Adventure

5 Unexpected Adventures You Can Have In Australia’s Top End

Brought to you by Qantas

This feature is brought to you by Qantas, who are proud to play a part in bringing travellers together with the people they love from around Australia and across the globe.

As majestic and iconic as it is, there’s more to Australia’s Top End than Uluru. A geographical region of almost 250 thousand square kilometres, the Top End comprises the capital city, Darwin, Arnhem Land all the way to the Indian Ocean to the west, the northern Australian coastline (along with the Tiwi Islands) to the north, the Gulf of Carpentaria to the east, and the gargantuan Kakadu National Park and beyond in the south.

It would take an intrepid traveller years to explore every nook and cranny, and even then, it might be impossible to definitively mark the Top End as “done” – though we can absolutely get behind trying.

Here are five unexpected adventures in the Top End, to help steer you away from the beaten path and to bring you closer to Australia’s unique Northern Territory.

#1 Explore the Tiwi Islands

 

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Take a trip 80km north of Darwin and you’ll land square on Bathurst and Melville Islands, collectively known as Tiwi and colloquially known as the Isle of Smiles – with good reason.

A visit to the Tiwi Islands is a balm for tourism fatigue. You’ll find little in the way of standard tourist trappings, but a thriving arts and cultural scene, welcoming locals, white-sand beaches, and top-notch bluewater, reef and estuary fishing opportunities. Stay in a beachfront lodge or a tropical fishing lodge, meet the Tiwi Aboriginal people on a cultural tour, and create your own Tiwi-inspired artwork on Bathurst Island.

Tourism is restricted on the islands and the only way for most travellers to visit is on one of the daily organised tours from Darwin, so be sure to plan ahead.


#2 Fly over Nitmiluk Gorge

 

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See the magnificent gorges in the Nitmiluk National Park by air and you’ll never want to settle for a walking tour again. Take in spectacular waterfalls, the Arnhem Land plateau, the Katherine River and all the wildlife local to Nitmiluk National Park – all from a private helicopter or plane.

Flight lengths and prices vary, but you can start researching and planning on the Northern Territory’s website.


#3 Catch your own seafood dinner on the Cobourg Peninsula

 

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Aboriginal landowners and Parks and Wildlife jointly manage the Cobourg Peninsula, some 570km north east of Darwin. It’s known as one of Australia’s true wilderness areas and offers fishing enthusiasts and novices alike a rare opportunity to indulge in their chosen activities sans crowds.

Venture North’s unique safari-style fishing camps operate out of Port Essington, with over 2000 square kilometres of Marine Park to explore on a chartered fishing boat. Think oysters, mud crabs, cockles, saddletail snapper, red emperor and cod – all sustainably sourced and prepared immediately after harvest by you.


#4 Sleep on the Mary River

 

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Imagine bird spotting, croc watching (from a safe distance) and relishing the fresh Mary River air, all between waking up and downing your morning coffee. Rent a houseboat from this family owned and operated business and it could be reality. Float down the banks of the pristine Corroboree Billabong (around a 90-minute drive southeast from Darwin), fish for the ever-elusive barramundi for dinner, and make use of the BBQ if you get lucky.

Each houseboat is fully equipped with kitchens, toilets and eskies, and can sleep up to 10 people.


#5 Sail away on a boat made from beer cans

 

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If you’re competitive and creative and equal measure, you could have a real shot at taking the top spot in Darwin’s annual Beer Can Regatta. Established in the ‘70s, the one-of-a-kind race day sees seafarers (some of them first-time) race vessels made from cans, plastic bottles, and milk cartons across the water at beautiful Mindil Beach – some more successfully than others.

Feeling confident? Enter a beer-can boat in the main event or drop the gold coin donation to participate in sandcastle competitions, running and kayaking races, and thong-throwing contests on the day. You’ve gotta be in it to win it!

(Lead image: Ondrej Machart / Unsplash)

With baggage, entertainment and food included every time you fly Qantas, there’s no better place to find cheap flights to Darwin.

Brought to you by Qantas

This feature is brought to you by Qantas, who are proud to play a part in bringing travellers together with the people they love from around Australia and across the globe.