Going To The Northern Territory

Road, rail and air all play a significant role in getting into, out of and around the Northern Territory.


The privately operated Ghan provides a passenger rail service between Darwin and Adelaide via Alice Springs. The two legs of the journey (Darwin to Alice Springs and Alice Springs to Adelaide) each have a duration of approx. 24 hours, with a 4 hour stopover at Katherine on the northern leg. The Ghan travels twice a week in each direction during the peak season and once a week in each direction at other times. The journey can be broken at both Alice Springs and Katherine, allowing a stopover in both places to explore the towns and surrounding regions.


Darwin is the Australia’s major northern international gateway, being on the main air route into Australia from Asia, Europe and The Middle East. It has full customs and immigration processing facilities. It is also the gateway to The Territory’s Top End for domestic air travellers. Because it has no night landing curfews, Darwin’s airport is operational (and busy) right around the clock. Alice Springs and Uluru both have airports that cater only for domestic air travel from the Australian states.

Darwin – Melbourne: 4 hrs. 40 minutes
Darwin – Alice Springs: 2 hrs.
Darwin – Adelaide: 3 hrs. 35 minutes
Darwin – Perth: 3 hrs. 55 minutes
Darwin – Brisbane: 3 hrs. 45 minutes
Darwin – Cairns: 2 hrs. 35 minutes
Darwin – Gove (Nhulunbuy): 1 hr. 5 minutes
Alice Springs – Melbourne: 2 hrs. 55 minutes
Alice Springs – Perth: 2 hrs. 40 minutes
Alice Springs – Sydney: 3 hrs. 25 minutes
Uluru – Sydney: 3 hrs. 40 minutes
Gove (Nhulunbuy) – Cairns: 1 hr. 50 minutes

Road (coach):

Numerous operators provide coach services to and from Darwin. Destinations include

Perth via Kununurra, Broome, Carnarvon (57 hrs.)
Adelaide via Alice Springs, Coober Pedy, Port Augusta (43hrs 55min)
Sydney via Alice Springs, Adelaide (43hrs 55min to Adelaide, then 25 hrs. 30 minutes on connecting route to Sydney)
Brisbane via Tennant Creek, Mt. Isa (69 hrs. 20 minutes)
Townsville via Tenant Creek, Mt. Isa (55 hrs.).

Road (motor car):

The major highways in and out of Darwin to Perth (via Katherine and Great Northern Highway), Alice Springs and Adelaide (Stuart Highway) are all sealed. The Savannah Way, linking Darwin to Cairns via Katherine, Borroloola and Normanton includes both sealed and unsealed sections, the latter varying in their condition between the wet and dry seasons.

The Outback Way is unofficially Australia’s longest shortcut, linking WA and Qld from Laverton to Winton via Alice Springs. Unsealed most of the way, it is made up of seven inter-connecting roads including The Great Central Road (WA); Tjukaruru Road, Lasseter Highway, Stuart Highway and Plenty Highway (NT); and Donohue Highway and Min Min Byway (QLD).

Lasseter Highway is a fully sealed 244 kilometre highway that connects Yulara, Kata Tjuta and Uluru east to the Stuart Highway.

Arnhem Highway is the major road accessway from the Stuart Highway (Darwin to Adelaide) to Kakadu National Park. It is sealed all the way.

The remainder of highways in the Northern Territory tend to the branch from the Stuart Highway, generally providing either an interstate connection (e.g. Plenty Highway), a connection between highways (e.g. Buchanan Highway), or a connection to a significant locality (e.g. Lasseter Highway). Roads such as Tanami Road or Tjukaruru (Docker River) Road provide important interstate connections yet do not get a ‘Highway’ name.

In the Northern Territory, the speed limit on the open road is generally 130 kilometres per hour. A driver’s licence from your home country or an Australian state will usually suffice for up to three months, as long as it has photo identification and it’s for the same class of vehicle you intend to drive. If you’re staying more than three months, you’ll need to get a Northern Territory drivers licence.

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