DESTINATIONS - TRAVEL DESTINATIONS
Limmen National Park is a recently gazetted area that preserves beautfiul savannah country at the base of Arnhem Land. Highlights are riverside campsites and fantastic ‘lost city’ sandstone hills.
Limmen National Park sits on the edge of the Gulf Country, between Roper Bar and Cape Crawford and is accessed via a well-graded gravel road, with side tracks to camping areas and fishing spots. However, roads may be closed due to flooding from November until May.
The turnoff from the Stuart Highway is 10km south of Mataranka. A southern approach is possible, via Cape Crawford, which is 418km north of Barkly Homestead on the Barkly Highway and 300km east of Daly Waters on the Stuart Highway.
After fuelling up at the Roper Bar Store or at Cape Crawford it’s a relatively easy drive to most of the locations en route. An exception is the key-access drive to the Western Lost City rock formations, at the end of a 4km 4WD track that requires high ground clearance.
There’s a locked gate on this track and the key must be obtained from the Nathan River Ranger Station. It’s advisable to phone in advance of key collection, because the Station isn’t always attended.
In the northern sections of the Park fishing is the main pursuit and there are ramps at Towns River, Limmen Bight Fishing Camp and Tomato Island.
Recent changes at Munbililla (Tomato Island) on the Limmen National Park side of the Roper River have improved hygiene and firewood supply issues, thanks to a $1.5 million upgrade.
Tomato Island has been refurbished as a 50-site, non-powered, grassed camping area, with a solar powered ablution block, rubbish dump and manager’s residence. The Yugul Mangi Development Aboriginal Corporation in Ngukurr is managing the site.
There is standing water in many of the creeks and lagoons close to the main road and the camping area tracks that teem with birdlife.
The Southern Lost City eroded sandstone formations area must-see in Limmen National Park. The drive to the car park is easy and there’s limited bush camping as well.
Self-guided walks through these fantastic natural sculptures are well signed, but walking in the heat of the day isn’t advisable as there’s little shade and no water.
Swimming in the Park is dangerous and there is crocodile hazard in all waterways. An exception is the beautiful rock pool at Butterfly Springs. However, late in the Dry Season this pool becomes stagnant and swimming isn’t advisable.
There’s private camping at Lorella Springs and access to several Gulf campsites and fishing spots.
Caranbirini is a relatively small, 1200-hectare Reserve that protects a range of environments in the ecological transition zone between sub-tropical and arid regions.
The Reserve is accessed via Ryans Bend Road that runs from Limmen NP to Borroloola, where it’s possible to top up fuel and supplies.
The Reserve is just off the Carpentaria Highway on the way to Cape Crawford. Visitors leaving Cape Crawford and travelling east to the Savannah Way pass the Caranbirini entrance. There is no camping at Caranbirini.
Bird watching is possible at Caranbirini Waterhole, which is only 150 metres from the car park. This waterhole has permanent water during the Dry Season and is a refuge for wildlife during the hotter months. Jabirus, whistling ducks, kingfishers, egrets, herons, honeyeaters and finches abound and euros, wallabies, water monitors and turtles are also commonly seen, particularly in the early morning and late afternoon.
Other walks visit ‘lost city’ formations and lookouts. The lost city walk is more shaded and less demanding than the walk around the Southern Lost City in Limmen National Park.
Handy contacts: www.nt.gov.au/nretas/parks, www.roadreport.nt.gov.au, Katherine Visitor Centre (08) 8972 2650 and Limmen Ranger Station (08) 8975 9940.