After seeing pictures of Wildman Wilderness Lodge, my friend and I knew we had to have a vacation there. You could say that we actually planned our 6D5N Darwin trip around it. We spent 3D2N at the lodge because the stay cost us AUD$1260 and we could not afford to visit any longer.
To get from Darwin airport/ city centre to Wildman Wilderness Lodge, it takes about two to two and a half hours (depending on traffic). The lodge offers shuttle bus transfers, but at an exorbitant rate of AUD$195 (one way) per person and only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 12 to 1pm. At any other timing, a private transfer can set you back AUD$800 one way.
Hence, we decided it made more sense economically to rent a car. We rented ours from Bargain Car Rentals (AUD$250 for five days). The pick up and drop off locations were very accessible and prices were reasonable. In addition, we read many good reviews about the company.
It was a good decision in the end as we could stop along the way to take pictures or grab a meal. Also, it allowed us the flexibility to drive around when we were at the lodge rather than being restricted to the compound (parking is free at most places).
Initially, we chose the Safari Tent (good for four people). I had never done glamping before and thought it would be a good experience. Unfortunately, it was sweltering inside (no aircon) and after enduring it for half an hour, we decided to switch to a Cabin.
The Cabins are good for two people. As quoted from their website, the cabins are “romantic”, seeing that there is no door to the bathroom! We had to make do by opening both cupboard doors to close off the bathroom.
It was a relaxing stay and we could see both wallabies and cockatoos at all hours of the day.
The only facility we made use of was the swimming pool. The infinity pool looked very big in pictures but was actually quite small, like the size of a wading pool. However, it bestowed us with an amazing view of the sunset.
Both breakfast and dinner are included in the room charge. When you get to Wildman Wilderness Lodge, you will know why. There are no restaurants nearby. The only time when you can eat out is lunch, when you can drive out to other lodges. Besides that, it is not safe to drive at night as there are no street lights. You will be engulfed in total darkness on unpaved roads.
Thankfully, the food was delicious. The dinner menu is a three-course set, with choice of entree, main and dessert. If you are adventurous, go for their Crumbled Crocodile, Buffalo & Prawn Platter, which is served with bush chutney. My favourite dessert was the Sparking Sorbet, where you get your mango sorbet topped with sparkling wine!
The breakfast buffet spread was not considerable, but it was sufficient.
We opted for a few tours at Wildman Wilderness Lodge. Overall, I would say that the guides were friendly, humorous and knowledgeable. We enjoyed all the tours we signed up for.
1. Airboat Tour (AUD$300 per person, approximately 45 minutes)
This was my favourite tour! We had a small private airboat to ourselves. The guides took us out onto the Mary River floodplains, where it was very peaceful and calming, so much so that there were times I did not take pictures and just sat back to enjoy the serenity of it all.
2. Leichhardt Point Sundowners (AUD$65 per person, approximately 2 hours)
The guide drove us and three other ladies out to a lovely spot just a stone’s throw away from the lodge to view the sunset. The area was so vast and tranquil, it almost seemed endless. We popped some champagne, ate our cheese and basked in the glory of the setting sun.
3. Home Billabong Cruise (AUD$65 per person, approximately 1 hour)
On the morning of the day we checked out, we went for a billabong cruise. Similar to the airboat, we had the whole boat to ourselves (lucky us!). The guide was so sharp! He could locate the well-camouflaged crocodiles when we could hardly make them out even with a pair of binoculars.
Wildman Wilderness Lodge offers about nine different types of tours. Our plan was to go for a 20 minute scenic flight at the outset, but they told us that it was not available when we checked in, which was really disappointing.
This is a place for a romantic getaway or a refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life. You will feel enveloped by nature and disentangled from everyday life. The freedom from interference is priceless. The stay may cost an arm and a leg, but it is worth its weight in gold.