Ask the Experts: Is the Outback just a big desert?

It’s that time of the week again, when we wheel in the Travel Experts for one of the most popular slots on the STA Travel Blog; that’s right, it’s time to Ask the Experts!

This week’s question focuses on one of Australia’s most legend-laden regions; often mislabelled as one of the seven states, the Northern Territory lives up to its name, and remains a territory of the Commonwealth government.

Also home to one of the world’s most famous icons; some of the planet’s most diverse landscapes, including the World Heritage Kakadu National Park, and some of Australia’s richest running Aboriginal culture.

Before we crack on, remember, if you want to pose a question to the panel, it takes just 30 seconds to email the Travel Experts with your question, and you could see it featured, right here on the STA Travel Blog, in the near future!

Let’s dig a little deeper into the Outback, with a look at this week’s question from Millie in Peterborough:

I’ve seen a lot about Australia’s Northern Territory recently; I’ll be in Oz in September. Is two weeks enough time to explore? Is it all just one big desert — won’t I get bored? Millie in Peterborough

It’s little surprise Millie has been tempted by the NT; it’s long offered travellers to Australia some incredible and inspiring routes; through unmistakable scenery peppered with that famous, and authentic True Blue spirit.

That’s enough from me, let’s throw this open to this week’s Travel Experts, Sarah and Heather!

Sarah from STA Travel Covent Garden says…

The Northern Territory, or ‘The Territory’ to the locals, is a great place to travel and a refreshing alternative to the more touristy East Coast. The best time to visit is the dry season, which runs from April to October. The weather is warm, sunny and much less humid at this time so going in September will be ideal.

The Northern Territory has a great variety of experiences to offer, and although famous for its big red centre, it’s far from all desert!

The best place to begin is Darwin, the state capital and a buzzing little city (the average age is 26!) Keep yourself entertained with the roaring nightlife of Mitchell Street, watch a film in the outdoor Deckchair Cinema, and get your swim on in the Waterfront Lagoon.

There’s also the Mindil Beach Night Markets every Thursday and Sunday, which have a quaint selection of arts and food stalls. It’s also a prime spot to watch the tropical sunset.

Kakadu National Park is a short trip from Darwin; it’s a World Heritage site and a must-see in the Northern Territory. We offer a few trips that go to Kakadu and the neighbouring Litchfield National Park, they range from 2-5 days and start and finish in Darwin, making it hassle-free to get there.

Nearest... - Yellow River - Kakadu National Park

 Kakadu? Don't mind if I do! | Photo by Franco Caruzzo 

All the trips give you a taste of the elusive Outback, and life in the ‘bush’ — camping under the stars and cooking-up some traditional Aussie bush tucker.

No trip to the Territory is complete without a voyage to the Red Centre, and the mighty Uluru. You can get there via the hop-on-hop-off Greyhound bus or by doing a trip such as the 11-day ‘Territory and Outback’. This trip travels from Darwin to Alice Springs and visits all the hotspots including Tennant Creek, the famous Devil’s Marbles, Kakadu, and Daly Waters, the Territory’s oldest and most character-full pub. All in all you definitely won’t be bored with a trip to the Territory!

Meranda at STA Travel Manchester Oxford Road says…

G’day Millie! It can be tricky trying to plan your time, however two weeks should be an ample amount to really get your claws into what the Northern Territory has to offer. As Sarah mentioned, you could possibly make your way south starting from Darwin passing through the stunning national parks all the way down to Uluru (Ayers Rock).

Darwin’s a great city, and the perfect place to get lost in the markets, the history in the museums and galleries, and not to mention the great food there.

You could then make your way across to Kakadu National Park where there is plenty of beautiful wildlife or refreshing waterholes you can plunge into! There is the option to visit the Aboriginal rock art galleries, to get really immersed in the Australian culture, too.

For something a little different, you can visit an underground gold mine in Tennant Creek called Battery Hill Mining Centre. This could be a great little stop on the way to Uluru. It doesn’t have to be all desert, however you can’t visit the Northern Territory without visiting the famous Uluru!

Uluru I

 Hop on a tour to experience Uluru at sunrise (bus load of tourists not included) | Photo by hekris

Due to the remote location, many travellers tend to stay in Alice Springs and get short tours that take them there and to other wonderful natural sites such as the Kings Canyon. I booked the Red Rocket before I went to Australia, and it’s currently on offer through STA Travel with a whopping 10{8105bc8a7da0e4ee2985a05e217cd0e1bef95b551bf8bafd62a449e444182173} off if booked by the 26th February, I wish that bargain was available when I booked!

You stay over in a campsite, where get to sleep outdoors if your wish. Getting the opportunity to stare up at the stars as you drift off to sleep isn’t something I can see you doing in sunny Peterborough very often! If you get bored at any point I promise I will eat my hat… corks included!


Nice work, Travel Experts! That’s really brought the Northern Territory to life. So many options available, it’s adventure all the way! What are you most excited to seek out in The Territory? Don’t stand on the sidelines, get involved and add to the conversation!