Before starting your Northern Territory adventure, there are a few driving tips and rules you should know that will keep you and your passengers safe.
The Northern Territory has some of Australia’s most breathtaking driving routes and scenery from red desert sands, to lush tropical bushland and stunning beaches, but conditions can take visitors by surprise.
Planning your trip
Check these important safety tips to know before you leave:
Check the road conditions
You should always check the road conditions daily before travelling. Always drive to your ability.
During wet season/tropical summer (November to April) some roads may be closed due to flooding. Do not travel on closed roads. Heavy fines may apply.
Check road conditions daily during your trip as they can change quickly. Reports on roads are available at www.roadreport.nt.gov.au or by phone on 1800 246 199.
Is the vehicle safe?
Check tyres, headlights, indicators, fluid levels, battery and windscreen wipers. Make sure you carry spare tyres, tools and water. If you are travelling long distances or to remote areas, take extra fuel as well.
Give yourself enough time to reach your destination. Plan your trip to include regular rest breaks, including overnight if required, and also consider whether you will be driving into the sun.
Take regular breaks
You should stop for a 15 minute rest break every two hours of driving to avoid fatigue. You can use signposted designated rest areas along highways.
See the road rest stops in NT for more information.
Carry extra food, fuel and water for long journeys
The recommended minimum required amount of water per person is 4-6 litres a day. If driving to very remote areas of the NT, ensure you have enough food, water and extra fuel. In the event of a breakdown, stay with the vehicle. Help may not be possible for many hours, particularly at night.
Is everyone well rested
If you are not used to driving long distances in high temperatures you may be affected by fatigue. When you stop to take a break, take a walk, drink some water and consider changing drivers if possible.
Is the driver affected by alcohol or drugs?
Drinking alcohol or taking drugs before or while driving can have serious consequences. The legal blood alcohol content for drivers (not including provisional drivers) is 0.05%. There are severe penalties for drivers caught drink or drug driving.
Vehicle hire agreement and driving restrictions
Car rental companies may have restrictions on where you can drive the hire vehicle, so check with them before departing. You may need to hire a four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicle to drive on unsealed roads or through creek crossings.
Important licensing information
In Australia, you must obey all road rules and carry your licence at all times. You can drive on a valid overseas licence in the NT for up to three months.
You can apply for a driver licence exemption through the MVR Office if staying longer than three months, but not more than 12 months. Applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis and other conditions may apply.
If your licence is not in English, and the type of vehicle you are authorised to drive cannot be recognised, you will need to carry an International Driving Permit. Visit AANT for information.
See Driver licences for more information on licensing.
Major centres and rest areas
Driving long distances can cause fatigue. Plan for rest breaks.
This map shows locations of rest areas, towns and communities on the Northern Territory’s national routes and major highways. It does not include all communities.
Rest areas and truck parking bays
Rest areas are located on main roads and are designated for drivers to pull over and rest when tired.
Some rest stops are dedicated for road trains and are not to be used by cars, caravans, motorhomes etc. except in an emergency. Designated bays enable operators of heavy vehicles to pull over and take breaks and address operational needs.
See Road rest stops in the NT for more information.