Daly Waters

Daly Waters

Daly Waters, Northern Territory


  • A series of natural springs, located 589 km south-east of Darwin and  916 km north of Alice Springs on the Stuart Highway. 
  • Elevation:-  212 m above sea level.


The Traditional Owners

  • The Aboriginal people of Jingili are the traditional owners of the tiny community Daly Waters.  
  • The Daly River flows through the traditional lands of Jawoyn, Wagiman, Malak-Malak, Marranunggu, Marrathiel and Wadjigan people.

1800s – Early European Exploration

  • 1861 – 1862 – John McDouall Stuart, one of the most accomplished explorers, attempted 2 times to cross Australia from south to north.
  • During this time period, on his 3rd attempt, he came across this series of natural springs and named it “Daly Waters” after the new Governor of South Australia, Sir Dominick Daly.
  • June 1872 – Overland Telegraph Line reached Daly Waters from the north.
  • For 2 months, a ‘pony express’ carried messages over the 421 km distance to Tennant Creek.

1900s – Early Aviation Initiatives

  • 1920s – 1930s – Daly Waters Airfield was used for domestic commercial airlines as well as International carriers flying from Australia to the south-east Asia.
  • WWII – RAAF and US Army Air Force used it for combat operations.
  • After WWII – 1970s – It was used again for commercial purposes as well as sporadically used by RAAF.
  • 1930 – Amy Johnson, on her epic flight from England to Australia, landed in Daly Waters.  
  • 1965 – The aerodrome was closed to commercial traffic.

The Handback

  • The town-site and surrounding 30,000 sq. km. of land were handed back to the traditional owners of Jingili people.  
  • The Jingili people were the fourth indigenous group in the Northern Territory to gain native title to their traditional land.

Major Beliefs

  • The Aboriginal people of Jingili believe that the Dreaming tracks of the Emu and the Sun travelled through here on their way to the southern parts of the Northern Territory.

Animals / Birdlife


Places spotted

Birds: 10,000 species


Radjah Shelduck, egret, red-tailed black cockatoos, pied heron, spangled drongo, Australian figbird, double-barred finch, little friarbird, lemon-bellied flycatcher, willie wagtail and varied lorikeets

Red Lily Lagoon 

Satin flycatchers, paper-bark flycatchers, royal spoonbills, little pied cormorants, intermediate egret, Radjah shelduck, plumed whistling duck, straw-necked ibis, masked lapwings, golden-headed cisticola, crimson finch, varied trillers, the honeyeater family birds etc. 

Daly River

Reptiles / Insects:


Saltwater crocodiles, pig-nosed turtles, green tree frogs, spider

Daly River 



Freshwater whip-ray, barramundi

Daly River



Wild pig, feral water buffalo

Daly River

For more information on the animal and birdlife of the region please visit this website: http://www.10000birds.com/daly-river-birding.html

Daly Waters Tours

Features of the tours:-

  • Crocodile spotting
  • Birdlife spotting
  • Daly River cruise
  • Daly Waters Pub

Notes for traveller safety and comfort:-

  • Wear casual light-weight drip-dry clothing 
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Please bring a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, torch and insect repellent 

Please note, Daly Waters is no longer visited on Mulgas Adventures Tours.