Beagle Gulf

Beagle Gulf is the body of water into which Port Darwin opens. On the west it opens into the Timor Sea and on the east Clarence Strait separates it from Van Diemen Gulf. Bathurst Island bounds it to the north. It is approximately 100 km long and 50 km wide.[1] It surrounds the Quail Island Group.


HMS Beagle

It was named after the ship HMS Beagle, on which Charles Darwin and Robert Fitzroy sailed around parts of Australia. The Cambridge Dictionary of Australian Places incorrectly states that "it was named in 1836 by Robert Fitzroy, commander of HMS Beagle, after his ship. The Beagle charted the area with Charles Darwin aboard as naturalist." However, Darwin and Fitzroy sailed in 1836 from King George's Sound (Western Australia) directly to the Cocos-Keeling Islands, at the south coast of Java, and from there to Cape Town and back to England. They stayed away from Beagle Gulf by 3000 sea miles and did not know of its existence.[2] The gulf was actually named by Captain John Clements Wickham, commanding the HMS Beagle during its survey of northern Australia in 1837-1838, at the beginning of her third and last long voyage.


In 1991 the Northern Territory Government proposed the formation of the Beagle Gulf Marine Park. The proposed Marine Park has a significant commercial, recreational conservation value. Zoning plans enable the broadest possible use of marine parks whilst providing for the protection and conservation of significant ecological, scientific, historical, cultural and scenic sites.[3]


  1. Cambridge Dictionary of Australian Places.
  2. Alan Powell: Who Named Beagle Gulf?: A Cautionary Tale. Journal of Northern Territory History, No. 22, 2011: 104-108. ISSN 1034-7488. Cited on 29 Oct 2012.
  3. N Smit, R Billyard and L Ferns: Beagle Gulf Benthic Survey: Characterisation of soft substrates. Technical Report No. 66 (2000), Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory.

Coordinates: 12°09′37″S 130°29′23″E / 12.16028°S 130.48972°E / -12.16028; 130.48972

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