The Top End of Australia's Northern Territory is a geographical
region encompassing the northernmost section of the Northern
Territory, which aside from the Cape York Peninsula is the
northernmost part of the Australian continent. It covers
a rather vaguely defined area of perhaps 400,000 km2 (154,441
sq mi) behind the northern coast from the Northern Territory
capital of Darwin across to Arnhem Land with the Indian
Ocean on the west, the Arafura Sea to the north, and the
Gulf of Carpentaria to the east, and with the almost waterless
semi-arid interior of Australia to the south, beyond the
huge Kakadu National Park. The Top End contains both of
the Territory's cities and one of its major towns, Darwin,
Palmerston and Katherine. The well-known town of Alice Springs
is located further south, in the arid southern part of the
Northern Territory, sometimes referred to by Australians
as the Red Centre.
The landscape is relatively flat with river floodplains
and grasslands with eucalyptus trees along with rocky areas
and patches of rainforest, and in western Arnhem Land a
high rugged sandstone plateau cut through with gorges, much
of which is in Kakadu National Park. The rivers that form
the wetlands include the South and East Alligator Rivers,
Mary River, and the Glyde River.
The climate is tropical monsoon with a wet and dry season,
bringing the highest rainfall in northern Australia (over
1,200 mm (47 in) per year). Temperatures do not fluctuate
widely throughout the year.
There are a number of islands off the Top End coast including
the Tiwi Islands (Bathurst Island and Melville Island),
and Groote Eylandt as well as many smaller ones.