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Our top 5 understated gems in the Northern Territory on a student budget

3rd September 2018
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Full of history, this true open-air museum is also vibrant and young. From Darwin to Alice Springs, these five activities will get you to discover some of the hidden gems of this incredible part of Australia...

1. Darwin Harbour Highlights Adventure Cruise

This is one of the many cruises offered by Sea Darwin. This one-hour tour takes you around the Harbour, and enables you to discover the history, mammals (who regularly come and say hi!), aboriginal and western cultural landmarks… and even a visit to a crocodile trap!

It really gives an insight to the real Darwin Harbour - not the touristy bits - and a chance to experience something different. Isn't it true, Charles?


Where: Darwin Harbour

Duration: 60 Minutes (approx.)

Price: $35

Book from here: Sea Darwin website

Picture courtesy of Northern Territory

2. Top Didj & Art Gallery

South of Darwin, Top Didj is a top place (laugh with us on that poor joke). This is the gallery to find local artists from the desert and Katherine region. Not everyone is looking to start an art collection, but you’ll find gems for each budget in this friendly gallery.

And if you’ve not had enough, why not book a cultural experience? This two-hour activity has a secret weapon: Manuel Pamkal, a local artist with a colourful life!

After this experience, the words bim, marnarr, gilidih and jardij will have a special meaning.

Where: Katherine

Duration: 2 hours approximately

Price: $75 for the cultural experience

Book here: Top Didj website

3. Karlu Karlu Devils Marbles

The ‘round boulders’ or Karlu Karlu are gigantic rounded granite boulders that are carefully balanced - that what we’ve been told, anyway. Learn about the Aboriginal mythology around this geological treasure and stay the night in one of the local campsites to admire the marbles changing colour and turning to a glowing red as the sun rises. Definitely Instagram-worthy.

Where: Tennant Creek

Duration: Afternoon and night  

Price: $6.60 for a category A campsite

Book from here: No need to book!

4. Larapinta Trail

This 223-km walking track is one of the gems of the Northern Territory. It is divided in 12 sections, each with vehicle access, which makes it possible to dip in and out at any point.

The most popular section of the trail is the Ormiston Gorge to Finke River section. It takes about five hours to walk and gives you the chance to walk in the bed of one of the oldest rivers in the world. The official website gives many options for one-day adventures that are less visited, if that’s what you’re after!

Whatever you decide, do take the time to look around as 53 of the species found in this region are listed as threatened (plants, vertebrate and invertebrates).

Picture courtesy of Northern Territory

Where: West MacDonnell Ranges, Alice Springs

Duration: From 5 hours

Price: Free, but check parking and campsite fares

Book from here: No need to book!

5. Todd Mall Markets

If you want to hang around in the area, spend some time on a Sunday at this incredible not-for-profit outdoor market in Alice Springs. Wonder on the streets, with stalls selling everything from food and second hand books to aboriginal clothing and crafts, whilst listening to local bands. A perfect Sunday plan, right?

Picture courtesy of Northern Territory

Where: Alice Springs

Duration: A few hours

Price: Free, but we can’t vouch for how much you’ll buy

Book from here: No need to book!

Got a bit of time to explore the Northern Territory? We’d recommend the 10 Day Top End and Red Centre ‘Crocodile Rock’ Adventure (bookable through STA Travel) that takes you from Darwin to Alice Springs, and covers all of the Northern Territory’s biggest names along the way: Kakadu and Litchfield national parks, Katherine Gorge, Mataranka Thermal Pools, Devils Marbles, Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon. Explore waterfalls, marvel at epic gorges, and drink in the Aboriginal culture. There really is nothing like it. Find out more here.

Need a quicker trip? The 3 Day Cockatoo Dreaming Red Centre Safari starts at Uluru, finishes at Alice Springs, and takes in Ayers Rock Resort, Kings Canyon, Mt. Ebenezer and more sights along the way. Get more info here.

You can fly to Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory, with STA Travel. Find out more here. 

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