We’re all very envious of AT reader Tracey Brown, who stayed at the recently opened Wildman Wilderness Lodge in the Mary River Wetlands before anyone in the AT office had a chance to! We like to start planning for our next holiday as soon as the most recent one is finished. So I was very pleased to arrive home from a two-week holiday in the Northern Territory to find my April/May 2011 issue of Australian Traveller waiting for me. Even more exciting to read was your reference to the opening of Wildman Wilderness Lodge in the Mary River Wetlands, where we had just stayed. It is not often that we can say we were among the first – and certainly not the first – at a location that has attracted the attention of Australian Traveller.

In spite of booking months in advance, at one stage we thought we might not get there. The Arnhem Highway was blocked due to unseasonal rains and we were in only a two-wheel drive. We changed the order of our journey, travelling counterclockwise from Darwin instead of clockwise, and kept in touch with the staff at Wildman regarding the state of the Arnhem Highway and the private road access.
 
We made it to Wildman in the second week of April and… wow! The extended Big Wet had delayed the landscaping, and some of the leisure equipment had not arrived due to restrictions on heavy vehicles on the Arnhem Highway, but this did not detract in any way from the beautiful location, fabulous food and outstanding service.
 
Our welcome on arrival was like visiting friends. No standing at reception to fill in our registration forms; that was done with a drink in the lounge, after we had a chance to relax from our drive and flick through the wonderful coffee-table travel books. We had been tentatively booked into activities and all we had to do was say “yes” or “no”. Although check-in is officially 2pm, we arrived in time for lunch and dined on a wonderful array of local foods (at an extra cost, but with no pressure to participate). 
 
Not usually ones for the pool, we could not resist the beautiful infinity-edged pool with views out over the wetlands. A great place to relax, read, have a quiet drink and meet with other guests. Travelling from Ballarat, we were surprised to find that our fellow guests at the poolside were from Shepparton!
A sunset cruise on the billabong escorted by Benny, one of the traditional owners, was a wonderful end to the afternoon and prepared us for a fantastic dinner with the enjoyable company of other guests from both Australia and overseas.
 
The wildlife around the lodge was amazing – many wallabies and a big array of birds. Not to mention the resident crocodile (called Big Arse) which, thankfully, lives in the billabong rather than near the accommodation. 
 
The room was well-equipped with everything you could want for a luxurious, private night or more in the Outback: iPod docking station, comfortable chairs, air conditioning and ceiling fans, and a shower with a huge window designed to make you feel you are showering in the great outdoors (you can close the blind if you really feel you need to). There’s no television, and no internet or mobile phone access.
 
Sadly, we were only booked for one night and had to drag ourselves away late the next morning to move onto our next location. 
 
There are only two problems with staying at Wildman – having to leave, and the fact it makes the next accommodation experience seem second-rate.
It was our first holiday in the Northern Territory, but it won’t be our last. And next time we will have an extended stay at Wildman Wilderness Lodge.
Wildman Wilderness Lodge 
(08) 8978 8955 wildmanwildernesslodge.com.au 
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