Towns in Australia

Exploring Australia, town by town

Roper Bar NT

Roper Bar

Postcode: 0852

Roper Bar is a location in Australia’s Northern Territory. This part of Australia is extremely remote and uninhabited. A 4WD trek through these parts can be an extension of the Gulf Track on your way further up north to Darwin or Arnhem Land.

It is a settlement on the Roper River and lies 606km south of Darwin, 312km east of Katherine and 1,235km from Alice Springs. The first European to explore the Roper River was Ludwig Leichhardt in 1845 as he made his way from Moreton Bay to Port Essington. Leichhardt crossed the river at Roper Bar, a rocky shelf which conveniently lies at the high tide limit on the river. He named the river after John Roper, a member of the expedition.

The town is a small settlement with a police station, a very basic motel – the Roper Bar Store, a caravan park and roadhouse facilities. In recent times fishing in the Roper River, particularly for the prized barramundi, has attracted fishermen to the area. The partially unsealed road from the Stuart Highway is flat and monotonous but the end result is a picturesque tropical river which, like all of the rivers around the Gulf of Carpentaria, is unsuitable for swimming as it is the habitat of the estaurine or saltwater crocodile.

During the 1870s the Roper River was opened up for river cargo. Paddle steamers plied the river bringing supplies to the men working on the Overland Telegraph. About 20kms downstream from Roper Bar lies the wreck of the paddle steamer Young Australian which worked the river and the coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria for over 20 years bringing supplies firstly to the Overland Telegraph and later to the cattle stations in the region.It also became a common stopover point for drovers on the coastal route from Victoria River Downs and the Kimberleys to North Queensland. In the 1880s and 1890s it gained a reputation as a wild, outback outpost.