There are many new-aged travellers who have taken a liking for glamping – glamorous camping is what it really means. For those who are seeking an adventure in the wild while staying in your comfort zone, Wildman Wilderness Lodge is the destination for you to embrace the wilderness without compromising on the modern lodging standards.
The highlights include making friends with wild wallabies roaming just at the foot of our lodge, cruising along the billabong to look for wild crocodiles, popping champagne while watching the beautiful sunset, and taking an airboat across the wetlands. Tourism Northern Territory kindly arranged the stay as part of our itinerary to explore Darwin, we went there with zero expectations and we were blown away by the experience.
Just less than two hours’ drive from Darwin, Wildman Wilderness Lodge is a small property with 10 air-conditioned cabins (habitats) and 15 safari tents. It operates for about 9 months a year – opens its door on the Easter weekend, and closes in November during the wet season. What makes Wildman Wilderness Lodge so special is its goal is to help the indigenous people by hiring them as employees, re-educate and integrate them into society. Without this, structural unemployment of indigenous people would rise as they may not be able to adapt to the changing Australian job market.
“One of the main challenges for Wildman is helping our indigenous staff settle down. We currently have two of them working for us, and we are looking to increase the number slowly but surely,” Wildman’s General Manager Jason Yule told us. “You have to understand that most of them have not worked in a society before, and they have very little interaction with people outside of their tribes,” he continued.
Besides having cultural awareness training for the staff, Jason also understands the Aboriginal culture fairly well – his team and him are always there to offer peer support and guidance for the indigenous staff. Small efforts like these to value every worker by redesigning the working environment help the indigenous workers integrate into the team. By understanding what drives each worker and how to communicate with him, Jason could increase the efficiency and productivity of each staff.
Jason’s comprehensive knowledge of the property not only ensures that daily operations run smoothly, but they are also vital for the safety of the staff and guests. In order to make the working environment easier, smarter, and safer (exactly what NTUC has been saying back at home) Wildman emphasises on staff welfare and safety. One example is having clear standard operating procedures – including the daily need to put on non-slip shoes to facilitate proper walking within the compound, and to wear hats, sunscreen and insect repellants to stay protected and free from bites.
We noticed another example of staff welfare just as we were chatting with Jason, when we spotted the housekeeping staff going around in a red truck to clean the lodges, and Jason told us that because the Wildman staff are constantly exposed to the sun, they cannot have them pushing the usual housekeeping trolley around. With that in mind, they were given special trucks so as to make it easier to drive from one lodge to another to do their routines. Also, every truck is stocked with ample supply of iced water, so that the staff can refresh themselves in between chores – to stay hydrated and well. It struck us that such a simple thought to staff welfare can make the staff happier and more alive, and this is such a basic thing that we should put more emphasis on in Singapore.
Given that Wildman is located in the wild, there are certain issues to deal with – like the potential threat of wild animals, and natural disasters such as bushfires and cyclones.
Besides having refresher courses and drills for the staff on how to use the equipments in the event of disasters, Wildman conducts trainings to familiarise themselves with the local areas, and the proper ways to handle wild animals – like buffaloes, snakes, wild boars, and crocodiles – in the event of emergencies. Our trip on the Home Billabong Cruise (A$60/adult, A$40/child) exemplifies this.
When we were cruising along the billabong looking for wild crocodiles, we were very impressed by the staff. He is very experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to his sitting posture, the impact of his movement, his control over the vehicle, and the various reactions should guests onboard accidentally gestured or alerted the crocodiles. Even though we were riding on a small boat in a river infested with crocodiles, we felt very safe throughout the journey.
There are several activities that you can partake when staying at Wildman, and the Leichhardt Point Sundowners Tour (A$65/Adult, A$40/Child) is one of them. Enjoy a slow drive through forests and along the edge of the billabong to Leichhardt Point to watch the beautiful sunset while having a glass of champagne and canapés.
Another highlight was taking a ride on an airboat (A$165/pax for a 45 min) in the wetlands. The airboat, for the uninitiated, is a flat-bottomed vessel propelled by an aircraft-type propeller, and its flat-bottomed design allows it to venture into marshy and shallow areas where the standard boats/cruises are not able to go. It was a fantastic experience and I would highly recommend you to try it.
As mentioned earlier, there are two types of accommodations at Wildman. For those who seek adventures in style, the safari tents offer a luxe camping experience.
Located on the other end of the resort are the air-conditioned habitats, which are well-furnished and superbly-designed. These are perfect for couples that are seeking a romantic getaway.
We also had the chance to sneak into the restaurant’s kitchen to pick up cooking tips and the use of native ingredients from Chef Dean.
Granted, it is not cheap to stay at Wildman Wilderness Lodge. But how often do you get the chance to be out in the wild, yet stay in a very comfortable and luxurious accommodation? Wildman Wilderness Lodge offers an out-of-this-world experience.
Wildman Wilderness Lodge
Tel: +61 8 8978 8955
This post is in conjunction with ladyironchef x Labour Movement Project.
For more recommendations, read our guide on 10 Things to do in Darwin.