Nothing plain about Bamurru Plains

Nothing plain about Bamurru Plains

Yearning for a little luxury is not a crime, it's just not always available for a convenient weekend away. The good news for Top End dwellers is there is a rather special place literally on Darwin's doorstep where gourmet travel and outback safari experiences converge.

At Bamurra Plains you can indulge like a millionaire, or four-wheel drive like a big game hunter. It'll cost, but it's worth every cent.

Getting there

Pick up the charter flight that departs Darwin at 1.45pm on Friday. It's a 20-minute transfer followed by a further 20 minutes by road to the camp. Alternatively, you can opt for the three-hour drive from Darwin but you will be required to leave the car at the property entrance, so why bother sweating it out at the wheel when you could be languishing by the pool.

When you get there

Ice-cold towels, refreshing long glasses fragrant water and a panorama of the Mary River floodplain welcome travellers. Almost on cue the wildlife show begins when a casual mob of agile wallabies bound through the scrub, stopping occasionally for the nibble on grassy delicacies.

Overhead, noisy corellas flit between the trees and in the distance half-a-dozen buffalo nonchalantly amble between pandanus palms. If David Attenborough materialised it would be no surprise.

Armed with an impressive but uncompromised pinot noir, checking into the safari tent is easily accomplished. Bush luxury as it is touted is Spartan but not uncomfortable. True there is no mini bar, TV or DVD player, but the creature comforts abound with outback-inspired luxury accoutrements in these private "rooms" with views to die for.

Back at the lodge lounging by the pool idly perusing the landscape is the order of the day. Later the chef serves up yummy gourmet canapés accompanied by classy cocktails and the evening is calm aside from the odd honking of Bamurru's namesake, the magpie geese. Darwin does seem a long way away.


The day starts early with breakfast at the Central Lodge. The cobwebs of sleep quickly dissipate once you're on board an airboat for a sunrise jaunt across striking floodplains prolific with wildlife. There is only one word for this adventure: exhilarating.

Skimming over reed beds and meadows of lily pads with your hair slapping around your ears, magpie geese take flight and estuarine crocs flick their massive tails to escape beneath the surface.

There is a brief stop for morning tea in an aquatic paradise surrounded by paperbarks. Munching on homemade muffins and guzzling fresh orange juice it is hard to imagine that Bamurra Plains is in fact located on Swim Creek Station, a functioning buffalo pastoral property.

More gourmet fare awaits your return with plenty of time for convivial banter at the communal dining table before exploring the savannah woodlands of the floodplain in a four-wheel drive.

It's not mandatory to investigate the sights and sounds of the region but there is a distinctly African feel to four-wheel driving across this floodplain into the woodlands and wetlands, which even for jaded Darwinites inspires interest.

The reward is whiling away the remainder of the day poolside or diving into a good read away from the afternoon heat on the blue-gum balcony of your safari tent. Be sure to ask chef for a tasty treat to keep the hunger pangs at bay.

To wit dinner is impressive with an innovative four-course degustation menu full of native (that's "bush tucker" to us yokels) inclusions like local-caught gold-band snapper and warm emu salad with a pepper and wild strawberry dressing, ably supported by quality Aussie wines.


Just when you think you can eat no more Bamurru breakfast is served, and what a fine al fresco affair. Hectares of fresh fruit and squeezed juices await and for the really hungry; there are lip-smacking selections accompanied by real coffee and orange and poppy seed muffins.

Before boarding the 2.30pm flight back to Darwin there is just one more adventure to be had: a cruise on the Sampan River, which forms the western boundary of Swim Creek Station. The morbid fascination humans have for the crocodile is well sated on this voyage through the mangroves of the Mary River floodplain. Here it is reputed one of the world's largest populations of these prehistoric reptiles survive.

Wildlife overload may start to set in so take time for a tranquil respite by the pool to ponder on the mysteries of the Top End and revel in bush luxury.

What to bring home

Pick up some lemongrass-scented soap to recall wild bush luxury.

Where to stay

Bamurru Plains' two-night package is $2300 per person. It includes accommodation, all meals, drinks and scheduled activities as well as return air transfers from Darwin . Note there is an air-conditioning surcharge of $100 per room per night.

What to leave behind

Any desire to return home.

What to splurge on

Outback indulgence.

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