A permit is required to visit any Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory. The permit system helps to protect and preserve the privacy and culture of Aboriginal communities, look after the natural environment and keep visitors safe. In some cases, multiple permits are required when travelling one road that passes through more than one council region. You must carry your permit at all times when on Aboriginal land.
The Mereenie Loop is the unsealed section of the Red Centre Way located between Kings Canyon Resort and the Larapinta Drive / Namatjira Drive intersection. To drive on this road, you'll need a Mereenie Loop Permit.
The permit costs $5.00 and is valid for 3 days from the date of purchase. From 2017, you must obtain your Mereenie Loop Permit in person at the Central Land Council's main office in Alice Springs.
Central Land Council - Main Office
27 Stuart Highway
Alice Springs, NT 0870
T: 08 8951 6211 or 1800 003 640
Opening hours: Weekdays 8am - Noon and 2pm - 4pm
Road transit permits are also required to access Papunya, the Gary Junction Road, and Tjukururu Road. To ask our consultants for more information, visit the Alice Springs Visitor Information Centre or call 1800 645 199.
Road conditions in the Red Centre can vary significantly from day to day. It's a good idea to check the road conditions before you set out on your journey. Despite the sunny climate it does occasionally rain heavily in Central Australia. Unless you’re sure of the water depth, flow rate and any road damage, don’t attempt to cross flooded bridges or causeways. Dust on outback roads can also pose a danger, obscuring vision of the road ahead. It’s best to wait for it to settle and travel carefully with headlights on.
Stock and Wildlife
Many roads in the Northern Territory are not fenced. Animals (kangaroos, dingos, horses, eagles, cows) are most active at sunrise, sunset or at night. If you encounter stock or wildlife you should slow down and sound your horn but do not swerve around them as this can lead to you losing control of your vehicle and the possibility that it may roll over.
If you do drive off the side of the road, don’t over correct or brake heavily. Slow down and return to the road when the vehicle is travelling at a safe speed and the road is clear of other traffic.
Speed limits are enforced in the Northern Territory and fines and demerit points will be given. Maximum speed limits are clearly signed and must be obeyed at all times. The default speed limit on open roads is 110km/hour unless otherwise sign posted. On the Stuart and Barkly Highways the maximum speed limit is 130km/hour. The default speed limit in built up areas is either 50km/hour or 60km/hour unless sign posted otherwise.
You should always drive at a speed that suits the road, the vehicle and the weather conditions.
Fatigue and Long Distances
If you’re not used to driving long distances in high temperatures, you’ll be affected by driver fatigue. As a general rule, you should stop for a 15-minute rest break every two hours of driving. While you stop, take a walk and drink some water. Plan your trip to include these regular breaks and use the clearly signposted rest areas along highways.
Four-wheel drive vehicles are designed for both on and off road conditions and handle very differently to a normal car. They have a high centre of gravity and can be affected by wind caused by passing vehicles. If you’re planning to hire a four-wheel drive and have not previously driven one, ensure you’re familiar with how to operate the vehicle and know when and where to use the accessories such as tyre changing and engaging four-wheel drive. Be careful to also not overload the roof rack.
In Australia, vehicles travel on the LEFT hand side of the road.
Lost or Broken Down
A missing vehicle is easier to locate than missing people so NEVER leave your vehicle regardless of the circumstances. If you intend to leave a main road, let someone know of your plans and your expected time of arrival. Always carry plenty of water.
There are over 200 level rail crossings in the Northern Territory. Some crossings have boom gates and some have flashing lights. When required, you should look both ways, listen and give way to any trains approaching on the railway line before proceeding to cross the track.
Road trains in the Northern Territory are common and can have three trailers, be over 50 metres long and 2.5 metres wide. When overtaking always allow at least one kilometre of clear road ahead and plenty of room before you overtake as they may sway side to side. If you’re being overtaken, don’t move off the road and only show down when the road train moves out to pass.
When approaching a road train on a single lane, narrow road or unsealed road, slow down and drive slowly along the shoulder until it is clear to move back onto the road.
Seat belts do save lives and the law states that you must wear your seat belt at ALL times. A seatbelt can save your life or prevent serious injury if you are involved in a crash or stop suddenly. Drivers are responsible for ensuring everyone in the vehicle wears a seatbelt and penalties apply.
All children under seven years must be in an appropriate child or booster seat.