Garig Gunak Barlu National Park


Cobourg Peninsula

Garig Gunak Barlu National Park is pronounced Gah-rig Goon-uk Bar-loo. It was previously known as Gurig National Park and Cobourg Marine Park, and is located about 570 km (by road) northeast of Darwin on the Cobourg Peninsula.

The Park includes the entire Peninsula, the surrounding waters of the Arafura Sea and Van Diemen Gulf, and some of the neighbouring islands. It covers about 4,500 sq. km. Cobourg Peninsula is the only National Park in the Northern Territory which contains adjoining land and marine areas.

Conserved within the Park area is a mosaic of sandy beaches, dunes and associated coastal grasslands, mangroves, rainforest patches, swamps, lagoons, coral reefs, sea grass meadows and rich marine life.

This is an internationally important area as it was the first park in the world to be declared under the RAMSAR Convention because of its significant wetlands.

 The Territory Government has amended the Plan of Management for Cobourg Marine Park


The Plan was amended to correct an inconsistency between the Plan of Management and the Marine Park Agreement. The amendment to the Plan now permits the Seven Spirit Bay Wilderness Lodge clients and staff to scuba dive within the Coral Bay Zone as permitted by the Marine Park Agreement.

The amended plan came into operation on 23 November 2011 and is available to download.

Permits and fees

A permit is required by visitors to stay overnight in the Park, whether you arrive by road, air or sea.

Book well in advance especially during the school holiday periods in the dry season. In quieter times, allow two days to process permits. Supply alternative dates if you can.

Road access

A fee of $232.10 applies per vehicle (Camping Fee $220 plus Transit Fee $12.10). This covers up to 5 adult passengers for up to 7 nights. Extra adult passengers - $11.00. Children under 16 years - free. (All fees are GST inclusive).

Air and sea access

Camping permits are required if staying overnight. Fees of $16.50 per person per night apply. Camp in designated camping areas only. (All fees are GST inclusive).


Please write to or phone for permit applications:

The Permit Officer
Cobourg Peninsula Sanctuary and Marine Park Board
PO Box 496
Tel: (08) 8999 4814
Fax: (08) 8999 4524

How to Get There

Road access

Access is via an unsealed road (4WD only) through Arnhem Land. The roads are usually open in the dry season (May - September), depending on the rains. Roads can be closed for ceremonial reasons with little notice. If you are driving, please remember:

  • last fuel stop is at Jabiru
  • caravans and motor bikes are not permitted
  • permits do not allow for stops between the East Alligator River (Cahills Crossing) and the Park boundary
  • check tide charts before setting out. The tides at Cahills Crossing are about six hours behind Darwin tides. Some tides may prevent you crossing the river
  • the roads are dusty and corrugated with some dangerous bends. Drive with extreme care.

Air charter

Flights are available. For more information ring the Black Point Ranger Station. There is no public transport within the Park. The airstrip is 2 km from the campground and 5 km from Black Point.

By sea

The Park is two days sailing from Darwin (150 nautical miles). The best time to visit is between August and October when moderating east to southeast winds prevail. Cyclones can occur between November and April. There are coral reefs and scenic anchorage for all types of boats

When to Visit

Roads are open during the dry season usually from 1 May to 31 October but check with the Permits Officer before heading out. Tel: 08 8999 4814

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What to See and Do

Black Point Cultural Centre

Features a display of Aboriginal, Macassan and European histories of the area.

Scenic views

Beautiful remote coastlines with sandy beaches, and clear blue seas. Check which beaches are accessible by car or boat at the Ranger Station.

Victoria Settlement

Explore the ruins of an early northern Australian settlement. Accessible only by boat. Download an Information Sheet or also available at the Black Point Ranger Station.

Visitor Facilities

Victoria Settlement Ruins

Boat ramp is located near the Ranger Station.

There are two camp grounds: Camp ground No.1 - Generators are not permitted, Camp ground No.2 - Generators are permitted.

Further information can be obtained from the Ranger Station.

Please Remember

  • Come well equipped with food, water, ice, first-aid kit, tool kit, spare tyres, fuel, vehicle parts, shade awning, fishing gear, camera and binoculars. A boat is handy too.
  • DO NOT drive off of the established tracks.

Fact Sheet

Recreational Activities

Facilities and features of the Park include:

  • Camping Permitted
    Sites are available at camping areas No. 1 and 2. Showers, composting toilets, barbecues, tables and limited amounts of bore water are provided. Use water sparingly though, not for washing boats or cars. No powered sites available. Generator area available. Camping fees apply, see details under Permits.
  • Fishing
    Fish responsibly and only take what you can use each day or catch and release. The main species caught are Mackerel, Queenfish, Trevally, Shark, Snapper and a variety of reef fish. Reefs are often unmarked and uncharted and easily covered by the tides. Open waters can be rough.

    Boating - check local conditions. Register details of your boating trips at the Ranger Station before you set out. Ensure your boat meets NT Marine regulations and carries adequate spare parts and emergency equipment.
  • Picnic Tables
  • Visitor Centre
  • Walking Tracks
    • Lamilmil Swamp Walking Track - this shady walk takes you around a small freshwater wetland. Starts near the Ranger Station. Distance 1.5 km. Allow 1.5 hr.

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Scenic and Cultural Features

The area has an interesting ancient and contemporary history. Archaeologists generally agree that Aboriginal people have been living in the area for 40,000 years. Macassan traders visited the area regularly for centuries.

In 1838 the early British settlement of Victoria was established at Port Essington, and lasted ten years. Various industries have since developed, including the pastoral, pearling, timber and tourist industries.

The Park protects the first wetland to be recognised as a Wetland of International Importance under an international agreement called 'The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance' commonly known as Ramsar. It was registered on 8 May 1974.

There are 53 sites in Australia registered with Ramsar, including wetlands in Kakadu National Park.

There are also sites of national archeological significance within the Garig Gunak Barlu National Park.

Traditional Land Owners

The Park lies within the clan estates of the Iwaidja speaking peoples of the Cobourg Peninsula. The traditional owners have continuing spiritual links with the land and sea. Their ancestors from the Creation Era (Dreamtime) created the land and all it contains.

The Park therefore contains cultural landscapes which have been shaped and managed by cultural traditions and is translated as: Garig (a local language name), Gunak (land), Barlu (deep water).

Joint Management

The Park is managed jointly by the traditional land owners and the Parks and Wildlife Commission.

Smith Point - Ngardimardi

Plants and Animals

The Park protects rare species, including the Dugong and six marine turtles (Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Olive Ridley, Leatherback and Flatback Turtles).

Garig Gunak Barlu is also home to the largest wild herd of Banteng.

These Indonesian cattle are an endangered species in their native habitat.

Territory Parks Alive IconYou can view and download the 2015 brochure here.

Park Sites Access Comments Forecast Opening
Garig Gunak Barlu National Park Open Park is opened from May to October each year, dependent on weather conditions; Open by permit only; Permits to visit Garig Gunak Barlu National Park can be obtained by phoning our Permits Branch on 08 8999 4795