1. Katherine Gorge
A welcome oasis on the road north to [Darwin, Katherine Gorge is a series of inter-connected gorges which can be hiked or kayaked. Other-worldly and a hell of a lot of fun.
2. Deserted roads
In some sections of the NT, you can go hours upon hours without seeing another vehicle. Stop by a road sign and take the popular “I’m in the middle of nowhere” photo.
3. Ellery Creek Big Hole
No matter how much you want to cool off from the sweltering heat, the water here is ice cold (due to the heavy tri-quartzite rock). We defy you to stay in longer than a minute.
4. Wild camels
There are thousands of wild camels roaming free in the Territory. Slow the car to get a pic, but don’t get too close – they might get the hump. Arf.
5. Red dust
The film of red dust which settles on everything you own after a couple of days travelling will quickly show you why the middle of Australia is often called the Red Centre.
6. Aboriginal communities
The NT is dotted with Aboriginal communities, which you can visit on your travels. Hermannsburg is home to the country’s best- known Aboriginal artist, Albert Namatjira.
7. Adelaide River Roadhouse
The Adelaide River Roadhouse is a friendly, welcome break, south of Darwin, this pub is home to a real Hollywood superstar – Charlie the buffalo – who Crocodile Dundee put to sleep by the side of an outback road.
8. Kings Canyon
The highlight of Wattarka NP, it’s a spectacular, 300m deep crack in the land. Check out the Lost City, a formation of hundreds of domed rocks, like a Star Wars-style settlement.
These toothsome terrors are one of the coolest things you can see in the NT. Take a river cruise in or near Kakadu and see crocs up close and personal, on their terms.
10. Kata Tjuta
Also known as the Olgas, these domed orange rocks are more significant to the Anangu people of the region than Uluru. A highlight is a trek through the Valley of the Winds.
11. Feel the heat
Remember when you stood too close to the bonfire on Guy Fawkes Night? That’s how hot it is in the NT over summer. Even with air-con, take loads of water and sunblock.
The big red rock star is ‘the’ reason to get yourself to the middle. No amount of photos can prepare you for the sheer mystery and majesty of Australia’s biggest icon.
13. Bushcamping rules
You won’t have seen stars like it. When you’re out in the bush however, there are rules to follow. But the best advice is: the more you eat, the more room in the esky for beer.
14. Eating kangaroo tail
It is as disgusting as it sounds, but when in Rome… Chucked on the campfire to roast, then shaved of its hair, the tail is very fatty and oily. Just like KFC then…
Take an early morning hot air balloon flight over the Western MacDonnell Ranges, near Alice Springs. The ranges spread out like the spine of a giant sleeping beast. Breathtaking.
With mullets, cut-off shirts, and beer bellies, some of the locals can look a bit redneck. But make the effort to talk and you may have the most memorable conversations of your trip.
17. Alice Springs Desert Park
Not much point in visiting a nature park in the middle of the bush? Wrong. This park helps describe and interpret the area’s plants and wildlife in fascinating detail.
18. Swim holes
With many places too dangerous for a dip, the handy swimming holes dotted around the Territory are welcome cool-off spots.
19. Kakadu National Park
Arguably Australia’s most spectacular national park, Kakadu is home to billion-year-old rock formations, stunning waterfalls, scary crocs, and ancient Aboriginal art.
With a hard-drinking reputation, friendly locals, dramatic sunsets and proximity to stunning Kakadu, Darwin is well worth a pit stop.
21. Alice Springs Reptile Centre
Even if you have seen plenty of the wild stuff, go here to understand how all the lizards, snakes and scaly things function – from a lizard that kisses you to a snake that cuddles you.
22. Wycliffe Well
It claims more UFO sightings (per capita) than anywhere in Oz. The local roadhouse/campsite pays homage to all things alien and boasts a vast collection beers. Get pissed with ET.
23. Take part in an Aboriginal Corroberee
Get painted up in charcoal, gather around the campfire and in an Indigenous Corroberee ceremony. You’ll learn the songs and dances that have been past down through time.
24. Tennant Creek
Tennant Creek is a settlement that began when a cart carrying beer to workers broke down, nowadays it’s a major town on the Stuart Highway, and a good place to stop for a true flavour of the outback.
25. The ‘Green’ season
The friendlier term for the ‘Wet season’ in the Top End (Nov-April), when it rains… a lot. It’s not so bad though. Flowers bloom and the numerous waterfalls flow at full power.
26. Aboriginal legends
Almost every rock formation, mountain range or gorge has an Aboriginal Dreamtime legend attached.
27. Ghost gums
These beautiful, albino white trees dot the landscape, giving it an eerie, barren feel. Rub your hands on the trunk to get a white powdery residue as a natural sunblock. Gerrin!
28. Gosse Bluff crater
A massive 140 million-year-old comet crater, near the Western MacDonnell Ranges. A thousand times more powerful than Hiroshima, you can see the ripples in the surrounding landscape.
29. Jumping crocs
Cruise down the Adelaide River and crap your pants as the skipper dangles meat over the edge and the crocs jump to eat it.
30. Litchfield National Park
Often seen as the poor relation to nearby Kakadu, Litchfield is preferred by locals for its uncrowded water holes and amazing scenery. Smaller than Kakadu, it’s more accessible too.
31. Jim Jim Falls
A breathtaking cathedral of rock and water in the middle of Kakadu NP. The long hot walk over slippery rock is rewarded with a cool dip at the bottom of the falls.
32. Outback pubs
Best place to meet the scary locals of No.16. Grab a coldie and take in the ambience of bars like nowhere else in the world.
33. Devils Marbles
Lean against, push or jump inside these fantastic rock formations for some photographic tomfoolery.
34. Bush general store
Almost every tree, bush and plant has a practical use; from insect repellent, to antiseptic and hunting weapons. A clump of trees is actually a general store for the locals.
35. Arnhem Land
Arnhem Land is Aboriginal-owned and is a vast, barely-touched area with stunning scenery and few people. Visit with a permit only, but well worth it.
36. Aboriginal art
Nothing can prepare you for your first sighting of Aboriginal rock art. These drawings are the oldest written history in the country and should be viewed with reverence.
37. Palm Valley
Due to its accessibility, by 4WD only, Palm Valley is not on every itinerary. But with ancient cabbage palms, a striking gorge and the odd poisonous snake, it’s not to be missed.
38. The road signs
Is there anything more Aussie than the road signs informing you camels and roos cross the road in the area?
39. Be like Crocodile Dundee at Ubirr
Not tackling a big croc, but standing at the lookout where Mick pointed out to Linda Kozlowski where a croc had tried to eat him. It’s Aussie movie history, mate!
40. The Barkly Highway
The main road to Queensland is one of the country’s most dangerous. Rough, potholed, with wandering roos and roadtrains, it’s an adventure alright.
Photos: Thinkstock, Getty