The archaeological history of the Northern Territory begins over 40,000 years ago when Indigenous Australians settled the region. Makassan traders began trading with the indigenous people of the Northern Territory for trepang from at least the 18th century onwards. The coast of the territory was first seen by Europeans in the 17th century. The British were the first Europeans to attempt to settle the coastal regions. After three failed attempts to establish a settlement (1824–1828, 1838–1849, and 1864–66), success was achieved in 1869 with the establishment of a settlement at Port Darwin. Today the economy is based on tourism, especially Kakadu National Park in the Top End and the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park (Ayers Rock) in central Australia, and mining.
Tracy killed 71 people, caused $837 million in damage (1974 AUD) and destroyed more than 70 percent of Darwin's buildings. Tracy left homeless more than 20,000 out of the 49,000 inhabitants of the city prior to landfall and required the evacuation of over 30,000 people. Most of Darwin's population was evacuated to Adelaide, Whyalla, Alice Springs and Sydney, and many never returned to the city. After the storm passed, the city was rebuilt using more modern materials and updated building techniques. Bruce Stannard of The Age stated that Cyclone Tracy was a "disaster of the first magnitude ... without parallel in Australia's history."
Uluru (Ayers Rock), one of the best-known images of the Northern Territory
A local Aborigine named Tjuki tells a dreaming story about Manpi. Storytelling and oral traditions are an integral part of Aboriginal mythology which is practised by Indigenous Australians throughout the Northern Territory.