The Arnhem Highway passes through freshwater plains and higher country. The wetlands remain under water for up to 6 months of the year with the Adelaide and Mary Rivers meandering through the area with a number of billabongs.
The original inhabitants were two major Aboriginal groups – the Woolner and Linnilngan. It seems they met with Europeans when they heard music from the schooner Beatrice in 1863 and joined the crew on board to dance and sing with them.
Explorer John McDouall Stuart and his party were the first Europeans to pass through the area in 1862. Stuart was frustrated at having to skirt so many billabongs on route to the sea. He named the Mary and Adelaide Rivers.
During the early 1900s the area was frequented by buffalo shooters and it became a major economic industry. The British had introduced the hardy buffalo to the Coburg Peninsula as a food source and they multiplied in their thousands. Buffalo hunter Tom Cole wrote “(We) reached the edge of a tremendous sea of water...stretching away as far as the eye could see...I had never seen anything like it in my life...the din of geese was almost deafening...buffalo were everywhere...It was covered in waterlilies and thousands of birds."
The are remained isolated until the Humpty Doo Rice Project began in 1954. However, the effect of prolific birdlife on the rice crop was not taken into account and the project was abandoned ten years later. While the project was under way a road was built to Beatrice Hill and later to the new town of Jabiru.
Today the region is famous for its barramundi fishing and wildlife, being home to crocodiles and thousands of birds. Just East of Bark Hut is the turnoff north to Shady Camp and Point Stuart.