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Australia’s Heart

If you travel to Australia at some point in your life, I highly suggest making plans to visit one of the country’s most beautiful and important regions- the Northern Territory.

The Northern Territory, better known as the Outback, is the area spanning from the most northern part of the continent, all the way to the center. This region is characterized by the natural beauty and precious wildlife found within its primarily desert environments. The most significant feature, however, of the Northern Territory is its cultural and spiritual significance to the indigenous people of Australia, who are the oldest living civilization on earth.

While the Northern Territory is the least populated province out of Australia’s 8 major states and territories today, over 40,000 years ago, it provided a home for those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations who were the first humans step foot onto the continent.

Nowadays, 2/3 of the population from the Northern Territory, live in and around the cities of Darwin and Alice Springs. These two cities are major contributors to Australia’s tourism sector. To fully experience the Northern Territory, its Outback, and its cultural heritage, this requires visits to both cities and the notorious Uluru area, and nothing less.  Admittedly, there is not much in between these cities except for pristine Outback and charming roadhouses/gas stations, but I recommend taking the drive between the two as opposed to flying. Although long, this route can give you exclusive access to some unforgettable natural sites like Mataranka Natural Springs, Edith Falls, and the Devils Marbles.

Darwin is the tropical center for much of Australia’s military affairs and business with Asia. Here you can take a trip to a number of beaches, visit nearby Kakadu National park, witness massive crocodiles in their natural habitats, or learn about the Larrakia people, the traditional landowners of the area.

Alice Springs and Uluru, or Ayers Rock, together are considered the Red Centre of Australia. Alice Springs serves as the sole base point for travel to the remote Uluru. A typical visit to Uluru includes guided hikes through Kings Canyon and the Valley of the Winds at Kata Juta and rugged camping under the stars. The most famous attraction in this area is Uluru, or the Big Red Rock itself. Once at Uluru, you can visit its cultural center or take a hike around the base of the rock, but you are highly discouraged from climbing it out of respect for its Aboriginal owners. It is popular to enjoy Uluru during group meals at both sunrise and sunset- these are two completely different experiences.

When you head back to Alice Springs after your guided tour of Uluru, the trip often concludes in an outing a to a local bar with your tour guide and those you’ve bonded with on your journey through the Outback. In Alice Springs,  you can also visit the Kangaroo Sanctuary, a center for animal rescue and rehabilitation, follow the desert art trail, or catch a camel ride at number of  farms.

The Northern Territory is truly incomparable and I can only hope that someone reading this gets the opportunity to see the region during their own lifetime.

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