Leah Cox italktravel Rutherford
I have been an agent for the last 10 years and my first overseas trip was on the sea with a P&O cruise in the South Pacific but my first trip was actually in Australia and was up to the Northern Territory on the Ghan with a stop in Alice Springs and Uluru.
I have a hard time narrowing my favourite trip to just one but South Africa and Italy would be the top two I think. There are many things on my bucket list still but Tibet is a must for next year, the gorillas in Rwanda and New Orleans are also 2 I would love to do sooner than later.
Australia's Top End - Darwin and Bamurru Plains Wilderness Lodge
I flew from Sydney on a direct Virgin Australia flight to Darwin and then flew with Air Frontier to the wilderness lodge which was also a bit of a scenic flight as well in a small 10 seater aircraft.
Just a tip when flying Virgin make sure you download their entertainment app so you are able to enjoy their movies etc on your own device. Virgin also have an Economy X option at a reasonable fee which is great for extra leg room seats.
Accommodation & Tour
We packed so much into the 6 days we were there it is hard to put everything in. We stayed at the Oaks Elan which has both hotel rooms and apartments and was definitely a good options for families.
After arriving we headed straight to Crocosaurus Cove where you can get up close and personal with many of the local animals all native to the Northern Territory, perhaps even in the cage of death, remember to book this in advance.
After this we had a refreshing beverage at The Tap on Mitchell which is also owned by the Cove and has a large tree in the middle of the beer garden style bar. Next was dinner at Hanuman which was very reasonably priced Thai/Indian restaurant and was an easy walk from our centrally located hotel.
The next day we travelled to Litchfield National Park with AAT Kings which was a perfect introduction to some of the diverse landscapes Darwin and the surrounding areas can offer.
We got to swim at 2 of the falls and there were also some lovely walks in the area as well. Dinner was a real highlight and surprisingly was at our hotel, good meal sizes and the service was great.
The next morning we spent some time at Darwin waterfront which has a croc-free swimming area, some lovely parks and restaurants. We then travelled out to Bamurru Plains Wilderness Lodge which is located approximately 160 km from Darwin or a 30 min flight away.
It is hard to put into words this experience but the staff's attention to detail ensured everyone had a great experience and as there are no televisions, Wi-Fi, newspapers or phone service your are cut off from the world for the duration of your stay.
All guests are welcomed from the flight or at the station gate and taken to the lodge which is a 15 min drive in the safari vehicles, on arrival at the lodge you are given a cool towel and welcome drink and briefed on what is included in your stay and how the activities through out your stay will work.
The meals are served family style where all guests sit together at set times through out your stay. There are different options for your inclusions but the minimum is your stay with all meals and drinks then you can choose to add activities if you choose or you can do Ultimate Wilderness Package which includes all activities as well.
We did a river safari where you see crocodiles and many varieties of birds, a sunrise from the Hide, air boat ride over the flood plain, 4WD Safari and quad bike trail. All were very well run and the guides all had an abundance of knowledge about the local area, flora and fauna as well as the history of the area.
I am sure the pictures will get closer to just how wonderful this experience was but words just come short. On returning to Darwin we checked into Darwin Central Hotel which has a great location but is definitely only a 3 star property.
On our last night in Darwin we had a sunset cruise on the harbour with Charles Darwin Cruises. This included the beautiful sunset viewing as well as some extensive commentary on both the Darwin bombing and Cyclone Tracey.
Your dinner is a buffet with prawns and oysters, salads, hot meat and vegetables. After the cruise concluded there was some bars in the local area you could stop off and have a drink at or head back to Mitchell St for other options.
What I loved
The vast scenery and the disconnect from stressful city life you felt when you were at the lodge.
What was just OK
The Crocosaurus Cove was OK and I would suggest to do it as there are very limited places you can experience what they offer but the enclosures are very simple and once you have completed the interactive parts there was not much else.
Tell us about your favourite meal, what, where, when & why
Barramundi served at the lodge was so well prepared and fresh that I would nearly say it was the best I had ever had but I must say there was not a bad meal had. Darwin is very multi-cultural so there were so many different options.
Top tip for someone doing this trip
Do your Economy X upgrade with Virgin and don't forget to download the entertainment app, stay 3 nights at the lodge so that you can enjoy all the activities but also have the down time that the lodge was meant for, if you wanted to do the cage of death at Crocosaurus Cove pre-book this before departing.
Anything you would do differently next time
Spend more time in both Darwin and the Lodge, perhaps come at the beginning of the dry season to see the contrast with more water around.
Would you go back?
Yes in a heart beat.
Have you got another trip planned and where to?
Yes I am travelling to Egypt in October 2017 with Bunnick Tours, Tibet in April 2018 and Sri Lanka in July 2018, both with G Adventures.
How can I find out more?
Call italktravel Rutherford on (02) 4932 9244