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Where is Darwin, Kakadu and the Top End?
Darwin Region The Top End is the wild and tropical region that makes up the northern part of the Australia's Northern Territory. It describes the square-shaped area at the top of Australia's map half of which is Arnhem Land, a huge expanse of land owned by Australia's indigenous peoples. The Top End includes Darwin, World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park and Litchfield National Park and Arnhem Land.

Darwin is the coastal capital of the Northern Territory and is a modern Australian city with a history and cityscape shaped by the monsoonal weather.

To Darwin's east lies Kakadu National Park, an outstanding ecological wilderness that covers an area of 20,000 square kilometres. This World Heritage listed park is a land of contrasts with dry, flat plains, rugged and craggy escarpments, stunning waterfalls, plunge pools, the lily covered South Alligator river, abundant wildlife and ancient Aboriginal rock painting.

About 2 hours to Darwin's south is Litchfield National Park with 15,000 square kilometres of weathered and ancient landscapes with magnetic termite mounds, warm year-round swimming in plunge pools, pleasant delightful bush walks and 4WD tracks.

Arnhem Land is a vast and remote region with spectacular escarpments, rock art, flood plains, animal life, beaches, mangrove wetlands and plant life.

Climate
There are two distinct seasons: the dry, cool season from May to October and the hot, wet season from November to April. The months of October and November are called the ‘build-up’ and are the hottest and driest times of the year. Humidity can be extraordinarily high, for weeks at a time, and it is said that some people go 'troppo' (crazy) while waiting for the rains. When the rains do arrive, humidity drops and the wet season begins.

Temperatures range between a minimum of 21.7 °C in winter to a maximum of 32.2 °C in summer. When travelling in the Top End you are advised to carry water with you to avoid dehydration. Swimming is limited to certain areas because of crocodiles and dangerous marine jellyfish. It is important to include sunscreen, insect repellant and sun-protection clothing in your luggage.

How do I get there?
Darwin can be reached by road, air and now by rail. The main highways are the Stuart Highway (Alice Springs to Darwin), Arnhem Highway (turn off Stuart Highway to Jabiru) and the Kakadu Highway (Jabiru to Pine Creek), Litchfield Park Road (turn off Stuart Highway to Batchelor). There are sealed roads to most of the Top End's main visitor locations. Arnhem Land requires a permit for road travel and many visitors choose to visit these remote regions by coach or by air.

What are the main towns?
The main towns in the region include:

Towns - Darwin,Arnhem Land, Batchelor, Borroloola,Palmerston,Howard Springs,Jabiru,Port Essington,Nhulunbuy, Oenpelli,Pine Creek,Cape Crawford,Humpty Doo,Grooyte Eylandt,Kakadu National Park Litchfield National Park.

These towns have most of the accommodation available in the Top End region.

What's there to do in the region?
Darwin is a well laid out city with modern and old buildings to explore that include the innovative design of recently built Parliament House, sandstone buildings of Darwin's first European settlement and World War II heritage landmarks. A day trip could take you to a Crocodile Farm at Howard Springs and wildlife watching at Fogg Dam wetlands area Or you could visit to the award-winning Territory Wildlife Park that has its own shuttle train, followed by a crocodile-free swim at the Berry Springs Nature Park.

To safely see saltwater and freshwater crocodiles take a trip to Crocodylus Park in Darwin the viewing platform at Shady Camp, the Territory Wildlife Park or Yellow Waters in Kakadu National Park.

Kakadu National Park is a vast area with a huge array of habitats that include Savanna woodlands, monsoon forests, hills and ridges, stone country, floodplains and billabongs and tidal flats. Much of the area is not easily accessible but there are some wonderful walks amongst craggy escarpments, where Aboriginal rock paintings can be seen. The cultural art sites at Ubirr and Nourlangie are not to be missed.. Mamukala Wetlands near the entrance to the park, has a large bird-hide where visitors can watch thousands of migratory birds and thirsty wildlife stop at the waterhole for a welcome rest The Bowali Visitors Centre and Warradjan Cultural Centre have displays for visitor information.

One must-do activity in Kakadu National Park is wildlife a river cruise along the South Alligator river at Yellow Waters, Cooinda . Get up early for the first cruise of the day - as is well worth the effort. When water is scarce and the seasons are turning, the sky is darkened with flocks of magpie-geese overhead, water buffalo come down to drink, pink water lillies blossum next to spiky pandanus and large crocodiles laze in still waters in the rising mist of early morning. Or you can hire a dinghy and a guide for great fishing in the waters of the Kakadu basin, where barramundi are plentiful.

Litchfield National Park has unusual magnetic termite mounds, scenic waterfalls and deep plunge pools for a day trip or camping experiences. Best known amongst these are Wangi Falls, Florence Falls and Buley Rockhole with its series of cascading pools. For a small fee, camping is also possible in the National Parks designated areas. The areas around the falls are scored with bushwalking trails.

For more than 60,000 years, Australia's traditional owners have inhabited the extreme parts of this land. Aboriginal cultural tours and be undertaken throughout Kakadu and Arnhem Land where visitors can experience camping safaris along the East Alligator river, along cultural trails and restricted wilderness areas with Aboriginal guides. These journeys aim to provide insight into traditional cultures, bush foods, crafts and Aboriginal spiritual relationships with the land.

Serious fishing happens in the Top End. Both salt water and fresh water fishing are popular, particularly in Arnhem Land in locations such as Nhulunbuy and Gurig National Park. Blue water fishing is possible out of Darwin or along the coastal estuaries where you may catch mackeral, tuna, jewfish, giant travally, golden snapper, coral trout, stripy and queenfish. Freshwater fishing is best straight after the wet particularly in the major rivers of the Mary and Adelaide rivers wetlands. Anglers do need to be aware of crocodiles in tidal waters.

Four Wheel Drive enthusiasts will enjoy the network of sealed and unsealed roads throughout the Top End to see places like the stunning Jim Jim Falls in Kakadu. Vehicles can be hired from a number of locations in Darwin and other major townships.


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