There is so much wildlife in Australia’s Northern Territory, that even a highway becomes a wildlife watching destination. This part of our epic Australian road trip had the most abundant wildlife watching opportunities.
Driving from Kakadu to Darwin on Arnhem Highway we saw more birds and reptiles than you would see in a month in the drier parts of Australia. The countryside surrounding the highway could well be a National Park.
And there are plenty of eco-lodges along the way that offer various wildlife watching opportunities. We stayed at Mary River Wilderness Retreat and took a cruise on Mary River.
Mary River cruise
Part of Mary River National Park, Mary River is a great place to see Freshwater crocodiles and Azure kingfishers, as well as Great-billed heron and Australia’s biggest eagle – White-bellied Sea-eagle.
Mary River Wilderness Retreat operates boat cruises, and it is also possible to hire a smaller boat for a few hours and explore the river at your own pace. We did both and saw the Freshwater crocs, Saltwater crocs, eagles, kingfishers, and plenty of more common birds that we have already seen elsewhere on this trip.
Wildlife at Mary River Lodge
In the afternoon, just before the boat cruise, I watched a group of Agile wallabies grazing on the lawn in front of our tent. And as I watched them, two young males decided to practice their boxing skills, giving me a few good photo opportunities.
There were many birds chirping around the lodge, the parrots being the most conspicuous and most colourful.
Wildlife watching on Arnhem Highway
Driving along Arnhem Highway the following day, we came across a small wetland on the side of the road that was absolutely teaming with birdlife. I could not believe my eyes when I saw a few Jabirus there. We spent days searching for them in Kakadu, and there they were – scraping in the mud on the side of the road!
Apart from the magnificent Jabirus, there were Pied herons, Great and Intermediate egrets, Gull-billed terns, and a few Magpie geese on a nearby tree.
We also saw our first Water Buffalo along the highway – the largest introduced animal in Australia. These giant bovids were introduced to Australia between 1824 and 1849 and became a feral species, wreaking havoc to Kakadu wetlands and other areas. The only predators big enough to snatch a water buffalo are the saltwater crocodiles that share the wetland habitat with the buffalo.
More Northern Territory nature adventures
- Best Places to See Wildlife in Darwin, Including a Secret Spot
- Adelaide to Darwin Road Trip: Ultimate Wildlife Safari in the Australian Outback
- Spotting Australian Desert Animals in the Simpson Desert
- Are Kakadu animals out to get you? Wildlife watching in Kakadu NP
- Uluru animals – Weird and wonderful creatures you can spot at Uluru
- Mary River: a Wildlife Hotspot in Northern Australia
- Wildlife spotting in Alice Springs, Devils Marbles, Mataranka and Katherine Gorge
- The stunning West MacDonnell Ranges – Northern Territory Road trip