to explore: Wangi Falls, Florence Falls, Bluey Rockhole, Walker Creek, Cascades, Tjaynera Falls and Surprise Creek Falls.
Take your pick. They are all amazing. Cool off in the crystal clear water, then enjoy a scenic walk. Some of the waterholes also offer camping.
Before you go, check to make sure the pools are open and croc-safe. Rangers do daily sweeps. If a waterway does not have a swimming area sign – do not swim there.
Where: Litchfield National Park
Written by Alison Godfrey. Republished with permission of MyDiscoveries.