From the Gulf of Carpentaria to west of the Stuart Highway, from
just north of Elliot to the southern edge of Kakadu, from the
Queensland border to 100 km from the East Arnhem Coast, the Roper Gulf
Region stretches over 186 000 square kilometres. This vast region
boasts wide savannah plains, big rivers, pristine coastlines, tropical
forests, rocky escarpments, a rich human history dating back 60,000
Increasingly evident is the contrast between the Territory's old and
new styles of development. The old style of development is demonstrated
in such places as Pine Creek, focus of a gold-rush last century and now
with a much-diminished economic role, and the cattle stations to the
west and south.
A newer style of development can be seen in the realisation of the
region's growing tourism potential of natural wonders from Mataranka to
the Gulf Coast, in the cultural tours in the small community of
Manyallaluk, and in the takeover of some pastoral stations by
traditional Aboriginal landowners through a land claims process.
Nowhere is the symbolism of this more obvious than at the property
bearing the western subregion’s name: Elsey Station, the setting
for Jeannie Gunn’s novel We Of the Never Never. It is now an
Aboriginal owned and managed station.
Just south of Katherine, Tindal RAAF base with its 2400 staff and
family members contributes substantial resources to the regional
economy and represents another industry in the increasingly-diverse mix.
The strategic importance of Tindal in defence planning, the
increasingly important role of tourism and ways in which Aboriginal
people are using land successfully claimed under the Northern
Territory’s Land Rights Act reveal the modern face of development
in the Territory. The Elsey subregion shows this in abundance.
How To get There
By road: the main highway from north to south (Stuart Highway) is
sealed bitumen all the way from Port Augusta to Darwin, but other roads
in the region vary from sealed bitumen to sandy bush tracks that
require a 4WD vehicle.
The Barkly Highway is a national highway linking the central regions
of Queensland and the Northern Territory. It runs westward from
Cloncurry and the junctions of the Flinders and Landsborough highways
to the junction with the Stuart Highway north of Tennant Creek. The
Roper Gulf region is to the north of Tennnt Creek via the Stuart
Best Time To Go
The western region has a sub-tropical climate, with distinct wet and
dry seasons. The dry season temperatures range from 25 degrees C to 35
degrees C, with an occasional 40 degrees C during November and
December. The dry season is cooler with temperatures often dropping to
10 degrees C overnight.
The Gulf Coast has a tropical savanna climate with the three
distinct seasons of the Northern Territory, the wet season, the dry
season and the build-up season. Extreme temperatures have ranged from
43.9 degrees C to 0.4 degrees C.