Friday, April 19, 2024

‘The environment comes alive’: visiting the Northern Territory during the wet season

The rainy season is not only cheaper, but it also offers more benefits. More travelers in search of a holiday…

By Chan , in Travel , at April 1, 2024

The rainy season is not only cheaper, but it also offers more benefits.

More travelers in search of a holiday destination will be drawn to the Top End as the Northern Territory becomes more accessible to Australians.

The quarantine restrictions that apply to Greater Sydney’s 4.8million residents will be lifted on 9 October. Regional Victorians’ restrictions on quarantine will also be lifted on 2 November. The wet season is upon us in the Territory, but it isn’t what you would expect.

The first is the build-up, which occurs between October and November when it is very hot and humid. The Wet is usually from December to February. The Wet started earlier this year than usual, which is great news for tourists, as once the rains begin, the humidity and heat will ease. It’s not always wet.

In what Territorians refer to as the Tropical Summer, there are fewer visitors, and prices are discounted. This is particularly true this year, with Northern Territory Tourism giving visitors $200 for every $1,000 they spend as part of their $5m tourism campaign.

Weather Watch

The ever-changing weather is the main attraction.

Tess Atie is a Marrathiel tour operator who gave Trent Dalton advice about the area for his new novel Our Shimmering Skyes. She says, “I love the greenery and the rushing water.” There are huge flocks of white Cockatoos flying across the black skies and thunderous storms. “The sound of heavy, warm rain can be phenomenal.”

Watch lightning from the shelters that cover the path to Tolmer Fall.

The Ubirr and Nawurlandjalookouts in Kakadu National Park are excellent vantage points for catching spectacular lightning storms as well as the color-saturated sunsets of the wet season across flood plains. You’ll find paintings of Namarrgon, the Lightning Man, and his family at the Burrungkuy rock art site (below Nawurlandja Lookout). These paintings take on new meaning once you see the lightning strikes that herald the rains in the Top End.

If the lightning is too close, seek shelter. If the lightning is within 5km (15 seconds between thunder and lightning), seek shelter.


The roar of the crashing waterfalls dominates the Wet.

You can swim at Florence Falls in either the warm water above the falls or the deep plunge pools at the bottom if you are willing to climb 135 steps down and up.

In Kakadu during the Wet season, Maguk Motor Car, Moline, and Jim Jim Falls can be accessed by road 90 percent of the time, while Twin, Gunlom, and Jim Jim Falls are usually only visible from the air.

Always check local signage and park websites to ensure that you are aware of the latest conditions.


Liam Maher, director of Kakadu Cultural Tours, says that the locals consider this the best season of the year. The environment is alive. This is a period of abundance. You might see crocodile hatchlings or waterlilies that look like they are on steroids. You might also catch a glimpse at the black wallaroo on some escarpment hikes.

This combined Guluyambi and Ubirr tour is the most culturally immersive and safest way to experience all of this wildlife and rock art, which depicts animals that are still alive and long gone offered by Kakadu Culture Tours. Aboriginal guides will explain Dreamtime stories and reveal bush survival techniques, as well as show you the abundance of bush tucker too, ls, and medicines in the wetlands. You can also see azure-coloured kingfishers and kookaburras.

Atie is the owner of Northern Territory Indigenous Tours. She runs 4WD adventures around Litchfield National Park, focusing on the flora and fauna, as well as living culture. In the early Wet, there are plenty of wildflowers, as well as red and white apples and plums. At Florence Falls, the water is so clean that you can even see Fish and yabbies.

The only top-end wetlands that are accessible without a vehicle during Tropical Summer is the Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve on the Adelaide River flood plain, located 60km north of Darwin. The water can often overflow the dam wall during the Wet, creating a feeding frenzy that attracts egrets as well as spoonbills. Terns, cormorants, and herons will all be on the lookout for small Fish or invertebrates. Nourlangie is the best place to observe helmeted friars, banded fruit doves, and emerald doves during the Wet.


The runoff (roughly from March to early May) is when water levels begin to recede after the Wet. Dean Cooper, Tourism Australia’s Great Fishing Adventures of Australia coordinator, says that nutrients are drained from the floodplains and into the ocean. “It is like a sushi train for fish.” This is the best time to fish, particularly for barramundi.

Charters include a half-day trip to Yellow Water near Kakadu or a fishing safari at Coburg Coastal Camp, which offers bluewater pelagic and barramundi fishing. Million-Dollar Fish runs from October to February. 100 barramundi are tagged with $10,000 and six with $1m. The first million-dollar barra will be caught, and the remaining five FFFFFFFish will be tagged at $10,000 each.

Daily essentials

It is important to check the Northern Territory Parks and Kakadu websites daily to ensure that attractions, waterholes, and trails are accessible. During the Wet, 4WDs should be used.