When called upon to help produce a tourism campaign for the Northern Territory, I had no idea what I was in for. We had two weeks to capture the best of OZ, travelling 1,990 kilometres between Uluru and Darwin. We were not disappointed! I hope the below inspires you to venture where the wild ones live @austoutbacknt – a place you have to see to believe… #letslivelarge
In preparation for this journey, I took my time in selecting comfortable clothing and footwear created to withstand outback conditions. Field tested and designed specifically for the outdoors, the diverse range of big brands at Wild Earth Australia caught my eye. If you’re backpacking, hiking, travelling or trail running, you’ll appreciate their staff knowledge and enthusiasm in sending you on your way in the best gear possible. www.wildearth.com.au
Seriously comfortable waterproof, leather hiking boots by @wildearthaustralia
ALICE SPRINGS to ULURU (AYERS) ROCK
Our first glimpse of the Uluru Rock was revealed on the winding road to the Sounds of Silence outback dining experience. The icon appeared to change colour as the sunset, from red to pink to purple.
Jacket: @wildearthaustralia – The North Face
Here you can enjoy bubbles and canapes on arrival, followed by a feast of kangaroo, chicken, barra, and baked potatoes. I had a light shiraz, admired the stars and enjoyed indigenous entertainment. Investment: $195.00 p.p
FIELD OF LIGHT TOUR
Internationally acclaimed artist, Bruce Munro, thoughtfully placed over 50,000 solar charged lights at the foot of Uluru Rock to create ‘The Field Of Light’ interactive art installation. You can experience this attraction before March 2017 on camel back, at tea time or sunrise. We choose the latter and braved freezing temperatures for a view almost as impressive as the night sky. By sunrise, I managed to capture both the stars and display, using slow shutter mode. That morning I felt like a real photographer, laying in the tumbleweed and dirt to get the shot! I’d definitely recommend wearing plenty of layers for this one: thermals, a beanie, and gloves – the works! Sunrise tour from $89.00 p.p
PRIVATE SUNSET CAMEL TOUR
Content living on outback time, the upbeat @ulurucameltour team shared some camel facts before our ride:
- Camels are one of our major exports due to the abundant population.
- The entire animal is useful – aside from the hide, which is an odd shape due to the hump.
- The rump is tasty.
- Babies pop out the size of a ‘carton on legs’.
Investment: From $129 p.p
Moving on… It was great to see the rock from another angle and post camel ride you can enjoy complimentary drinks and nibbles in an upbeat environment. While chatting to the staff I learnt, despite rumours, Uluru Rock is in fact free to climb. Rangers do, however, out of respect for indigenous people and for safety reasons, close the World Heritage attraction at every opportunity – wind, weather, temperature. In the past 18 months, 36 climbers fell and we discovered why the next day…
DINNER AT OUTBACK PIONEER
Outback Pioneer is a D.I.Y barbecue. Select your meat or fish: beef, kangaroo, emu, sausages or barra – and cook it yourself on the BBQ – how Aussie! If you’re after a long table, great vibes and live music, this is the place to be.
OUTBACK CYCLING AROUND AYERS ROCK
Here you can reach out and touch the heart of Australia. @outback_cycling around the base really puts the size of this icon into perspective. That day blue skies were a bold contrast to the red mountain. Weathered by time, you could see where waterfalls form in the wet season. Bike hire from $45.00 p.p
Wearing: @elementeden hoodie | @runstopshop tights | @stmbags backpack
School student climbed toward the summit as our tour guide shared stories of horror falls. The lack of fencing and 4-hour journey to the hospital was enough of a deterrent for me. I felt very comfortable cycling around the base!
DRIVE TO KINGS CANYON
The picturesque scenery made the 3-hour journey to Kings Canyon fly by. Every time I looked up, I felt as though I’d missed something. We passed Fool-A-Roo Rock, often mistaken as Uluru (Ayers) Rock. Without WI-FI, I took the time to soak in the diverse geography, vegetation, and colour… a rare moment when your life is marketing and photography.
Kings Canyon glowing in the distance – The great wall of Australia!
OVERNIGHT AT KINGS CANYON RESORT
@kingscanyonresort was easily my favourite accommodation of the trip! Here you’ll get mooned between 7 and 9pm… On this occasion I bailed on our Outback BBQ Grill dinner reservations – the bath was just too good! If you can manage to leave the tub view, fluffy slippers and robe, I heard this place has a great vibe. You can book the Deluxe Spa Room from $380.00 p.n which includes buffet breaky for two!
RIM WALK KINGS CANYON
Fuel up at buffet breaky, the 3.5-hour hike will test you with a 500 step vertical warm up! Increase difficulty by carrying a drone box, camera equipment, bulk water and food. Fear not, the view gets better at every bend and you’ll be glad for the exercise after hours in the car. Along the way we stumbled upon the “Garden of Eden” (pictured below). This shady oasis is safe for swimming and a great picnic spot.
Another world awaits you at the top. Standing on the edge overlooking the canyon, I realised discomfort awakens consciousness. Without the hard times, we become complacent and take our blessings for granted. Life is a gift and I’m determined to travel as far as my legs will carry me, for as long as I am able. Investment: Adults $69.00 pp | Children $35.00 pp
Outfit: @wildearthaustralia ft. The North Face | Backpack: STM Sydney
GLEN HELEN HOMESTEAD
On the red dirt road to Glen Helen, it felt like the road trip had officially begun. We bounced in our 4WD, had a near miss with a camel, and admired wild brumbies on the rugged ranges. It was like something out of Natural Geographic. Glen Helen was a simple stop, with a nice view. It was hot and I was looking forward to hot air ballooning in the morning.
BIG 4 MACDONNELL RANGE HOLIDAY PARK
Big 4 Alice Springs is the most awarded tourist park in the Northern Territory with sweeteners including – free pancakes on Sunday, star talks, and live music. Kids will LOVE the pools, slide, jumping pillows, basketball court, BMX track, adventure playgrounds, games room, peddle kart and push bike hire. You can choose from basic to luxury accommodation here. The only downer is rubbish wi-fi connection.
HOT AIR BALLOONING ALICE SPRINGS
The hot air balloon is the first successful human-carrying flight technology. For this reason, hot air ballooning had always been on my bucket list. Day five we piled into the basket and effortlessly ascended from the red earth. There was something so calming about the entire experience. The landing was seamless, we jumped out of the basket and held the sides to weigh down the balloon. Not even packing down the 2,800m3 setup could wipe the smile from my face. Prepare for dad jokes, champagne breakfast, fresh fruit, cheese and baked goods post flight! 1 hour Investment: Adults $390.00 | Children: $318.00
EARTH SANCTUARY BUSH TUCKER TOUR
In Central Australia, Alice Springs, you’ll find the Falzon family – founders of The Earth Sanctuary. Brothers Dan, Ben, and Tommy, share a vision to be Australia’s leading provider of 100% carbon neutral education, tours, and events. If you care about future generations, visit to learn about sustainable technologies, wind and solar energy, water catchment, horticulture and waste management.
As you drive onto the property you’ll notice unique eco-dome homes, which recently caught the attention of American TV producers.
With the help of a head torch, we spotted echidnas and bilbies within minutes at the @desertparkalicesprings Nocturnal Tour. The next day we returned to check out the birds of prey show. With a wingspan of almost 3m, I found the desert eagle most impressive. Aside from getting to know all of the awesome Aussie animals, you can sample bush tucker like passion fruit, beans and tomato raisins. Investment: $32.00 p.p
Men and women (mostly men) travel far and wide with hopes of breaking the record for devouring the ‘Ringer’s Award’ (2KG rump steak). A ‘Ringer’ is an Australian Cowboy or Stockman. You can imagine these ‘Ringers’ rolling out swags under the stars, dreaming about some real tucker (food), a cold Beer (or three) and a bed mate to share the night with! Well, this is a challenge I didn’t even attempt. The current record is held by local and former butcher Alan Rowe. Think you’ve got what it takes?
ALICE SPRINGS TO TENNANT CREEK
We went to breakfast opposite the BIG 4 at the ‘Star of Alice’ cafe and I’m calling best breaky of my life! Poached eggs, spinach, cumin potato, coriander, and thyme seasoned salmon steaks to replace bacon and bread! Uhhh, I’d walk across the desert for this breakfast.
After the best breakfast of my life, we hit the road and despite efforts, I didn’t manage to nap on the 4.5-hour journey to Tennant Creek.
Perhaps it was the midday lighting or the whirlwind stop but these rocks were somewhat underwhelming. I ran about trying to get a creative photo in a rush, emerging from the bush scratched and overheated. I’d recommend early morning or late afternoon viewings for the best photo opportunities.
BATTERY HILL MINING
Although Battery Hill Mining was full of history, it was in my opinion, boring and claustrophobic. Tennant Creek, in general, wasn’t for me, if you stop you’ll see why.
BLUESTONE MOTOR INN TENNANT CREEK
Can you believe it!? 21kms out of town our tyre came off the rim. This unwelcome detour left us with a few extra hours to explore Tennant Creek.
TENNANT CREEK TO DALY WATERS
After a snack at Elliot (another place to avoid), we finally arrived at historic Daly Waters Pub. Legend has it, a drinking game in the 80s between a coach driver and female passengers began a trend to leave a part of you at the pub. Now, it’s not just bras that line the walls. Leave your mark while you can. Sadly, this insanely Aussie pub is up for sale… From $75 per night.
DALY WATERS TO KATHERINE
Hallelujah! After more than a week in the desert, we found somewhere with water – the Katherine Thermal Pools (3 hours from Daly Waters). Beneath tall tropical palms a refreshing watering hole awaits. I’d recommend checking out others in the area also, this one was a bit too popular. Post swim, you can walk to Mataranka Homestead for a great feed.
MARKIE’S STOCKMANS CAMP TUCKER SUPPER
I don’t know about you, but a good glass of red and campfire stories is one of my favourite pass times. We checked into Knotts Crossing Resort, then made our way to do just that at Markie’s Stockman Camp Tucker Supper. Pots and pans sizzled. Markie introduced himself and native cooking secrets, as we got stuck into a slow cooked feast. Markie spent years overcoming gender and language barriers, to learn from indigenous women and share their techniques with the world. Investment: $75.00 p.p
KATHERINE to KNOTTS CROSSING
Known by the Jawoyn people as the “place of dreaming”, Nitmiluk National Park is home to Katherine Gorge. Deep in the gorge, you can admire the stunning sandstone surrounds you may recognise from past tourism campaigns. Investment: $87.00 p.p
Well, let’s just say, I’d be going hungry if I were left in the bush with only a spear to hunt. After several attempts to improve my spear throwing technique, we made our way to a more relaxing activity – dot painting.
Mimi Spirits are fairy-like beings of Indigenous tribes. With extremely thin, elongated bodies these spirits are said to have taught Australian Aborigines to hunt, use fire and dance.
On the way to Pine Creek Railway Resort, we found Edith Falls. If you’re keen to get some shade behind a curtain of water, there’s a hidden ledge beneath a waterfall 500m from shore. This fresh water dip left my entire body and hair looking radiant – just what you need after so much exposure to dry conditions.
PINE CREEK TO KAKADU
Once again, the vegetation changed on our leg to Kakadu. Dense, tall greenery dwarfed our 4WD, nearly as tall, impressive termite mounts towered toward the sky. The winding road lead us to our flash tents at Cooinda Lodge Kakadu! It was time for some glam-ping (glamourous – camping). After a long day, this king bed nestled amongst the fairy lights was heaven! You can stay at the ultimate Kakadu base too from $160 p.n
@wildearth boots | @americantourister luggage
SUNRISE YELLOW WATER BILLABONG
Love fishing? Book a 3-hour fishing charter and you’re likely to snag a barramundi or two! For just $20.00, the chefs at Yellow Water Resort will prepare and cook your catch for you. On this tour, we were overwhelmed by the abundance of birds and wildlife lining the banks. Our driver Adam summed this place up perfectly “Good for the soul”. Investment: $150 p.p
Wearing: @wildearthaustralia | Backpack: STM Sydney
WARRADJAN ABORIGINAL CULTURAL CENTRE
Enthusiastic traditional hunting methods are still alive among Kakadu locals, these women still hunt and forage for food. I made friends with one of the younger girls, who hadn’t ventured from Kakadu but was fascinated with city living. When I asked about her favourite foods, she said she loves snake eggs for breakfast and that they were much better than chicken eggs! Fancy a snake egg? Easy she said, you just have to find a snake hole. I asked what to do once I find one, and she replied, “Put your hand down and grab the snake”. Oh-my-gosh, she had to be taking the mickey… she knew I wouldn’t – not even for the best-scrambled eggs of my life. In this part of the NT, locals enjoy buffalo, crocodile, turtle and snake meat.
On our afternoon off, we took the opportunity to find a swimming hole 20 minutes from the lodge. A bumpy trail lined with termite mounds led to a 2km sandy hike and eventually Maguk Falls.
Don’t let the danger crocodiles and no swimming signs put you off… At the very top, it is safe to swim. DO NOT swim before the top.
KAKADU to DARWIN
PURPLE MANGO PARK
Territorians are different to city folk. See it for yourself at Purple Mango Park. Relax with a locally crafted beer on Gay Potter’s porch, as his wife thoughtfully prepares your wood fire pizza. These two have opened their backyard to the public and you can even stay the night in a powered camping site for $35.00 – talk about a “what’s mine is yours” mentality. Oh and obviously the mango smoothies are to die for!
SPECTACULAR JUMPING CROCS
Well, the name pretty much sums it up. Watching the largest reptile known to man jump high enough to flip a boat is spectacular. CRIKEY is right… With more than 80,000 Saltwater Crocodiles, it’s easy to see why the Northern Territory is sometimes referred to as ‘Croc Country’. That being said, it turns out you won’t generally see these dinosaurs as they lurk beneath the surface or camouflaged by the banks. Formidable and opportunistic, these apex predators can reach 6 metres in length and over a whopping 1,000 kg in weight. If you do see one off tour it may be too late. One last interesting fact: saltwater crocodiles are more likely to be found in freshwater – so unless you’re certain it’s safe do not swim in the NT.
Driving into Darwin was surprisingly overwhelming. For two weeks I hadn’t seen a fast food outlet, we roamed never-ending remote landscapes, with little signs of civilisation. I had grown to adore the open roads, the absence of convenience stores, television and power poles. That being said, after a long bath and some R&R at the Adina Vibe Hotel I remembered how easy it is to become complacent, lazy and reliant on a luxury lifestyle. Here you can have the works – room service, gym access and a swim in the wave pool.
MINDIL BEACH MARKETS
The tall palm trees and tropical breeze of Mindil Markets took me back to my childhood in Airlie Beach. Hundreds snapped the gorgeous sunset over the ocean.
After two weeks on the road I was itching to see the ocean again, so we booked a ½ day Arafura Bluewater Charter. Reef and game fishing enthusiasts queued at the Cullen Bay Ferry Terminal at 5:45am with hopes to hook jewfish, mackerel, tuna, trevally, golden snapper, coral trout, cod and cobia! There was something so special about returning to the salt and sea. As we motored offshore Darwin City skyline became faint in the distance. At our first stop, I caught a small stripy but it was my second catch, a big golden snapper which made me want to stay all day! Ladies, I think you’ll be surprised how much fun fishing is! Investment: $160.00 p.p
If you’re a health nut like me, Four Birds Darwin is the place to be. If I had to eat one thing for the rest of my life it would probably be their peanut butter energy balls!
After a quick bite here, we walked to Crocasarus Cove. Combine Australia’s largest Saltwater Crocodiles and the world’s largest reptile display and you’ve got Crocosaurus Cove – the Sea World of reptiles. @crocosauruscove is probably as close as you’d want to get to crocodiles… You can even dive with them in the famous ‘Cage of Death’. Sounds inviting, doesn’t it? Entry Investment: $35 p.p
Wearing: Hat @elementeden
1st of JULY FIREWORKS
I guess you could say our trip ended with a bang! The crew was so excited our departure would coincide with Territory Day. Proud Territorians spend $100s (sometimes $1,000s) on fireworks in preparation for the 1st of July, the only day you can get away with letting them off everywhere – and I mean everywhere. This was such an epic way to wrap up the trip of a lifetime.
I AM SO PROUD TO CALL THIS INCREDIBLE COUNTRY HOME! Thank you for joining me!
#SeeAustralia #NTAustralia #dokakadu #nitmiluknt #TourismTopend #Australia
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