Permits Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Are permits being issued for the Simpson Desert?
  2. Can I take photos?
  3. What is Aboriginal land?
  4. Do people travelling together require separate permits?
  5. Are permits legally required?
  6. How do I apply for a permit?
  7. Which roads require transit permits?
  8. Why have a permit system?
  9. Is there a charge?
  10. Why may a permit be refused?
  11. What if I am travelling into SA or WA?
  12. Who needs a permit?
  13. Where do I check road conditions?
  14. What if I break down?
  15. Need help?
  16. Where can I find out more about communities?
  17. Is there accommodation in communities?
  18. Can I take alcohol?

Are permits being issued for the Simpson Desert?

The Traditional Owners of the country that is traversed by the Madigan Line, Colson, and Hay River Tracks have agreed to open the tracks to visitors this season, subject to permit requirements.

Whilst the tracks will be available for use, please note that the communities of Santa Teresa, Titjikala, Atitjere, and Finke will remain closed and permits will not be issued for general entry except in exceptional circumstances. There will be no access to these communities for visitors due to resident concerns regarding the current health pandemic.

Permits for the Madigan Line and Colson Track will be issued with new permit conditions, available here. 

Please apply for any entry for the Hay River Track here and then email application number along with details of vehicles and number of people travelling to


Can I take photos?

It is okay to take photos of scenery on Aboriginal land as long as it is for non-commercial non-public purposes. Any commercial or public photography or filming requires a special purpose permit application and agreement.

Any photography of private homes or people communities needs the permission of those people. Please be aware that an Aboriginal person may say yes to a stranger to take a photo even if they don’t really agree. Aboriginal people are polite to strangers. We recommend knowing an Aboriginal person before asking to take photos. Please be respectful and use discretion.

What is Aboriginal land?

Aboriginal land is land for which Aboriginal people hold inalienable freehold title under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cth). The title is similar to other freehold title but it may not be sold or transferred.

Do people travelling together require separate permits?

No. People travelling together in the same vehicle are included on a single permit. The names of all passengers must be listed on your permit application. If there is more than one vehicle make a separate application for each vehicle.

Are permits legally required?

Yes. Commonwealth and Northern Territory law says that entry to Aboriginal land, subject to the exceptions, requires a written permit. Unauthorised entry to Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory can result in a fine of up to $1000.

Aboriginal land councils have the statutory responsibility to consult with Aboriginal landowners about issuing permits to travel across or enter Aboriginal land.

A considerable part of the Northern Territory is Aboriginal freehold land and requires a permit to enter. This map shows which areas in the CLC area are Aboriginal land.

How do I apply for a permit?

You can apply for all permits online at the permits homepage. Alternatively, the CLC Permit Officer will provide you with a permit application form upon request (+61 (08) 8951 6211 or or visit 27 Stuart Highway Alice Springs).

Once the form is filled out the CLC will consult with Aboriginal landowners and issue the permit to you. Permits may be emailed or faxed to you or collected from the CLC office. Transit permits are self issued online and do not require processing by CLC.

Which roads require transit permits?

Please check the CLC Permit Requirements Map here as the following roads are not public roads and require a transit permit:

  • Tjukaruru Road (between Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park boundary and WA border). The transit permit allows access to Tjunti (Lasseter's Cave) for sightseeing during the day. Camping is only allowed at the Docker River campground.
  • Gary Junction Road (between Papunya and WA border).
  • Sandy Blight Road (between Kintore and Docker River). Note: this is a rough and slow road and a full day needs to be allowed. As this road also crosses into WA a permit is also required from Ngaanyatjarra Council on
  • Glen Helen-Papunya Road (between Glen Helen and Papunya). Note: this permit does not allow you to enter Haasts Bluff (Ikuntji).
  • Mereenie Loop Road (between Kata Pata Pass and Watarrka National Park boundary). Note: The Mereenie Tour Pass combines your transit permit with a full colour tourist information booklet and map free of charge if obtained from the Central Land Council. The Pass is also available from Tourism Central Australia, Hermannsburg (Ntaria), Glen Helen, Kings Canyon (Watarrka) at a fee determined by the individual company.

Why have a permit system?

The permit system is simply a system of regulated access to Aboriginal land. The system complements Aboriginal responsibility for country and is consistent with the land title held under Australian law.

Without a permit system there would be no way of asking permission to visit private Aboriginal land.

Benefits of the permit system are:

  • Protecting and caring for sacred sites, consistent with Aboriginal landowners’ special attachment to land
  • Providing a policing tool for unscrupulous behaviour given the difficulties of applying trespass law in remote areas
  • Protecting Aboriginal cultural and intellectual property
  • Protecting the privacy of Aboriginal ceremony and other cultural events
  • Encouraging Aboriginal participation in and realising commercial value of projects on Aboriginal land
  • Promoting awareness and respect for Aboriginal land and culture
  • Promoting visitor safety
  • Protecting the wider natural environment.

Is there a charge?

No. All permits are issued free of charge.

Why may a permit be refused?

A transit or entry permit may be refused if there is an important funeral or ceremony taking place. Poor road conditions following rain may also prevent the issue of permits.

What if I am travelling into SA or WA?

If you intend travelling onto Aboriginal outside the CLC region in central Australia please contact the following organisations:

  • Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands in South Australia
    contact Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara on 8954 8104 or
  • Ngaanyatjarra lands in Western Australia
    contact Ngaanyatjarra Council on 8950 1711 or the WA Department of Indigenous Affairs on (08) 9235 8000
  • Aboriginal land in the Northern Land Council region
    contact the Northern Land Council on (08) 8920 5178 or

Who needs a permit?

Permit law changed in 2008. The main change is a relaxation on entering communities on Aboriginal land. This means anyone passing through can visit the store or art centre or shire office without a permit.

Some basic rules on who needs a permit:

  • Anyone transiting on non-public roads needs a transit permit – check this list or our map to see where.
  • Anyone staying overnight or longer in a community needs an entry permit.
  • Anyone visiting the public areas of a community and not staying overnight does not need a permit.
  • Government workers do not need a permit to enter Aboriginal land for the purposes of their work.
  • Contractors to government do not need an entry permit for work in communities but do need an entry permit for work on Aboriginal land outside communities (including outstations).
  • Anyone visiting outstations and other Aboriginal land outside communities needs an entry permit.
  • Anyone conducting research or commercial projects on Aboriginal land needs a special purpose permit.
  • Media are requested to register here.

If you are unsure contact the CLC on +61 (08) 8951 6211 or or visit 27 Stuart Highway Alice Springs.

Where do I check road conditions?

Road conditions in the Northern Territory can change rapidly. To check road conditions call 1800 246 199 (within Australia) or check online here.
For more information on safe driving in the Northern Territory visit here.

What if I break down?

In the event of accident or breakdown stay with your vehicle and stay in the shade.

Need help?

Please check our map or contact the Central Land Council on +61 (08) 8951 6211 or or visit 27 Stuart Highway Alice Springs.

Where can I find out more about communities?

Check out the NT Government’s Bushtel website – it has a lot of information about all communities in the Northern Territory.

Is there accommodation in communities?

There is generally no visitor accommodation in communities and visitors will need to make their own arrangements. Some communities do have basic visitor accommodation run by the shire office. Check this website to contact the relevant shire for information.

Docker River (Kaltukatjara) has an overnight visitor camping area. Hermannsburg (Ntaria) has a camping area with cabins (currently closed).

Can I take alcohol?

The possession, consumption and sale of alcohol is currently banned on Aboriginal land under the Northern Territory emergency response measures. Severe penalties apply.

However, residents living on Aboriginal land may apply for alcohol permits and transit visitors may carry alcohol which is not for consumption on Aboriginal land. See the FaHCSIA website or contact the NT Licensing Commission for details.