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Just a short trip from Darwin City will take visitors to the Outer Darwin Region. With the city of Palmerston as the commercial hub and a range of caravan parks and homestay accommodation available, visitors will find the Outer Darwin region (also including the Cox Peninsula) a delightful place to spend some time and discover the many attractions and interesting historical sites. Along the coastline, colourful coral reefs and mangrove forests offer excellent fishing opportunities, whilst inland the floodplains of the river systems and the dry woodlands host an abundance of wildlife.

The area once provided a bountiful larder for the Aboriginal people of the region and later hosted a booming crocodile hunting and buffalo shooting industry. Now the land has a variety of uses including - extensive mango farms, banana plantations, orchid nurseries, dairy cattle, crocodile farms and small rural holdings.

Travelling south along the Stuart Highway from Darwin you will find:

The City of Palmerston

Palmerston, just 15 minutes drive south of Darwin, is recognised as one of the fastest growing cities in Australia and the commercial hub of the Outer Darwin region. Here you can play 18 holes of golf at the Palmerston Golf and Country Club, visit one of the many social clubs, pubs or restaurants, make a splash at Palmerston Water Park, or enjoy a movie or day of shopping in air-conditioned comfort at one of two major complexes.

Alternatively, you can relax in the picturesque surrounds of Marlow Lagoon, a three hectare park featuring a lagoon surrounded by well-maintained lawns and shaded picnic and barbecue areas or stop for a spot of fishing at Elizabeth River, which is just a short, five-minute drive away.

A regular bus service operates between the terminals at Palmerston and Darwin City.

Howard Springs Nature Park

Located 23 kilometres south of Darwin, here you can follow the nature trail through the rainforest and lush parklands to shaded picnic areas and barbecue facilities, and view the barramundi and turtles in the spring-fed pool.

Howard Springs Hunting Reserve

40 kilometres east of Darwin, the Howard Springs Hunting Reserve protects a large area around the Howard River including some open forest/woodland and periodically flood inundated areas. The Reserve also protects areas of cultural significance. The Larrakia people speak for this land. The Howard Springs Hunting Reserve provides an area where hunting of ducks and magpie geese can occur during the hunting season. Many other species of wildlife occur in this Reserve inhabiting the wide range of different vegetation types found there.

Shoal Bay Coastal Reserve

40 kilometres east of Darwin, this Coastal Reserve protects a large coastal area between the Howard River to the eastern boundary near Gunn Point. The Reserve shares a common boundary with the Howard Springs Hunting Reserve and Tree Point Conservation Area. It contains a large area of Eucalypt woodland and large areas of saline swamp with areas that are inundated during the wet season.

Tree Point Conservation Area

40 kilometres east of Darwin this Conservation Area protects a coastal area on the Tree Point Pensinsula and a large mangrove habitat with a tidal creek that runs back in towards the Shoal Bay Coastal Reserve. A fringe of coastal vine thicket occurs along the beach for part of the Conservation Area. The access road follows the top of the dune with a large swamp on the landward side, which hosts a number of bird species at various times of the year.

The Didgeridoo Hut and Art Gallery

Owned and operated by Aboriginal people and featuring art from throughout the Territory by both indigenous and non-indigenous artists, visitors can watch local Aboriginal artists at work making didgeridoos and painting them, weaving baskets and dillybags from natural fibres and making dyes from various roots, berries and bark.

Lake Bennett

Lake Bennett, situated 87 kilometres down the Stuart Highway, is a man-made lake stocked with barramundi. It is ideal for safe swimming, canoeing and fishing. Other activities include a golf driving range, mini golf, mountain biking, bushwalking and bird watching. Lake Bennett Resort also offers accommodation, conference facilities, licensed restaurant and bar.

Manton Dam

Just 76 kilometres south of Darwin, Manton Dam was Darwin's first reliable water supply and is a safe, popular recreation area. Its undisturbed drainage area is also a valuable catchment and conservation area. Picnic and barbecue facilities are set among shady trees while areas are set aside for both swimming and fishing. Water skiing and power boating are both popular here.

The Historic Adelaide River Region

Situated 112 kilometres south of Darwin, the Adelaide River township came to prominence after the completion of construction of the Overland Telegraph Line in 1870. It grew to become a popular overnight stopover for travellers and prospectors en-route to the Pine Creek goldfields.  From 1939, with the build-up of military activity, Adelaide River became the location for a huge military base for thousands of service personnel stationed in the area.

Highlights of the area include:

Adelaide River Railway Station

The Adelaide River Railway Siding and Railway Bridge were constructed as part of the first leg of the North Australia Railway, which operated from 1888 until 1976. During WWII it was of major significance as Adelaide River was an important military centre, with the main hospital situated north of the township along with a number of Australian and allied bases in the area.

Adelaide River War Cemetery

A sobering reminder of the impact WWII had on this part of Australia is found at the Adelaide River War Cemetery. There are 434 military burials in total here, while the adjoining Civil Cemetery honours 63 civilians, including the post office workers who were killed in the February 19, 1942 bombing of Darwin. Also remembered here are 287 service personnel lost in Timor and other northern regions, but who have no known grave.

Batchelor

Batchelor is the gateway to Litchfield National Park, 98 kilometres south of Darwin. The town offers a range of accommodation from motel rooms and cabins to bungalows and caravan parks. The area is well known as the Rum Jungle district and was named after a rum supply wagon en-route from nearby Southport which became bogged. In 1874 a small roadhouse called the Rum Jungle Hotel was built. The area started to flourish in 1949 following the discovery of uranium and in 1952 Batchelor was founded when it became home for workers employed in the Rum Jungle Uranium Mine, Australia’s first uranium mine. The mine closed during the 1970s and Batchelor came under the control of the Northern Territory Administration.

Attractions in the town include:

Coomalie Cultural Centre

This centre provides a focus for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to teach, practice, display and market their skills. You can view indigenous art exhibitions and browse through the paintings, carvings, textiles and weavings in the retail outlet.

Along the Arnhem Highway, towards Kakadu, you will find:

Window on the Wetlands

60 kilometres from Darwin, perched on Beatrice Hill off the Arnhem Highway and overlooking the Adelaide River floodplains, you will find fun interactive displays that help to explain the ecological processes that occur in Top End wetlands and touch-screen computers that allow you to find detailed information on local Aboriginal and European history, land management and the diversity of wetland animals.

Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve

This reserve, 70kms east of Darwin, is one of several parks in the lower Adelaide River catchment that provides a haven for wildlife among Darwin's developing rural fringe. These wetlands have international significance because of their beauty, natural systems and culture. The Limilngan-Wulna Aboriginal people are the traditional owners of the area and their ancestor's dreamtime journeys are recorded in the landscape.

Jumping Crocodile Cruises

See six metre crocodiles jump right next to the boat on these exciting cruises on the Adelaide River. These magnificent prehistoric creatures will captivate you as they slide along the river bank, roll and jump out of the water. Regular cruises depart daily and are both thrilling and educational.

Leaning Tree Lagoon

This popular bird watching location is easily accessible from the Arnhem Highway. Camping is permitted in the area however there are no facilities provided on site.

Djukbinj National Park

Situated off the Arnhem Highway near the Leaning Tree Lagoon turnoff, this national park is part of the Marrakai Plains. It contains a portion of the catchment and drainage for the Adelaide River. The abundance of water year-round assures the park’s importance as a feeding and roosting site for a variety of waterbirds including magpie geese, egrets and brolgas.

Corroboree Billabong

This popular fishing spot in the Mary River is perfect for catching barramundi and tarpon and features extensive bird and wildlife. Public access to a boat ramp is provided. Be warned that crocodiles are prolific in this area.

The Bark Hut Inn

This centre was built in the wild era of buffalo and crocodile hunting and is now the central hub of discovery for the Mary River Wetlands and Kakadu National Park. Situated about halfway between Darwin and Kakadu, the property features a range of accommodation, swimming pool, restaurant and take away, art gallery, shop, bar and tour desk.

Shady Camp

Situated 50 kilometres along Point Stuart Road, off the Arnhem Highway, Shady Camp is another of the Territory’s great fishing spots. Easily accessible and featuring a boat ramp and viewing platform across the Mary River floodplain, the area is dotted with freshwater billabongs, paperbark and monsoon forests and has a high population of crocodiles.

Along the Cox Peninsula Road towards Mandorah and Dundee you will find:

Berry Springs Nature Park

Here, just 40 kilometres south of Darwin, two large spring-fed pools and a small waterfall fringed by pandanus and monsoon rainforest make for an ideal spot for leisurely barbecues, swimming and walking. Berry Springs is a favourite relaxation spot for locals and visitors alike.

Territory Wildlife Park

This world acclaimed park is nestled on 400 hectares of natural bushland and showcases the wildlife of northern Australia in their natural habitats. There is six kilometres of walking trails and a free shuttle train to link the 26 major exhibits. Allow at least four hours to explore the park. Presentations and displays start from 10am daily.

Dundee Beach

This relaxed coastal town and popular fishing spot is 120 kilometres south-west of Darwin and a popular weekend destination for Top End locals. Fishing, boating and long walks at sunset are just some of the activities to enjoy here. Stay at The Lodge of Dundee or quad bike with Dundee Quad Safaris.

Cox Peninsula

Within easy access of Darwin, either by 20 minute trip by ferry from Cullen Bay, or 160 kilometres along the Cox Peninsula Road, the Cox Peninsula is the ideal place for those visitors wishing to make Mandorah and Wagait Beach their holiday base. There is a range of accommodation options, excellent beaches, creek and bluewater fishing opportunities and convenient boat ramp access at Mandorah.

You can explore natural springs, wetlands and termite mounds rivalling those near Litchfield and visit historic World War II sites including the Liberator Memorial - the crash site of a WWII Liberator bomber and the WWII bunkers, a submarine defence cable anchor site.

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