By Darren Potter
OK, so you only have 24 hours in the Top End and you want an adventure experience, mixed with a high-quality outback stay….of course the NT can deliver that!
First, you need to transform into the NT frame of mind, and what better way to start than with some jumping crocodiles (and hungry ones at that).
So let’s get the adventure underway!
The spectacular Jumping Crocodile Cruise, certainly catches the imagination with its name alone, and will provide you with a close encounter with these magnificent monsters.
Driving out of Darwin, head to the Adelaide River on the Arnhem Highway for the first cruise of the day at 9am.
The cruise takes you down the river where the local crocodiles slowly glide out to meet the boat and work for their feed. From the safety of the vessel, your guides will lure the ‘locals’ with slabs of meat dangled off poles. This is where the crocodiles really put on a show by jumping high out of the water with snapping jaws to claim their food.
It’s fun and very exhilarating, and the river creates a beautiful backdrop for this reptilian ‘hunger games’.
Continuing down the Arnhem Highway on the way to Kakadu, you will find the Wildman Wilderness Lodge nestled serenely in the Mary River National Park. The property confidently states they will provide you with a ‘unique & unspoilt adventure’ and it delivers: this is premium accommodation at its best.
Choose between one of the 15 safari style tents for a luxe-camping experience or go 5-star all the way with one of the 10 air-conditioned ‘habitats’. The habitats are stylish stand-alone bungalows which offer supreme privacy, with that touch of under-stated luxury.
Settle into a long afternoon by having a lazy lunch on the deck of the main lodge overlooking the National Park, which is reminiscent of those outback station verandas.
Now that you are recharged, you can choose your next outback activity. The Lodge is surrounded by floodplains, billabongs, woodlands and patches of rain forest, providing unlimited opportunities to enjoy this wonderful natural setting.
A short drive takes you to Shady Camp which is a premier destination for Barramundi fishing or for a high-powered adventure, skip along the wetlands in an airboat, for that adrenaline hit.
Relax back at the Lodge in the refreshing infinity pool before indulging in a quality dining experience at the restaurant, which features only Australian produce, complemented with Aussie wines.
Taking in the sunset looking across the wide expanse of the National Park, you realize you are in a pretty special corner of the great Aussie outback. Continue the mood by settling into the armchairs on the private deck of your ‘habitat’, and watch the stars burst into life above you, as the sounds of the bush slowly linger into the night.
One of the most peaceful experiences, and a perfect start to your day, is right on the doorstop of the Lodge, with a Home Billabong cruise.
In the early morning light, you will be gliding on this very private waterway, and the small boats (with a maximum of 11 people), provide quite an intimate feeling.
This is the ‘real-deal’ outback experience, where you are very close to waterbirds and crocodiles, but most importantly, you actually feel part of the environment as you drift through the waterlilies.
24 hours goes by pretty quickly doesn’t it! With a taste for the Top End, I dare say you’ll be tempted to stay another night or two. And with Kakadu National Park right down the road, another adventure or two is well within reach.
- Ready to plan your trip to the NT? Create your bucket list here.