Outback & Northern Territory Holidays

From the stark, dusty deserts of the Red Centre to the dramatic river gorges of the Top End, the Outback & Northern Territory offers a glimpse into Australia at its most wild.

Venture into the true heart of Australia on a trip to the Northern Territory. Here copper-red monoliths rise from untouched desert, waterfalls crash into pristine swimming holes and sand dunes tumble across wide, open stretches so vast their scale is hard to comprehend. There’s wildlife in abundance, from the crocodiles of Kakadu to the wallabies of the Cobourg Peninsula, and Aboriginal culture reigns supreme, with ancient rock art, indigenous festivals and local guides offering the chance to learn more about the people that have shaped the region throughout history.

In the south, you’ll find the Red Centre, where Alice Springs is the gateway the Western Macdonnell Ranges, Kings Canyon and the illustrious Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Further north lies Australia’s Top End – the home of the iconic Katherine River and its 13 gorges, as well as Kakadu, Darwin and the remote, unspoilt coastlines of Arnhem Land. Throughout, there’s a mystical magic that’s hard to place – a spiritual sense that lies in the eerie silence and the immense, empty spaces, deserted but the for the flora and fauna that call them home. It’s part of what makes the Outback so special – and a feeling you won’t quite understand until you experience it for yourself.

Want to make it happen? Talk to us and we’ll help create your bespoke adventure in this vast, otherworldly region.

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A Night at Field of Light

Savour canapés and sparkling wine as the sun slowly sets over Uluru, with the sound of the didgeridoo setting the scene. Watch the coloured lights of 50,000 glass spheres illuminate the vast night sky while enjoying a three-course bushtucker-inspired buffet menu. Learn about the background and significance of the installation before following illuminated paths through the field.

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Tali Wiru

Tali Wiru means ‘beautiful dune’ in the local Anangu language and this open-air restaurant offers an intimate dining experience under the starry Southern Desert sky. Enjoy breathtaking sunset views of Uluru and the domes of Kata Tjuta whilst dining on a four-course dinner of world-class cuisine, premium Australian wine and indigenous storytelling.

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West MacDonnell Ranges

Depart from Alice Springs on this full-day tour where you will experience the spectacular landscapes of the West MacDonnell Ranges, the dramatic deep red cleft of Standley Chasm, the stunning scenery of Ellery Creek Big Hole and the cultural significance of the Ochre Pits. Enjoy lunch before visiting Ormiston Gorge. See the towering cliffs of quartzite at Simpsons Gap where you can spot black-footed rock wallabies.

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Get to know Outback & Northern Territory and those important practicalities when planning your perfect holiday.

Capital
TIME DIFFERENCE

GMT +9½ hours; the Northern Territory does not observe daylight savings time so is 8½ hours ahead of British Summer Time.

CURRENCY

Australian Dollar

FLYING TIME TO DESTINATION

Darwin: 23 hours (not including stopover time)

RELIGION

Majority Christian

LANGUAGE

Australia has no official language but the majority of people speak English as their first language. Approximately 250 indigenous Australia languages are spoken.

Where is the Outback and Northern Territory?
The Northern Territory sprawls across the centre of the country, reaching up to the north coast and bordering Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland. Darwin International Airport is the biggest and busiest transport hub, while Alice Springs also has its own airport. For Uluru, you can fly direct to Ayers Rock Connellan Airport, located just a few miles north of the national park in the small town of Yulara.

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Darwin
The capital of the Northern Territory, Darwin combines all the charm of a small town with the lures of a big city, then adds in a whole melting pot of cultures; it’s closer to Bali than Bondi, and Southeast Asian influences can be felt across the city. Head to Midnil Beach Sunset Market for fragrant bowls of laksa and Vietnamese summer rolls sold beside quintessentially Aussie barramundi burgers, then check out the Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory to browse its impressive Aboriginal art collection. Also well worth a wander is the waterfront, where you’ll find a slew of restaurants and bars alongside a wave pool, lagoon and beach – ideal for soaking up the city’s tropical climes.

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The Top End
Australia’s Top End has gained legendary status for good reason, with the Unesco-listed Kakadu National Park the largest of its kind in Australia, sprawling 7,500 square miles. Head to the now renowned sites of Ubirr and Nourlangie to see their Aboriginal rock art, or hop on a boat to explore the Yellow Water Wetlands, a lush billabong home to a third of Australia’s bird species. A few hours west you’ll find Litchfield National Park, known for its cascading waterfalls and crystal-clear swimming holes, while south lies Nitmiluk National Park, home of the Katherine Gorge. Here rapids carve their way through a series of 13 sandstone gorges, while freshwater crocs lurch on the banks in true Crocodile Dundee style.

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Alice Springs
The gateway to the Red Centre, Alice Springs is the Outback at its most quintessential. Visit the old Telegraph Station, built in the 1870s to relay messages between Darwin and Adelaide, and browse the home of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, whose museum offers a fascinating glimpse into their 24-hour emergency work. Climb to the top of Anzac Hill for sweeping views, and stop by Alice Springs Desert Park to see some of central Australia’s rarest wildlife. There’s an impressive art scene here, too; swing by the Araluen Arts Centre to explore indigenous art from the Central Desert region, or visit the Aboriginal-owned Papunya Tjupi Arts organisation to browse works by leading contemporary painters.

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Red Rock icons
There’s nothing quite like glimpsing Uluru, the largest sandstone monolith in the world, rising from a stretch of burgundy red sand – especially magical at sunset, when the sky blazes peach and violet above. Close by, the giant Kata Tjuta domes rise up in huge, ochre blobs like something from another planet. Together they form Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, an expanse of desert that’s been a sacred place for the Anangu people for more than 30,000 years. Pair explorations here with a visit to Kings Canyon, located a three-hour drive north and known for its dramatic sandstone formations, and strike out on the Rim Walk for panoramic views over the surrounding, otherworldly copper dunes.

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West MacDonnell Ranges
Just west of Alice Springs, this collection of scenic gorges, rivers and deep, dramatic chasms is a dream for hikers, with a myriad of trails to explore if you’re looking to strike out. It’s also a refuge for birds and other wildlife, including the rare peregrine falcon, and there’s a number of idyllic watering holes to swim in – among them Ellery Creek Big Hole and Ormiston Gorge, both flanked by towering red rocks. The colourful, marble-like Ochre Pits have been used as a quarry by local Aboriginal people for thousands of years, so there’s ample history to explore here, too.

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Aboriginal culture
The Northern Territory is one of the best places to head if you’re interested in learning about Aboriginal culture. Indigenous rock art sites are found across the region, from Kakadu and Arnhem Land to Uluru and Watarrka National Park, telling Dreamtime stories from millennia past. Many tours here are led by Aboriginal guides, and there’s a plethora of festivals to get involved in, providing a glimpse into the cultures and traditions that have been an intrinsic part of the region’s identity for more than 50,000 years.

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