One of the first luxury lodges in the outback, Seven Spirit Bay is a wilderness lodge like no other. Accessible only by boat or air – the lodge has a private airstrip – it’s a wonderland for wildlife.
WORDS: Giselle Whiteaker
In Australia, there’s north and then there’s the far north. The Cobourg Peninsula at the northern tip of the Northern Territory is most definitely the latter. This is the Top End’s most northerly extremity. It’s a place few get to experience, but those who make it to this remote and rugged part of the country are glad they did.
The Cobourg Peninsula represents nature on a grand scale and the land and several of the surrounding islands, as well as the adjacent waters of the Arafura Sea and Van Diemen Gulf, are designated as a national park. The park, known as Garig Gunak Barlu National Park, is located some 570 kilometres north-east of Darwin. Sometimes it feels even further.
The Cobourg Peninsula represents nature on a grand scale and the land and several of the surrounding islands, as well as the adjacent waters of the Arafura Sea and Van Diemen Gulf, are designated as a national park. The park, known as Garig Gunak Barlu Nationa
The beauty of this area cannot be overstated. Its inaccessibility and expert management by the Traditional Owners, the Arrarrkbi people, in conjunction with the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, ensure it stays this way. It is also designated as a RAMSAR site – the world’s first RAMSAR-listed wetland, in fact, a site of international importance. If you’ve ever wanted to escape to pristine wilderness, this is the place for it. Expect a mosaic of sandy beaches, dunes and coastal grasslands, mangroves, pockets of rainforest, swamps, lagoons, coral reefs, sea grass meadows and a plethora of marine life in this 4,500-square-kilometre wetland paradise.
That’s not to say it’s all wilderness. Deep within the park, there’s a somewhat hidden oasis. Seven Spirit Bay, so named for the seasons of the regional indigenous calendar, sits on the fringe of Coral Bay. The exclusive collection of habitat villas, characterised by large pictures windows and comfortable king-sized beds, is dotted discreetly throughout a patch of native tropical forest by the coast.
One of the first luxury lodges in the outback, Seven Spirit Bay is a wilderness lodge like no other. Accessible only by boat or air – the lodge has a private airstrip – it’s a wonderland for wildlife. The marine park is home to an immense array of sea life, including dolphins, dugongs, turtles, crocodiles and pilot whales, and on land, the forest is home to numerous buffalo, Banteng cattle, Timor ponies, and a bounty of birdlife. Birdwatching, fishing, trekking, boating and photography are popular pastimes here, for good reason.
Seven Spirit Bay caters for all tastes, providing a wide selection of nature-based activities, ranging from 4WD wilderness safaris to bush tucker and mud crabbing tours, birdwatching, bushwalking, beachcombing and blue water and barramundi estuary fishing. For those with a penchant for history, a visit to Victoria Settlement, one of two failed British settlements on the peninsula, is on offer.
Come evening, whether or not you’ve caught your fill of barramundi, you’ll dine in style – and with a spectacular bay view. Seven Spirit Bay’s Wawidada Pavilion is perched in an elevated position overlooking the water and in the restaurant within, the in-house chefs deliver superb cuisine, using the finest and freshest produce, grown and caught locally where possible.
All that’s left to do is sit back, switch off, and savour the spectacular sunsets at the northern end of the Top End.