“Eco-friendly bungalows infused with African-safari style on a remote property in the tropical Top End: think barefoot luxury on a buffalo station”
Once at Bamurru, you'll be mighty glad you came. You’re greeted with fragrant face towels and a cooling drink, then go bouncing through the bush in the back of a 4WD on a wildlife-spotting safari. Come sunset, your guide slows down on a track that turns out to be the wall of the floodplain - during the wet season, this dry land transforms into a lake on which airboats dock. Here you can watch the wallabies and water buffalo graze in the golden afternoon light, and help yourself to icy beers. An hour later, as the sun goes down, you’re sipping smooth Australian wines and savouring delicate canapés on the deck of the lodge.
Throughout your stay, these luxurious touches abound. It’s like the best of African safari lodges transported into the outback - with crocs instead of zebras and water buffalo replacing hippos. The attention to detail in the quirky bush-style bungalows and suites - very eco-minimalist and open-sided (just nets separate you from the wildlife) - brings a luxury of its own. Provided you come prepared for this, you won’t miss the minibar or spa bath one bit. Who needs a flatscreen TV or WiFi when you get a 180-degree view from your bed, with binos and guidebooks supplied?
- Abundant birdlife and wildlife includes plenty of water buffalos, wallabies, huge crocs, wild boar, brumbies and dingoes
- Plenty to do besides classic safari drives: bird-watching, bushwalks, exhilarating air-boat rides, scenic helicopter flights - all with capable and fun guides
- Stunning landscapes - lush floodplains, monsoonal forests, savannah woodland, billabongs blanketed with waterlillies, and spooky freshwater mangroves
- Enormous, imaginative bush shower rooms with corrugated iron walls and tree trunks for soap holders - and fragrant natural soaps too!
- Imaginative "bush tucker" cuisine using local ingredients, with an open bar boasting delicious Australian wines, including some rarities
- Couples seeking romance might not like the communal dining
- The Safari Bungalows are made for sleeping, with little else other than the bed: no comfy sofas or hammocks for chilling out, although there are sofas in the main lodge
- While the infinity pool is welcome after a sticky day of wildlife spotting, it could be larger
- The Cessna flight from Darwin is not cheap
- Humidity here can be fierce and only 3 of the Safari Bungalows have air-conditioning (at an extra cost)
Best time to go
At Bamurru Plains, the early part of the Dry, from February to July, is warm and dry, generally with cloudless skies.
From August to September, the latter part of the Dry, temperatures rise and birds congregate at the billabongs in extraordinary numbers.
October to December marks the ‘build-up’ to the Wet with high heat and humidity, spectacular thunder and lightning storms, and the beginning of the greening of the country from early rain.
The arrival of the Wet and continual monsoon rains from January to March brings high tides and floodwaters as river banks break – for many this is when the region is at its most beautiful and Barramundi fishing is best, although access to the area can be restricted to helicopter and light planes with some road closures.
Bamurru Plains currently closes from November through January due to access issues and humidity.”
Our top tips
- Safari Camp
- All inclusive
- Over 8s welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Gift shop
Inspired by African safari camps, with hints of Aussie bush-style, Bamurru Plains’ permanent tent-like Safari Bungalows are freestanding, elevated and minimalist in their design. The most notable feature is the floor-to-ceiling windows of 'Outlook' mesh, a one-way fabric which offers spectacular views of the floodplains and bird- and animal-life outside, but without allowing them to see in.
Since our visit, a deluxe Kingfisher Suite has been added. We're yet to personally view this space, but it promises to be a top choice for honeymooners (and even families) thanks to it's grand proportions and stunning outlook across the floodplains.
Inside you'll find comfy futon-like kingsize beds and wonderful big bathrooms, with tree trunks for soap-holders and ladders for towel racks. Corrugated-iron bathroom walls give a nod to traditional outback living and the bedspread is made from the brown weather-beaten leather of a drover’s swag.
All have wooden floors, screen doors, ceiling fans, a couple of director-style fold-up safari chairs, lanterns, binoculars, water bottles, towels, toiletries and insect repellent. Three of them are older, bigger and have air-conditioning - charged as an extra if you use it, though that's understandable given that everything is solar-powered. The newer ones have ceiling fans and raked window-walls. In keeping with the safari camp vibe, tech is kept to a minimum (no in-room telephones, WiFi or even minibars), although you can borrow a hairdryer and there's a choice of pillows.
The bungalows themselves are fairly well spaced so, while we were warned about sound travelling in the silence of the bush night, we couldn’t really hear anything coming from the neighbours.
- Extra beds
- Insect repellent
- Internet access
- Water bottles
All meals are prepared fresh by the resident chef, in an open kitchen overlooking the communal tables and served in the lodge’s dining area. Because the activities require an early start, breakfast is a simple affair of tea and coffee, juice, fruit and cereals, although there were delicious piping hot pastries fresh from the oven.
Morning and afternoon tea is enjoyed ‘on location’ if you’re doing an activity - in our case, as we floated in an air boat on a tranquil billabong teeming with birdlife, it was muffins baked that morning and steaming hot tea served in stainless steel mugs from the thermos. Bliss.
Back at the ranch, Bamurru serves superb contemporary Australian fare based on native produce and/or bush tucker-inspirations. Lunch is quite substantial: an Aussie-style game barbecue with home-made damper on the deck overlooking the floodplain, for example, or Top End barramundi fillet with chips, or spicy chicken burger with focaccia. As you'll gather, meat of all species dominates; vegetarians and those on special diets need to let Bamurru know of any dietary requirements in advance.
The evening meal begins with canapés and drinks served on the deck - timed so you can enjoy the sublime sunset - before tucking into 3 courses of fresh, inventive cuisine. Entrées could be mud crab ravioli in orange and vermouth sauce, or coconut prawns with pickled cucumber; mains might be crayfish bisque and stir-fried greens, or sticky pork fillet with soft polenta and braised shallots. Desserts are more conventional but no less delicious: hazelnut parfait, grilled peaches, berry and rose pannacotta.
There is no menu as such: the chef decides on the dishes that day, announcing the menu when guests sit down to dine. While the element of surprise is fun for most, it’s important to ensure the chef is aware of allergies or preferences you might have.
Also, be prepared to share with other guests at communal tables. This can be lots of fun when guests get along well, less so if you're sitting next to a Crocodile Dundee wannabe. Couples in the mood for romance can organise in advance to take dinner in their room.
The self-service bar features a good selection of Australian wines, beers and soft drinks, plus a few spirits, and is included in the tariff.
- All meals included
- Fire-pit barbecue
- Vegetarian menu
- Daily guided activities include wildlife-spotting safaris in a 4WD, bird-watching walks, edge-of-your-seat rides in a airboat (like a mini hovercraft) across the wetlands, fishing trips to catch the Top End’s famous barramundi, and tranquil boat cruises in crocodile-infested waters. Guests can choose whether they want to include these activities in their accommodation rate
- But you don't need to leave your room: lie back on your bed with the binos and spot some of the 236 bird species that frequent the Mary River catchment, including thousands of magpie geese in season; and animals too, from water buffaloes to agile wallabies
- In the main lodge, you can swim in the small pool or share some cold beers (and wildlife-sighting yarns) with other guests at sunset - all part of the safari experience
- Staff can organise scenic flights and helicopter rides (Bamurru Plains has its own helicopter based at the lodge, see rates) around the region and guided day trips to Arnhem Land with the knowledgeable Sab Lord of Lord’s Safaris. If you’re here for a few days and don’t have your vehicle, don’t even think twice about signing up for one of these superb small-group or personal 4WD tours, which include a visit to Injilak Art Centre and hikes to see rock art with an indigenous guide
- UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park nearby boasts spectacular scenery with striking rock escarpments and lush floodplains, indigenous rock art, excellent bushwalking, boat cruises on serene wetlands, plenty of wildlife, and natural swimming holes (pay attention to the crocodile warning signs). You’ll need your own vehicle and a few days to see it properly
- Spend a day or two in Darwin before or after Bamurru. The city has plenty of museums, Aboriginal art galleries, shops, markets and malls, cafés, restaurants, bars and pubs to keep you busy. Activities include walking and cycling tours, indigenous-guided tours (Batji Tours), a hop-on-hop-off tour by minibus with Tour Tub, swimming with crocs in the ‘Cage of Death’ at Aquascene, and cruises on historic pearl luggers including the 1959 Streeter and Cape Adieu
- Using Darwin as a hub, you can combine Bamurru with trips to the Tiwi Islands, Litchfield National Park and other Top End attractions
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Kakadu National Park
- Plantlife / flora
- Private guided tours
- Scenic flights
- Traditional cultures
Bamurru welcomes children over the age of 8, and if they are interested in the great outdoors (and well behaved in the evenings!) they will love it here. The activities on offer and the intimacy of this small property make it unsuitable for younger children.
Teens (over 12)
Family friendly accommodation:
The Kingfisher Suite has space for 3 children in swag beds (Safari Bungalows have space for just one) but it's more comfortable giving older kids their own room, especially if there are 2.
Bamurru Plains is on the edge of the Mary River floodplains, a short distance from the coast and the western boundary of Kakadu National Park. It's 3 hours' drive from Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory and the nearest garage is 1.5 hours' drive away.
Fly in to Darwin International Airport (280km). From here guests often fly on to Bamurru Plains on a scheduled single engine Cessna aircraft. The 30-minute flight lands at Swim Creek Station Airstrip, where you are met for the 20-minute drive to the camp. It’s also possible to fly to Swim Creek from Jabiru Airport at Kakadu National Park (also 20 minutes). Alternatively, the most spectacular way to arrive at Bamurru Plains is by helicopter - the trip takes approximately 30 minutes from Darwin, landing in front of the camp. Enquire for details.
If you need to hire a car in Darwin, please see our car rental recommendations. If self-driving, inform staff when you book and make arrangements to meet them. For those driving (the best option if you’re planning on spending a few days exploring Kakadu National Park), Bamurru Plains is a 3-hour drive from Darwin; the first hour and three quarters is on sealed tarmac road, the last hour and a quarter are on unsealed public and private roads. You are then required to leave your vehicle at the entrance to the property, where you will be met by a staff member for the 20-minute drive back to camp - this is because it is a working buffalo station and private property and there is no vehicle access for members of the public; it also ensures exclusivity at the camp.
Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.com.
More on getting to Australia and getting around
- Darwin International Airport 280.0 km DRW
- Beach 25.0 km
- Shops 280.0 km
- Restaurant 280.0 km