National parks brimming with wildlife and ancient Aboriginal rock art sites all combine in Australia’s Top End.

For an area that often gets overlooked, the Top End is where the Northern Territory gets even more interesting. Make Darwin your starting point – a laid-back city with a lot of South-East Asian influences (it’d be faster to get to Bali from here than any other Oz city) – and take your pick of the phenomenal national parks.

Each one gives you exhilarating outdoor experiences and an insight into local Aboriginal culture. Watch a croc widen its corrugated jaws from your boat just metres away and pore over 20,000-year-old Aboriginal etchings in Kakadu National Park. Tuck into wild barramundi on a Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge sunset cruise. Head into isolated Arnhem Land for birdwatching and interactive lessons on local art or embrace Litchfield’s jungly vibes with a swim in its waterfall-fed pools.

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Darwin & the Top End Hotels

Our recommendations for the best places to stay in Darwin & the Top End

Cicada Lodge, Katherine

An eco-luxe resort, rich with indigenous culture in Nitmiluk National Park.

Mantra on the Esplanade

Superb waterfront location

Mercure Alice Springs Resort

Riverside, close to the centre of Alice Springs

Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel

Crocodile-shaped hotel in Kakadu National Park

Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront

Superb waterfront location

Get to know Darwin & The Top End and those important practicalities when planning your perfect holiday.


GMT +9½ hours; the Northern Territory does not observe daylight savings time so is 8½ hours ahead of British Summer Time.


Australian Dollar


Darwin: 23 hours (not including stopover time)


Majority Christian


Australia has no official language but the majority of people speak English as their first language. Approximately 250 indigenous Australia languages are spoken.

Where is Darwin & The Top End? Darwin is the capital of and gateway to Australia’s Northern Territory. Darwin’s airport not only connects most of Australia’s major cities but also has excellent links to Asia. The Top End encompasses the territory’s main natural and cultural charms including Darwin, Katherine, Arnhem Land, Kakadu and Litchfield National Park.

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Darwin The Northern Territory’s capital has a homely large town feel where everything about it encourages you to embrace the outdoors. Darwin is closer to Southeast Asia than many of its fellow Australian cities – Bali is a mere two and a half hours away – and Asian food and culture is imbued into daily life. You only have to wander down Mindil Beach Sunset Market to find fragrant bowls of laksa, Vietnamese summer rolls and spicy rogan josh alongside barramundi burgers. There’s a ruggedness you’d expect from a Northern Territory city, and spectacular nature is within easy reach.

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Katherine In the sleepy former telegraph station, Katherine, you’ll find geological wonders in nearby Nitmiluk National Park. Most of famous of all are the gorges of the Katherine River. Carved into the rugged sandstone landscape over the millennia, the 13 gorges that form the Katherine Gorge collective are stunning and host to rapids and waterfalls as well as an abundance of wildlife. The area is popular with freshwater crocodiles which are usually seen sunning on the sandy banks at the side of the gorges.

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Kakadu World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park is Australia’s largest at 7500 square miles. Popular sites include ancient Aboriginal Rock Art at Ubirr and Nourlangie, the Yellow Water Wetlands, unique flora and fauna and isolated landmarks such as the imposing Escarpment and Twin and Jim Jim Falls. Arnhem Land is truly wild and a sacred place for Aboriginal Australians. Challenges of isolation and its protected status make access limited, but organised tours can be arranged.

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Litchfield Litchfield National Park is known for its lush scenery, beautiful waterfalls and sparkling plunge pools (that are free from crocodiles). The park is also under two hours from Darwin and largely accessible year-round, unlike much of Kakadu. The water in the natural pools even in summer is a relief, but visiting during the wet season means you’ll see the waterfalls at their most spectacular. See the Magnetic Termite Mounds – remarkable structures that resemble tombstones and can reach three metres in height.

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Darwin & the Top End Weather

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