When planning to visit the Northern Territory, travellers should be aware of the plethora of holiday activities available to them. Although you should search for accommodation in Darwin as your first step, the next stage of your plans should be to check out the beautiful regions in the state to visit, particularly if you are a nature lover. In Darwin there are parks to visit, animal to encounter and museums to wander, but you might consider day tripping out of the state’s capital city to really experience the wonders of the Australian landscape. If you’re keen to learn about the best flora and fauna in the Northern Territory, read on for information on three of its natural wonders — Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks and Katherine Gorge.
Kakadu National Park
Although most people think of Kakadu National Park as being extremely remote, it is in fact only three hours’ drive from Darwin. This World Heritage-listed area is the biggest national park in Australia and is home to more than 1600 plant types, 280 bird species, 10,000 different insect species, 68 mammal varieties and the one of the most highly-concentrated areas of Aboriginal rock art sites in the world. Many of these sites date back 50,000 years, and whether you take a tour or drive yourself to Kakadu, you will find many local tour guides on hand to educate you on the local Aboriginal culture and the native Australian flora and fauna.
Kakadu is home to some of the most diverse flora in northern Australia and is also considered to be one of the most weed-free national parks on the planet. While visiting the region, tourists have the chance to see around 39 of the 47 species of Northern Territory mangroves; eucalypt-dominated open forests and woodlands; and a variety of paperbarks, grasses, waterlilies and other swamp vegetation. The diversity of Kakadu’s landscape also it to attract a huge array of animal species, many of which are considered to be endangered, rare or endemic. The National Park is home to a variety of migratory birds, 120 reptile species, more than 300 different tidal and freshwater fish species and freshwater and saltwater crocodiles.
Litchfield National Park
Another fascinating area that’s only two hours’ drive southwest of Darwin is Litchfield National Park. Although it is not as popular as Kakadu, this area is actually easier to reach and is incredibly beautiful. Covering approximately 1,500 square kilometres, Litchfield is home to an eclectic array of geological structures as well as many breathtaking waterfalls that are the park’s biggest attractions. Another unique site in the National Park is the magnetic termite mounds, tall, pillar-like dirt structures containing tunnels, nurseries, chimneys and even insulation. An amazing natural wonder, these mounds, which reach up to two metres high, have been cleverly aligned to minimise exposure to the sun and create the best possible living conditions for the termites. Boardwalks have been constructed around the mounds so that you can view the marvels without disturbing them. Litchfield National Park is the perfect spot to see woodlands full of eucalyptus trees, wallabies, sugar gliders, flying foxes, rare Orange Horseshoe Bats, hundreds of bird species and dingos.
Katherine Gorge, Nitmiluk National Park
Located around 30 kilometres from the town of Katherine (and about three hours from Darwin), spectacular Katherine Gorge consists of a network of 13 deep sandstone gorges that have been carved out by the Katherine River over millions of years. The area is well-known as a haven for nature lovers and it provides an abundance of flora and fauna, dramatic waterfalls, Aboriginal Rock Art sites and rugged landscapes. An unforgettable place to visit, Katherine Gorge is home to animals such as crocodiles, turtles, bats, possums, lizards, frogs, wallaroos, dingos, an array of birdlife (over 200 types) and more than 750 plant species. Many of the area’s animals are found in the park’s rain forests, as the trees provide refuge for the wildlife in the seasonally dry environment. Many tour companies operate day or overnight tours in Nitmiluk National Park so visitors have every opportunity to witness as many of the wonders of the region as possible.
Written by guest writer Simone Wagner. Simone is a travel blogger and Darwin resident with a passion for nature, animals and conservation.