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Northern Exposure: Walking & Paddling The NT

1st February 2016

Only a fool would stay inside while visiting the Northern Territory. Ditch the car, forget room service and explore this incredible region how it was designed to be experienced: outdoors.

With such an extensive range of walking and kayaking tours available, there's no excuse for not stepping out and immersing yourself in the NT's heritage, wildlife and unimaginable moments.

Here are four of our favourite adventures.


Larapinta Trail

Stretching for more than 223 kilometres along the West MacDonnell Ranges, the Larapinta Trail is one of Australia's epic walks.

It takes about one to two days to cover each of the 12 sections, but there's vehicle access at each trailhead for those who only want to complete part of the trek.

A good level of fitness is required, with numerous changes in grade and periods of exposure to the sweltering sun above. However, the trail can be taken at your own pace and there are regular campsites with picnic tables (some have gas barbecues).

The Larapinta Trail's biggest drawcard is its function as a gateway to many of the Ranges' key attractions including Glen Helen, Simpsons Gap, Ellery Creek Big Hole and Ormiston Gorge.

Mt Sonder is one of the highlights, offering 360-degree views of the landscape, but ultimately it's the feeling of insignificance compared to the vast and varied landscape of Australia's Outback that rewards most walkers.

Jatbula Trail

Rich in natural scenery, exciting challenges and rewarding moments of bliss, the Jatbula Trail is easily on the NT's best hikes.

Starting at Nitmiluk Gorge, it meanders its way through the lush wilderness of Nitmiluk National Park all the way to Edith Falls about 63 kilometres away.

You follow the footsteps of the Jawoyn people along their ancient 'Song Line', which leads you past the deep Seventeen Mile Valley, mesmerising waterfalls and ancient rock art.

Every day presents an assortment of different challenges such as river crossings, boggy wet country, wide-open plains and the occasional steep hill to climb.

However, at the end of each day's hike you're able to unwind in the campsites, most of which sit beside a waterhole, creek or billabong in which to soothe weary muscles and bones.

The trek is best tackled on a guided tour with one of the local expert companies such as Gecko Canoeing & Trekking.

More outdoor experiences around Australia

How To See Kimberley’s Waterfalls By Air & Water

True Wilderness In Australia’s Northern Territory


Katherine & Daly Kayak

One of the Northern Territory's premier wilderness safaris, this journey with Gecko Canoeing & Trekking takes you down the Katherine and Daly rivers.

Following the serpentine paths in your 'Scupper Pro' kayak or two-person canoe, you have ample time to soak up the ever-changing scenes of nature playing out along the shoreline and in the surrounding water.

The six-day tour covers close to 120 kilometres of river, with three days on the Katherine and three days on the Daly. Nights are spent camping on sandy beaches – a true cold-turkey break with the modern world.

Paddling isn't the only activity, with plenty of time for swimming, fishing, bird watching and anything else you can imagine doing in the Outback.

Wickham River Escape

Just when you think you've seen everything the Northern Territory has to offer, someone spills the secret of the Wickham River.

Pandanus-lined channels provide a shady and cool trip, while the clear water offers a window to fascinating marine life as you float over the top.

The actual tour with Gecko Canoeing & Trekking includes a four-wheel drive ride to a private cattle station on the river where you can enjoy a serene sunset accompanied by wine.

With multiple days on the river, you'll encounter waterholes, sandy beaches, rapids and more memorable sights out of the 'Northern Territory Natural Hall Of Fame'.

How To Ensure It's All Fun And No Turmoil

  • Make sure you meet the required health and fitness requirements.
  • Pack light, as you'll be carrying your luggage on hikes.
  • Be careful when approaching wildlife and keep a safe distance.
  • Most tours operate during the dry season (April to October), which provides the best weather for outdoor activities. Plan your trip for this period.
  • Opt for red wine as your evening drink, because it doesn't require cooling.
  • Test the depth of the water before diving in.