The Northern Territory is a mainly tropical region of Australia, with a substantial amount of desert areas and with a very small population. It is however home to several of Australia's most noted and internationally famous natural features, and attracts many tourists. It's often said that people who go 'Up North' are divided into two groups - those who love it and can't wait to go back, and those who hate it and can't stand the weather. The climate is much more similar to that of south-east Asia than it is to the more equitable regions of Australia. There is a distinct 'wet' and 'dry' season, and thunderstorms and cyclones are not uncommon during the summer Wet (at which times average temperatures and humidity reach unbearable levels), so tourists are strongly advised to plan their travels carefully and to take full advantage of the more hospitable winter dry season between April and October.
Roads are sparse in the Northern Territory and much of the country is relatively inaccessible. The trans-Australian highway is now completely paved and gives improved access to Darwin, and the cross-country railroad was completed in 2004. It is now possible to take a train from Adelaide in South Australia up to Alice Springs and then continuing right up to Darwin.
Northern Territory Tour Options The Northern Territory has very long distances between destinations. There are a large variety of linking tours that allow you to travel between Adelaide, Alice Springs and Darwin. From Alice Springs you can travel to Ayers Rock and from Darwin you can travel to Kakadu National Park, Litchfield National Park and also join linking tours that take you to Broome or Perth in Western Australia.
Because of the long distances involved flying is a popular option to get to Alice Springs and Darwin. Qantas is the main airline flying into these small cities.
The Northern territory is a pretty much a huge slice of outback, which means plenty of space to have a classic Australian barbecue on. Mostly different kind of meats are barbecued here. You can find the meat of camel, kangaroo, crocodile (which is widely farmed in the north of the region) and buffalo, not just barbecued but cooked in different ways. Even the delicious tender meat of the local barramundie-fish is grilled over here. Most barbecues are served with Australian worcestershire sauce (actually thicker and different from the British sauce with the same name) and different vegetable side dishes. The most popular being potato sallad, fries, oranges and beetroots.
Another kind of outback cooking is the famous "Bush tucker"-cooking which is mainly based on Australian native foodstuffs like for example lemon myrtle, bush tomatoes, Quandong-fruit and lili-pili-flowers. Bush tucker is big in the Northern territory thanks to the relatively big Aboriginal population of the region which have always relied on these foods for survival. There are guided tours to experience aboriginal cooking, so visitors has the chance to try not just many bush tucker-ingridients that's sold commercially but also also the unusual aboriginal traditional fare of barbecued larvae and snake .
In Darwin a big variety of different Asian cuisines is found, most notably Chinese, Vietnamese and Malayo-indonesian. This is typical to Darwin hence it's a cultural melting pot. As for western food: traditional and modern Australian cooking and Greek and Italian cuisine dominates. The region's remoteness and climate means that even common Australian traditional food is mostly imported.
Typical food products of the Northern territory: Mango fruits, Crocodile meat, different kinds of beef jerky, Bush-tucker spices, water buffalo-meat, beef, barramundie.
Beer would be the choice of a true territorian. Mostly Australian national labels: Victoria Bitter, XXXX Castlemaine, Cartlon Draught and more, is found throughout the region in great abundance. In both city centers and remote outback bars.
Territorians love to drink, so beware of the consequences of drinking too much while spending time in the hot sun. Wine is also imported from elsewhere in Australia but not as popular as beer. There's also an exotic range of typically Australian soft drinks.
In the wet season it is so humid and hot that an ice cold beer is one of the best things you can do. Most of the social life in Darwin and indeed the Northern Territory is in bars and hotels. While there is a lot to see and do in the Northern Territory traditionally the place to meet is an air conditioned bar or pub. Back in the old days the pub/hotel was the only place for people to meet as many of the towns were very small and the pub was the only place to go to meet people. These days there are a lot more options but the clubs and pubs are still where people meet over a drink or ten.
Most of the Northern Territory is the Australian 'Outback' Be prepared and plan your trip before you start it. Plan fuel stops and always carry extra fuel as on some highways fuel and towns can be up to 800km's apart. It is advised to carry a satellite phone or HF radio for emergencies if leaving the major roads. Water and food are also very important. If you become stranded in the outback stay calm and stay with your vehicle so emergency services are able to locate you. If you have communication devices use them. Mobile (cellular) phone coverage is limited to the regional centres.
The Australian Outback, although very beautiful is also very dangerous due to its extreme conditions. Always exercise caution when accepting assistance from strangers. Most Territorians are more than willing to assist but there have been several instances of tourists experiencing foul play.
Saltwater Crocodile, or "Salties" as they are locally known, are extremely common in the tropical northern half of the territory. They can reach lengths of 28 feet or more (though rarely exceed 20 feet) and are well documented man-eaters. They can be present in all areas where water is present (don't let the "Saltwater" title fool you, they are just as at home in freshwater) and swimming is not advised anywhere other than in hotel pools and higher elevation rock pools. They should be shown respect and given a healthy distance at all times. Freshwater Crocodiles (known as "freshies") are common as well and may be present at slightly higher elevations but due to their small size and fish-suited snout they represent no real danger to humans, although they can inflict a very painful bite if relentlessly harassed. The territory is also home to a variety of poisonous snakes- the Death Adder, the Taipan, and the King Brown - all of which are highly poisonous but encounters rarely occur due to their nocturnal and shy behavior. Wild horses and feral water buffalo can also cause serious injury or death if harassed.