No visit to the Top End can ever be complete unless you experience the magnificent Kakadu National Park. It is supremely beautiful and immensely important for its Aboriginal history and unique ecology. World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park boasts more than 1,000 Aboriginal rock art sites making it one of Australia’s most important cultural treasures.
The 19,000 square kilometre park is 260km east of Darwin on the sealed Arnhem Highway. Most accessible in the dry season from May to September, it is at its most spectacular in the Wet as evening storms deluge the land creating massive lakes teaming with birdlife. Though you may not be able to see the entire park’s most beautiful places, such as Jim Jim and Twin Falls, any time is the right time to go to Kakadu. Litchfield National Park Litchfield National Park, just an hour-and-a-half from Darwin, is a tropical oasis where visitors can experience the thrill of swimming beneath rushing waterfalls or marvel at rare magnetic termite mounds.
The unique township of Jabiru is situated in the middle of Kakadu – a National Park of world heritage status – and perched on the edge of Arnhem Land. Initially established to service the Ranger Uranium Mine, Jabiru hosts a range of services for residents and tourists alike and is the gateway to many of the amazing sights in Kakadu National Park. Residents in Jabiru have the best of both worlds – only 250 km from the highlife in Darwin but far enough from the city to get the best from nature. Living in Jabiru is heaven for those who like to fish, camp, bushwalk or birdwatch. The Mirarr people are the traditional owners of the Jabiru area.
Often called the ‘Crossroads of the North’ because of its location, Katherine is the fourth largest town in the Northern Territory and is located 312 kilometres south-east of Darwin on the Katherine River. Katherine is a modern thriving regional centre that offers a wide range of services to communities from the Western Australian border to the Gulf of Carpentaria on the Queensland border. There is a modern air-conditioned shopping centre, hospital, sports grounds, parks and gardens as well as a large number of Commonwealth and Territory Government services.
Tennant Creek, with a population of 3,500 people, is the only town of any size in the centre of the Northern Territory. It lies on the Stuart Highway 510 kms north of Alice Springs and 670 kms south of Katherine. The Barkly Region, which it serves, is a huge, and sometimes forgotten, expanse of 240,000 square kms between the tropical ‘Top End’ and the arid ‘Red Centre’. It is roughly the same size as the U.K. or New Zealand, and consists largely of open grass plains with scattered cattle stations, mines and aboriginal communities.