Shoal Bay Coastal Reserve

The Shoal Bay Coastal Reserve is located to the East of Darwin and to the North of the Gunn Point Road. The Reserve can be accessed off a number of tracks located near the Howard Springs Hunting Reserve. The tracks become impassable once the wet season sets in and the area becomes inundated.

This Coastal Reserve protects a large coastal area between the Howard River, and to the eastern boundary near Gunn Point. The Reserve shares a common boundary with the Howard Springs Hunting Reserve and Tree Point Conservation Area. It contains a large area of Eucalypt woodland and large areas of saline swamp with areas that are inundated during the wet season. The Coastal Reserve supports an open forest/woodland dominated by stringy bark, woolly butt and ironwood. There are patches of rainforest located near and around springs. Patches of paperbark inhabit the damp freshwater depressions.

The Reserve protects areas of Aboriginal (Larrakia) cultural significance. A number of Aboriginal shell middens are located on one of the upland intrusions into the swamp area. There are no visitor facilities and there are no constructed walking tracks on the Reserve. Tracks lead to the shell middens, and to places where there are views of the floodplains with saline marshes and freshwater swamps. These predominate on the area between the upland woodland section and the coast.

This Coastal Reserve is also used as an extension to the Howard Springs Hunting Reserve with magpie geese being the main target during hunting season (Permits required). Many species of wildlife occur in this Reserve inhabiting the wide range of different vegetation types found.


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Bird watching on the receding marshes and swamps at the end of the wet season can be rewarding as a large variety of species can be seen, including Brolgas, Saurus Cranes and Jabiru.

The Coastal Reserve has important wildlife habitats particularly for magpie geese and whistling ducks. At certain times of the year Brolgas congregate on the drying swamps. Rainbow Pitas and Orange Footed Scrub Fowl can also be seen in appropriate locations.

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