Rugged beauty

Aus­tralia’s North­ern Ter­ri­tory is home to an ar­ray of nat­u­ral splen­dours and ad­ven­tures.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TRAVEL -

OUT­BACK in Aus­tralia, you can ride a camel into the sun­set, trade sto­ries with in­dige­nous peo­ple and for­get about time while float­ing in peace­ful wa­ter­holes and plunge pools.

The North­ern Ter­ri­tory is truly an ad­ven­ture seeker’s heaven.

Astoundingly beau­ti­ful, rugged and re­mote – yet sur­pris­ingly easy to drive, mo­tor­bike or fly around – this land mar­ries milky blue seas and is­lands rich in tra­di­tional art with thun­der­ous wa­ter­falls fringed by flower- lined deserts. Its ge­o­graph­i­cal di­ver­sity might seem over­whelm­ing at first – but fret not, we’ll guide you through soul- nour­ish­ing ex­pe­ri­ences.

Start off at Kakadu Na­tional Park. This is north­ern Aus­tralia at its best, a place where soar­ing cliffs host daz­zling wa­ter­falls and wetlands are pop­u­lated by var­ied birdlife. Equal to the size of Switzer­land, the na­ture re­serve is home to 10,500 species of fauna and 2,000 types of plants.

Kakadu’s vast land­scape holds six ecosys­tems: sa­van­nah wood­lands, tidal flats and hills, basins, stone coun­try, wetlands and flood­plains. To take in the majesty of each zone, be­gin your week­end in the park’s drier north­ern re­gion – a three­hour drive from state cap­i­tal Dar­win – with its plethora of Abo­rig­i­nal rock art be­fore head­ing south for a duck dive through one of Kakadu’s teal- toned wa­ter­holes.

Towel off in time to watch the sun­set paint Arn­hem Land in golden light.

For a truly un­for­get­table jour­ney, you must make a stop at Arn­hem Land. This Abo­rig­i­nal re­serve is one of Aus­tralia’s best un­touched wilder­ness ar­eas. Rocky es­carp- ments tower like Mayan ru­ins, white- sand beaches abound, and rain­forests heave with hu­mid green­ery.

Ubirr Rock in the park’s north is a raised plat­form that of­fers the only views north over sa­cred, per­mit- ac­cess- only lands. Or catch sun­set fur­ther south at Nourlangie Rock.

The next morn­ing, go wild on a wetlands cruise. You won’t have trou­ble spot­ting a live crocodile in the Yel­low Wa­ter Bil­l­abong and sur­round­ing wetlands. Even more amaz­ing are the con­tem­pla­tive mo­ments on board. The guide turns off the boat’s en­gine to­wards the end of the cruise, let­ting guests bathe in “si­lence” of the noisy kind – a ca­coph­ony of Kakadu bird calls.

Mind you, an ad­ven­ture doesn’t mean you have to rough it if you don’t want to. Glamping ( glam­orous camp­ing) al­lows you to voy­age into the wilder­ness by day and bed down in an in­dul­gent lodge by night. Ba­murru Plains and Wild­man Wilder­ness Lodge – in the satel­lite re­gion of the Mary River – are both set in vi­brant wetlands and of­fer trans­fers from the city and com­fort­able trim­mings, such as decked pools and chic rooms.

Next, ex­plore the won­drous Nit­miluk Na­tional Park. This is gor­geous piece of wilder­ness in which you can drift down­stream on a three- day ca­noe trip. Be sure to also hike and swim at beau­ti­ful But­ter­fly Gorge. Then float be­neath tow­er­ing cliffs be­fore walk­ing past a mag­i­cal sec­tion of rock clouded by lacewing but­ter­flies on the way back.

And if it’s a short week­end trip you’re af­ter, check out Litch­field Na­tional Park. This park hums with spring- fed streams, ex­quis­ite wa­ter­falls and his­toric ru­ins. And in many ways, it is an apt re­flec­tion of the North­ern Ter­ri­tory: all rugged and beau­ti­ful.

Sourced from Tourism Aus­tralia. Malaysia Air­lines has three flights a week be­tween Kuala Lumpur and Dar­win. For book­ings, go to malaysi­aair­lines. com.

En­joy views of the milky blue sea along dar­win’s many spec­tac­u­lar wa­ter­fronts. — Pho­tos: tourism Aus­tralia

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