You might be surprised to learn that within driving distance of Darwin lie some of the most unique landscapes in the world - all you need to do is hop in the car and find them!
1. Litchfield National Park
No visit to Darwin is complete without visiting Litchfield, less than two hours from the city. With its diverse landscape and native wildlife, you'll find plenty to see and do.
Florence Falls, Wangi Falls and Buley Rockhole are your best bet for swimming - beautiful, relaxing, and most importantly, croc-free! If you fancy a hike, try the Tolmer Falls Walk to see one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the park. For the more experienced, there's Tabletop Track - a whopping 39kms of amazing scenery.
2. Mary River National Park
About an hour our of Darwin, you'll find yourself immersed in some of the most beautiful wetlands in the Northern Territory. The lush waterways are brimming with barramundi, making it a prime location for those wanting to fish - Shady Camp is a popular and safe fishing spot.
Want to see something a bit bigger? Don't worry, there's plenty of Saltwater crocs about! There are lookouts scattered across the park, and we particularly love Couzens Lookout at sunset. If you're interested in birdlife, be sure to visit Mistake Billabong for a glimpse of life on the water.
3. Berry Springs National Park
Also an hour away is Berry Springs National Park. The pretty, shaded pools are perfect for swimming, and there are plenty of tables and barbeques for a picnic lunch.
You'll be surrounded by the bush, so take the Woodlands Walk and spot the native birds and animals. It's popular with families, especially because Territory Wildlife Park is right next door - easy to stop in to see their collection.
4. Butterfly Gorge
Named after the Common Crow Butterflies that shelter in the rock face, Butterfly Gorge is another lovely swimming spot about 2 and a half hours out of Darwin. Once you're in the main pool, you can swim across and climb to the upper pools - worth the effort, believe us.
It's a quiet place surrounded by bush, far less busy than some of the other parks - if you're lucky, you might even be the only visitor!
5. Kakadu National Park
Yep, we've saved the best for last. World Heritage-listed Kakadu is basically 19,000kms of outstanding natural beauty, so we recommend you stay a couple of days to take it all in!
There's waterfalls, swimming holes, indigenous heritage and art, rainforests and bushland - not to mention the thousands of species of wildlife. Highlights of the park include Jim Jim Falls (truly a sight to behold in the wet season), Gunlom plunge pool, Yellow Water Billabong (famous for both its waterlilies and the crocs that live under them), and Ubirr, site of some of the best-preserved Aboriginal rock art you'll see in Kakadu.
Image credit: Tourism Australia
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