H is for Humpty Doo-dling

a-to-z-letters-hH is for HUMPTY DOO

Perhaps you’ve decided to go to Kakadu National Park for an exploration or a few days R&R. You’ll head south down the Stuart Highway away from the suburbs of Darwin and the satellite city of Palmerston, until you reach what is known as the rural area, broadly centred on Humpty Doo. Visitors seem to find this name incredibly quirky which is kind of fitting since the residents can be pretty quirky themselves. This is the land of the multi-acre block where the spare land is as important as the house, and most residents have the 4WD, the large dog, boat, large shed and often a caravan and/or a quad bike.

You are heading into Road Train country on the Arnhem Highway -be careful before you overtake -they're long!
You are heading into Road Train country on the Arnhem Highway -be careful before you overtake -they’re long!

None of this matters much to the tourist but it does set the scene for the place. Just before you turn off the Stuart Highway and onto the Arnhem Highway and Humpty Doo proper, you might want to call into Reidy’s to buy some fishing lures in case you have fond hopes of catching a barramundi while you’re in Kakadu.

The old railway building at Wishart Siding.
The old railway building at Wishart Siding.

Walk the hundred metres down the road and have a look at the historic old building which used to be part of Wishart Siding, now privately owned, and the memorial to all the railway workers who kept the train lines operational during the war years. With so many railway workers in my family tree I was pleased to see them remembered in this way.

652 Railway Workers plaque

A boxing croc ..have you been drinking?
A boxing croc ..have you been drinking?

If your time in the Territory has tempted you to buy a didgeridoo (as it seems to do for many younger tourists) you can visit the Didgeridoo Hut on the highway junction and check out their range. Or you might want to visit the Country Music Shack, just up the road, to restock your music collection for those hours on the road, or perhaps to get a selection of Aussie country music.

If it’s time to refuel why not pull in and snap a croc while you’re about it.

You really haven’t driven far enough to be too tempted by the “World Famous” Humpty Doo pub but if you feel you must, be warned it’s not exactly a boutique experience.

The so-called World Famous Humpty Doo Hotel.
The so-called World Famous Humpty Doo Hotel.

Humpty Doo is also the source of many of Darwin’s fresh local produce as this is the home of many of the Asian market gardeners who bring their varieties of Asian fruit, vegetables and herbs to the various weekly markets in town. And if you’re looking for mangoes, this is the place to find them in season…the area is replete with mango farms.

Dragon fruit vines -weird aren't they?
Dragon fruit vines -weird aren’t they?

Despite these agricultural successes, Humpty Doo was originally envisaged as the feeder town for a planned rice growing area at nearby Fogg Dam which is now a great sight for the bird-watchers, but do be aware there are crocs in the area….real ones this time.

The mango trees have already had their crew cuts. By the end of the year they'll be laden with fruit and providing shady shelter for the magpie geese.
The mango trees have already had their crew cuts. By the end of the year they’ll be laden with fruit and providing shady shelter for the magpie geese.

If you’re tempted by all this Humpty Doo-dling around, or you just would like to try a stay somewhere a little different, there are also a few B&B establishments in the area. This would leave you free to have a round of golf at the Humpty Doo Golf Course, where I’m told that you occasionally get to tee off among the wallabies.

Why visit: To get a sense of the rural lifestyle in the Top End and its general quirkiness, to pick up a fishing lure or two, or buy a didgeridoo.

FYI: There are a couple of maps on my A to Z planning post which will help you to pinpoint where today’s tourist spots are situated.


Humbug: A very Northern Territory word which can be either a noun or a verb. Used when someone is pestering you for something: money/services/goods. It can also be used to mean someone who’s fibbing or telling a lie. For example, “I wish he’d stop humbugging me” or “he’s such a humbug, that’s not what happened:.

Hoon: a speed-demon taking risks, doing burnouts or laying rubber. Speed bumps may be in suburban streets to counteract this silliness.

Hurl: to vomit (also chunder or chuck)

Hang on a tick: wait a moment

Happy little vegemite: A very Aussie expression based on the sandwich spread for which Aussies are famous (rather like the British Promite, I think, but then I’m not a fan of either). This phrase suggests the person is as “happy as Larry” (whoever Larry was!)

Hey: Can be a greeting like “Hi” but also added to a sentence as a weird add-on. They had a good time, hey? Said to be a habit of people from the state of Queensland, I actually think it’s more of a country thing. It can be contagious 😉

Hit the piss: Get on the grog, go for an alcoholic drink (or lots).

Why not visit tomorrow when the topic will be Indigenous Australians.

10 thoughts on “H is for Humpty Doo-dling

  1. My brother has lived at Humpty Doo for some time. Yes he has the big boat, the big shed and the big dog!
    Once when we visited, I got the biggest shock as there was a big snake in the outside bathroom. Turned out it wasn’t poisonous and it was like a pet. My brother regularly fed it so it hung around! Scared the crap out of me though! I don’t like snakes!

    1. You got the picture entirely Sharon! The advantages of first hand knowledge ;-). Don’t like snakes myself so that would freak me out especially since my daughter and family had king browns near the laundry far too regularly and they are poisonous. Which brings to mind another feature of the rural area -the outdoor laundry.

  2. Sounds like an idyllic place to live. Have been to the Top End, but not to humpty-doo. Might I suggest another H Aussism to your list? Hooly Dooly meaning oh wow, unbeliveable or a children’s entertainment band.

  3. I love to read about the top end, you make it like one would be right in the middle and enjoying the surprises of Humpty doo, who came up with this name, unique like the top end itself. I grow the red dragon fruit, does well here and is wonderfully sweet, as one can pick it when it is properly ripe. Fine and very interesting post.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Titania. People always find the name rather unusual 😉 How great to be able to grow dragon fruit there -you seem to have a spectacular garden.

  4. I do enjoy your Aussie-ims – I like having a quirky item to finish off a posting and yours fit the bill exactly – plus I am learning a new language! “Hang on a tick” is a familiar saying here. .

    1. Glad you’re enjoying them Susan. I suspected some of the expressions might be familiar in the UK -after all that’s our collective cultural ancestry since colonisation.

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