The Northern Territory Does Glamping Better Than Anywhere Else
These 5 luxurious lodgings prove it.
Camping in the top end of Australia is a wonderful idea. Here, you can connect with the spacious and ancient land, observe the one-of-a kind natural phenomena and virtually breathe in the peace and quiet; it’s a totally unique experience. But the logistics of camping are difficult – you need to consider packing, setting up tents, protecting oneself from blood-sucking tropical bugs and not camping too close to croc infested areas.But who wants to stay in a motel when there’s so much beauty happening out there in the Northern Territory?
Thankfully glamping is a thing now, offering a classy alternative for those who want to experience the outdoors but with all the mod cons and creature comforts of a hotel, so you can have your desert camping experience and your organic cotton sheets too.
Here’s our top five in the NT.
#1 Longitude 131, Uluru
The majestic and beautiful Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is an incredibly special place, so why would you spend your time there in a packed hotel when you can stay in one of 15 luxurious ‘tents’ nestled in the red sand dune among desert oak and spinifex?
At Longitude 131, you can take in the stunning views and stillness of this bright red and orange country from your private balcony, or just marvel through your glass doors – a drink in your hand from the complimentary in-suite bar. With a sweeping tent canopy, your desert home includes a king-sized bed, an ensuite, Wi-Fi, an iPad filled with entertainment (if the location isn’t enough to grab your attention) plus loads of other perks.
Of course this sort of exclusivity and style doesn’t come cheap and will set you back $1,200 per twin share per night – but hey – how often do you get to spend a night sleeping near Australia’s largest monolith?
#2 Banubanu, Bremer Island
“A quiet corner in a world of noise” – find bliss in this secluded retreat in the north eastern corner of Arnhem Land. In Bremer Island the water is turquoise, the sand soft and white and cold miserable winters are the stuff of those poor folk down south. Glamping options start with the fairly basic – single mattresses and a pedestal fan with shared toilets and showers. The next step up is the Deluxe Beach Front Eco Tents (available from mid-year). These classier camps are metres from the beach, close enough to watch bobbing turtles surfacing at sunset. Deluxe tents include private ensuites and a timber deck to enjoy your afternoon cheese-platter.
All meals are included at Banubanu and are of top-notch quality; think locally-sourced tamarind crispy fried fish and soft home-baked bread. Activities on the island range from fishing, learning skills (like basket-making) from the local Indigenous community, beach-combing and turtle-watching. Of course with island life, chilling out will take up most of your day. Staying at Banubanu costs $336 per night, per person which includes all meals.
#3 Bamurru Plains, Mary River Flood Plains
The only thing separating you from the Top End wilderness outside is mesh screening. From the ceiling to the walls, these Safari Bungalows are fitted with mesh screening which allows you to be fully immersed in your surroundings. You’re so close you feel the warm fresh air on your skin and almost touch the animals, but you’re safe enough from pesky mosquitos.
West of Kakadu National Park on the Mary River Flood Plains – which, like the name suggests, floods during wet season – is Bamurru Plains with nine bungalows offering the ultimate in wild bush luxury. Bungalows are decked out with comfortable beds fitted with organic linen cotton, ensuites, high pressure showers and beautiful décor. Bamurru Plains has no TV, no internet and no mobile coverage so don’t expect to Netflix and chill. Instead, your days will consist of natural beauty – being awoken by the magpie geese and deep orange sunrise followed by days exploring the surrounding Outback. Safari Bungalows cost $590 per night per adult.
#4 Dreamtime Escarpment Glamping, Kings Canyon
For the traveller looking for the iconic Australian experience with all the trimmings, look no further than this unique glamping option. Situated against the surrounding escarpments of the magical Kings Canyon, it’s a good 6 kilometres from the tourist hot spot of Kings Canyon Station. This new accommodation opens up in March and offers exclusivity, the silence of the desert and amazing views of the World Heritage Listed site. Camping sites include king-size or twin-beds, your own private bar, an ensuite, bathrobes and slippers, heating and cooling, a personal coffee pod machine and a deck for your private dinner – with your personal chef.
A chef will prepare you a three-course dinner for your first night, and then pass the baton onto you for the second night to cook your own three-course BBQ dinner with ingredients provided. You can also choose from a bunch of tours, all included in the price: take a self-guided audio tour of Kings Canyon; embark on a Karrke Aboriginal Cultural tour, which tells you how spears and boomerangs are made and teaches you about bush foods and medicine; or get your heart racing on a Petroglyphs Quad adventure. Dreamtime Escarpment Glamping costs $1400 per couple for two nights, with all the perks of good tucker, fab tours and quality accommodation.
#5 Squeaky Windmill, Alice Springs
To experience the heart of central Australia you need to visit Alice Springs. While Alice is known as a bustling little town full of quirks and character, it is also surrounded by natural beauty from the high-rocky faces of the MacDonnell ranges to the wide-sweeping red and orange chalky desert. Squeaky Windmill is 15 kilometres from town and close to the famous Larapinta Trail, Ilpara Claypans and Simpson’s Gap. For $190 a night you can sleep soundly and close to these iconic sites with a queen-sized bed, or twin singles with ensuite.
(Lead image: Bamurru Plains)
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