Renowned for its arid lands and scorching temperatures, the Northern Territory has more than a few tricks up its sleeve to beat the heat. From scenic waterfalls to artificial beaches, thermal pools and incredible outback waterholes, the NT is a goldmine for idyllic spots to cool off. Join us as we run you through five of the best.
Florence Falls in the Litchfield National Park is an enchanting multi-tiered waterfall set amongst the serene monsoonal forestry and iconic red sandstone cliffs. The cascading waterfalls are a sight to behold, flowing all year round with various viewing platforms stationed throughout the park to best observe its natural beauty. The perfect spot to escape the heat, the sparkling pool below the falls is crocodile-free and a great place to cool off with the entire family. Numerous walk trails link the carpark to the falls, with the 1-kilometre Shady Creek Walk a scenic stroll through the lustrous scenery. The falls are best frequented during the warmer months, with monsoonal flooding presenting a gateway for pesky crocodiles to enter the pools. Get in early to avoid the crowds, with campgrounds on site to accommodate visitors.
Visit Florence Falls in a rental car from Thrifty Darwin Airport.
Lying in the heart of the Elsey National Park is the ethereal natural thermal pools – Bitter Springs. A natural treasure residing within the Katherine region, this tropical haven, a stark contrast to the region’s unforgiving environment, features sparkling clear waters set within a gorgeous tropical forest. The pools are fed naturally via underground springs, at a rate of over 30 million litres a day, allowing the water to remain heated all year round. A short stroll from the carpark will take you to the foot of the pools, with a set of stairs to help guide you in safely. Listen to the melodic sounds of native birds singing in the trees as you bathe in the peaceful surrounds of these exotic heated pools. Chuck a snag on the BBQ for lunch or pack a picnic, perfect for a day out with family and friends. With cabins and camping grounds nearby, you have the ideal base for a day of exploration down the pools and the larger surrounds of Elsey National Park. Make sure to plan ahead as the springs tend to be closed during the wet season (November to May) due to flooding.
Visit Bitter Springs in a rental car from Thrifty Katherine Airport.
The Ellery Creek Big Hole in the West MacDonnell National Park is a stunning outback waterhole nestled within the surrounds of the blazing red cliffs of the Ellery Gorge. The waterhole itself, now a permanent feature of the park, was slowly carved out over centuries of mass flooding and rainfall, slowly eroding through sections of the towering gorge. What transpired is an awe-inspiring natural wonder serving as a meeting place for locals and passing travellers. A 5-minute walk from the visitor’s carpark will have you at the foot of the creek with wheelchair access available to those that need it. A great place to swim, hike and relax, Ellery Creek Big Hole is surprisingly deep, reaching upwards of 28 metres in some areas. Best visited in the warmer months, guests are advised that the waterholes tend to be extremely cold, with prolonged exposure potentially leading to hypothermia. Lounge on the creek’s sandy shoreline as you soak up the scenery of this glorious location.
Visit Ellery Creek Big Hole in a rental car from Thrifty Alice Springs Airport.
The Darwin Waterfront is the beating heart of Darwin’s vibrant town centre. Lined with various cafes, bars, restaurants, parks, a wave pool, and a man-made beach, there will never be a dull moment at this incredible waterpark. A safe place for a swim, free of crocodiles and stingers, dip your toes in the Recreation Lagoon, an artificial beach specifically designed to keep out the nasties. If you are eager to take things up a notch, Darwin’s Wave Lagoon is the place to be with 10 epic wave settings creating a swell of ripples ranging up to 1.2 metres high. The Recreation Lagoon is free all year round while The Wave Lagoon is priced similarly to your standard swimming pools. A great place to relax, cool off and create lasting memories, bask in the tropical ambience on this stunning waterfront precinct.
Visit the Darwin Waterfront in a rental car from Thrifty Darwin Airport.
The Katherine Hot Springs are idyllic thermal pools situated slightly south of the township of Katherine. Running along the banks of the murky Katherine River, the otherworldly hot springs shine brightly with their crystal-clear waters, beautifully shaded scenery, and popular grassed picnic areas. Bubbling away at a constant temperature of 25-30°C, the springs are more lukewarm than hot but refreshing, nonetheless, making the ideal place to unwind and soothe sore muscles after a long drive or day of exploration. The surrounding area is well maintained by the Katherine Town Council after transforming the space into a popular recreational facility. A gravel base was applied to help reduce sediment levels and maintain water transparency, several steps for accessibility and a wheelchair access area. The natural springs source their water from deep below the earth’s surface before gently flowing out into the surrounding Katherine River. A great place to cool off during the warmer months, the springs are closed during the wet season from November to April due to flooding and excess water.
Visit the the Katherine Hot Springs in a rental car from Thrifty Katherine Airport.