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VIP NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 2013

VIP DESTINATION: HANGING TEN IN THE TOP END

Pic: www.visitedplanet.comQuirky, beautiful and remote, the Northern Territory, or the Top End, is one of the most incredible parts of Australia. It's teeming with wildlife, rich with Aboriginal culture, packed with amazing geological formations and has plenty of vibrant communities to visit. Here you can bike, overland, hike, swim in rockpools, gaze at a crocodile or two and camp under the stars.It's time to get yourself there. VIP Backpackers has hostels, packages and plenty of information on what to do and what to see. Read on...

Top 10 Highlights | Other things to do | When to go

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TOP 10 HIGHLIGHTS

https://www.visitedplanet.com1. Darwin
It might be remote but the Territory capital is a humming centre that has come of age. Darwin features lively markets, excellent harbour and beach side vantage points, great outdoor dining and entertainment, an open air deckchair cinema, a wave pool, good working opportunities and excellent access to parks such as Kakadu and Litchfield. A fantastic place to base if you're here on a working holiday visa.
Accommodation | Tours

2. Kakadu
https://www.visitedplanet.comKakadu is a veritable wildlife smorgasbord with enough crocs, birdlife and even mosquitoes to keep you happy. It's also got incredible Aboriginal rock art and fantastic land formations and some excellent waterfalls if you have a 4WD or join a tour.
Tours

3. Litchfield National Park
https://www.visitedplanet.comForget the crocs, this place is reptile free so that means you're free to jump into the waterfalls and rockholes liberally dotting this national park. There are some good camp sites, walking opportunities and fantastic termite mounds here too.
Tours

4. Arnhem Land
Pic: Tourism NT.For an experience of real Aboriginal Australia get your permit and take a voyage into Arnhem Land. There are some excellent annual festivals here when permits are waved - look out for the next Stone Country Festival (Picture right: NT Tourism).

5. Katherine Gorge
https://www.visitedplanet.comThe famed gorge is a fantastic journey by boat or foot. Rent a kayak and enjoy meandering through its reaches with the ochre cliffs rising high above the water, or make use of the tracks for vantage points over the gorge. There's excellent campgrounds nearby.
Tours

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6. Devils Marbles (Tennant Creek)
https://www.visitedplanet.comSomething akin to a giant's playground, the Devils Marbles is an incredible natural formation of rocks and stones, at times balancing rather precariously on top of each other. The site lies just an hour from Tennant Creek, a great base for a couple of days where there are also local dams, mining and cultural centres to explore. Tennant Creek sits on the Barky Tableland (good cattle grazing land) that's as large as the UK or New Zealand! This is big country with big skies.
Accommodation | Tours

7. Daly Waters
https://www.visitedplanet.comThis town just south of Darwin is a great place to land yourself a barramundi - Australia's famed large river fish and great eating. It's a fun, but small centre, with a great pub and even a traffic light - produly noted as Australia's remotest. The Merrepen Arts Centre is a good spot to drop in for Aboriginal artifacts. Look out for the Merrepen Arts Festival in May/June.
Tours

8. Alice Springs
https://www.visitedplanet.comCulturally rich with an array of aboriginal art galleries, festivities and other events Alice is another centre where you could spend a lot of time - a great place to base for a working holiday visa. Lying between the east and west Macdonnell Ranges, there are so many gorges, canyons and chasms inviting exploration right on the doorstep. The town has a lot to offer too - get a didgeridoo lesson, land a job, meet Aboriginal artists, learn about desert landscapes and enjoy the array of cultural events that take place here.
Accommodation | Tours

9. Macdonnell Ranges
https://www.vipbackpackers.com/Hostels/9/Backpackers-Newcastle.aspxThe Macdonnell Ranges extend either side of Alice Springs with incredible geological formations that form part of Aboriginal Dreaming. Campsites abound throughout this area as do walking tracks, so pack up and set out for an adventure. If you don't have your own vehicle join one of the many tours we offer.
Tours

10. Uluru and Kata Tjuta
https://visitedplanet.comVisiting the enormous monoliths of the red centre is often the reason people come to the Territory. And they're not disappointed.
The enormous red rock has a rugged but astounding beauty that is deeply important to Aboriginal people and visitors are often impressed with the spiritual significance of the site. Aboriginal people request you don't climb Uluru - the choice is yours but there are excellent walks around the base of it if you choose to respect their wishes.
Tours

 

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OTHER THINGS TO DO

https://www.visitedplanet.comSelf-drive touring
This is big country and there are lots of places to explore. If you head out in your own vehicle always check road conditions first. There can be hundreds of kilometres between water and petrol so plan wisely. Take rest breaks and keep stocked up. There are a lot of 4WD drive tracks to consider in this area or other drives including the Binns Track, Explorer's Way, Nature's Way or the Red Centre Way. Camp sites abound in the Territory so if you have a tent and stove you can sleep out under the stars.

Outdoor pursuits
Pic: www.visitedplanet.comWalking - All National Parks in the Territory have an array of walking tracks. The Larrapinta trail is a 230km trek through the gorgeous West MacDonnell Ranges around Alice Springs. It follows the ridge line but sometimes the plain below also.
Swimming - take care when swimming as many waterways are inhabited by crocodiles. There are often sign posts indicating danger, but if there aren't any it doesn't mean it's safe and you're best not to swim.
Angling - Catching a barramundi is the ultimate fishing experience in the Territory. These huge river fish are also great eating, so even if you aren't a keen fisherman or woman, consider eating some barra while you're in the Top End.
Fossicking - the Territory has an abundance of gems and minerals and fossicking can be a fun way of seeking what's hidden beneath the ground.

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Markets
Pic: www.visitedplanet.comThe Territory has a number of excellent weekly markets in all its major centres. These are great places to get Territorian gifts, good coffee and shakes, fresh fruit and vegetables, catch an entertainer or two and meet local people.

Darwin:
* Nightcliff (Sundays) - art, craft, mass, cuisine and fresh produce bring the suburb alive. There are great shakes, coffees, Territory gifts, performances.
* Rapid Creek Monsoon Markets (Thursdays Nov-April. Sun mornings outside Monsoon season). Sixty stalls with fruit, vegetables, plants, flowers, seafood, crafts and entertainment.
* Mindil Beach Sunset Markets (Thursdays and Sundays May-October) - cuisine from around the world, crafts, souvenirs, performances and spectacular sunsets.

Batchelor Markets (second Sunday of the month).

Alice Springs:
* Night Markets (one Thursday a month August-Nov).
* Look out for yard sales

Annual events
It's well worth planning your visit to the Territory around some of their excellent annual events. See the "what's on" list for the next three months.

Pic: www.visitedplanet.com> Tiwi Islands Annual Football Art Sale / Tiwi Islands Football Grand Final - March
> Fogg Dam Field Day, Darwin - April
> Bass in the Grass, Darwin - May
> Mataranka Never Never Festival - May
> Aarafura Games - May (biannually)
> Merrepen Arts Festival, Daly River - May/June
> Brunette Downs races - June
> Alice Springs Beanie Festival - June
> Finke Desert Race, Alice Springs/Aputula (Finke) - June
> Camel Cup, Alice Springs - July
> Beer Can Regatta, Darwin - July
> Katherine Festival - August
> Garma Festival - August
> Darwin Festival - August
> Arnhemland Bird Week - August
> Stone Country Festival, Gunbalanya - August
> Darwin to Ambon Yacht Race - August
> Henley-on-Todd regatta, Alice Springs - August
> Alice Springs Masters Games - October (biannual)

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WHEN TO GO

Pic: www.visitedplanet.comThe Top End has two seasons: 'the wet' (November to April) and 'the dry' (May to October). During the wet storms refresh the landscape and encourage animal and plant life but it does mean rivers are up, crocodiles on the move and townships and roads can be cut off for weeks at a time. It's not a great time to travel in certain areas, however many tours and attractions do operate year round. For example Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks usually have some accessible places always open. Some roads may close but given the amount of water the waterfalls and birdlife can be spectacular. Alice Springs and Uluru are unaffected by the monsoon.

The rains normally ease in March and April and this is consdered a great time for fishing. The best weather is May until July or August with clear skies and an array of ourdoor activities and festivities going on. October to December starts to heat up again and build to rain.

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