Gunn Point Peninsula: General Information
Gunn Point Peninsula
Gun Point peninsula is situated between the Howard and Adelaide rivers just to the east of Darwin. This area was initially designated to become a coastal park in 1990. Ten years later and NT government plans had an about turn, as it has become the preferred site for future heavy industry and residential subdivision. The Darwin Regional Land Use Plan 2015 still shows this intent. The NT government by way of the NT land Corporation is the owner of this section of land. Included in the area are Shoal Bay Reserve, Tree Point Conservation Reserve, Howard Springs Reserve and Hunting Reserve. The Durduga Community at Tree Point Reserve, Leaders creek Fishing Base and Koolpinyah Station make up the other parties in the area.
The Larrakia, Tiwi and Wulna people are the historical users of the area with numerous and some very large (7m high) shell middens near Hope Inlet. The Jampalampi Tiwi (Aboriginal) group claim traditional right and have secured a freehold tenure at Tree Point. They have established a community here, known as Tree Point or Durduga Community.
From 1907 the primary use of the land has been for grazing. In 1969 the government reclaimed the northern section of the Koolpinyah pastoral lease. A prison farm was established at Gunn Point in 1972 and functioned till 1995 when it was closed. Currently the area is used for fishing, hunting and informal camping especially along Murrumujuk Beach.
Gunn Point Peninsula is rich in biodiversity and includes areas of rainforest, savannah woodlands, wetlands, mangroves, tidal habitats and coral reefs. All of these different ecological niches are to be found in about 4000 ha area.
These areas of rainforests act as islands of natural opulence in a sea of savannah woodlands. They provide a habitat for a wide range of both plant and animal species.
Four significant rainforests occur in this area:
· At Point Stephens: the largest patch of rainforest in this area and about 350 ha in size
· Leaders Creek: a rainforest patch situated amongst the mangrove forests that line leaders Creek.
· Along the northwest escarpment of Gunn Point: considered in the top 2% of NT rainforests for species richness with 98 recorded plant species.
· Ginger Palmers Jungle: a relatively large rainforest patch on the coastline between melaleuca swamps and mangroves, about halfway between Glyde Point and Gunn Point.
Ginger Palmers Jungle has a colourful history deriving its name from Ginger Palmer a swashbuckling rogue found hanging by his belt dead in a Darwin jail. He and his Aboriginal wife Maude on the run from the law in 1950 chose this inaccessible spot, cleared some jungle and planted mango trees and a row of coconut palms. Aboriginal people also used the area in 1940 to avoid evacuations during World War II.
Woollybutt and Ironbark are included in the list of eucalyptus woodland that forms the major part of the Gunn Point Peninsula. This eucalyptus forest boasts some of the largest eucalyptus trees in the NT.
Provide a haven for migratory birds in the wet season but usually drying up in the dry season. These areas often support large thickets of Melaleuca.
These forests can be found forming a fringed on the coastline from Gunn Point to Point Stephens. The largest of these forests are found in the vicinity of Leaders creek. The close proximity of these mangroves bordering the coral reefs in the blue holes create a great nursery environment for fish and enhance the biodiversity of the area.
Very little data is available regarding the coral reefs of the NT. The threat of saltwater crocodiles and stingers (Irukandji jellyfish) limiting recreational diving on these reefs. Blue holes are a number of deep holes to the north of Gunn Point that drop to 20 meters in depth. Surveys in the area have shown these corral communities to be restricted to Gunn Point, Vernon Island and Grose Island chain.
Reserves and Conservation Areas
Situated in or within close proximity to this area are seven reserves and conservation areas.
· Howard Springs Nature Park
· Howard Springs Hunting Reserve
· Shoal Bay Coastal Reserve
· Tree Point Conservation Area
· Melacca Swamp Conservation Area
· Vernon Islands
· Djukbinj National Park
All of the above sites are accessible except for Melacca Swamps and Vernon Islands. Tree Point Conservation area does not allow any form of vehicles on the beach and the area near the point is private land, access above the high watermark is restricted in this area. Koolpinyah Station is all private land no access allowed.