I love travelling to Australia’s Top End, no matter what time of the year it is. The top of the Northern Territory has two main seasons – the wet season (from November to April) and the dry season (from May to October).
Although the wet season typically has temperatures up to 35oC and the humidity can exceed a steamy 80 per cent, I have never let this stop me from visiting Darwin and its surrounds during this time of year. If you can handle a bit of rain and a sweaty forehead, it’s actually a great time to travel; there are far fewer tourists around, and visitors are treated to some pretty impressive evening storms (best enjoyed with an ice-cold beer in hand).
Heading out to Kakadu, Litchfield and Arnhem Land during the wet season you’ll find lush, green landscapes, brightly coloured flowers, full river systems, gushing waterfalls and some great wildlife. Crocodiles can pop up anywhere at this time of year (Kakadu is home to around 10,000 of them), so make sure you check the NT Parks website for any closures before venturing out of town. Although you may not be able to swim in the falls during this time, there are some brilliant hiking trails and views to check out. One of the best ways to experience the flooded plains of the Kakadu and the majestic Jim Jim and Twin Falls is by air; I was lucky enough to take a scenic flight and helicopter ride over the area and it truly took my breath away.
Around one third of Australia’s birdlife is found in the Kakadu, along with crocodiles (freshwaters and salties), water buffalo, quolls and turtles; if you’re interested in wildlife and have a keen eye, you’re in for an absolute treat. Keep your peepers peeled and you may even spot the colourful Leichhardt’s Grasshopper.
Finding gorgeous landscapes during the day is easy when you’re in the bush, but this time of year is one of the best for watching sunsets. One of my favourite things to do is head down to the water front, grab a cocktail and settle in to watch as the clouds glow hues of pink and orange before the evening storms start to roll in. If you’re a bit of a storm chaser, and love a natural light show, the Top End is the perfect place to be. Flashes of lightning dance around the stars while the thunder roars and the rain pours, bringing with it a welcoming cooling effect.
The Outback is always spectacular, but staying close to Darwin won’t disappoint either. On Saturdays, Parap Village Market is open rain, hail or shine. Here, you’ll find some delicious food (the laksa here is amazing), local arts and crafts, tarot card reading, and live music. If you want to learn more about Darwin’s war history heading over to The Royal Flying Doctors Tourist Precinct or the Darwin Military Museum is a must. And if the rains are hanging around during the day, the Northern Territory Art Gallery and Museum are great options, as they hold some of the best traditional and modern Aboriginal art, as well as a Cyclone Tracy exhibition.
No matter what time of the year you choose to visit the Top End, there’s no wrong time to holiday. And just because it’s called the wet season doesn’t mean it is constantly raining – the sun definitely still makes an appearance! There are plenty of things to see and do in and around Darwin, whatever the weather may be.
Explore Australia’s Top End now on a small group adventure with Intrepid.
Feature image by Damien Raggatt.