Tips for Touring the Top End
How you should travel around the top end depends very much on the season. It is not advisable in the wet season as quite a few places will be inaccessible.
If you are not in the wet season and would like to get off the paved road in places like Kakadu National Park, it would be worth your while thinking of a 4WD vehicle. There are however other possibilities. You could for instance hire a normal car or a motorhome and take tours if you really want to reach off the track places. We travelled with the motorhome and were vary happy with what we were able to see. You can always take guided tours to most of the suggested places, but you are not flexible with you timing. If you are travelling alone the tour possibility would most likely be the best.
If you wish to get up into Arnhem Land to the Aboriginal reserve, you should take a guided tour.
We entered the top end from the South on the Stuart Highway, but it would be just as good to do a round trip starting and ending at Darwin.
We Departed Katherine Gorge and entered the southern end of Kakadu National Park travelling North on the Kakadu Highway till we came to Yellow Waters. The photo of a giant termite mound was taken a few kilometres inside Kakadu. We organised a boat trip on Yellow Waters lagoon and we were really amazed by the abundance of wildlife, particularly the birds. From Yellow Waters we continued on to visit Nourlangie Rock and see the Aboriginal art. From there we travelled to the Visitor Centre and campground at Jabiru. The hotel there is a very special building. It is built in the form of a huge crocodile. Early the next morning we continued on to the East Alligator River and took a boat trip up the river. This was a combined tour and cultural education as the Aboriginal boat driver and guide told us of the beliefs of his people and showed us practical things like spear throwing and musical instruments. He also explained what uses his people had for the various trees and plants. it was ver interesting, but we were also warned to keep our arms inside the boat at all times, as a crocodile can propel itself at least half its body length out of the water. There were quite a few crocodiles there, including the one in the photo gallery.
From the East Alligator River we travelled to look at the simple camp ground there, then continued on to visit Ubirr Rock. This is famous for the Aboriginal art there and is under World Heritage Trust. The artwork was quite amazing and the view from the top of the rock was also impressive.
We now turned about and headed West to join the Arnhem Highway, stopping on the way to see a viewing point on the northern side of Yellow waters. There were hides there to allow viewing of the wildlife without disturbing it. There were a few more interesting places between Kakadu and the Stuart Highway, including the Mary River and a few lookouts. On joining the Stuart Highway we turned South once again and travelled to a camp ground just outside Litchfield National Park. Litchfield is very different to Kakadu in that there are no crocodiles and there are many opportunities for swimming. The park is on the edge of a tableland and there are many waterfalls as the water finds its way down. There is an area with very interesting termite mounds as you enter the park. These are not round but flat in cross section, to alter the effect of the sun on the temperature of the mounds. They are all built in exactly the same alignment.
After an enjoyable day of sightseeing and swimming, we travelled North to see the Territory Wildlife Park which is on the Western side if the highway between Litchfield and Darwin. We arrived in Darwin late afternoon to give our rolling home back to Britz, then we were picked up by good friends who live in Darwin. The weekend was spent exploring Darwin, and included a visit to the Cyclone Tracy Museum, the new Parliament building, the yacht harbour and the markets. It was a great experience just to sit on the harbour shore and watch the sun set over the ocean.
Anyone doing a trip from Darwin and returning to Darwin could do a similar program to ours, but of course it would then be a round trip, Kakadu from North to South, then to Litchfield, Territory Wildlife Park and Darwin. If you had time you could go from Kakadu to Katherine Gorge before going to Litchfield.
For further information on the Top End, see:www.australia.com Australian Tourist Commission www.nttc.com.au Northern Territory Tourist Com. www.ntholidays.com Northern Territory www.ozoutback.com
and www.australiangeographic.com.au for informative planning maps.