Darwin’s the modern and multicultural tropical capital of this wonderfully vast region where much is remote, yet easy to access. World Heritage-listed Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks provide an exciting antidote to hectic urban lives – zebra crossings are well and truly gazumped by waterside signs warning of crocodiles. Hop from galleries, museums and markets to the national parks and Tiwi Islands; just don’t forget to take an ice-cold beer with you.
Spotlight on: Kakadu Park
Australia’s National Parks don’t tend to come on the small side, but Kakudu is the country’s biggest: an awe-inspiring 20,000 sq kilometre expanse that’s home to the world’s oldest living culture. Aboriginal people have lived in the Park and cared for it for more than 50,000 years; today, Kakadu has about 19 clan groups.
Smith insider tip #1 Eat at... Pee Wee’s at the Point, for a true taste of the Northern Territory. Channel Crocodile Dundee and order adventurous dishes such as kangaroo carpaccio, or coconut crocodile tail served with yoghurt panna cotta, dukkah spices, green papaya chutney and tropical salsa.
Don’t miss... the zingy, palate-cleansing house-made sorbet.
Smith insider tip #2 Drink at... Deck Bar, which has a sprawling beer garden, more than 80 beers to choose from and an array of appetising Asian ‘tapas’.
Don’t miss... the popular Sunday sessions. Forget any ideas about the ‘day of rest’.
Smith insider tip #3 Sleep at Bamurru Plains in the Top End, a 30-minute flight from Darwin. Life at Bamurru Plains is centred around a communal timber-and-bamboo-lodge, plus nine back-to-nature bungalows. Short of being adopted by friendly saltwater crocodiles, you couldn’t get more immersed in outback life: expect regular wildlife sightings.
Don’t miss A refreshing dip in the shaded infinity pool (you’ll be no use to anyone if you go troppo).
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