Mary River, NT

By Jacqueline Outred 1 July 2014
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Watch wildlife, fish, walk and take fantastic photos in the freshwater billabongs, paperbark and monsoon forests of the Mary River region.

The Mary River National Park is home to a historic spot – it’s where explorer John McDouall Stuart and his party reached the sea after their epic, 3400km south to north journey across Australia in 1862.

The Mary River and associated billabongs are a thriving wetland that is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including more than 230 bird species. The area is also known for its flora, such as bamboo and banyan figs.

The Mary River is near Darwin and can be explored independently, or you can take a tour and see the region via boat, four-wheel-drive or helicopter.


Fishing: The Mary River has some of the territory’s best barramundi fishing. Take your own boat or join a fishing tour from Darwin. Fishing lodges offer tours and invaluable advice from local guides.

Airboating: Jump on an airboat to see wildlife up close. Watch the wetlands wake up on morning rides along the river. Tours are available through Bamurru Plains

Fly: Go on a scenic helicopter flight. Fly low over the plains and watch for crocodiles, water buffalo and water birds. Tours via Bamurru Plains.

Photography: The amazing scenery and abundance of wildlife makes this the perfect spot for nature photographers to flex their creative muscle.

The essentials

Location: The Mary River is 150km east of Darwin, off the Arnhem Highway between Darwin and Jabiru. Most areas are accessible by all vehicles in the dry season (May-Sept), but roads are unsealed. The wet season may result in road closures and restricted entry for two-wheel drives.

Accommodation: There are several campgrounds in the reserve, lodges in the Mary River area, and houseboats operate from the Corroboree Billabong (

Food/drink: Lodges provide food and drink, including packed lunches. Alternatively, stock up in Darwin before heading out to the river. If you are camping in the reserve, you need to take your own water.

Points of interest: The Wildman 4×4 track goes to Brian Creek Monsoon Forest, a diverse pocket of rainforest amid the woodlands.

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