++The story of the Northern Territory is a long one (about 60,000 years long, in fact, and that’s just counting from the rough date that the first indigenous settlers arrived). It’s a story that revolves around ancient cultures, European settlers, foreign traders and intrepid explorers. Boasting a landscape that remained off the map for years, the Northern Territory to this day represents for many the untouched Australia of old, the Australian idyll. Wild, expansive and rich in history, let’s begin the story of the NT the only way we know how; with the archaeological remnants of a 60,000 year old culture.
Evidence for the Northern Territory’s ancient settlements is largely based upon the presence of an abundance of rock art sites throughout the region. Whilst rock art is notoriously hard to date accurately, the depictions in the drawings have been extremely useful in providing archaeologists with a timeline of the NT’s history. Through various studies, they’ve managed to divide the rock art into three phases: pre-estuarine (imagery depicting arid climates and animals now extinct), estuarine (imagery depicting risen water levels and marine wildlife) and freshwater (imagery that moves into the modern era, depicting traders and guns). The art is a great indicator of the deeply spiritual side to Aboriginal culture and some of the more famous sites are extremely popular with tourists.
So, now that we’ve established that the Northern Territory is old, ancient in fact, it’s time to have a look at what else makes it stand apart. Well, for us, it’s the diverse landscapes and the endless opportunities for exploration they invite. From stunning beach to parched red desert to lush wetland brimming with wildlife, the Northern Territory is an adventurer’s dream. The perfect stand-alone destination, you could dedicate a whole trip to the NT and not feel like you’ve missed out on the rest of Australia. You’ve got safari expeditions in Kakadu National Park (that’s right, an Australian safari), long hikes to find ancient rock art, exotic wildlife, camel rides across desert landscapes and, of course, Uluru. The Northern Territory is the perfect microcosm of Australia, fulfilling all the clichés and wondrous pre-conceived ideas that travellers have when they come to the country seeking that authentic outback experience. It’s like a whole world of its own.
Image © Tourism NT