Port Essington Accommodation, Hotels, Tours & Information

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Port Essington

On the north-west tip of Arnhem Land is the Cobourg Peninsular, and to its north is Port Essington. It is a tropically beautiful and secluded natural harbour that has wonderful opportunities for fishing, wildlife watching and relaxation. However, getting to this area is a major undertaking by boat or 4WD and access is by limited permit only.

The Cobourg Peninsular is a remote wilderness area of the Northern Territory with two national parks: Cobourg Marine Park and Garig Gunak Barlu National Park.

The parks conserve a variety of habitats from sand dunes, swamps, lagoons, coral reefs and grasslands to mangroves and rainforest.

Dugong, sea turtles, crocodiles and dolphins are just some of the marine life found in the area. These animals are protected and can only be hunted by Aboriginal people using traditional hunting methods.

The remains of an old British settlement can be found at Victoria, abandonded in 1849 because of the harsh conditions. There you can find evidence of early Aboriginal occupation and the influence of Macassan trepangers in the area.

A permit is needed for road travel in Arnhem Land and can take up to two weeks to finalise. It can be organised at the Northern Land Council offices in Darwin or Jabiru. Many visitors prefer to see Arnhem Land through an organised tour operation.


  • Gurig National Park - fishing for a large variety of catch including queenfish, trevally, barramundi and mangrove jack as well as shellfish, squid and mud crabs
  • Tours - Port Essington and Victoria Settlement, wetland huts for birdwatching
  • Port Essington: Where To Go / Sightseeing

    Victoria Settlement

    Explore the eerie ruins of Victoria Settlement, one of two failed British settlements on the Cobourg Peninsula in the Garig Gunak Barlu National Park.

    A group of British soldiers arrived with their families in 1838 and spent 11 years establishing the settlement at Port Essington. They built a Governor's residence, which was one of the first elevated houses ever built, a hospital, church, military and married quarters with distinctive round Cornish chimneys. Isolation and disease eventually drove the inhabitants out, and the ruins are all that remain.

    The ruins are accessible only by boat and a permit is required to enter the Garig Gunak Barlu National Park. Please contact Parks and Wildlife Service for further details, including road access.

    At the very top of the Northern Territory in Arnhem Land, the Garig Gunak Barlu National Park is remote and rugged, fringed with magnificent white sand beaches. The national park is perfect for trekking, bird watching, walking, fishing, boating and photography.

    Garig Gunak Barlu National Park,
    570 kilometres north-east of Darwin
    Cobourg Peninsula, NT, 0880

    Located 1.6K from Port Essington

    Smith Point Beacon

    Situated at Smith Point on the Cobourg Peninsula, the Beacon consists of a stone foundation and circular beacon. In 1843 the foundation was constructed, work was postponed until 1845. In 1978 the beacon was reconstructed by crew of H.M.A.S. Ardent. The construction of the Smith Point Beacon was begun in 1843 when the ship's company of the Camelion constructed the base of the Beacon. It was not until 1845 when convalescents from Victoria Settlement were sent to Smith Point to recover, that the Beacon was completed.
    The Beacon assisted navigation around the Orontes shoal which was a danger to shipping passing through the area. The Beacon is a valuable reminder of the difficulties experienced by early colonists and mariners. It is held in high esteem by the community as one of the few physical remains depicting early settlement and maritime history of the Northern Territory.

    NT Portion 4940(A). Smith Point, Cobourg Peninsula. NT
    Cobourg, NT, 0822

    Located 13.1K from Port Essington

    Garig Gunak Barlu National Park

    At the very top of the Northern Territory in Arnhem Land, the Garig Gunak Barlu National Park is remote and rugged, fringed with magnificent white sand beaches on the Cobourg Peninsula. The national park is perfect for trekking, birdwatching, walking, fishing, boating and photography.

    This extensive park includes the entire Peninsula, the surrounding waters of the Arafura Sea and Van Diemen Gulf, and some of the neighbouring islands. Discover a mosaic of sandy beaches, dunes and associated coastal grasslands, mangroves, rainforest patches, swamps, lagoons, coral reefs, sea grass meadows and rich marine life in this 4,500 square kilometre paradise. Stop in at Black Point Cultural Centre to see the display of Aboriginal, Macassan and European histories of the area. Pitch a tent at one of two camping grounds. Anglers can try their luck for the common local species of mackerel, queenfish, trevally, shark, snapper and a variety of reef fish. Don't miss exploring the eerie ruins of the failed Victoria Settlement (accessible only by boat).

    Access is via air, sea or an unsealed road (four-wheel drive only) through Arnhem Land that is usually open in the dry season (May-September), depending on the rains, and a park permit is required.

    570 kilometres north-east of Darwin,
    Black Point
    Cobourg Peninsula, NT, 0880

    Located 22.0K from Port Essington

    Black Point Culture Centre

    Browse the Black Point Culture Centre, located at the Black Point Ranger Station within the Garig Ganuk Barlu National Park.

    The centre offers travellers a unique insight into the rich history of the Cobourg Peninsula. Aboriginal people, Macassan traders and European pioneers have all made their mark on this land in varying ways. The displays include traditional Aboriginal bush tucker, history and artefacts, evidence of Macassan trading and a history on the Victoria Settlement. A display on some recent history shows how an Indonesian fisherman was blown across from the Indonesian islands in his canoe, which is now showcased at the museum.

    To enjoy Black Point Culture Centre you must enter Garig Ganuk Barlu National Park. Permit fees apply and it is recommended to book well in advance especially during the school holiday periods.

    Black Point Ranger Station, off Smith Point Road,
    Garig Gunak Barlu National Park,
    Cobourg Peninsula, NT, 0880

    Located 22.9K from Port Essington

    Port Essington Map

    Port Essington Map - Legend
    Multiple Hotels
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