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17 Things You Have To Do Between Darwin And Alice Springs

Think there’s just a whole lot of nothing between Darwin and Alice? Think again.

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Ok, so there is a whole lot of nothing, but don’t be fooled! Hidden along the route between Darwin and Alice Springs are some absolute gems that shouldn’t be missed. We thought we’d go and do some of them ourselves, you know, just to make sure. You’re welcome.

1. Discover Litchfield National Park

Situated about 120km south-west of Darwin, this national park is a must-do to kick off your travels. It's big (1,500sq km big), and there's heaps to see, including the magnetic termite mounds and the many, many waterfalls. We recommend Wongi Falls and Florence Falls. The good news is that the park's open throughout both the wet and dry seasons. The bad news is you might not be able to swim at some of the falls if there's potential for crocs, so make sure you check in with a local guide before you go diving in.
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Situated about 120km south-west of Darwin, this national park is a must-do to kick off your travels. It's big (1,500sq km big), and there's heaps to see, including the magnetic termite mounds and the many, many waterfalls. We recommend Wongi Falls and Florence Falls. The good news is that the park's open throughout both the wet and dry seasons. The bad news is you might not be able to swim at some of the falls if there's potential for crocs, so make sure you check in with a local guide before you go diving in.

2. See the jumping crocs

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If seeing a croc in action is what you came to the Top End for, we've got you covered. You can do it safely on one of the many jumping croc tours located about an hour's drive away from Darwin. You go out on a boat on the Adelaide River, where guides dangle some meat over the edge, and the crocs jump up and eat it. It's pretty much as close to a hungry croc you can get... or would probably want to!

3. Take a dip in the Douglas Hot Springs

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Let's get one thing straight. It can get hot in the Top End. Like, really hot. If you've spent a lot of time driving, and you need a little waking up before continuing on your trip, why not opt for a refreshing dip somewhere? Enter Douglas Hot Springs! There's a selection of pools to choose from, and better still, they're open all year round.

4. Visit the Adelaide River War Cemetery

The Northern Territory was pretty badly affected by the Second World War, with the 1942 bombing of Darwin being the first attack on mainland Australia. The Adelaide River War Cemetery is a beautifully-kept and hugely sobering reminder of World War II's impact on the Top End.
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The Northern Territory was pretty badly affected by the Second World War, with the 1942 bombing of Darwin being the first attack on mainland Australia. The Adelaide River War Cemetery is a beautifully-kept and hugely sobering reminder of World War II's impact on the Top End.

5. Learn to throw a spear

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Some of the Indigenous communities in the Top End have created tours in an effort to try and educate visitors about their history, like Pudakul Aboriginal Cultural Tours. Here you can learn how to throw a spear, watch how traditional baskets and bags are weaved, or even try to play the didgeridoo. FYI, it's way harder than it looks.

6. Soak up the beauty at Umbrawarra Gorge

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If you're feeling adventurous, be sure to add the Umbrawarra Gorge onto your itinerary. There are sandy beaches, impressive red cliffs, and calm little rock pools, all in one place! The best time to go is arguably early-mid way through the dry season, while there's still a bit of water around. No one likes a dried up creek!

7. Kayak the Katherine River

The Katherine River, named by Scottish explorer John McDouall Stuart in 1862, runs for a total of 328km. If getting up close and personal with nature floats your boat, then be sure to seek out a guided kayak trip along it. It comes alive with the noises of all sorts of tropical birds, and you can even spot the odd turtle below your boat too.
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The Katherine River, named by Scottish explorer John McDouall Stuart in 1862, runs for a total of 328km. If getting up close and personal with nature floats your boat, then be sure to seek out a guided kayak trip along it. It comes alive with the noises of all sorts of tropical birds, and you can even spot the odd turtle below your boat too.

8. Spend a night camping in the wilderness

If your idea of a perfect trip involves completely unplugging and just getting away from it all, you need to book a wilderness camping trip, stat! You quickly acclimatise to your no signal-surroundings, and fall asleep gazing up at the stars overhead. Just make sure you’re with a guide, or that you stick to the many designated campgrounds along, and off, the Stuart Highway.
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If your idea of a perfect trip involves completely unplugging and just getting away from it all, you need to book a wilderness camping trip, stat! You quickly acclimatise to your no signal-surroundings, and fall asleep gazing up at the stars overhead. Just make sure you’re with a guide, or that you stick to the many designated campgrounds along, and off, the Stuart Highway.

9. Cruise along the Nitmiluk Gorge

Just a short drive away from Katherine will see you enter the Nitmiluk National Park. There, you can easily hop onto a boat that will cruise you along the breathtaking Nitmiluk Gorge. The traditional landowners are the Jawoyn people, and you even get to see some of their Aboriginal artwork on the gorge walls, which is said to be 10,000 years old!
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Just a short drive away from Katherine will see you enter the Nitmiluk National Park. There, you can easily hop onto a boat that will cruise you along the breathtaking Nitmiluk Gorge. The traditional landowners are the Jawoyn people, and you even get to see some of their Aboriginal artwork on the gorge walls, which is said to be 10,000 years old!

10. Swim in the Katherine Hot Springs

With water temperatures being approximately 25-30ºC, splashing around in Katherine's natural thermal pools is a sure way to ensure a bit of relaxation on your travels. Not only is the water crystal clear, but it also won't cost you a penny as entry is completely free. Worth a look #amiright?
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With water temperatures being approximately 25-30ºC, splashing around in Katherine's natural thermal pools is a sure way to ensure a bit of relaxation on your travels. Not only is the water crystal clear, but it also won't cost you a penny as entry is completely free. Worth a look #amiright?

11. Explore the Cutta Cutta Caves

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This cavernous limestone maze lies 15 metres below ground, and is home to a fair few native Australian beasts. Make sure you're stocked up with your H2O, as the caves only get hotter the further in you go!

12. Bathe in Bitter Springs

Ok, these are the last hot springs, I promise! But if you missed the other two, then you MUST make sure you pay a visit to Bitter Springs. The water is like a bath that doesn’t get cold the longer you sit in it, and similar to the other hot springs, it's crystal clear. It'll set you back nothing to have a little paddle around. It'd be silly not to!
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Ok, these are the last hot springs, I promise! But if you missed the other two, then you MUST make sure you pay a visit to Bitter Springs. The water is like a bath that doesn’t get cold the longer you sit in it, and similar to the other hot springs, it's crystal clear. It'll set you back nothing to have a little paddle around. It'd be silly not to!

13. Stop in at the Larrimah "Pink Panther" Hotel

Bet you never thought you'd find a pub dedicated to the Pink Panther in the middle of the Northern Territory did you, eh?! Well, look no further than this jolly haunt. Situated just off the Stuart Highway, south of Mataranka, this pink pub is a great stop off if you're in need of a little refreshment after all the driving.
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Bet you never thought you'd find a pub dedicated to the Pink Panther in the middle of the Northern Territory did you, eh?! Well, look no further than this jolly haunt. Situated just off the Stuart Highway, south of Mataranka, this pink pub is a great stop off if you're in need of a little refreshment after all the driving.

14. Leave your mark at the iconic Daly Waters Pub

The tale goes that in the 1980s, a coach driver made a wager of some kind with his female passengers. It ended with the women, and seemingly hundreds of passers by since, leaving behind their bras! Bras aside, hanging from almost every corner of available space are boxer shorts, T-shirts, hats, flags, bank notes, train tickets, and even ID cards from around the world. You name it, Daly Waters probably has it. There's even an Irish hurling stick... sure.
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The tale goes that in the 1980s, a coach driver made a wager of some kind with his female passengers. It ended with the women, and seemingly hundreds of passers by since, leaving behind their bras! Bras aside, hanging from almost every corner of available space are boxer shorts, T-shirts, hats, flags, bank notes, train tickets, and even ID cards from around the world. You name it, Daly Waters probably has it. There's even an Irish hurling stick... sure.

15. Watch the sunrise over the Devil's Marbles

If you're casually driving along the highway and suddenly see some giant red boulders in the middle of nowhere, you've hit Karlu Karlu or The Devil’s Marbles. Contrary to what a lot of people think, there's more than just two of them. In fact, there's A LOT more. If you can brave an early start (come on, you can manage it at least once!), it's well worth the easy walk to the top in time for sunrise.
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If you're casually driving along the highway and suddenly see some giant red boulders in the middle of nowhere, you've hit Karlu Karlu or The Devil’s Marbles. Contrary to what a lot of people think, there's more than just two of them. In fact, there's A LOT more. If you can brave an early start (come on, you can manage it at least once!), it's well worth the easy walk to the top in time for sunrise.

16. Go UFO hunting at Wycliffe Well

Commonly referred to as the UFO capital of Australia, this bonkers little place is definitely worth a stop in. You can even camp there if you want to spend an evening trying to spot a flying saucer or two. There's a ton of alien merch around the place that make for a great photo op if you don't fancy spending the night. #ETgohome
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Commonly referred to as the UFO capital of Australia, this bonkers little place is definitely worth a stop in. You can even camp there if you want to spend an evening trying to spot a flying saucer or two. There's a ton of alien merch around the place that make for a great photo op if you don't fancy spending the night. #ETgohome

17. Cross the Tropic of Capricorn

If you were paying any sort of attention in geography classes at school (don't worry, we had to Google it when we got there) then you'll know that the Tropic of Capricorn is a line underneath the Equator. Crossing it basically means you're going from the tropics, to the desert. Admittedly, it won't take up a whole day, but it's a cool pic... BECAUSE GEOGRAPHY IS COOL, GUYS!
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If you were paying any sort of attention in geography classes at school (don't worry, we had to Google it when we got there) then you'll know that the Tropic of Capricorn is a line underneath the Equator. Crossing it basically means you're going from the tropics, to the desert. Admittedly, it won't take up a whole day, but it's a cool pic... BECAUSE GEOGRAPHY IS COOL, GUYS!

Travel was provided by Tourism Australia. BuzzFeed writers do not guarantee coverage.