Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are embracing tourism to share culture and develop sustainable businesses in their communities. Permission to visit some communities is required by way of a permit in order to protect privacy, preserve culture and look after the natural environment. It can also help protect visitor safety, particularly in remote areas.
There is often no cost for permits and they are usually granted for a period of time sufficient to allow travel through the reserve by the most direct route. In some cases permission can be obtained directly from an Aboriginal community for visitors who want to travel off the main road.
In places which are open to tourists, permits are not always required if you stay on public roads, though if you venture off the main road within an Aboriginal community or reserve, a permit may be required. This may be the case even if you are just looking to enter an Aboriginal community for fuel or food supplies.
Allow plenty of time to obtain permits if they are required in advance of travel. Please be aware in areas that are generally not open to tourism, permit applications may be declined for a range of reasons including potential for interference with sacred sites or disruption of ceremonial business.
The following information gives a guide as some of the main areas where permits may be required, this information is not exhaustive, and may not be up to date. It is best to always check with the local tour or accommodation providers to find out about permits required when visiting their region.
- The Department of Indigenous Affairs issues permits for Western Australia. Visit their website to view a map of where permits are required, travel information, rules and to apply at www.dia.wa.gov.au.
- Northern NT - Information and application forms can be obtained from the Northern Land Council website www.nlc.org.au/articles/cat/work-transit-tourist-permits/
- Gove and Northeast Arnhem Land - Information and application forms can be obtained from the Dhimurru Land Management Aboriginal Corporation website www.ealta.org.
- Central Australia (Southern NT) - Information and application forms can be obtained from the Central Land Council website www.clc.org.au
- North and Central SA - Check permit requirements with Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankuytjatjara Land Council website www.waru.org/resources/permits.php.
- South SA - Permits are not required to travel through Yalata Aboriginal lands though if you intend to stay in the area check with the Yalata Indigenous Protected Area websitewww.yalata.org/permits.htm
- Cape York Peninsula - Information and application forms can be obtained from the Cape York Peninsula Development Association website www.cypda.com.au.