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.
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
Other Information Before You Go:
Howard Springs Nature Park, Howard Springs Rd, Howard Springs, 30 km east of the Darwin CBD
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)
Water play area, playground, toilets, fish viewing platforms, barbecues, picnic tables, walking track.
There are no bins provided so take your rubbish with you.
Maximum water depth:
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.
Shade available out of the water, with plenty of shade in the picnic areas, but not
much shade around the water play area.
7.30 am to 7 pm.
Access to the picnic area. Wheelchair toilets.
There is no camping at Howard Springs. The springs are readily accessible by car from Darwin, but if you
want to stay closer to this spot, you can try
accommodation in Howard Springs
NT Parks and Wildlife Service
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.
The marker indicates the approximate location of the springs.
If you would like to leave a comment about this swimming spot, please fill in the comment box below.
I am particularly interested in your experiences after visiting, and any changes in conditions, etc.
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