Top End Luxury Experience - 5 Days (Private Tour)
Darwin, Kakadu National Park and Arnhemland
This morning Dean or Sab will collect from your accommodation (7.00) before we begin in making our way south for a short time on the Stuart Highway until we turn left onto the Arnhem Highway which leads to the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Kakadu National Park. Then onto Aboriginal Lands (Arnhem Land) access to this area is restricted to a select group of tour operators. Departing the Northern region of Kakadu National Park we cross Cahill’s Crossing on the East Alligator River and enter Arnhem Land. A 15-km scenic drive to Gunbalanya Aboriginal community provides some of the best driving views in the Top End with floodplains, billabongs & Arnhem Land escarpment. Upon arrival at Gunbalanya you will visit the Injalak Arts and Craft Centre. Here you have the opportunity to meet and watch traditional local artists in action. Established in 1989, Injalak Arts is an Aboriginal organisation supporting the production of quality Aboriginal art.
Today, Injalak artists produce authentic art inspired by ancient dreamtime stories, images from the nearby rock art galleries and an unbroken link between the present generation of Kunwinjku people and their ancestors. This offers an intimate setting to get to know the artist and see first-hand how artworks are created. Gunbalanya is the Aboriginal name for the Oenpelli settlement (which was originally a mission). The area includes the floodplains of the East Alligator River that are covered by water from December to April and a rocky sandstone plateau rising up to 200 metres above the plains. Visitors to Injalak will experience the breathtaking rock art galleries and the traditional culture of the Kunwinjku people. many of Injalak artists live and work in the community. While we are here a traditional Aboriginal guide will show you excellent examples of rock art on Injalak Hill (Long Tom Dreaming or Kurrkabal), this area is documented as having some of the best rock art examples in Western Arnhem Land - some say Australia. The main gallery is the visitors first contact with rock art and is the most intense. It is an extensive shelter featuring layered paintings created over thousands of years.
The rock art on Injalak Hill reveals facets of Pre-Estuarine, Estuarine and Contact periods identifying them as between 100 and 8,000 years old. In 1912, the Aboriginal Protectorate Baldwin Spencer noted people heading up the hill every evening with smouldering fire sticks. This helps to explain why Injalak Hill boasts such extensive rock art galleries. The view from the top of the hill is simply breathtaking, looking out across the floodplains and around the Arnhemland escarpment while having lunch in the shade of one of the many overhanging ledges. When we farewell our Aboriginal guide back at the Injalak Art & Craft Centre there is an opportunity to browse or purchase goods from this non-profit Aboriginal organisation.
Injalak Arts wholesales a range of affordable art in different mediums and styles reflective of the ingenuity of the Kunwinjku people. By supporting many artists utilizing different mediums in various dimensions, Injalak caters for both the affordable and fine art market. Artworks available include paintings on paper and bark, carvings, artefacts - clap sticks, didgeridoos, mimi poles and lorrkons, fibre works - baskets and grass pandanus floor mats and special edition prints.
* Access to Arnhemland is by invitation by the local Aboriginal people, and the traditional owners may deny access at any time.
After leaving the Injalak Art & Craft Centre we then head onto Davidson's Arnhemland Safaris. Davidson's Arnhemland Safaris is situated in the North-West corner of Arnhemland and adjacent to Kakadu National Park and Coburg Peninsula in Australia’s Northern Territory lies a vast subtropical savannah that has been described as a national treasure trove depicting ancient human occupation, and a pristine wilderness area hosting myriad ecosystems and wildlife inhabitants. Access to the safari lodge is by 4WD or by air. The camp is fully licensed and has a wide selection of wines, spirits and beer. The facilities are situated in a natural bush setting, the centre of the infrastructure of the lodge is a new and tastefully furnished communal area encompassing a dining, lounge, bar, library, internet area and a large outdoor deck area for alfresco dining, all overlooking the sandstone paved pool.
Overnight: Davidson's Arnhemland Safaris (L, D)
Davidson's Arnhemland Safaris at Mt Borradaile is a registered aboriginal sacred site in a remote 700 sq-km, exclusively leased area nestled against the Arnhemland escarpment. This is a landscape of rugged ranges fringed by idyllic billabongs, floodplains, paperbark swamps and monsoonal rainforests, an amazingly beautiful wilderness. Valleys, overhangs and caves have been occupied for over 50,000 years and offer magnificent galleries of rock art as well as occupation and burial sites. While at Davidson's we shall enjoy a range of activities and attractions, from fishing, Aboriginal Art, a billabong cruise to the unique landscape.
Overnight: Davidson's Arnhemland Safaris (B, L, D)
After lunch we leaving Davidson's & then head onto Bamurru Plains, which is an exclusive wildlife experience on the magnificent Mary River floodplains. Located on Swim Creek Station, this safari-style camp is surrounded by savannah woodland teeming with an amazing assortment of wildlife, reptiles and birds. The camp boasts of comfortable free-standing rooms that are spacious and expose guests to the sounds of the floodplains, a dining area with commanding views across the vast wetlands, a 10-metre wet edge pool and a library. The focus of your stay at Bamurru is in the environment around you and the wildlife and birdlife for whom it is home. Each individual safari suite is designed to blend with the surrounding bush and as such exposes guests to the sights and sounds of the bush around you, whether it is the haunting call of a Whistling Kite, the raucous cacophony from the Blue-winged Kookaburras as dawn breaks or the sound of a full-grown buffalo splashing its way through the floodplains just a short distance from your bed. We will experience a sunset over the floodplains while enjoying a glass of wine.
Overnight: Bamurru Plains (B, L, D)
While we are at the camp we shall enjoy a variety of activities, from airboat rides to a four-wheel drive safaris. The floodplains abound with waterfowl, wild buffalo and wallabies. The floodplains of the Mary River region form one of the most significant ecosystems in Australia. Dominated by the climatic extremes of the tropical monsoon, the wetlands and savannah woodlands that fringe the coastal regions between Darwin and Kakadu National Park harbor an extraordinary diversity of flora and fauna. The key natural feature of this area has some of the most important in the country, home to thousands of Magpie Geese, Plumed Whistling- Duck, Egrets, Ibis and a host of other birds. We have the opportunity to explore one of the few remaining stations close to Kakadu National Park.
Overnight: Bamurru Plains (B, L, D)
A morning trip out on the plains in an airboat is utterly exhilarating and the only way to truly experience this environment. The morning chorus of tens of thousands of Magpie Geese, after whom the camp is named, is an experience in itself. The Mary River catchments are home to some 236 species of bird, many of which are found at Bamurru Plains. The significance of this particular property comes in the variety of habitat: black soil flood plains, paperbark swamps, savannah woodland, river mangroves and coastal beaches support an extraordinary diversity of bird life.
Return to Darwin. (B, L)
About the tour operator
We offer personalized high-end luxury private touring throughout Kakadu, Arnhemland & the Kimberley region. These private tours are designed to meet our clients' special interests & needs. We specialize in Aboriginal culture, flora and fauna. Whether you’re cruising a billabong, enjoying an airboat ride across a floodplain, lounging under a waterfall, or exploring & learning culture from Aboriginal people, we ensure that we deliver unforgettable life changing experiences across the Top End of Australia.
We are fortunate to have permits for Koolpin Gorge (limited access) and we have a permanent bush campsite within Kakadu National Park. We work closely with outstanding operators such as Bamurru Plains & Davidson's Arnhemland Safaris Camp. Your guides have won The Northern Territories highest honor in Heritage and Cultural Tourism and also for Outstanding Interpretive Guide. Safaris hosts camping (private permanent bush camp in Kakadu National Park) or accommodated safaris for private groups and these are carefully planned to suit each traveller.
It's all about respect. In the 1950's, 60's, 70's, Sab's father (John Lord) was a crocodile and buffalo hunter in an area that is now Kakadu National Park (Munmalary Station). With this sort of backyard as a playground, it is little wonder that he grew up fascinated by the unique nature, terrain, wildlife and Aboriginal culture.
Sab & Dean are fortunate enough to enjoy a mutual respect with many of the local Aboriginal Clans, which allows them access to restricted areas. A special aspect of a safari with them is the opportunity to share in a unique experience that encourages an understanding between people and cultures, without the tourist hype that so often accompanies cultural experiences.
At Bamurru Plains & Davidson's Arnhemland Safaris Camp Sab & Dean are the only independent operator with permission to act as your personal guide (i.e. Not employed by either camp), at these two award-winning properties, what this means to you is that you are able to have the same guide for your entire Top End Experience.
The company’s philosophy is centred around the relationship between guide and guest, and for this reason is one of the most highly-regarded private interpretive experiences available. The team’s passion for the region is infectious as is the connection with the land and the indigenous communities that call the area home. This relationship formed over many decades, allows access to a range of culturally significant sites. Combined with the vast unpopulated pristine landscapes, guests can’t be helped being moved and reinvigorated by this World Heritage Listed area.
The 'Top End' has a tropical climate. The monsoon season is November through to April, characterized by high humidity, magnificent thunderstorms and torrential monsoonal downpours. From May to August cool, mild winters (May/Jun/Jul/Aug). The buildup is (Oct/Nov) with high humidity and very little rain. The shoulder seasons where the weather can still be cooler but changeable are (Apr/Sep)
Mid May - end of June
Early August - mid September
Not July due to school holidays
This tour demands a reasonable amount of agility as we do a hill walk where there are no formed pathways or handrails, a reasonable level of fitness is important
From $7,299 per person
(based on double occupancy)
Pricing is subject to change. Please contact us for a quote and to check availability.