The Exotic North of Australia

The Exotic North of Australia


Australia's Northern Territory is a land of swirling, near-phosphorescent, ochre dust, rocky mountain-high thunderclouds and sky-shattering storms - a region of pawpaw (papaya) and mango farms, pearl oyster meat from the pearling industry, farm-raised alligator and Thai spices.  

The Exotic North of Australia

Indigenous people still dive for lily roots and burn the forests to trap game and make passage through the undergrowth possible. To journey through this land and taste it was one of the greatest privileges of my travel-writing life.

Equivalent in size to France, Italy and Spain combined, Australia's Outback Northern Territory is bordered by Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia. A vibrant, developing economy, the Northern Territory has one-sixth of Australia's land mass and just over one percent of the population, but with the youngest, wealthiest people in the nation.

It has an environment that ebbs and flows with the seasons, of contrast and colour, where change is the only constant. Of awe inspiring iconic wonders - the World Heritage National Parks of Kakadu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta (Ayers Rock).

Darwin, the state's capital, is so close to Asia that it's much easier to head to Singapore than Sydney. Immigrants of every Asian culture have brought their foods and cooking traditions.

At Darwin's Hanuman, Thai Nonya cuisine meets Tandoor Indian: soak up the lemon grass and basil-flavoured sauce drenching the grilled rock oysters with warm naan bread. These are served in the trademark earthenware plates with little lids covering the oysters.

Australia's Outback Northern Territory is renowned for its colourful characters. The type you'd meet at one of the legendary outback pubs, cattle stations or country towns.

The gateway to Asia for the rest of Australia, or the window into the country for the rest of the world, the Northern Territory is a unique part of the most exciting continent on earth. It's almost hard not to fall in love with its down to earth attitude.