Oct 01, 2015
Live it up in the Top End’s great outdoors.
They all compete for your attention as you walk through Darwin’s Nightcliff Markets – the intoxicating aroma of Malaysian beef rendang, the rhythm of live music, artworks splashed with vibrant Northern Territory landscapes and even cotton skirts with oversized dragonfly prints. Don’t rush the experience. Take your time, grab some rendang wrapped in flaky roti canai then find a spot under a tree for a front-row view of Sunday-afternoon Darwin at its most relaxed.
In the pantheon of romantic experiences, dining by the sea under the stars on a balmy tropical night has to be right up there. Throw in an oven-baked, wild-caught Northern Territory saltwater barramundi at the oceanfront Pee Wee’s at the Point and life could barely be sweeter. A cheaper, noisier (ergo less romantic) version of the experience can be had at nearby Darwin Ski Club.
Sign up for a Yellow Water Billabong day cruise in Kakadu National Park and you’ll see more crocodiles than your nightmares can handle. Do the cruise after dark and all you’ll see are stars millions of them. As you step aboard, there’s an overwhelming sense of darkness until your eyes adjust to the heavenly lightshow. The only sounds you’ll hear are the gently lapping waves and your guide explaining the Aboriginal connection to the night sky.
Kakadu may be bigger, more famous and internationally renowned for its rock art but locals flock to Litchfield for its proximity to Darwin, dramatic Magnetic Termite Mounds and shady monsoon forest walks. Worked up a sweat? Glide into sublime waterfall-fed pools at Florence Falls and Wangi Falls, where the word “secluded” is part of the local lexicon. Go for a day or camp out.
If you think Uluru is the only place of staggering beauty in the Red Centre, you’re wrong. About two hours south of Alice Springs is Rainbow Valley – a jagged sandstone outcrop with steep cliffs and bluffs. It’s spectacular at any time of the day or night (the stars come into their own out here) but the best time to visit is around sunset when the light hits the rock face from behind you, making its rainbow-like bands even more dramatic. Don’t forget the picnic rug and sundowners.