Hardies 4WD Track: Mary River National Park
Hardies 4WD Track
Mary River National Park.
As a 4WD track it’s a walk in the park. This is not the most challenging of 4WD tracks and can be taken on by most 4X4’s. I would grade it as medium (grading Victoria Parks ). The track is part of the national park and is only opened in the dry season. Following the track for about 25km will get you to Hardies and Carroboree Billabong the only way out is back the same way you came. Note no camping is permitted at any point on this tack.
How to gain access to the track? Travel along the Arnhem highway you take the turnoff to Bird Billabong situated about 2.5km west of the Mary River. A dirt track will then take you to into the Mary River National Park. Continue past Bird Billabong (the first turn of to your left +/- 1.8 km) on towards Mary River Billabong. From here the track is signposted as Hardies 4WD track. In addition to the typical national park signage located on the intersections, the less obvious sections are marked with blue arrows on pickets (arrows like those found on hiking trails).
About Hardies 4x4 track
The first 10 km of the track to Hardies Crossing is the most interesting section passing numerous billabongs, river crossings and rock formations. After Hardies Crossing the track enters the flood plains and the track flattens out. The track is however rough as it is used as a highway in the wet for buffalo and pigs leaving deep holes in the road that have the same effect as a heavily corrugated road.
About 5 km on from Hardies Crossing a well signposted T-junction is found. To the right is the section that takes you to Clarkes Crossing on the Mary River. The section from Clarkes Crossing onwards enters Annaburroo Station and is closed. This section used to link up with Rockhole road. Taking a left at the T-junction takes you to Hardies and Corroboree billabong. After traveling for about 9 km the next well sign posted T-junction is encountered. From the T-junction Hardies Lagoon is about 1.5km to the left and Corroboree 1.5 km to the right.
Rather disappointing after 25km of track. A small 5 to 10 m section of bush is cleared from the bank of the Billabong providing limited access for land-based fishing. Only one tree provides a shaded area for a lunch break, this is probably enough as I can’t see many people spending a lot of time here.
The National Parks Board information sheet on Hardies 4WD track indicates a boat ramp (Delta block west boat ramp) at Hardies Lagoon. I could not find anything that resembled a boat ramp. It was however evident that a boat had been launched at this site. The bank of the lagoon seems to drop off very steeply at the waters edge with the bank composed of clay / turf soil. Judging from the deep tyre tracks on the edge of the bank the last person to launch at this site must have had a few problems getting out. If you were able to launch at this site it would provide the only access to this section of the lagoon – estimate about 5 km of navigable lagoon. (Traveling along Arnhem highway you find a sign indicating Hardies lagoon that provides access to the lagoon. However I am not sure if it links to the section mentioned above). The lack of easy access may make this a good spot for fishing. May also be worth exploring the area up and down the banks to look for additional easier launch points to the lagoon.
Small tees and brush surround the billabong and some sections have been cleared of undergrowth to provide access to the billabong. Very limited access is available from the banks for fishing. The boat ramp looks gradual with well-compacted base and should provide good access. I can however see no reason for towing a boat over the 25km of Hardies track to get to Corroboree when access from the west bank is so easy. If camping were allowed then an argument for boating at Hardies and Carroboree from this point could be made.
Note on Bird Billabong
The road to Bird Billabong takes you to a parking area were you need to leave your vehicle and then do a hike of about 2 km to get to the billabong and viewing platform. The billabong lives up to its name with a large number of birds on the water. The banks of the billabong are not heavily wooded as they often are and thus walking around the billabong and viewing birds is much easier.
Why would I take Hardies track?
Good viewing and photography opportunities for wallabies and birds. Opportunity for some land based fishing on the Billabongs but also along Hardies Creek. It is easily accessible just of the Arnhem highway. It is one of a very few tracks that will give you access onto the flood plains.