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Coordinates: 20°0′S 133°0′E / 20°S 133°E / -20; 133

Northern Territory
Flag of Northern Territory
Slogan or Nickname: The Territory, The NT, The Top End
Motto(s): none
Map of Australia with Northern Territory highlighted
Other Australian states and territories
Capital Darwin
Demonym Territorian
Government Constitutional monarchy
Administrator Tom Pauling
Chief Minister Paul Henderson (ALP)
 - Total  1,420,970 km2 (3rd)
548,640 sq mi
 - Land 1,349,129 km2
520,902 sq mi
 - Water 71,839 km2 (5.06%)
27,737 sq mi
Population (June 2009)
 - Population  224,800 (8th)
 - Density  0.17/km2 (8th)
0.4 /sq mi
 - Highest Mount Zeil
+1,531 m (5,023 ft)
Gross Territorial Product (2008-09)
 - Product ($m)  $16,297[1] (8th)
 - Product per capita  $72,496 (1st)
Time zone ACST UTC+9:30
Federal representation
 - House seats 2
 - Senate seats 2
 - Postal NT
 - ISO 3166-2 AU-NT
 - Floral Sturt's Desert Rose
 - Colours Black, white, and ochre
 - Bird Wedge-tailed Eagle
 - Animal Red Kangaroo
Web site

The Northern Territory is a federal territory of Australia, occupying much of the centre of the mainland continent, as well as the central northern regions. It shares borders with Western Australia to the west (129th meridian east), South Australia to the south (26th parallel south), and Queensland to the east (138th meridian east).

To the north, the territory is bordered by the Timor Sea, the Arafura Sea and the Gulf of Carpentaria. Despite its large area—over 1,349,129 square kilometres (520,902 sq mi), making it the third largest Australian federal division—it is sparsely populated. With a population of 224,800[2] it is the least populous division on the mainland.

The history of the Northern Territory began 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, and very likely for 300 years prior to that.

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 in the 19th century; however no attempt was successful until the establishment of a settlement at Port Darwin in 1869. Today the economy is based on tourism, especially Kakadu National Park in the Top End and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (Ayers Rock) in central Australia, and mining.

The capital city is Darwin. The population is not concentrated in coastal regions but rather along the Stuart Highway. The other major settlements are Katherine, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Nhulunbuy in the territory's north-east.

Residents of the Northern Territory are often known simply as 'Territorians'.



Indigenous Australians have lived in the present area of the Northern Territory for an estimated 40,000 years, and extensive seasonal trade links existed between them and the peoples of what is now Indonesia for at least five centuries.

With the coming of the British, there were four early attempts to settle the harsh environment of the northern coast, of which three failed in starvation and despair. The Northern Territory was part of New South Wales from 1825 to 1863, except for a brief time from February to December 1846, when it was part of the short lived colony of North Australia. It was part of South Australia from 1863 to 1911. Under the administration of South Australia, the overland telegraph was constructed between 1870 and 1872.

A railway was also built between Palmerston and Pine Creek between 1883 and 1889. The economic pattern of cattle raising and mining was established so that by 1911 there were 513,000 cattle. Victoria River Downs was at one time the largest cattle station in the world. Gold was found at Grove Hill in 1872 and at Pine Creek, Brocks Creek, Burrundi, and copper was found at Daly River.

Letters Patent annexing the Northern Territory to South Australia, 1863

On 1 January 1911, a decade after federation, the Northern Territory was separated from South Australia and transferred to Commonwealth control. Alfred Deakin opined at this time "To me the question has been not so much commercial as national, first, second, third and last. Either we must accomplish the peopling of the northern territory or submit to its transfer to some other nation."

For a brief time between 1927 and 1931 the Northern Territory was divided into North Australia and Central Australia at the 20th parallel of South latitude. Soon after this time, parts of the Northern Territory were considered in the Kimberley Plan as a possible site for the establishment of a Jewish Homeland, understandably considered the "Unpromised Land".

During World War II, most of the Top End was placed under military government. This is the only time since Federation that an Australian state or territory has been under military control. After the war, control for the entire area was handed back to the Commonwealth.

Indigenous Australians had struggled for rights to fair wages and land. An important event in this struggle was the strike and walk off by the Gurindji people at Wave Hill Cattle Station in 1966. The Commonwealth Government of Gough Whitlam set up the Woodward Royal Commission in February 1973 set to inquire into how land rights might be achieved in the Northern Territory. Justice Woodward's first report in July 1973 recommended that a Central Land Council and a Northern Land Council be established in order to present to him the views of Aboriginal people. In response to the report of the Royal Commission a Land Rights Bill was drafted, but the Whitlam Government was dismissed before it was passed.

The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 was eventually passed by the Fraser Government on 16 December 1976 and began operation on the following Australia Day (26 January 1977).

In 1978 the Territory was granted responsible government, with a Legislative Assembly headed by a Chief Minister.

During 1996 the Northern Territory was briefly one of the few places in the world with legal voluntary euthanasia, until the Federal Parliament overturned the legislation.[3] Before the overriding legislation was enacted, three people committed suicide through voluntary euthanasia, a practice orchestrated by Dr. Philip Nitschke.


The legislative assembly building in Darwin.


The Northern Territory is one of the three unicameral parliaments in the country based on the Westminster System. The Northern Territory Parliament consists of only one house, the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly which was created in 1974, replacing the Northern Territory Legislative Council.

The Northern Territory Legislative Council was the partly elected governing body from 1947 until its replacement by the fully elected Northern Territory Legislative Assembly in 1974. The total enrolment for the 1947 election was 4,443, all of whom were white. The Northern Territory was split into five electorates: Darwin, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Batchelor, and Stuart.

Whilst this assembly exercises similar powers as the governments of the states of Australia, it does so by legislated delegation of powers from the commonwealth government, rather than by any constitutional right. The Monarch represented by the Administrator of the Northern Territory which is similar to that of state governors.

Twenty-five members of the Legislative Assembly are elected to four-year terms from single-member electorates.

For several years there has been agitation for full statehood. A referendum was held on the issue in 1998, which was resolved in the negative. This was a shock to both the Northern Territory and Commonwealth governments, for opinion polls showed most Territorians supported statehood. However, under the Australian Constitution, the Federal Government may set the terms of entry to full statehood. The Northern Territory was offered three Senators, rather than the twelve guaranteed to original states. (Because of the difference in populations, equal numbers of Senate seats would mean a Territorian's vote for a Senator would have been worth more than 30 votes in New South Wales or Victoria.) Alongside what was cited as an arrogant approach adopted by then Chief Minister Shane Stone, it is believed that most Territorians, regardless of their general views on statehood, were reluctant to adopt the particular offer that was made.[4]

Chief Minister and Cabinet

The Chief Minister of the Northern Territory is the head of government of a self-governing territory, while the head of government of a state is a Premier. The Chief Minister is appointed by the Administrator of the Northern Territory, who in normal circumstances will appoint the head of whatever party holds the majority of seats in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly. The current Chief Minister of the Northern Territory is Paul Henderson.

Paul Henderson replaced Clare Martin on 26 November 2007. The Leader of the Opposition was Denis Burke, head of the Country Liberal Party, until the Territory elections of June 2005, where Burke lost his seat. The party then chose Terry Mills as the new Opposition Leader. Subsequently, Jodeen Carney took over for a time. In January 2008, Terry Mills again became the Opposition Leader.


The Northern Territory received self-government on 1 July 1978 under its own Administrator of the Northern Territory appointed by the Governor-General of Australia. The Commonwealth government, not the Government of the Northern Territory, advises the governor-general on appointment of the Administrator, but by convention, consults first with the Territory Government. The current administrator, Tom Pauling, was sworn in on 9 November 2007.

Federal government

The Northern Territory is represented in the Commonwealth parliament by two Members in the House of Representatives, currently Warren Snowdon and Damian Hale for the Australian Labor Party (ALP), and two members in the Senate, currently Trish Crossin for the ALP and Nigel Scullion for the CLP.

Local government

The Northern Territory is incorporated into 17 Local Government Areas, including 11 shires and five municipalities. Shire, city and town councils are responsible for functions delegated by the Northern Territory parliament, such as city planning, road infrastructure and waste management. Council revenue comes mostly from property taxes and government grants.


Northern Territory
population by year
1901 4,765
1956 19,556
1961 44,481
1974 102,924
1975 92,869
1981 122,616
1991 165,493
2002 199,411
2006 210,600
2011 236,300
2021 296,300
2031 364,000
2056 573,000
Source: Australian Bureau
of Statistics
Darwin skyline from East Point

The population of the Northern Territory in late 2006 was estimated at 212,600[5] This was an 1.8% increase from the 2001 Australian Bureau of Statistics report, and the population represents 1% of the total population of Australia.

The estimated population of the Northern Territory at the end of 2008 was 221,100. The population grew 2.2% which was the second largest growth in the country with Queensland after Western Australia which grew 2.4%.

The Northern Territory's population is the youngest in Australia and has the largest proportion under 15 years of age and the smallest proportion aged 65 and over. The median age of residents of the Northern Territory is 30.3 years, almost six years younger than the national median age.

More than 100 nationalities are represented in the Northern Territory's population, including more than 50 organisations representing different ethnic groups.[6]

The 2006 Census revealed that of the Northern Territory's population, 68.4% is of European descent. 64,491 (30.6%) English with 44,662 (20.2%), Irish with 14,346 (6.8%), Scottish with 11,759 (5.6%), German with 7,729 (3.7%) and Italian with 3,308 (1.5%). Indigenous Australian people make up 32.5% of the Northern Territory's population, while Chinese people with 4,081 make up (1.9%).

Indigenous Australians own some 49% of the land. The life expectancy of Aboriginal Australians is well below that of non-Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory, a fact that is mirrored elsewhere in Australia. ABS statistics suggest that Indigenous Australians die about 11 years earlier than the average Australian. There are Aboriginal communities in many parts of the territory, the largest ones being the Pitjantjatjara near Uluru, the Arrernte near Alice Springs, the Luritja between those two, the Warlpiri further north, and the Yolngu in eastern Arnhem Land.

In terms of birthplace, according to the 2006 census 13.8% of the population were born overseas.[7] 2.6% of Territorians were born in England, 1.7% in New Zealand, 1.0% in Philippines, 0.6% in the United States and 0.5% in East Timor.

More than 54% of Territorians live in Darwin, located in the territory's north (Top End). The greater Darwin metropolitan area and nearby Palmerston is home to 120,900 people. Less than half of the territory's population live in the rural Northern Territory.

Rank Statistical Division/District 2007 - 2008 Population[8]
1 Darwin 120,652
2 Palmerston 28,621
3 Alice Springs 27,481
4 Katherine 9,912
5 Nhulunbuy 4,849
6 Tennant Creek 3,494
7 Wadeye 2,322
8 Jabiru 1,287
9 Yulara 1,186


53.6% of Territorians describe themselves Christian. Roman Catholics form the single largest religious group in the territory with 20.3% of the Northern Territory's population, followed by Anglican (12.7%), Uniting Church (7.0%) and Lutheran (3.6%). Buddhism is the territory's largest non - Christian religion (1.4%), followed by Islam (0.5%) and Hinduism (0.2%). around 21.9% of Territorians claim no religion.[9]

Land rights

Aboriginal rock art in Kakadu National Park

The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 established the basis upon which Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory could, for the first time, claim rights to land based on traditional occupation. In effect it allowed title to be transferred for most of the Aboriginal reserve lands and the opportunity to claim other land not owned, leased or being used by someone else.

The Land Councils are representative bodies with statutory authority under the Act. They also have responsibilities under the Native Title Act 1993 and the Pastoral Land Act 1992. There are four Land Councils in the Northern Territory, they are:

The Northern Territory Emergency Response provides for the Commonwealth Government to compulsorily acquire five year leases of townships currently held under the title provisions of the Native Title Act 1993 through with compensation on a basis other than just terms. (The number of settlements involved remains unclear.)


Primary and secondary

A Northern Territory school education consists of six years of primary schooling, including one transition year, three years of middle schooling, and three years of secondary schooling. In the beginning of 2007, the Northern Territory introduced Middle School for Years 7-9 and High School for Years 10-12. Northern Territory children generally begin school at age five. On completing secondary school, students earn the Northern Territory Certificate of Education (NTCE). Students who successfully complete their secondary education also receive a tertiary entrance ranking, or ENTER score, to determine university admittance. An International Baccalaureate is offered at one school in the Territory - Kormilda College.

Northern Territory schools are either publicly or privately funded. Public schools, also known as state or government schools, are funded and run directly by the Department of Employment, Education and Training.[10] Private fee-paying schools include schools run by the Catholic Church and independent schools, some elite ones similar to English public schools. Some Northern Territory Independent schools are affiliated with Protestant, Lutheran, Anglican, Greek Orthodox or Seventh-day Adventist churches, but include non church schools and an Indigenous school.

As of 2009, the Northern Territory had 151 public schools, 15 Catholic schools and 21 independent schools. 39,492 students were enrolled in schools around the Territory with 29,175 in public schools, and 9,882 in independent schools. The Northern Territory has about 4,000 full-time teachers.


Charles Darwin University

The Northern Territory has one university. Northern Territory University (now called Charles Darwin University) enrolled its first student in 1987.[11] Charles Darwin University had about 19,000 students enrolled: about 5500 higher education students and about 13500 VET students. The first tertiary institution in the territory was the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education (established in mid 1960s).


The Northern Territory State Library is the Territory's research and reference library. It is responsible for collecting and preserving the Northern Territory documentary heritage and making it available through a range of programs and services. Material in the collection includes books, newspapers, magazines, journals, manuscripts, maps, pictures, objects, sound and video recordings and databases.


Northern Territory towns, settlements and road network

There are many very small settlements scattered across the territory, but the larger population centres are located on the single paved road that links Darwin to southern Australia, the Stuart Highway, known to locals simply as "the track".

The Northern Territory is also home to two spectacular natural rock formations, Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), which are sacred to the local Aboriginal peoples and which have become major tourist attractions.

In the northern part of the territory lies Kakadu National Park, which features breathtaking wetlands and native wildlife. To the north of that lies the Arafura Sea, and to the east lies Arnhem Land, whose regional centre is Maningrida on the Liverpool River delta. There is an extensive series of river systems in the Northern Territory. These rivers include: Alligator River, Daly River, Finke River, McArthur River, Roper River, Todd River and Victoria River.

National parks

Mount Sonder, the second highest mountain in the Northern Territory after nearby Mount Zeil, in West MacDonnell National Park
Nourlangie Rock in Kakadu National Park
Uluru, (Ayers Rock) one of the best known images of the Northern Territory


Average monthly maximum
temperature in Northern Territory
Month Darwin Alice Springs
January 31.8 °C 36.3 °C
February 31.4 °C 35.1 °C
March 31.9 °C 32.7 °C
April 32.7 °C 28.2 °C
May 32.0 °C 23.0 °C
June 30.6 °C 19.8 °C
July 30.5 °C 19.7 °C
August 31.3 °C 22.6 °C
September 32.5 °C 27.1 °C
October 33.2 °C 30.9 °C
November 33.2 °C 33.7 °C
December 33.6 °C 35.4 °C
Source: Bureau of Meteorology

The Northern Territory has two distinctive climate zones.

The northern end, including Darwin, has a tropical climate with high humidity and two seasons, the wet (November to April) and dry season (May to October). During the dry season nearly every day is warm and sunny, and afternoon humidity averages around 30%. There is very little rainfall between May and September. In the coolest months of June and July, the daily minimum temperature may dip as low as 14 °C (57 °F), but very rarely lower, and frost has never been recorded.

The wet season is associated with tropical cyclones and monsoon rains. The majority of rainfall occurs between December and March (the southern hemisphere summer), when thunderstorms are common and afternoon relative humidity averages over 70% during the wettest months. On average more than 1,570 mm (62 in) of rain falls in the north.

The central region is the desert centre of the country, which includes Alice Springs and Ayers Rock, and is semi-arid with little rain usually falling during the hottest months from October to March. Central Australia receives less than 250 mm (9.8 in) of rain per year.

The highest maximum temperature recorded in the territory was 48.3 °C (118.9 °F) at Finke on 1 and 2 January 1960. The lowest minimum temperature was −7.5 °C (18 °F) at Alice Springs on 12 July 1976.[12]


The Northern Territory's economy is largely driven by mining, which is concentrated on energy producing minerals, petroleum and energy and contributes around $2.5 billion to the gross state product and employs over 4,600 people. Mining accounts for 26 per cent of the gross state product in 2006 - 2007 compared to just 7 per cent nationally.[13]

The economy has continued to grow during the 2005 - 2006 financial year from the past two financial years. Between 2003 and 2006 the gross state product had risen from $8,670 million to $11,476 million and increase of 32.4 per cent. During the three years to 2006 - 2007 the Northern Territory gross state product grew by an average annual rate of 5.5 per cent.[14] Gross state product per capita in the Northern Territory ($72,496) is higher than any Australian state or territory, and is also higher than the gross domestic product per capita for Australia ($54,606). This can be attributed to the recent mining and resources boom.

The Northern Territory's exports were up 19 per cent during 2005 - 2006. The largest contributor to the territory's exports was: oil and gas (33.4 per cent), iron-ore (20. per cent), other manufactoring (5.9 per cent) and agriculture (4.9 per cent). Imports to the Northern Territory totalled $2,887.8 million which consisted of mainly machinery and equipment manufactoring (58.4 per cent) and petroleum, coal, chemical and associated product manufacturing (17.0 per cent).[15]

The principal mining operations are bauxite at Gove Peninsula where the production is estimated to increase 52.1 per cent to $254 million in 2007-08. Manganese at Groote Eylandt, production is estimated to increase 10.5 per cent to $1.1 billion which will be helped by the newly developed mines include Bootu Creek and Frances Creek. Gold is estimated to increase 21.7 per cent to $482 million at the Union Reefs plant. Uranium at Ranger Uranium Mine.[16]

Tourism is one of the major industries on the Northern Territory. Iconic destinations such as Uluru and Kakadu make the Northern Territory a popular destination for domestic and international travellers. Diverse landscapes, spectacular waterfalls, wide open spaces, aboriginal culture, wild and untamed wildlife, all create a unique opportunity for the visitor to immerse themselves in the natural wonder that the Northern Territory offers. Images of Uluru (Ayers Rock) are recognised around the world ensuring that Tourism in the Northern Territory will remain a vital component of its future. In 2005-06, 1.38 million people visited the Northern Territory. They stayed for 9.2 million nights and spent over $1.5 billion.

The territory is well known for being promoted with the slogan "You'll Never Never Know if you Never Never Go". This was implemented as a result of the Kennedy Review in 1992.



The Lasseter Highway connects Uluru to the Stuart Highway.
The Ghan, which runs across the Territory from north to south, in Alice Springs.

The Northern Territory is the most sparsely populated state or territory in Australia. Despite its sparse population there is a network of sealed roads connecting the major population centres, the neighboring states, and some other centres such as Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks. The Stuart Highway, known as "The Track", runs north to south, connecting Darwin and Alice Springs to Adelaide. Some of the sealed roads are single lane bitumen. Many unsealed (dirt) roads connect the more remote settlements.

The Adelaide-Darwin Railway, a new standard gauge railway, connects Adelaide via Alice Springs with Darwin, replacing earlier narrow gauge railways which only went north as far as Alice Springs.

The Northern Territory was one of the few remaining places in the world with no speed restrictions on public roads. Since 1 January 2007 a default speed limit of 110 km/h applies on roads outside of urban areas (Inside urban areas of 40, 50 or 60 km/h). Speeds of up to 130 km/h are permitted on some major highways, such as the Stuart Highway.[17]

Since the introduction of a universal 130km/h speed limit in 2006, together with the introduction of demerit (penalty) points for speeding, the Territory's road toll has risen markedly[18]. The road toll for 2009 to November 7, however, is under half of that for the same period in 2008 and lower than for the same period in the previous four years.

Darwin International Airport is the major domestic and international airport for the territory. Several smaller airports are also scattered throughout the Territory and are served by smaller airlines; including Alice Springs Airport, Ayers Rock Airport and Tennant Creek Airport.



The Northern Territory has only one daily tabloid newspaper, News Corporation's Northern Territory News, Centralian Advocate which is circulated around the Alice Springs region twice a week. Also published is one Sunday tabloid newspaper The Sunday Territorian. There are also 5 weekly Community Newspapers. The Northern Territory also receives the national daily, The Australian


Metropolitan Darwin has had five broadcast television stations:

  • ABC Northern Territory. Produces nightly local news at 7pm. (digital & analogue) (callsign: ABD - Channel 6 Analogue, Channel 30 Digital)
  • SBS Northern Territory (digital & analogue) (callsign: SBS - Channel 28 Analogue, Channel 29 Digital)
  • Seven Network/Southern Cross Television Darwin. Produces weeknightly local news updates . (digital & analogue) (callsign: TND - Channel 34 Analogue, Channel 32 Digital)
  • Nine Network Darwin. Produces weeknightly local news from 6pm - 6.30pm. (digital & analogue) (callsign: NTD - Channel 8 Analogue, Channel 31 Digital)
  • Network Ten/Darwin Digital Television Darwin. Receives Ten News At Five from ATV-10 in Melbourne. (digital & analogue) (callsign: DTD - Channel 33 Digital)

In addition, broadcasters operate digital multichannels:

Regional Northern Territory has a similar availability of stations. Imparja Television is produced from Alice Springs and is available throughout most of the Northern Territory. Produces weeknightly local news 6pm - 6:30pm.


Darwin has radio stations on both AM and FM frequencies. ABC stations include ABC NewsRadio (102.5FM), 105.7 ABC Darwin (8DDD 105.7FM), ABC Radio National (657AM), ABC Classic FM (107.3FM) and Triple J (103.3FM). The 2 commercial stations are: Mix 104.9 (8MIX), Hot 100 (8HOT)

The leading community stations are 104.1 Territory FM and Radio Larrakia (8KNB).

The radio stations in Alice Springs are also broadcast on the AM and FM frequencies. ABC stations include Triple J (94.9FM), ABC Classic FM (97.9FM), 783 ABC Alice Springs (783AM) and ABC Radio National (99.7FM). There are two community stations in the town--CAAMA (100.5FM) and 8CCC (102.1FM). The commercial stations, which are both owned by the same company are Sun 96.9 (96.9FM) and 8HA (900AM). Two additional stations, Territory FM (98.7FM) and Radio TAB (95.9FM) are syndicated from Darwin and Brisbane respectively.

See also



  1. ^ 5220.0 - Australian National Accounts: State Accounts, 2008-09 (Reissue), Australian Bureau of Statistics, 22 December 2009.
  2. ^ 3101.0 - Australian Demographic Statistics, Jun 2009, Australian Bureau of Statistics, June 2009.
  3. ^ Federal Parliament NT Legislation,
  4. ^ ABC Lateline Discussion. [Current Affairs]. Australia: Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 
  5. ^ "3101.0 - Australian Demographic Statistics, June 2007". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2007-12-04. 
  6. ^ "Our Different Cultures". Northern Territory Government. 2007-06-14. 
  7. ^ "ABS NT Quick Stats". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2007-06-14. 
  8. ^ "3218.0 - Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2006-07". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 
  9. ^ Profiles&textversion=true&navmapdisplayed=true&breadcrumb=PLD&&collection=census&period=2006&producttype=Community Profiles&#Basic Community Profile 2006 Census Community Profile Series : Northern Territory
  10. ^ Department of Employment, Education and Training,
  11. ^ Charles Darwin University Annual Report,
  12. ^ "Rainfall and Temperature Records: National" (PDF). Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 17 November 2009. 
  13. ^ About Minerals and Energy Department of Regional Development, Primary Industry, Fisheries and Resources
  14. ^ Northern Territory Budget
  15. ^ "Northern Territory Economics". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2007-10-31.!OpenDocument. Retrieved 2008-07-27. 
  16. ^ Northern Territory Budget Mining and energy
  17. ^ Speed limit introduced "Northern Territory Introduces Speed Limits". 2006-11-04. Speed limit introduced. 
  18. ^ "NT Opposition Proposes Scrapping Of Highway Speed Limits". 2009-08-18. 


  • Hill, Ernestine. 1951. The Territory: The classic saga of Australia's far north. Angus & Robertson. Reprint: 1995. ISBN 0-207-18821-1
  • Govan, A. (2007) Broadband debate key to NT's future. N.T. Business Review, vol. N/A, no. N/A, p.7
  • Morrison, P. (2000) a pilot implementation of internet access for remote aboriginal communities in the "Top end" Of Australia. Urban Studies, Vol. 37, No.10, pp. 1781–1792.
  • Toyne, P. (2002) Northern Territory Governments Response to the House of Representatives Communications, Information Technology & the Arts Committee inquiry into Wireless Broadband Communications. In N.T. GOVERNMENT (Ed.) (pp. 3). Darwin: Northern Territory Government.
  • Toyne, P. (2003) Remote Areas Telecommunications Strategy 2003-2008. In N. T. GOVERNMENT (Ed.) (pp.1– 32). Darwin N.T. viewed 6 February 2008, <>

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Oceania : Australia : Northern Territory
Map of NT
Map of NT

The Northern Territory [1] is a Federal territory of Australia, occupying much of the centre of the mainland continent, as well as the Central Northern regions. It is bordered to the west by Western Australia, to the east by Queensland and to the south by South Australia.

Known as the 'real outback' it represents nature on a grand scale and contains some of the most recognisable natural icons in Australia. The Northern Territory contains hundreds of rare species of flora, native wildlife and, of course, crocodiles in the Territory’s 52 national parks and nature conservation reserves, while the outback offers vast wide-open spaces and pioneering journeys.

The NT is also renowned for the Aboriginal cultural experiences it offers. As home to Australia’s largest population of Aboriginal people, the NT offers a rich array of Aboriginal culture with its 40,000 year old traditions – including basket weaving, spear fishing, story telling, rock art and bush tucker tastings on Aboriginal guided tours. The Territory also contains the world’s biggest collection of Aboriginal art.

  • Red Centre - The heart of Australia, home to famous outback town Alice Springs and iconic Australian outback landscapes and characters.
  • Darwin - the Northern Territory's tropical capital city and gateway to the area with a unique history and culture.
  • Tennant Creek - in the heart of the territory, this desert landscape is home to the Devil's Marbles, immersed in Aboriginal culture and has plenty of friendly outback pubs.
  • Wycliffe Well - tiny roadhouse settlement and self-proclaimed UFO capital of Australia
  • Alice Springs - Australia's famous outback town is the Territories second largest city, and is surrounded by cavernous gorges, boundless desert landscapes, Aboriginal communities and charming pioneering history.
  • Arnhem Land - Experience the world's oldest living culture first hand in landscapes virtually untouched since the dawn of time.
  • Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve - Home to clusters of mysterious rock spheres located in the middle of the Australian desert near the outback town of Tennant Creek.
  • Elsey National Park - Relax in warm, crystal clear thermal pools, close to Katherine in the township of Mataranka.
  • Kakadu National Park - This World Heritage area sets the scene for outback adventure travel, aboriginal culture and nature activities.
  • Litchfield National Park - Spend as long as you like exploring lush monsoon forests, unusual rock formations and waterfalls, just a 1,5 hour drive from Darwin.


The Northern Territory is nine and a half hours ahead of GMT (GMT+9.5) and doesn't observe daylight saving. It is in the same time zone as South Australia during the winter, but an hour behind during the summer daylight saving period

The Northern Territory is blessed with diverse and contrasting environments, where change is the only constant. Intriguing and spectacular wildlife vary dramatically from the deserts of Central Australia to the tropics of the Top End. "The NT" is renowned for its colourful outback characters, the type you'd meet at one of the legendary outback pubs, cattle stations or country towns, larger than life and only too willing to share a yarn or two. Fly to remote areas in helicopters or other small aircraft and take in the spectacular scenery, 4WD tracks let you explore places of natural wonder like Uluru. Tours led by traditional landowners allow you to learn about a culture that has survived for thousands of years including dreamtime stories, bush tucker, and their iconic art and crafts. Extreme fishing tours take you out to places teeming with barramundi and other species. Birdwatching tours open up breath-taking moments usually reserved for film. You can also stay in one of the many resorts and experience the unique surroundings from the side of a pool, sipping on a cocktail.

Darwin from the air
Darwin from the air

Darwin is the tropical capital city of the Northern Territory, a small yet cosmopolitan city with more than 50 nationalities making up its 110,000 population. Modern Darwin is more open to Asia than perhaps any other Australian city. It plays an important role as the front door to Australia's northern region and as a centre for administration and mining. The port facilities have recently had a major upgrade, and the completion in September 2003 of a railway link to Alice Springs and Adelaide has locals hoping Darwin will become the continent's transport hub with South-East Asia.

In the heart of Central Australia is Alice Springs, surrounded by cavernous gorges, boundless desert landscapes, remote Aboriginal communities and charming pioneering history. It embodies the hardy outback of the Northern Territory's Red Centre, and is a travel hub for sights and hikes in the region including Australia's most famous natural icon Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Sweeping from the Gulf of Carpentaria to the West Australian border is Katherine, a small regional town with a population of less than 10,000 people. The diverse landscapes and unique ecosystems set the scene for outback adventure activities like fishing, canoeing, bushwalking, birdwatching, camping and four-wheel driving. The township is situated on the banks of the Katherine River, which flows down from the world-renowned Katherine Gorge (Nitmiluk National Park).

171 km east of Darwin is Kakadu National Park and Arnhem Land comprise more than 110,000 square kilometres in the north-east corner of the Northern Territory. The landscapes of are diverse and set the scene for outback adventure travel, aboriginal culture and nature activities. Kakadu National Park is the largest national park in Australia. It contains one of the highest concentrated areas of aboriginal rock art sites in the world; the most famous examples are at Nourlangie Rock and Ubirr.

Tennant Creek is situated in the Red Centre of Australia, 500km north of Alice Springs and 1000km south of Darwin. The town is surrounded to the east by the Barkly Tablelands - a huge expanse of land that supports some of Australia’s premier outback cattle stations. Tennant Creek is right in the middle of the outback, but the country is beautiful and anything but barren with open mallee scrubland, surrounded by rocky ranges and brilliant blue skies that give way to millions of stars at night.

Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock)
Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock)

The southern portion of the Northern Territory is home to UNESCO World Heritage area Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. It is best known for iconic Uluru (formerly known as "Ayers Rock"), a single massive rock formation, and also for Kata Tjuta (formerly known as "The Olgas"), a range of rock domes. Both Uluru and Kata Tjuta are considered sacred places by the Anangu people, the Aboriginal tribes that have lived there for thousands of years, much of Kata Tjuta is off-limits and climbing Uluru is strongly discouraged.


The Northern Territory is so large it covers two very distinct climate zones: The Red Centre and the Tropical North.

The Top End, which includes Darwin, Katherine, Kakadu National Park and Arnhem Land, has a tropical climate. Darwin has an average temperature of 32°C all year, with varying humidity. The tropical summer, from December to March, is considered by many to be the region's most beautiful time of year.

The summer rains bring the natural landscape to life and deliver the picturesque storms and sunsets the Northern Territory is renowned for. The dry season, from May to October, has warm, sunny days and cool nights. At the end of the year, the build up, or pre-monsoon season, begins and humidity levels start their rise.

The following chart outlines Darwin's monthly climate averages as an indicator for the whole northern region.

Jan - Feb Min average temperature - 24C (75F) Max average temperature - 31C (88F)

Mar - Apr Min average temperature - 24C (75F) Max average temperature - 32C (90F)

May - Sept Min average temperature - 21C (69F) Max average temperature - 31C (88F)

Oct - Dec Min average temperature - 25C (77F) Max average temperature - 32C (91F)

Central Australia

Central Australia, which includes Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, the Barkly Tablelands and Uluru/Kata-Tjuta regions, has a semi-arid climate. It experiences Australia's four typical seasons: summer, autumn, winter and spring. The Red Centre has hot summer days from December to February and surprisingly cold nights from June to August. Spring and autumn are warm throughout the day and cool at night.

The following chart outlines Alice Springs' monthly climate averages as an indicator for the Red Centre.

Mar - May Min average temperature - 12C (55F) Max average temperature - 27C (82F)

Jun - Aug Min average temperature - 3C (37F) Max average temperature - 20C (68F)

Sept - Nov Min average temperature - 14C (57F) Max average temperature - 30C (86F)

Dec - Feb Min average temperature - 20C (69F) Max average temperature - 35C (95F)


The Northern Territory has the sparsest population of any state or territory in Australia, with approximately 211,000 people and two percent density. The region has a youthful and multicultural population, of which 30 percent are Aboriginal people and 15 percent were born overseas.

Darwin alone is home to people from more than 60 different nationalities and more than 70 different ethnic backgrounds. A large proportion of the Aboriginal population lives in remote communities throughout the NT, from the Red Centre, through to Arnhem Land and across to the Tiwi Islands. Many of these communities boast thriving art centres, where you can visit to purchase works and meet the artists. Hundreds of different Aboriginal languages are spoken by the indigenous people in the, including Yolgnu Matha in Arnhem Land, which is the second most spoken language in the NT after English.

Permits are required to visit many of these communities. The largest Aboriginal groups are the Pitjantjatjara, Arrernte, Luritja and Warlpiri in the Red Centre, and Yolngu in east Arnhem Land.

The average age of Northern Territory residents is 32 years, compared with the national average of 37 years.

The Northern Territory is close to Asia and has a large Asian culture (including language and food) that is mostly seen in Darwin.

The Ghan arriving in Darwin
The Ghan arriving in Darwin

Getting to the Northern Territory is easy. The vibrant capital city of Darwin is closer to Asia than any other capital city in Australia and, in the centre, Alice Springs only a 3-4 hour plane ride from most Australian capital cities.

By plane

Regular interstate domestic flights arrive into Darwin and Alice Springs. There are also direct flights to Ayers Rock (Uluru) from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Cairns.

Internationally, visitors can fly in directly to Darwin via Singapore or Ho Chi Minh City.

By train

The famous Ghan train travels from Adelaide to Darwin via Alice Springs and Katherine.

  • From South Australia, driving north you can take the Explorer’s Way (Stuart Highway) from Adelaide through Coober Pedy into the Northern Territory.
  • From Queensland, the most easily accessible route is the fully-sealed Overlander’s Way (Barkly Highway) from Mt Isa to the west.
  • From Western Australia there are a few access points including the Savannah Way (Victoria Highway) and Butine Highway in the north and the Tanami Road that runs across the Tanami Desert in the south.

By sea

The schedules for several international cruises include a day stopover in Darwin [2].

  • Qantas [3] offers regular flights within the Northern Territory, connecting Darwin, Alice Springs and Yulara.
  • There are scheduled flights [4] between Darwin, Nhulunbuy and Groote Eylandt .
  • Charter flights can also be organised to more remote destinations like the Cobourg Peninsula, Tiwi Islands and Borroloola, or to Tennant Creek.
  • Airnorth, 4 Lancaster Rd Marrara, +61 (8) 8920 4000, [5]. Airnorth is the major regional aviation operator in the Northern Territory, flying from Darwin to destinations such as Maningrida, Gove, Groote Eylandt and Elcho Island and also service areas of Western Australia and Indonesia. $D$112 to $1128.69.  edit

By train

The Ghan train travels from the south to the north of the Northern Territory and back, stopping at Kulgera, The Iron Man, Finke River, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine, Pine Creek, Adelaide River and Darwin [6].

By road

There are five recognised themed drives in the Northern Territory, the Explorer’s Way, Savannah Way, Red Centre Way, Binns Track and Nature’s Way, and each has its own story [7]. It also has countless four wheel drive tracks that snake through its various scenic landscapes. If opting to drive, 96% of the major attractions are accessible by sealed roads and the others are accessible via four-wheel drive tracks or charter flights.


Each of the 52 Northern Territory national parks and nature conservation reserves protect a variety of unique natural environments and native animals. View rare species of flora, native wildlife and go birdwatching around the many established walking trails, swimming holes and camping areas. The varied habitats, rare plants and animals, and spectacular landscapes of the Northern Territory are unmatched for an Australian nature holiday.

Darwin is the perfect place to begin or end your trip through the Territory. With its relaxed lifestyle and warm weather all year round this vibrant cosmopolitan city has all your creature comforts on offer with all the adventure you can handle on it's doorstep! Experience part of Darwin's colourful history at Fannie Bay Gaol that operated as Darwin’s major prison for almost 100 years from 1883. The building’s grim and oppressive history can be felt as you walk through. The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory is a must see, it's collections place the region's art, history and culture, and natural history in an Australian and international context. These collections encompass Aboriginal art and material culture, visual arts, craft, Southeast Asian and Oceanic art and material culture, maritime archaeology, Northern Territory history and natural sciences. Saltwater crocs, the most famous of the Territory’s creatures, can be seen in most rivers and billabongs in the Top End or at the wildlife parks around Darwin.Crocodylus Park, located in Berrimah a short distance from Darwin, where you come face to face with the largest reptiles on the planet.

While the deserts of Central Australia may at first seem stark, closer inspection reveals a complex ecosystem, supporting some of the most unique flora and fauna on the planet. The Northern Territory has some world-famous natural and cultural attractions that can’t be missed, including [Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park|Ulura/Ayers Rock]], Australia's most recognisable natural icon. Premium four-wheel drive eco-certified touring programs offer a range of intimate travel experiences to locations like World Heritage–listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park, and Alice Springs and its surrounds. Located in the middle of the largest land area without lights on earth, Alice Springs is has an unmatched view of the Milky Way unless you're on a dark boat in the middle of the ocean. Perfect stargazing! Just outside of Alice Springs is the Desert Wildlife Park, truly memorable in its examples of local flora and fauna.

The largest national park in Australia, Kakadu National Park contains the highest concentration of Aboriginal rock art in the world and amazing nature and wildlife. Ubirr is one of the two most famous Aboriginal rock art galleries in the Kakadu National Park. The galleries can be viewed by following an easy one kilometre circular walking track. During the dry season Park Rangers give free scheduled talks about the ancient rock art. The walls of the Nourlangie Rock Art Site in Kakadu National Park have served as a shelter and canvas for thousands of years providing windows to a rich spiritual tradition. Paintings such as Namarrgon, lightening man, explore the relationship of the people to their country and beliefs. Located in the centre of Nhulunbuy, the Gayngaru Wetlands Interpretive Walk surrounds a lagoon that is visited by over 200 species of birds. Along the path are two separate viewing platforms and a bird hide, which enable visitors to enjoy the birdlife. There are also interpretive signs near plants of significance showing bush food and bush medicine used by local Aboriginal people.

Katherine Gorge [8] - located in Nitmiluk National Park about 30 minutes northeast of the town. There are many ways to experience the spectacular Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge) and its world-renowned gorge system - you can walk, swim, canoe, boat or fly. Take a refreshing dip in Katherine Hot Springs. These natural thermal springs are situated on the banks of the Katherine River, within the Katherine township, and comprise of a series of clear pools framed by native vegetation.

The Devils Marbles, situated in the Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve, are clusters of mysterious rock spheres located in the scenic Australian desert near Tennant Creek. The boulders are precariously balanced on top of one another, they were formed by millions of years of erosion. The local Aboriginal people (the Warumungu) believe that the boulders are the eggs of the Rainbow Serpent. The ancient Aboriginal mythology surrounding this fascinating geological marvel can be explored through a short self-guided walking trail.


Load the car and hit the road, a driving holiday in the Northern Territory has all the elements of a great Australian road trip.

There are five recognised themed drives in the Northern Territory, each with their own unique story: Explorer’s Way, Nature’s Way, Red Centre Way, Overlanders Way and Savannah Way.

There are also countless four wheel drive tracks that snake through various scenic landscapes. The Binns track is the latest four wheel drive challenge, a seven-day adventure from Mount Dare in South Australia to Timber Creek. Not for the faint hearted, the track traverses 8-metre high sand ridges, rocky escarpment country and boggy marshes.

A driving holiday in the Northern Territory will link you to many of Australia’s best-known icons and give you the opportunity to explore lesser-known natural and cultural wonders of Australia's outback. Whether you want to go off road or on an outback Australia holiday, grab a map to explore your options in the NT. A driving holiday in the Northern Territory gives you the freedom and flexibility to explore at your own pace.

  • Binns Track

Take an epic journey on the Northern Territory’s newest four-wheel drive route, the Binns Track. Running from Mount Dare on the South Australian border to Timber Creek near Kununurra, the track covers 2191km and winds through many of the NT’s lesser-known nature reserves and National Parks. It passes through outback towns Alice Springs and Tennant Creek and traverses some of the NT’s most interesting landscapes in the western Simpson Desert, East MacDonnell Ranges, Davenport Ranges National Park and Gregory National Park.

  • The Red Centre Way

An adventure into the heart of this ancient land, the Red Centre Way drive navigates through Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Kings Canyon, the West MacDonnell Ranges and Alice Springs. See the sights at your own pace or learn about the traditional aboriginal land owners, the Arrente people’s, connection with this area on a guided tour. The Red Centre Way is the gateway to an abundance of natural and aboriginal attractions through the ancient heart of the Australian outback. Allow a minimum of 5 to 7 days for this journey through red desert sands, spinifex and mulga forest.

  • The Nature's Way

Eye candy for every driving holiday traveller, the Nature’s Way meanders through World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, Litchfield National Park and Nitmuluk National Park. It’s a drive through the Territory’s stunning and lush northern tropics, steeped in nature, aboriginal culture and outback pioneering history.

For the adventure traveller - canoe down the Katherine River, swim in waterfalls at Litchfield and discover the world’s largest collection of Aboriginal rock art at Kakadu National Park. Explore in your own time, but 5-7 days is best for this journey.

  • The Explorer's Way

Follow the same route of famous Australian explorer John McDouall Stuart and travel through red desert country via the real Australian outback en route to the Territory’s lush northern tropics. This road links the Territory from top to bottom, encompassing some of its best-known natural icons; the Devils Marbles, Litchfield National Park, Nitmuluk National Park, Cutta Cutta Caves and Bitter Springs. In the south, the road is straddled by the East and West MacDonnell Ranges. You can get a snapshot of the Territory in 7 days, but with so much to explore, it’s easy to stay much longer.

  • The Savannah Way

Stretching coast to coast, from Broome in West Australia to Cairns in Queensland, the Savannah Way is an epic 3500km adventure through the heart of Australia’s northern tropics. It snakes through some of the Territory’s best-known natural wonders and links to barramundi and saratoga fishing hotspots. A four-wheel drive is recommended on this drive, as it traverses rugged and challenging country. The Savannah Way is a great Australian adventure drive, linking national parks, historic drives and outback Australian towns. Allow at least 14 days for the Northern Territory section or 30 days for the entire journey.


The Northern Territory offers the visitor an amazing array of activities to immerse yourself in, from the adventurous to the more subdued.

Canoeing, camping, four-wheel driving, hot-air ballooning or a ride on a camel. The Northern Territory is the place to be for adventure holidays in the outback. Many adventure tours leave from Darwin.

  • Outback Ballooning - Take a balloon ride and see the sunrise, have a champagne breakfast in the middle of the desert. Alice Springs has ideal weather for ballooning and the tour operators run almost every day of the year.
  • Helicopter Flights - Helicopter flights around all sorts of local attractions, from seeing town from the air to along the mountains to the gaps and gorges. Flights leave from Darwin and Alice Springs.
  • Berry Springs - Just 45 minutes from Darwin city Berry Springs Nature Park is a great spot for swimming with crystal clear pools, shaded picnic and barbecue areas and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for local birds and wildlife.
  • Bush Walking - Feel the heat walking through the lush monsoon forests of the tropical north or challenge yourself trekking through the rocky red heart of the Northern Territory. There are very popular walking tours through Kakadu and the Red Centre. The Jatbula Trail and Larapinta Trail are extremely popular walking tours.
  • Jim Jim Falls- Set in the red ochre of the Arnhem Land escarpment, and boasting white sandy beaches and crystal clear water, it is worth the 900 metre walk across rocks to appreciate this special area.
  • Merl This site in northern Kakadu is perfect for campers who want to enjoy a famous sunrise or sunset at Ubirr. It's also an ideal base for bushwalking along the East Alligator River.
  • Larapinta Trail- The Trail runs for 223km along the backbone of the West MacDonnell Ranges from Alice Springs to Mt Sonder. The grandeur and timeless beauty of the Ranges are the backdrop and setting for the Trail, which is divided into twelve sections, providing you with an opportunity to experience an ancient landscape at your own pace.

The Northern Territory is Australia's nature travel paradise. View rare species of flora, native wildlife and the most ancient reptile on the planet, the crocodile. Darwin, Litchfield National Park, Alice Springs, Nitmiluk, Tennant Creek and Kakadu offer monumental natural wonders that need to be seen to be believed.

  • Territory Wildlife Park - A popular attraction home to monsoon and paperbark forests and a wetlands walk. You can stand nose-to-nose with a 3.7 metre saltwater crocodile on a walk through the aquarium tunnel. Don’t miss the twice-daily birds of prey show or animal encounters presentation. Tours depart from Darwin.
  • Aquascene, 28 Doctors Gully Road, +61 (8) 8981 7837, [9]. You feed the fish by hand and they're not little fishies, so luckily they don't bite hard! Feeding is dependent on the tide, so check the website or call for the schedule. entry fee applies.  edit
  • Fishing in the Northern Territory is world class and there are many diverse fishing habitats on offer. Most tours leave from Darwin, Arnhem Land is home to some truly adventurous fishing spots.
  • Tiwi Island Tour - Many Tiwi Islanders are prolific artists who produce distinctive art, pottery, sculptures and wooden carvings. You can travel to the Tiwi Islands on a 20-minute flight or twohour ferry ride from Darwin Harbour to Bathurst Island. You must be part of an organised tour to visit Tiwi Islands.
Darwins' Mindil Beach Sunset Market
Darwins' Mindil Beach Sunset Market

Make sure you take in the culinary delights of multi-cultural Darwin while in the Northern Territory. There’s a great range of outdoor eateries, exotic local produce and a diversity of culinary choices on offer.

Great eating areas in Darwin include the local markets for something cheap made on the spot. Head to Parap for Chinese, Mexican or gourmet goodies, Cullen Bay has a barrage of seafood choices and expansive harbour views, or you could grab some picnic-style take away at Stokes Hill Wharf. The Fannie Bay area offers some great pub-style food or seafood, and Darwin CBD is brimming with restaurants, cafes and pubs – classy or casual but always relaxed.

In spite of its small size, Alice Springs has a good and varied restaurant scene. Heaps of little cafeteria style places serving everything from crepes to Chinese to sandwiches in the malls as well as the usual fast food outlets.

Katherine is a very small town, but there is a reasonable choice of places to eat there, think along the lines of home style dishes and traditional pub food.

Basic food is available at the sporadic rest stops and museums throughout Kakadu National Park. Being such a small town, there are only a couple of options to choose from in Tennant Creek, mostly pub food and home made.

The northern tropics of the Northern Territory are also famous for their Aboriginal bush tucker. The billabongs, woodlands, sandstone escarpments and coastal beaches provide a rich source of food and medicines used by Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years. What we know as "bush tucker" is a multitude of plants and animals that are used in a variety of ways to best extract their nutritional and medicinal values. The different environments of the tropical north feature plants endemic to each habitat, as well as some that thrive across the entire region.


The Northern Territory is famous for its legendary outback pubs. Every small town has somewhere you can drop by to chat with the local characters or learn some history. For some more sophisticated nightlife, head to the numerous clubs and bars in Darwin and check out some local music at Brown’s Mart.

Please note, within certain areas of the Northern Territory, there are restrictions on the consumption of alcohol in public places. More information on specific restrictions can be found at the Tourism Northern Territory website [10]

Stay safe

Most of the Northern Territory is the Australian 'Outback' Be prepared and plan your trip before you start it. Plan fuel stops and always carry extra fuel as on some highways fuel and towns can be up to 800km apart. It is advised to carry a satellite phone or HF radio for emergencies if leaving the major roads. Water and food are also very important. If you become stranded in the outback stay calm and stay with your vehicle so emergency services are able to locate you. If you have communication devices use them. Mobile (cellular) phone coverage is limited to the regional centres.

Remember that you may not take alcohol into Aboriginal Communities, even as a tourist passing through. Also, travellers are not permitted into residential parts of the communities. These areas are well sign posted, so if you are on a community, keep your eyes open.

The Australian Outback, although very beautiful is also very dangerous due to its extreme conditions. Take particular care in the following areas:

  • Swimming The Northern Territory has many safe places to swim, including local nature reserves, public swimming pools and in some national parks. Swimming at Northern Territory beaches is not recommended due to the presence of box jellyfish. If you choose to swim at the beach, take vinegar as a precaution as it is known to sooth the sting. Salt and freshwater crocodiles are found in most Top End billabongs and rivers, and are occasionally seen on remote beaches. The accessible rivers and billabongs are generally sign-posted if saltwater crocodiles are known to inhabit the area, but if you are not sure, don’t swim.
  • Sun protection Travellers should always wear a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirt, sunglasses and at least an SPF 30+ sunscreen when outdoors. You should also be sure to drink plenty of water; a minimum of two litres per day is advised.
  • Insects The Territory is home to mosquitoes and other biting insects, so a reliable insect repellent, mosquito coils and appropriate clothing will make travelling more comfortable. If camping, keep your tent zipped and tap your shoes out before putting them on.
  • Cliffs Climbing rock ledges and cliffs and walking or standing near cliff edges can lead to serious injury or death, especially when rock surfaces are wet. Keep well away from all cliff edges.
  • What to Wear During the heat of the day, you will be most comfortable in loose covering clothing which is cool but protects you from sunburn and insect bites. Use sunscreen and wear a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses. Mosquitoes can carry viruses such as the Ross River virus, so if they are biting, use a repellent.
  • Dehydration Early symptoms include feeling thirsty, excess sweating, headache, dizziness and nausea. If dehydration continues, it can result in seizures, a loss of consciousness and even death.
  • Emergency Call Devices [ECD] are available in remote locations throughout the park. Instructions on use are written on the ECD. These are for emergency calls only. See maps for locations.
  • Flash Flooding Please be aware of possible sudden rises in the levels of waterways, which can quickly cut off the return route from the top of waterfalls such as Gunlom and Jim Jim. Fast flowing water can be deceptive, creating strong currents and dangerous swimming conditions.
  • Driving Hints Top End roads can be hazardous. Plan ahead and allow sufficient time for travel. Slow down! Roads can become slippery in the wet. During the dry, dust from other vehicles can obscure your vision. When using 4WD tracks, put your vehicle into 4WD. Read your vehicle instructions: many vehicles need their front wheel hubs physically locked, before engaging 4WD from the driver’s seat. At flooded crossings read the signs, look at depth markers and observe how quickly the water is flowing, before deciding whether to cross. Sometimes it is safer to wait until the water recedes. Remember crocodiles may be present. In the event of fires, make sure you park your vehicle in cleared areas rather than in flammable long grass. Use vehicle headlights if driving through heavy smoke, and drive slowly. If stopping, park well off the road and use hazard lights. Do not park on bridges or causeways at any time. Drive slowly, look well ahead for animals on the road, and try to avoid driving at night. Sound your horn to alert wildlife on the road. Look carefully for large feral animals such as horses, pigs and buffalo.
  • Fishing Always let someone know where you are going and what time you expect to be back. In tidal areas always carry life jackets, water, oars, flares, torch, tool kit, extra fuel and a satellite phone. Refer to the Northern Territory Marine Act signs for more detailed safety information. Boating is prohibited in certain areas – check at the Bowali Visitor Centre for details. Always remember, crocodiles attacks often occur near boat ramps. For your safety, be alert for crocodiles at all times:
  • Keep away from the water’s edge and do not enter the water.
  • Take extreme care when launching and retrieving boats.
  • Do not reach into the water to bring up a fish; use a landing net.
  • Do not clean fish or bleed fish in or near the water’s edge, as this may attract crocodiles.
  • Remove all fish and food waste, which attract crocodiles.

Live bait fishing is not permitted in Kakadu. Recreational fishing, using a line with a single hook or lure is permitted in waters west of the Kakadu Highway except in the West Alligator River system. Contact the Bowali Visitor Centre, telephone +61 8 8938 1120 for latest information

  • Crocodiles Estuarine (saltwater) crocodiles are dangerous. They have attacked and killed people. They inhabit most areas of water in Kakadu National Park including floodplains, freshwater billabongs, creeks, rivers and coastal areas. In most locations, crocodile warning signs tell you not to enter the water and to keep away from the water’s edge. Obey signs warning of crocodiles. If you do not see a warning sign, assume that crocodiles are present. Do not enter the water unless you are sure it is safe to do so.
  • Some of the most poisonous snakes in the world inhabit Kakadu, but luckily for visitors they are all very shy and are very rarely seen, let alone confronted. These species include the Taipan, Death Adder, and King Brown. They are seldom active during the day, hunting at night. Do not hike off any trails after dark.


There are two important facts to keep in mind about travel in the outback: it has few inhabitants and little water.

  • get good quality maps and plan your route.
  • tell someone where you're going and when and where you should arrive; they should have instructions to raise the alarm if you do not appear soon after your intended arrival time;
  • carry least 10 litres of water (in several small containers) per person per day, including an allowance for any days you may be delayed or broken down.
  • take food and any prescribed medication needed to last several days
  • take matches or a lighter, which can be used in an emergency to provide warmth and indicate your whereabouts
  • travel in a recently serviced, reliable, sturdy vehicle that has good ground clearance; and
  • have clothes that can protect against cold, as well as clothes suitable for extremely hot weather.

Keep in mind also that the outback is large, and you can easily end up twenty-hours drive away from emergency help, or isolated entirely in the case of rain.

In the event of an accident or mechanical problems, do not leave your vehicle, as it is easier to locate from the air than a person or people on foot. If you leave your vehicle you are likely to be the subject of a sad news story about the rescue services finding your car and not you. In any case, your vehicle is where you're storing your water.

You should also think about carrying a satellite phone or other means of contacting emergency services. Travelling in a group or in convoy with other travellers gives an extra vehicle in case of breakdown, and an extra set of hands to get you out of a tricky situation.

You should get local advice in each town about your journey and the condition of the roads ahead and the suitability of your vehicle, as road conditions can change. The police and roadhouses are good sources of information. Be careful - even locals die out there.

  • Coober Pedy - sleep in an opal mine cave
  • Kimberley - great wilderness with much of its history drawn on its pearling industry
  • Mount Isa - mining town in the northwest of Queensland
This is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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Proper noun

Northern Territory

  1. Territory in northern Australia which has Darwin as its capital.

Related terms



Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Familypedia

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The Northern Territory occupies the middle 20% of the northern half of Australia.

The capital is Darwin. Other settlements include Alice Springs, Jabiru, Katherine, Palmerston, and Tennant Creek.

This article uses material from the "Northern Territory" article on the Genealogy wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

Simple English

File:NT in Australia
Northern Territory in Australia

The Northern Territory is a territory of Australia. The capital city is Darwin. Other large towns in the Territory include Alice Springs, Katherine and Tenant Creek.

The Northern Territory has large areas of desert. It has many important places such as Uluru, or Ayers Rock. The rock is sacred to the native people.

Kakadu National Park is a World Heritage area. It has been lived in for more than 40,000 years. There are cave paintings, rock carvings and archaeological sites. These show the skills and way of life of the people who have lived there. It has includes different ecosystems, including tidal flats, floodplains, lowlands and rocky gorges. It provides a place to live for a wide range of rare types of plants and animals.[1]

Floral Emblem

File:Sturts Desert
Gossypium sturtianum, Sturt's Desert Rose
File:Flag of the Northern
NT Flag with the Desert Rose

The floral emblem of the Northern Territory is Sturt's Desert Rose, Gossypium sturtianum [2]. The flower is also featured on the Territory's flag. It was named after explorer Charles Sturt who found the plant in creeks near the site of Broken Hill, New South Wales in 1844. The Fauna emblem is the Red Kangaroo.


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  1. "Kakdu World Heritage Area". Unesco. Retrieved 2008-12-13. 
  2. "Floral Emblem of Northern Territory". Australian National Botanic Gardens. Retrieved 2008-12-13. 

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