East Point Reserve
A Special Place
East Point Reserve is a special place for the people of Darwin and is one of the most popular recreation areas for both locals and visitors.
Not only is the reserve readily accessible from both the city and suburbs, but its range of attractions is considerable and it is by far the largest park area in or near the city.
East Point Reserve covers almost 200 hectares, of which 30 hectares includes natural forest land. Its management and control was passed to the City of Darwin in 1984.
East Point Reserve offers safe year-round saltwater swimming at Lake Alexander, a range of barbecue and picnic facilities in a landscaped environment, a military history that goes back to 1932 and a range of community and tourist facilities including the Royal Australian Artillery Association Museum and the gun turret precinct.
The reserve also boasts Dudley Point. Because of its military history, the uninterrupted sunsets and magnificent views of Darwin and Fannie Bay, this is a particularly popular area in the reserve.
The beaches on East Point Reserve are an important recreation resource. Fannie Bay Beach, with its adjacent parkland and barbecue area, is probably the most popular family beach in Darwin.
Dudley Point offers uninterrupted sunset views and is a popular observation area of Darwin City and Fannie Bay. It is recognised as a key tourist destination and is frequently enjoyed by local residents. Recent landscaping has established seating and shaded areas for sunset viewing.
The Northern Territory monsoon vine forest flora comprises some 600 plant species and many of these occur in the East Point forest.
A meandering walking trail through the vine forest provides access and encourages visitors to experience the forest and appreciate its diversity and beauty. This is situated near the Pee-Wee's at the Point restaurant.
The wallabies at East Point have been a feature of the reserve for many years. They are a delightful attraction for both locals and visitors. Their substantial increase in numbers over recent years was however, alarming.
The wallaby population was around 220 in 1974. By the early 1990s the wallabies numbered around 2,500. This huge increase resulted in the denuding of large areas of open grassland and placed critical stress on the reserve.
However, due to water management practices and other population dynamics, the number of wallabies today has been reduced to around six hundred.
These control measures followed receipt of the three year Wallaby Study conducted for Council by the NT University, and Council's adoption of a firm ecology and management policy for future directions for the reserve.
Bandicoots, brushtail possums and various species of reptiles are also found in the reserve, with over 35 different species of butterflies and 133 different species of birds.
Within the monsoon forest there are active jungle fowl nests that allow observation of these unique birds close at hand.
Many species of fish breed in the mangroves, as do various crustaceans and molluscs. Birds also utilise mangroves for breeding and feeding.
The offshore coral reef that is regularly exposed during low spring tides is unique in the Darwin area because it is the only accessible major reef on the Darwin side of the harbour. It provides a rich and diverse ecosystem for sea life and is protected as part of a marine reserve.
You must leave your dog at home when visiting East Point Reserve. It is a prohibited area for dogs.
The former East Point military area is afforded a high level of cultural significance. The military structures, mainly located in the primary cultural zone are listed in the Register of the National Estate. Of major historic significance, the area provided the last major ‘fortress’ built on Australian soil and is a reminder of a prominent element of Australia's only battleground.
East Point played a particular role in the naval strategy of Australia and Britain. Also of significance was the role of the artillery units and the later establishment of a Royal Australian Artillery Association Museum at the site.
The gun emplacement precinct comprises much of the north eastern section of the peninsula. The area includes 150mm and 230mm gun emplacements and a plotting room. The main sites are easily linked by pedestrian access and comprise examples of early sites from the build up period to the post-bombing period. Council has restored to original condition Anti Aircraft gun emplacements which are open for viewing just to the East of the main entry to East Point, 250 metres along Colivas Road
Dudley Point has considerable military heritage value, for example, it is possible to see wartime steel boom net relics, which in 1941 stretched 6km across the Harbour from East Point. The net was designed to prevent enemy entry of submarines and it was only lowered for friendly vessels.
Ruins of many facilities relating to the boom net are still at East Point. Boom net anchorages and an observation tower are still evident today. After the War the East Point area continued to be used by the military. Its chief use at this time was for horse stables. It was in the 1960s that the Royal Artillery Association commenced work on the artillery museum, which was eventually opened in 1969. The aviation and naval sections followed in 1972 and 1974. The National Trust has an excellent book for those interested in more detail. 'East Point — A History of the Military Precinct' by Peter Dermoudy and Penny Cook is available at the National Trust offices, Myilly Point.
The site of Lake Alexander was originally an area of low-lying coastal marsh. It is now the main element that sets East Point Reserve apart from other attractive picnic areas in Darwin. Lake Alexander has a maximum depth of 2.8 metres and a water quality similar to other naturally occurring swimming areas. Its seawater is drawn from nearby Fannie Bay.
The 3.5 hectare lake was officially opened in July 1991, providing a body of water that is safe for swimming throughout the year. It is dangerous to swim in our unprotected and open seawater between October and May — box jellyfish can kill and are simply too dangerous. This is why Lake Alexander is so popular during the summer months.
Policy 184 Lake Alexander – Management Plan outlines Councils ongoing management of the lake.
The mangrove community that occurs on the north eastern shoreline of the reserve and borders Ludmilla Creek is just one aspect of the ecological diversity of the area. There are nine species of mangroves occurring within the reserve and all play important roles. Mangrove communities provide protection for the sensitive shoreline and stabilise otherwise fragile areas.
A loop walk of 30 minutes that takes you through monsoonal vine forest into the mangrove community begins at the carpark at the northern end of Lake Alexander, and extends into the tidal region by way of a boardwalk. This is a pleasant and informative walk especially in the morning and late afternoon.
A question of major significance to be continually addressed is the appropriate extent to which East Point Reserve can cater for recreational opportunities and, at the same time, provide an example of preserved natural and cultural features.
Future development will aim to ensure sustainability of the natural and cultural values of the area, whilst continuing to develop recreational facilities for the people of Darwin and its many visitors.