Howard Springs Nature Park has everything you need for a fun day out with the family in nature. Located approximately 35km south-east of the Northern Territory capital, Darwin, the reserve spreads out across 710 acres of thick natural bushland and protected wilderness and is open all year round for visitors between 7:30am to 7pm daily.
What Can You Do At Howard Springs
There’s heaps of fun activities and adventure to be found here for both adults and children of all ages, including toddlers. There’s a huge outdoor adventure playground with two large flying foxes, a picnic area, several walking trails to explore, rock pools and a small freshwater spring here too. There’s also a small man-made waterfall which descends into a wading pool and a tiered series of 8 x 29mm shallow pools where the kids can splash around in and you can kick back, relax and cool off on a hot day.
The Story Behind Howard Springs
The Howard Springs Nature Reserve was initially built in 1944 by the Royal Australian Engineers as a recreational camp and rest area for the Australian and US servicemen in World War II and has been a popular spot amongst tourists and locals ever since. In 1957 it became the Northern Territory’s first official Reserve and also became Darwin’s primary source and supply of drinking water for many years prior to the Manton Dam being built.
These days the water quality in the large spring-fed waterhole is quite poor due to contamination by a local bat colony in the upstream catchment so unfortunately, for health reasons, this area is now off limits for swimming. It’s recommended to only swim in the designated areas and make sure to pay attention to the safety signs located around the park and check for any updates or changes to regulations.
Howard Springs is Famous For Wildlife Spotting
There’s an abundance of wildlife to be spotted at the Howard Springs Reserve from wallabies and file snakes, to various different types of native birds. It’s also thriving with aquatic wildlife too. There are two different types of turtles to be discovered here and several different species of freshwater fish including barramundi (which grow over 1 metre plus in length) and Mertens’ Water Monitors which can be found camouflaged in the waterhole or basking in the sunshine on the rocks.
If you’re interested in learning more about the extraordinary flora and fauna typically found here in the Howard Springs Darwin area or understanding more about the historical significance of the site, there are several information boards scattered along the walkways where you can discover some new interesting facts about the natural habitat and learn how to identify the various plant and animal species.
A few of the bush tracks at Howard Springs are wheelchair friendly which makes it super convenient and easily accessible for prams and strollers too. For those with an adventurous spirit, the longer, 1.8km trail below the main waterhole takes you on a journey through diverse habitats and vegetation from lavish monsoonal rainforest, ancient woodlands, spring-fed creeks and paperbark swamps. If you’re looking for more of a leisurely stroll, there’s a shorter track off the main road which leads you through thick rainforest foliage to where the springs stream into the main weir.
Visit Howard Springs During Your Visit To Darwin
Howard Springs Reserve is also an ideal spot for a picnic, with it’s large grassy areas and thick foliage providing shade from the hot northern sun, it’s definitely worth planning ahead and packing a picnic lunch before you come. The park also boasts some excellent barbecue facilities too so you can always BYO and enjoy an outdoor cook up whilst soaking in the spectacular views and pristine greenery.