Driving in the NT and Kimberley

Northern Territory is a federal territory of Australia and home to around 233,000 people, of which 55% live in the capital city being Darwin. It occupies much of the center of the Australian mainland, as well as the central northern regions of Australia. Today, Darwin is well known for its harbour, multiculturalism and as one of Australia's most modern capitals.

Driving in the Northern Territory

The Northern Territory is a vast region with large distances between the main towns. For safety reasons please be prepared with additional fuel and water, make sure you stop regularly to take in the sites, talk to the locals about road conditions and give yourself plenty of time.

The distance driving from Darwin to Alice Springs (NT's two largest population bases) is around 1,498 kilometres and should take around seventeen and a half hours, along the Stuart Highway.

Exploring the Northern Territory

The Territory has many nature and cultural based attractions from Kakadu National Park, Litchfield National Park and Katherine Gorge in the Top End, to the East MacDonnell Ranges, Kings Canyon and Ayers Rock in the centre.
Jabiru is the central hub for exploring Kakadu National Park.
In Central Australia Tennant Creek is a regional town with a number of accommodation and dinning options, shopping, regional attractions and touring including the Devils Marbles.
Alice Springs is a real outback town in the middle of Australia. It has surprising diversity with world-class art galleries, iconic events, amazing attractions and a local community, which is known for its innovation and spirit. Alice Springs is surrounded by wonderful natural attractions in the West and East MacDonnell Ranges the Simpson Desert, Kings Canyon and beyond.
Ayers Rock [Uluru] and the Olgas [Kata Tjuta] are unique icons of Australia located in the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park a place of World Heritage significance recognised for its cultural and natural values.
The Northern Territory is a great place to visit with 2wd access to exceptional iconic attractions and stunning 4wd destinations it is a total outback experience, there is no better way to see than by renting a vehicle.

Access is denied as per above to the areas listed within the following regions:

  • Kakadu Region: Jim Jim and Twin Falls – all year.
  • Arnhem Land: Access to Arnhem Land including Gurig/Cobourg National Park is denied subject to Thrifty's approval and on presentation of permits obtained from the relevant authority for entry to Aboriginal Land.
  • Litchfield Region
  • Katherine Region: Central Arnhem Road to Gove beyond Bulman.
  • Kimberley Region: Mitchell Plateau and Kalumburu all year.Gibb River Road travel between November and April is subject to seasonal road conditions.
  • Broome: Cable Beach.
  • Central Australia: Tanami Track, Gunbarrell Highway, Plenty/Donahue Highway, Canning Stock Route, Oodnadatta Track, Strzlecki Track, Birdsville Track only when travelling with another vehicle and with Thrifty's consent and knowledge.
  • Other Areas: The Gulf Track, Cape York Peninsular, Fraser Island.
  • Aboriginal Permit: Land Any entry to Aboriginal Land without a permit is illegal. Access to any land requiring permit for entry is denied without Thrifty's approval and entry permit must be provided to Thrifty prior to entry to such lands.
  • Road Closures Any road or gazetted track closed by any statutory authority in any region.

Driving in the Kimberley Region

The extensive Kimberley region is connected by the Great Northern Highway, with large distances between towns. Other than the main highway there are many popular unsealed roads, which if you were to travel you would require a large 4wd. It is very important to prepare yourself by researching the area you wish to travel, know where you will be able to refuel and carry water and adequate provisions.

The distance between Broome and Kununurra is around 1100kms along the highway, a popular place to stop overnight is Halls Creek around 700kms from Broome. Many people adventuring along the Gibb River Road can travel over 2000kms with a few side trips into gorges. It is important to give yourself plenty of time to travel between each destination as road conditions can change considerably throughout the year. It is a good idea to visit a tourist information centre, talk to locals and other travellers about the current conditions.

Exploring the Kimberley Region

The Kimberley in northern Western Australia covers over 420,000 square kilometres and is home to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes, unique small towns and friendly locals. The two main towns which are serviced by popular commercial airlines are Kununurra in the north and Broome to the south. The best way to explore the vast region between these towns is by renting a vehicle.

You could hire a large 4wd and adventure along the renowned Gibb River Road, which boasts some of the most beautiful gorges or a smaller 2wd vehicle to travel along the popular Great Northern Highway to visit the many quaint, culturally rich communities.

Key Distances

Driving distances for the NT Northern Territory locations

Looking to rent a car in the NT? Thrifty offers several car rental locations across the Northern Territory, including at major airports to make your NT adventure more convenient. 

Travel ideas

If you're interested in road trip tips and travel ideas for the NT and the rest of Australia, have a read of the Thrifty travel blog
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