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The Northern Territory 

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The Northern Territory and the Top End

The Northern Territory of Australia has two fairly severe climate types; hot and wet, or hot and dry. The top half, where the state capital Darwin is situated, has the hot/wet tropical climate, but during the winter when it is drier, the humidity is more bearable. The bottom half has a hot, dry climate for much of the year and the country is arid and desert-like. In spite of this, many tourists like to visit the area to see the amazing and diverse terrain and wildlife.

Nearly everyone knows about Uluru, that huge rock sitting in the surrounding flat desert in the dry centre of Australia. The area surrounding Uluru is now classified as the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Visitors to Uluru can access many more viewpoints due to a new, 8-kilometre road encircling it. Both short and longer walk can be taken along trails that give great views of either Uluru or other scenic features such as rock or cave art.

The Olga Gorge is one other walk available. It extends for about an hour’s pleasant walking along a moisture-rich gorge full of rare and hidden flora. Olga gorge has recently been renamed Walpa Gorge. Part of its attraction is that it provides a mini eco-climate in the midst of a desert.

Kakadu National Park is an extremely large area encompassing many wonderful features from waterfalls and wetlands to rock art sites. There are 4WD trails and walking tracks in many places to allow the visitor access. These are accessible during the dry season, but visitors should remember to take heed of crocodile warning signs and forget about swimming, no matter how hot they are. Rangers are available to guide tourists to the best attractions and teach them about aboriginal history and bush tucker.

It’s worth going to Kakadu simply to see the stunningly beautiful bird life that congregates around the billabongs and wetlands. There are many bird species here that are found nowhere else in the world. The chestnut-quilled rock pigeon, white-throated wren, magpie geese and jabirus are some of the birds that you will be able to see. At Mamukala Floodplain, South Alligator area, a bird hide has been erected to enable the visitor to see these birds and many others.

The Booderee National Park encompasses the coastal areas of the Northern Territory and so the many activities available there include water activities such as diving, surfing, snorkeling, sailing and boating as well as fishing. Camping facilities are available but must be booked up to four months ahead of time. Booderee Botanic Gardens are the only botanic gardens owned by aboriginal people.

Jim Jim Area is one of those that are only accessible by 4WD and then only in the dry season. If you are not up to the challenging walks, then a boat cruise might be more your style and it will take you right to the Twin Falls Gorge. Another way to view the scenery is by charter flight, which will show you the waterfalls in full spate, as flying is not limited to the dry season.

While you might feel that you must rough it while exploring the wild hinterlands of Australia, this is not necessary, as there are many comfortable and even luxurious accommodation facilities available throughout the region.