RDA Northern TerritoryCommunity profile

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RDA Northern Territory

About the profile areas

The 2016 Estimated Resident Population for the RDA Northern Territory is 245,740, with a population density of 0.00 persons per hectare.

Location and boundaries

The Northern Territory is located in northern Australia, bounded by the Timor Sea and the Arafura Sea in the north, the State of Queensland in the east, the State of South Australia in the south, and the State of Western Australia in the west.

Settlement history

Traditionally, indigenous people lived in the area, and continue to do so, mainly in small communities. European settlement dates from 1824, although population was minimal until 1872 when the Overland Telegraph Line was built, linking Australia with Europe. Settlement was slow, with land used mainly for grazing or other pastoral purposes. Some growth took place from the 1880s through to the early 1900s, particularly in the townships of Alice Springs, Darwin and Katherine, following gold exploration and mining. Substantial growth did not occur until the 1930s, following the construction of the railway from Adelaide to Alice Springs. The most significant development occurred from the 1960s, aided by growth in the tourism industry. From the 1980s the City of Palmerston was developed to accommodate the outward growth of Darwin. The Northern Territory has experienced an increase in population since the early 1990s, rising from about 176,000 in 1991 to about 228,000 in 2011. Much of the recent growth has been in the City of Darwin and the City of Palmerston, and to a lesser extent in the Litchfield Council area.

Land use
Land use 0% 0% 7% 92%

Land use

The Northern Territory is predominantly rural, with major townships at Alice Springs and Darwin. There are several smaller townships including Katherine, Nhulunbuy, Palmerston, Tennant Creek and Yulara. The area is home to numerous indigenous communities, many of whom live in remote areas. The Northern Territory encompasses a land area of 1.35 million square kilometres. Much of the land is used for pastoral purposes (mainly beef cattle farming), with some mining, defence, horticulture and fishing. Tourism is a major industry, with many natural features, including creeks, gorges, waterfalls, rainforests, wetlands, caves and canyons.


The Northern Territory is served by the Stuart Highway, the Arnhem Highway, the Barkly Highway, the Buntine Highway, the Kakadu Highway, the Lasseter Highway, the Plenty Highway, the Ross Highway, the Sandover Highway, the Victoria Highway, the Ghan train, Darwin Port, Darwin International Airport and numerous small airports.

Major features

Major features of the Northern Territory include numerous National Parks (Barranyi (North Island), Charles Darwin, Djukbinj, Elsey, Garig Gunak Barlu, Iytweleplenty/Davenport Range, Fink Gorge, Judbarra/Gregory, Kakadu, Keep River, Linmen, Litchfield, Mary River, Nitmiluk, Tjoritja/West MacDonnell, Uluru-Kata Tjuta and Watarrka), Uluru - Ayers Rock, Kata Tjuta - The Olgas, several Coastal Reserves (Casuarina, Channel Point and Shoal Bay), numerous Conservation Reserves (Caranbirini, Connells Lagoon, Corroboree Rock, Douglas River and Daly River, Fogg Dam, Henbury Meteorites, Illamurta Springs, Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles, Knuckey Lagoons, Mac and Rose Chalmers, Mac Clark (Acacia peuce), Napwerte/Ewaninga Rock Carvings Native Gap, N’Dhala Gorge, Rainbow Valley and Tree Point), various Nature Parks (Berry Springs, Butterfly Gorge, Cutta Caves, Giwining/Flora River, Holmes Jungle, Howard Springs, Ruby Gap, Trephina Gorge, Umbrawarra Gorge and Yeperenye/Emily and Jessie Gaps), several Historical Reserves (Alice Springs Telegraph Station, Artlunga, Attack Creek, Barrow Creek Telegraph Station, Chambers Pillar and Tennant Creek Telegraph Station), Darwin River Dam, Manton Dam Recreation Area, Katherine Hot Springs, Tjuwaliyn (Douglas) Hot Springs Park, Linmen Bight Marine Park, Cobourg Marine Park, Ormiston Gorge, Ayers Rock Resort and various other hotels and resorts, Skycity Darwin Casino, Darwin Convention Centre, numerous museums, Howard Springs Hunting Reserve, the Tanami Desert, the Simpson Desert, Arnhem Land, George Brown Botanic Gardens, Alice Springs Desert Park, Owen Springs Reserve, Tnoraia (Gosse Bluff) Conservation Park, Royal Flying Doctor Service, School of the Air, several hospitals (Alice Springs, Darwin Private, Gove District, Katherine District, Royal Darwin and Tennant Creek), various mines, Darwin Correctional Centre, Alice Springs Correctional Centre, Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, Charles Darwin University, Darwin City Waterfront, numerous small islands, various lakes and beaches, Pine Gap Joint Defence Facility and several other military/defence areas.

Indigenous background

The original inhabitants of the Northern Territory were various Aboriginal tribes.

Included areas

The Northern Territory encompasses seventeen local government areas: the Alice Springs Town Council area, the Barkly Regional Council area, the Belyuen Community Government Council area, the Central Desert Regional Council area, the Coomalie Community Government Council area, the City of Darwin, the East Arnhem Regional Council area, the Katherine Town Council area, the Litchfield Council area, the MacDonnell Regional Council area, the City of Palmerston, the Roper Gulf Regional Council area, the Tiwi Islands Regional Council area, the Victoria Daly Regional Council area, Wagait Shire, the West Arnhem Regional Council area and the West Daly Regional Council area, plus Unincorporated Northern Territory.


A significant proportion of the Northern Territory is Aboriginal freehold land.