Travelling Australia - Journal 2013
5-7 July 2013

Borroloola is a small township in north-east Northern Territory in the Gulf country. The town is on the McArthur River about 50 kilometres from the Gulf and on the coastal floodplain. Location was selected as the crossing point of the river closest to the sea. Access from the Northern Territory is via the sealed Carpentaria Highway from Daly Waters (on the Stuart Highway) and the unsealed Savannah Way from Roper Bar; roads continuing east of Borroloola towards Queensland are unsealed. The unsealed roads become impassable in the Wet season.

Climate is typical for this part of Australia with cool dry season, warm dry season, build-up and wet season. Average annual rainfall is 946 millimetres, of which 730 millimetres (77%) falls from December to March, average rainfall in July is 0.5 millimetres. Average annual maximum temperature is 33.7°C and average annual minimum is 19.6°C. Average maximum and minimum for November are 37.2°C and 23.8°C and for June 30.0°C and 12.6°C respectively.

During our brief stay in early July the weather was remarkably pleasant and neighbours staying for months assured us this was typical. Rain was unknown, temperatures were mostly about 15°C overnight with low 30's on most days; some mornings were a bit brisk in a cool breeze. The sky was mostly cloudless, although some mornings were a little cloudy.

Population (2011 census) is 927, of which 731 (79%) claim to be indigenous. The census reports that 11% of the population speak aboriginal languages at home.

The Community Education Centre provides pre-school, primary and secondary education.

Borroloola is well-known as a centre for fisher-people and many fishers move there for weeks or months in the dry season seeking fish, particularly barramundi. The town is also a recognised stopping point for dirt-road travellers on the Savannah Way between Queensland and the Northern Territory. The Borroloola caravan park contains an interesting cross-section of caravans, trailers and campers, some have arrived on the unsealed Savannah Way from Burketown in Queensland, others on the sealed Carpentaria Highway.

Supermarket Supermarket, post office and fuel supplier in Borroloola. This will be an extensive complex when the building work is complete. This photograph is on a Sunday; on other days of the week there are many people hanging around the shops.
Borroloola has developed as a service point for this tourist traffic and to support the local inhabitants. There are three small supermarkets, a butcher and three fuel outlets, including one with a range of parts and tools and equipped for vehicle repairs; there is a post office, Centrelink office, swimming pool and caravan park. The coffee shop is open six days a week, the hotel is for sale. The township really doesn't have a centre, businesses are spread along Robinson Road connecting with the Carpentaria Highway.

When cattle properties were taken up in the Northern Territory in the late 1800's cattle for those stations were driven from Queensland through the Gulf Country. This was the aboriginal tribes first contact with white people and there was reportedly considerable friction and violence.

5 July, Borroloola - page 2
Cattle stations were later established around the McArthur River. Booroloola was established in 1885, at the crossing point of the McArthur River which provided the main access for the town. Population growth was very slow, permanent white population in 1901 was 1. As the cattle industry developed the practice developed of aboriginal families settling in and around Borroloola; the men went to work on Barkly cattle properties during the dry season leaving families in Borroloola and returning for the wet season.

McArthur River The McArthur River near Borroloola. This would be an ideal swimming hole except for the very high probability that salt-water crocodiles would be found in it.
Telstra 3G mobile phone coverage is available, so is ABC local radio. Television is in transition in July 2013; digital ABC is good but other digital channels will not be available until October. Analogue television is limited to not very good Imparja.