It’s remote, it’s rugged, and it’s certainly not for the faint hearted. But, for self-reliant grey nomads who are looking for an adventure, Limmen National Park in the NT’s iconic Gulf region delivers in spades.
The landscape here is stunning with woodlands, rivers, floodplains and billabongs, and then there are the fabled ‘lost city’ sandstone hills. Similarly, the park is a paradise for birdwatchers, and there’s also a good reason why many barramundi hunting fishermen make a trip here an annual pilgrimage.
Covering a whopping 9,369 square kilometres, the park is located about 275 kilometres south-east of Katherine and it’s 65 kilometres from Borroloola. It can be accessed from the Stuart Highway via the Roper Highway, or via the Carpentaria Highway.
Any grey nomad contemplating a trip needs to make sure they are fully prepared for the rigours ahead. All roads within the park are unsealed and can be closed due to seasonal flooding from November to May. For those who do make the effort though, the rewards are immense.
Among the major highlights is the Southern Lost City, located about 35 kilometres south of the Nathan River Ranger Station. These giant sandstone pillars were apparently formed some 1500 million years ago as part of an ancient seabed that cracked and split as it was exposed.
Over time, water and wind then carved the formations into incredible shapes. The mineral composition of the sandstone and the amount of sun it saw led to a wide variation in colours, exacerbated by moss or algae growing in some parts. Visitors can take self-guided walks through these dramatic domes.
The Western Lost City rock formations area are equally stunning but are a lot less visited, mainly because access is a lot more challenging. They are found by navigating a 28-kilometre track from the ranger station. There’s a locked gate on this 4WD track and the code must be obtained from the station before heading out. It’s pretty rough in parts and extreme care is recommended. Travel time is approximately 1.5 hours each way.
This, of course, is croc country so swimming is well and truly out … apart from at the beautiful Butterfly Springs rock pool about 25 kilometres north of the Southern Lost City. The pool is a little less suitable for a dip towards the end of the Dry though as it can become stagnant.
There is great caravan-suitable camping at spots throughout the park, including at Butterfly Springs itself, as well as Towns River, Yurrlmundji, and Munbililla (Tomato Island).
With the Roper, Towns and Limmen Bight Rivers flowing into the Gulf of Carpentaria to the east, this is a fishermen’s heaven … and there are boat ramps at Towns River, Munbililla and at the commercial Limmen Bight Fishing Camp.
With so many lagoons and waterways, this is also a natural magnet for wildlife and birdlife, and there are some great indigenous art sites to admire, too, including at the Yilbilinji rock shelter.
For grey nomads looking to truly get away for it all, this is simply one of the best places in Australia – and therefore the world! – to do it.