Northern Territory FAQs & info
If you’re looking for a truly once in a lifetime adventure, the Northern Territory has something to offer everyone. In case you’ve got questions before you visit, we’ve got you covered...
How do I get to the NT?
Whether you're travelling from interstate or overseas, the NT has a range of ways to get you here – by air, road, rail or sea.
Travelling by air to the NT is a breeze. Modern, well-equipped airports are located at Darwin in the north, and in the centre at Alice Springs and Uluru. The NT is serviced by major domestic and international airlines, providing passengers with easy access to destinations across the Territory from almost anywhere in the world.
Journey by road to the NT on our well-maintained, sealed highways, which provide the most direct routes between the NT and cities in South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia. Once you cross the border into the NT, explore our themed driving routes around the Territory.
Despite the vast distances, travelling by bus (coach) to the NT is easy and affordable. Major coach and tour companies run coach services between transport hubs in the NT and destinations in Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland.
The Ghan, one of the world’s great train journeys, is by far the most romantic way to travel to the NT. The Ghan travels an epic 2,797 kilometres (1846 miles) between Adelaide and Darwin, stopping en route at Alice Springs and Katherine. Watch the stunning changes in scenery as you traverse the heart of the country.
You can also visit Darwin by sea, on a once in a lifetime luxury cruise. With its tropical climate, Darwin enjoys year-round cruise activity.
What's the best way to get around the NT?
Wherever you want to go in the NT, we’ll find a way to get you there. Travel around the NT by air, road or rail.
Daily flights operate between Darwin, Alice Springs and Uluru. Smaller flights are run between the regional centres by Airnorth.
One of the best ways to discover the NT is by road. Ninety-five percent of the NT's attractions are accessible by well-maintained roads. There’s plenty to explore in a regular car or campervan, as well as in all-terrain 4WDs. Hire companies operate across the NT, so if you fly into the Territory, arrange to collect a vehicle at the airport then hit the road – you could even try one of our themed driving routes. Local transport options include taxis, airport shuttle, bicycle hire and bus networks.
The Ghan is a unique way to travel around the NT. This epic train journey travels between Adelaide and Darwin, stopping en-route at Alice Springs and Katherine.
Can I hire a car in the NT?
Whether you're planning an off-road adventure or a relaxing campervan holiday, it's easy to do it yourself and hire a vehicle suited to the NT’s terrain.
Locally run car-hire businesses with expert regional knowledge operate out of Darwin, Alice Springs and other regional centres, as do major national vehicle hire companies such as Britz, Europcar, Hertz and Budget.
Hire companies offer a broad range of vehicles to suit your holiday needs, including automatic and manual cars, 4WDs, campervans, motorhomes and minibuses – some even include camping equipment.
Vehicles can be booked in advance or on arrival, and pick-up from airports, train stations and accommodation can be arranged. Find out more about vehicle hire in the NT.
When's the best time to visit the NT?
Darwin and the Top End don’t have summer, autumn, winter and spring like other places in Australia. The climate is tropical, and the seasons are called the 'dry’ and the 'wet'. From May to October is the dry season which is warm and pleasant with sunny days and cooler nights. From November to April is the wet season which is known for magnificent thunder storms and warmer weather.
Visit in the dry to explore all of the attractions in the surrounding national parks and experience the buzz of the sunset markets. Darwin and the Top End are bustling in the dry season, with a packed calendar of events and festivals drawing visitors from near and far to make the most of the balmy outdoor celebrations.
The wet season is from November to April. It’s characterised by higher humidity and monsoonal rains and storms. Travel during the wet to witness spectacular sunsets and dazzling electrical thunderstorms. Due to the abundant rain, the landscape really comes alive at this time of year, turning lush and green. It's the perfect time to witness the Top End's thundering waterfalls at their majestic best.
There are also smaller crowds during the wet. Being the low season, it's a great time to grab some hot deals on flights, accommodation and tours.
Alice Springs and the Red Centre has Australia’s four typical seasons: summer, autumn, winter and spring. The Red Centre is prone to extremes, with hot summer days (from December to February) and cold winter nights (June to August). Temperatures can drop below 0˚C (32˚F) overnight in winter and it can get very cold in the desert. Winter is still a popular time to visit as the days are crisp, cool and not too hot.
Spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) in the Red Centre bring warm days and cool evenings. Read more about the NT’s weather and seasons.
What should I pack for my visit?
As you'll probably be spending lots of time outdoors experiencing the natural wonders of the NT, be sure to pack laid-back apparel suitable for warm weather. Protect yourself against the sun and heat with lightweight clothing, a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Comfortable walking shoes are a must, and if you're visiting the Top End from November to April, you should also bring a light rain jacket. Other essentials include plenty of drinking water, inspect repellent and a camera.
If you plan to visit one of the NT’s many refreshing natural swimming holes -- and we strongly recommend you do! -- bring your swimwear and a towel. If you have them, goggles and an underwater camera might also come in handy. Make sure to only swim where signs indicate it's safe to do so. Fishing gear is a must for anyone keen on snagging a few barramundi in the Top End, and avid birdwatchers should bring a pair of binoculars.
If you plan to camp between May and September, pack blankets for night time as it can get quite cold.
The Red Centre has very cold winter nights from June to August, so if you plan to visit during this time, be sure to pack warm clothes.
Bear in mind that the NT is vast, so when travelling from one spot to another, ensure you have enough food, water and fuel for the journey. A small first-aid kit can also come in handy.
And if you forget to pack something, don't worry – you'll be able to find almost anything you need in the larger towns of Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs.
Top End or Red Centre?
It doesn't matter whether you're young or old, keen for adventure or looking to relax, on a budget or ready to splurge, a holiday in the NT is an experience like no other. Whether you visit the Top End, Red Centre, or are lucky enough to travel to both, there are countless one-of-a-kind encounters to be had in the NT.
The Top End offers both a cosmopolitan and outback holiday experience with iconic national parks, waterfalls, ancient culture, unique wildlife and exceptional local dining. There are four distinct regions in the Top End – Darwin, Kakadu, Katherine and Arnhem Land -- and each has plenty to offer.
The Red Centre is a region full of majesty and natural wonders, including Uluru, Kings Canyon and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). Alice Springs epitomises the Australian outback character and is your basecamp for adventure, with waterholes, biking and hiking trails, historic and wildlife centres and four-wheel driving all within easy access.
How much time do I need?
Although the NT is vast -- six times the size of Britain -- you can discover many of its most popular destinations in as little as three days, including Darwin, Alice Springs or Uluru. To explore a full region, or the whole of the NT, we recommend seven to 14 days.
Choose from one of our example itineraries or tailor your own journey.
What about crocodiles?
Saltwater crocodiles, the most famous of the NT's creatures, can be seen in rivers and billabongs in the Top End or at wildlife parks around the NT.
Any body of water in the Top End may contain large and potentially dangerous crocodiles. Saltwater crocodiles can be found in both fresh and salt water. Saltwater crocodiles are dangerous – you should never take unnecessary risks in a crocodile habitat.
When it comes to crocodiles, the Northern Territory Government takes your safety seriously, but ultimately how you behave around crocodile habitats is your responsibility.
Always observe crocodile safety signs and assume that they are present, even if you can’t see them. With almost as many crocodiles as people in the north, you’re sure to come across them in Territory waterways.
There are approximately 150,000 saltwater crocodiles and at least 100,000 freshwater crocodiles across northern Australia.
Find out more about how to be safe around crocodiles.
Where can I find out more information about travelling in the NT?
Where are the accredited Visitor Information Centres located in the NT?
The NT’s four main Visitor Information Centres are located in Darwin, Katherine, Alice Springs and Tennant Creek. Local tourist information counters can also be found at major transport hubs and attractions.
The centres are staffed with knowledgeable, helpful locals who can help with advice and information, and make tour and accommodation bookings on your behalf. All centres are stocked with handy maps, and brochures covering just about anything you could want to do or see in the NT.
Do I need to book accommodation and tours before we arrive?
It's not essential to book accommodation and tours before you arrive in the NT, however we recommend you book your accommodation in advance to avoid disappointment – especially during the peak periods (May to September). It's generally possible to book accommodation and tours when you arrive at most NT destinations.
More articles like this...