Mary River Wetlands
The Mary River Wetlands are located within the Mary River National Park, in Australia’s “top end”, or northern parts of the Northern Territory. During the rainy season, the plains flood and a variety of animals, birds, and reptiles gather here, including saltwater crocodiles, water buffalo, wallabies, and more.
Whether you want to hike, take a boat ride, snap photos, or go fishing, the Mary River Wetlands offer fun activities for travelers with a range of interests and abilities. One of the most popular activities on the wetlands is to join an airboat tour; these vehicles easily zip through the shallow waters. You’ll see crocodiles and a wide range of birds, such as brolga, jabiru, egret, magpie geese, and more. Keen fishers—including anglers and sports fishers—will enjoy the fishing opportunities at the wetlands. Fishing charters can be arranged.
As well as short boat tours that can be done in a day from Darwin, longer camping and overlanding tours are available. These spend some time at the Mary River Wetlands as well as other nearby attractions like the Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks.
Things to know before you go
- Take crocodile safety warnings very seriously. The animals are extremely dangerous to humans.
- During the dry season, head to the Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve to see around 250 species of birds gathering at the water supply.
- If traveling by four-wheel drive, stick to marked roads for your own safety as well as the protection of the environment.
- Don’t forget to bring insect repellent.
How to get there
The small Mary River National Park is between the city of Darwin and the much larger Kakadu National Park. It’s about a 1.5-hour drive southeast from Darwin, on the Arnhem Highway. During the wet season (November to April) you’ll need a four-wheel drive vehicle, and check road condition updates before heading out.
When to get there
The wet season tends to be the low tourism season in the top end, and some areas in the national park will be closed due to flooding and road conditions. Boat tours are generally good in the wet season though. The dry season is a better time for walking, camping, and many other outdoor activities. You can spot birds and wildlife year-round.
Kakadu Bird Week
Bird enthusiasts will enjoy Kakadu Bird Week, held in the Kakadu National Park just east of the Mary River Wetlands. Kakadu is home to more than a third of Australia’s bird species. At the annual Kakadu Bird Week festival, held in late September/early October, visitors can enjoy free bird watching activities, go on wetland cruises, and more.