The Cobourg Region
The Cobourg peninsula and its offshore islands lie in the Arafura Sea off the ‘Top End’ of Australia, approximately 250 km north-east of Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, at a latitude of roughly 11.5º S and a longitude of 132.5º E. The climate is tropical monsoonal, with heavy rain and cyclones during the wet season (usually late November to March), and little rainfall for the rest of the year.
The landscape is low-lying, with mangrove shrub and coastal vegetation (casuarinas and hibiscus). This gives way to savannah forests of eucalyptus as one moves inland, interspersed with patches of ‘jungle’ or monsoon rainforest, where wild yams, an important food source, are located. There are also patches of wetland, which attract large numbers of magpie geese during the wet season, and which furnish a source of numerous vegetable staples including water lilies and a type of water chestnut.
The surrounding seas are shallow and abound in reefs and sea-grass. The rich sea-life they support includes dugong, sea-turtle, and an abundance of fish and shellfish.