What’s at Risk
The Northern Territory boasts vast and ancient landscapes that attract thousands of tourists every year.
Red desert sands; great canyons, chasms and gorges; seemingly endless expanses of native grasslands and untouched savannahs; vast riverine and wetland ecosystems; and monsoonal forests- all filled with diverse and unique wildlife and vegetation.
Many of the diverse landscapes of the NT remain largely untouched and unmodified by industry- which is why visitors flock here to see and experience the ‘outback’ for themselves. The current shale gas expansion that is underway in the NT would irreparably change all this.
85% of the Northern Territory is currently covered by exploration licences and applications.This map shows where these licenses have been granted, and what areas are under application. There are more than 30 companies and subsidiaries that are actively exploring for shale gas in the NT or are planning on undertaking exploration programs in the future if their licence applications are granted.
Precious water resources
The Territory offers, along with its stunning landscapes, a mix of climatic zones which add unique character and distinct weather patterns for each region. Hot, dry desert conditions in the south, flowing through to the tropical and monsoonal activities in the north. Much of the Territory, its natural icons, animals, people and industry, are dependent on the continuous supply of groundwater.
Extensive plateaus act as catchments for the recharge of aquifers. Heavy tropical and monsoonal rains across the northern parts of the Territory, with aid from black soil flats, sinkholes and karst limestone caverns and cave systems, fill basins and create a movement of a large body of water below the surface which exits in many areas in the form of springs. These feed our big living rivers and keep them flowing throughout the ‘dry’ season.
Amongst famous well visited springs in the northern parts of the NT, are the crystalline waters of Mataranka Thermal Pools in Elsey National Park, and the Flora River Spring and tufa falls within the Giwining/Flora River Nature Park. There are springs scattered throughout the Top End, and their continuous flow is vital to our big rivers health, and for the supply of water and means of food for many remote communities.
The desert aquifers are much slower to recharge, with water in the arid regions being said to be ‘mined’ these precious systems are actually finite. With climate change likely to impact on rainfall, there is a huge emphasis in Central Australia on water preservation to prevent future water shortages in these drier areas.
Outstanding natural areas and wild places
From the changing colours of Uluru/Ayers Rock and ancient mountain formations in the ‘Red Centre’, through to our extensive tropical rivers, majestic waterfalls and unspoilt beaches ‘up north’, the Territory’s wilderness and outstanding beauty has made the NT a popular destination for both domestic and international travellers, nature lovers and adventurers alike.
With better roads, cheaper airfares and the legendary Ghan Train travelling all the way through to Darwin, Tourism in the NT is on the rise as people have a desire to experience the ‘Great Outback’. It is reported that international visitor numbers increased by 8.5 percent in the year ending 2014.
Touted as the most sustainable industry for growth, tourism has massive opportunity and endless potential, with eco and cultural tours and self-guided adventures, proving to be not only a drawcard for visitors, but a highlight of their trip and an experience not to forget.