Top End Touring: Mary River Wilderness Retreat

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Mary River Wilderness Retreat

Get ready to experience an unforgettable holiday adventure, as we explore Australia’s breathtaking Top End!

Our outback odyssey begins in the Northern Territory’s capital city of Darwin, where we meet the rest of our fellow tour group members and knowledgeable guides. We introduce ourselves and exchange travel stories before boarding a bus and motoring along the Arnhem Highway in an easterly direction.

We pass by vast, sparsely-grassed plains dotted with towering mallee trees that stand unmoved by the balmy, whisper-soft breeze. The still landscape gradually gives way to the invading greenery of lush wetlands vegetation as we near the first stop of our Top End tour – the Fogg Dam.

After disembarking from the bus, our travelling troupe weaves through ancient melaleuca trees and paperbarks for a guided walk, while keeping our eyes peeled for flitting comb-crested jacanas and other native birds.

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Mary River Wilderness Retreat & Caravan Park

We then venture to the Window on the Wetlands Visitor Centre, where we learn about the diversity of the northern coastal wetlands and the wildlife that inhabits this unique environment. The centre is perched atop Beatrice Hill and grants gorgeous elevated vistas across the Adelaide River floodplains.

Mary River Wilderness Retreat & Caravan Park

Our tour group swaps the bus for a boat, as we arrive at the Corroboree Billabong to enjoy a leisurely cruise. But don’t let those calm waters fool you, as the Billabong is home to the largest concentration of saltwater crocodiles in the world.

Mary River Wilderness Retreat & Caravan ParkAs our guides relate interesting facts about the local environment and ecosystem, we keep our cameras handy and get up-close and personal with some resident crocs… well, not too close!

Mary River Wilderness Retreat & Caravan Park

As the NT heat becomes a little less stifling, the late-afternoon sees us arrive at The Mary River Wilderness Retreat – our home-base for the next four days and three nights.

Mary River Wilderness Retreat & Caravan Park

The Mary River Wilderness Retreat is situated approximately 90 minutes south-east of Darwin. The retreat is ensconced within 900 acres of pristine Aussie bushland and borders along the scenic shores of the Mary River. Aside from boasting a three kilometre stretch of river frontage, the property is surrounded by undulating hills and lush native gardens where we spied the occasional grazing wallaby.

Mary River Wilderness Retreat & Caravan Park

Family-owned and operated, the retreat is a great place to base yourself when enjoying a Top End escape and presents guests with the perfect balance of courteous service, inviting accommodation and engaging entertainment in a spectacular natural setting.

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Mary River Wilderness Retreat & Caravan Park

Having met our friendly hosts over happy hour drinks and a delicious welcome dinner at the in-house Gecko Bar & Restaurant, our tour group disbands for the night and we retreat to the comfy surrounds of our bush bungalows.

Mary River Wilderness Retreat & Caravan Park

Emanating a sense of rustic charm and country comfort, our bungalow is a peaceful hideaway shrouded from the outside world. A plush queen-size bed, ensuite bathroom, air-conditioned interiors and a private verandah ranked among our favourite features.
Mary River Wilderness Retreat & Caravan Park Eager to embrace a brand new day full of exciting escapades after a restful night’s sleep, we convene at the restaurant and devour the first of our daily complimentary breakfasts. With tasty offerings of fresh fruit, a wide range of cereal, and toast on offer; we fuel-up and head out for our second day of Top End touring.

Mary River Wilderness Retreat & Caravan Park

The Mary River Retreat sits at the gateway to the World Heritage-Listed Kakadu National Park, which is our first stop of day two.

Mary River Wilderness Retreat & Caravan Park

Kakadu is a must-visit destination for happy holidaymakers looking to experience the best of the Northern Territory. A stunning natural canvas comes to life before our very eyes – jagged cliff faces, dense bushland and some of the most amazing animals combine to make the park an untouched oasis.

Welcome to Mother Nature’s playground!

Mary River Wilderness Retreat & Caravan Park

We discover the beauty and history of Kakadu with our cameras at the ready. After admiring the awe-inspiring views of Arnhem Land from the lofty vantage point of Ubirr Rock, we get the chance to study ancient Indigenous rock art that adorns the craggy escarpments. We’re told the art is believed to be around 20,000 years old!

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Mary River Wilderness Retreat & Caravan Park

After our thrilling trek through Kakadu, the third day gives our tour group the chance to indulge in some good old fashioned R&R within the grounds of the retreat.

Mary River Wilderness Retreat & Caravan Park

You’ll never run out of fun activities to do onsite at Mary River. Feel free to hire a bike, buggy or boat, enjoy a leisurely stroll along the winding walking tracks, or laze away beside either of the two swimming pools – we did it all! As a nice additional touch, some members from the local Indigenous community made time to meet with our tour group for a cultural experience and recounted tales that revealed their deep spiritual connection with the region.

Later that afternoon, our group reassembles to enjoy a wildlife cruise on the Mary River. The cruise provides fascinating insights about the abundant native birds, crocodiles and various marsupials that call the Mary River home.

Our final day is action-packed and kicks-off bright and early with a trip to Litchfield National Park. We amble through the verdant rainforests, marvel at immense termite mounds, and even take the opportunity for a refreshing dip at the majestic Florence Falls.

Mary River Wilderness Retreat & Caravan Park

After departing the picturesque park we, pile back onto the tour bus and make our way back to Darwin but not before stopping at a local farm to sample some irresistible home-made buffalo ice-cream. Our Top End tour has finally come to a sticky, sweet and utterly satisfying conclusion.

Summary

If you’re planning on travelling to the Northern Territory for the first time then the Mary River Wilderness Retreat is a fantastic place to stay. There’s little wonder why the retreat earned a 2014 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence and boasts a 97% rating. Luxurious accommodation, postcard-worthy scenery and world-class facilities are waiting for you. By pairing a stay at the retreat with the incredible Top End Highlights Tour like we did, you’ll have all the splendour of the outback in the palm of your hand.

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Mary River Wilderness Retreat & Caravan Park

TripAdvisor Reviews

‘Picturesque’

Five out of five stars – Reviewed 14 November 2014

“Lovely property with beautiful gardens and some nice walking tracks along the Mary River. Enjoyed all the wildlife around the property. The fish & mango sauce meal in their restaurant was delicious. The cabins are very comfortable. Great value. Very relaxing and thoroughly enjoyed my stay.”

‘Our favourite campsite in NT’

Five out of five stars – Reviewed 6 October 2014

“This was our first campsite on our 5 week journey through NT and Northern Queensland. It was an excellent choice and one of only two I had pre booked from the UK. The site was wonderful, lots of grass still which at the end of the dry is very good. The shady trees were a bonus and great to sit under when not out and about. Now as for the staff, what can I say – so very helpful. Bron was extremely helpful and came up with some great ideas of activities for the next day. The first evening we went on the camp’s own river cruise, small boat and only 6 of us so very personal and great information. The next morning we set out with Bron’s maps and drove around the Wildman Track. It was wonderful and got us back into the hang of the four wheel driving. We had a great lunch out at a tiny billabong with lots of birds. Late that afternoon we went, again at Bron’s suggestion, on the Corroboree Wetlands Cruise which I would thoroughly recommend! The camp kitchen was well equipped and the showers, toilets and laundry rooms all worked fine. I would definitely stay here again and it makes a brilliant stop between Darwin and Jabiru.”

‘Good value friendly place to stay’

Five out of five stars – Reviewed 1 October 2014

“We loved this! It was like being sent to stay with your lovely auntie in Australia, comfortable room that felt really far away from everyone else even though it wasn’t, excellent onsite walks and a really enjoyable river cruise. Our room was quite far down the lawn which I liked, the food was good and hosts really friendly and knowledgeable about their area.”