Mindil Beach, Darwin, Northern Territory © Tourism Australia
Best ways to enjoy the Northern Territory's tropical summer
Visit the Top End during the wet season to see cascading waterfalls, spectacular lightning storms and the wildflowers in bloom.
By Stephanie Williams
The Northern Territory’s summer (November to April) is its wet season, characterised by epic thunderstorms, overflowing creeks and blossoming vegetation. Experience the magic of this season when you take in the spectacular experiences on offer.
Visit the waterfalls of Litchfield National Park
The waterfalls of Litchfield National Park make for a dramatic sight during summer. See the twin cascades of Florence Falls and follow 160 steps down to the deep, cool plunge pool. Take the short walk to Buley Rockhole, a series of waterfalls and waterholes that teem with life in the wet season. Swim and picnic alongside thundering Wangi Falls, where marsupial mice, frogs and frilled-neck lizards dart around the water's edge. Finally, stop to see the fields of Magnetic Termite Mounds, two-metre (6.6-foot) tall mounds built by termites during the wet season.
Take a helicopter over Nitmiluk Gorge
You won't forget the aerial view of Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park, which sits just northeast of Katherine. On a helicopter tour you'll get an idea of its true scale and see it is actually part of a series of 13 interconnected gorges. They’re particularly spectacular during the tropical summer, when the Katherine River is brimming with water. Base yourself at Cicada Lodge, a luxurious eco lodge inside the park. The lodge is a joint venture between the local Jawoyn people and Indigenous Business Australia and offers the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the ancient Nitmiluk landscape. Go deeper into the story on a rock art tour via helicopter or Nabilil Dinner Cruise and watch the sun set over the beautiful gorge.
Walk, fly and cruise through Kakadu
In Kakadu National Park, the local Bininj people have charted nature's cycle over six different seasons, rather than four. Late December to late March is the Gudjewg monsoon season, when heavy rains coax the landscape back to life. Native birds flock across the wetlands, tropical flowers bloom and spear grass sprouts across the floodplains. Follow the Yurmikmik Walks to surging waterfalls; Boulder Creek Walk, Yurmikmik Lookout Walk, Motor Car Falls and Kurrundie Creek Walk are open year round. Cruise down the East Alligator River with an Aboriginal guide, or take in the scope and scale of this lush landscape on a scenic helicopter flight.
Explore Nitmiluk National Park
Katherine is a three-hour drive south of Darwin and the gateway to Nitmiluk National Park. Visit galleries showcasing Aboriginal art and see the Katherine Outback Experience show with host Tom Curtain, who will enthral with his horse-breaking and musical skills. Depending on the weather, you can swim in pandanus-fringed plunge pools beneath Leliyn (Edith Falls) or take a bushwalk along the 2.6km (1.6mi) Leliyn Trail. For a peaceful paddle, hire a kayak or take an immersive canoe trip with Nitmiluk Tours.
Watch the sunset over Darwin Harbour
By the end of a tropical day of touring, Darwin Harbour is a fantastic position from which to watch the sunset. You can take a seat on the shore or join a cruise and get out on the water. Sail Darwin will take you out on a three-hour Champagne Sunset Sail aboard their spacious 15m (50ft) luxury catamaran. Or jump aboard the Spirit of Darwin for a 2.5-hour cruise with antipasto platters and a glass of bubbles.
Immerse yourself in Aboriginal culture
In Darwin, explore the fascinating culture of the local Pudakul people with Pudakul Aboriginal Cultural Tours. On this experience, delivered by people of the Adelaide and Mary River region, you’ll learn about bush tucker and traditional medicine, try blowing a didgeridoo, throw a spear and see basket and dilly bag making demonstrations. Discover the significance of Dreamtime and the Rainbow Serpent before enjoying damper and tea.