Welcome to the Territory
Capital: Darwin (population of 120,585)
Northern Territory (abbreviated as NT) is an Australian Federal Territory in the centre and central northern region of Australia. 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). Northern Territory consists of a few major cities such as Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs.
To the north, the territory is bordered by the Timor Sea, the Arafura Sea and the Gulf of Carpentaria. Despite its large area consisting of over 1,349,129 square kilometres (making it the third largest Australian Federal division), it is sparsely populated. With a population of 233,300, it is the least populated state/territory in Australia’s eight major states and territories.
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 (November to April) and dry season (May to October). During the dry season, most days are warm and sunny and contain afternoon humidity of 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 monsoonal 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.
The central region is the desert centre, which includes Alice Springs and Ayers Rock and is semi-arid with little rain, which usually falls during the hottest months from October to March. Central Australia receives less than 250 mm (9.8 in) of rain per year.
Average temperature of Darwin is 30 °C with high humidity. The highest temperature recorded in the territory was 48.3 °C (118.9 °F) in Finke on 1st and 2nd January, 1960. The lowest temperature was −7.5 °C (18.5 °F) in Alice Springs on 12 July 1976.
Population make up
The 2006 Census revealed that of the Northern Territory’s population, 68.4% are European descent. 30.6% (64,491)English with 20.2% (44,662), Irish with 6.8% (14,346), Scottish with 5.6% (11,759), German with 3.7% (7,729) and Italian with 1.5% (3,308).
Indigenous Australian people make up 32.5% of the Northern Territory’s population, while Chinese people with 4,081 make up 1.9%. Indonesians, Malaysians, Indians, Greeks and Sri Lankans and others, make up the lesser population.
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.
Like most Australian capitals, Darwin have clean beautiful beaches. Unfortunately, one must be wary of crocodiles that frequent the area in Darwin. To swim, one must just be vigilant at all times. But it is advised only to swim in areas specified as being safe but even then, it is advised to pay attention at all times.
Saltwater crocodiles have been known to venture miles out from the sea and same with the freshwater crocodiles in lakes and rivers. The whole of the northern Australian coastline is infested with crocodiles.
Box jellyfish are found around the whole coastline of Northern Territory and is another reason not to swim in the NT beaches.
Majority of beaches, rivers and lakes are dangerous because of jellyfish and crocodiles, as well as stingrays but designated locations are relatively safe as they are frequently patrolled and checked by Rangers but it is important to be vigilant at all times.
It is better to get advice on tourist locations and swimming spots from local Territorians and other Sri Lankans, as they can be sources of important advice because there are locations that are unsafe to travel to. There are also sacred areas that are illegal to go to as well.
If a jellyfish stings you, it is important to treat the sting location with diluted vinegar that is available in most beaches.
The following websites contain important information about places in the Territory:
Initially as a new arrival it is good to stay in a hotel room and rent weekly as it is relatively cheap.Check this website for great bargains: www.wotif.com
Initially it is better to rent a house because it is very difficult to buy a house when you first arrive. Houses are quite expensive in Darwin, even renting is expensive.
Renting a house
There are different types of houses in Darwin such as apartments, units, town houses and houses. There are two ways you can rent a house:
- By directly talking to the owner of the house
- By contacting the renting agency that is renting the house
By using the information on the NT news paper on Saturday it is easier to find houses for renting. You may have difficulties renting a house through renting agencies as a new arrival due to the lack of past renting references. Therefore, it is advised that you get advice and assistance from your work place employer. Check these websites for houses for rent.
Processed food, vegetables and fruit
- You can buy from Woolworths or Coles supermarkets for reasonable prices. If you are to purchase food in other local shops, the price may vary and the cost of food may be more expensive than that of the supermarkets.
- If you are to buy fresh local food, it is far better to go to the local markets designated in Palmerston (on Fridays), Parap (on Saturdays), Rapid Creek (on Sundays). However, some markets are not open in the Wet Season.
Purchase from shopping centres
There are three main shopping centres in Darwin which are Darwin shopping centre, Casuarina shopping centre and Palmerston shopping centre (some of the cheap shops are Dollars and cents, Crazy Clark, Kmart, Target and Big W)
Building and house hold material.
The best place is Bunnings warehouse for the best prices.
Best places are: Le Cornu, Jape Homemaker Village, Carla Furniture and also the Discount Warehouse in Palmerston
Saturday’s NT News (Darwin) and the Centralian Advocate (Alice Springs) paper and Thursday flea market page are good sources.
Weekend lawn sales/Moving Sales
You can find many cheap and quality second hand goods in lawn/moving sales, which are advertised in the Saturday newspapers. At these sales, you have to travel to the owner’s residence and purchase items for cash.
Second Hand Shops/Op Shops
Charity shops and second hand furniture shops are also great places to find cheap second hand goods.
Locally: buses are the cheapest way to travel and cost only $3 for duration of three hours with free bus services for school and university students.
Taxi and mini buses are quite expensive but unlike buses, they can take you anywhere you want in the cities.
Intercity travel between major cities within the territory can be by bus but usually interstate travel is by air or rail.
Purchasing a car
You can purchase a car in different ways:
- Directly from the company– brand new or second hand (but are expensive and some companies will try to sell additional items which can also be expensive and useless)
- Directly from owner (second hand car) – NT newspaper will help
- Second hand car dealers (be careful when buying from them)
- Public car sales (best place is near Coolalinga shopping centre adjoining the Stuart Highway)
- Car auction (Pickles auction in Winnellie)
As a new arrival, you may have difficulties buying a car from auction with their regulations; therefore contact them before going to the auction. However, it is a recommended place to buy quality vehicles for a reasonable price.
- When you want vehicle insurance it is better to get it from local companies like TIO.
Your Sri Lankan drivers license is valid for three months in the Northern Territory as a tourist license. It is important to read all the rules and regulations before you drive. After three months, it is illegal to drive without an Australian license. Therefore, it is important that you apply for a license early.
Firstly, you must pass the written test (you can sit for the written test multiple times. Even if you happen to fail during a particular day, you can sit again the next day). After you have passed the written test, you will receive temporary licence and the date for the practical test. It is important that you understand that after you receive your temporary license, your Sri Lankan license becomes invalid and you can’t drive without a front seat passenger with a full drivers licence.
Secondly, you must pass the practical test (even if you are a well-experienced driver in Sri Lanka, you may have difficulties passing this test as per the Australian requirements). You may sit this test as many times as you require. It is advised that you have a couple of driving sessions with an experienced instructor or with a Sri Lankan who has obtained the license recently. However, get advice and read the regulations and conditions for the practical test carefully before attending.
There are two types of education facilities in Darwin.
If you are newly working in Australia, you are eligible to send your children to government schools free of charge. However, some visa categories such as student visa, the parents have to pay money to the government schools. Nevertheless, in such incidents, some private schools in Darwin may provide scholarships or low fee admission to their school. In other cases, you have to pay money to private schools.
|Age||Institutions and schools||Grade||Types|
|6 months to 4 years||Childcare||–||Government / private|
|4to 6 years||Pre-school and kindergarten||–||Government / private|
|6 to 11 years||Primary school||1-6||Government / private|
|11 to 14 years||Middle school||7-9||Government / private|
|14 to 17years||High school||10-12||Government / private|
|18+||University||–||Government / private|
for Childcare, you have to pay money and most places are open from 7:30 am to 5 pm. Fees vary depending on the childcare. For more information:
Preschool and kindergarten
Preschool is somewhat very similar to montessori in Sri Lanka. Starting & ending times may vary from school to school. If you cannot pick your child by that time, the child would have to go to the aftercare service (which is located in the same school) where the staff looks after your kids until you pick them up. You must pay for preschools and kindergartens in Darwin.
Primary, middle and high school
In high school, the students in year 11 can follow up to year 12 or they can have the VET course (Vocational Educational and Training), which is similar to technical courses and apprentice courses.
Important-If your child studied in Sri Lanka in their mother language (Sinhalese, Tamil), do not worry, in Darwin, there is a specialized school to learn English called Anula Primary School. The school also provides transport.
It is advised that children speak with their mother language at home, as they may forget their mother language after learning English.
It is also advised that your child may be sent to private tuition when they are studying in year 11 and 12.
In Darwin, there are two types of University selection exams in year 12. They are:
- International Baccalaureate (IB)
Charles Darwin University (CDU) is the only University in the Northern Territory with branches located in Casuarina and Palmerston and Alice Springs. It has medical, engineering, nursing, economy, agriculture and many other faculties. http://www.cdu.edu.au/
When you start to work in Darwin, your wife or husband is legally recognized as the dependent for you. Because of that, they can study CDU English Language as a second language or/and some other courses for minimal fees. There are other day and night classes at the CDU.
There are also some free and chargeable English classes in Darwin.
There are a number of different types of libraries in Darwin.
- City Council libraries – free to borrow books after you become a member, which does not cost anything. Internet services are available and the first hour is free for members but it can cost money (about $2 an hour) for additional time.
- University libraries – are available for university students and general public to use but a number of facilities are limited for the general public.
- Parliament library – similar to the City Council libraries but some facilities cost money.
Benefits of this card:
- Reduced fee medical services such as General Practice (not always)
- Reduced medication prices
- Free public hospital service (you may need to pay for some services)
However, private dental services are not covered by Medicare (government dental services are free).
Private medical insurance
When you fist arrive in Australia, it is important to have private medical cover for private and government medical and dental services. Otherwise, you must pay large sums of money for medical services.
However, even after obtaining your Medicare card, it is still advised that you have a private medical insurance for private medical and dental services. Follow the links for more information:
If you need to get any medical treatment, initially you must go to a general practitioner. However, for any emergency you can go to the emergency department in the public hospital or call the ambulance. But if you don’t have Medicare or private insurance, you must pay for the public hospital services and the ambulance.
General practice (GP’s): there are two types of GP’s bulkbilling and private billing.
In bulkbilling practice, if you have Medicare or private medical insurance, you do not need to pay for the consultation (for some private medical insurance they may ask you to pay some money).
In private billing you need to pay some money for consultation.
However there is a super clinic in the suburb of Palmerston (20kms outside of Darwin) where you can get free consultations and medication from 10PM to 8AM.
Most of the GP’s and doctors of Darwin are from Sri Lanka so you can expect a friendly service.
Most of the pharmacies are kept open from 9am-7 pm. However, some pharmacies are open until 11pm so make sure to buy medication early. Different pharmacies charge different amounts of money for the same medication so it is advised to look around before purchasing.
However if you have any problems at night, visit the Palmerston super clinic which is open from 10pm to 8am.
If you are having serious financial difficulties or problems finding a job, you may get help and assistance from centrelink.
Visit the website below for job opportunities in Darwin but Sri Lankans living in Darwin can also help you find a job. Check the websites below for job opportunities: http://www.nt.gov.au/jobs/Pages/default.aspx
More details on banking can be found in Yellow Pages
In Australia tax is compulsory if you earn money.
For more information visit this website: