Some regions are compact and easy to explore on foot. But for a destination as vast and wild as Australia’s Top End, there are often hundreds of kilometres to travel before you can even begin exploring the many different landscapes and eco-systems.
So let’s break it down – where are the best areas to walk in the Top End of Australia’s Northern Territory?
Explore the rock art of Kakadu
Kakadu is Australia’s largest national park, covering almost 20,000 square kilometres. It is a place deeply connected to the traditional owners of the land, holding important archaeological rock art sites and places of deep cultural value. It is also immensely beautiful, with vast flood plains, rugged peaks and raging waterfalls. Kakadu is World Heritage listed for both its natural and its cultural significance.
While there are many great hikes in Kakadu, one of the highlights is the Barrk Sandstone walk. This 12-kilometre circuit trail can be quite tough going but the rewards make it worthwhile. The trail takes you up and around a massive sandstone outcrop, visiting the rock art of the Nanguluwurr Gallery. Nearby, you can also stroll to the distinctive paintings at Nourlangie where the famous rock art painting of Namarggon, the Lightning Man, is located.
A walking excursion in Arnhem Land
Park Trek is very proud to be the only tour operator offering a walking component of its tour into Arnhem land. On our 8-day walking tour of Kakadu, Arnhem Land, Nitmiluk and Litchfield you will take a cultural and walking excursion into this special region accompanied by an indigenous guide.
In Arnhem Land, the walk up Injalak Hill takes you to the top of a rocky escarpment with stunning views across the floodplains. This cultural day also includes a walk to Ubirr to visit to the well-known rock art site. Here you’ll see representations of different types of hunted animals, and of Dreamtime ancestors including the Rainbow Serpent and the Namarrgarn Sisters.
Walk the gorges and waterholes of Nitmiluk National Park
Nitmiluk Gorge (Katherine Gorge) is an extraordinarily dramatic and picturesque series of rocky gorges along the Katherine River. You can access beautiful sections of the gorge on a river boat journey but walking here adds another dimension. The walk up to Jeddhas Lookout is our top pick. It winds through rocky gullies and traverses the sandstone escarpment to give expansive views right along the second gorge.
At nearby Leliyn (Edith Falls), take a dip under the falls then head along the scenic 4.5 kilometre trail to tranquil Sweetwater Pool. The walk to Sweetwater Pool is part of the 58-kilometre Jatbula Trail which winds through isolated rainforest, stone country and desert landscapes – this short walk offers a perfect sample of the trail.
Waterfalls and wildlife in Litchfield National Park
Litchfield National Park is studded with waterholes and waterfalls and, with abundant wildlife attracted to the water, it’s a perfect place for bird- and animal-watchers. Twitchers can look out for black kite, kingfisher, red-winged parrot and rainbow bee-eater, while lizard enthusiasts might spot frill-necked lizards or a Mertens water monitor near the many pools. The striking shapes of the enormous magnetic termite mounds looming over two metres high are a highlight for everyone.
The many hikes in Litchfield offer the chance to combine walking with frequent dips in the waterholes and under waterfalls – a perfect way to cool down at a rest stop. The five kilometre walk alongside Walker Creek is lush and tranquil, while the popular short walk to Wangi Falls offers great views and a chance for a swim under the falls. A walk to Florence Falls and Buley Rockhole offer similarly beautiful water dips, with great wildlife viewing along the way.
Take a look at our best Northern Territory walking trip
Our 8-day walking tour of Kakadu, Arnhem Land Nitmiluk and Litchfield offers a full itinerary of walking and exploration of the highlights of this spectacular region.