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Northern Territory travel restrictions | Where you can go in October 2020

As restrictions ease, we look at where you can go and what you can do in the NT right now.

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Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge) covers a vast area of escarpment country, including 13 gorges carved from the ancient sandstone country. (Sightseeing B

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The Northern Territory has sped through lockdown with travel restrictions eased to the point where the territory is mostly back up and running.

Regional travel is allowed for residents and the Territory is open to the rest of Australia – with the exception of Victoria. However, regional Victorians may be allowed to travel to the NT from 2 November, pending cases still remain low.

Whether you're travelling locally or regionally though, physical distancing and good hygiene should be top of mind. Which means you can expect a few changes to how travel works.

Accommodation in the Northern Territory

All accommodation, including hotels, motels, campgrounds, holiday homes and staying at a mate's place, are allowed in the NT.

Staying with family or friends

You can stay overnight at a friend or family member's house without a time or gathering limit.

If your family or friend is over 70 or in a high-risk category, you may want to reconsider the need to stay with them, unless you are a carer.

Staying at hotels

Across the territory, all hotels, hostels and private accommodation are permitted to have guests.

When you arrive, there may be extra hygiene precautions in place. This might include an a la carte breakfast in lieu of a buffet-style one, limited numbers at the pool and gym or the closure of communal spaces.

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Staying at holiday homes

You may travel and stay at your holiday home without limitation.

If you're booking a holiday home for travel purposes, say through Airbnb or Stayz, consider booking entire homes or self-contained apartments where there are no communal facilities.

Airbnb has placed a worldwide limit of 16pax for rentals, excluding boutique hotels and event venues.

Staying at hostels

Hostels throughout the Northern Territory are open and operational. Similar to hotels, they will have enhanced hygiene measures in place.

For example, shared dorms may limit the number of guests to maintain physical distancing and family rooms may only be booked by one party.

Communal areas and facilities may also be closed or be limited to a certain number of guests at one time.

Camping and caravanning

Camping is allowed across the territory in parks that have reopened. Check with your specific park prior to make sure they're open and book a campsite if required.

Organised tours

As of 5 June, organised tours are permitted to resume with an approved COVID Safety Plan. As part of their plans, the tours must encourage a 1.5-metre physical distancing rule between guests who aren't previously acquainted, frequent handwashing or sanitisation and the downloading of the COVIDSafe app.

This may mean that tours operate at a lesser capacity or for private groups only.

Tour operators should also have a booking system that allows them to take your contact details for contact tracing.

Tourist attractions in the Northern Territory

Many popular tourist attractions in the Northern Territory, such as zoos, museums and galleries, can reopen. However, some still remain closed either due to COVID-19 or the season.

The following are some attractions and experiences that are back up and running:

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National parks

A good chunk of the territory's national parks are back up and running. The following are some popular parks you can spend the day (or days) in:

  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
  • Kakadu National Park
  • Charles Darwin National Park
  • Litchfield National Park
  • Mary River National Park
  • Djukbinj National Park
  • Garig Gunak Barlu National Park
  • Barranyi (North Island) National Park
  • Elsey National Park
  • Judbarra/Gregory National Park
  • Keep River National Park
  • Limmen National Park
  • Nitmiluk National Park (some sections and trails are closed)
  • Iytwelepenty/Davenport Ranges National Park
  • Simpsons Gap: Tjoritja/West MacDonnell National Park
  • Finke Gorge National Park
  • Watarrka National Park

Beaches and local parks

All beaches and local parks are permitted to reopen, but physical distancing is encouraged.

Getting to and from your holiday

Driving within the Northern Territory

You are free to drive your own vehicle for recreational purposes throughout the territory, excluding any biosecurity areas or remote communities that are not accepting non-essential visitors.

When hiring a car, you may notice some additional protocols in place to keep you safe. This could include a no-contact policy when picking up and returning your ride.

Flights within the Northern Territory

While you are allowed to fly within the territory, Qantas, Air North, Virgin Australia and Jetstar are running pared-back intrastate and interstate services until travel picks up again.

You can check flight routes and prices through Skyscanner for your options.

When flying, you'll likely notice added health and safety measures such as enhanced cleaning and masks and sanitising wipes for all customers.

Bus and coach services

A wide network of coach and tour companies offer services around the Northern Territory and into its neighbouring states.

These have been impacted by lockdown and travel restrictions.

  • Greyhound: Services from Darwin to Alice Springs, Darwin to Katherine, Katherine to Palmerston and Tennant Creek to Alice Springs are still running. Services to Broome and Kununurra are operating, but if you're entering Western Australia, you must have sought exemption prior to travel or be turned back at the border at your own expense.

Chartered services with companies like Coach Charters Australia and Bodhi Bus are available to get you between cities.

Train services

The Ghan is one of the most famous train journeys in Australia and runs straight through the NT from Darwin to Alice Springs and then down into South Australia.

Journeys recommenced on 30 August 2020 and bookings are open for April-November 2021.

You can take the entire journey or just sections of it. If you'd like to stay in the Northern Territory when you go, the Alice Springs-Darwin leg is available as a one-way or return trip.

Which states and territories can I travel to?

Due to its low case rate, Northern Territorians can travel across most of Australia. Depending on where you travel though, you may be required to self-isolate when you return home.

  • To NSW: Borders are open to Territorians and you won't need to quarantine when returning to the NT.
  • To Queensland: Borders are open to Territorians.
  • To Western Australia: Borders are closed and only essential workers may travel to Western Australia. Upon entering they will be taken into mandatory quarantine and need to take two COVID-19 tests.
  • To Victoria: Borders are open. However, as Victoria is a hotspot, you will need to quarantine at your own expense when returning. This is set to change to only listing metropolitan Melbourne as a hotspot on 2 November, as long as cases remain low. Regional Victorians will be allowed to travel to the NT from this date.
  • To South Australia: Borders are open to Northern Territorians.
  • To the ACT: Borders are open to Northern Territorians with no need to quarantine in either territory.
  • To Tasmania: Borders are closed to all non-essential travellers. All other travellers must quarantine for 14 days. Anyone who has been to a declared hotspot might be denied entry.

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Frequently asked questions about travelling in the Northern Territory during COVID-19

How far can I travel from home?

There are no limits as to how far you can travel within the territory.

Are there any regional Norther Territory travel restrictions?

Some biosecurity areas and remote communities are closed for non-essential travel. Otherwise, you're free to travel where you wish in the territory.

Can I travel to the Northern Territory if I live in another state or territory?

Yes. Borders are open to all states and territories except those coming from a declared hotspot. If you are travelling from a hotspot, you must undergo mandatory quarantine for 14 days, unless exempt.

The following are exempt from mandatory quarantine:

  • National and Northern Territory governance and justice members who are ordinarily residents of the territory
  • Essential service personnel such as medical transport, law enforcement and emergency services
  • Transport, freight and logistics workers
  • Active military and defence personnel
  • Anyone with a specialist skill that is critical to maintaining services, industries, businesses or infrastructure and is offering a service that cannot be delayed for 14 days
  • Other workers, for example health workers or those who live across the border and are required to cross for services, goods or work, can apply for an exemption here

As of 9 October, Victoria is the only region that is recognised as a hotspot.

Do I need to limit the number of people I travel with?

No. There are no gathering limits, but physical distancing should be maintained when in the company of those outside your household.

Do I need to pre-book to visit dining venues and attractions?

No. Most venues don't require you to pre-book unless this is standard practice for them.

Will I need to self-isolate or go into quarantine when I return from my trip?

No. When travelling within the territory, you don't need to self-isolate when you come home. This only applies if you have been travelling interstate.

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