Batchelor is a town in Northern Territory, about 98 kilometres south from Darwin. Batchelor is the current seat and largest town of the Coomalie Shire local government area. The town is best known as the gateway to magnificent Litchfield National Park.
Batchelor is a relatively prosperous town and because of its position at the entrance to Litchfield National Park, it is a major tourist attraction.
You can get to Batchelor from Darwin via the Stuart Highway and Batchelor Road, the southern turn off for Litchfield National Park. The town was served by a station on the North Australia Railway until its closure in 1976. The current Adelaide-Darwin Railway alignment passes several kilometres to the east of the town, but no station facilities are provided. To get to Batchelor beside using car, the interstate coach service pick up and set down point is at the junction of Batchelor Road and the Stuart Highway. Tour buses travelling to Litchfield park will often visit Batchelor as a refreshment stop.
Wangi Falls - one of the famous tourist sites in Litchfield National Park
Historically Batchelor came to into existence with the discovery of uranium at Rum Jungle, which drew miners to the town. No one is sure exactly how it got its name - there at least three stories, all hilarious, claiming to be the truth and all involving the excessive consumption of rum. Legend has it that Rum Jungle earned its name after a rather raucous incident in 1871. The story was that some bullock teamsters, whilst transporting rum to the miners at Pine Creek, got bogged and proceeded to drink 80 gallons of the stuff. In Far-North Memories, the writer, Jessie Litchfield, argues that it was named "because a party of government officials once went there on important departmental business. They were lost among their empty bottles, and a relief party was sent out to show the way to go home". The Northern Territory Historical Society claims that the local hotel keeper once ran out of all liquor apart ,from rum, and everyone in the town was forced to drink the stuff. Each story offers its own plausible explanation.
The town was named in 1912, after the South Australian Labour politician Egerton Lee Batchelor (1865-1911), who became Minister for the Northern Territory in 1911.
In 1982, the town was home to the Batchelor Institute, a TAFE college primarily for indigenous students. In 1987, the local TAFE started operating an indigenous radio station, 97.3FM.
Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education was established by the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education Act 1999 as 'an educational institution for the tertiary education of Indigenous people of Australia and the provision of other educational and training programs and courses, and facilities and resources for research and study, and for related purposes'.
Today, the town survives largely on tourism to Litchfield Park and employment at the Batchelor Institute. Tourism became Batchelor's key industry when Litchfield was declared a national park in 1986. The town is an entry point for travellers to Litchfield National Park which attracts approximately 280,000 visitors annually. Seven rangers of the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Service and the Litchfield National Park office are based in the town. As the town is situated on the only all-weather access road to the park, a number of accommodation options are available, as well as services including mechanical repairs and a supermarket.
Swimming pool at one of accomodations in Batchelor
There are a number of attractions in the town area for visitors, such as:
Cultural Centre While in Batchelor, drop into the Coomalie Cultural Centre and peruse its presentation of indigenous arts and crafts from the Top End and Central Australia. The centre conducts artist residencies, exhibitions and cultural projects and operates a retail outlet of art and craft. A bush tucker garden and a mural surround the centre. Students from Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education also displays their art and craft in this centre.
The Batchelor Butterfly Farm is also well worth a visit. As well as showcasing a unique range of butterflies, it also has a delightful display of flora. Take a guided tour where you will learn how the butterflies breed and grow. The farm is a great place for the kids with a hands-on pet section. Children especially will enjoy meetng chickens, ducks, goats, rabbits and guinea pigs. The farm offers budget accommodation and has a licensed restaurant on site. You can relax in the pool and children can enjoy the play area.
Butterfly garden in Batchelor
Miniature Replica of Karlstein Castle.
The miniature replica of Karlstein Castle in Havlik Park. This old gothic European castle was built by Bernie Havlic, a Czechoslovakian refugee who remains in Batchelor following the closure of Rum Jungle uranium mine.
Batchelor Scenic Tour
NT Network offers a scenic tour on a small aeroplane. Departing from the WWII airstrip in Batchelor, fly south towards Adelaide River Township, where they will take you in views of disused WWII airstrips.
The flight about 20 minutes and it cost $99/per person. Minimum of 2 pax. For more information please call 1300 659 165 or visit their website - www.ntairwork.com.au
All flights will be departed from Batchelor Airport.