Sitting by the pool I watched the setting sun cast its golden glow on the floodplains. Just feet away from me an endless parade of water buffalo made their nightly journey into the forest. Bamurru Plains, a Wild Bush Luxury property and member of Luxury Lodges of Australia, located in the Top End of Australia’s Northern Territory is set amidst an abundance of bird and wildlife - practically at your doorstep. Mesh walls on each of the 10 safari-style cabins allow guests the ultimate bush wildlife experience. You can see out, but no one can see in. I fell asleep listening to the soothing sounds of the forest and awoke to the call of magpie geese as wallabies and buffalo meandered in front of my bungalow, basking in the orange light of dawn. All this from the comfort of my bed.
The stand alone cabins built on stilts on the edge of an expansive green wetland, exude understated luxury. Crafted in timber with rustic chic decor they feature Aboriginal art, vintage explorers maps, native artifacts, en-suite bathrooms with hot showers fashioned from a tree stump, locally produced natural soaps and herb-infused hair products. Not to mention the chairs and binoculars provided for taking in those spectacular views.
Surrounded by the Sampan River, the coast and the Mary River Floodplain, there’s no shortage of activities for immersing yourself in nature’s splendor. I saw egrets, pelicans, herons and crocodiles sunbathing amid the lilies, pandanus trees and plants as I glided through the floodplains at high speed on an airboat. Fine Australian wine and canapés were served as the boat stopped. With the engine off, I was struck by the serenity and beauty. You can also explore the diversity of wildlife on safari in an open-top 4 wheel drive vehicle. I even spotted cockatoos, blue-winged kookaburras and parrots while lunching in the treetop house. There’s something magical about the wild, untamed Top End.
The action at sunset is at the poolside lounging deck beneath the gazebo, where guests cocktail with prime viewing of the nightly migration of buffalo and wallabies from the wetlands to the savannah woodlands. Pretty soon the stars are the only illumination and everyone moves inside to the main lodge lounge to relax on the comfy couches.
For dinner, chef serves up tasty dishes such as barramundi with lime salsa and juicy roast duck - washed down with the best Australian wine - to guests gathered around the long dining table. After exchanging travel stories with the interesting group of international visitors I retired to my cozy cabin for another entrancing night in the bush.
In addition to the many activities near the lodge and the 300 square kilometers of surrounding countryside exclusive to guests, Bamurru Plains offers exceptional excursions. These include a day outing via a short ride by light aircraft or a couple of hours on a scenic road trip to Kakadu, the heartland of Australia’s indigenous culture.
World Heritage Kakadu National Park, home to more than sixty species of native mammals and two-hundred-eighty species of birds, has been inhabited by the Aboriginal People for more than 65,000 years. It contains one of the largest collections of rock art in the world. I marveled at the remarkable rock art galleries at Ubirr Rock, considered the park’s best, while the guide explained the fascinating stories of the Aboriginal people and their culture, as told by the art. After exploring these treasures, I made my way to the top of the rock and took in panoramic views over the Nadab floodplain.
Next up, a bush picnic lunch provided by Bamarru was followed by a cruise on the East Alligator River in Kakadu Park. The Aboriginal guide was a young, chatty fellow with a twinkle in his eye named Tyrone, after Tyrone Power the movie star. As the boat glided along the meandering waterway sprinkled with crocs sleeping, bathing and sunning, he regaled me with stories about his people and their traditions.
Tyrone spoke about the hibiscus we passed on the riversides used to make spears and for medicinal purposes and about hunting with boomerangs. He relayed an ancient tale about how part of the sacred river came to be solely for women. I learned about Aboriginal funeral rites when families bring bones to a cave of their ancestors. Tyrone remarked that the river has a language and proudly pointed in the direction of his home in Arnhem Land where his family lives.
He smiled as we passed rock art on boulders on the bank, explaining that his ancestors speak to him and teach him through the drawings on the rocks. He told me that for him it was like receiving a deep inner message that guided him. For me, it felt like experiencing the heart and soul of the bush.