About The Northern Territory
Largely tropical, the Northern Territory covers about one sixth of
the Australian continent with an area of 1.35 million km2 which is
equal to the combined areas of France, Spain and Italy. It is an area
of great diversity, from lush tropical rainforest in the north to the
ancient semi-arid plains and deserts of the Red Centre.
Around four-fifths of the Territory (1.09 million km2) lies within
the tropics and the 6200 km coastline is generally flat and backed by
swamps, mangroves and mudflats, rising to a plateau no higher than 450
The northern quarter, known colloquially as the “Top
End”, is a distinct region of savannah woodlands and pockets of
rainforest. In the north-east, the Arnhem Land plateau rises abruptly
from the plain and continues to the coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Much of the southern three-quarters of the Territory consists of desert
or semi-arid plain. Darwin, the capital, is situated in the
north-western corner of the Territory.
The population of the Northern Territory is only about 1% of the
total population of Australia. Population centres include the capital,
Darwin, nearby Palmerston and Alice Springs. Australian Aboriginal
people make up 27 per cent of the Northern Territory’s population
and own some 49% of its land.
The vast distances and extreme conditions of the Territory dictated
that road should become the major form of transport within the
Territory, and air to and from it. Sealed roads include the three major
interstate links – the Stuart Highway from Darwin to the South
Australian border, the Barkly Highway from Tennant Creek to the
Queensland border and the Victoria Highway from Katherine to the
Western Australian border.
Darwin is a first port of call for many international aircraft
flying from Asia. From Darwin there are connections to all Australian
capital cities. The Port of Darwin is the foremost deep water port in
the north of Australia. There are two other major ports in the Northern
Territory – Milner Bay and Grove, both managed by mining
companies. The Northern Territory’s energy resources include oil,
natural gas and uranium. Oil and gas exploration and production occurs
onshore as well as in three areas offshore which continue to dominate
Best Time To Visit: The Tropical North
The months from November to March are what is known as the wet
season. The dry season, from May to August, yields pleasant weather
that is similar to summer in the southern states. In Darwin during
these months, humidity is low, the temperature is constant (around 30
degrees), and the days are warm and pleasantly sunny. For this reason,
the dry season is also the peak tourist season.
The dry season, from May to August, yields pleasant weather that is
similar to summer in the southern states. In Darwin during these
months, humidity is low, the temperature is almost monotonously
constant (around 30 degrees), and the days are warm and pleasantly
sunny. For this reason, the dry season is also the peak tourist season.
The tropical cyclones, choppy seas, endless days of rain and high
humidity levels would indicate that the wet season is not the time to
visit the Top End, but there are actually two sides to this picture.
The wet season also brings forth the lush scenic beauty, raging
waterfalls, an abundance of barramundi for those who love fishing, low
prices all round and a lack of crowds at popular tourist haunts.
September to December are usually very humid and quite unbearable, so
it is best to stay away during those months if you find humidity
Best Time To Visit: The Red Centre
Central Australia is an all-year round destination, but it is a
desert region, and the desert climate is characterised by extremes, so
in the winter months, which is the peak tourist season, along with the
warm, dry and sunny days come freezing cold nights. July is usually the
coldest month, and frosts do occur about half of the nights in July and
August! In summer, nights are not as cold, but the days are much hotter.