Mary River National Park, Northern Territory
There's a lot to see on the road between Darwin and Kakadu National Park - from jumping crocodiles to clouds of waterfowl on the wetlands, so don't rush the trip. Many visitors say the vast wetlands of the Mary River are the most beautiful in the Top End. They are home to some of the Top End's biggest barramundi and saltwater crocodiles and include many lagoons and freshwater billabongs along the Mary River north and south of the Arnhem Highway.
The towns of Howard Springs and Humpty Doo are ideal as a starting point or base for touring this beautiful region. Off the Arnhem Highway, about 170km from Darwin, the Mary River wetlands take in lots of spectacular destinations including North Rockhole, Couzens Lookout, Brian Creek Monsoon Forest, Shady Camp, Bird Billabong and Mistake Creek.
Part of the area is the Wildman River Conservation Reserve with billabongs, paperbark forests and monsoon rainforests. The area also supports breeding populations of brolgas, egrets, black-necked storks, sea eagles and magpie geese. Stay awhile to fish, hike and birdwatch.
During the tropical summer, flooding may make some of these areas inaccessible. For the rest of the year, conventional vehicles will have no trouble on the unsealed roads.