Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Garig Gunak Barlu National Park is pronounced Gah-rig Goon-uk Bar-loo.

Previously known as Garig Gunak Barlu National Park and Cobourg Marine Park, it is located only 570 km (by road) northeast of Darwin on the Cobourg Peninsula. The Park includes the entire peninsula, the surrounding waters of the Arafura Sea and Van Diemen Gulf, with some of the neighbouring islands. With a region covering 4,500 sq kms, Cobourg Peninsula is the only area in the Northern Territory that contains an adjoining land and marine area. 

This pristine region includes sandy beaches, dunes, coastal grasslands, mangroves, rainforest patches, swamps, lagoons, coral reefs, sea grass meadows and abundance, rich marine life.

The  Garig Gunak Barlu National Park and Cobourg Marine Park is alive with wildlife. Some of the species include the rare Dugong and five marine turtles, the Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Olive Ridley, Leatherback and Flatback Turtles. The park is also home to the largest wild herd of Banteng, Indonesian cattle that are now endangered in their native habitat. It is also a birds watcher’s paradise.

The park protects the first wetland to be recognised as a Wetland of International Importance under an international agreement called ‘The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance’ commonly known as Ramsar. Altogether, there are 53 sites in Australia, including wetlands in Kakadu National Park.

Traditional land owners
The Park lies within the clan estates of the Iwaidja speaking peoples of western Arnhem land, with custodianship being shared between five Aboriginal clan groups, the Agalda, Ngaindjagar, Madjunbalmi, Minaga and Muran. The clans have continual spiritual links with the land and sea. Their ancestors from the Creation Era (Dreamtime) created the land and all it contains. The Park therefore contains cultural landscapes which have been shaped and managed by cultural traditions and is translated as: Garig (a local language name), Gunak (land), Barlu (deep water).

The Park is managed jointly the traditional land owners and the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory

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