This 6-day outback adventure enjoys special permission granted by traditional land owners to visit areas of the Northern Territory inaccessible to other tour companies. These special access permits means you'll be taken off the beaten-track and into protected areas that have an abundance of cultural values and not so many other visitors!
This morning your driver will collect from your Darin accommodation to start your adventure enroute to World Heritage Listed Kakadu National Park. Our first stop is Fogg Dam Reserve, Fogg Dam has year round water coverage which assures its position as an important feeding and roosting site for a wide variety of both water birds and other animals. Next we travel onto the Adelaide River where we have the opportunity to witness the fabulous jumping crocodiles and other wildlife. These Saltwater Crocodiles are a magnificent sight – these animals are surprisingly powerful as they can project their bodies almost totally out of the water – you will gain a good understanding of why they have survived for more than two hundred million years! This serves as a great introduction to how wild the Top End still is today.
A short detour off the highway is the beautiful Leaning Tree Lagoon; this Billabong is often covered in water lilies making it a popular quick stop for photographers. Lunch is at the Bark Hut Inn; this Aussie Roadhouse was built during the buffalo era and is a reminder of earlier, wilder times. We will leave the main road to enter into Kakadu via the Old Darwin Road. Our last stop for today is at Cooinda – here we will experience one of Kakadu’s icons – a Yellow Water Cruise. This 10sq. km pristine environment supports a truly wonderful variety of plants, birds, crocodiles and Top End wildlife. The wildlife on this pristine billabong is too numerous to mention, you may see saltwater crocodiles, a Jacana bird walking on water, the magnificent sea eagle or any one of the many other 280 species that call this billabong home.
Today we visit Aboriginal Lands (Arnhem Land) access to this area is restricted to a select group of tour operators. Departing the Northern region of Kakadu National Park we cross Cahill’s Crossing on the East Alligator River and enter Arnhem Land. A 15 km scenic drive to Gunbalanya Aboriginal community provides some of the best driving views in the Top End with floodplains, billabongs & the Arnhem Land escarpment.
Upon arrival at Gunbalanya you will visit the Injalak Arts and Craft Centre. Here you have the opportunity to meet and watch traditional local artists in action. Established in 1989, Injalak Arts is an Aboriginal organisation supporting the production of quality Aboriginal art. Today, Injalaks artists produce authentic art inspired by ancient dreamtime stories, images from the nearby rock art galleries and an unbroken link between the present generation of Kunwinjku people and their ancestors. This offers an intimate setting to get to know the artist and see firsthand how artworks are created.
Gunbalanya is the Aboriginal name for the Oenpelli settlement (which was originally a mission). The area includes the floodplains of the East Alligator River that are covered by water from December to April and a rocky sandstone plateau rising up to 200 metres above the plains. Visitors to Injalak will experience the breathtaking rock art galleries and the traditional culture of the Kunwinjku people. many of Injalaks artists live and work in the community.
While we are here a traditional Aboriginal guide will show you excellent examples of rock art on Injalak Hill (Long Tom Dreaming or Kurrkabal), this area is documented as having some of the best rock art examples in Western Arnhem Land – some say Australia. The main gallery is the visitors first contact with rock art and is the most intense. It is an extensive shelter featuring layered paintings created over thousands of years. The rock art on Injalak Hill reveals facets of Pre-Estuarine, Estuarine and Contact periods identifying them as between 100 and 8,000 years old. In 1912, the Aboriginal Protectorate Baldwin Spencer noted people heading up the hill every evening with smouldering fire sticks. This helps to explain why Injalak Hill boasts such extensive rock art galleries.
The view from the top of the hill is simply breathtaking, looking out across the floodplains and around the Arnhemland escarpment while having lunch in the shade of one the many over hanging ledges. When we farewell our Aboriginal guide back back at the Injalak Art & Craft Centre there is an opportunity to browse or purchase goods from this non-profit Aboriginal organisation. Injalak Arts wholesales a range of affordable art in different mediums and styles reflective of the ingenuity of the Kunwinjku people. By supporting many artists utilizing different mediums in various dimensions, Injalak caters for both the affordable and fine art market. Artworks available include paintings on paper and bark, carvings, artefacts – clap sticks, didgeridoos, mimi poles and lorrkons, fibre works – baskets and grass pandanus floor mats and special edition prints.
After leaving the Injalak Art & Craft Centre we then head on to Davidson’s Arnhemland Safaris. Davidson’s Arnhemland Safaris is situated in the North West corner of Arnhemland and adjacent to Kakadu National Park and Coburg Peninsular in Australia’s Northern Territory lies a vast sub-tropical savannah that has been described as a national treasure trove depicting ancient human occupation, and a pristine wilderness area hosting myriad ecosystems and wildlife inhabitants. Access to the safari lodge is by 4WD during the dry season (May-October). The camp is fully licensed and has a wide selection of wines, spirits and beer. The facilities is situated in a natural bush setting, the centre of the infrastructure of the lodge is a new and tastefully furnished communal area encompassing a dining, lounge, bar, library, internet area and a large outdoor deck area for alfresco dining, all overlooking the sandstone paved pool.
Davidson’s Arnhemland Safaris at Mt Borradaile is a registered aboriginal sacred site in a remote 700 sq.-km; exclusively leased area nestled against the Arnhemland escarpment. This is a landscape of rugged ranges fringed by idyllic billabongs, flood plains, paperbark swamps and monsoonal rainforests, an amazingly beautiful wilderness. Valleys, overhangs and caves have been occupied for over 50,000 years and offer magnificent galleries of rock art as well as occupation and burial sites. While at Davidsons we shall enjoy a range of activities and attractions, from fishing, Aboriginal Art, a billabong cruise to the unique landscape.
After leaving Davidsons we then head onto Bamurru Plains which is an exclusive wildlife experience on the magnificent Mary River floodplains. Located on Swim Creek Station, this safari-style camp is surrounded by savannah woodland teeming with an amazing assortment of wildlife, reptiles and birds. The camp boasts of comfortable free-standing rooms that are spacious and expose guests to the sounds of the floodplains, a dining area with commanding views across the vast wetlands, a 10 metre wet edge pool and a library.
The focus of your stay at Bamurru is in the environment around you and the wildlife and birdlife for whom it is home. Each individual safari suite is designed to blend with the surrounding bush and as such exposes guests to the sights and sounds of the bush around you, whether it is the haunting call of a Whistling Kite, the raucous cacophony from the Blue-winged Kookaburras as dawn breaks or the sound of a full grown buffalo splashing its way through the floodplains just a short distance from your bed. The morning chorus of tens of thousands of Magpie Geese, after whom the camp is named, is an experience in itself. The Mary River catchments are home to some 236 species of bird, many of which are found at Bamurru Plains. The significance of this particular property comes in the variety of habitat: black soil flood plains, paperbark swamps, savannah woodland, river mangroves and coastal beaches support an extraordinary diversity of birdlife. We will experience a sunset over the floodplains while enjoying a glass of wine.
While we are at the camp we shall enjoy a variety of activities, from airboat rides to a four wheel drive safaris. The floodplains abound with waterfowl, wild buffalo, pigs and wallabies. The floodplains of the Mary River region form one of the most significant ecosystems in Australia. Dominated by the climatic extremes of the tropical monsoon, the wetlands and savannah woodlands that fringe the coastal regions between Darwin and Kakadu National Park harbor an extraordinary diversity of flora and fauna. This morning we will take an airboat ride across the floodplains of the Mary River catchments. The key natural feature of this area has some of the most important in the country, home to thousands of Magpie Geese, Plumed Whistling- Duck, Egrets, Ibis and a host of other birds. A morning trip out on the plains in an airboat is utterly exhilarating and the only way to truly experience this environment.
The morning chorus of tens of thousands of Magpie Geese, after whom the camp is named, is an experience in itself. The Mary River catchments are home to some 236 species of bird, many of which are found at Bamurru Plains.
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