You are here: FAQ

01 - What is the best time of year to visit the Centre and Darwin, in terms of pleasant climate and best time for the attractions?

Central Australia has its coldest weather from June to mid August. The days are crisp and clear and approximately 25 degrees during the day, but can drop to minus 5 degrees at night and in the early morning prior to sunrise. This is still a very popular time to travel, as it is not too hot during the day.

A recommendation for Central Australia is the months of April-May or September-October. You will find temperatures during the day and night are nice and warm plus it is still very easy to embark on some fabulous walks and touring during these months.

The Top End has two significant seasons, those being the Wet and the Dry Season. Traditionally, the dry season (May to October) is the most popular time for visitors to explore the Top End Region. With cooler day time temperatures of 27 – 32 degrees and low humidity levels, this is the perfect time to explore and experience the many attractions to be found in the region.

During the months of November to April, the “wet season”, you can expect afternoon storms and higher humidity. The rain brings on a completely different experience and waterfalls that are inaccessible by road become a spectacular experience by scenic flight. Our green season, as we like to call it, is the best time of year to see tropical rainforests at their finest. The lush green canopy offers cool relief and the streams, waterfalls and billabongs make ideal stop offs for a swim (bit hesitant about making references to swimming during wet season as there tends to be closures to protect against crocs).

02 - How far is Uluru/Ayers Rock from Alice Springs? Is the highway from Alice Springs to Uluru sealed road? Is this normally a safe trip?

Driving in the Territory is not a scary experience, but it does pay to be prepared if you do have a break down on your travels, as the distances are quite far from one point to another. The Highway from Alice Springs to Uluru is fully sealed and bitumen the whole distance (443 kilometres total).

There are several petrol stations (roadhouses) between Alice Springs and Uluru) to allow you to fill up, take a break or grab a bite to eat. The first being Stuarts Well, which is only 91km down the highway. You can purchase fuel, souvenirs, Aboriginal artwork, food, coffee or a camel ride from here.

The next fuel stop is Erldunda, which is at the turn off from the Stuart Highway onto the Lasseter Highway heading West towards Uluru (a further 108km). Erldunda is a large roadhouse and a major stop along the Stuart Highway for weary travellers. Along with fuel, they have a large cafe with food available at most hours through the day and night and also have a mechanic on hand for any repairs during normal business hours of 9am - 5pm. They also have camping sites and cabin accommodation.

Continuing along the Lasseter Highway, your next stop is at Curtin Springs. Curtin Springs is a remote outback cattle station with a roadhouse for fuel, toilet stops, camping and a bar available. From Curtin Springs it is only a further 84 km to the township of Yulara, where all accommodation and camp sites for Uluru are located, only 14km from Uluru itself. There are also some lovely picturesque rest sites along the way, where you can enjoy a stretch of the legs and a pre purchased sandwich or two.

The trip is a reasonably easy one and as the road is sealed throughout, there are no specific driving skills required to make this journey. I would recommend at least 2 half hour breaks along the way to stretch the legs, toilet stop & take the concentration off the road for a while.

03 - Can I still climb Uluru?

Uluru is still currently open to climb. However the climb is often closed due to weather conditions such as high temperatures or strong winds, or for cultural reasons. There is signage at the base of Uluru with a message from the Traditional Aboriginal owners asking people to respect their culture and not climb; however, the choice is yours as to whether you climb or not.

If you do choose to climb, a high level of fitness is required as it is a very steep and strenuous climb and takes approximately 2 hours to complete. If you choose not to do the climb, on the base walk you will visit the beautiful water holes and rock art sites along the walk. The entire base is a leisurely 10.6 km walk along a flat dirt path. If you wish not to walk the entire base you can take the shorter walks to visit the main waterholes and paintings. This can be done either with a tour company or at your own pace and leisure.

04 - Do we need a satellite phone on a self drive journey?

A satellite phone is entirely up to you if you want to hire one. This can be organised with your car hire company and it is recommended that you do so prior to collection of the vehicle, as they must have the phone available and ready for you upon collection. Sat Phones can be expensive to use and the hire cost is also reasonably expensive. For peace of mind, this will give you phone range wherever you are, but Territory Discoveries would not say it is necessary.

05 - What is the best time for fishing in the Top End?

Northern Territory waters offer superb all year round fishing experiences, targeting many species in a wide variety of locations including Blue Water, Harbours, River Systems and Billabongs. Locations for species such as the popular Barramundi should be targeted according to the Territory’s four seasons. The first of these is the wet season (January to March). During this period you can expect regular monsoonal rains which cause the floodplains to fill and enlarge connecting river systems and billabongs.

Periods between the monsoonal rains are ideal for fishing in estuaries when the water level drops. The run off season (March to April) is the perfect time to target Barra as the flood water from the monsoonal rains run back into the rivers and out to sea - it is at the run off points where Barra come together seeking easy prey which makes them an easy target. The Dry Season (May to September) is excellent for reef fish, both in-shore and off-shore, and also still great for Barramundi in the larger tidal rivers. Lastly, the Build Up season (October to December) when the humidity increases, is perfect for billabong and coastal fishing, as well as blue water fishing.

06 - Can we still access Kakadu National Park during wet season? If so, what attractions are still open?

The Wet Season is still a great time to experience Kakadu and to see many of its icons at their best. For those attractions that are no longer accessible by road including Jim Jim and Twin Falls, they become even more spectacular when seen from the air on a scenic flight.

Ubirr, another popular attraction in Kakadu, may have limited road access depending on the water levels of the Magela Creek. If Magela Creek becomes impassable you can view Ubirr by taking a Guluyambi Cruise. Many other attractions such as Nourlangie Rock, Bowali Visitor Centre, Yellow Water Billabong and several walking tracks and lookouts are still open during the wet season, however Territory Discoveries suggest checking the Road and Access Report before and on the day you are travelling to Kakadu for further information on each attraction.

07 - Do we need a 4wd to self drive the Northern Territory?

A 4WD is not a necessity when travelling the Northern Territory as most roads are now sealed and suitable for a 2WD. Access to popular attractions such as the iconic Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon and the West MacDonnell Ranges in Central Australia are all available on sealed roads. In the Top End you can easily access the cooling waterfalls in Litchfield National Park with a 2WD to take a refreshing dip. Katherine, only 3 hours from Darwin, is also accessible via sealed road, where you can enjoy a relaxing cruise down the Gorge. Unforgettable highlights in Kakadu include Ubirr with its 360 degree views over the floodplains, as well as ancient Indigenous rock art at Nourlangie Rock – once again, these attractions are all easily accessible by 2WD. Whilst in Kakadu you can also enjoy a Yellow Water Billabong Cruise to spot a crocodile and view the spectacular array of wildlife!

For the adventurous people who like to get off the beaten track there are plenty of opportunities to explore the unsealed roads of the outback such as the more scenic route between Alice Springs and Kings Canyon, the dirt track of the Red Centre Way (permit required). This route requires a large 4WD and passes by the stunning and picturesque scenery of the West MacDonnell Ranges. Hired 4WD’s are generally not permitted within Jim Jim and Twin Falls in Kakadu National Park. For those who are wanting to experience Jim Jim and Twin Falls, you can take the option of an escorted 4WD tour or if you are short on time, you could take a scenic flight where you can enjoy the spectacular view from above.

08 - What is a swag?

A swag is for those who really want to experience the outback and have an outdoor adventure sleeping under the stars! A swag is not a tent. When not in use it’s a comfy mattress rolled up inside a water-proof canvas. Come night time, you simply unroll your swag and your sheet and pillow are on the inside, ready to keep you nice and cosy by the campfire as you drift off to sleep looking at the millions of stars above – what a perfect way to end the day!