8-18 June 2022
Step out of the plane, take a deep breath, and discover that the Top End is a very different part of Australia to the one most of us know.
When I last visited the Top End in 1987, ‘So Far Away’ by Dire Straits was on high rotation in the bars of Darwin, and Kakadu was as far away from SE London as I could get.
Darwin city is bright, new and eclectic. Like Cairns on steroids, only with beaches.
Top End indigenous culture is hiding in full view. The First Australians have been living in the Top End for at least 65,000 years, giving this region a rich history. In terms of human civilisation and cultural heritage, this part of the world is incredibly important. Ancient is a word you will hear in many contexts – the Top End is an ancient landmass, with ancient species, and which has hosted the longest continuous human civilisation on the planet. Many of our most familiar native plants – gum trees, wattle and grevilleas – spread northwards after Gondwana broke up. Others spread south to continental Australia via a land bridge that once linked us to New Guinea and beyond. And here they have collided and diversified. Prepare to learn about local food, medicine, art, biodiversity and caring for country in one of humanity’s oldest, wildest and weirdest classrooms.
It is intensely sunny and very humid, even though this is the ‘cool’ season. There are familiar resort plants growing in city gardens: frangipani, bromeliads, orchids and palms, but immediately you take a closer look and differences quickly emerge. See those palms resembling Bangalow palms? They are Carpentaria palms and their growing points are edible – palm cabbage. In the wet season, you can almost watch them grow. Here grow tropical plants you might also find growing in Bangkok, Singapore or Ho Chi Minh City: coconuts, fig trees, sea almonds, lillypillies and sacred lotus. In a Darwin food garden, you might find elephant foot yam, aerial potato, noni, and red cotton tree. The Top End also abounds with unique variations, relatives of those familiar tropical plants and animals that have evolved here. The further into suburban bush you go, the more distinct and different things become. Take the local cycad, Cycas armstrongii, for example. Many of us are familiar with cycads – sturdy, fern-like, sculptural evergreens widely used in landscapes in Southern Australia. However, this local native is deciduous. In the dry season, they stand tall, like totems. Female plants are adorned with big seed. In subtropical Queensland, I have become familiar with a distinctly dry season and a wetter wet season, but up north things become extremely dry before they become extremely wet. And it is never cool. The European concept of four neat seasons, all of equal length, is totally alien to the Top End, and it is an oversimplification to say the region has just two seasons – wet and dry. As we will discover, things are richer and far more complicated here than at first glances.
Full itinerary and costing, see:
PLEASE NOTE: We only have 2 more Double Rooms and 1 more Single Room left (as on 5/8/21).
Adventure Travel Specialist
The Adventure Traveller, P.O Box 63, Paddington, QLD 4064,| Australia
Phone: +61 7 3369 0799 | Toll Free: 1800 181 020