The Northern Territory (abbreviated as NT) is a federal Australian territory in the centre and central northern regions. It shares borders with Western Australia to the west (129th meridian east), South Australia to the south (26th parallel south), and Queensland to the east (138th meridian east). To the north, the territory is bordered by the Timor Sea, the Arafura Sea and the Gulf of Carpentaria. Despite its large area—over 1,349,129 square kilometres (520,902 sq mi), making it the third largest Australian federal division—it is sparsely populated. With a population of 233,300 it is the least populous of Australia's eight major states and territories, having fewer than half as many people as Tasmania.
The archaeological history of the Northern Territory begins over 40,000 years ago when Indigenous Australians settled the region. Makassan traders began trading with the indigenous people of the Northern Territory for trepang from at least the 18th century onwards, and very likely for 300 years prior to that. The coast of the territory was first seen by Europeans in the 17th century. The British were the first Europeans to attempt to settle the coastal regions. After three failed attempts to establish a settlement (1824–1828, 1838–1849, and 1864–66), success was achieved in 1869 with the establishment of a settlement at Port Darwin. Today the economy is based on tourism, especially Kakadu National Park in the Top End and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (Ayers Rock) in central Australia, and mining.
The capital and largest city is Darwin. The population is not concentrated in coastal regions but rather along the Stuart Highway. The other major settlements are (in order of size) Palmerston, Alice Springs, Katherine, Nhulunbuy, and Tennant Creek. Residents of the Northern Territory are often known simply as 'Territorians' and fully as 'Northern Territorians', or more informally as 'Top Enders' and 'Centralians'.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Climate
- 4 Governance
- 5 Demographics
- 6 Education
- 7 Economy
- 8 Transport
- 9 Media
- 10 Sport
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Indigenous Australians have lived in the present area of the Northern Territory for an estimated 40,000 years, and extensive seasonal trade links existed between them and the peoples of what is now Indonesia for at least five centuries.
With the coming of the British, there were four early attempts to settle the harsh environment of the northern coast, of which three failed in starvation and despair. The Northern Territory was part of colonial New South Wales from 1825 to 1863, except for a brief time from February to December 1846, when it was part of the short lived colony of North Australia. It was part of South Australia from 1863 to 1911. Under the administration of colonial South Australia, the overland telegraph was constructed between 1870 and 1872.
A railway was also built between Palmerston and Pine Creek between 1883 and 1889. The economic pattern of cattle raising and mining was established so that by 1911 there were 513,000 cattle. Victoria River Downs was at one time the largest cattle station in the world. Gold was found at Grove Hill in 1872 and at Pine Creek, Brocks Creek, Burrundi, and copper was found at Daly River.
On 1 January 1911, a decade after federation, the Northern Territory was separated from South Australia and transferred to Commonwealth control. Alfred Deakin opined at this time "To me the question has been not so much commercial as national, first, second, third and last. Either we must accomplish the peopling of the northern territory or submit to its transfer to some other nation."
In late 1912 there was growing sentiment that the name "Northern Territory" was unsatisfactory. The names "Kingsland" (after Queensland), "Centralia" and "Territoria" were proposed with Kingsland becoming the preferred choice in 1913. However, the name change never went ahead.
For a brief time between 1927 and 1931 the Northern Territory was divided into North Australia and Central Australia at the 20th parallel of South latitude. Soon after this time, parts of the Northern Territory were considered in the Kimberley Plan as a possible site for the establishment of a Jewish Homeland, understandably considered the "Unpromised Land".
During World War II, most of the Top End was placed under military government. This is the only time since Federation that part of an Australian state or territory has been under military control. After the war, control for the entire area was handed back to the Commonwealth.
Indigenous Australians had struggled for rights to fair wages and land. An important event in this struggle was the strike and walk off by the Gurindji people at Wave Hill Cattle Station in 1966. The Commonwealth Government of Gough Whitlam set up the Woodward Royal Commission in February 1973, which set to enquire into how land rights might be achieved in the Northern Territory. Justice Woodward's first report in July 1973 recommended that a Central Land Council and a Northern Land Council be established to present to him the views of Aboriginal people. In response to the report of the Royal Commission a Land Rights Bill was drafted, but the Whitlam Government was dismissed before it was passed.
The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 was eventually passed by the Fraser Government on 16 December 1976 and began operation on the following Australia Day (26 January 1977).
In 1978 the Territory was granted responsible government, with a Legislative Assembly headed by a Chief Minister. The Administrator of the Northern Territory is an official acting as the Queen's indirect representative in the Territory.
During 1995–6 the Northern Territory was briefly one of the few places in the world with legal voluntary euthanasia, until the Federal Parliament overturned the legislation. Before the over-riding legislation was enacted, three people committed suicide through voluntary euthanasia, a practice orchestrated by Dr. Philip Nitschke.
There are many very small settlements scattered across the territory, but the larger population centres are located on the single paved road that links Darwin to southern Australia, the Stuart Highway, known to locals simply as "the track".
The Northern Territory is also home to two spectacular natural rock formations, Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), which are sacred to the local Aboriginal peoples and which have become major tourist attractions.
In the northern part of the territory lies Kakadu National Park, which features breathtaking wetlands and native wildlife. To the north of that lies the Arafura Sea, and to the east lies Arnhem Land, whose regional centre is Maningrida on the Liverpool River delta. There is an extensive series of river systems in the Northern Territory. These rivers include: the Alligator Rivers, Daly River, Finke River, McArthur River, Roper River, Todd River and Victoria River.
- Arnhem Land (Restricted Area)
- Barranyi (North Island) National Park
- Casuarina Coastal Reserve
- Daly River Nature Park
- Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve
- Djukbinj National Park
- Dulcie Range National Park
- Elsey National Park
- Finke Gorge National Park
- Gregory National Park
- Gurig National Park-now Garig Gunak Barlu National Park
- Howard Springs Nature Park Conservation Reserve
- Kakadu National Park
- Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve
- Keep River National Park
- Litchfield National Park
- Mary River Crossing Conservation Reserve and proposed Mary River National Park
- Mataranka Thermal Springs
- Nitmiluk National Park
- Katherine Gorge
- Palm Valley
- Tanami Desert
- The Olgas
- Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
- Watarrka National Park (including Kings Canyon)
- West MacDonnell National Park
Jim Jim Falls, Kakadu National Park
Uluru (Ayers Rock), one of the best known images of the Northern Territory
Aerial view of Uluru
The Northern Territory has two distinctive climate zones.
The northern end, including Darwin, has a tropical climate with high humidity and two seasons, the wet (October to April) and dry season (May to September). During the dry season nearly every day is warm and sunny, and afternoon humidity averages around 30%. There is very little rainfall between May and September. In the coolest months of June and July, the daily minimum temperature may dip as low as 14 °C (57 °F), but very rarely lower, and frost has never been recorded.
The wet season is associated with tropical cyclones and monsoon rains. The majority of rainfall occurs between December and March (the southern hemisphere summer), when thunderstorms are common and afternoon relative humidity averages over 70% during the wettest months. On average more than 1,570 mm (62 in) of rain falls in the north. Rainfall is highest in north-west coastal areas, where rainfall averages from 1,800–2,100mm (72–84 in).
The central region is the desert centre of the country, which includes Alice Springs and Ayers Rock, and is semi-arid with little rain usually falling during the hottest months from October to March. Central Australia receives less than 250 mm (9.8 in) of rain per year.
The Northern Territory Parliament is one of the three unicameral parliaments in the country. Based on the Westminster System, it consists of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly which was created in 1974, replacing the Northern Territory Legislative Council.
The Northern Territory Legislative Council was the partly elected governing body from 1947 until its replacement by the fully elected Northern Territory Legislative Assembly in 1974. The total enrolment for the 1947 election was 4,443, all of whom were white. The Northern Territory was split into five electorates: Darwin, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Batchelor, and Stuart.
Whilst this assembly exercises similar powers as the governments of the states of Australia, it does so by legislated delegation of powers from the Commonwealth Government, rather than by any constitutional right. The Monarch is represented by the Administrator of the Northern Territory which is similar to that of state governors.
Twenty-five members of the Legislative Assembly are elected to four-year terms from single-member electorates.
For several years there has been agitation for full statehood. A referendum was held on the issue in 1998, which resulted in a 'no' vote. This was a shock to both the Northern Territory and Commonwealth governments, for opinion polls showed most Territorians supported statehood. However, under the Australian Constitution, the Federal Government may set the terms of entry to full statehood. The Northern Territory was offered three Senators, rather than the twelve guaranteed to original states. (Because of the difference in populations, equal numbers of Senate seats would mean a Territorian's vote for a Senator would have been worth more than 30 votes in New South Wales or Victoria.) Alongside what was cited as an arrogant approach adopted by then Chief Minister Shane Stone, it is believed that most Territorians, regardless of their general views on statehood, were reluctant to adopt the particular offer that was made.
Chief Minister and Cabinet
The Chief Minister of the Northern Territory is the head of government of a self-governing territory, while the head of government of a state is a Premier. The Chief Minister is appointed by the Administrator of the Northern Territory, who in normal circumstances will appoint the leader of whichever party holds the majority of seats in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly. The current Chief Minister of the Northern Territory is Adam Giles of the Country Liberal Party, who replaced Terry Mills on 14 March 2013. The Leader of the Opposition is Michael Gunner of the Australian Labor Party, who assumed the office following the resignation of Delia Lawrie on 19 April 2015.
The Northern Territory received self-government on 1 July 1978 under its own Administrator of the Northern Territory appointed by the Governor-General of Australia. The Commonwealth government, not the Government of the Northern Territory, advises the governor-general on appointment of the Administrator, but by convention, consults first with the Territory Government. The current Administrator is John Hardy.
The Northern Territory is represented in the Commonwealth parliament by two Members in the House of Representatives and two members in the Senate. Following the 2013 Australian general election, Warren Snowdon from the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and Natasha Griggs from the Country Liberal Party (CLP) serve in the House of Representatives, and Nova Peris from the ALP and Nigel Scullion from the CLP serve in the Senate.
The Northern Territory is divided into 17 local government areas, including 11 shires and five municipalities. Shire, city and town councils are responsible for functions delegated by the Northern Territory parliament, such as road infrastructure and waste management. Council revenue comes mostly from property taxes and government grants.
Aboriginal land councils
The population of the Northern Territory at the 2011 Australian census was 211,945, a 10 per cent increase from the 2006 census. The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated a resident population of 233,300 in March 2012, taking into account residents overseas or interstate. The Territory's population represents 1% of the total population of Australia.
The Northern Territory's population is the youngest in Australia and has the largest proportion (23.2%) under 15 years of age and the smallest proportion (5.7%) aged 65 and over. The median age of residents of the Northern Territory is 31 years, six years younger than the national median age.
More than 100 nationalities are represented in the Northern Territory's population, including more than 50 organisations representing different ethnic groups.
The 2006 Census revealed that of the Northern Territory's population, 68.4% is of European descent. 64,491 (30.6%) English with 44,662 (20.2%), Irish with 14,346 (6.8%), Scottish with 11,759 (5.6%), German with 7,729 (3.7%) and Italian with 3,308 (1.5%). Indigenous Australian people make up 32.5% of the Northern Territory's population, while Chinese people with 4,081 make up (1.9%).
Indigenous Australians own some 49% of the land. The life expectancy of Aboriginal Australians is well below that of non-Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory, a fact that is mirrored elsewhere in Australia. ABS statistics suggest that Indigenous Australians die about 11 years earlier than the average Australian. There are Aboriginal communities in many parts of the territory, the largest ones being the Pitjantjatjara near Uluru, the Arrernte near Alice Springs, the Luritja between those two, the Warlpiri further north, and the Yolngu in eastern Arnhem Land.
In terms of birthplace, according to the 2011 census 25.4% of the population were born overseas. 2.5% of Territorians were born in England, 1.9% in New Zealand, 1.7% in Philippines, 0.9% in India and 0.5% in the United States.
More than 54% of Territorians live in Darwin, located in the territory's north (Top End). Less than half of the territory's population live in the rural Northern Territory.
|Rank||Statistical Division/District||2008–2009 Population|
In the 2006 census, 54.6% of Territorians described themselves as Christian. Roman Catholics form the single largest religious group in the territory with 21.1% of the Northern Territory's population, followed by Anglican (12.3%), Uniting Church (7%) and Lutheran (3.6%). Buddhism is the territory's largest non-Christian religion (1.4%), followed by Islam (0.5%) and Hinduism (0.2%). Around 23% of Territorians do not profess any religion.
Primary and secondary
A Northern Territory school education consists of six years of primary schooling, including one transition year, three years of middle schooling, and three years of secondary schooling. In the beginning of 2007, the Northern Territory introduced Middle School for Years 7–9 and High School for Years 10–12. Northern Territory children generally begin school at age five. On completing secondary school, students earn the Northern Territory Certificate of Education (NTCE). Students who successfully complete their secondary education also receive a tertiary entrance ranking, or ENTER score, to determine university admittance. An International Baccalaureate is offered at one school in the Territory – Kormilda College.
Northern Territory schools are either publicly or privately funded. Public schools, also known as state or government schools, are funded and run directly by the Department of Education. Private fee-paying schools include schools run by the Catholic Church and independent schools, some elite ones similar to English public schools. Some Northern Territory Independent schools are affiliated with Protestant, Lutheran, Anglican, Greek Orthodox or Seventh-day Adventist churches, but include non-church schools and an Indigenous school.
As of 2009, the Northern Territory had 151 public schools, 15 Catholic schools and 21 independent schools. 39,492 students were enrolled in schools around the Territory with 29,175 in public schools, and 9,882 in independent schools. The Northern Territory has about 4,000 full-time teachers.
The Northern Territory has one university. Northern Territory University (now called Charles Darwin University) opened in 1989. Charles Darwin University had about 19,000 students enrolled: about 5500 higher education students and about 13500 students on vocational education and training (VET) courses. The first tertiary institution in the territory was the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education (established in the mid-1960s).
The Northern Territory Library is the Territory's research and reference library. It is responsible for collecting and preserving the Northern Territory documentary heritage and making it available through a range of programs and services. Material in the collection includes books, newspapers, magazines, journals, manuscripts, maps, pictures, objects, sound and video recordings and databases.
The Northern Territory's economy is largely driven by mining, which is concentrated on energy producing minerals, petroleum and energy and contributes around $2.5 billion to the gross state product and employs over 4,600 people. Mining accounts for 26 per cent of the gross state product in 2006–2007 compared to just 7 per cent nationally.
The economy has continued to grow during the 2005–2006 financial year from the past two financial years. Between 2003 and 2006 the gross state product had risen from $8,670 million to $11,476 million and increase of 32.4 per cent. During the three years to 2006–2007 the Northern Territory gross state product grew by an average annual rate of 5.5 per cent. Gross state product per capita in the Northern Territory ($72,496) is higher than any Australian state or territory, and is also higher than the gross domestic product per capita for Australia ($54,606). This can be attributed to the recent mining and resources boom.
The Northern Territory's exports were up 19 per cent during 2005–2006. The largest contributor to the territory's exports was: petroleum and natural gas (33.4%), metal ores and concentrates (20.0%), other manufacturing (5.9 per cent) and agriculture (4.9%). Imports to the Northern Territory totalled $2,887.8 million which consisted of mainly machinery and equipment manufacturing (58.4%) and petroleum, coal, chemical and associated product manufacturing (17.0%).
The principal mining operations are bauxite at Gove Peninsula where the production is estimated to increase 52.1% to $254 million in 2007–08, manganese at Groote Eylandt, production is estimated to increase 10.5% to $1.1 billion which will be helped by the newly developed mines include Bootu Creek and Frances Creek, gold which is estimated to increase 21.7 per cent to $672 million at the Union Reefs plant and uranium at Ranger Uranium Mine.
Tourism is one of the major industries on the Northern Territory. Iconic destinations such as Uluru and Kakadu make the Northern Territory a popular destination for domestic and international travellers. Diverse landscapes, waterfalls, wide open spaces, aboriginal culture, wild and untamed wildlife, all create a unique opportunity for the visitor to immerse themselves in the natural wonder that the Northern Territory offers. In 2005–06, 1.38 million people visited the Northern Territory. They stayed for 9.2 million nights and spent over $1.5 billion.
The territory is promoted with the slogan "You'll Never Never Know if You Never Never Go". This was implemented as a result of the Kennedy Review in 1992.
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 Northern Territory is one of the few remaining places in the world with no speed restrictions on public roads. On 1 January 2007 a default speed limit of 110 km/h was introduced 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. On 1 February 2014, the speed limit was removed on a 204 km portion of the Stuart Highway for a one-year trial period.
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.
The Northern Territory has only one daily tabloid newspaper, News Corporation's Northern Territory News; the Centralian Advocate is circulated around the Alice Springs region twice a week. There is a Sunday tabloid newspaper, The Sunday Territorian. There are also five weekly community newspapers. The Territory receives the national daily, The Australian, while the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age are also available in Darwin. Katherine's paper is the Katherine Times.
Metropolitan Darwin has had five broadcast television stations:
- ABC Northern Territory – (ABD)
- SBS Northern Territory – (SBS)
- Southern Cross Television – (TND) – Seven Network Affiliate
- Nine Network Darwin – (NTD)
- Ten Darwin (or Darwin Digital Television) – (DTD) – Network Ten Affiliate
Darwin also has a single open-narrowcast station:
Regional Northern Territory has a similar availability of stations:
- ABC Northern Territory – (ABD)
- SBS Northern Territory – (SBS)
- Southern Cross Central – (QQQ) – Seven Network Affiliate
- Imparja – (IMP) – Nine Network Affiliate
- Ten Central (or Central Digital Television) – (CDT) – Network Ten Affiliate
Remote areas are generally required to receive television via the Viewer Access Satellite Television service, which carries the same channels as the regional areas, as well as some extra open-narrowcast services, including Indigenous Community Television, Rural Health Channel and Westlink
Darwin has radio stations on both AM and FM frequencies. ABC stations include ABC NewsRadio (102.5FM), 105.7 ABC Darwin (8DDD 105.7FM), ABC Radio National (657AM), ABC Classic FM (107.3FM) and Triple J (103.3FM). The 2 commercial stations are: Mix 104.9 (8MIX), Hot 100 (8HOT)
The radio stations in Alice Springs are also broadcast on the AM and FM frequencies. ABC stations include Triple J (94.9FM), ABC Classic FM (97.9FM), 783 ABC Alice Springs (783AM) and ABC Radio National (99.7FM). There are two community stations in the town--CAAMA (100.5FM) and 8CCC (102.1FM). The commercial stations, which are both owned by the same company are Sun 96.9 (96.9FM) and 8HA (900AM). Two additional stations, Territory FM (98.7FM) and Radio TAB (95.9FM) are syndicated from Darwin and Brisbane respectively.
- Australian Aboriginal prehistoric sites
- Crime in the Northern Territory
- Northern Territory Police
- List of highways in the Northern Territory
- Category:Cities in the Northern Territory
- Category:Towns in the Northern Territory
- Fires around Darwin, Australia August 21, 2013
- 2011 Census QuickStats: Northern Territory, Australian Bureau of Statistics, 9 August 2011.
- Report of the Commission of Enquiry into Darwin Port Operations, Northern Territory Transport and Consumer Prices, Darwin, 1972 
- Bureau of Transport Economics, Darwin and Northern Territory Freight Transport Study, Canberra, 1977 
- Hill, Ernestine. 1951. The Territory: The classic saga of Australia's far north. Angus & Robertson. Reprint: 1995. ISBN 0-207-18821-1
- Govan, A. (2007) Broadband debate key to NT's future. N.T. Business Review, vol. N/A, no. N/A, p. 7
- Morrison, P. (2000) a pilot implementation of internet access for remote aboriginal communities in the "Top end" Of Australia. Urban Studies, Vol. 37, No.10, pp. 1781–1792.
- Toyne, P. (2002) Northern Territory Government's Response to the House of Representatives Communications, Information Technology & the Arts Committee inquiry into Wireless Broadband Communications. In N.T. GOVERNMENT (Ed.) (pp. 3). Darwin: Northern Territory Government.
- Toyne, P. (2003) Remote Areas Telecommunications Strategy 2003–2008. In N. T. GOVERNMENT (Ed.) (pp. 1– 32). Darwin N.T. viewed 6 February 2008, <>
- Northern Territory Government of Australia
- Northern Territory Visitor's Guide
- Geographic data related to Northern Territory at OpenStreetMap
- Northern Territory Weather and Warnings Summary from the Bureau of Meteorology
- Northern-Territory Northern Territory Climate
- Northern Territory economy/mining
- Northern Territory Universities
- Northern Territory Population estimates June 2007
- June 2007 NT population estimates