The Victoria Daly region is a vast area of largely undeveloped
tropical bushland in the north west corner of the Northern Territory.
The region includes coastal waters and islands west of the Victoria
River mouth in the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf.
The region takes it name from the two major river that flow through
it. The Victoria River flows for 560 km from its source, south of the
Gregory National Park, until it enters Joseph Bonaparte Gulf in the
Timor Sea, the Victoria River is the longest singularly named permanent
river in the Northern Territory. Part of the area adjoining the river
mouth has been identified as the Legune (Joseph Bonaparte Bay)
Important Bird Area because of its importance for waterbirds.
The Katherine/Daly River is the longest permanent river in the
Northern Territory. It is a single river with two separating (at the
Flora River tributary) European names. This great river was, until
recently, deemed as two separate rivers due to the European naming
conventions of the time. Its journey begins just south of Jabiru, high
in the Arnhem Land escarpment as a trickle until it flows into the
Timor Sea some 690 kilometres later, thus making it 130 kilometres
longer than the Victoria River.
Victoria River is quintessential cattle country. This is the country
of such legendary stockmen as Nat Buchanan, Reg Durack, Vincent
Lingiari and others. Except for a portion of desert in the southeast
corner, the subregion is criss-crossed by cattle leases, and even those
who do not work in the industry sport big hats and cowboy boots.
The spectacular beauty of the area, particularly in the gorges and
parks of the north and west, should be seen against a background of
deprivation and cruelty. Until the 1960s and 70s, all the cattle leases
were held by non-Aboriginal people, with Aboriginal people filling the
roles of (unpaid) stockmen and labourers. But today the situation is
more balanced: Aboriginal people own some stations and ‘living
areas’ have been excised from some properties to provide space
for settlement. Running across the far north is the huge former cattle
station of Bradshaw, now a defence force training ground. The subregion
contains just two towns with open settlements: Timber Creek and
National parks have added to the diversity of the region. Keep River
National Park, Gregory National Park and Flora River Nature Park
provide tourists with camping and sightseeing opportunities. The
subregion is drained by several river systems emptying into the
Bonaparte Gulf, tame in the Dry Season but massive and dangerous in the
Wet. It is one of the few areas of the NT where settlements are
routinely cut off for weeks every Wet Season - the Victoria River
Crossing is particularly notorious.
The Victoria Daly Regional Council, the region's local
government authority, was formed in 2008 as part of the Local
Government reforms in the Northern Territory. The Shire encompasses a
geographical area of 168 277km2, which comprises of eight indigenous
communities and surrounding outstations (cattle stations). In 2014,
data indicated a total population estimate of approximately 8000.
How To get There
Apart from alighting from The Ghan at Katherine Railway Station, the only way to access the region is by road.
The Victoria Highway begins at Katherine and passes west through the
Victoria Daly region before crossing the Western Australia border into
the Kimberley region of that state. From Kununurra, the Savannah Way
follows Great Northern Highway south past Purnululu National Park
(Bungle Bungle Ranges) and Wolf Creek National Park, then west through
Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing. On the way to Broome the road passes
the turn-offs to Windjana Gorge, Tunnel Creek and Geikie Gorge before
reaching the white sandy beaches of Broome.
The Stuart Highway, one of Australia's major highways, passes
through the north east corner of the Victoria Daly region. Stuart
Highway links the Territory's capital, Darwin, with Adelaide, the
capital city of South Australia.
Best Time To Go
Autumn (March to May) is possibly the best time of year with warm
days and cool nights and not much variation. In Summer (Dec-Feb),
daytime maximums are generally in the high 30’s but never above
45°C, but dry air and cool nights help to make these temperatures
In winter (June-Aug), night time temperatures can fall below zero
degrees Celsius and sometimes thick frost in the morning can look like
a carpet of snow. These mornings are usually followed by very pleasant
afternoon temperatures in the low twenties. Spring (Sept-Nov) is the
most exiting season of the year with big changes in temperature from
day to day, thunderstorms, hail and dust storms. It is also the
wildflower season, usually peaking in September and early October.