1) Glowing Turquoise Pools - Elsey National Park
Image via Jane Burhop - Common Ventures/Tourism NT
No, you didn’t just step into a Sci-Fi movie, the neon waters of the Mataranka Thermal Pools are so vibrant because of their intense mineral content! Close to 34° Celsius, these tropical springs are crystal clear and brimming with life and a top reason why you should visit the Northern Territory. The pools are believed to have therapeutic powers by their ancient inhabitants and the history that surrounds the park is just as fascinating as the pristine waters. Elsey National Park contains most of the traditional lands of the Mangarrayi and Yangman Indigenous people, 22 sacred archaeological sites as well as being a focal point for early European settlement in the NT during the 1830’s.
2) Captivating and Beautifully Intact Culture
About one-third of the Northern Territory population is indigenous to Australia. Between rich tradition and immersive cultural experiences, the impact the Aboriginal population has on current society is exceptionally positive. After years of land disputes and difficult conflict, the Aboriginal people now hold title to about 50% of the province. Since 1985, this title includes Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the sacred ancestral home of the Anangu people. Tours led by native guides, ancient art exhibits and local festivals and shows are just a few of the highlights made possible by the unique connection the people of the Northern Territories share.
3) Camel Races – Alice Springs
Image via Peter Carrol/Tourism NT
A classic outback event - in line with true, unpredictably amusing Aussie fashion. The original Camel Cup of the Northern Territory was born in 1970 out of a bet and a challenge between two friends. It has since been held on an annual basis at Blatherskite Park. Come one, come all, as some patrons prefer to dress in fascinating feather hats and tulle while others enjoy a beer in their thongs and singlets. The best part about the races is undoubtedly the show put on by the camels themselves, truly a great reason to visit the Northern Territory. Imagine the Kentucky Derby but trade out the stallions for about 20 agitated, spitting and kicking camels. You’re off to the races.
4) Rocks that… change colour? - Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Image via Mitchell Cox /Tourism NT
Does Uluru actually change its colour? Uluru is the second biggest monolith in the world towering over central Australia at 348 meters above the plain. (That’s taller than the Eiffel Tower or the Chrysler Building!). Every morning, the sun rises and paints the stone a bright and blazing red. Sunset illuminates Uluru with blues, milky purples or dusty shades of orange. As a sacred monument of the region’s indigenous Aboriginal tribe – the Anangu – the vast 9.4km sandstone rock is believed to hold a powerful energy source and marks the place where Dreamtime began. It is a living cultural landscape that belongs to the oldest world culture known to man - dating back over 60,000 years. The spirit and enchantment of this divine land is still significantly apparent today.
5) Crocs vs. People Ratio
Image via Lynton Crabb/Tourism NT
Over 100,000 - 200,000 saltwater crocodiles paddle the waterways of the Northern Territories. For the math people out there, that’s at least 5 crocs per kilometre and roughly 1 croc to every 1 person! That is one of the largest crocodile populations in the world. They jump, they hunt and they terrify, but there’s just no denying how cool it is to see them lurking around in the wild… from a boat. For the real adventures amongst us, crocs are a top reason to visit the Northern Territory.
6) The World’s Only Land Regatta – Henley on Todd Regatta, Alice Springs
Image via Imparja/Tourism NT
Ironic and iconic. Only in Australia would we dream up a parody boat run in the bone dry sands of the Todd River. Complete with “No Fishing” signs and food stalls, tourists and locals alike mark their calendar for this mock up every year. The “boats” are made of metal piping and hung with banner flags the team designs. The “rowers” line up within these makeshift tubs and run for their lives to the finish lines, pushing and berating the other teams along the way. While many attractions in the Northern Territory have a lot of deeper meaning or theological background, the Henley-on-Todd Regatta is just plain, good fun.
7) "Big Macs"
Image via Mitchell Cox/Tourism NT
The MacDonnell Mountain Ranges are far more beautiful and arguably much more healthy than anything you can purchase at your neighbourhood Maccas. Known for its spectacular gaps and gorges, the hikes are totally worth any sunburn or bug bites collected along the way. Although unexpected and dare we say underrated, the East and West Macs are over 3,929,444 hectares of rocky adventure playground. From natural swimming holes to four-wheel drive tracks, it’s one of the best camping locations in the country. Take a day and explore the caves of Aboriginal rock art and keep your eyes peeled for wandering wallabies and Thorny Devils. The activity and inspiring beauty of the Macs is well known by locals as Red Centre’s best kept secret and a top reason why the Northern Territory should be your next destination!
If this has given you the same case of serious wanderlust it's given us, we suggest you check out our awesome Northern Territory tours and packages to cure it.
By: Alison Mass