Exploring the NT? You’re Going to Need a Permit

You’ve packed your bags, filled your water bottle, topped the fourby with petrol and marked out your trip on a GPS. Yet, for some reason, you can’t shake the feeling you’ve forgotten something, and it’s not that you left lil’ Macaulay Culkin home alone on Christmas Eve.

If your trip to the NT involves entering Aboriginal lands or waters, meeting with an Aboriginal community, or simply passing through, you’re going to need permission to do so.

Don’t stress, because we’ve done the research for you and found the main areas where you’ll need a permit and how you can get them.

Why You Need a Permit to Explore Certain Areas of the NT


Basically, the purpose of the permit system is to respect the Aboriginal culture, privacy and wishes of the Indigenous families who own and live off the land.

Aboriginal land isn’t publically owned and granting sole access to those with a permit helps ensure the culture and the environment is preserved as much as possible.

When You Need a Permit 

There are different types of permits available based on your intentions for visiting the area:

  • Travellers
  • Tourists
  • Contractors
  • Journalists
  • Recreational Fishing
  • Company or Government Department
  • Research
  • Commercial Filming
  • Media Permit

How to Obtain Your Permit 


Here’s a list of organisations where you can apply for your permit and the areas they represent.

Central Land Council

  • Tennant Creek
  • Tanami
  • Eastern Sandover
  • Eastern Plenty
  • Alice Springs

The Northern Land Council

  • Darwin
  • Daly
  • Wagait
  • West Arhem
  • East Arnhem
  • Katherine
  • Victoria River District
  • Ngukurr
  • Borroloola/Barkly

The Tiwi Land Council

  • The Tiwi Islands (Bathurst Island & Melville island)

Dhimurru Access Permits

  • Northeast Arnhem Land

It’s important you initiate the appropriate steps towards obtaining your permit well before you set off on your trip. Generally, obtaining a permit can take a minimum of ten days after your application.

However, don’t go overboard and apply for your permit too far ahead of time, as many things can happen resulting in your permit being revoked, such as a death or funeral on the land.

Another important point you need to take note of is that applying for your permit isn’t a guarantee you’ll get one, as it is up to the discretion of those who responsible for approval.

Important Things to Know 


While some areas may have unique stipulations for entry, there are a few general and important rules you must follow when entering Aboriginal land.

  • You must respect the environment – please do not take the flora or fauna home with you. Ensure all rubbish and food scraps remain in your vehicle to be disposed of in an appropriate area.
  • Activities – many areas prohibit activities such as the cutting down of trees, use of firearms, starting fires or bringing pets on to the land.
  • Alcohol – it is prohibited to bring, sell or consume alcohol on Aboriginal land. There are steep penalties in place for those who break this law, without exception.


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