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Experiences to embrace as the ‘build-up’ sets in across the Top End and spring arrives in the Red Centre

There’s a lot to love about the NT, including the amazing weather, lifestyle and sense of community. Here are some of our favourite activities and adventures to embrace during the wet season build-up.

During the build-up, humidity and the temperature rises. This is an ideal time of the year to find somewhere cool to sit and watch the landscape come back to life. Tendrils of green start to peek out across the brown landscape, clouds begin to gather, and the calls of frogs and cicadas are deafening.Wangi Falls Litchfield National Park

In the Red Centre, spring has arrived, bringing vibrant wildflowers to the landscape, to awe locals and visitors alike. This is the Territory’s ‘build-up’.

Highlights of the build-up to the wet season

1. Take a day trip to Litchfield National Park

Now’s the time to slow down and seek water and shade. As the build-up intensifies, the nights become sticky and uncomfortable for camping, and days are too hot for active adventures.

Head to Litchfield National Park, 1.5 hours (110km) south of Darwin, for a picnic and a swim in one of Darwin’s favourite spots. The park encompasses the traditional lands of the Werat, Koongurrukun, Waray and Mak Mak Marranunggu people. Florence Falls in Litchfield National Park NT

Jump out of the car for a quick look at the Magnetic Termite Mounds before heading to Florence Falls or Buley Rockhole, popular for swimming year-round and easily accessible from the car parks. The shady lawns at Wangi Falls at the other end of the park are another relaxing spot to spend an afternoon.

If you want to spend the night and it’s too hot for camping, book an air-conditioned cabin at Banyan Tree Resort, Litchfield Tourist Park or the Batchelor Butterfly Farm.

Local’s tip: Look out for mango stalls as you head out of town. Some of the mango farms between Batchelor and Litchfield offer ‘pick your own’ days, that are advertised through social media, or take the back route to Wangi Falls and stop off at Crazy Acres near Berry Springs.

2. Make the most of your long weekend exploring Tjoritja

As the heat and humidity rise in the Top End, it’s springtime in the Red Centre. The peak of the tourist season has passed, and it’s not too hot to get out and about (especially if you’re from the Territory).ochre pits mcdonnell range NT

Tjoritja or West MacDonnell National Park, right on the doorstep of Alice Springs (starting 10km west of town), is a great place to head for a weekend away.

A series of deep gorges in amongst the range support hidden pockets of flora and fauna, places of great significance to the Arrernte people for tens of thousands of years. The park’s Ochre Pits are still used today for traditional ochre collection.

Choose your adventure

With hiking trails, swimming holes, cultural sites and the striking red rocky range easily accessible by two-wheel drive, you can find something to suit all members of your travel party.

There are a number of campgrounds within the park, ranging from basic bush sites accessible only by four-wheel drive, to those with hot showers, toilet blocks and barbecues.

Standley Chasm remarkable gap red rock NT

If you can’t decide what to see, consider stopping at Simpson’s Gap and Standley Chasm (Angkerle Atwatye) before heading on to Orniston Gorge for the night.

For those who are feeling energetic, head to Ghost Gum Lookout or take the loop walk to Orniston Pound the next morning, before jumping back in the car and stopping off at the Ochre Pits on your way back to Alice.

There are so many walks and swimming spots to choose from, you’re bound to find yourself returning again and again (perhaps even to walk a few sections of the Larapinta Trail).

Local’s Tip: Standley Chasm is at its most spectacular with the midday sun overhead. Note that this is also its busiest time of day, so head out early if you prefer to experience it without the crowds.

3. Taking the time to enjoy the Red Centre – Anangu country

If you’re in search of a longer adventure, continue on to explore Luritja country at Watarrka or Kings Canyon National Park, or perhaps take a road trip all the way down to Uluru.Uluru NT

Uluru holds a place on many people’s ‘bucket list’. The ‘heart of the nation’ is not as close to Alice Springs as it may first appear on the map, taking close to five hours by the most direct route (445km).

Give yourself at least a week to make the most of your trip, or two weeks if you want to head there (or back) along the Red Centre Way via Tjoritja, West MacDonnell and Watarrka, and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Professional photographers claim spring offers the ‘best light’ on the red rock, giving it an intense, warm, orange glow. August and September are the best time to experience the deserts wildflowers.

This is the Anangu season of Piriyakutu or piriya piriya, which is a time for hunting kangaroo and also sees reptiles come out of hibernation.

Whilst the weather starts to heat up by October, those coming from the north will find this less of a shock than anyone coming up from southern states. 

Taking the time to see, do, experience and explore the Red Centre

A great place to start any trip is at the Cultural Centre, home to two art galleries along with presentations and displays sharing information on the park’s natural environment, oral histories, cultural stories and joint management practices.

In addition to walking or cycling around the base of Uluru and hiking through the Valley of the Winds at Kata Tjuta, hear the stories of the rock art, see traditional tools, and learn about Tjukurpa (Anangu creation stories) on a ranger-guided Mala Walk.

Accommodation options in nearby Yulara range from campgrounds to self-contained apartments to a five-star hotel and a luxury eco-lodge. Wherever you plan to stay, book well in advance and consider scheduling art workshops, camel rides, a trip to view the Field of Light and perhaps even a candlelit dinner on a sand dune or a scenic flight as soon as you’ve booked your accommodation. If you’re on a budget or booked too late, there’s still plenty to see and do for free.

Regardless of what you get up to during your time at Uluru, form lasting memories as you take in the sunset and watch the colours intensify and then fade on the rock. It’s a view that doesn’t grow old no matter how many times you return. Mount Conner Lasseter Highway NT

Wherever you visit at this time of year, the bush is coming back to life. Wildflowers, intense colours and active wildlife greet visitors across the Territory.

Take it easy and relax by the water as the humidity rises up north, or take advantage of the spring weather to take a road trip through the Red Centre. There’s no better time of year to take that Uluru road trip you’ve always talked about.

Local’s tip: After the long drive along the Lasseter Highway, it’s easy to mistake the giant red form of Mount Conner for Uluru. Still an amazing site in itself, Uluru is still another 130km along from the Mount Conner lookout and won’t be visible until you pass through Yulara.

A road trip reminder – don’t forget the Kwik-Gas

Packed and ready to hit the road for that barbecue lunch? Great! Don’t forget to check if you need to pick up some Kleenheat Kwik-Gas on the way. 

If you’ve already got your gas sorted, make sure you know how much gas is left in that cylinder. Need some recipes for the road? Browse our Kleenheat Kitchen for inspiration.

Gas safety at home and on the road

Planning on hitting the road to see and experience more of Australia’s backyard? Don’t forget to make sure your gas is ready to go!