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Darwin, city (1991 pop. 67,946), capital of the Northern Territory, N Australia, on Port Darwin, an inlet of the Timor Sea. Remotely situated on the sparsely settled north coast, Darwin has no rail connection with any of the major Australian cities. Australian military personnel and their dependents make up a large part of the population. Darwin is multicultural, with large Chinese and aboriginal populations. In World War II the city was heavily bombed by the Japanese; later a military airdrome, fuel-oil installations, and a wharf were built, and Darwin became a key Allied base. Originally called Palmerston, the town was renamed (1911) for Charles Darwin because its site had been a stop (1839) during a voyage of Darwin's ship, the Beagle. The city was almost completely destroyed by a hurricane in Dec., 1974. It was rebuilt and now attracts large numbers of tourists who visit nearby Kakadu National Park.
An oasis in the desert is a spirited celebration of life - and that's a perfect description of Alice Springs, oasis extraordinaire.
Here, in the middle of Australia's Red Centre, the doctors make housecalls by plane, the townspeople race bottomless boats down dry riverbeds, whilst visitors take camels to dinner.
"The Alice" (as the town of 20,000 is affectionately known), is also the gateway to Australia's heart and soul. You can hear the "heartbeats" as you visit Uluru (Ayers Rock), take an Aboriginal culture tour, or glide over the spectacular red plains in a hot air balloon. Just take a moment and you'll feel the ancient beat.
NT'S Australia's northernmost capital city, a melting pot of peoples and cultures where the sun shines fiercely during the Dry (roughly from April to September) and the roads outside the city, to the Outback regions of the Northern Territory, often become impassable in the Wet.
Darwin, capital of the largest Australian mainland territory, is named after the English evolutionist and naturalist Charles Darwin who has never been there but has been to Australia, of which continent he wrote: "Nothing but rather sharp necessity should compel me to emigrate."
The men who sailed on the HMS Beagle in 1839 into what was to become Darwin Harbour, which opens out into the Timor Sea, had been erstwhile shipmates of the naturalist, and they decided to name the area in his honor.
There are organised tours from Darwin or Jabiru which can lead you to Aboriginal rock art and awesome natural attractions.
It may seem unfortunate in non-Aboriginal eyes that not all of Arnhem Land is made more accessible for a better understanding of Aboriginal life and culture.
But this is their land, and it is their right to only invite those they please and only to a few selected sites.
In the north you can visit, with the necessary permit, Sandy Creek and Wunyo Beach, fishermen's haunts in a setting of pristine natural beauty, both able to be reached by four-wheel drive. Danger lurks here as well in the form of saltwater crocodiles, familiarly known as salties, which attack even when unprovoked. And no, you cannot kill them, they are a species protected by law.
On the Gove Peninsula, in the east, you can fly without a permit to the town of Nhulumbuy. But if you travel overland from Katherine, a permit will be required.
Kata Tjuta National Park: 280 miles (450km) southwest of Alice Springs. Ayers Rock/ Uluru, the world's largest monolith and an Aboriginal sacred site is Australia's most famous natural landmark. Visitors may wish to make the tough 1.6km ascent to the top or take a walking tour around the rock with an aboriginal guide , learning about its fascinating with the Uluru people and its importance in dreamtime legend.
Also in this enormous park are many Aboriginal sacred sites, spectacular scenery and famous rock formations. Visit the Olgas/ Kata Tjuta, a dramatic series of 36 dome-like rock formations which stand up to 1,701ft (546m) high and cover an area of 35km and like Uluru, produce an incredible light show at sunset, with crimsons turning to rusts, and pinks to mauves
Kakadu National Park
Three hours drive east of Darwin is the famed, World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park - a spectacular collection of woodlands, forests, the majestic Arnhem Land escarpment, Waterways and floodplains, all home to an incredible array of wildlife.
It is Australia's largest national park, but it isn't just the size that astounds visitors - it is the sense of something very old and grand. Creation of the 500 km escarpment began 2,000 million years ago, when layers of sandstone built up a plateau to later be carved into an escarpment and scoured by gorges. Today those gorges are brimming with rainforests, washed by waterfalls.
Over thousands of years, Aboriginal people have left behind some extraordinary galleries of Aboriginal art, with rock sites dating back 25,000 years. More than 1,000 sites have been recorded.
One thousand species of flora, 30 mammals, 75 reptiles, 1500 butterflies and moths, 50 freshwater fish and 25 species of frog have been discovered in Kakadu. During the lush green season Kakadu's flora puts on its most brilliant face. Between December and March visitors will see plants respond to the monsoonal showers with riotous growth.
Injalak Arts and Crafts Centre
The most accessible part of Arnhem Land is the Injalak Arts and Crafts Centre in Oenpelli (Gunbalanya), which you can reach from the road to Ubirr in the Kakadu National Park.
If you are on your own and in your own vehicle, you will need a permit from the Northern Land Council to visit Injalak. You will not be allowed to stop along the way, except in emergencies, nor in the town of Oenpelli itself.
A possibly more convenient way is to join a tour group, most often led by Aboriginal guides, which you can organise from Darwin or from Jabiru.
Arnhem Land, 37,100 sq mi (96,089 sq km), N Northern Territory, Australia, on a wide peninsula W of the Gulf of Carpentaria. The great majority of the region belongs to the Arnhem Land Aboriginal Reserve, the largest aboriginal reservation in Australia. Kakadu National Park adjoins the reservation and draws a large number of tourists to its natural beauty and remarkable collection of aboriginal rock art. To the S lies the Beswick Aboriginal Reserve. Bauxite is mined in the area.
The town of Katherine lies 314 kilometres (195 miles) southeast of Darwin at the intersection of the Stuart and Victoria Highways. The Stuart Highway continues south to Alice Springs and into South Australia. The Victoria Highway meanders in a southwesterly direction into the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Katherine Gorge (Nitmiluk) national park is 29 kilometres from Katherine. Those touring the Outback through South and Western Australia can reach Katherine through either the Stuart or Victoria Highway.
Occupying about 97,000 square kilometres of forests and spectacular rivers and gorges east of the Northern Territory capital of Darwin, Arnhem Land is an Aboriginal homeland and sacred to its people. Those who visit Kakadu and venture east to Ubirr have only to look farther east beyond the East Alligator River to where Arnhem Land begins and no non-Aboriginal person is allowed except with express permission.
Thirteen gorgeous gorges make up the major attraction of Katherine Gorge some 340 kilometres southeast of Darwin, capital of Australia's Northern Territory.
This is rugged Outback country with deep rainforests, rocky cliffs and escarpments, and the water habitat of unique birds and animals, with here and there the slither of a freshwater crocodile.
One hundred kilometres of walking tracks bring the visitor face to face with Nature in some of her wildest moods.
One of Australia's Northern Territory national parks, Katherine Gorge is the heart of Nitmiluk national park which is south of (and smaller than) Kakadu but larger than Litchfield which is close to the towns of Batchelor and Rum Jungle and closer to Darwin.
A gateway to Asia
A large part of the Northern Territory lies between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Equator. Darwin, being right at the Top End, is indubitably tropical with only two main seasons, the Dry from May to October and the Wet the rest of the year.
Almost within sight of the Indonesian coast, Darwin is in fact a gateway to several southeast Asian countries, with Garuda and Singapore Airlines flying tourists from the Darwin International Airport to Bali and Singapore. Conversely, it is Australia's northern gateway into the continent. Interstate flights are provided by Qantas and Ansett.
In World War II, Darwin suffered air attacks from Japanese Zeroes and is the only Australian city to take some brunt of the Pacific War.
Those interested in Katherine Gorge as their main destination would generally come from Darwin, where there are plane flights, and buses via the Stuart Highway, to Katherine. You could also fly from the Alice to Katherine.
Visitors in motor vehicles could literally come from anywhere to the highway crossroads at Katherine.
The northern entrance to Katherine Gorge is 45 kilometres north of Katherine. From there it's 20 kilometres to Edith Falls.
The southern entrance, the more popular access point to the park, is 30 kilometres from Katherine along the Gorge Rd, which ends at the national park's visitor centre.
GOVE PENINSULA, NORTH EAST ARNHEM LAND
The Gove Peninsula, situated at the far north east end of Amhem Land, is one of the last true wildernesses with sandy beaches, great fishing and diving and an abundance of flora and fauna. The Gove Peninsula is an excellent bluewater sports and reef fishing location with over 30 different species of fish in the pristine water of the Arafura Sea.
Snorkelling and Scuba Diving are two very usual activities during the months of September to March in the many beautiful coral reefs which hosts an abundance of marine life.
About three fourths of the population live in the Darwin and Alice Springs metropolitan areas. Australian aborigines represent nearly one fourth of the Northern Territory's population and own the land of 15 reservations with a total area of 94,000 sq mi (243,460 sq km); the Arnhem Land preserve is the largest. Much of this land is important to the uranium mining and tourist industries.
You can take a boat cruise through Katherine Gorge and there are short, medium and long cruises you can take during the Dry, the day-long ones to as far as the fifth gorge.
The waters of Katherine Gorge go wild in the Wet and canoeing and swimming may be out of the question. Only the shorter cruises are available but they also depend on the prevailing river conditions.
For fishing and camping at Katherine Gorge, there should be relevant and current information at the visitor centre at the end of Gorge Rd, the more popular access road of two to Katherine Gorge.
This is the Aboriginal homeland where the Dreamtime lives in song and dance, where legend, myth and history interweave with today's realities, where innumerable sacred sites are forever hidden from prying eyes, and where the white man (or any other non-Aboriginal person) is not allowed to enter.
This is no doubt a romanticised view of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory in Australia's Top End but it may be closer to reality than we think.
Yes, you can visit the peripheries of the land, and glimpse a vision of what may lie within, but if you are non-Aboriginal, this is where it ends, and the mysteries of Arnhem Land remain.
Surprisingly, this Aboriginal homeland still carries its European name (after a Dutch ship which made the first European sighting of this region in 1623). But among the people who live there are many Aboriginal place names which invoke their Aboriginality and their past..
Red Center National Parks
Finke Gorge National Park
96 miles (154km) southwest of Alice Springs. Running along the Finke River, the park includes the picturesque Palm Valley lined with limpid pools and ancient palms. Self-drive needs 4WD, or tours from Alice Springs are available.
Watarrka National Park
201 miles (323km) west of Alice Springs. The main attraction is Kings Canyon, a mighty canyon of pastel-colored walls reaching a height of 656ft (200m) and stretching for almost 1 mile (2km) See The Lost City and the Valley Eden with its lush vegetation of cycad palms. Self drive on dirt roads, some 4WD, or tours from Alice Springs are available.
Gnarled, twisted, massive trunks of towering rainforest trees with their green canopies almost touching the sky, sheer cliffs and escarpments with the rush of water dropping in cataracts to raging rivers or suddenly placid pools below, exotic and quite often dangerous wildlife, and the pervasive mystery of a timeless land...
These provide the quintessential view of an Australia many travelers dream of, and which you can surely find in the Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory at Australia's Top End.
Kakadu, Australia's largest (19,000 square kilometres) and possibly most exotic national park, exudes the very visions, sounds and smells -- and the romance and
danger -- of Crocodile Dundee country.
Visitors seeking a different wilderness holiday can catch a light aircraft from Darwin to Nhulunby on the Gove Peninsula or Seven Spirit Bay, a paradise on the Cobourg Peninsula in Arnhem Land.
Arnhem land covering 94,000 square kilometres , is home to around 16,000 people. Wildlife in Arnhem Land is abundant. During certain seasons the swamps and rivers ream with ducks and geese.
Dinki-di Aussie Outback
If you saw the movie Priscilla Queen of the Desert, this is where the bus reaches the end of its journey.
In fact, Uluru and Alice Springs are major tourist destinations, not only for those coming from overseas but for interstate Aussies as well.
This is the dinki-di Australian Outback, a geographical and geological drawcard for tourists, Mad Max and Priscilla territory for movie fans, but areas of deep spiritual significance to the Aboriginal peoples of Australia.
Nitmiluk, (Katherine Gorge)is owned by the Jawoyn Aborigines who manage it jointly with the Northern Territory government.
The gorges, with rapids and falls, follow the Katherine River, which begins in Kakadu, as it courses through the heart of the national park. Katherine River becomes the Daly as it heads out to the Timor Sea. During the Dry, roughly from April to October, the waters are placid in most spots and ideal for swimming and canoeing. There may be freshwater crocodiles in parts of the river but, unlike their saltwater cousins, they rarely attack unless cornered and provoked.
Only 75 canoes are allowed in Katherine Gorge at any one time, so if you plan to go canoeing, be sure to book in advance.
Uluru and Alice Springs
Some call it the Dead Heart of Australia. So why visit the dead? They also call it Australia's Red Centre, because of the uniquely reddish soil found in the area and in the varying orange-red hues of the world's largest rock monolith, Uluru or Ayers Rock, right in the heart of the continent. Australia's overland telegraph line runs north to south over the heart of Australia, in the centre of which lies the desert community of Alice Springs.
Northern Territory's first settlement was established at Port Essington in 1824 in an attempt to forestall French colonization. The settlement failed, and permanent settlement did not resume until 1869. Northern Territory was part of New South Wales from 1825 to 1863 and of South Australia from 1863 to 1911. Transferred to direct rule by the commonwealth in 1911, it was divided into two territories in 1926 but was reunited in 1931.
Located within 260 kilometres east of Darwin in the Northern Territory, Kakadu has been home for more than 50,000 years of Aboriginal people who today speak one of three major languages: Gundjeihmi/Mayali, Kunwinjku or Jawoyn.
The name Kakadu itself comes from “Gagudju” which was the main Aboriginal language at the start of the 20th century.
Half the area of the national park is owned by the Australian national government, the other half by the Aboriginal people who have left their imprint and their history on the rock walls of their home.
Northern Territory, territory (1991 pop. 132,780), 520,280 sq mi (1,347,525 sq km), N central Australia. It is bounded on the N by the Timor Sea, the Arafura Sea, and the Gulf of Carpentaria. Darwin is the territorial capital. In the north are lowlands, in the southeast are low plains sloping toward the Lake Eyre depression, and in the southwest are the MacDonnell Ranges. The main rivers are the Victoria River , Daly, Adelaide, and Roper, all of which drain into the northern seas. The climate in the north is tropical, with a monsoon season; the south becomes colder and drier as the elevation rises.
Didgeridoos, paintings, baskets
The Injalak centre is the place to view (and buy) authentic Aboriginal objects and art, from didgeridoos, or dijeridus, to wood bark or paper paintings, intricate hand-woven baskets, and various other items of interest.
You can, in the centre, also view Aboriginal painters and artisans at work. Here you can sense you actually are on Aboriginal land and in the midst of an indigenous people's life, activity and culture
The main center of the Gove Peninsula is the township of Nhulunbuy which was a mining town but today is the administrative center for the Arnhem Land region with a population of 3500.
The location of Nhulunbuy is magic as it is the point where the Gulf of Carpenteria meets the Arafura Sea and the easiest way to visit Nhulunbuy is by air. Both domestic airlines, Qantas and Ansett, have daily flights into Gove from Caims and Darwin
Visitors can enjoy the fishing, diving, sightseeing and 4wd tours, 9 hole Golf course, Sailing and Yacht Club, senic flights and helicopter rides, Aboriginal arts and Crafts centres and facilities of a modern seaside mining town.
In 1974, the commonwealth-appointed Legislative Council was replaced by a fully elected Legislative Assembly. In 1978, full self-goverment was granted to the Territory, and in the 1990s statehood became a prominent political issue. Also politically important in recent years has been the issue of the treatment of and opportunities for the aboriginal population. The Northern Territory elects a member with full voting rights to the Australian House of Representatives.
Exploring Katherine Gorge
You can enjoy the Katherine Gorge waterscape and landscape in your rented canoe or on a boat cruise, or you can use a four-wheel-drive vehicle, or walk the kilometres of tracks in the national park.
There are also scenic flights from the Katherine airfield.
The area is rich in Aboriginal artefacts and you will find Aboriginal rock paintings up to 7000 years old.
A variety of flora and fauna lies ready to be discovered.
The Katherine Gorge attractions are very much a shutterbug's dream.
Melville Island, 2,240 sq mi (5,802 sq km), Northern Territory, N Australia, in the Timor Sea 16 mi (26 km) off the coast. It is 65 mi (105 km) long and 45 mi (72 km) wide and is separated from Bathurst Island by Apsley Strait. This aboriginal reservation consists largely of mangrove jungle with sandy soil.