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Aboriginal Land

Northern Territory law requires all visitors to obtain a permit to enter Aboriginal land. Aboriginal Land covers large parts of the territory. The system helps protect the privacy of Aboriginal communities, safeguard their culture and the natural environment. The only exceptions are designated public roads, which pass through Aboriginal land. But, if you need to drive off the road to stop for fuel, you will require a transit permit. If you are travelling independently into these areas, you must obtain a permit. Processing of permit applications usually takes four to six weeks, so apply early. Permits are controlled by the Northern Land Council (Darwin, Nhulunbuy and Katherine region) and the Tiwi Land Council (Melville and Bathurst Islands). Please remember traditional owners have the right to refuse any application.

Most Aboriginal lands are outside areas visited by tourists in conventional vehicles. You do not need a permit to enter jointly managed National Parks such as Kakadu and Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge).

There are places and objects throughout the Territory, which are held sacred or are of special significance to the Aboriginal people. Entry to some is forbidden. Some may been seen only by men, others only by women. Some may not be photographed.

Visitors are welcome to many rock art and ceremonial sites under the guidance of their traditional owners who take pride in explaining their cultural significance. Visitors should follow their guide's instructions about behaviour and women should dress modestly.

Liquor is prohibited by some Aboriginal communities and may not be brought into or carried through their land. If you intend to carry liquor, please check with the NT Liquor Commission in Darwin first.

Four wheel drive enthusiasts venturing off main roads are likely to find themselves driving through someone's private pastoral property. Unless you are on a public access road, you have to obtain permission to drive through. If you come to a gate which is closed, close it behind you. If it's open, leave it open. Make sure no stock gets out. Where possible, a passenger should open and close gates.



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