Borroloola & The Gulf
The Gulf of Carpentaria is a shallow sea between Australia and Papua New Guinea. It is less than 70 metres deep in the middle and is part of the Australian continent, intermittently hidden by a rise in sea level. The Gulf Region is a popular area for fishing. There is a range of accommodation available (Savannah Way Motel) at various places in the region and many attractions to visit and explore.
You can access the Gulf Region via the Savannah Way from Katherine or Burketown, the Tablelands Highway from the Barkly Homestead, or the Carpentaria Highway from the Hi-Way Inn on the Stuart Highway.
Borroloola was first gazette as a township in 1885, at which time it was considered a lawless ouptpost where illegal activities such as smuggling and illicit grog running proliferated. It is now a remote fishing community beside the McArthur River, almost as famous for its unique characters and history as it is for its fishing. Borroloola is a fully serviced town and as the region’s popularity as a tourist destination grows, more and more visitors use Borroloola as a base for fishing expeditions further into the region.
Barranyi (North Island) National Park
Located in the Sir Edward Pellew Group of Islands, about 30km from the McArthur River, this is the traditional home of the Yanyuwa Aboriginal people. The park plays an important role in the preservation and protection of their culture and tradition.
The beaches are nesting sites for turtles and many birds use the island as a resting point during migration. Accessed by boat only. Contact NT Parks and Wildlife in Borroloola before visiting (08) 8975 8792.
Cape Crawford is home of the famous ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ and lies at the intersection of the Carpentaria and Tableland Highways – the gateway to the Gulf Country. Fuel, camping, meals and accommodation are available.
Carabirini Conservation Reserve
Caranbirini is located 46km south of Borroloola on the western edge of the Bukulara Range, just off the Carpentaria Highway. It incorporates sandstone escarpments, a semi-permanent waterhole with surrounding riverine vegetation and areas of open woodland. The waterhole is surrounded by 25 metre high sandstone spires known as the ‘Lost City’. There are short walks that allow you to explore the area. Day use only; No pets.
Fishing is certainly the main attraction in Borroloola and the Gulf country. Visitors can either take themselves out or participate in guided fishing tours.
Boat ramps are available for public use near the Council works yard and Rocky Creek in Borroloola, the Boat and Fishing Club in King Ash Bay and at Mule Creek on Bing Bong Station.
It is important to remember that salt water (estuarine) crocodiles inhabit these waters. Please observe all safety precautions. Be aware of the tidal influences of the rivers, reefs and estuaries. Detailed maps are available from the Gulf Mini Mart, Boroloola Community Government Council and the Boroloola Boat and Fishing Club.
Several Cattle Stations offer access to their waterways for a small fee, and Limmen River Fishing Camp and King Ash Way are popular bases for fishing enthusiasts.
The Heritage Trail starts at the O’Shea and Johnson Gragves on Robinson Road and leads visitors on an interesting journey into Borroloola’s past. Explore original homestead sites, visit graves of pioneers and stroll by the picturesque McArthur River.
There are a number of historic graves in and around Borroloola – most of them of early pioneers and characters of the region. The most unusual headstone is that of William Sayle, one of the first drovers in the NT. Sayle died near Borroloola in 1883 and his original grave was moved from the bush near the Wearyan River the Borroloola in 1940. He was given a headstone sent up from Melbourne by his brother, Tom, also a drover.
There are also graves in the bush around the town. The grave of Roger Jose is a simple, unmarked metal cross that is surrounded by four pickets beside the airstrip. Discovering and reading the inscriptions on the graves makes for an interesting historical insight.
Limmen National Park (proposed)
Located 182km northwest of Borroloola, this park is accessed from the Roper River Road or by traveling north from Cape Crawford. It features several ‘lost cities’ – large sandstone spires and rounded dome formations resulting from erosion of the sandstone escarpment.
The main recreational activity is fishing on the Towns, Roper and Limmen Rivers. Remote camping is permitted in several places along the rivers, with pit toilets at Butterfly Springs, Limmen Crossing and Towns River. No showers.
Fuel and some supplies are available from the nearby Limmen Bight Fishing Camp.
‘Lost City’ Formation
These amazing sandstone formations are located in the Abner Ranges. Access is by helicopter from Cape Crawford, which is a breathtaking flight well worth the experience.
Named for Tom Lynott who first discovered traces of silver, copper and lead in the area in the mid 1880’s, this lookout provides a panoramic view of Borroloola township. It is at the western end of Garawa Street, after the Police Station.
Old Police Station Museum
The Borroloola Museum was once the Old Police Station, built in 1866. It is now managed by the National Trust and houses an exhibition dedicated to the police presence in Borroloola in the late 1800’s. there is also a collection of artifacts, documents and photographs outlining Aboriginal history, the Macassan visits of the early 1900’s and European exploration. A key is available at the caravan park or the mechanic located at the rear of the museum building.
This beautiful secluded thermal pool, located north of Cape Crawford, maintains a temperature of 27°C and is owned by the Mara people. It is surrounded by lush vegetation and has a beautiful sandstone gorge as a backdrop.
Waralungky Arts Centre
The Arts Centre displays and sells Aboriginal artwork including paintings, didgeridoos, basket work and wood carvings made by the local Aboriginal people. Open Monday to Friday, 8am – 12pm and 1pm – 4pm.