Given that the Northern Territory is an area larger than several countries, it’s fair to say you could spend weeks here and only just start to scratch the surface.
Fortunately for you, much of the territory is uninhabited and vast desert, so there is a lot of it that you probably don’t need to see! Which is lucky, because there is already a whole lot of magic in this part of the country waiting to be explored.
The Northern Territory makes up the top centre of Australia and is best known for its rich indigenous culture and history, long road trips, the majestic Red Centre of Uluru, countless national parks and of course, the crocodiles.
When the question is asked of how long you need in this part of the world, it does depend entirely on your must-sees, but a full week of NT adventure would have you covering off majority of the bucket list items.
How to see the Northern Territory in a week:
Alright, so let’s say you’ve got 7 days to spend here and cram in as much as possible. This is a good amount of time, but you’ll be busy getting it all done, and will need to incorporate a flight or two into your schedule and budget. For this reason, tours are a fantastic and often more affordable way to be guided through the land, and not stress about missing the standout sights.
Starting in the Top End in the capital city of Darwin, you can spend a full day out, with a cruise along the Adelaide River learning about crocodiles, visiting Litchfield National Park where you’ll see the giant termite mounds and majestic falls, and swimming in safe pristine water holes like Buley Rockhole, before heading back for a well-earned drink at a beachside bar.
The next couple of days could (and really should) be dedicated to getting amongst some impressive nature and historical landmarks in Kakadu National Park. A 2-day tour of Kakadu will cover off falls, plunge pools, cultural centre visits, Nourlangie Rock and wall art, hiking and picturesque views, plus camping under the bright stars.
From the Top End to the Red Centre
Now that you’ve explored the north, it’s time to head south to Alice Springs. While a direct road trip from Darwin to Alice Springs would take anywhere between 2-5 days – depending on your stops along the way on the 1500km journey – a flight will have you there in just over 2 hours. These flights can be pricey at times, so try and book ahead to get the best deal. Qantas flies most frequently of all the airlines.
Alice Springs is known as the capital of the outback. You can hang around here and visit wildlife sanctuaries, hike trails, visit the museum of Central Australia, go for a camel ride or even hop in a hot air balloon basket and glide over the vast red landscape.
After your day in Alice Springs, make your way to one of Australia’s most well-known and culturally important landmarks, Uluru (Ayers Rock). If you aren’t hiring a car, a tour or a bus can get you to Uluru in about 6 hours – so be prepared for an early start, made much easier with the spectacular views as you drive through the heart of Australia.
Take your time exploring Uluru over 2 to 3 days
This is where you’ll have the chance to immerse yourself completely in an incredible and spiritual experience. Seeing Uluru is an extraordinary sight already but seeing the rock glowing in different lights and casting shadows at sunrise and sunset is bucket-list type stuff.
Add in lessons on the food and wildlife, hear Dreamtime stories from Aboriginal elders, exploring Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon, Kings Creek Station, and sleeping under the stars, and you’ve got yourself a trip you’ll never forget.
So yes, while you can see some highlights of the Northern Territory in less than a week, it’s the kind of place you will thank yourself for allowing extra time to disconnect for a little while and go on a phenomenal journey through the stunning outback.
Related article: What you should do in the Northern Territory