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Three wet season adventures to help you discover the Top End as it comes to life

There’s a lot to love about the NT – not least the amazing weather, relaxed lifestyle and sense of community. As the local name in LPG in the Northern Territory, Kleenheat has over thirty years of experience in providing LPG cylinders and Kwik-Gas to our customers across the NT. We also have a local team on the ground who have adventuring tips and a few favourite getaway suggestions. We’ve pulled together three of our favourite adventures to try during the wet season.

Whilst the Territory is abuzz with tourists throughout the dry season, it is wet season that many locals claim as their favourite time of year.

Plants spring back to life with iridescent foliage, rivers and wetlands fill from thundering waterfalls, signs of life are everywhere as the dry season’s dust is washed away.Adelaide River Billabong wildlife NT

Tropical storms bring dramatic lightning shows and cool relief. Be sure to check the weather forecast ahead of time when planning any adventures, flexibility is the key to enjoying the Territory at this time of year.

Summer in the desert is as hot as it sounds. If you do happen to be in Alice Springs, do as the locals do and head to Tjoritja or West MacDonnell National Park, to cool off in one of the waterholes, otherwise head north to discover a land of waterfalls and tropical vibes.

If you’re planning pre-wet season travels, see our build-up travel suggestions and our dry season adventures.

Highlights of the wet season in the Northern Territory
  • Following the Santa Fun Run, Carols by Candlelight and a flurry of other festive events held throughout November and December, much of Darwin shuts down over Christmas and early January as many locals head out of town to spend time with family interstate.
  • The NT footy season runs from October to March, over the wet season. Check out the fixtures and head down to a game to support your local team or check out the finals action.
  • If fishing is more your style, make sure you register for Million Dollar Fish before hitting the water, the competition runs annually from October to March.
  • Community events begin returning in March and April, in time for Easter and the school holidays. Don’t miss Parrtjima – A festival in Light, held annually in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) in April.

1. Take a day trip across the water to the Tiwi Islands

The Tiwi Islands are just 80km offshore from Darwin (2.5 hours by ferry). The islands are home to about 2,500 residents, spread across Bathurst and Melville Islands. Renowned for their thriving arts scene and skilled footballers, the Tiwi people draw a crowd of thousands of spectators every March at their annual Tiwi Islands Football League (TIFL) Grand Final and Art Fair. Tiwi Islands NT Aboriginal artists

Book your ferry or plane tickets early, or pick up a package that includes lunch and a tour. Between the footy action, take a stroll around Wurrumiyanga and learn about the community’s history at the Patakijiyali Museum, as well as taking in sights made famous in the 2019 film Top End Wedding.

While the Art Fair held on grand final day sees a number of local art centres come together to prepare their collections of textiles, carvings and paintings for the influx of visitors, a number of galleries are open to visitors at scheduled times throughout the year.

Fun fact: Melville Island is Australia’s second largest offshore island, after Tasmania.

2. Be a tourist at home with a long-weekend Darwin staycation

Camping may be off the cards as the wet season arrives in full force, but with the majority of travellers (and many locals) heading south, now is a great time to explore Darwin’s attractions without the crowds. Darwin waterfront wharf NT

Most city hotels offer discounted wet season rates, some even offer ‘locals’ packages for Territory residents with free food, drinks or attraction tickets along with late check outs, free parking and other perks. Pick a hotel or apartment down by the Waterfront for year-round community events (including a free New Year’s Eve party) and easy access to the swimming lagoon, wave pool, restaurants and bars.

Make your way through the mall to Crocosaurus Cove. You can retreat to the air-conditioned reptile house or take a dip in their pool if you need to cool off (don’t forget to show your NT licence for a free upgrade to an annual pass).

Local’s tip: When you feel the need to explore beyond the Waterfront (it would be perfectly okay to just stay there the whole weekend), take the lift up to the sky bridge and wander across to the city.

A few kilometres down the road (walking distance if the weather is fine, or take one of the orange Neuron scooters or bikes), George Brown Botanic Gardens are popular year-round with shady walk trails, a nature playground, café and a fascinating visitor centre sharing traditional Larrakia cultural knowledge surrounding plant use and seasonal changes.Botanical tropical gardens NT

Whichever way you choose to spend your weekend, consider finishing it off with a sunset cruise on the harbour. If you’re not sure the weather will hold, settle for dinner on Stoke’s Hill Wharf knowing you can take the free shuttle bus back to the Waterfront if that storm does arrive.

3. Take a week to hit the road and explore Kakadu at its most spectacular

As the dry season tourist wave draws to a close, Kakadu starts coming back to life. Green shoots appear as the humidity rises, the floodplains fill out and flocks of birds gather once the storms finally arrive. This is the traditional season of Kudjewk for the park’s Traditional Owners, the Bininj and Mungguy people (from the park’s north and south, respectively).Green Views Kakadu National Park wet season NT

This is not the time for camping however. Many smaller tourism operators shut down over this quiet season but, if you’re finding options are limited, the Mercure Crocodile Hotel in Jabiru and Cooinda Lodge further south are open year-round. Check for park access and site closures and download park information before you go, brochures and maps may not be readily available in the off-season. Some of the park’s star attractions, such as Jim Jim Falls, are inaccessible by road in the wet, but there are still plenty of places to visit, even by two-wheel drive.

Stop off at Mamukala Wetlands right by the Arnhem Highway for some birdwatching as you enter the park. Kakadu is home to a third of Australia’s bird species, so bring some binoculars and an ID book or download the Kakadu Birds App to make the most of your trip.Aboriginal rock paintings Burrungkuy NT

Spend a day exploring the rock art sites at Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) and nearby Nanguluwurr

Look out for paintings of Namarrgon, the Lightning Man, at the Anbangbang gallery as you shelter in caves used as a wet season camp for tens of thousands of years. Head up to Nawurlandja lookout for sunset views across Anbangbang Billabong or to watch the storms roll in.

Get up close to nature on land or water

Those wanting to stretch their legs with a longer hike might want to head to Motor Car Falls, open year-round (4WD recommended) with a swimming hole at the end. Before swimming anywhere in the park, it pays to Be Crocwise and check for signage and ask rangers or accommodation staff for recent croc updates.

This is the time of year that crocodiles move around as water levels rise and increase access across previously dry country. saltwater crocodile yellow water billabong NT

If you’re not feeling that energetic, take a cruise on the Yellow Water (Ngurrungurrudjba) wetlands, renowned for their abundant birdlife as well as crocodiles, buffalo and other wildlife. Helicopter flights are available for a once-in-a-lifetime wet season waterfall experience.

Fishing tours operate on Yellow Water (Ngurrungurrudjba) Wetlands and in the South and East Alligator Rivers, if you’re really lucky you might bag a Million Dollar Fish. Even if you go home without the extra cash, you’ll likely take home some fresh fish. Cook it up on the barbecue at your accommodation or take it home to share with friends as you relive your adventure.

Local’s tip: Even if you’re ‘not a sunrise person’, it’s worth getting up early for the Yellow Water sunrise cruise, (you’ll likely get woken up by others in your hotel heading for the early cruise, even if you had hoped for a sleep-in).

Don’t be put off exploring the Territory in the wet

Schedule your trip loosely, keeping things flexible as the weather may change suddenly. Do as the locals do and keep an eye on the BOM radar throughout the day.

If you’re heading out of town, check roads are open and call ahead to confirm operating hours for roadhouses, attractions and accommodation (and don’t forget to ask if their restaurants are open, too).

A little extra preparation will have you experiencing the Territory’s finest attractions without the crowds, often with discounts or special treatment thrown in.

Local’s tip: Keep the fancy footwear at home and just pack thongs – torrential downpours have ruined many good pairs of shoes.

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!