Darwin Harbour: development meets mangroves

Darwin Habour is a fascinating confluence of frontier development, intense urbanisation, and magnificent estuarine ecosytems.


Based in Darwin, NAMRA brings together the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Charles Darwin University (CDU), the Australian National University (ANU) and the Northern Territory Government (NTG) to build marine research capacity and capability in northern Australia.

Work has nearly completed on an Australian Government funded $5.5m infrastructure project to expand the Arafura Timor Research Facility (ATRF) in Darwin to develop a base for NAMRA. This world-class facility provides an ideal location for researchers to work collaboratively on marine and coastal science, technology, industry and policy.

Our research focuses on:

  • Marine biodiversity and natural resource management
  • Estuarine and coastal processes
  • Ocean dynamics
  • Marine and coastal livelihoods and governance

Darwin Harbour is an early recipient of research focus, including classification of the seafloor habitat with high resolution bathymetric mapping. Complementary work in bio-indicator research and hydrodynamic and water quality modelling in Darwin Harbour, involving Larrakia Rangers (traditional owners in the Darwin Harbour region), demonstrates the diversity of expertise available through NAMRA to co-ordinate research relevant to key Northern Territory industry projects.

NAMRA is building marine research capability in northern Australia by investing in post-graduate education and early career researchers, providing opportunities for emerging researchers to work in multidisciplinary teams on exciting projects. NAMRA is funding generous post-doctoral stipends and operating expenses, as well as 'top-ups' and operating expenses for PhD students with Australian post-graduate award or equivalent scholarships.

NAMRA brings together collaborators and stakeholders to better understand the unique north Australian marine environments and will contribute to the sustainable development and management of marine resources in the region.

Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL) at CDU

RIEL (Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods) is a tier-one research institute at Charles Darwin University.

RIEL brings together and will build upon the former School of Environmental Research, and the research-intensive elements of the School for Environment and Life Sciences.  RIEL is equipped and mandated to take a comprehensive approach across the terrestrial, aquatic, coastal and marine ecosystems of the north, and is necessarily multidisciplinary in its research across the natural and social sciences. 

Crucially, RIEL will weave the engagement of Indigenous people into its research, and will build on very solid research partnerships with Indigenous stakeholders, government and other natural resource managers in northern Australia and the region.

For more information, plase visit the RIEL website (http://riel.cdu.edu.au)


Northern Territory Government (NTG)

The Northern Territory Government is a NAMRA partner.

Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)

The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) surveys and documents marine life from microbes to to whole-of-ecosystems and the processes that sustain them. AIMS monitors changes and identifies trends in the marine environment and develops molecular tools and ocean technologies. Fisheries, offshore oil and gas, mining, marine tourism, aquaculture and maritime infrastructure such as ports and harbours have benefitted from AIMS research.

In Northern Australia, AIMS researchers are based in the Arafura Timor Research Facility in Darwin and work collaboratively with NAMRA partners. Their research takes a multidisciplinary approach, integrating ecology, biochemistry, coastal oceanography with physiological, molecular and genetic techniques, all underpinned by hydrodynamic and water quality models.

Research is being undertaken on human impacts on water quality with a particular focus on environmental impacts of coastal development in the following areas of northern Australia: Darwin Harbour, Alligator Rivers region (Kakadu National Park), Melville Bay (NE Arnhemland), Groote Eylandt, south west Gulf of Carpentaria (McArthur River and Sir Edward Pellew Islands), south east Gulf of Carpentaria, Karumba, (Norman River estuary). Substantial research activity is also occurring at Port Curtis in Queensland.

For further information about AIMS and its activities, go to http://www.aims.gov.au


The Australian National University (ANU)

The Australian National University has had a long association with research in northern Australia, ranging across a number of issues and disciplines including development, environment, marine sciences and more. The ANU was recognised in the Excellence in Research Australia as outstanding and well above world standard in Earth Sciences, Ecology, Environmental Sciences and Evolutionary Biology (all ERA rankings of 5). Professor Steve Dovers represents the ANU on the NAMRA Management Committee. You are welcome to contact any of the people in the relevant Schools (links below) for queiries about NAMRA projects. 

Several schools at the ANU are involved with research in northern Australia, including:

Fenner School

The Fenner School is unique in Australia, and one of the few places in the world where economists and hydrologists, historians and ecologists, foresters, geographers and climatologists work together on the big environmental problems facing contemporary society. More information: http://fennerschool.anu.edu.au/research/landscapes-water-biodiversity

Research School of Biology

The Research School of Biology is one of the largest in the ANU, with world-leading researchers in behavioural ecology, genetics, fish biology and ecology, oceanography, phycology and phylogeography working together on understanding and conserving Australia's unique biodiversity in a range of marine and freshwater biomes. More information: http://biology.anu.edu.au/ and http://cmbe-cpms.anu.edu.au/research/research-areas/evolution-ecology-genetics

Research School of Earth Sciences

The Research School of Earth Sciences is home to a world-class collection of interdiscplinary marine scientists engaged in research on biogeochemistry, biochronology, geology and paleoclimataology across a range of contemporary and ancient marine and freshwater biomes. More information: http://rses.anu.edu.au/ and http://cmbe-cpms.anu.edu.au/research/research-areas/earth-sciences