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National parks • Marine parks • Indigenous Protected Areas
A trip to the territory is never complete without visiting the national parks of the Northern Territory. The Northern Territory offers one of the most spectacular landscapes, including two of Australia's most famous parks – Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park and Kakadu National Park.
With the exceptions of Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park and Kakadu National Park, all parks are managed by the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory. The other two are managed by the federal government under Parks Australia. See nt.gov.au for official information about most parks, and Parks Australia for the other two.
There are two UNESCO World Heritage national parks – Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa and Kakadu. There are no parks on the tentative list, however Tjoritja / West MacDonnell could become proposed.
The variety of parks you will encounter in the NT are very different, and such, there are two distinct types of park you'll encounter. The ones in the Red Centre and the lone single national park in the Barkly Tableland are red, dry and show the finest desert landscapes in the centre of the dry continent while the parks in the Top End are humid, very tropical (the tropical you'll find in Thailand, not Hawaii or Florida – the Top End is much more tropical than the latter two), wet, has only two seasons and often a scene not commonly associated with Australia. Crocs are common here, and too are some of the wildest waterfalls.
Time to visit Edit
While the territory has two distinct geographical regions and climates, the time to visit remains the same – during southern winter, between April and early October, around the time when the southeastern states and territories use standard time (not the NT one – the NT does not follow DST). As you can imagine, going to the Red Centere on a hot 45° day during summer is unpleasant but the reason for the Top End is very different – not because of heat, but because it's monsoon reason and it pours hell. Many sites in parks like Kakadu or Litchfield close then and others with access only via unsealed roads may not even be open.
Most of the Northern Territory's national parks are either located in the tourist regions of the Top End and the Red Centre. There is only one national park in the vast barren open Barkly Tableland – an area of the size of the UK, with fewer than 6,000 inhabitants.
As the size of the NT is about the same as Mongolia, the number of parks are comparable.
Each park has something different to see. Some parks may have something that can easily be seen by car, while others might require you to do a little hike to get there. See the relevant park articles for details.
- Many national parks in the Northern Territory will have some sort of walking or hiking trails. However, do be aware that it is not advisable to do such during November to March, since it's monsoon season in the Top End, and temperatures can get scorching hot in the Red Centre and the Barkly Tableland.
- In some parks, there may be Aboriginal cultural tours, perfect to immerse yourself into the territory's 60,000-year-old Indigenous culture.
Most national parks will not have any sort of places to eat. In those cases, you will need to bring your own food, however, the more popular parks such as Uluru-Kata Tjuta, Kakadu or Litchfield have some.
Stay safe Edit
In the Top End, crocodiles can pose a severe threat. In most cases, leave them alone and you will be all right.