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Howard Springs
Darwin, Northern Territory

When I last visited Howard Springs it was closed for swimming due to poor water quality. The pool was formed during the second world war when the water in the Howard River was dammed to provide a local water supply. It was a popular swimming hole until the mid-2000s, however frequent high levels of e-coli (an indicator of faecal contamination in the water) forced its closure as a swimming hole in 2006. No swimming at Howard Springs near Darwin Above: The sign prohibiting swimming at Howard Springs (Order this image)

The latest management plan for the nature park has admitted defeat and is converting the park into a non-swimming recreational venue. It turns out that the main source of the contamination is a local bat colony living in the catchment upstream, which it sounds like no one is prepared to move on (or train to use a toilet!).

It is not completely bad news though. A small water play area has been built for kids to splash around in.
It is not much comfort for adults, who can only dream of a dip in the water with generations past. Enjoy this site as a picnic area and a modern playground for kids, but as a swimming venue it is unfortunately finished.
Other Information Before You Go:
Location: Howard Springs Nature Park, Howard Springs Rd, Howard Springs, 30 km east of the Darwin CBD
Latitude:-12.456322 Longitude:131.052512
Getting there: From Darwin take the Stuart Highway for about 25 km and turn off at Howard Springs Road. Follow the signs to the nature park straight ahead (not the signs to the suburb of Howard Springs on the right)

Facilities: Water play area, playground, toilets, fish viewing platforms, barbecues, picnic tables, walking track. There are no bins provided so take your rubbish with you.
Entrance fee: None
Water temperature: Warm
Water clarity: Cloudy
Under foot: Unknown
Maximum water depth: Unknown
Minimum suggested swimming proficiency: Not applicable. Swimming is now prohibited.
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog: No swimming in the spring, no pets, no nets, no traps, no firearms, only light fires in fireplaces provided, no camping, no fishing, stay on designated roads and tracks. Babies and toddlers must wear waterproof nappies in the water play area.
Sun shade: Shade available out of the water, with plenty of shade in the picnic areas, but not much shade around the water play area.
Opening times: 7.30 am to 7 pm.
Wheelchair access: Access to the picnic area. Wheelchair toilets.
Managing authority: NT Parks and Wildlife Service
Nearby attractions: Enjoy the 1.8 km loop Monsoon Forest Walk along the creek.
Before you head out, make sure to read the swimming safety information and check with the managing authority for any current change of conditions.
Locality Map:
The marker indicates the approximate location of the pool at the springs. If the map is not zoomed in locally, as can sometimes occur when loading, simply click or tap on "View Larger Map" below.
View Larger Map
Here is one recollection of swimming at Howard Springs before it was closed to swimming:

Comment:"In the 1960s, I was an officer on coastal ship Wangara, running regularly from Sydney and Brisbane to Darwin, and every time we would all go to Howard Springs for a marvellous day swimming and cavorting with the local girls. I have been back there in later years, but it was not the same wild and natural atmosphere as before, and I was sorely disappointed, but those memories will stay with me forever." - D. Syred from the Gold Coast, Australia 20/3/2021.

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