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Mary River

Take a cruise or join a fishing charter and experience the lush Mary River wetlands, a thriving microcosm of Top End wildlife, birds and fish.

Explore the lush Mary River wetlands, a thriving microcosm of Top End wildlife, birds and fish. Located about an hour east of Darwin it is a good place to stop on your way to Kakadu National Park or for a day trip from the city.

Abundant birdlife

Visit Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve in the dry season to see some of the 250 species of birds that flock to the concentrated water supply. Jabiru, jacana, pygmy geese, brolga and ibis are regularly spotted feeding among pink Lotus lilies. Take cover and observe colourful migratory birds from a bird hide at a tranquil billabong.

Wetlands explained

Browse the fantastic interactive displays of Top End birds and animals at the Window on the Wetlands Visitor Centre. The centre is perched high above the floodplains with panoramic views of the wetlands below.

Wildlife-spotting adventure

Stop where the Adelaide River crosses the Arnhem highway to join a cruise and see jumping crocodiles – huge saltwater crocs that rise from the water to grab the bait dangling from the riverboat.

Board a cruise of one of the wetlands’ billabongs to see this very busy and beautiful landscape from the water. Spot saltwater crocodiles among paperbark forests, introduced animals such as buffalo, wildlife including monitors and wallabies and the exotic birds that flourish in this rich ecosystem.

World-class fishing

Join a fishing charter to land the Top End’s most famous sports fish. The barramundi is plentiful in the Mary River wetlands. Anglers come from all over the world to fish for the famous barra at places like Shady Camp, Corroboree Billabong and the Adelaide River. Fish up to 1.4m in size are landed each year.

There are many ways to experience NT fishing – stay in a fishing lodge and benefit from the knowledge and expertise of local guides, join a fishing day tour from Darwin or hire a boat and drive yourself.

Things to see & do around Mary River

  • Information

    Entry cost

    Free entry


    • Barbeque
    • Boating Facilities
    • Caravan / Camper Trailer / Campervan Sites / Campsites
    • Carpark
    • Lookouts
    • Picnic Area
    • Public Toilet


    • Birdwatching
    • Boating
    • Camping
    • Fishing
    • Four Wheel Driving
    • Walks


    Disabled access available, contact operator for details.

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    What's nearby

    What's nearby

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  • FAQs

    Can Mary River be done as a day trip?

    Being so close to Darwin, it's certainly possible to do Mary River as a one-day adventure. There are a number of tour operators who offer single and multi-day trips from Darwin to Mary River.

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    Do I need any passes or permits to visit Mary River?

    No permits or passes are required to visit Mary River.

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    How do I get around Mary River?

    Mary River National Park is famous for its wetlands and rivers, so a boat is the best way to see all the highlights. Another option is to take an airboating tour. There are a number of tour operators who can take you through the region.

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    How do I get to Mary River?

    Mary River National Park is a one-hour drive from Darwin along sealed roads. Leave Darwin along the Stuart Highway and turn left on to the Arnhem Highway. You might also like to choose from one of the tour options to get you there.

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    How far is Mary River from Darwin?

    Mary River is about 1.5 hours' drive east of Darwin (150 km), and a 1.5 hour drive (140 km) west of Jabiru.

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    What are the major attractions at Mary River?

    Mary River is known for its vibrant birdlife, stunning wetlands, excellent fishing and abundant wildlife. Fish, reptiles, mammals and birds live side-by-side; it's literally teeming with life. Enjoy an airboat tour, helicopter ride or 4WD adventure. Try fishing for barramundi at Corroboree Billabong and Shady Camp.

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    What should I bring with me to Mary River?

    While the Mary River is not too far from Darwin, it's important to take proper precautions. If driving, carry drinking water, a first-aid kit and make sure the petrol tank is full. Sun protection, insect repellant, and appropriate footwear are essential. Fishing gear is a must for anyone keen on snagging a few barramundi, and avid birdwatchers should bring a pair of binoculars.

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    When is the best time to visit Mary River?

    Mary River is in the middle of the Top End, so you'll find May to October when the weather is dry and warm is the best time to get full access. There's nothing like experiencing the luscious wetlands from November to April. The 'run-off' from February to April is the peak season and the best time to reel in some barramundi. Tours and accommodation are available all year round.

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    Where should I go next from Mary River?

    Mary River is the gateway to Kakadu National Park and Arnhem Land. If you've come from Darwin head on to see Jabiru, Gunlom, Jim Jim Falls, Yellow Water, the Ubirr Rock Art Site and other stunning attractions in Kakadu National Park. Arnhem Land is also accessible from the Mary River region but you will need a permit to enter the area.

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