The tropical, meandering Adelaide River rises in Litchfield National Park and flows generally east then northwards to Van Diemens Gulf. It is crossed by both the Stuart Highway, at the Adelaide River township, and the Arnhem Highway, past Humpty Doo.
The Adelaide Rivers flows through the traditional lands of, among others, Warray and Limilngan-Wulna peoples. The Adelaide River system is the major landscape and resource feature of these peoples’ land.
Adelaide River township
Adelaide River township is 115 km south of Darwin on the Stuart Highway and has a population of about 200. The township was established after completion of the Overland Telegraph Line and featured a hotel, a police outpost and a railway station. The town became a popular overnight stopover for travellers and prospectors heading to the Pine Creek goldfields in the late 1800s. During World War 2, Adelaide River was the headquarters of a large base to which allied troops retreated after the bombing of Darwin by Japanese warplanes. The war cemetery at the township was created especially for the burial of service personnel who died in this part of Australia.
The Adelaide River is well known for its high concentration of saltwater crocodiles, along with other wildlife including barramundi, white-bellied sea eagles, whistling kites, freshwater crocodiles, bull sharks and Black Flying-fox. Its lower reaches form part of the Adelaide and Mary River Floodplains Important Bird Area.
The Adelaide River is easily accessed by sealed roads and by the unsealed Marrakai track. It is an easy day trip from the visitor hub of Darwin.