One hour from: Darwin
Go walkabout on Australia's wild side
Sunday 19 October 2003
Home to the Tiwi Aborigine people, the beautiful Tiwi Islands of Bathurst and Melville are 80km north of Darwin. Highlights of a day trip here include visiting dense rainforest, secluded waterfalls and traditional burial grounds. The islanders are famous for producing and selling their distinctive artwork. Look out for bark paintings, silk-screened clothing, woven bangles, painted conch shells and colourful pottery.
By air: Airnorth (00 61 8 8920 4001) operates daily flights to Bathurst from Darwin airport; journey time approx 1 hour. Tiwi Tours (00 61 8 8924 1115) offers all-inclusive daily tours from Darwin airport, including flights, guiding and lunch.
Litchfield National Park
Get back to nature in the pristine wilderness of Litchfield National Park. See the spectacular Tabletop Range, which is a wide sandstone plateau with four waterfalls running off the edge andtermite mounds that resemble rows of gravestones. Or try one of the many bush walks before cooling off in one of the pretty rock pools.
By car: take the Stuart Highway via Batchelor and follow signs; journey time approx 1 hour plus.
Cape Don is the site of a historic lighthouse, situated on the Cobourg Peninsula, which extends from the most northerly point of Arnhem Land into the Timor Sea. Dating from 1916, the lighthouse is still in use today and the area is reputed to be the best fishing location in Australia with mangrove-lined creeks, sandy island cays, rocky outcrops and a coral reef. Such is the abundance of the marine life that fisherfolk are guaranteed a catch. Fancy a sleepover? Book yourself into the luxuriously restored head lighthouse keeper's homestead, which accommodates only 12 guests at a time.
By air: Cape Don Gurig Nature Experience (00 61 8 8978 5191; www.gurig.com. au) offers flights and packages from Darwin; journey time approx 45 mins.
Howard Springs Nature Park
Twitchers have a field day at the Howard Springs Nature Park. Expect extensive swamps, small river areas and monsoon forest and you won't be disappointed. Keep your eyes peeled for whistling ducks, radjah shelducks, pygmy and magpie geese, while following one of the walking tracks before taking a dip in one of the crocodile-free water holes.
By car: take the Stuart Highway via Palmerston and follow signs; journey time approx 30 mins.
Seven Spirit Bay
Seven Spirit Bay is the last word in luxury and one of the most stunning wilderness lodges in the world. Nestling in native bush on the Cobourg Peninsula, there are 23 "hexagonal habitats", individual guest cabins, open to the elements on five sides, so that guests are immersed in the surrounding bush. Take advantage of the many activities on offer, including guided walking safaris or simply veg out and relax.
By air: Seven Spirit Bay (00 61 8 8979 0281; www.seven spiritbay.com) offers flights and packages from Darwin airport; journey time approx 1 hour.
Bridge the World (0870 444 1716; www.bridgetheworld. com) offers a 10-day b&b break at the Darwin Central Hotel from £1,051 per person, including car hire and flights. Australian Tourist Commission (0191-501 4646; www.australia.com).
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