Cobourg Peninsula - Garig Gunak Barlu National Park
This morning we depart Mt. Borradaile and travel through Murgenella to the Cobourg Peninsula in the Garig Gunak Barlu National Park. While sparsely populated today, it was once the site of an early attempt at British settlement.
History of Victoria Settlement / Port Essington
In the early 19th century, the British government became interested in establishing a settlement on Australia's northern coastline in order to facilitate trade with Asia. In 1824, Port Essington was proposed as the first such settlement. Officially named Victoria Settlement after the young Queen Victoria, but popularly known as Port Essington, the area was surveyed by Charles Tyers in 1838 and consisted of 24 houses and a hospital.
While the British government intended to establish Port Essington as a major trading port, along the lines of Singapore, the new settlement suffered from the same adverse conditions that had previously plagued Fort Dundas and Fort Wellington. The settlement lacked resources and supplies and skilled labour. While some prefabricated buildings were brought from Sydney, many had to be built with what materials could be found in the area, and due to the unskilled nature of the builders many of these were of poor quality.
Disease was also rampant among the small population, and living conditions were poor. Consequently, it struggled to attract settlers, and the post was much-disliked by the troops stationed there. Despite these setbacks, there was still widespread hope that Port Essington may be able to break the curse, as evidenced by Ludwig Leichhardt's 1844/1845 expedition. The New South Wales government had hoped to establish a direct line of communication with Asia, India and the Pacific, and supported Leichhardt's journey which successfully charted an overland route between Moreton Bay (now Brisbane) and Port Essington. In 1849 Port Essington was abandoned. The ruins of Port Essington still exist today and are incredibly interesting.
This afternoon we arrive at Black Point, on the end of the Cobourg Peninsula. We are then transferred by boat to the Seven Spirit Bay Eco Wilderness Resort where we spend the next two nights. Seven Spirit is an iconic Northern Territory property that was built in the 1980's. Once operated by Peppers, it is now owned and operated by a Darwin businessman.
The resort features a stunning location looking over the ocean. In fact, you can see the ocean from each of the twenty four 'habitats' that are scattered through the bush. While each of the individual habitats has its own bathroom, they are in fact separate to the accommodation building and are located just a short stroll down the path (approximately 20 metres). Good lighting is provided and the bathrooms have a distinct Northern Territory character about them, mostly because they are half open to the surrounding forest! (but still completely private)
We're certain you'll enjoy your stay at this well known yet very remote location. (B, L, D)