• Trekking Downunder

Cobourg Peninsula with Kids

Garig Gunak Barlu National Park (Cobourg Peninsula)



Bonnie from Cruisen around Aus shares her family adventures of their travels to Arnhem Land's Cobourg Peninsula during their big lap around Oz. The Cobourg Peninsula is located 350 km east of Darwin in the Northern Territory, Australia. It is deeply indented with coves and bays, covers a land area of about 2,100 km², and is virtually uninhabited with a population ranging from about 20 to 30 in five family outstations, but without any notable settlement or village.


While travelling around Australia on limited time there are many decisions to be made about places to visit or not to visit. We always wanted to visit Arnhem Land but had been told that it takes 3 months to get a permit approved, this all sounded too difficult so we ditched the idea. However, after talking to a Darwin local whilst camping at Litchfield National park last year, we were told Cobourg Peninsula is a place we must visit and a permit will be easy to get especially the time of year. Because we are really flexible with our plans the next week we were off to Cobourg Peninsula, Northern Territory – Garig Gunak Barlu National Park for a week on the beach, fishing, and exploring this pristine part of Australia. The white sand beaches and the turquoise colour of the water blew us away, not to mention the amazing wild life that surrounds this area.



It’s not an easy feat getting to Cobourg Peninsula. The adventure starts before you get to Cobourg, getting there you will need to drive through Kakadu National Park (about 250kms from Darwin) across Cahill’s crossing into Arnhem Land through 300 plus kilometres of corrugated dirt road. If you can handle that you are in for a reward. Before starting your adventure to Cobourg, a permit needs to be approved and acquired in Darwin by Park’s and Wildlife Commission Northern Territory a permit for a week cost us $232.10 this includes camping (dump toilets and hot showers, not that we needed hot showers). Just make sure you have enough fuel, water and food with you to last you the whole time you are there, the last fuel stop before hitting the corrugations is, Jabiru.



Apparently in the peak season obtaining a permit can be more difficult as they only let a certain number of people in the national park at any one time, we travelled to Cobourg the last week the National Park was open for the season. We were lucky to have the place mostly to ourselves.


On our way along the corrugations only 10 kilometres from camp we had mechanical problems, we crept to camp and set up for the week. The next morning Alan the Park Ranger could not be more helpful with assisting us in getting the part we needed to get us back on the road, flown in to the National Park. Alan was also very informative about the area and what we should do while in the national park. When you come to places like this, the people you meet go above and beyond to make sure you have a good time, learning and exploring their country.



An average day at Cobourg, we would take a drive down the coast track during low tide and check out the turtles and other sea life hanging in the bays. We also would go to the rocky points and search for oysters and crabs Alan say’s “if you can’t get an oyster there is something wrong, they don’t run away from you”. We got plenty of oysters, they were massive and tasty. As for crabs, nets and traps can’t be used, we were not very successful!


During high tide, we would fish off the beach and rocks, we caught Trevally, and Queen fish. We thought Trevally wasn’t a very good eating fish and through heaps back, before Alan told us it’s a great fish to eat. We cooked some up and were disappointed we through so many back, they were beautiful coated in flour, pepper and salt, and cooked on the BBQ.



Sunsets on the beach in the afternoon were spectacular but the best part of the day was driving over the croc crossing of a morning so see how big the croc slides are, coming out of the creek to the beach from the night before. We first thought the sign was a joke until we saw the crocodile tracks and the crocodiles. Speaking of animals in the night, fresh Bantang tracks frequented around our camp, but unfortunately we never saw one.


Although it is a task to get to Cobourg Peninsula, it is well worth the effort, from the scenery to the Park Rangers this place is well worth a visit.




Bonnie Garrard

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