An early establishment

Point Stuart Wilderness Lodge has a chequered history. A history of a wild, untamed land and iconic visionary people. Stories that are part of Territory folklore. The time of crocodile and buffalo hunters, where they roamed as far as the eye could see. An adventure for the courageous on the frontier land of cyclones, monsoonal rains and sweltering heat..


A Territory Icon

A true icon of the Top End is the Asian Swamp Water Buffalo. It was first introduced to Australia’s mainland from 1828 to 1849, mainly to the Coburg Peninsula, along with British colonisation of the Top End. The objective was to allow them to breed and act as beasts of burden but also provide meat and milk. Those first European settlements didn’t last long, but the Buffalo did. They thrived and spread. Eventually inhabiting most of the Top End’s remote landscape, particular the vast coastal wetlands and swamps.

By the Late 1800’s horns were being exported and even hunting as a game sport had evolved. Throughout the early 1900’s an industry was born and the trade of Buffalo meat, skins and horns was thriving. This attracted many ‘larger-than-life characters’ to venture north to make their fortune. Hunting these huge bovines was mainly from horseback. Riding up alongside and shooting them in the spine. Commonly with .303 riffle.


Progressive change

By the late 1950’s they were starting to be seen as a pest by damaging the wetlands and using up valuable cattle ranges. They continued to provide stable and good income for those willing to rough it out in the outback. The industry evolved and the hunting methods changed from horseback to all terrain cutdown modified ‘bull catcher’ vehicles. They would allow the Buffalo to be caught live then trucked to farms or abattoirs.


Point Stuart Station

The floodplains of the Mary and Wildman rivers were a stronghold and the pastoral lease called Point Stuart Station was developed to cash in on the large Buffalo numbers. Jimmy Creek Abattoir and homestead was built, and the processing of wild Buffalo began with catchers from far & wide mustering and trucking the animals in. The meat was processed and boxed, then sent to domestic markets and overseas for human consumption. Professional Barramundi fishermen would also use the stations’ tracks to access Shady Camp. A resting place the Buffalo hunters named in the early times. They would net the tidal Mary River and surrounding coast, then truck their catch on a long journey back to Darwin.


Jimmy Creek

In it’s peak the Station was home for several hundred people. The infrastructure grew over the years to accommodate the abattoir workers – mechanics, slaughtermen, butchers, truck drivers, helicopter pilots, musterers, cooks, veterinarians, and meat inspectors. Even a Point Stuart School was established for the kids that lived here. During this time the NT Government implemented the BTEC (Brucellosis, Tuberculosis Eradication Campaign) which oversaw the culling and testing of almost all Buffalo across the Territory in case they harbored the disease which would potentially be detriment to the countries cattle industry. Thousands upon thousands of Buffalo were culled and many left to waste.


Moving forward

In 1984 Point Stuart Station was subdivided into four smaller leases with stringent criteria for Buffalo farming. All the wild Buffalo had to be caught, tested and or killed before any restocking of disease-free Buffalo could be done. Electric powered fencing was also to be installed. The homestead / abattoir complex was also annexed off as a separate land portion. Jimmy Creek Abattoir was closed down, and its’ ideal location in the wetlands region created a perfect base for tourism opportunities. This is now Point Stuart Wilderness Lodge.

Thousands of Buffalo still live on these plains today and crocodiles have been protected and managed since the 1970’s.