The Rozak House

 

If you can imagine a veranda hovering over a rocky cliff face high amongst the trees – you’ve just pictured the Rozak House.

Located on a secluded 60 acre block of bushland at Lake Bennett, 80 kilometres south of Darwin, the Rozak House was the vision of retired Microsoft software engineer, Mike Rozak.

He bought the land in 1999 after he fell in love with the raw, unspoilt natural beauty of the Northern Territory and lived in the Rozak House until he sadly passed away in 2013.

Rozak worked with local firm, Troppo Architects, to design the award-winning house and deliver his dream of a home that truly blurs the line between “inside” and “outside”. The result, a house that epitomises tropical living with three separate, elevated pavilions connected by slatted timber decking.

“Mike relished the remoteness of his house, its glorious seclusion and fantastic views,” says Tony Rozak, Mike’s father.

“He loved to share his house. His doors were always open to the local wildlife and to his friends.”

Perched more than 60 metres high above the Lake, you can’t see the house from the main road. In fact, it’s so hidden, only glimpses of its tin roof can be caught through the trees as you approach via a steep driveway.

Only recently the house has been listed on Airbnb, with Mike’s family keen to see his legacy of sustainable living (the house is completely off the grid) and love for the natural environment and wildlife embraced and shared.

And while Mike famously slept only in hammocks, queen beds have been added for guests. Some hammocks still remain though – perfect for curling back with a good book.

The first thing we noticed about the Rozak House was: there are no walls.

Instead, insect mesh and louvered windows from floor to ceiling provide sweeping views of the surrounding bush down to the Lake below. They also keep thing nice and breezy (there were ceiling fans but we didn’t need to use them).

After being bathed in the most incredible golden light in the “living” pavilion, we enjoyed a glass of red, feet up, totally relaxed as the sun set.

Even the shower is connected to the outdoors here, with insect-mesh walls and timber slat flooring.

And those lack of walls make for a pretty incredible sight come sunrise.

From the eastern bedroom pavilion, we watched from our beds as the sky caught fire, casting an ethereal glow over the tree-tops.

According to his family, Mike Rozak referred to his home as a “thinking house”.

And, after witnessing THAT view, there was only one thought on our minds.

Total Bliss.

 

More info:

www.rozak.com

Book via Airbnb here

Gorge-ous Girls Weekend

There’s something about Nitmiluk National Park that keeps drawing us back. Girlfriends in tow.

Maybe it’s that feeling you get when you swap the city for the open road, or that first sight of the Gorge soaring up into the sky.

It defiantly could be that taste of a cocktail in the Cicada Lodge pool on a 41 degree day.

Or the colours of a bush sunset, watched with your besties by your side.

All of the above are on the menu during our Gorge-ous Girls Weekend at the delightful Cicada Lodge, where all worries are forgotten the moment a mango-flavoured welcome cocktail slides down your throat. It’s like liquid gold on a seriously hot day.

Even Mother Nature got the Girls Weekend memo.

The sky lighting up the prettiest shade of pink as we end a day of cocktails, canapés and river cruising with a sunset hike to Baruwei Lookout.

Thankfully, our Girls Weekend late checkout means after a luxe brekkie by the pool we can head off on our fav thing to do at Nitmiluk: Hike to Pat’s Lookout.

Having last visited bang-on the middle of the Wet Season, we were blown away by how different the landscape looked. Everything a rusty orange.

With no river crossings to manoeuvre, we “power-walked” the 8.5km return trek in around 1hour 45 minutes. #GirlPower

And much like the bush hike was a welcome change of scenery from slogging it out in the gym, our Girls Weekend at Cicada Lodge was a refreshing change of pace from everyday life.

And maybe that’s the thing.

The thing that keeps us coming back.

 

More info on Cicada Lodge’s Gorge-ous Girls Weekend here.

Darwin Heli-Pub Crawl

Beer. Helicopters. More beer. It’s no wonder you’ll find the Darwin Heli-Pub Tour at the top of even most locals’ bucket list.

This local included.

So, when we recently had the opportunity to tick it off ours, naturally we headed straight to Delaney’s and bought a new akubra just for the occasion.

When you’re about to go on the most outback tour imaginable – hey, you gotta look the part!

So, Akubra in hand we belt up for our three-pub tour (there’s also the option of visiting five pubs), which starts with a scenic flight to the first stop: Crab Claw Island.

The fly over is a feast for the eyes with incredible views over Darwin Harbour, its vivid blues flowing in twists and turns through luscious green mangroves.

Crab Claw Island Resort is nestled on a peaceful stretch of beach and offers a typical Territory style pub where you can unwind under the palm trees and savour that first beer of the day.

After soaring over vast bush land and mountains of termite mounds, we land at pub number two: Darwin River Tavern.

This place oozes outback, from the timber walls to pet buffaloes, but the menu is surprisingly extensive.

Fresh barramundi and wagyu beef burgers were washed down with yet more beer before it was time to head to the third and final pub: Goat Island Lodge.

This place is folklore in the Top End so we were itching to see it for ourselves.

If you’re not aware of the backstory, Goat Island, situated in the middle of the crocodile infested Adelaide River, is owned by Dutchman Kai “Happy” Hansen and it’s population is: 1.

Well, that’s if you don’t count Kai’s crazy dog “Hotdog” or pet crocodile ***eeeeep!

King Kai, as he prefers to be called, has an open bar policy, loves beer and a laugh and is THE most Territory bloke you will ever meet.

On Goat Island the pace is slow, the yarns are long and strangers quickly become friends.

So take your time, it is a pub “crawl” after all.

 

Darwin Heli-Pub Tour:

Airborne Solutions

 

Kakadu

With the Dry Season now well and truly underway, a weekend pilgrimage to Kakadu is as popular in Darwin as a market fresh mango smoothie for breakfast (NB: VERY popular).

Fortunately, our recent trip to the National Park was during the week so we were able to beat most of the crowds that flock here for a smorgasbord of Lion King-like landscapes, crystal-clear swimming holes, ancient Aboriginal rock art, magical sunsets and star gazing at the Milky Way.

About a three hour drive from Darwin, our base for discovering Kakadu was Cooinda Lodge, where I can honestly say I experienced some of the best service of my life!

Our Cooinda stay kicked off with the Yellow Waters Sunrise Cruise, which not surprisingly delivered an epic sunrise that cast an incredible golden light over everything – including the crocodiles! And there were plenty of those, as well as the most gorgeous water lilies and an abundance of bird life.

Out trip continued with a walk through Nourlangie Rock, home to some of Kakadu’s most iconic Aboriginal rock art, followed by sunset at the nearby Nawurlandja Lookout. This was the perfect spot to watch the colours of the mammoth Nourlangie Rock change with the sky. It was also a deeply spiritual experience with Nawurlandja an official sacred site home to burial grounds of the local Aborigianal people who lived there for 20,000 years.

The highlight of the trip was definitely Maguk Gorge. While the popular swimming hole wasn’t open to the public just yet, we were lucky enough to receive an escorted tour by local Park ranges to the top of the waterfall where we had several plunge pools and waterfalls to ourselves all afternoon!

It’s no wonder #KakadaDope became the official hashtag of our little road trip!

 

Girls Weekend at Cicada Lodge

A luxury weekend escape and a wet and wild adventure don’t normally go hand in hand but that’s what we got from our recent girls weekend at Cicada Lodge in Nitmiluk National Park.

A four hour drive from Darwin, Nitmiluk is normally packed with tourists during the Top End’s “Dry Season” (aka May-October) but it’s during the Wet Season where you’ll have way more fun.

Think: Mother Nature’s version of a water park.

100 per cent owned by the local Jawoyn people, Cicada Lodge is a luxury lodge perched above Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge, where the ancient dreamtime culture of the Jawoyn collide with contemporary comforts.

Indigenous paintings from local artists line the walls of the elegant rooms, which all contain private balconies that open out to the tranquil bush surroundings.

Our girls weekend kicks off with a River Cruise run by Nitmiluk Tours.

The two-hour cruise takes in two of the Gorges (there are 13 all up!) and you change boats at one point where the water is not high enough to connect the gorges. The benefit of doing this tour during the Wet Season (Nov-April) is dotted along the 12km maze of waterways you’ll find dozens of mini waterfalls springing out from hidden holes on the 70m high rock face.

After our river cruise we return to Cicada Lodge in time for sunset canapés and cocktails by the pool before a three course dinner (complete with personalised menus!) inspired by local bush tucker.

Yes, crocodile meat makes an appearance while other dishes we had included a damper-style tomato and blue cheese ciabatta, braised kangaroo served with a truffle, parmesan and pomme puree, pan fried chicken breast served with asparagus, pea risotto and roast vine tomatoes and red velvet brownie served with cream cheese Chantilly and red chocolate ice-cream. Yuuuuuuuuum!

Tip: make sure you get the “Katherine Cooler” cocktail, as the name suggests it’s the perfect refreshment after a hot day on the river.

After falling asleep to the pitter-patter of rain on our roof, we wake up to find everything fresh and dewy. Speaking of fresh, our breakfast comes with some of the best OJ you’ll ever taste as well as seasonal fruit, yoghurt and a DIY-style croissant with meat and cheese.

Once we’ve had breakfast we hit the walking track early for the 90min hike to the Southern Rockhole – a waterfall and swimming hole located around 4km from the Lodge.

For those who don’t like to walk you can also book a ferry through the Visitor Centre (we booked the ferry back it’s $12 p/p) however, the hike itself is relatively easy with the track well-marked.

There’s just one thing. In the Wet Season, that track we mentioned? It actually resembles more of a stream in some areas especially if you go after a heavy overnight downpour like we did.

But getting down and dirty is what coming to Nitmiluk in the Wet Season is all about. So get your shoes wet, splash in puddles, soak in the lush green landscapes and embrace the adventure.

Those creek crossings are all worth it when you get to ‘Pat’s Lookout’ which is a short walk from the Southern Rockhole track turnoff. The views over the Gorge from here are simply breathtaking. Sit, stand and take it all in before snapping that Insta pic that will make all your friends jealous.

Not to be outdone, the Southern Rockhole is equally as spectacular. Powered by the rain, a huge torrent of water cascades into the pool below which you will practically have to yourself as crowds are non-existent this time of year.

With so much water around you, it’s hard to believe in the Dry Season the Rockhole is empty!

After the short ferry ride back to the Visitor Centre we squeeze in one last swim in Cicada’s luxurious pool and take in the incredible views before it’s time to say goodbye, or as the Jawoyn prefer to say “Bobo”, which means “Goodbye, see you soon”.

Yes, yes you will.

More info: http://www.cicadalodge.com.au/

**Check road and parks closures during the Wet Season before you leave here.

Staycation @ Hilton Darwin

The “Staycation” trend is here to stay (pun unintended!). So, in the name of “research” we recently had the tough job of experiencing a little weekend getaway at the Hilton Darwin.

Perched on the 20th floor, our Executive Room offered sweeping views of Darwin Harbour.

But, Robe Life would have to wait as our first order of relaxation on this little staycation was High Tea at the hotel’s Mitchell’s Bar on the ground floor.

A relatively new product for Hilton Darwin, the High Tea included a bottle of Chandon Brut sparkling (yesssssssssssssss) and three plates with generous servings (NB: do not have lunch beforehand, we found the servings very substantial and struggled to finish all the sweets!).

The savory plate featured tasty finger sandwiches on either multi-grain or brown bread (who said High Tea couldn’t be #HealthLiving?!) with fillings including fresh smoked salmon with cream cheese and capers, grilled vegetables and turkey with mustard and pickles.

The second plate was easily our fav – scones with jam, cream and strawberries… soooooo yum! The final plate included a section of sweet treats think chocolate éclairs, macaroons, banana cake and strawberries.

The Hilton Darwin has recently undergone an extensive $10 million refurbishment and you could really tell with 5-star luxury at every corner as well as 5-star service too. The lovely staff from the High Tea even sent takeaway coffees back to our room as well as the left over champers.

An early morning swim at the hotel’s pool on the 10th floor over-looking the Darwin skyline was the perfect start to our lazy Sunday which was followed up by a delicious buffet breakfast at Mitchell’s Grill which to our delight included espresso coffee.

It was a tough job this research, so what was our verdict?

The only bad thing about a staycation is the check-out.

 

More Information:

Hilton Darwin’s Weekend High Tea – $60 per person, includes a bottle of Chandon Brut or $25 per person for standard inclusion (without the sparkling)

Available each weekend from 11am to 4pm.

Booking details – ph: (08) 89824155 or email: Mitchells_Restaurant_Darwin@hilton.com

www.darwin.hilton.com

 

Amazing Arnhem Land

A friend described Arnhem Land as God’s Country and turns out she wasn’t wrong. It is quite simply, spectacular. You might even say heavenly.

Arnhem Land is where the outback meets the sea. Think red dirt roads blending into white, sandy beaches where aqua waters lap the shore. Oh, and chances are there is not another soul in sight.

Not kidding.

Pristine and untouched are not just words you throw around here. This place defines them.

The photos above are from the campsite at Garanhan (Macassan Beach), which is in north east Arnhem Land 37.5 km or around a 40 minute drive from Nhulunbuy (Gove) along a sandy 4WD track. Gove is an easy 90 min flight from Darwin and you can hire 4WD at Gove airport. There are toilets at the campsite but bring your own drinking water and you must pre-arrange a permit to camp there.

The campsite is set right on the beach and perfectly placed to watch the sunrise. We were lucky enough to be treated to a special Yolngu cultural performance by Lirrwi Tourism at sunset, which was truly magical.

The Yolngu people are the Traditional Owners of the land and are only now opening up more of these special places to tourism so check it out. You’ll see it’s paradise, just without the people.

 

More info:

Permits to Macassan Beach have to be arranged before you go there through Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation.

More information about Arnhem Land here.