Humpty Doo is a small town in Australia's Northern Territory, situated just south of the Arnhem Highway, approximately 40 km from Darwin. At the 2006 census, Humpty Doo had a population of 5,413. Its local government area is Litchfield Municipality. The town is a popular stopping point for tourists travelling between Darwin and Kakadu National Park, and boasts many attractions of its own. The main industries are agriculture and tourism; however, most residents commute to Darwin or Palmerston for work, and many regard the town more as an outer suburb.
It has frequently been noted on lists of unusual place names. The locality of Humpty Doo is named after the station originally called ‘Umpity Doo’; however, origins of the name are uncertain. Three derivations have been suggested:
- from "the Army slang term "umpty" used in 1917 for the dash when reading Morse code" (however, the station name was in use in 1910)
- from a colloquialism to describe "everything done wrong or upside down"
- the place was known as "Umdidu", an English language corruption of an Aboriginal term which meant a popular resting place
The Humpty Doo Hotel is well known and features in several bush ballads, including ‘The Man from Humpty Doo’ by Ted Egan and Slim Dusty's ‘Humpty Doo Waltz’. It opened in 1971, survived Cyclone Tracy in 1974 and has since become a local icon. In addition to comfortable visitor accommodation, the hotel features a bar area with open walls, a concrete floor and an iron roof. Local live music acts regularly perform here.
Another tourist attraction is the Big Boxing Crocodile
outside the United fuel station (formerly known as the Bush Shop) on the Arnhem Highway. This humorous attraction is a reference to the large crocodile population in the area and is one of the many famous "big things" found around Australia.
Graeme Gow's Reptile World is also an attractive stop for tourists on their way to Kakadu, with a collection of at least 300 species of snake.
The Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve is approximately 25 km east of the town and can be accessed of the Arnhem Highway. The reserve is situated on the Adelaide River floodplains, and is one of few publically accessible natural wetland environments in the Top End all year round. The reserve is a wildlife refuge, and is significant both as a remnant of the failed Territory Rice Ltd venture, and its cultural significance to the local Aboriginal people. Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve features many walking trails and observation areas. Ranger guided activities are also available. At the end of the wet season, in around March–April, native wading birds including jabirus can be observed in large numbers near the dam wall.
Wishart Siding, a heritage listed relic of the North Australia Railway is located near the junction of the Stuart and Arnhem Highways a short distance west of town. The site dates back to 1915 and was used as an accommodation facility for maintenance workers when the line was operational. It is the only facility remaining of its kind along the alignment of the former railway.
The Window on the Wetlands Visitor Centre overlooks the wetlands of the Adelaide River floodplain. The centre sits on top of Beatrice Hill the site of several failed agricultural experiments. Visitors to the centre receive an introduction to the eco-systems of the Northern Coastal Wetlands region. The centre features interactive touch screen displays about the native wildlife and local history, and there is an observation deck on the top floor that provides the best views of the surrounding environment, culturally significant to the local Aboriginal people. Entry is free and the centre is open all year round, 7 days a week. The building itself is designed to blend into the natural contours of the landscape.