Experience Canberra’s premier wildlife sanctuary like never before with the ultimate family sleepover – A Wild Night out At Tidbinbilla with one-night adventures available from Friday 25 September 2020 to Saturday 10 October 2020.
From the minute you arrive at the Wilderness Family Camp you will be immersed in nature. Everyone will be welcomed to the camp, learning about the area. On each trip is a range of family-friendly activities, giving guests their own unique journey at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.
Star gazing and a night wildlife walk is a must in this peaceful reserve, just out of Canberra. It’s the perfect place to relax and unwind and spend some quality time with the family.
A hot BBQ buffet is provided for dinner, and after a restful night sleep, you can enjoy a continental breakfast with hot tea and coffee.
Overnight accommodation in Wilderness Family Camp (Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve) with dinner and breakfast included in packages.
FAMILY-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES TO CHOOSE FROM
With many activities on offer, guests will have a fun packed weekend for the whole family to enjoy. From CSI Tidbinbilla, to Hi-Tech Wildlife and behind the scenes at the vet centre our itineraries offer something for eveyone.
CSI Tidbinbilla – where families get to join a fun CSI’ style investigation where we hunt for the predator who has taken one of our Potaroos from the Eucalypt forest. Solve the clues to catch the bad guy and learn more about predators while taking part in this interactive activity.
Aboriginal Hanging Rock – Join a Murrumbung Aboriginal Ranger and explore the Tidbinbilla Aboriginal Rock Shelters. See how people used to live and survive, what it takes to live in the wild and learn about bush tucker foods
Hi Tech Wildlife – Walk at dusk in the Eucalypt Forest as we explore the use of different technologies to monitor critters including bandicoots, potaroos and koalas. Get hands on with scanners, cameras, goggles and other equipment used in the reserve!
Behind the Scene’s at the Vet Centre – Meet the Wildlife team and get up close and personal with a critically endangered Northern Corroboree Frog and find out what goes on behind closed doors.
One night family glamping tent for two adults and two children
This three-night soft-adventure NSW escape is perfect for families, small groups of friends or couples. Guided activities can be tailored to your passions and can incorporate behind-the-scenes experiences with local artisans and producers. Beginning with a scenic seaplane flight down to Jervis Bay, this itinerary ticks all the boxes for an easy escape back to nature combined with delicious food and unique activities like the Canoes, Champagne and Canapes experience.
Day One: Seaplane from Sydney to Jervis Bay
Take a scenic flight from Sydney down the coast, landing in the picturesque Jervis Bay. Once in this aquatic paradise, you can enjoy all marine adventures you could think of. From SUP’s to kayaks to whale watching and bird spotting, this little piece of paradise has it all. Dinner will be prepared by local caterers providing a taste of fresh seafood from the region. As you wander around the cabins, you will be greeted by many resident Kangaroos enjoying the company of their guests.
Overnight accommodation at The Cove Jervis Bay
Day Two: Head into the picturesque Kangaroo Valley
Enjoy the scenic drive through the mountains entering the stunning Kangaroo Valley. This is the perfect opportunity to disconnect from a busy life and truly connect with nature. You will explore the waterways with a unique Canoes, Champagne and Canapes experience, with the chance to witness the regeneration from the 2019/2020 bushfires. A full day of adventure will be followed by a fireside feast featuring a local chef.
Overnight accommodation at Barranca Kangaroo Valley.
Day Three: Explore the Highlands like Never Before
As we make our way up the escarpment, we will be blessed with the stunning views overlooking the valley. Today is about experiencing the highlands like never before. From award winning wines to incredible waterfalls this is a nature lovers paradise. We will make a stop at the beautiful Belmore Falls before making our way into the Historic village of Berrima for lunch and a chance to explore the local shops, the afternoon activities will include wine tasting, then time to relax before heading to a local restaurant for dinner.
Overnight accommodation at Bendooley Estate Cottages Southern Highlands.
Nowhere else in Australia are can you paddle through a sunken forest, observe the native wildlife that inhabit these gums, sip champagne, on a fresh-water lake, in our custom-built canoes. This area was directly impacted by January bushfires, so this is an opportunity to witness the regeneration of our native rainforest and see the stunning beauty of life returning.
Add in delicious local canapés, sampling cool climate wines as well as our expert qualified guides, and you have the most compelling way to experience this magical waterway, imaginable. The area we are exploring is very calm and the currents are mild, making paddling effortless. It’s an easy and safe way to get you into the waterways of the Southern Highlands/Shoalhaven. Also being fresh water, it’s a wonderful place to swim.
Truly immerse yourself in nature with an adventure filled weekend in Kangaroo Valley. Make your way to Kangaroo Valley, checking into the picturesque accommodation of Barranca, with a welcome pack of local wine and cheese awaiting your arrival.
You will have time to wander around the stunning property before heading inside for a delicious pre-prepared dinner box in your kitchen provided by one of the local award-winning restaurants. This luxury retreat offers guests with privacy and picturesque views of the sandstone escarpment of the valley. As well as being surrounded by native wildlife, guests have the delight of meeting the resident animals on the property, including the magnificent shire horses the playful donkeys and the cheeky, yet friendly Buffalo.
Breakfast will be at your leisure with a food box provided in your cabin including all the essentials such as bacon, eggs, bread, cereals and fresh fruit.
Now make your way to the waterways of Morton National Park where its time to glide down the river and enjoy the view from the picturesque Lake Yarrunga embarking on another special experience in the valley. Canoes, Champagne & Canapés is the perfect combination food, wine and wilderness. Indulge your taste buds with wild native canapés and a local award-winning cold-climate wine and discover what is unapologetically, one of the most stunning waterways in the state. Take a seat in one of the custom-built double-canoe rigs and immerse your senses in its sheer beauty.
After another delicious breakfast you’ll check out of Barranca and head out on an olive degustation, where you will sit amongst the olive groves and sample the freshest oil and products produced on-site. This is the perfect spot to sip on some local wines and enjoy the views of the valley before returning to the bustle of Sydney city life.
The Highland Valley Forage in Kangaroo Valley tells the story, of how the Southern Highlands, Shoalhaven and Coast South of Sydney are connected, through food and wine. It’s a unique, leisurely long degustation food and wine trail, which takes you through regenerating escarpment bush and blooming spring wildflowers in Morton National Park in Kangaroo Valley.
Once the sea floor, the Highlands are characterised by native scrub dry sclerophyll forests and dry red mineral rich soils of Canyonleigh in the north west and the rolling green hills bordered by sandstone escarpment walls with micro-climate rainforests in the south east. From the village of Robertson, the escarpment drops into one of the country’s most scenic valleys, the Shoalhaven community of Kangaroo Valley, with just 35 kms until the rugged coastline of Shoalhaven Heads. The coast then stretches north through seaside towns and surfing beaches to Wollongong and to the south to the pristine, white sandy coves of Jervis Bay and the famous Booderee National Park.
Experience the best of this region in a leisurely long degustation food and wine trail through blooming spring wildflowers in Morton National Park. Choose from 8 courses over 4km or 10 courses over 9.5km. The terrain is flat and the degustation is social distancing friendly.
We have created a two-night luxury Southern Highlands Highland Valley Forage foodie getaway which includes the Highland Valley Forage, a private olive oil tasting experience and accommodation at luxurious Barrranca in Kangaroo Valley.
Friday 23rd October 2020: Truly immerse yourself in nature with an adventure filled weekend in Kangaroo Valley. Make your way to Kangaroo Valley on Friday evening, checking into the picturesque accommodation of Barranca, with a welcome pack of wine and cheese awaiting your arrival. You will have time to wander around the stunning property before heading inside for a delicious pre-prepared dinner box in your kitchen provided by one of the local award-winning restaurants.
This luxury retreat offers guests with privacy and picturesque views of the sandstone escarpment of the valley. As well as being surrounded by native wildlife, guests have the delight of meeting the resident animals on the property, including the magnificent shire horses the playful donkeys and the cheeky, yet friendly Buffalo.
Saturday 24th October 2020: Breakfast will be at your leisure with a food box provided in your cabin including all the essentials such as bacon, eggs, bread, cereals and fresh fruit.
You will then embark on an olive degustation, where you will sit amongst the olive grove and sample the freshest oil and products produced on-site. This is the perfect spot to sip on some local wines and enjoy the views of the valley.
The afternoon will be filled with wine tasting at Yarrawa Wines and a chance to explore the local village of Kangaroo Valley. At the end of the day you will have time to explore the village before spending a relaxing evening back at your accommodation where another delicious pre-prepared dinner box will be in your kitchen provided by one of the local award-winning restaurants
Sunday 25th October 2020: After another delicious breakfast we can check out of Barranca and embark on our signature food, wine and nature walk trail – the Highland Valley Forage. This is your chance to put on your walking shoes and venture the less explored region of Morton National Park.
On the Highland Valley Forage, you will learn about the food and wine trail from coast to highlands. The leisurely long degustation walk winds through regenerating escarpment bush and blooming spring wildflowers. Bringing together local producers from the region, you will be surprised with a different kind of food experience.
This luxury Southern Highlands Highland Valley Forage foodie getaway includes:
– 2 nights accommodation at Barranca, Kangaroo Valley
– Breakfasts & Dinners
– Welcome pack of wine and local produce
– Private Olive Oil Degustation for two people
– 10 course Highland Valley Forage for two people
Impact for International Tourists
Whilst the fires have caused issues for many domestic holiday-makers, from an international tourism standpoint, the fires have only seriously impacted a few of the most popular tourist destinations – the Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands and Kangaroo Island. The vast majority of Australia is unaffected, open for business and is completely safe to visit.
We have been working with all our agents who have guests in-country or arriving in the coming days and weeks to ensure that they have alternative options if the bushfires are impacting their journeys.
How you can help
We have been asked by many how they can help. The best way to help is to continue to come to Australia with confidence – Australia is a large country (similar in size to the USA) and there are plenty of incredible places still to enjoy. View this map of all the unaffected areas by Tourism Australia.
Please enquire for itineraries that incorporate some ‘voluntourism’ experiences that help give back to bushfire affected communities.
If you would like to donate to help victims of the fires, below are some organisations that we recommend:
Alquemie has donated to both the Red Cross and the Wildlife Walkabout Park (see the video taken in November – they were training the animals to follow to safety in case of fire – thankfully they were all fine after a fire came close).
Even if you think you’ve seen it all, a visit to Seal Bay on Kangaroo Island to see the endangered sea lions is a definite must do. It rates up there with other global wildlife travel experiences, alongside the whales of Antarctica, the gorillas of Uganda and the orang-utans of Borneo.
Seal Bay is home to the third largest population of sea lions in the world and as their numbers decline the researchers and guides at Seal Bay play an important part in monitoring the colony of around 800 individuals. In the 19th century sea lions were over-hunted for their leather and oil. These days entanglement in marine debris and fishing gear pose the main threat to sea lions but sharks, boats and overfishing also play a big role.
At Seal Bay an intimate eco experience lets you onto the beach to get up close to these cute creatures without visibly disturbing them (the sea lions have been habituated to humans here over the past 25 years ). Sea lions are quite incredible swimmers. For three days, the mothers leave their pups alone on the beach to travel over 50 kilometres off shore to access food. They will dive up to depths of 50 to 100 metres between 900 and 1200 times (yes that’s correct!). When they return, completely exhausted they will simply sleep for three days before doing it all again.
When I visited in early March 2018, there were more than 50 sea lions all around us – a combination of mothers and pups, and males. They were in various states of activity; some sunning themselves, some heading in or out of the water and young pups calling out to their absent mothers. To see and hear them so active in the wild is something very special.
Located on the southern side of Kangaroo Island, Seal Bay was completely unaffected by the 2019/2020 bushfires on Kangaroo Island. Seal Bay is best experienced early in the morning when you’ll have the beach to yourself before the tourist buses arrive.
Talk to Alquemie about including a private Seal Bay experience in your Australian itinerary.
This example itinerary is for guests who love to see their wildlife in the wild, and who like to travel in style.
Hobart to Saffire via Maria Island
Begin your Australian experience with a private flight to the gorgeous Maria Island, a world heritage listed national park just off the east coast of Tasmania. Its tranquility combined with its natural beauty, rare wildlife and fascinating history makes it a unique and special place. Known as the ‘Noah’s Ark’ of Australia because of its abundance and variety of wildlife, guests will enjoy a scenic stopover with wine and cheese before continuing on to Saffire Freycinet.
For those interested in conservation we can arrange time with one of Tasmania’s most acclaimed wildlife naturalist experts who will provide many fascinating insights into the lives of the various rare and unusual birds and animals that inhabit this remarkable island sanctuary – the most recent of which is the endangered Tasmanian Devil which were introduced to the island recently to form a “breeding insurance population”.
Spend two to three nights at Saffire Freycinet – a Luxury Lodge of Australia
The Freycinet Peninsula extends south-eastwards from Tasmania’s coastline and is a gazetted National Park that includes the internationally acclaimed Wineglass Bay. Freycinet’s landscapes are soft & warm pink granite mountains, white sand beaches, grey-green casuarinas, seawater blue as sapphire! Saffire is located on the inside of the gentle curve of sandy coastline that joins the peninsula to mainland Tasmania. Saffire overlooks the wide expanses of Great Oyster Bay, where migrating whales and dolphins come to play; local farms produce fresh, succulent oysters in some of the world’s cleanest waters; and fishing boats and trawlers bring in their daily catch of crayfish, scallops and deep sea fish, dripping and salty-sweet straight from the ocean.
Featuring a day spa, guest lounge, bar, and a range of exclusive experiences and adventures, Saffire delivers warm Tasmanian elegance amidst unparalleled access to the natural surroundings and ancient landscapes. Palate, the on-site restaurant, is Tasmania’s most exclusive venue. The head chef prepares menus inspired by the freshest local produce available.
A complimentary experience not to be missed is the Freycinet Marine Oyster Farm. Don a pair of waders, learn the inner workings of the farm, and then eat oysters plucked from the bay. With its breathtaking location, extremely personalised service, and amazing gastronomy, our team highly recommends this hotel for your Tasmanian stay.
Play golf on one of the world’s top courses (and most isolated!) at Cape Wickham
After a relaxing time at Saffire, hop on your private jet to King Island in the middle of Bass Straight half way between Tasmania and the Australian mainland. Here you will find Australia’s #1 public golf course and one of the top 50 in the world.
Immerse yourself into a rare and dramatic mix of coastal holes cleverly routed around Cape Wickham Lighthouse on the northern tip of King Island, with some holes leaning gently toward the ocean (Bass Strait), and others set atop a rocky headland. The 11th is almost “in” the sea and the 18th is built directly above the beautiful beach at Victoria Cove, which comes into play as bunker on the final hole. Few courses in the world, if any, interact with the ocean quite like this.
Cape Wickham Links is also home to an abundance of wildlife, such as short tailed shearwater mutton birds, copperhead and tiger snakes, wallabies and even wild turkeys. Keep an eye out for seals basking in the sun on the rocks beside the 2nd green, or whales breaching as they pass by Bass Strait.
King Island is also known for its produce, delivering world-class cheese, beef and seafood so if golf is not your style then we can help you explore the island with your tastebuds.
Enjoy a coastal safari on the Eyre Peninsula
From King Island you’ll fly north-west to spend your next two to three days on a wildlife encounter in one of Australia’s lesser known and delightfully deserted regions – The Eyre Peninsula of South Australia. You’ll be shown the very best in native wildlife with visits to Big Swamp (freshwater) Wetlands, Coffin Bay National Park, Avoid Bay, Mount Dutton Bay Conservation Park, Baird Bay, Port Lincoln National Park, and Mikkira Station.
Apart from experiencing land-based wildlife and birdlife in their natural habitat, you’ll get to spend an amazing day in Baird Bay swimming with Australian sea lions — one of only two places in the world where this is available. You’ll also get out into deeper water where you can swim with bottlenose dolphins. These lightning-fast and powerful animals sometimes come so close you can hear them chatter.
Back on land, make sure you pack your binoculars or camera because, over the next few incredible days, your guide will point out the diverse range of animals and birdlife much of which is rare, endangered or vulnerable. You’ll be especially astounded at the variety of birdlife in the region including seabirds, shorebirds, songbirds, parrots (including the rare Port Lincoln parrot) and raptors such as osprey and the white-bellied sea eagle.
Love oysters? You’ll love The Brother Cruise where a local Oyster farmer will take you cruising to The Brothers where you can watch seabirds, seals and dolphins that frolic in this area. You’ll also learn about, and sample, fresh Pacific and native agassi oysters including the farming practices involved in growing, harvesting and processing this marine delicacy.
Finish off with one of the best wildlife encounters – getting up close with koalas – where an environment of stunted gums mean the koalas are often sitting in tree branches at, or just above, head height meaning you can view these beautiful animals up close in their natural habitat.
Spend a few days at one of Australia’s best conservation stories at Arkaba in the Flinders Ranges
Fly from one amazing South Australian wildlife experience to the next – Arkaba Conservancy. With a completely different feel to that on the coast, Arkaba’s true luxury comes in the fact that its 60,000 acres are shared by just 10 guests, taking the definition of exclusivity to a new level in Australia. Nestled inland amongst the ancient landscape of the Flinders Ranges, Arkaba is a genuine blend of conservation and tourism.
The Flinders provides an insight to the depth of Australia’s geological history, extending back more than a billion years, with the evidence of long-disappeared mountain ranges, beaches, tidal flats, reefs and glacial moraines still visible in the rocks to this day.
Formerly a sheep station, the land is today managed as a private conservation sanctuary. De-stocking and on-ground conservation programs have resulted in significant repopulations of bird, reptile and mammal species. Arkaba’s management team is happy to share their conservation experiences and the broader challenges faced in Australia to secure the country’s diverse natural heritage.
Recognised as one of the most beautiful outback properties in the country, Arkaba’s history stretches back to the 1850s. The homestead’s 5 ensuite bedrooms have been tastefully restored in tune with the property’s pioneering history and, in tune with Wild Bush Luxury’s understated Australian style, a stay is more like staying with friends in the country than a typical luxury hotel. Each homestead bedroom opens out onto a shaded verandah with individual views of the surrounding ranges.
In early morning, the sight from the breakfast table as the rugged peaks of the Elder range are set alight by the morning sun provides a teaser for what the rest of the property has in store. Arkaba’s wildlife is prolific – with Australia’s three largest macropods (Red Kangaroo, Western Grey Kangaroo and Common Wallaroo) all regular sightings. The country’s most endangered, the Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby, has also returned to Arkaba’s range since the introduction of active conservation programs.
For those keen to learn more of the challenges Australia faces in saving its diversity of wildlife, join one of Arkaba’s field guides one evening to track a radio collared feral cat or set up the trip cameras that monitor key sites across the property. The tourism dollars that are spent at Arkaba go straight back into wildlife conservation on the property and an ever improving wilderness experience.
Arkaba provides the opportunity for guests to immerse themselves in the story of the bush – its ancient geology, diverse wildlife and the chance to get ‘hands on’ with the conservation programs of the property. Arkaba’s team of expert field guides live and breathe the bush and through a mix of walks, open top safari drives and sheer passion, they will open up the secrets of one of Australia’s most fascinating and spectacular landscapes.
Arkaba offers some of the best bushwalking in the country. With an Aboriginal history going back thousands of years and a geological history that dates back hundreds of millions of years – today a walk on Arkaba is a walk through Australia’s geological history, with the exposed rock strata revealing Australia’s journey through time.
An open top 4WD safari drive reveals the vistas and secrets of the property in a different way, usually capped off with a sundowner drink on top of the ranges with the scale and grandeur of outback Australia laid out for miles around. Arkaba’s expert field guides pull together the incredible geological history, wildlife and pastoral heritage of this region with 4WD safaris, guided bush walks and a chance to take in the sights and sounds of the bush.
Finish your journey witnessing the rebirth of our bush at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley in the Blue Mountains.
Witness the true majesty and strength of Mother Nature. The Australian bush is remarkably resilient, having evolved with fire for millions of years. At Luxury Lodge of Australia, Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley you’ll see and hear first hand about the regeneration of the bush after the fires.
Over golden-green plains, bubbling creeks, and dramatic ridgelines, you’ll find a sanctuary devoted to nature. Nestled among Australia’s World Heritage-listed Greater Blue Mountains, you can seek refuge and find adventure;
enjoy the freshness of summer and the unique magic of winter.
Committed to the preservation of the surrounding environment and its native wildlife, Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley is home to over 7,000 acres of conservation reserve. Perfect for horseback riding, campfires, stargazing, gourmet picnics, and rediscovering your equilibrium amidst the epic landscape.
The Great Ocean Road is one of the world’s most spectacular coastal journeys and a mecca for Melbourne locals on the weekends and summer holidays. There is a lot more to it than just the usual tourist sites and Stuart Dobson is one of the best guides in Australia to reveal its secrets.
Please explain a little bit about who you are and what you do. I am the co-founder and lead guide for Acacia Luxury Private Tours. We deliver luxury bespoke tours in Melbourne and the wonderfully diverse regions surrounding the city. My personal specialty is escorting visitors on one of the world’s most spectacular coastal journeys – Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.
I was born and raised on a dairy farm a veritable stone’s throw from the majestic limestone stacks that make up the Twelve Apostles, the scenic highlight of the Great Ocean Road and perhaps Australia’s most recognisable coastal landscape. Having this coast as my playground afforded me knowledge of secluded vantage points, the best wildlife spotting, and even locations for after-dark glow worm viewing. This local knowledge has proven to be indispensable as I strive to ensure visitors have a more intimate and connected experience with the ever-popular Great Ocean Road.
What got you started with guiding and what do you find most interesting about it? My professional background is far removed from the tourism industry. Prior to launching Acacia Luxury Private Tours I enjoyed a career spanning two decades as a medical scientist and executive with an American medical devices company. While I enjoyed great fulfilment in the role, I had a yearning to escape the rat race and to become the steward of my own destiny. A midlife crisis perhaps? Probably not but there was certainly a sense of relief escaping the quarterly corporate business cycle.
Becoming a guide seemed like the perfect fit. My love of my Melbourne and Victoria is undisputed and I have always maintained a finger on the pulse by regularly dining, attending cultural events, and exploring the regions. I had become that person who visitors would reach out to for the latest advice when in town.
I relish the meaningful connections you form with guests and the privilege it is to play a role in their life celebrations and formation of lifelong memories. I also enjoy the relationships that we forge with various suppliers from restauranteurs and winemakers to local farmers and producers. As a small business owner you gain great visibility of the tangible economic benefits that tourism can brings to small towns and communities.
How do you bring the Great Ocean Road to life on your tours? While the Great Ocean Road is renowned for rugged coastal scenery, perhaps it is less well understood that it offers the most extraordinary nature and wildlife experiences which is a focus of my tours. On our day trip we routinely encounter wild kangaroos, wallabies and koalas. A deeper exploration of the region offers the opportunity to see the elusive platypus in its natural habitat. The area is also a birdwatching paradise with reliable spotting of emus, parrots and water birds.
My tours also focus on the stories behind the region, from the tales of tragedy and heroism affiliated with the coast’s shipwreck history, to my own personal experiences growing up on a dairy farm.
Why do you think it’s important that people learn about the Great Ocean Road? For many the Great Ocean Road is just the perfect location for a selfie and they overlook the region’s rich history.
Pivotal to the history of the settlement of Australia are the stories of tribulation faced by early free settlers who arrived by clippers sailing the treacherous Southern Ocean. The section of the coast from Cape Otway to Port Fairy is known as the Shipwreck Coast for good reason with an estimate of over 700 known wrecks, most of which remain undiscovered.
There is also the remarkable story of the construction of the road in perilous conditions by returned servicemen of World War One in honour of their fallen mates. Indeed, the 243-kilometre Great Ocean Road is designated a permanent war memorial, the largest in the world.
If people wanted to find out more about the Great Ocean Road are there any particular books, documentaries or websites you would recommend? For a geological account of the Great Ocean Road I highly recommend “Written in Stone: Reading the Rocks of the Great Ocean Road” by Philomena Manifold. Her work combines research, writing, sketches and photographs to tell the 135 million-year story of the rocks of the Great Ocean Road.
For visitors to the Great Ocean Road I also recommend stopping by the newly constructed Great Ocean Road Heritage Centre in Lorne to explore the permanent exhibition “The Great Ocean Road Story: Building Australia’s Most Famous Road”.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that hasn’t been covered by the questions already posed? Wherever possible we recommend spending two days to explore the Great Ocean Road with an overnight stay in the charming coastal hamlet of Port Campbell. I encourage my guests to rise early for a sunrise viewing of the Twelve Apostles and surrounding national park. At this time of day you often have these popular locations to yourself which completely transforms the experience. It feels almost spiritual.
What’s your favourite Australian animal and why? The Little Penguin. We are blessed to have a 32,000 strong colony of Little Penguins on Phillip Island just 90 minutes south-east of Melbourne. Each evening at dusk visitors can witness their antics as hundreds or even thousands cross the beach and head to their nests. I never fail to succumb to their charm.
What place is Australia’s best-kept secret? Wilsons Promontory is a coastal reserve located south-east of Melbourne at the southernmost tip of the Australian mainland. Think pristine white sand beaches decorated with rounded granite boulders, abundant wildlife, and a labyrinth of spectacular walking trails without the crowds all just three hours from Melbourne.
What haven’t you seen / done in Australia that you’d like to and why? I am drawn to the rugged wilderness of the Kimberley Coast in the remote northwest of Australia. I can’t imagine a more beautiful landscape in which to appreciate the absolute vastness of this continent.
Finally, how can people follow you on social media? You can follow us at @acaciatoursau on Facebook and Instagram.
If you head up to Bullo River Station in the remote Top End, there’s a fair chance that Grace Mitchelson will be your guide. This 500,000 acre working cattle station provides guests with a unique tourism experience, combining authentic outback adventures with life on the farm. Grace is one of those beautiful women that is both down to earth and supremely capable and when she effortlessly showcased Bullo River Station to us we were all in awe. We asked her to tell us a little bit about herself.
Please explain a little bit about who you are and what you do at Bullo River Station. I’m a guide at Bullo River Station, which means showing guests what it is like to live on a working cattle station, and what remote outback life is like. This involves showing the cattle activities but also activities like fishing and horse riding, things the team love doing on their days off, as well as just exploring this amazing property.
I was born on a farm in Tasmania, where my parents still are, so I have known farming all my life. I left Tassie in 2012 for my first job as a jillaroo in Queensland, and then I was able to transfer within the company to two other stations, one in the NT and another on the NT/WA border. After several seasons, I wanted to get into tourism so I got a job at Horizontal Falls for 2 years, and then working on the Great Escape expedition vessel, based out of Broome. So I had a lot of varied experience when I started working at Bullo for the 2018 season.
What got you started with remote outback guiding and what do you find most interesting about it?
I have a love of the land which got me started here. The country is continuously changing, from red rocks, blue skies, green bush after the wet, billabongs, it’s all so picturesque. This country is why I do what I do and I love sharing it with people. I’m also learning every day from the guests who visit. A recent guest had such a great knowledge of native plants that he encouraged me to start collecting and pressing plants, to start a visual diary. I would never have thought of that but it’s something I now do and it’s helping me learn more about the bush here.
How do you bring Bullo River Station to life on your tours?
I get people involved by them participating, not just observing. It is so exciting to see people participate in a new experience, to see their excitement and enjoyment.
Why do you think it’s important that people learn about life on an outback cattle station?
Live cattle export has had some bad press so it’s important to show people how we manage our cattle, and the care and passion we have for healthy animals that are treated humanely. Guests can visit our yards and paddocks, there’s nothing hidden. It’s important that guests understand how cattle stations operate and see where their food comes from – in our instance, beef, fish and even bush tucker, plants that can allow people to live off the land.
If people wanted to find out more about life on Bullo River Station or the Top End are there any particular books, documentaries or websites you would recommend?
As the original owner, Sara Henderson’s biographies give a good history of Bullo River Station and her experiences in establishing the Station and Homestead.
I love wildlife books, and plant books, particularly that cover the Top End. Many have been to me recommended by guests – I find two really useful; Native Plants of Northern Australia by John Brock and A Guide to Wildlife and Protected Areas of the Top End by Linley McKay.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that hasn’t been covered by the questions already posed? I guess just the multi-faceted aspect of my job. Every day is varied – I could be down at the cattle yards in the morning and on a boat on the Bullo River in the afternoon and finish the day on a rock ledge overlooking the Victoria River at sunset. I’m also continuously learning, especially now that Bullo has a partnership with Australian Wildlife Conservancy, which is running several conservation and science projects on the property.
What’s your favourite Australian animal and why?
I have too many. Maybe Brolgas because I love how they dance, and they are so pretty when they fly.
What place is Australia’s best-kept secret?
Tasmania – home is where the heart is and the Tasman Peninsula in the south of Tasmania is just stunning scenery, with the rugged terrain and cliffs.
What haven’t you seen / done in Australia that you’d like to and why?
Diving at Lizard Island
Finally, how can people follow you on social media?
Imagine visiting a place so remote and so isolated that it’s like going back in time to pre-European days, where animals that have gone extinct elsewhere on mainland Australia thrive in uninterrupted peace. There is a wildlife sanctuary in the north west Kimberley that offers just this.
The sanctuary is home to more than 30 animal species that are found nowhere else in Australia. Being so inaccessible there is no accommodation and it is even difficult to get there by 4×4 which is what makes it such a special experience for those wanting to get off the beaten track. It plays s a vital role to play in protecting and restoring the endangered wildlife of northern Australia.
For philanthropic guests interested in conservation in Australia this is the experience of a lifetime. Within the sanctuary is a field research station, strategically positioned at the frontline in a battle to save some of Australia’s most endangered mammals from extinction.
Accessed by helicopter, guests would sleep in traditional Aussie swags and spend time with researchers in one of the most unique locations in the world.
Note that this experience would require a significant donation to the sanctuary in addition to the costs of the experience.
If this conservation experience appeals then please contact Alquemie to discuss what opportunities are available. This bespoke experience is by request only and at the discretion of the sanctuary.