Up in tropical Darwin, the Northern Territory’s capital, you can be introduced to crocodiles at Crocosaurus Cove – a safe way to meet (and feed) these extraordinary animals. Close by is the Territory Wildlife Park, where you can experience monsoon forest and native wildlife.
Press a little further, and take in in a day of bush-walking at Litchfield National Park, about an hour south of Darwin. It’s famous for its incredible termite mounds, monsoon rainforest and waterfalls, and you can cool off at the park’s amazing Wangi Falls. From here you can easily reach the Adelaide River to meet its fascinating jumping crocodiles, before heading to the Territory’s great wildlife bonanza: Kakadu National Park, Australia’s largest.
Here you’ll find around 300 species of bird and at Kakadu’s Yellow Water Billabong, see crocodiles, buffalo and thousands of migratory birds.
You can stay at Bamurru Plains, a luxury camp on the Mary River, just west of Kakadu. It’s an amazing place to chill out, complete with infinity pool, lounging deck and library. After treating yourself to a night in the wilderness you can take a four-wheel drive safari to spot water buffaloes, wallabies and wild horses.
If you have more time to spend in the Top End (lucky you!) then continue south to Nitmiluk National Park and Katherine Gorge.
On the Northern Territory coast, meanwhile, there are all kinds of tropical wildlife experiences. A short ferry ride from Darwin are the Tiwi Islands, where you can see flatback sea turtles nest amid picturesque water lilies and lotus flowers.
The ‘Red Centre’ is the launch point for the MacDonnell Ranges, Watarrka National Park, and Australia’s most iconic destination of all: Uluru (or Ayers Rock). Here, you can get up close to the rock on a camel tour, or ride on one to Sounds of Silence where you dine under the outback stars. A camel ride is also a great way to watch the sun rise over Uluru.
In Alice Springs, you’ll find the home of the largest display of reptiles in Central Australia at its reptile centre, where you can meet thorny devil lizards, perente goannas and Terry the saltwater croc.
Then head to the Olive Pink Botanic Garden, also in Alice, with walking trails around gardens with over 600 Australian plants, and great views of Alice from Annie Myers Hill. This iconic landscape is a wonderful wilderness and when you’re enjoying the rocks change colour at sunrise or sunset, keep an eye out for its wildlife including wedge-tailed eagles, Mala wallabies and dingoes.
Once you cross into South Australia, you’ll find the world’s largest salt pan at Lake Eyre and Oz’s biggest mountains at the Flinders Ranges.
Nature’s highlights in the Top End
• Find the curious ‘thorny devil’ lizard, with its conical spines and chameleon-like ability to blend in with its background
• Take a camel ride at sunset as you watch the colours change over Uluru
• Watch grazing water buffalo on the Mary River floodplains from luxury bushcamp Bamurru Plains
• Witness the flocks of magpie geese and dancing brolgas up in Kakadu – and watch for the threatened gouldian finch further south around Pine Creek
• Crocodiles are the most famous of the Northern Territory’s creatures. You’ll definitely be able to catch a glimpse in the rivers and billabongs in the Top End and the wildlife parks around Darwin
Do the ‘wildlife wonder’ itinerary created by Austravel, including Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, Kakadu National Park and Darwin.