Victoria Daly Region

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 Kalkarindji.


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 very tolerable.

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.

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