Mangroves make up a good part of the coastline around Darwin. If you enjoy looking around this fascinating landscape, there are a couple of Mangrove boardwalks in Darwin to explore. Especially on the East Point Mangrove Boardwalk, you can walk right through the coastal mangroves to the coast and appreciate the wildlife that calls the mangroves home.
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- Mangrove Boardwalks in Darwin
- East Point Mangrove Boardwalk
- Casuarina Coastal Reserve Mangrove Boardwalk
- Places to Stay in Darwin
Mangrove Boardwalks in Darwin
There are two mangrove boardwalks in Darwin. The main one is in the East Point Reserve near Lake Alexander. There is a second shorter mangrove boardwalk in the Casuarina Coastal Reserve. If you are not a local, they are both a little tricky to find. We eventually located each of them so read our guide if you want to enjoy this unique landscape.
East Point Mangrove Boardwalk
This is the best of the mangrove boardwalks in Darwin. East Point Reserve is 10 minutes from the centre of Darwin. The drive takes you along the coast past Mindil Beach. The Darwin Botanic Gardens and the historic Fannie Bay Gaol.
Finding the East Point Mangrove Boardwalk
Once you have entered the East Point Reserve look for Lake Alexander on your right, it’s big and you can’t miss it! As you get to the end of the lake you will see a turn off to your right, there is a playground on the corner. Turn in here and enter the carpark, the boardwalk begins near the start of the carpark.
There are no signs for the boardwalk until you turn into the carpark, so if you have read this guide, you will avoid doing a couple of slow laps of East Point Reserve looking for a sign like we did!
How long & difficult is the East Point Mangrove Boardwalk?
The East Point Mangrove Boardwalk is a 1.2km return track. The last 250m include the boardwalk through the mangroves. It is an access friendly, there are no slopes or steps so anyone can get out into the mangroves.
The boardwalk part of the track takes you through the trees and finishes at a viewing platform at the outer edge of the mangrove forest. There is seating here so if you have time, you can sit and watch the tide go in or out and keep an eye out for birds flying around the canopy.
Signage along the boardwalk identifies some plants like the local bamboo and peanut tree. There is also information about the local Larrakia People – a saltwater tribe – who used the mangrove habitat for food and medicine.
What will you see?
In theory you could see anything from mudskippers and crabs though to a variety of birds including rainbow bee eaters and oyster catchers. Despite visiting a couple of times, life on the mudflats eluded us. We did see lots of freshly dug crab holes so at least we know they are there.
Even if you don’t see a lot of wildlife, walking through the mangroves is still a lot of fun, they are such different looking trees. There are plenty of pneumatophores poking up through the mud and the masses of exposed roots are a spectacular sight.
Will you get your feet wet?
By their very nature, mangroves live in the intertidal zone along the coast and are adapted to being inundated by saltwater a couple of times of day. And Darwin has some big tides, so it is possible that on very high tides the boardwalk is impassable. With crocodile warning signs at the start of the track, you might want to think twice about wading out to the viewing platform.
On both of our visits we arrived about 60 minutes after a 5 metre high tide. There was still water under the viewing platform, and you could see from a line on the trees that the water had been 30 – 40cm higher which would have put it still below the viewing platform. You can get 6 or 7 metre high tides in Darwin. You might be getting wet feet if you are there for a tide 6m or greater.
Other things to do at East Point
There is a lot to do at East Point Reserve after you have had a walk along the Mangrove Boardwalk. Visit the Darwin Military Museum and look at the other WW2 remains around the point. Kids will love the playgrounds near Lake Alexander. Grab a meal at Pee Wees and watch a Top End sunset or checkout the popup Salty Plum Café for breakfast on the weekend.
Casuarina Coastal Reserve Mangrove Boardwalk
This is a smaller mangrove boardwalk you can do in Darwin. It is part of the Casuarina Coastal Reserve. The Casuarina Coastal Reserve is just under 20 minutes from the centre of Darwin. The drive takes you out past one side of Darwin Airport and Nightcliff which is worth checking out for a sunset spot.
This is a much shorter walk through the mangroves. Once you get to the mangroves, it is probably a track of just 100 – 200 metres.
Finding the Casuarina Beach Mangrove Boardwalk
If we are being honest, we are writing this guide because if you like a mangrove boardwalk, other guides to this walk are totally confusing. There is some suggestion that you can get to the mangrove boardwalk along Rocklands Drive. Don’t bother, that’s the hard way of doing it.
It is much easier if you get yourself onto Free Beach Road that runs along the Casuarina Beach foreshore. Go to the end of the road, it finishes at a carpark. At the carpark you will see a big sign pointing to a track that takes you to the Mangrove Boardwalk (and a nudist beach). From the carpark, it is an 800m walk, past the nudist beach, to the start of the Mangrove Boardwalk.
How long & difficult is the Casuarina Beach Mangrove Boardwalk?
The Casuarina Beach Mangrove Boardwalk is part of a labyrinth of walking tracks that run through the Casuarina Coastal Reserve. Depending on how far you feel like walking, there are a couple of options for exploring the Casuarina Beach Mangrove Boardwalk. Whichever option you go for, the tracks are flat and if you do the longer loop, are on dirt paths.
Just walking the Mangrove Boardwalk
After you have walked besides the beach for 800m from the carpark you will see another sign for the Mangrove Boardwalk that takes you into the forest. From here you can walk along the boardwalk, and when it ends walk back the way you came. Total distance is about 2km.
Mangrove Boardwalk Loop Walk
Option two is to do a loop walk that takes you through the mangroves then through savannah woodland and along the Rockland Drive track which takes you back to the carpark where you started. After the mangroves follow the signs to the hospital, then Rocklands Drive. The loop is around 2km and a little exposed until you reach the Rocklands Road path.
What will you see?
The mangrove boardwalk here is short but spectacular. Compared to the East Point Mangrove Boardwwalk, the forest seems denser, and the web of roots is an amazing sight. Along the boardwalk you cross a small bridge that goes over Sandy Creek. It is a great vantage point for taking in the forest.
Will you get your feet Wet?
There is a sign at the start of the mangrove boardwalk that says the track can flood when the tide is 7.6 metres or greater. That is a quite a high tide, but they can occur a couple of times a month around a new or full moon so check the tide charts before you go for the walk.
Other things to do near the Casuarina Mangrove Boardwalk
The Casuarina Mangrove Boardwalk is part of the Casuarina Coastal Reserve and there is some nice scenery in the area. Check out the brightly coloured Dripstone Cliffs at the entrance to the reserve, there is a carpark there.
For breakfast or lunch check out De La Plage at the Darwin Surf Life Saving Club.
For a longer walk you can follow the signed path 3.2km to Lee Point. Along the way there are remains of World War 2 sites and it is an excellent area for bird watching.
Places to Stay in Darwin
- Quest Palmerston – Modern, air-conditioned studio, 2br or 3br apartments with kitchen, ensuite, outdoor pool & secure parking. 20 min from Darwin City.
- Discovery Parks Darwin – Studio, 1br or 2br cabins, kitchen, ensuite & lounge/dining area with TV. Outdoor pool & bbq area. 10 min from Darwin City.
- Hidden Valley Holiday Park – 1 or 1 br cabins with kitchen, ensuite, terrace or a balcony, Outdoor swimming pool & garden. Cafe onsite.
- Big 4 Howard Springs – Studio, 1, 2 or 3 br cabins with kitchen, ensuite & A/C. Outdoor pool & hot tubs, BBQ facilities, a children’s playground, and a water park
- Mantra on the Esplanade – Choose from self contained 2 or 3 br apartments or hotel room style accommodation. On Esplanade in Darwin City Centre.
- Bluey – Tiny House in Nightcliff – 2 br self contained tiny house just moments to Nightcliff foreshore. Garden View
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