May 11th , 2012 → 1:26 pm @

Getting to the Northern Territory

Getting to the Northern Territory is easier than ever. Flying in is the quickest way, while hopping aboard the Ghan or driving offers the best way to really see the vast richness of Australia.

NT By Air

The capital city of Darwin is the international gateway into the Northern Territory, being closer to the transportation hubs of Asia than any other Australian metro area. For domestic travellers, Alice Springs at the heart of Australia’s Red Centre is only a three to four hour plane ride from most Australian cities. Below are some of the major airlines serving the Northern Territory.

QANTAS — Since 1920, the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services (QANTAS) has built the deserved reputation as the world’s leading long-distance airline, and is one of Australia’s most recognisable and leading brands. QANTAS operates regularly scheduled flights into Alice Springs and Darwin from Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Cairns, as well as regular direct flights from Canberra to Darwin. Direct flights are also scheduled to Yulara from Perth, Cairns and Sydney. In addition, QANTAS schedules daily flights within the Northern Territory between Darwin, Alice Springs and Yulara.

Jetstar — Jetstar is a budget airline offering low-cost flights to Darwin from Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns and Sydney. Jetstar also offers international service to Denspasar on Bali, Ho Chi Mihn City and Singapore

Virgin Australia — Virgin Australia offers budget service to Darwin from Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane, and offers direct flights from Sydney to Uluru

Airnorth — Airnorth is the major regional airline serving northern Australia, operating regularly scheduled flights into Darwin from regional centres including Broome, Elcho Island, Kununurra, Groote Eylandt, Gove, Maningrida, Milingimbi and McArthur River. Interstate and International routes are also scheduled to Perth, Mt. Isa, the Gold Coast and Dili in Timor-Leste.

Skywest — The major regional airline of Western Australia, Skywest provides essential air links for the communities of the region. Skywest operates three regularly scheduled flights per week to Darwin from Perth via Broome.

NT by Rail

The Ghan is a famous passenger train operated by Great Southern Rail between Adelaide and Darwin. The train traverses the Australian continent from south to north through the heart of the Red Centre. The train is named after the Afghan cameleers who mapped out the route of the Overland Telegraph Line in the 1870s.

The two-day journey traverses 2979 kilometres and runs twice weekly from Adelaide to Darwin and back, with stopovers in Alice Springs and Katherine that allows time for optional local tours.

NT by Road

Coming to the Northern Territory by car is another great way to experience the vast and diverse landscapes of Australia.

From South Australia take the Stuart Highway — themed The Explorer’s Way — from Adelaide to Coober Pedy and into the NT. Along the way the Explorer’s Highway passes through the major centres of Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Katherine on the way to Darwin.

From Western Australia the best routes into the Northern Territory are along the Victoria (Savannah Way) and Butine Highways in the north, and the Tanami Road through the Tanami desert to Uluru and Alice Springs in the south.

Coming west from Queensland, the best route is the fully sealed Barkly Highway (Overlander’s Way) from Mt. Isa. Adventurous drivers may take the unsealed section of the Savannah Way from Cairns. The route of the Savannah Way stretches 3500 kilometres across the north of Australia from Cairns in Queensland to Broome in Western Australia. Known as one of the world’s epic driving adventures, a four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended when driving the Savannah Way.

NT by Sea

Cruise ship tour packages of the northern coastal areas of Australia are becoming very popular, offering a great way to experience remote Aboriginal communities in Arnhem Land and Groote Eylandt.

Essential NT Travel Information and Safety Tips

Across the Northern Territory there are 95 separate Protected Areas and 52 national parks, conservation areas, nature reserves and marine parks. Two of the Northern Territory’s parks, Kakadu and Uluru-Kata-Tjuta, are United Nations World Heritage listed sites for both their cultural and ecological significance.

All of these parks offer travellers to the Northern Territory numberless opportunities to witness the grandeur of Australian nature, as well as providing numerous adventure possibilities from bushwalking, wilderness camping, rock climbing, canoeing and to experience first-hand the rich and fascinating culture of the Aboriginal people.

Some essential information regarding National Parks in the Northern Territory:

  • Uluru-Kata-Tjuta National Park requires an access permit which is provided at the entry station. The cost of a three-day adult pass is $25.
  • Camp only in designated camping areas and remove all rubbish when leaving the area.
  • No pets are permitted in any national park in the Northern Territory.
  • Most parks in the tropical Top End, such as Kakadu, are saltwater crocodile habitats. Take caution and obey all ‘no swimming or fishing’ warnings.
  • Do not use soaps or detergents in or near waterways.
  • Law protects all cultural artefacts and wildlife in the Northern Territory. Do not feed native animals and do not touch or deface Aboriginal rock paintings or petroglyphs.

General Safety Tips

In an emergency, dial 000 for Ambulance, Police or Fire Services.

Swimming — Swimming is a prime activity across the NT. There are many safe swimming areas in most parks and reserves that are clearly designated. If an area is not clearly designated as safe for swimming, do not enter the water. Swimming at NT beaches is not recommended because of the presence of the box jellyfish

Sun Protection and Bugs — The tropics are hot. Travellers should wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, long-sleeved shirts and slather on SPF30 sunscreen when spending time outdoors. It is also advised to drink at least two litres of water per day to stave off dehydration. The Territory is also home to mosquitoes and other biting insects, so insect repellent is highly recommended. When camping, tents should remain zipped closed at all times, and shoes should be tapped out before worn in case something crawls into them.

Crocodiles — Saltwater and freshwater crocodiles are common in Top End waterways. If waterways are not posted as safe, do not enter and stay away from the water’s edge.

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