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
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
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