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Hiking in Cobourg
Gurig Ganuk Barlu National and Marine Park on remote Cobourg Peninsula is a destination not to be missed! Gurig Ganuk Barlu National Park occupies an area of 2,207 square kilometres including some outlying islands. Its aquatic surrounds form Gurig Ganuk Barlu Marine Park, encompassing an area of 2,800 square kilometres.
The region as a whole offers an enormous variety of wildlife, birdlife and marine life in a truly pristine environment that is protected both by laws of the Australian government and by the remote, isolated location provided by nature. Australia's first recognised RAMSAR Wetlands Area (wetlands of international importance) is located at Cobourg and is a major destination for migratory birds to Australia.
On arrival at Cobourg we settle into our permanent coastal camp overlooking Port Essington. Only 20 vehicles are allowed into the park at any one time, so you are never going to be part of a crowd!
Cobourg also offers a unique historical opportunity to view the remains of early settlement attempts by the British. The remains of these settlements can be still be seen today at d Victoria Settlement. A tragic failure, surviving for only 11 years 1838 to 1849 when it was abandoned. Isolation and disease accounted for 60 deaths from a population high of 200. The ruins of Victoria Settlement's buildings with their distinct Cornish rounded chimneys stand as a monument to the hardships faced by the early colonists.
Cobourg Peninsula is home to the world's largest untamed population (approximately 3,000) of Banteng, a large ungulate similar in size to the Asian Water Buffalo. These were originally imported as a herd of 20 from Bali in Indonesia (where they are now extinct) during the final year of Victoria Settlement. Allowed to run free after the town's abandonment, they rapidly increased in number due to the ideal conditions (for them) of their new environment. Their continued existence in Australia was not suspected until scientists rediscovered their presence in 1948. Locals still call Banteng "Bali cattle".