Borroloola for grey nomads

The tiny Northern Territory town of Borroloola has earned almost mythical status in grey nomad circles.

While some of its allure can be explained by its sheer remote­ness (it’s nearly 1,000 kilome­tres south-east of Darwin and 380km from the Stuart High­way), most can be attributed to misty-eyed campfire tales of epic barramundi battles.

Good news travels fast on the grey grapevine!

The Gulf community straddles the mighty McArthur River, has a population of nearly 1,000, and is home to four main indigenous language groups; the Yanyuwa, Mara, Karawa and Kurdanji.

The nearby McArthur River Mine is the town’s major employer and 300 new jobs are to be created courtesy of a recently-announced $360 mil­lion expansion. Besides min­ing, and servicing the needs of the surrounding cattle stations, it is tourism – and fishing and camping – that’s Borroloola stock in trade.

While travellers find a warm welcome these days, back in the 19th century Borroloola was a rum-smuggling base with a wild and lawless reputation. The Old Police Station Mu­seum is a great place to learn about the town’s fascinating history. It is well set up for trav­ellers today with fuel outlets, pub, medical centre, shops, boat ramps, and, of course, a caravan park.

Out of town, the fishing club and camp at King Ash Bay, 50kms north, is a mecca for serious barra chasers. This is where one of the Borroloola’s two major events – the Fishing Classic – is held every Easter. The other major shindig is the rodeo in August.

Also within striking distance are the glorious beaches of Barranyi National Park; the sandstone hills and waterholes of Caranbirini Conservation Reserve; and the amazing sand­stone formations of the newly-formed Limmen National Park.

Cape Crawford, at the junc­tion of the Carpentaria and Tablelands Highways, is home to the iconic Heartbreak Hotel roadhouse … and some spec­tacular countryside. This is the northern extremity of the Ab­ner Ranges, where the amazing Lost City sandstone pillars span across eight square kilometres. These skyscraper-like wonders of nature are only accessible by helicopter … but are so special that many grey nomads put them in the ‘worth busting the budget for’ category.

Another popular destination which is ideal for soothing travel-weary bones is Poppy’s Pool north of Cape Crawford, a secluded thermal pool, which maintains a temperature of 27°C.

It may be the barra that put Borroloola on the grey nomad map, but the area offers a lot more than a place to wet a line.


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