WHY THIS IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT. REALLY
Australia’s north is an exceptional place to be in the Australian winter.
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WORDS CHLOE SACHDEV
IT’S THE COLOURS THAT HIT YOU...
at Bamurru Plains. They’re like an abstract, primordial painting of lush green mangroves and slivers of slowly winding tropical rivers that coil like giant snakes next to the pools on the floodplains. It’s a place of contradiction, secluded but teeming with life, like a 300km² working buffalo station.
It’s a place of contradiction, secluded but teeming with life...
Even most Australians aren't aware of quite the extent of the wildlife that thrives in Australia's north.
Bamurru Plains is built amongst the savannah bush, fringing the coastal floodplains on the edge of Kakadu National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory ‘Top End’. Life here is guided by the elements: it’s closed during the wet ‘summer’ season from November to February – when the region is almost uninhabitable with biblical thunderstorms, floods and soaring humidity that makes the air hang thick like wallpaper paste. But, come March, as the winter ‘dry’ season lifts the rains, the region starts to stir. Days are sunny, nights are mild, with little to no rain, and the land is fertile. From June, like the rest of Australia’s north, the days are wonderfully warm. Magpie geese blanket the floodplain, woodland flowers blossom and wild ‘brumby’ horses, buffalo, dingos and wallabies are on the move. The landscape is never still nor silent. As the sun goes down, pandanus trees are etched against a blazing indigo sky.
'On the water' has a different meaning to it in the northern floodplains.
On the edge of the floodplains on a raised platform are ten deeply comfortable safari-style bungalows, made from sturdy corrugated iron and timber, with mesh walls allowing you to observe and hear the waddle of beasts and hear the symphony of birdlife rarely seen in Australia. Some 230 species of birds including azure kingfisher, egret and whistling ducks flutter in the wetlands, and saltwater crocodiles reveal only their beady eyes as they lay patiently, always waiting. Outside the main lodge, there is a deck with a fire pit, gazebos with comfy couches, and an infinity pool. The food takes its cues from the bush with a bounty of native ingredients like wild berries and wattle seed. Under kerosene lamps, the nightly three-course dinners are a fusion of outback-inspired fine-dining recipes like bush spiced duck confit, Australian Angus filet mignon au jus and barramundi in lemongrass.
More than 300km² are shared by around 20 guests at Bamurru Plains.
It's not always the creatures you're expecting.
Communal dining, a signature of the Wild Bush Luxury safari style lodge.
Extraordinary numbers of magpie geese congregate on the floodplain.
But a stay at Bamurru Plains is more than just lounging around. It means guided walks, game drives and skimming through floodplains on propelled airboats. The grasslands are like shaggy carpet, still-water billabongs reflect the forest of paperbark trees, and everything is teeming with life. Sunset safaris with drinks and canapés start as the frogs break into a croaky serenade.
August is breeding time for the mammals, including the hundreds of water buffalo that visit Bamurru Plains to feed and frolic in mud baths, often right in front of the pool. This is full immersion into the Australian bush. It’s a short hop by light aircraft or helicopter across the river to the ancient landscape of Kakadu National Park, Australia’s biggest national park and a World Heritage area. Here, the towering escarpments and rock formations reveal the stories and history of First Nations Bininj/Mungguy people, one of the oldest living cultures in the world.
Airboats are used to skim across the floodplain.
The grasslands are like shaggy carpet, still-water billabongs reflect the forest of paperbark trees, and everything is teeming with life.
There are sunsets, and then there are northern Australian sunsets.
In the evenings, as the expansive plains take on a soft-focus quality, everyone gathers on the open deck, helping themselves to the open bar of wines, beer and spirits. The luxury of the landscape unfurls and fades to black, and suddenly you’re part of a vast empty space at the edge of the world.
WHEN CRUISING IS NOT A DIRTY WORD
SMALL SHIP EXPEDITION CRUISING, ADVENTURES ON WATER
An adventure aboard the True North to Australia’s hard-to-reach corners is akin to being on a floating safari lodge. With only 36 passengers, and a crew of 24 experts, it’s a boutique experience that allows uninterrupted access to the remote Australian coastline. Built to explore the upper reaches of shallow river systems, it’s the best of both worlds, with plush cabins and fine dining but also adventure boats and an on-board helicopter to take guests deep into the wilderness. This is not about letting the world pass by, but full immersion in it.
SILKY OAKS LODGE
In the tangle of the world's oldest living rainforest, you’ll find Silky Oaks Lodge. A stay in the lush and verdant Daintree Rainforest will have you floating down the Mossman River, hiking the rainforest or taking a guided walk with a Kuku Yalanji guide. Plus,the Great Barrier Reef is an easy day trip away. Where luxury and the rainforest meets the reef…
EL QUESTRO HOMESTEAD
In the heart of The Kimberley on a vast swathe of 700,000 acres, El Questro Homestead has long been one of Australia’s most exclusive outback retreats. 10 suites allow for just 20 guests to explore one of Australia’s last frontiers. Or simply wine, dine and relax by the pool. More likely, both.
MT MULLIGAN LODGE
Mount Mulligan, an 18km sandstone monolith ten times the size of Uluru towers over the landscape and is the constant anchor for guests at Mt Mulligan Lodge.
With a 69,000 hectare working cattle station to explore by foot, ATV, 4WD, Mt Mulligan Lodge is an exclusive and well-heeled version of the outback.
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