Savanna Explorer > VRD-Sturt

Ord River, Victoria River District, Sturt Plateau

Ord-VRD-Sturt landscape

The Ord River, Victoria River District and Sturt Plateau region covers around 270,000 square kilometres of the country south of Katherine, straddling the border between the Northern Territory and Western Australia. To the west it features much of the Ord River catchment and the spectacular rocky bluffs characteristic of the Kimberley, such as the Bungle Bungle area, its central parts feature the Victoria River catchment, while its eastern end is dominated by the Sturt Plateau and the flatter grassy plains of the Barkly. The southern parts grade into the Tanami Desert.


Cattle grazing

The major land use is cattle grazing and in the western areas there are significant national parks and horticulture. The district supports some of the longest settled and most successful grazing enterprises in northern Australia. However, the region has not avoided problems of land degradation, and over several decades governments have supported local research to improve sustainable production systems.


The VRD-Sturt region, like most of the tropical savannas, has a tropical climate with hot, wet humid summers and sunny, warm, dry winters and comes under very little coastal climatic influence—it is less humid and cloudy than coastal areas. Wet season conditions are generally hot with average maximum temperatures reaching 36oC. Annual rainfall totals range from less than 600 mm in the south to around twice that in the north. The dry season is more prolonged than the wet season and is dominated by the south-east trade winds with an average minimum of about 12o C.

Biogeographic region

This area is defined by the biogeographic regions Victoria Bonaparte, Sturt Plateau and the eastern bulk of the Ord-Victoria Plains. For more information on the biogeographic regions on this map go to ERIN's Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation of Australia (IBRA), web link below.

Population snapshot

The population figures below are based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics censuses of 2001 which was conducted in early August of that year.  These more standardised Urban Centre and Locality figures replace earlier ones on this site based on Statistical Local Areas and Census Collection Districts.

The VRD-Sturt Plateau region is one of the most sparsely populated in the tropical savannas, with a scattering of relatively small towns and communities.


 Total Population








 Timber Creek



Table is based on 2001 Census Urban Centre and Locality figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. 

Land Use

The major land use in the region is pastoralism, with lesser areas of Aboriginal land, nature reserves and vacant crown land, as well as significant blocks of Defence Force land. The southern parts of the region border very large areas of Aboriginal land in the Tanami Desert.

Latest research

The VRD-Sturt region has been the focus of a major regional management study by the Tropical Savannas CRC. Researchers have been looking at the region's plant and animal life, impacts of grazing and fire on different ecological communities and on pastures, and the changing nature of the tree/grass continuum in the district. Aspects of this research are available by going to the topics 'Grazing', 'Fire' and 'Plants and Animals'.

For more detailed information on this region click on the topic menu on the left. You can also go to the Savanna Map Maker to make maps of the VRD region. Link on this page.