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Hidden wonders down under: Arnhem Land

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Arnhem Land covers 97,000 square kilometres of the Northern Territory's far eastern corner and is one of Australia's most haunting environments.

It is the country's largest Aboriginal reserve, so you need a permit to get in. Visitors are able to do 4WD tours during the dry season — at other times the only way in is by aircraft.

It takes a lot of hassle out of your trip if you go with a tour operator. For 21 years, Max Davidson has run safaris into Arnhem Land's lush Mount Borradaile region. Davidson's Arnhemland Safaris are fully guided at all times but there is no set itinerary. You decide your own activities and the guides accommodate your choices.

Over 200 species of birds live here — including the colourful Jesus-bird walking on lily pads and brolgas performing their mating dance. It's a good idea to take a pair of binoculars.

Mount Borradaile hosts a large wild boar population and you'll see six metre saltwater crocodiles. There are also smaller and less danger freshwater crocs. Swimming in billabongs is strictly prohibited, but there are totally safe alternatives for a dip in high rocky outcrops.

An amazing profusion of insects, butterflies and moths inhabit the rainforests and paperbark swamps, providing food for frogs, pythons and birds.

A visit of at least three days is recommended but there are other options. Accommodation is in twin-share tents with 240-volt power and external lighting around the main complex, which has a kitchen, dining area, library and briefing room. Permanent toilet and shower blocks with hot and cold water and laundry are on the other fringe of the camp. Home-style meals are served and nourishing picnic lunches and refreshments provided on all-day excursions.

Peppers Seven Spirit Bay is in Garig Gunak Barlu National Park on the Cobourg Peninsula, a 45-minute flight from Darwin. It is remote, secluded and luxurious, set in a tropical forest just metres from the sea.

Tropical habitats have five sides of floor-to-ceiling louvred shades and screens — perfect for making the most of the scenery and letting in cooling breezes.

Premium bay-view habitats have stunning views over Coral Bay. They have a balcony perfect for enjoying the famous Top End sunrises and sunsets.

Both styles of accommodation have two queen beds, roomy sitting area and private, semi-open bathroom in the garden.


The north-east of the Northern Territory.


Davidson's Arnhem Land Safaris three-day tours are $1400 per person twin-share. All meals, tent accommodation, activities and permits are included.

Peppers Seven Spirit Bay two-night packages are $2770 a couple. All meals, some activities, permits and some activities are included.

For more information

Max Davidson's Arnhem Land Safaris
PO Box 41905
Casuarina 0811
Ph: (08) 8927 5240
Fax: (08) 8945 0919

Peppers Seven Spirit Bay
Garig Gunak Barlu National Park
Cobourg Peninsula
Arnhem Land
Ph: (08) 8979 0281
Fax: (08) 8979 0284

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