Darwin is a good place to lie on the beach, but make sure the water is safe before swimming (sharks, salt-water crocodiles and deadly jellyfish have been known to swim offshore).
Half-day trips will take you to the Magnetic Anthills, the Marrakai Plains (to view buffalo herds) or the Yarrawonga Wildlife Park (to see wallabies, crocodiles and more).
810 mi/1,300 km north of Alice Springs.
"The Outback" refers to the vast and mostly desolate interior of Australia. It's perhaps best appreciated at one of the three national parks most easily accessible from Darwin.
Kakadu National Park can be seen as a day trip from the city, though we highly recommend at least two nights there. It's a 19,000 sq km wilderness reserve whose swamps are filled with crocodiles and innumerable species of birds and other wildlife. It has Aboriginal paintings, too. (The park provided the perfect location for the film Crocodile Dundee.) Hire a boat to tour the billabongs (lakes), which expand in the wet season and shrink during the dry. It's best to visit in March to mid-October; many roads are impassable during the wet season, around Christmas. No matter when you go, don't forget to bring insect repellent! 125 mi/200 km east of Darwin.
Rugged Katherine Gorge National Park has 13 sandstone gorges filled with Aboriginal paintings and wildlife (such as emus and dingo). The gorges are usually seen by boat, but there are also many trails. Highlights are the Swallows Cave, Butterfly Gorge and the Hanging Gardens (pretty ferns). 217 mi/350 km south of Darwin.
Litchfield National Park is a favorite area among Darwin outdoor lovers. 360,000-acres/146,000-hectares largely untouched with monsoonal rainforests, Tabletop Range, Escarpment, large groves of cycads, spring fed creeks and historic tin mines. Day tours there include a tea break in an abandoned tin mine, visits to waterfalls, hot springs and termite mounds 10 ft/3 m high, and a chance to see lots of kangaroos, parrots and cranes. 62 mi/100 km south of Darwin.
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