NT Transport

The Lasseter Highway connects Uluru to the Stuart Highway. The Ghan, which runs across the Territory from north to south, in Alice Springs.

The Northern Territory is the most sparsely populated state or territory in Australia. From its establishment in 1869 the Port of Darwin was the major Territory supply for many decades. It was damaged in the 1942 Japanese air raids and subsequently restored.

In the late 1960s improved roads in adjoining States linking with the Territory, port delays and rapid economic development led to uncertainty in port and regional infrastructure development. As a result of the Commission of Enquiry established by the Administrator, port working arrangements were changed, berth investment deferred and a port masterplan prepared. Extension of rail transport was then not considered because of low freight volumes.

Despite its sparse population there is a network of sealed roads, including two National Highways, linking with adjoining States and connecting the major Territory population centres, and some other centres such as Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks. The Stuart Highway, known as “The Track”, runs north to south, connecting Darwin and Alice Springs to Adelaide. Some of the sealed roads are single lane bitumen. Many unsealed (dirt) roads connect the more remote settlements.

The Adelaide-Darwin Railway, a new standard gauge railway, connects Adelaide via Alice Springs with Darwin, replacing earlier narrow gauge railways which had a gap between Alice Springs and Birdum. The Northern Territory was one of the few remaining places in the world with no speed restrictions on public roads. Since 1 January 2007 a default speed limit of 110 km/h applies on roads outside of urban areas (Inside urban areas of 40, 50 or 60 km/h). Speeds of up to 130 km/h are permitted on some major highways, such as the Stuart Highway.

Since the introduction of a universal 130 km/h speed limit in 2006, together with the introduction of demerit (penalty) points for speeding, the Territory’s road toll has risen markedly. The road toll for 2009 to 7 November, however, is under half of that for the same period in 2008 and lower than for the same period in the previous four years.

Darwin International Airport is the major domestic and international airport for the territory. Several smaller airports are also scattered throughout the Territory and are served by smaller airlines; including Alice Springs Airport, Ayers Rock Airport, Katherine Airport and Tennant Creek Airport.

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