TOP END AD­VEN­TURE

En­joy the North­ern Ter­ri­tory’s re­laxed vibes, trop­i­cal weather, na­tional parks and cul­tural events with Vir­gin Aus­tralia Hol­i­days.

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The North­ern Ter­ri­tory’s cap­i­tal city of Dar­win is a cul­tural melt­ing pot, host­ing world-class fes­ti­vals and events through­out the dry sea­son (May to Oc­to­ber) each year.

The high­light of this cal­en­dar is the Dar­win Fes­ti­val. Each Au­gust de­liv­ers a pro­gram rich in lo­cal, na­tional and in­ter­na­tional tal­ent, with paid and free events on of­fer. Cabaret, theatre, dance, vis­ual arts, out­door con­certs un­der the stars and fam­ily shows trans­form this trop­i­cal Top End city for 18 mem­o­rable days and nights. Grab a tasty din­ner from the bam­boo food stalls and pop-up bars, then dance to the hottest new bands in the Fes­ti­val’s open-air big top, The Light­house. One of the stand­out shows for 2018 was Limbo, an in­tox­i­cat­ing mix com­bin­ing cabaret, cir­cus and ac­ro­bat­ics.

Dar­win hosts its own In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val each Septem­ber, and is home to the Dar­win Sym­phony Orches­tra, which will stage its Opera Gala in May 2019. But it’s not all about the arts — there’s much more to ex­plore. Don’t miss Mindil Beach Sun­set Mar­kets, which run from April to Oc­to­ber on Thurs­day and Sun­day evenings.

A three-hour drive from Dar­win lies Kakadu — the largest na­tional park in Aus­tralia, cov­er­ing 20,000 square kilo­me­tres. This World Her­itage-listed park boasts 2000 plant species and abun­dant wildlife, from salt­wa­ter croc­o­diles and flat­back tur­tles to a wide va­ri­ety of birds.

A must-do here is to visit the sa­cred site of Ubirr in the East Al­li­ga­tor re­gion of Kakadu, best seen with a guide. Ubirr dates back to pre­his­toric times — a group of rocky out­crops on the edge of the Nadab flood­plain with sev­eral nat­u­ral ‘gal­leries’ that dis­play a col­lec­tion of Abo­rig­i­nal rock paint­ings. The art­works de­pict cre­ation an­ces­tors, as well as lo­cal an­i­mals such as bar­ra­mundi, cat­fish, long-necked tur­tles and goan­nas. Walk to the top of Ubirr Rock for spec­tac­u­lar panoramic

views of the sur­round­ing flood­plains, which are es­pe­cially stun­ning at sun­set.

An­other must-do is a Yel­low Wa­ter Bil­l­abong Cruise, float­ing past gar­dens of gi­ant wa­ter lilies while look­ing out for all the wildlife — whistling ducks, mag­pie geese, wa­ter buf­falo and, of course, the famed croc­o­diles. The tours are run by Indige­nous guides who re­gale guests with sto­ries of Kakadu, such as how the lo­cal Bin­inj peo­ple have used the re­gion’s flora and fauna as food and medicine for mil­len­nia. The near­est ac­com­mo­da­tion to Yel­low Wa­ter is the re­mote Cooinda Lodge, with a shaded pool area and com­fort­able rooms.

Join the ‘Ul­ti­mate Tour’ with Out­back Float­plane Ad­ven­tures for an ac­tion­packed itin­er­ary de­signed to show­case the NT at its best. Climb aboard a lux­ury float­plane and fly over Dar­win Har­bour on a short 30-minute flight com­plete with a spec­tac­u­lar (and ef­fort­lessly smooth) land­ing on Sweet’s La­goon. Then board a lux­ury ves­sel and en­joy lunch while cruis­ing the pris­tine wa­ter­ways, en­coun­ter­ing all the an­i­mal in­hab­i­tants. There’s even an op­por­tu­nity to take a cool­ing dip in a (croc safe) pool. Next up, you’re whisked away by he­li­copter from a nearby he­li­pad for a short, scenic flight over the flood­plains of Litch­field Na­tional Park. Sav­ing the big thrills for last, you’ll board Gale Force, a state-of-the-art air­boat that takes you on an ex­hil­a­rat­ing ride in and out of the rain­for­est chan­nels.

Book your Top End ad­ven­ture with Vir­gin Aus­tralia Hol­i­days — call 13 15 16.

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