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 m.

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 energy exploration.

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 unbearable.

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.

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