Top of the NT: Pt 1 – Corroboree Billabong

by Steven Chater from Trip Plan Australia. Check out Trip Plan’s free Itinerary Planner that will help you make the most of your next road trip through regional and outback Australia.

The top part of the Northern Territory is a unique place. It’s a complex of ecosystems, including tidal flats, floodplains, lowlands and plateaux that provide a habitat for a wide range of species of rare and special plants and animals.

This and the next few blog posts will cover our visit to this wonderful part of Australia in the Yegge season (as per the aboriginal calendar – May/June in the more regularly used calendar).

Road trip planner Australia - Nadab floodplain still green and lush in the Yegge season

Nadab floodplain still green and lush in the Yegge season

We approached our discovery of this area by deciding on a 7 night hire of a motorhome from Darwin and then travelling the triangle that is made up of the points of Jabiru (Arnhem Highway) and Pine Creek (Kakadu Highway), with the add-on of a trip down to Katherine (on the Sturt Highway) before returning to Darwin (taking in Litchfield National Park).

The western border of Kakadu, the NT’s iconic national park, is located only 150kms from Darwin – but don’t rush straight there! We were told (by the folks on the NT stand at the Sydney Caravan and Camping Show) that the wetlands cruise on Corroboree Billabong was a bit special.

And they were so right!

We caught the evening cruise on the billabong, which is part of the Mary River Wetlands, a national park on the western border of Kakadu. The billabong boasts the largest concentration of saltwater crocodiles in the world – and I believe it! We saw them on the banks …Road trip planner Australia - Saltwater crocodile resting on the bank - Corroboree Billabong

… mid-streamRoad trip planner Australia - Crocodile mid-stream, Corroboree Billabong, Northern Territory

… and lurking amongst the lillies.

Road trip planner Australia - Crocodile lurking amongst the lillies, Corroboree Billabong

Sunset is a great time to go – fantastic birdlife (just few examples) …

Road trip planner Australia - Jacana - check the overly large feet to let it 'walk on water'

Jacana – check the overly large feet to allow it to ‘walk on water’

Road trip planner Australia - White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Corroboree Billabong, Northern Territory

White-bellied Sea-Eagle

Road trip planner Australia - Jabiru at its nest, Corroboree Billabong, Northern Territory

Jabiru at its nest

… and wonderful scenery

Road trip planner Australia - Mary River floodplain from Corroboree Billabong, Northern Territory

Across a floodplain in the Mary River wetlands

Road trip planner Australia - Sun setting behind the pandanus, Corroboree Billabong, Northern Territory

Sun setting behind the pandanus

Road trip planner Australia - Sun has disappeared but it's still beautiful, Corroboree Billabong, Northern Territory

Still beautiful even after the sun has disappeared

And something wonderful on our way back to the dock; we were able to come within 3 metres of a Jabiru (or to give it its official title: Black-Necked Stork).

Road trip planner Australia - Jabiru walking alongside the bank, Corroboree Billabong, Northern Territory

Jabiru on the move

Road trip planner Australia - Jabiru and Pied Heron, Corroboree Billabong, Northern Territory

Jabiru and friend (a Pied Heron)

This magnificent bird stayed with us for nearly 5 minutes, moving up and down the bank; every second was a treasure.

It was dark by the time we were dropped back to the Corroboree Park Tavern. This was one of the benefits of the motorhome – we were able to stay in their caravan park rather than driving an hour and a half to the next closest accommodation house of note, Aurora Kakadu.

So, in terms of experiences the bar was set pretty high even after day one! The next blog post will cover our time in Kakadu National Park itself – more great images to come.

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Road trip planner Australia - Darwin to Corroboree Park Tavern, Marrakai, NT

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