Brendon discovers a bit of luxury in the Northern Territory's lush wilderness.
Arnhem Land occupies 94,000 square kilometres of the Northern Territory. It stretches from Kakadu National Park to the Arafura Sea in the north and the Gulf of Carpentaria in the east. It is Aboriginal territory and only two areas are accessible to visitors the Cobourg Peninsula on the western edge and the Gove Peninsula, a major bauxite mining area on the eastern tip.
It has been occupied by Aboriginal people for around 40,000 years and Makassan sailors from the Celebes Islands visited for hundreds of years looking for beche de mer, a sea slug considered a delicacy in Indonesia.
Attempts in the late 1800s by European Australians to colonise the peninsula and establish trade with Asia were futile. The ruins of Victoria settlement, deserted 150 years ago, and Fort Welling, are all that remain. Cape Don Lighthouse, built in 1916, is still operating and is the area's focal point.
You can enjoy one of the world's most magnificent and untouched tropical areas from one of the world's most outstanding lodges Seven Spirit Bay Wilderness Lodge.
Remote in the true sense of the word, the lodge has plenty of creature comforts to add to the excitement provided by nature. The only way in to this excellent fishing spot is by charter flight or boat. There are 250 recorded species of fish, including the famous barramundi, barracuda, mackerel, trevally and queen fish. Fishing can be done in a variety of environments creek, open water, reef, gutter and flats.
The waters are also home to protected marine creatures such as manta rays, dolphins, dugongs, turtles and crocodiles. There are indigenous wallabies, wedge-tailed eagles and introduced Bali cattle, buffalo and samba deer. As well as wildlife, you will see some excellent examples of Aboriginal rock art and a number of sacred sites. Mt Borradaile and Umorrduk one-day safaris have art 50,000 years old and Max Davidson, a most experienced guide, conducts tours.
Day and night walks are available with staff doubling as tour guides. You might go along the shoreline, into paperbark swamps, eucalypt forests, grasslands or historic settlements.
The lodge is made up of 24 individual hexagonal habitats in forest surrounds. Each has two queen-sized beds, mini bar, telephone, screen louvred walls and a semi-alfresco bathroom adds to the feeling that you're camping out, though there is a discrete wooden fence for modesty.
The central complex has a reception area, restaurant and bar, cocktail lounge, corporate centre, pool and landscaped gardens. Dingoes, wallabies and buffaloes drop by now and again.
Dining is an experience there is a combination of Aboriginal bush foods, Malaysian, Indonesian and Thai food. Barramundi is always on the menu, and the chef will prepare your own catches if you wish. The restaurant overlooks the pool, and there are barbecue facilities as well. Sunset dinners on Gilligan's Island are available.
The National Park offers nature and culture, ecosystems, sandy beaches, dunes, coastal grasslands, mangroves, rainforest, swamps, lagoons, coral reefs and meadows of sea grass.
Guests choose to do as much or as little as they wish, but with the options offered, it would be hard to stay by the pool with a book no matter how good a read it is.
The Cobourg Peninsula in the Northern Territory
Seven Spirit Bay Wilderness Lodge on Cobourg Peninsula is a 45 minute flight from Darwin. The best time to visit is during the dry season, from mid-March to mid-December.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.
Seven Spirit Bay Wilderness Lodge
Cobourg Peninsula Wildlife Sanctuary
Gurig, Gunak Barlu National Park
Arnhem Land, Northern Territory
Ph: (03) 9826 2471 (Melbourne)
Fax: (03) 9824 1113 (Melbourne)firstname.lastname@example.org