Garig Gunak Barlu National Park, NT. Pronounced ‘Gah-rig Goon-uk Bar-loo’, this park is a stunning patchwork of beaches, sand dunes, mangroves, swamps, lagoons, rainforest, coastal grasslands and coral reefs. Located about 570km north-east of Darwin by road, it includes the entire Cobourg Peninsula as well as the surrounding waters and some nearby islands.
Access by road is via 4WD only, and only during the dry season (May-October); the roads are narrow and dusty so drive carefully and check tide charts before setting out to ensure you are able to get across Cahills Crossing. You can also reach the park by sea (best August-October) two days’ sailing (150 nautical miles) from Darwin, or by air charter. Bring your own food, water, fuel and vehicle repair parts.
You will need a permit to stay in the park overnight, with two campgrounds around Smith Point; book well in advance. There is also strictly no swimming, as saltwater crocodiles, sharks, box jellyfish, blue-ringed octopus and sea snakes live in these waters.