Luxury accommodation, incredible sunsets, foodie delights and more – three Luxury Escapes insiders share their favourite things about the Northern Territory.
Outside the tropical, cosmopolitan vibes of Darwin, from the legendary Uluru to the wilderness of Nitmiluk and Kakadu National Park, the Northern Territory is home to some of Australia’s most jaw-dropping natural wonders. From eating in high-end restaurants or dining on street market laksa to croc-spotting river cruises and air-boating across flood plains, there’s something new for every type of traveller.
We sent three Luxury Escapes insiders on the trip of a lifetime to this enigmatic state, unveiling the secrets hidden under waterfalls, behind sunsets and quite literally written into the awe-inspiring landscapes. Former star of The Bachelorette Georgia Love, TV host, podcaster and MasterChef Australia winner Diana Chan and photographer Mitchell Burns went in search of ‘different’ on their adventures – and certainly found it! Here, they reveal why the Northern Territory should be the next stop on your travel itinerary.
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You can stay on a working cattle station
There’s no better way to get under the skin of the Northern Territory than with a stay on a working cattle station. But this doesn’t mean roughing it: Finniss River Lodge is just 90 minutes from Darwin but a million miles from everyday life, with just six luxury suites, twice-daily guided excursions and a breathtaking horizon pool. “It’s up there amongst my favourite accommodation I’ve ever stayed in,” says Georgia.
“The staff went above and beyond to make our stay enjoyable, while the rooms and amenities are gorgeous, homely and comfortable, and the number of unique experiences and activities kept blowing us away!”
Immerse yourself in the essence of the state while enjoying little luxuries like meals inspired by local produce and sunset drinks overlooking the plunge pool. “It was an unforgettable experience enjoying a glass of sparkling and canapés amongst the cows and having breakfast in the paddock surrounded by termite mounds,” shares Diana.
The sunsets are out of this world
“I'll never forget the sunset down at Dundee Beach,” says Diana…and there’s a reason why! The Northern Territory is known for its stunning show every evening, as the sky turns shades of blue, pink, orange and purple.
Watching the sunset at Ubirr in Kakadu was an unmissable moment for Mitchell, while for Diana, the best sunset was on Darwin Harbour: “The slanting rays of the setting sun gave a warm orange hue to the sky, set against the turquoise-coloured waters, it was breathtaking.”
A hot tip from Mitchell for first-time NT visitors: “[The Northern Territory] sunsets get better after the sun has set, so stick around longer.”
You can swim in waterfalls
The ‘90s supergroup TLC may have advised against chasing waterfalls, but in the Northern Territory, this is allowed – in fact, it’s encouraged! Litchfield National Park, just an hour’s drive south of Darwin, is dotted with misty waterfalls, all nestled amongst dramatic landscapes. Find one to call your own, or head for a tried-and-tested option: Buley Rockhole was a favourite for Georgia thanks to the beautiful cascades that form natural pools you can swim in (read: no crocs!).
It’s one of the best places to discover Aboriginal culture
Home to Uluru, Kakadu and countless other wonderfully preserved sites of significance, the Northern Territory can’t be beat when it comes to learning about Indigenous culture. Join a local Aboriginal guide in Kakadu National Park as they share stories about the creation ancestors who lived and passed through thousands of years ago. Pick up a bush survival skill or two, learn how local tribes use plants and animals and admire ancient rock art that has become famous world-wide.
From a boat cruise, a guided walk or even a flight over the expansive land, you’ll be able to soak up every second, while enhancing your knowledge of our First Peoples. “NT has so much to offer,” Diana proclaims. “And if you’re willing to explore, you will learn a lot and gain plenty of new experiences with unforgettable memories to take away with you.”
It’s foodie heaven
From fresh-off-the-boat to crocodile betel leaf, there’s always something to ignite the senses. At Finniss River Lodge, Diana discovered one of her new favourite dishes: “The local grilled Tiger Island prawns from Barramundi Adventures, paired with a cauliflower puree and roasted macadamias, were delightful.”
“The prawns were so fresh and I loved the charred cauliflower leaves that gave a nice smokiness to the dish,” she explains.
The Northern Territory is all about expecting the unexpected and nowhere did this strike Georgia more than at Pee Wee’s in Darwin, where crocodile betel leaf topped her list of her favourite food: “I never thought that would be something I'd even say but it was so delicious and it was very cool eating crocodile after having seen them in the wild that day!” Not to mention the incredible guac, tacos, cocktails and tequila at Hot Tamale in Darwin. Diana and Georgia's top picks: the elote con crema of charred corn dip with spicy jalapenos and hot tamale with house-fried corn chips and a Tommy's margarita.
It’s not just remarkable restaurants turning out unique culinary experiences – join local guides at Bowali Visitor Centre in Kakadu National Park to discover more about the area’s edible plants and animals, including how to cook them.