Exploring Arnhem Land with Aus Outback NT
East Arnhem Land...its hard to describe a place like this. A place so rich with aboriginal culture, deep red earth, amazing wildlife, turquoise waters, white sandy beaches and huge tropical palms. Kyle and I were lucky enough to travel around this amazing part of Australia on behalf of Tourism NT IG: @ausoutbackNT. We didn't know if we were on a tropical beach in Thailand or the red centre of Australia. One minute we were bush bashing through hot red earth and the next we were parking up on a tropical beach riddled with palm trees. This part of Australia truly had it all, we felt extremely lucky to be here. Our week went a little something like this.....
It was my first time to Darwin, the NT in fact, and I was super excited to see what the city had to offer! A sunset cruise had been arranged down at the Cullen Marina for our first evening, where Kyle, myself and the rest of the team @sara_jentsh, @_markfitz & @iamsavi enjoyed getting to know each other before the beginning of our adventure packed week. I was surprised at how quickly we all got along, as if it as our fifth day on the trip instead of our first.
You could say sailing around Darwin in a lavish yacht with a glass of wine as the sun crept behind the oceans horizon, was an extremely enjoyable and relaxing start to the trip! I highly recommend booking a sunset cruise whilst visiting Darwin.
The next morning we rose and made our way to the airport for our flight to Gove; the centre point of East Arnhem Land. The flight was incredible. Viewing the NT from an aerial perspective was so beautiful, we even caught glimpses of Kakadu National Park. Being apart of the first ever Tourism NT famil trip was a huge privilage for Kyle and I. Not knowing what to expect as we arrived, we soon found out that this was one of the most untouched and protected indigenous areas in all of Australia. In fact a permit is required if you are wanting to explore this preserved area of the North. Information on how to obtain a permit at the end of this blog.
Upon landing we were immediately given a hire car for the next 4 days. Kyle felt like a little boy on Christmas morning when he saw our car....a Toyota troop carrier, his dream car! After Kyle was finished screaming like a little girl hahaha, we headed out for the day. We visited 3 beaches of the area the day; Turtle beach, Maccassan beach and Little Bondi. Every beach was so beautiful, with white sand under your toes and turquoise water on the horizon it was easy to see why! But getting to these beaches was no simple drive, this was when the 4x4 came in handy! After bush bashing through Red dirt and tropical bush we would eventually arrived at the beaches, and boy was it worth it! We honestly couldn't believe the NT kept spots like this from us for this long! As the day began to end, Aaron took us to his favourite sunset spot. A spot he had been visiting since he was a little kid, East Woody Point. We climbed to the top of the boulders & were greeted with 360 views of the surrounding areas. As sunset lit the sky on fire, Kyle and I twirled around as silhouettes, whilst Aaron shot a couple of photos for us.
Visiting Bawaka was an extremely special experience for us. Think Ko Samui meets rich aboriginal culture, and thats basically the vibe of this amazing place. The journey out to Bawaka was an adventure in itself! We were greeted early morning by our tour guide Randy (a local of the Yolngu people) who picked us up in his 4WD mini bus, where we spent the next 2 hours driving through thick Aussie bush, puddles of water up to the car windows and long white sandy beaches. I've never experienced off road driving quite like this. I felt like I was part of All Aussie Adventures, but thankfully Timmy had a lot more knowledge than Russel Coight haha!
We couldn't believe our eyes as we arrived, this place was unfathomably secluded and so unbelievably beautiful! With coconuts scattered all along the beach and emerald waters as far as you could see, we instantly fell in love with the setting. Unfortunately we weren't able to swim at this particular beach due to the friendly local croc, Nike, who makes regular appearances on the beach. We hear he is rather friendly and super chilled, but we were told better not to take the risk.
After getting to know the staff from the area and meeting some of the Yolngu people of Bawaka, including Timmy who is an elder member of the tribe, we spent the next couple of hours gaining valuable knowledge about the heritage of the tribe and their sacred land. We were taught some basic aboriginal phrases, learnt what was used for 'bush tucker', and what to stay away from if you didn't want to fall violently ill. Watching Timmy explain what each plant was used for, gave me a great respect for the land in which the Bawaka people call home. There is literally a plant or leaf for anything, including many natural medicines.
After lunch we jumped back into the 4x4 and took the short drive to 'lonely beach', just a few kms from camp. We were immediately mesmerised by the landscape; two beautiful pristine white beaches split in half by a lush green headland (see attached photos). I once again found myself thinking 'how is this the NT?', Arnhem Land was showing off yet again! We spent the afternoon there swimming in the clear waters (where we were assured no crocs would accompany us) and relaxing on the beach. Although Bawaka might be a tough place to get to, I can assure you that the journey is well worth it, as it is a place like no other!
The next morning we met at Gove boat club and began our trip across the sea to Bremer Island, were we met with the owner of BanuBanu eco retreat, Russell. We began checking into our amazing beach side 'glamping' tents that took camping to a whole new level! After we checked in Trevor took us for a 4x4 tour around the island, while we didn't have to greatest weather on Bremer we could see how beautiful this place truly was. There were bright pink wild flowers filtered across the entire island that caught my attention immediately. As we parked up, I had this fun idea of capturing the bright pink wildflowers at the foreground of the image, with the background being Trevor's, totally cool, old school Toyota, with myself sitting on top of the bonnet. One of my favourite shots of the trip!
We ended the day with sunset drinks, followed by an incredible home cooked meal. I was served a vibrant and incredibly fresh grilled vege stack, accompanied by a handful of home cooked potato chips. My kind of meal! BanuBanu had such a special feel to it, with only 3 tents on the beach you felt like the whole island was yours. A place I would definitely recommend if you enjoy a secluded, quiet, peaceful and romantic getaway.
Permit Information and Links
A permit to visit East Arnhem Land is required for tourists
To visit Macassan, Little Bondi, Turtle beach and the surrounding beaches near Gove– a recreation permit is required. It’s quick and easy online.
Book Bawaka Experience
Book Banu Banu retreat