Birdum is a town that no longer exists!
In an attempt to build a railway line from Darwin to Adelaide back in the good ol days it’s fair to say that the money ran dry and it never made it all the way, there was a big gap in the middle. By the time they were around to getting it finished they basically scrapped the whole thing in 1980 and thought it best to just build a whole new line.
You can follow the old line from Adelaide up to Alice (The Ghan Line), that’s as far as it went . From Darwin it made it South to a little place they called Birdum and it’s long forgotten and in most cases unheard of.
About 2 hrs South of Katherine and 1hr South of Mataranka you’ll find larrimah. We love pulling up here for a good rest and to catch up with mates. It’s a really good base to get out and see Birdum as well as Gorrie airfield as well as many other sites we’ve found from WW2 days.
But what happened to Birdum?, without getting all serious and technical. Basically it once was the end of the rail line South of Darwin. So obviously there was a Hotel and some houses and people that lived and went to the pub in Birdum, after all it’s hot. Larrimah just up the track eventually ended up being the rail head after some years. They moved the Hotel from Birdum and set it up in Larrimah and that is now the “Pink Panther Hotel” currently run by a top bloke named Barry.
Barry and his mates in honor of Birdum history went back and built a replica Hotel on the site where his pub once was and they did a really good job giving you a good reference to the town, really helps with your bearings while looking at old maps etc.
We’ve tried a few times to get to this elusive place but we had a fair crack at it this time in the mighty Hiace. We made it a fair way out but had to turn around from a big tree blocking the road and it was too sandy for our car to go around. It was a long hard slog breaking tree branches and dragging dead branches from the track so it was a real bummer turning around but it was like a highway heading home with no more obstacles.
So with some day light left we stopped at the old bridge for a great sunset and look around. We’ve been over this bridge before with Lenny, we call him “Larrimah Lenny”. Still one of the best things we’ve ever done on one of our previous visits Lenny took us all down the line on the old railway service car, the line still exists through to Birdum but the bush has taken over and it’s a constant battle for locals like Lenny to eliminate the problem.
So the next day we followed Lenny down the road with his chainsaw and did some damage both on the track and access road.
Glad we went with Lenny this time because at times the track totally disappeared and the grass was higher than our car in allot of places, think he made his own new track in places and was a real adventure following him, but Lenny knew his way even if you got him drunk, blindfolded him and spun him around in the dark. And then with the sight of the old water tower coming into view we knew we’d finally made it to Birdum, A loud cheer was yelled by all. No joking ,but it was a really good feeling we’d finally got out to this old forgotten town.