There are several estuaries associated with the pronouncedly seasonal rivers which drain northwards from the Middle Proterozoic sandstone Arnhem Land plateau, and the Tertiary Koolpinyah land surface, into the macrotidal van Diemen Gulf, in the Northern Territory of Australia. The Holocene development of these, investigated in greatest detail for the South Alligator River with an upland catchment of > 10,000 km2. through drilling, palynology and radiocarbon dating, comprises both estuarine infill and coastal progradation. Three phases of estuarine infill can be recognised: (i) a transgressive phase (8000-6800 years B.P.) of marine incursion; (ii) a big swamp phase (6800-5300 years B.P.) of widespread mangrove forest development; and (iii) a sinuous/cuspate phase of floodplain development since 5300 years B.P., during which the tidal river has meandered and reworked earlier estuarine sediments. Since 6000 years B.P., the South Alligator coastal plain has prograded at a decelerating rate, with two phases of chenier ridge formation. A similar pattern of estuarine infill, and decelerating coastal plain progradation, is demonstrated for the Adelaide and Mary Rivers, both with catchments of > 6000 km2. The southern shore of van Diemem Gulf appears to have changed its overall position little during the last 2000 years. The major source for the clay, silt and fine sands which have infilled the estuary and coastal plain has been from seaward. Dispite the similarity of development, coastal sediment build up has had different effects on the morphology of each tidal river. The Adelaide has undergone a major diversion and no longer flows directly into van Diemen Gulf, but occupies a former fluvial course, and the Mary has been blocked entirely, and its former estuarine palaeochannels have been infilled with tide-transported sediment. © 1993.