Your complete guide to the Northern Territory

Are you thinking of visiting the Northern Territory? Do you have some questions or do you need some answers? Then come and discover all you need to know right here, right now!

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Uluru / Ayers Rock
The Northern Territory, home to Uluru!

The Northern Territory, also known by the shortened version NT (and sometimes referred to as just The Territory), is the 3rd largest state or territory in Australia, smaller than only Western Australia and Queensland.

Despite the fact it is massive in size, the NT is home to only about 233,000 people. Its capital city is Darwin.

Unlike every other state in Australia, who have many weird and wonderful nicknames for the people who live there, people from the NT only one, and are referred to as Territorians. Not very exciting, but now you know what to call someone from the NT!

Location

As you can see on the map above, it is located in northern Australia. To the east it borders with Queensland, to the west with Western Australia, and to the south with South Australia, the driest state on the continent.

The northern part of the territory is considered to be tropical, so you can expect torrential rains over the monsoonal wet season. The central and southern parts are virtually all desert, and are home to Alice Springs and Uluru (Ayers Rock).

Population

By population, the NT has the smallest population of all the Australian states and territories, and also by people per km². In fact, it has a tiny 0.17 people per km², and this drops to even less than half of that if you exclude the population of Darwin. To put this into perspective, the United Kingdom has 256 per km², Germany has 229 per km², and France has 117 per km². It truly is an area almost devoid of human life.

Ranking of the largest cities (by population): ¹
1. Darwin
(128,000)
2. Palmerston(30,000)
3. Alice Springs(28,000)
4. Katherine(10,000)
5. Nhulunbuy(5,000)
6. Tennant Creek(3,500)
7. Wadeye(2,400)
8. Jabiru(1,300)
9. Yulara(1,200)
¹ Sourced from, you guessed it, Wikipedia!


About 54% of all Territorians live in Darwin, and you can see that the next 8 biggest cities or towns rapidly drop of in terms of their population. If you excluded all the people from the cities and towns listed above, the average population density of the NT drops from 0.17 people per km² to a staggering 0.02 people per km².

What does this mean?

Once you get out of the cities, expect big wide open spaces! Much of the land is classified as desert or arid, although some of it has enough grass on it for some light cattle grazing.

A remote pub in the middle of the Northern Territory
If you see a place like this, you'd best
stop for fuel, it could be the last one for
500 kms! You won't miss it, it'll be the only
thing around for miles and miles!

Once you get out of the Darwin and off the one highway in the entire territory, you can drive for hours and hours between towns or even seeing another car! If you see a petrol station, you should always fill up, even if your tank is almost full. It is not uncommon for there to be 400 - 500 kms between stations. When you see one you fill up, it could save your life!

If you plan on heading off the main roads and into desert areas you should visit the Survive driving in the Australian Outback page to get a crash course in outback survival should your car break down or get bogged.

National Parks

There are 95 separate Protected Areas which cover a total about 3.8% of the land, which includes 18 national parks. This is one of the lowest percentage rates of all the states and territories.

In total, these protected areas cover about 53,505 km². At first this figure may not sound very impressive, but it is about the size of Croatia. As such, there are many free camping spots all over the state, so for all you nature lovers, get ready to go camping!

What else?

There is so much to see and do for those of you who like to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and explore nature's wilderness and gifts.

The Olgas in outback Northern Territory/Australia
The stunning Olgas, located near Uluru!

There is the world renowned Kakadu National Park, Alice Springs / Uluru (and all the other natural wonders around the area, like Kings Canyon), The Kimberly's (a mountain range and area), pearl farms for backpackers looking for work, crocodile boat tours, and so many more little hidden gems just waiting to be found by you!

A word of warning, make sure you know what you are doing. The NT can be a very dangerous place, with hazards from potential cyclones, flash flooding, crocodiles, deadly snakes, bushfires, and getting lost in the desert is one of the quickest ways to... well you get the idea! Just ask the locals first and you'll be fine.

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