Corroboree Billabong Mary River Wetlands, Arnhem Land

This page is a chapter in the book Northern Territory.

[top]Description

Corroboree Billabong (Mary River Wetlands, Arnhem Land)

[top]Getting there

Warning: saltwater crocodiles (or more accurately estuarine crocodiles) are present at all 3 locations. So be Crocwise. Crocodiles pose a real threat to humans and pets, so take the risk seriously while taking photos.

Scott Creek, Fogg Dam and Corroboree Billabong are all accessed from the Arnhem Highway heading towards Kakadu National Park from Darwin. The major destination is Corroboree Billabong.

Corroboree Billabong
Corroboree Billabong is part of the Mary River Wetlands, home to the largest concentration of estuarine crocodiles in the world, as well as abundant birds, fish and plants needed to sustain so many top-level predators.

Corroboree Billabong is 105km or about 1.5 hours drive time from Darwin travelling south on the Stuart Highway, you turn left onto the Arnhem Highway heading towards Kakadu National Park. Just past the Corroboree Park Tavern you turn left and travel about 20 kilometres, the last 10km being on dirt (although part of the dirt track was being sealed when I visited in May 2017). The turnoff is sign posted.

Another place to visit is Windows on the Wetlands, near the Adelaide River.

Scott Creek Crossing (located in Djukbinj National Park, pronounced jook-binj)
Djukbinj National Park is around 80km east of Darwin along the Arnhem Highway. There is no sign on the highway telling you where to turn left. You must look left for the National Park sign 50 metres down the road from the Arnhem Highway. The turnoff is a several kilometres past the green Bottle O sign on the left side of the Arnhem Highway.

Scott Creek Crossing (a cement weir) is 5.5km from the Arnhem Highway turn off. Scott Creek also crosses the Arnhem Highway, but this is NOT the correct part of the creek.

Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve
Fogg Dam is the only wetland in the Northern Territory you can get to all year round without a four-wheel drive. It is an hours drive from Darwin on sealed roads. Travel 60km south along the Stuart and Arnhem Highways from Darwin. Turn left on to ANZAC Parade and travel for 10km to Fogg Dam.


[top]When to go

April to October (Fogg Dam all year round)

[top]Amenities

Toilet block at Corroboree Billabong. Toilets and 3 viewing platforms at Fogg Dam.

[top]Key species

Jabiru ,Ibis, Brolgas, Nankeen Night Heron, Jacana, various Egrets, Bee Eaters, various Kites, Sea Eagles, Whistling Ducks, Magpie Geese and many others.

[top]Notes

There are two common problems facing photographers in wetlands in the Northern Territory: mud and crocodiles. So at each location you need to address both.

Corroboree Billabong
Corroboree Billabong is a permanent water source within the Mary River Wetlands, even in the dry season. There are over 50km of navigable waterways. In the early part of the dry season water 1 metre deep water still covers the adjoining floodplain, even so, there is an abundance of birds, crocodiles and plants in the billabong. As the wetlands dry up the birds and crocs move back to the billabong creating a super abundance of animal life.

You can access the billabong with safari cruises in flat bottom boats, airboat rides, your own boat or by hiring a house boat. I used Wildllands Tours.

For the serious photographer the house boat is the best option. You can anchor and want for the birds to come to you, or slowly cruise around the waterways. The boat gives you a safe platform from which to take photos, but avoid leaning over the side of any boat as you expose yourself to a croc attack.

Hiring the boat for 2 or 3 days should give you ample opportunity to get birds images and some stunning sunset and sunrise photos.

When I visited in May 2017 I saw 50-60 juvenile Nankeen Night Herons, huge numbers of Egrets, Cormorants, Jacana (another trip saw some chicks), Jabiru, Sea Eagles hunting, Magpie Geese, crocodiles in abundance and much more. All in a 2.5 hour trip (a cruise and then an airboat trip to more a remote location).

Scott Creek Crossing (located in Djukbinj National Park)
The concrete weir is 5.5km in from the Arnhem Highway. Water drains from the right side under the weir to the left. On the downstream side hundreds and hundreds of birds feed on the fish coming under the weir. A crocodile can easily ambush a person walking on the weir. So you must use your car as a hide. The birds will fly away when any car approaches, but quickly return even if the car is parked on the weir. I drove across the weir, turned around and drove back with the window open facing downstream. Normally within 20 seconds the birds start to return, as close as 2 meters from the driver. So super telephoto lens are not needed, a 24-70mm or 70-200mm should suffice.

Few people know about the location. I suspect the bird numbers vary according to water flow under the weir, too much or too little will impact the large numbers of birds. I visited in May after a good wet season and bird numbers were prolific on both occasions.

Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve
The road to Fogg Dam is sealed and accessible all year round. It is a beautiful location full of of birds, fish, frog, native rats, snakes and stunning wetlands scenery.The concentration of snakes is 800 per square kilometre, the highest in the world.

Driving over the dam wall looks more like wetlands than a dam. There are 2 viewing platforms along the dam wall and a third at the end. Water maybe be flowing over the small spillway at the third location, which can mean many birds lined up along the spillway fishing.

These are the only safe locations near the dam wall to view and photograph waterbirds, at least one 4 metre crocodile inhabits the dam.

Even if you are not taking photos, it is a beautiful and relaxing place to visit.

Google Map of the 3 locations here, and you can a download the co-ordinates from that map, look under the options.


[top]Maps & GPS



[top]Images

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