Northern Territory Starters Kit
Population: 211,000 people approximately
Area: 1,352,176 square km
Population Density: 0.2 people per square km
Climate zones: Tropical and Desert
Highest mountain: Mount Zeil - 1531m above sea level
Money; Australian Dollar.
Time Zone: +9:30 from GMT
The Northern Territory is the true Australian Experience. The journey from north to south begins with the tropical shores of vibrant Darwin and ends in the dramatic deserts of the Red Centre, taking in the cattle stations and sweeping savannahs of the Barkly Tablelands along the way.
The Northern Territory is home to World Heritage-listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta and Kakadu National Parks, which preserve and perpetuate both natural and cultural treasures.
In fact, the Red Centre is home to the world’s oldest river system, the Finke River, and Arnhem Land is home to the world’s oldest living culture.
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 is only a 3-4 hour plane ride from most Australian capital cities.
The Northern Territory is so large it covers two very distinct climate zones: The Red Centre and the Tropical North.
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 Top End, which includes Darwin, Katherine, Kakadu and Arnhem Land, has a tropical climate. Darwin has an average temperature of 32 degrees Celsius 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)
Darwin is the smallest capital city in Australia, with approximately 106,000 residents. It is located closer to Jakarta than Canberra, nearer to Singapore than Melbourne, and has a harbour twice the size of Sydney Harbour.
Alice Springs is the Northern Territory’s largest regional centre and is home to approximately 26, 000 people. It is home to world class Aboriginal art galleries, and has more art galleries per capita than any other place in the world.
Katherine has a population of approximately 9000, and also services a large number of stations, Tindal RAAF Base which is just out of town and the large number of tourists that visit Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge).
Further south on the Barkly Tablelands, Tennant Creek is home to approximately 3000 people, and is the hub for the surrounding cattle stations. The town is also known for the valuable cultural and historical experiences it offers.
NT Distance Calculator Really handy little calculator
Money: The main currency is the Australian Dollar.
Time Zone: The NT is located in the Time Zone known as Central Standard Time (CST) +9:30 from GMT
000 (all emergency services)
112 (from mobiles anywhere)
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.
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 1 litre per hour of exercise, more in the heat or humidity
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.
Public Holidays (2010)
01 Jan - New Years Day (holiday changes depending on the day it falls)
26 Jan – Australia Day (the date celebrating the arrival of the First Fleet into Botany Bay)
2 – 5 April – Easter
25 Apr – ANZAC Day
3rd May – May Day (Alice Springs Cup Day – Horse Racing & Bangtail Muster)
14 June – Queens Birthday (Finke Desert Race weekend)
1 August – Picnic Day (Darwin Cup Day – Horse Racing)
27 December – Christmas Public Holiday
28th December – Boxing Day Public Holiday
Regional Public Holidays - these only apply to the town concerned
2nd July – Alice Springs Show Day
9th July – Tennant Creek Show Day
16 July – Katherine Show Day
23 July – Darwin Show Day
20 August – Borroloola Show Day
Whilst these days may not be public holidays, they are significant days.
1st July – Territory Day. This day is celebrated as the day that the NT gained self government. Its also known as Cracker Night, as Territorians buy fireworks (legally) and have from 7pm until Midnight to set them off. It is a NT tradition.
July - Nadoc Week. Celebration of indigenous culture and achievements
Getting to the Territory
All major Airline Carriers can get you to the Northern Territory from other parts of Australia. Domestic flights will get you to Alice Springs, and both Domestic and International flights service Darwin
Domestic airlines servicing the NT
Qantas (Darwin, Alice Springs & Ayers Rock Airports)
Tiger (Darwin and Alice Springs)
Jetstar & Virgin (Darwin Airport only)
Air North (Darwin and several remote North Australian destinations).
SkyWest (Darwin to Perth & Broome)
International Airlines servicing Darwin
Jetstar (Darwin to Denpasar, Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City)
Air North (Darwin to Denpasar and Dili)
There are three forms of land transport to the NT. Car, Coach and Rail Car and coach access to the NT is either via the Stuart Highway (from the south), the Barkley Highway (from the East) or the Victoria Highway (from the West). There are other highways to access the NT, such as the Gunbarrel Highway, but these are unsealed and best left for those who are well versed in outback travel. They shouldn’t be attempted unless you are well prepared.
There are a significant number of different events in the NT yearly, some are major and some aren’t. To save time, we will just list the major events that you should be aware off. These events usually result in an increase for accommodation prices, and also result in accommodation being sold out.
Some major events in Alice;
Alice Springs Master Games
Anaconda MTB Enduro
ASSA ABLOY Henley-on-Todd Regatta
Lions Imparja camel Cup
Tattersall’s Finke Desert Race
Some major events in Darwin;
Beer Can regatta
Several NT Towns are declared Public Drinking Restricted Areas. This means that drinking in public areas is prohibited. These areas are well signposted. The penalties for consuming alcohol in public include Confiscation or ‘tip out’ of Alcohol by police, an on the spot fine of $100 or taken to court where the maximum fine is $500.
When driving, like the rest of Australia, you drive on the Left hand side of the road. Also, the NT has speed limits. As the roads in the Northern Territory are generally 1 lane each way, it pays to pay attention to the speed limits. Of course, the NT Police patrol the roads of the Territory and will fine or charge people if they are committing a driving offence.
There are occassional isolated incidents of anti-social behaviour in Alice Springs, which is unfortunate, but also a challenge faced by all capital cities and regional centres in Australia. Take a common sense approach to exploring at night, just as you would in any other town or city.
If you visit places of Aboriginal significance (such as Uluru) you will notice there are signs around requesting you not to take photos. You can look, but unless you can afford a very significant fine, don’t take photos.
Whilst English is the official language of Australia, there are roughly 100 different aboriginal languages in the Northern Territory. When walking, don’t be surprised if you hear some of the different languages. A lot of aboriginal people speak English as well as their language (and sometimes several others also).
Internet: Internet is generally available in most hotels, especially ones in Darwin and Alice Springs. Additionally, McDonalds restaurants have WiFi hot spots where you can access the internet. A lot of backpacker hostels have pay as you go internet, however these are often expensive.
Telephones: Public telephones are still available in many locations in the NT. This is especially so in smaller towns where residents may not have their own telephone connection.
Mobile Phones: Don’t expect GSM coverage outside of the major centres of Alice Springs, Yulara Resort (access for Uluru National Park), Tennant Creek, Katherine, Batchelor and Darwin. Other towns are gradually gaining phone access, but the rollout is very slow. Telstra provides the best coverage in the NT (for a price). If you are spending an extended time in remote areas, its recommended that you hire a SatPhone. This is a large phone that connects directly to a communications satalite. Calls to and from these phones are expensive, but if you are in a remote location and encounter difficulties, they pay for themselves.
Radio Stations; There are several different radio stations in the NT, that broadcast anything from Top 40 music to languages other then English. This list is not exhaustive, just to give you an idea of what’s on offer.
91.5 MHz KIK FM - Narrowcast
92.3 MHz Top Country - Narrowcast
94.5 MHz Radio Larrakia - Community Radio
97.7 MHz Rhema FM 97.7 - Christian Radio
100.1 MHz Hot 100 - Grant Broadcasters
100.9 MHz SBS Radio - SBS
102.5 MHz News Radio - ABC
103.3 MHz Triple J - ABC
104.1 MHz 104.1 Territory FM - Community Radio
104.9 MHz Mix 104.9 - Grant Broadcasters
105.7 MHz 105.7 ABC Darwin - ABC
107.3 MHz ABC Classic FM - ABC
657 kHz Radio National - ABC
1242 kHz Radio TAB (Betting / Racing) - Relay Radio TAB - Brisbane
1530 kHz Yolngu Radio - Aboriginal - Community Radio
1611 kHz Rete Italia - Italian Radio
88.0 MHz Vision FM - Christian Radio
94.9 MHz Triple J - ABC
95.9 MHz Radio TAB (Betting / Racing) - Relay Radio TAB - Brisbane
96.9 MHz Sun FM - Sun FM
97.9 MHz ABC Classic FM - ABC
98.7 MHz Territory FM - Relay from Darwin - Territory Community Radio
99.7 MHz Radio National - ABC
100.5 MHz CAAMA - Aboriginal - Community Radio
102.1 MHz 8CCC - Community Radio
783 kHz ABC Central - ABC
900 kHz 8HA
88.0 MHz Vision FM - Christian Radio
95.7 MHz Triple J - ABC
97.3 MHz Radio TAB (Betting / Racing) - Relay Radio TAB - Brisbane
98.1 MHz Radio National - ABC
98.9 MHz ABC Classic FM - ABC
99.7 MHz ABC Local Radio - Australian Broadcasting Corporation
100.5 MHz 8HA - Relay from Alice Springs
102.1 MHz CAAMA - Aboriginal - Community Radio
Tourism NT – Northern Territory Government tourism – http://www.travelnt.com
Territory Discoveries – Business Division of Tourism NT – http://www.territorydiscoveries.com
Darwin Tourist office - http://www.tourismtopend.com.au
Central Australian Tourist Office - http://www.centralaustraliantourism.com/