After more than a year of sitting stationary, travellers are finally on the move, tackling the northern winter migration in what is shaping up to be a bumper year for the Northern Territory. Borders are open and tourism operators are undeniably keen to recoup last year’s losses and make the most of the post-lockdown boom.
The big, late wet season that drenched the Top End this summer has triggered a re-greening of favourite national parks like Kakadu and Litchfield, but it’s not only their vibrant, new vistas that will surprise travellers. From July 1st this year, the NT’s once low-priced national park campsites will begin to cost you more, and a compulsory online booking system will mean you’ll now have to plan ahead for national park stays.
To be fair, the Territory’s national parks have been amongst the most affordable in the country, and the NT government says that it hasn’t increased camping fees for 20 years. The price hikes start small: for parks with amenities like hot showers (Litchfield for example), camping fees jump from $6.60 to $10 per adult this season, but by next July you’ll pay $12, then $15 the following winter.
Families are the worst hit though. At Litchfield, a destination adored by budget campers, the price tag for families jumps from $15.40 to $25 this winter, and within two years, families will fork out a whopping $38 a night – that’s an increase of almost 250%!
The increases also extend to the NT’s basic bush camping destinations: Devils Marbles, Keep River, Umbrawarra Gorge, Limmen National Park and more. For these sites, where usually only toilets, fireplaces and pit toilets are provided, adult camping fees increase only slightly this year from $3.30 to $4 a night, but jump to $6 and $10 in the years that follow.
Families should brace themselves however: prices hike to $10 per night this July, then climb to $15 and $25 in the following seasons – a significant 325% increase on current charges.
Some travellers will accept the price increases as nothing more than an overdue effort to bring NT national parks in line with charges levied in other parts of the country. But bear in mind that by next winter, you’ll pay NT park entrance fees too, although there’s no word yet on just how much extra travellers will have to fork out.