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The Northern Territory, or NT, takes up a sizable slice of central and northern Australia. The territory is divided into two distinct climates, a tropical climate in the north (known as the Top End) and a desert climate in the southern part of Territory. It is a land of wide open spaces, dense rain forests and an indigenous history that dates backs over 40,000 years.
Although over 75% of the Northern Territory officialy lies within the tropics, most of the area resembles more of a desert or semi-desert. The Tropic of Capricorn lies just north of Alice Springs and only the area called the Top End is really tropical with hot and humid conditions yearround and a real rainy season. The north is more savanna like and there are some small patches of rainforest. Much of the area is quite flat, with the Barkly Tablelands and the Arnhem Land Plateau being somewhat higher. The Tanami Desert makes up most of the western and southwestern areas. Near Alice Springs, both to the east and west, are the McDonell Ranges, rocky hills and mountains with deep gorges. You will also find nice gorges at Nitmiluk and Litchfield NP, with great waterfalls in the latter as well.
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The Northern Territory is one of the warmest parts of Australia on average. The Top End where places like Darwin and Katherine are located, has tropical conditions with hot and humid weather. Temperatures here are highest just before the wet season which starts in November. During October and November, temperatures rise to 40 °C, combined with very high humidity. The wet season lasts until April. Obviously, the months of May to September are the best to visit this area weatherwise.
More the south, the wet season becomes more and more severe until you reach the Red Centre around Alice Springs and Uluru, where hot summers (temperatures up to 45 °C) are combined with mild winters, when temperatures can drop below zero at night. Alice Springs doesn't have a wet season and some months go by withouth a single drop of rain. Spring (September-November) and autum (March-May) are good seasons to visit, but also the wintermonths, although relatively cool, are good.
Darwin International Airport is the only international airport in the Northern Territory. International destinations include Dili in East Timor, Bali, Ho Chi Minh City and Singapore. Qantas, Virgin Blue and Air North are the main operators flying here, with connections to Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Perth, Broome and Kununurra in Western Australia.
Alice Springs Airport and Yulara (Uluru) have interstate connections as well, mostly to Perth, Cairns and Sydney (both airports) and Brisbane and Melbourne (Alice only).
The Ghan connects Darwin and Alice Springs with Adelaide in South Australia.
Well maintained tarred roads lead into the Northern Territory from Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland.
The first one enters Northern Territory just east of Kununnura. From South Australia the Great Explorer Highway enters at Kulgera, while from Queensland the road enters at the outback town of Camooweal, some 200 kilometers west of Mount Isa.
Of course, there are other routes to take, both those usually require a 4wd vehicle and some more planning as well.
Greyhound is the main bus company, providing services to a number of Northern Territory places (Darwin, Alice, Tennant Creek) from Adelaide, Perth, Broome, Cairns, Mount Isa and even Brisbane.
You will need your own boat if you want to arrive in the Norther Territory over water. There are also no connections to Darwin from Indonesia, as is sometimes believed.
Darwin, Alice and Yulara all have connections between them and smaller planes fly to some regional airfields as well, including some of the islands to the north of the NT.
The famous Ghan train stops in several towns and cities in the Northern Territory, including Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine and Darwin.
Good tarmac roads connect Alice Springs with Tennant Creek, Katherine and Darwin. There are also good roads towards Uluru and the Litchfield, Katherine Gorge and Kakadu National Parks and into South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland. Most other roads are dirt roads, which sometimes can be navigated by regular car, but mostly you will need a 4wd. There are plenty of companies you could choose to hire a car from, including Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Thrifty. Car hire is often not available to drivers under 25, or if it is, it's more expensive for younger drivers.
Greyhound offers connections on the main north-south corridor and to Yulara. You can also hop off and on on the routes towards Queensland and Western Australia.
No public services go to the islands off the northern coast but between March and November there are tours to Bathurst Island (one of the Tiwi Islands) by catamaran.
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