Few Australian destinations offer couples as many once-in-a-lifetime experiences as the magnificent Northern Territory. Whether it's spotting the world-famous Uluru, trekking through the beguiling Litchfield National Park or sipping Champagne on a yacht while cruising along Darwin's coastline, there's something here for everyone.
Want to see more of Australia's mystical Outback? Write your own romance-adventure story in the remarkable Northern Territory...
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It's not hard to see why the Northern Territory was named the world's fourth-best travel destination by Lonely Planet this year. Blessed with almost countless soul-stirring sights, it's also where you'll come across friendly locals, an impressive gourmet scene and more than enough adventure to please thrill-seekers.
Getting to the Northern Territory and its outstanding landmarks is also easier than ever, with regular direct flights to the Red Centre now available for travellers. Haven't yet travelled to Australia's spiritual heart? Now's the ideal time to go.
What to do
Mother Nature takes centre stage here – whether you're getting your fill of adventure, unwinding with a spa treatment or sitting down for a romantic dinner. So, naturally, (pun intended) getting out and seeing the Northern Territory's sights is a real must-do.
Tick 'the big one' off your list and set your sights for the region's most famous icon: Uluru. Definitely worthy of the hype, exploring the spellbinding Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is an experience you won't soon forget, especially when joining an insightful tour. There are everything from Segway and bicycle tours available. However you choose to see this captivating landmark, though, be sure to learn a little about its history and cultural significance from one of the local Indigenous elders – amazing. Looking to really spoil yourselves? Join one of the local groups for a helicopter ride and see the red-hued icon from the skies.
While in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, don't miss seeing Bruce Munro's extraordinary Field of Light exhibition before it finishes late 2020. Illuminating the base of Uluru and its surrounding landscapes with 50,000 tiny spindles of colourful light, it creates a spectacle that's real pinch-me-now stuff.
Another mandatory Northern Territory experience is discovering the majestic Litchfield National Park (just under two hours' drive from Darwin). Covering 1,500-square-kilometres, the park is home to some of the region's most incredible sights – expect everything from gushing waterfalls and towering termite mounds to time-forgotten bushland. The best way to see it all? Lace up your hiking boots and navigate the easily accessible walking tracks here on a multi-day tour or hit the four-wheel drive tracks. However you choose to explore this natural wonderland, fit in time for a refreshing dip in the postcard-ready Florence or Tjaynera Falls, taking in the breathtaking views at the Tolmer Falls viewing platform and spotting the unique wildlife.
Other sensational Northern Territory experiences worth adding to your itinerary? Watch the sun rise over Kings Canyon (four hours north of Uluru), relax in the natural Douglas Hot Springs (just under three hours south of Darwin) and see Alice Springs' gorgeous landscapes on a camel ride.
Or, get out and see the world-famous Kakadu National Park (just under two hours' drive from Darwin). With sweeping views of the park, the infinity pool-like Gunlom Falls (feature image) is a delightful spot for a swim, while there's also cruising along the Yellow Water Billabong and bird-watching in the Mamukala wetlands to enjoy.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that it's all 'bush and red dust' in the Northern Territory. Those seeking a beach getaway, though, will be very pleasantly surprised. With a bright blue coastline, bewitching sunsets and cool dining spots, Darwin has plenty for couples to enjoy. Top off a trip to the Top End by tucking into something delicious and fuss-free by the water at the Mindil Beach Sunset Market, wandering along the Darwin Waterfront or watching a film under the stars and listening to the nearby crashing waves at the Deckchair Cinema.
Haven't yet had your fill of adventure? Set sail from Darwin and visit the fantastic Tiwi Islands, just off the mainland's coast. Fishing is the thing to do here, as is learning about the local artistic traditions (Tiwi Design on Bathurst Island is one of Australia's oldest and most diverse art centres). Of course, you could easily while away the time by relaxing under the shade of a swaying palm tree and floating in the crystalline waters of Tomorapi Falls – heavenly.
Where to dine
What takes a romantic dinner to the next level? The cuisine or the setting? In the Northern Territory, the best of both combine to offer couples truly marvellous dining experiences.
Perfect for honeymooners or those wanting to really treat themselves, the Red Centre is a real gourmand's heaven. You'll find a number of excellent culinary offerings here, including the fabulous Sounds of Silence dinner at Ayres Rock Resort. A renowned dining experience that's every bit as magical as you'd imagine, it has impressed diners over the past 25 years with its divine setting and sophisticated bush-tucker-inspired fare. Adding to it all, didgeridoo performances and talks from the resident 'star talker' make this culinary offering one for the travel wish-list.
Another starlit dining experience worth noting is the exquisite Dining Under a Desert Moon offering at Kings Canyon Resort. Romantics, you'll be served canapés before being shown to a hidden spot under the stars for a five-course wine-paired dinner – very special!
Want more? Situated in the pristine Nitmiluk National Park, Cicada Lodge celebrates contemporary native Australian cuisine at its onsite restaurant. Spoil yourselves with the terrific Chefs Menu and enjoy a speciality dish made with only the freshest local produce.
There's also so much to savour in Darwin, thanks to its growing gourmet scene. Caffeine-fiends, Melbourne isn't the only major city to boast a coffee scene – the Northern Territory's capital is home to a slew of lovely cafes. Trendy restaurants (Char Restaurant and Pee Wee's at the Point are top options) and funky bars are also popping up throughout Darwin, but you can always just keep things simple with a sunset picnic in one of the city's many beautiful parks – simple, brilliant!
Darwin's waterfront really is the place to be, whether you're wanting to share a laid-back dinner or clink wineglasses as night falls. Before returning to reality, pull up a chair at local gem The Waterfront Bistro at the Darwin Sailing Club. Overlooking stunning Fannie Bay, it's great for a casual meal and breezy vibes. And don't leave without chilling out with some seriously good street-food at one of the city's beachside markets – the Mindil Beach and Parap Village Markets always promise a wonderful evening!
Dreaming of getting away to the Northern Territory? Find romantic accommodation here...
Image credits: Tourism NT, James Fisher, Maxime Coquard, Laura Bell, Mitchell Cox, Carmen Huter, Hayley Anderson, Catherine Sutherland, Matt Glastonbury and Adrian Brown