HARDIES 4WD TRACK ...NT
Ever heard of the Hardies Track between Darwin and Kakadu ? The entry point is just before the Bark Hut Tavern on the Arnhem Highway with the track being a 100km loop. It dives deep into the fertile and harsh area that Mary River NP has to offer.
Only open during the dry season as extensive flooding across the plains and several deep river crossings often close the track for months at a time when it's been wet.
Prior to the loop, the track used to cross at Clarkes crossing before heading north through Annaburroo Station to nearby Couzens lookout but access is now blocked through the station.
At the start of the track, Bird Billabong is a pleasant walk to see large numbers of birds, even in the dry welts where water used to be.
From the moment you pass through the gate the track narrows and winds its way through stands of Tea tree towards a viewing point of the Mary River. Along the way keep an eye out across the other side for the massive Bamboo stands, this is only one of three native Bamboos to Australia. This species called Bambusa arnhemica lives for about 30 years, flowers then dies.
Soon the track heads westward towards the hills of Mount Bundey, these rock formations and lumps were important to the Limilngan-Wulna people of this land.
The track follows the hills for some way before branching off through savannah grass where before its burnt, can be as high as a 4wds bonnet. There’s a couple of river crossings and depending on the time of the year that you explore, depends on the water level.
Hardies crossing flows for most of the year and is a narrow rocky track through the water at the flowing end of the lagoon. Even though the water is flowing - be croc wise as being a permanent water hole they are in there as I found out laying in the pools of water on the track.
The loop follows the wet plains and heads to its furthest point at Corroboree Billabong where there's a boat ramp but also a high point up the bank to have a break and croc spotting.
Parts of the road were extremely rough, not from lack of maintenance but the feral Pigs and Buffalo use the road as their highway going from water hole to water hole.
At times, with tyres right down, it was only a slow walking pace. Following the track was pretty easy with a stack of blue and red arrows along the way, but really there is only one main track.
To fully enjoy and discover the Hardie loop track, allow a full day out with the many spots to enjoy and discover, you never know what you’ll see.
My other advice is to get onto the track early in the morning as sections of the track were that dusty it was hard to see out the window.
The Mary River NP is a must-do if you're in the area as it combines some good 4wding, has a hint of the gulf country plus the attractions of nearby Kakadu.