Fogg Dam is a Territory treasure.
Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve is located on the Adelaide River floodplain between Darwin and Kakadu and covers 1,569 hectares. The dam was created in 1956 to collect water to irrigate rice bays during the dry season for the Humpty Doo Rice Project. The project failed and left Fogg Dam as a great gift for the community.
What makes Fogg Dam so interesting and special is the diversity of habitat and wildlife within easy walking distance. The monsoon and eucalypt forest, open scrubland, melaleuca woodland, floodplain and open water attract significant numbers of birds, reptiles, mammals and marsupials. It is said to have the greatest predator biomass known in the world. Sedges, grasses, pandanus and waterlilies can be seen seasonally in the floodplain. Lotus lilies and grass islands feature in the water.
Wulna Aborigines are the Traditional Owners and they jointly manage the Reserve with the Parks & Wildlife Department of the Northern Territory Government. Wulna people have sacred sites and stories of their ancestors in the landscape.
The Dam Wall or Causeway
The 2.2km long dam wall is closed for walking due to a potential risk of crocodile attack. The causeway is essentially one lane wide with a couple of areas where vehicles can pull over to one side to allow others to pass. Please observe this courtesy. Towards the west side there is an extended gravel area on the floodplain side where cars can park for viewing.
Along the dam wall are two viewing platforms which provide shelter and shade with seating plus interpretive information about birds of the area.
Pandanus Lookout on the west side of the dam is two storied and gives sweeping views across the floodplain. It also has interpretive information and it’s a great place to experience sunrise or for sunset picnics.
The Woodlands to Waterlily Walk goes from the corner of the car park through forests that fringe the floodplains to a boardwalk that takes you onto the dam and two viewing platforms. Length: 2.2km return. Time: 45 minutes. Grade: easy.
The Monsoon Rainforest Walk begins past the toilet block on the opposite side of the road to the car park and winds through a variety of habitats, including monsoon forest, paperbark forest onto floodplain. Length: 3.6km. Time: 2 hours Grade: easy
ACCESS Fogg Dam is the only wetland easily accessible to conventional vehicles 12 months of the year – only an hour’s drive from Darwin on a sealed road. Approximately 80,000 people visit Fogg Dam each year. (NT Parks & Wildlife, 2013)
TIME TO VISIT
The best time of day to visit Fogg Dam is early to mid morning and late afternoon when it’s cooler and wildlife is more active. Sunrise at Fogg Dam can be a very special. About half an hour before sunrise, with early light, the dawn chorus of birds begins – an unforgettable experience! Dawn and sunset at Fogg Dam can be spectacular with a myriad greens and golds highlighted by the pink sky. In the wet season, sensational electric storms can often be seen from the causeway.
FOR SAFETY AND COMFORT
- Observe all crocodile warning signs
- Carry and drink plenty of water
- Wear a hat, sunscreen and insect repellent
- Wear clothing suitable for the possibility of insects and walking shoes.
BIRDS & BIOLOGISTS
In 1959 Fogg Dam was declared a Bird Protection area because of the large number and variety of birds in the area. With year round presence of water and all wetland bird species of the Top End are regularly spotted at Fogg Dam it has an international reputation amongst birdwatchers.
Fogg Dam also has an international reputation amongst biologists. Since 1985 Professor Rick Shine from the University of Sydney has been involved in biological research at Fogg Dam. With hundreds of studies based at Fogg Dam have been published in peer reviewed journals, Fogg Dam is well known in the international biological community.
IMPORTANT BIRD AREA (IBA)
The Adelaide & Mary River Floodplains are an Important Bird Area (IBA) in Australia. Fogg Dam is in the Adelaide River floodplain.
The IBA program is an international non-governmental conservation scheme lead by BirdLife International Partners such as BirdLife Australia.
Rated in top 10 bird watching spots in Australia
Australian Geographic Magazine, 4 August 2011 and Birdlife Australia Magazine, 24 March 2014.
Included in Sue Taylor's book, Best 100 Birdwatching Sites in Australia, NewSouth Publishing, October 2013.
The Australian Bird Atlas lists 230 bird sightings in the Fogg Dam area.
“The prolific nature at Fogg Dam is extraordinary for the first time NT visitor but also we’ve observed the expert watchers when here and they can’t believe the variety and how close we can all get to watch the birds. I guess FOGG DAM is underrated or unknown which just seems crazy to us.
I photographed 4 metres away from a Jabiru today in all its elegant glory. Other birds splashed with each other on overflowing dam walls as eagles watched from the surrounding low lying trees. When we moved they would all take off and return within seconds if we stopped again. No fear of humans here. Perfect for a bird watch surrounded in early morning song. No-one could fail not to be glad they bothered to get up early and come here, just a kilometre down the road from EDEN. Too easy!
One of our son’s loves reptiles and snakes and has been returning here for years. It’s a scientist’s haven for research because of the frequent movements and high density of several species of water & frog loving snakes. Even as the cane toad invades, the night is rarely bankrupt of all things herpetological – be it snakes or frogs.
When the water lily’s are in flower, there’s few places with more of them. And with a bush expert like Denise Goodfellow guiding you (a quick phone call away), you get even more out of what you’re experiencing in these environs…with her marvellous stories and eyes. Suddenly you’re looking at sights as plentiful as a department store sale! Strange contrast, but even for Australians, the bush is somewhat of a mystery except to those who have lived in it all their lives and more. So help to appreciate what you’re witnessing is almost vital in the NT.”
Kirsty Cockburn and George Negus April 2006
 Richard Freeman. Conserving Top End Wetlands for Tourism in Moffatt I and Webb A, editors. Conservation and development issues in northern Australia. North Aust. Research Unit, NARU, Darwin 1992, p83.
 Verbal communication, Dr Greg Brown, Sydney University, 2006 at the launch of Friends of Fogg Dam.