If you are travelling through Aboriginal land or through pastoral properties on road other than those designated highways, it is necessary to obtain a permit for Aboriginal land and permission for pastoral properties.
The minimum legal 'drinking' age is 18. Young people going to bars and discos should carry identification to prove they are at least 18 years old. They will not be let in otherwise. No one may buy liquor from a bar or liquor store (bottle shop) unless they are at least 18. Buying liquor for a 'minor' is illegal.
Rental cars are available in Darwin, Ayers Rock and Alice Springs with Budget, Europcar and Territory Rent a Car. Vehicles are generally no more than eight months old, with automatic transmission and air-conditioning. Renters have to be 21 or older and hold a current driver's licence. An international licence is not necessary. Travel Online can certainly help you with your rental car requirements, visit our Campervans or Car Rental websites for details.
In the tropical Top End, lightweight summer clothing is worn all year-round, but in Central Australia, the temperature can vary from 40°C in summer to -4°C in winter. Even summer nights can be comparatively cool. Travelling in the bush is more comfortable in jeans or similar practical clothing and strong rubber-soled shoes. Casual clothing is very much a part of the Territory lifestyle, but neat and tidy dress standards are maintained in clubs, restaurants and hotels. Both Casinos, (in Darwin and Alice Springs) rigidly enforce their set dress standards. It is wise to contact the establishments to confirm dress codes. Suitable clothing is important on a Northern Territory holiday.
Australian currency (AUD) is decimal and the basic unit is the dollar, with 100 cents equaling one dollar. Notes come in $100, $50, $20, $10 and $5 denominations. Coins are available as $2,$1, 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c denominations. The law provides that the TOTAL bill is rounded up or down to the nearest 5 cents. So $19.97 becomes $19.95, $19.98 becomes $20.00. Check our currency converter for today's rates.
Driving in the Northern Territory
One of the most popular ways to visit the Top End is by vehicle. While the Northern Territory is blessed with an excellent road system care should be taken at all times due to the vast distances and unique road conditions. With many of the main roads are unfenced, wandering stock or wildlife can create safety hazards, so it is best to avoid driving at dawn, dusk or at night to reduce the risk of striking one of these animals. Always check that your car has the appropriate basic equipment. If you intend travelling off road then a good map and spare fuel and water should also be included. You will be amazed at the length of the road trains travelling the road throughout the Territory, some up to 3 trailers or 50 metres in length. When overtaking, always allow at least one kilometre of clear road ahead to be able to pass safely. Driving long distances can cause fatigue - one of the most common causes of serious accidents in the Top End. As the distances are so vast, it is important to stop and rest at least every two hours for your own and your passenger's safety. [Driving Distances]
How to get There
Self drive: Excellent sealed highways provide ease of access into the Top End region. The Stuart Highway, is sealed all the way from Adelaide, the Barkly Highway from Queensland and the Victoria Highway from Western Australia. For the more adventurous travellers, access into the Top End may also be made by way of the Gulf Track, entering our region from Queensland on an unsealed road which starts at Wollogorang.
Fly/drive: Daily scheduled flights to Darwin operate from every mainland Australian capital city. Darwin, being the closest Australian capital city to Asia, has regular international air services from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. Flying into Central Australia is made convenient with Qantas and Virgin Blue. The flight into Alice Springs provides you with a spectacular view of the MacDonnell Ranges, a giant, geological seam to the wide-open landscapes. Alice Springs' modern airport services flights from all around Australia every day. The Ayers Rock Connellan airport also operates direct flights from Alice Springs, Cairns, Perth and Sydney.
4WD: Although a 2WD vehicle will get you to the majority of sites and attractions in the region, to explore some of the special locations in remote areas, a 4WD is absolutely essential. Good travel advice for those using 4WD vehicles is make the trip fun but keep it safe, make sure you plan ahead for your journey and always advise somebody of your travel schedule.
Train: Travelling by train on the legendary Ghan is one of the great train journeys of the world. Watch as the rocky ranges and desert landscapes unfold as you rush by in the comfort and style of a fine hotel. Your journey on the Ghan can begin from Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide. The extension of The Ghan to Darwin will further enhance what is already considered one of the world's great train journeys. The Ghan will operate one weekly return service between Adelaide and Darwin and twice weekly return services between Adelaide and Alice Springs. Journeys are expected to commence early 2004. There are already 8000 people on the waiting list.
Coach: Several leading coach companies operate express services into the Northern Territory from other states. Mc Cafferty's Coaches and Greyhound Pioneer have scheduled services up and down the Stuart Highway between Darwin and Alice Springs with stops at Katherine and Tennant Creek. McCafferty's also has a service between Alice Springs and Yulara. Travel Online's highly recommended coach company, AAT Kings, has regular services between Alice Springs and Yulara or Kings Canyon as well as a big range of tour options.
National Park Entry Fees
The Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park (Ayers Rock and Olgas) entry fee is not included with tours that enter the National Park. The entry fee is $25.00 per adult and is an additional compulsory charge at time of booking. The National Park entry ticket is valid for 3 consecutive days. This is a government charge and it is subject to change without notice. Children 15 years and under are not required to pay the entry fee. You must carry your ticket with you every time you enter the National Park or you will be required to purchase another ticket.
The Kakadu National Park entry fee is not included in tours that enter the National Park. The entry fee is $16.25 per adult and is an additional compulsory charge at time of booking. The National Park entry ticket is valid for 7 consecutive days. This is a government charge and it is subject to change without notice. Children 15 years and younger are not required to pay the entry fee.
Marine: A number of potential dangers lurk in waters around the Northern Territory coast in the form of marine stingers, stone fish, blue-ringed octopus and other creatures, all less obvious than the crocodile but capable of inflicting a painful bite or sting. While swimming on Darwin beaches is considered safe at the right time of the year, swimmers are urged to be keep their eyes open at all times for the presence of unwelcome visitors. The most prevalent threat is the deadly Box Jellyfish. The effect of a Box Jellyfish's long and poisonous tentacles brushing past a swimmer causes excruciating pain and has caused death, particularly among children, in a number of cases. On occasions, saltwater crocodiles have been spotted cruising close to some Darwin beaches on their journey to the series of mangrove creeks that feed into Darwin Harbour. These creeks are well away from the popular beaches and unlikely to be visited by tourists unless they're on a fishing trip. They are certainly not recommended as swimming spots.
Red Centre: The suggested length of stay in Central Australia is approximately 5 days allowing an opportunity to visit numerous attractions in Alice Springs including making a journey to the East & West MacDonnell Ranges as well as maybe Kings Canyon and Ayers Rock/Uluru.
Top End: The suggested length of stay in the Top End is approximately 3-4 days allowing an opportunity to visit numerous attractions in Darwin including making a journey to Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks as well as maybe Katherine and Arnhem Land.
The Northern Territory is in the central time zone, 9.5 hours ahead of GMT. The territory does not have daylight saving time in the summer months (October to March) and is always 30 minutes behind Brisbane Queensland (which does not either). The territory is normally 30 minutes behind Sydney, Melbourne and Tasmania, but drops to 1 hour 30 minutes behind during the months of daylight saving.
Banks open from 9.30am to 4.00pm Monday to Thursday, 9.30am to 5.00pm Friday. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are accessible 24 hours a day. Check with your bank to find out which Australian bank ATMs will accept your cards. Post Office hours vary but most open at least from 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 12.00 noon Saturday. Shopping hours are generally 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Saturday, 9.00am to 3.00pm Sunday. Some major shopping centres in large towns have longer hours. Woolworths supermarkets open to midnight, while most Coles supermarkets are open 24 hours a day.
Be aware of the climate and the effect it has on your body. Drinking plenty of water is essential to enjoying your holiday. It is easy to forget, but the dry atmosphere and the temperatures can make you prone to dehydration. If you are walking or climbing you will need to consume additional water at regular intervals. You should carry at least two litres of water for every hour the activity will last. Regardless of where you plan to travel, it is essential to carry plenty of water.