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Australia’s Best Guides – Grace Mitchelson – Bullo River Station

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?
@gracemitchelson

Click here to find out more about Australian travel with Alquemie

REMOTE OUTBACK ADVENTURE TOP END, KIMBERLEY & NINGALOO

Alquemie is very pleased to announce its first small group air safari for clients who would like to experience Australia’s remote outback by private air charter over 16 incredible days in May 2019.

Starting in Darwin, this air safari takes just 8 guests to far flung locations like Kakadu and Arnhem Land, the Bungle Bungles, Mitchell Falls, Ningaloo Reef and much more.  Accommodation ranges from luxury lodges to remote rustic beach camps with incredible experiences.

This small group hosted air safari is perfect for couples who wish to meet like minded people or for those that wish to see this incredible part of Australia by charter flight but would prefer to share the air costs.

With just 8 places we expect this tour to sell out quickly.

View the full itinerary here. 

 

16 DAY HOSTED SMALL GROUP AIR SAFARI BY PRIVATE JET
Dates: 13 – 28 MAY 2019

Highlights

Meet and engage with traditional Aboriginal elders, a modern day urban Indigenous chef and Aboriginal artists living in a remote and restricted community near abundant rock art galleries.

See Australia’s spectacular outback and coastal scenery by air, land, and water with expert guides and local, authentic characters leading you to magical spots in the middle of nowhere.

Discover the wealth of Australia’s unique wildlife.

Swim with whale sharks, the ocean’s gentle giants, in the pristine turquoise waters of Ningaloo Reef.

Stay at exclusive wilderness locations chosen for their breadth of interesting experiences including a bush campsite in the heart of Kakadu, a working cattle station, a cliff-top retreat on 700,000 acres of stunning outback, an award-wining rustic seaside camp accessible only by air or sea, and a desert-meets-the-ocean luxury tented camp.

Matt Wright Outback Wrangler – Australia’s Best Guides

Private Outback Wrangler Top End Adventure

Matt Wright is one of Australia’s fastest growing icons and the star of National Geographic’s hit TV Show Outback Wrangler. He’s an authentic Aussie character who loves to show off the hidden magic in the landscapes and wildlife of his back yard – the Top End of Australia.

He spends most of his time on cattle stations where he musters cattle, flies his helicopters, rounds up brumbies and catches and relocates some of the biggest saltwater crocodiles in the world. He has a passion for adventure and loves fishing for barramundi and exploring the floodplains of the Northern Territory on his airboats.

Guests of Alquemie are invited on a private Outback Wrangler Top End Adventure, tailored to include any or all of the following:

  • Helifishing
  • Deep Sea Fishing
  • Crocodile Encounters
  • Barramundi and Sail Fishing
  • Airboating
  • Helicopter Adventures
  • Waterfalls and Swimming Holes
  • Jet skiing
  • Crabbing
  • Bird Watching
  • Sunset River Cruises

Trips can incorporate a range of these thrilling modes of transport: Robinson R44 Helicopters • Robinson R66 Helicopters • AS350 Luxury Helicopters • High Speed Catamaran Boat • Small and Large Airboats • Large River Cruise Boat • Jet skis • Off Road Buggies

Salt water crocodile

 

An example of a day with Matt might include:

  • Relaxing river cruise along the pristine rainforest waters teaming with aqua life, water birds including the majestic Muk Muk (white bellied sea eagle) and of course the local crocs and Matt’s favourite croc, Bone Cruncher.
  • Monsoonal rainforest tour onboard custom built airboats where your guests will weave their way through the wetlands and tall timbered swamps, encountering more of the NT’s most unique wildlife; including some of biggest crocs and the smallest of the kingfisher (Little Kingfisher) – only a keen eye will be able to spot this one!
  • Helicopter scenic flights above the Finniss River floodplains to witness the true beauty of the surrounding landscape.
  • Fresh BBQ Barramundi or local steak lunch enjoyed on floating pontoons
  • Live feed show of Matt’s pet croc, a 17ft prehistoric beast named ‘Tripod.’

Or a day’s helifishing…

  •  Fly out of Darwin and down to the floodplains of the Finniss River system where you will land for your first crack at landing a barramundi.
  • Stop off at up to four locations in this region and fish the remote waterways that are only accessible by helicopter.
  • Beachside lunch at the open-air deck of Crab Claw Island Resort. Choose from the selection of delicious meals on their menu or bring your catch from the morning and the talented Chef will cook it to your liking.
  • It’s back in the helicopters and back to the beautiful floodplains where you will have the opportunity to board custom built airboats and explore the monsoonal rainforests which are teaming with wildlife.
  • Visit to ‘Tripod’, Matt’s 17ft pet saltwater crocodile, for an up close encounter with this prehistoric animal. Back in the choppers and its another quick stop for a fish and a hit out of crabbing before heading home.

For an insight into Matt, watch this 60 minutes video.

Talk to your Alquemie Advisor about tailoring a Top End adventure with Matt Wright, the Outback Wrangler.

Bamurru Plains – Luxury Lodges of Australia

Bamurru Plains, a Luxury Lodges in Australia’s Top End is one of the most stunning destinations in Australia. A profusion of bird and wildlife are on the doorstep of this unique bush lodge that brings a touch of style to the discovery of a remote and beautiful wilderness. We talked to the manager of Bamurru Plains to find out more.

Tell us a little bit about Bamurru Plains and what makes it so unique beyond great food, great wine and a very comfortable place to sleep?

Bamurru Plains is located on a 303sq klm pastoral property just to the west of Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory of Australia. With approx. 1/3 of this property being floodplain and with a saltwater river system and coastline as part of its boundaries the property boasts a huge amount of wildlife and different eco systems all with their own unique story to tell.

The Kingfisher Suite at Bamurru Plains
The Kingfisher Suite at Bamurru Plains

How is Bamurru Plains pushing the boundaries in guest experiences?

I would like to think it is through the deliverance of the experience to the guests. You are not just a spectator on the tour where you simply take photos of a magnificent landscape. It is through the guided experience where guests get to touch, smell, visualise and hear the stories of the environment so that they can take away knowledge as well.

What’s a recent (last 6 months) innovation at Bamurru Plains?

We have recently purchased seven Yamaha Grizzly quad bikes for our guests. It allows us to get into areas of the property which our safari vehicles cannot access, which form a guided experience is something unique, but it also allows the guest to be in control of their own machine which has been a winner with the guests.

What activity should guests not miss during their stay at Bamurru Plains?

An airboat tour across the floodplains (weather permitting).

Best dining experience at Bamurru Plains?

It has to be the communal dining experience which we do for every meal at Bamurru Plains. To me I think one of the key fundamental social issues is people do not communicate face to face anymore. Everywhere you look in the cities it is people communicating by phones etc. Whereas at Bamurru people are dining in what I believe to be the true outback way….together at one big table swapping stories of their travels and making in some cases lifelong friendships.

Please describe a typical guest at Bamurru Plains.

There is absolutely nothing typical about our guests. Everyone who stays here has a particular interest and it is up to us as the hosts to find what that is. Similar to our environment it changes daily and so do our guests.

Is Bamurru Plains child friendly?

Yes from 8 years old and above. Some great experiences for kids are doing a quad bike tour with their parents, swimming in the edge pool, an airboat tour across the floodplain or a river cruise spotting the resident saltwater crocodiles.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Yes…..see you all soon!

Click here to find out more about Australian travel with Alquemie

 

Australia’s Best Guides – Sab Lord | Kakadu and Arnhem Land

Sab Lord is a larger than life character, and has been hosting guests in the Top End for 16 years. Sab grew up in the area that is now Kakadu and Arnhem Land and has a rather unique relationship with many local Aboriginal people. We interviewed Sab Lord to find out a little more about him…

Please explain a little bit about who you are and what you do?

I am a tour guide in the Northern Territory of Australia, I was born on a crocodile/buffalo station called Munmalary near the South Alligator River, I have been guiding for 25 years after working as a Jackaroo and bull catcher, managing stations in The Kimberley.  I also played the best game in the world – rugby union.  I grew up surrounded by Aboriginal people and their children were my playmates in an environment where you had to make decisions for yourself – unlike today.

What got you started with your passion and what do you find most interesting about it?

I loved learning about our environment and explaining the difference to visitors about Aboriginal People and how they live.

How do you bring Australia to life on your tours?

I speak my mind – I am not politically correct but with age comes wisdom so I enjoy discussing the environment and how humans impact it.

Why do you think it’s important that people learn about the Australian environment?

Because its where we live!  People now have lost the understanding of living in the bush, now that so many people live and work in cities they have become very out of touch with nature.

If people wanted to find out more about the Australian environment are there any particular books, documentaries or websites you would recommend?

I love environmental warriors!  I support The Sea Shepherd and Wildlife At Risk. I often recommend a book called The Future Eaters by Tim Flannery. Also Carl Warburton’s book Buffalos – Adventures in Arnhemland and The Green Eyes Are The Buffalos by Alan Stewart.

What’s your favourite Australian animal and why?

Wallabies, because of their freedom of movement at a quick pace.

What place is Australia’s best-kept secret?

Arnhem Land

What haven’t you seen / done in Australia that you’d like to and why?

Tasmania, to see the wildlife.

Finally, how can people follow you on social media?

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/lordssafarisnt/

Twitter – @lordssafarisnt

 

Click here to find out more about Australian travel with Alquemie