Want landscapes that are big on drama? Hiking trails through jaw-dropping terrain? Australia’s Northern Territory has the answer…
Arnhem Land is an Aboriginal reserve, and access is limited in order to protect the local culture, historic rock art and untouched wilderness. The easiest and most efficient way to gain the all-important permit is to hire a guide or join a tour group. If you prefer to go it alone, permission must be acquired from the Northern Territory’s Council and must be requested at least 10 days before your trip.
Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve, Karlu Karlu
The Devils Marbles – or Karlu Karlu as they are known by the local Warumungu Aboriginals – are spectacular. A collection of round, red, granite boulders strewn across the landscape, some balanced precariously in physics-defying positions or split almost perfectly in half.
The Devils Marbles are 393km north of Alice Springs or 760 km south of Katherine – and you can reach it via the Stuart highway.
East Macdonnell Ranges
For a view as incredible as this, you’ll have to head to the skies. A helicopter ride out of Alice Springs will offer up an incredible view of the undulated ridges of the range. However if you don’t have a head for heights the range has some equally beautiful sights you can enjoy with your feet planted firmly on the sand.
Many scenic walks criss-cross the range which is only a few kilometres south of Alice Springs along the Stuart highway – follow the turn off for the Ross Highway.
Lost City, Abner Range, Cape Crawford, Savannah Way
These 25-metre-high pinnacles were formed 1.4 billion years ago at the bottom of the ocean. Today, you can wander between the towers and see for yourself how the earth is formed.
There is some access (though difficult and extremely rocky) for very experienced 4×4 drivers 100km west of Darwin. Tours run from both Alice Springs and Darwin and are often the best way to negotiate the rough terrain. Fancy an adrenaline thrill? Jump onboard a helicopter or light aircraft tour to witness the magnitude of this geological wonder from the air.
Northern Rockhole, Jatbula Trail, Nitmiluk National Park
Bathe in the cool, green waters beneath the single drop waterfall of the Northern Rockhole. Only a gentle half-day walk from the Nitmiluk visitor centre in Katherine, the pool offers a heavenly respite and a balm for hot feet. It also marks the end of the first day if you are attempting the Jatbula Trail.
Old Andado Track, Binns Track, Simpson Desert
The Old Andado Track runs through the Outback between Alice Springs and Oodnadatta – it may not look far on a map, but the journey will take several days. The dusty dirt road passes among the rolling red landscape on the fringes of the Simpson Desert, offering remarkable views of the dunes.
Razorback Ridge, Section 5 Larapinta Trail
Climbing Razorback Ridge feels like standing on a knife’s edge high above the earth. Trekking along the ridge offers panoramic views of the Victorian High Country and a sense of exhilaration as you stand and look over the precipice. Mt Feathertop – the second highest peak in Australia – awaits at the end of the range.
Rim Walk, Kings Canyon
Rim Walk is particularly spectacular at sunrise when the red rock glows in the early sun, but you’ll have to work hard for this view: it’s a challenging 500-step climb to the top.
After visiting the roof of the canyon, discover the ‘Garden of Eden’ at its heart, a cool pool and lush green oasis hidden between the barren rocks.
Ubirr, Kakadu National Park
Climb to the top of Ubirr rock for a breathtaking panorama view of the floodplains below. Then, spend the afternoon admiring the fabulous 2,000-year-old Aboriginal rock art. The area is traditionally women-only site but the rule is relaxed for non-indigenous tourists.