Roper River &
Roper Bar, Northern
you had come across the bottom of the Gulf from Normanton in Queensland
and ended up at Borroloola on the south west corner of the Gulf then
the middle third of this trip could be a natural extension on
up to Roper Bar Crossing and then on to the Roper Highway and westward
if you are approaching from the Stuart Highway end then head for
Katherine where this trip starts, it heads east to Roper Bar and then
south to Cape Crawford before it again heads west for Daly Waters, back
on the Stuart
you are towing a caravan then leave it in storage at Katherine, which
is a modern, thriving town with most of the facilities you will need.
If you have been on the road for a while, then this may be a good place
to stop of for a few days, take it easy and
There are lots of touristy things to do in Katherine,
least of which is a visit to Katherine Gorge in the Nitmiluk National
Park ( Catherine Gorge National Park ).
Another easy day trip is
heading south out of Katherine on the Stuart Highway. Here you will
find the Cutta Cutta and Tindal
Caves, they are in an area of quite dramatic countryside, whilst the
caves themselves are home to various forms of wildlife including bats
and tree snakes.
the trip, the best time to go, like most of the trips in the northern
parts of Australia, is in the dry season - April to October. The wet
season sees Roper River Crossing in flood as is much of the stretch
down to Cape Crawford.
This trip is a little over 600 km,
excluding any deviations you may decide to take. The longest stretch
without fuel is approximately 350 km between Roper Bar Crossing and
would aim to take some extra fuel if I were you as you are more than
likely to find some fairly good spots to deviate
112 km south of Katherine is the small town of Mataranka, which is a
delightful place to stop, stretch your legs and maybe have a cuppa. You
will find charming restaurants, cafes and, of course, places to top up
Just south of town are the We of The Never Never
Graves, which became famous following the publishing of the book We Of
The Never Never by Jeannie Gunn.
About 15 km west along the
Roper Highway, which is the route we are going to take, is the Elsey
National Park with the Mataranka Thermal Pool.
The pool is set
amidst cabbage palms and pandanus and stays at a constant 34 degree c
temperature. Nearby is the Mataranka Homestead with its caravan and
Whilst here pay a visit to the replica of
the Elsey Station Homestead which was built in 1982 for the shooting of
the film version of We of The Never Never.
The other main attraction in the Elsey National Park is the Roper River
and its large rock pools.
The road from here to the Roper River crossing, where you cross over
and enter Arnhem Land, is partly sealed and partly
crossing is a natural rock formation across the river and could almost
be mistaken for a man made causeway. This rock bar is the natural
separating of the salty, tidal waters and the fresh water upstream of
the bar.The river is well known for its barramundi and it is a favorite
pastime to caste a line from the banks downstream of the
you could just carry on the road towards Nathan River Homestead and,
ultimately, Cape Crawford take a short detour 3 or 4 km to Roper Bar,
which is a delightful little spot with a store, motel and good camping
facilities. Excellent fishing here as well as organized crocodile
sightseeing trips by
Take extreme care if fishing from the river banks, however, as this is
estuarine crocodile country.
Fill up with fuel before leaving as this is definitely the last
available fuel until Cape Crawford, a distance of 360 km or
road south from here is sometimes sort of good, sometimes sort of bad,
sometimes a little rocky and sometimes very bulldusty.This is not to
area to test the speed you vehicle is capable of, and only gently does
it will get you there.
There is another camping spot about 20 km
further on at Rocky Bar Crossing. This is an area of fresh water
crocodiles, less dangerous than their salt water cousins, but that's no
reason to drop your guard, however, the camping is pleasant and there
are several specimens of Aboriginal art around.
further south is very scenic with lots of natural attractions,
including the Lomaricum Lagoon with its large stretches of water
covered covered in a beautiful display of water
There is a detour you can make to the very remote Port
Roper on the Gulf of Carpentaria. The drive there and back is both
interesting and scenic.However the track will cut short about 8 km from
Back on the road south and again you will be treated
with delightful scenery, river crossings and places to camp. Nathan
River Homestead is a good place to stop and stretch your legs in its
peaceful valley setting. The ranger at the homestead can point you in
the direction of the Lost City, which is a unique rocky setting in the
The continued drive south will take you through several
properties and, in some cases, past their respective homesteads. Some
do offer camping facilities but you do need to make arrangements prior
to just setting up camp.
Your destination, Cape Crawford, has
now been reached. Motel, caravan and camping facilities are in town, as
is fuel and other supplies. Scenic helicopter flights are available as
well as bush
Your choice now is whether to continue 4wd driving round
the bottom of the Gulf, head south or back west. If you want to
continue around the gulf and end up in Normanton in Queensland refer to
the Gulf Track page on this web site.
4x4 Tag Along Tours does not currently run a 4wd tag along tour to this
destination but does to various other Outback, desert and remote desert
and Victorian High Country destinations, please follow the "Tag Along
Details" button above if these sound of interest to you.