Going Wild, The Luxurious Tiwi Island Retreat

A luxury that is defined by the remoteness of an ancient land and the simplicity of being in such a wild paradise.

Article by Georgia Hopkins

Tiwi Island Retreat.The pool is the epicentre of the resort due the fact that the ocean is the domain of the local crocodiles. Courtesy of The Tiwi Island Resort.

Halfway between Australia and East Timor, and just a short (but spectacular) 30-minute flight from Darwin in a tiny four-seater plane, lies beautifully remote Tiwi Island Retreat, perched on the south-western side of Bathurst Island.

Once a barramundi fishing lodge, the Tiwi Island Retreat was taken over by wildlife personality Matt Wright (of National Geographic’s Outback Wrangler) a few years ago. You would be hard pressed find an accommodation more remote than this.

The beauty of the retreat lies in its simplicity, the pristine nature of its setting and the quietness of the surrounding wilderness. This really is remote luxury at its finest. The retreat has 18 basic but stylish rooms, including nine queens, five twin-share and three family rooms because, unlike some island resorts, children are welcomed here.

All rooms have been recently refurbished but the ones to book are the Retreat Pool View Queen Rooms that overlook the 12-metre pool. While only small, it’s perfect for a dip given the sea is definitely out of bounds due to the local crocodiles. Bathrooms are a short walk away and are shared (there is only one each for women and one each for men). Short showers are encouraged among guests, as are refillable drink bottles (no single use plastic is permitted).

The food on offer is freshly cooked and unsurprisingly, local fish is a staple dish. Courtesy of The Tiwi Island Resort.

The staff at the retreat are one of the highlights of the experience. Laid-back and super friendly, it’s really like staying with mates. On arrival, “Robbo” met us at the tiny red dirt runway as our little plane touched down. Barefoot and super relaxed, he grabbed our bags and took us and them down to a little narrow jetty and on to a tinny. This little tin boat was our ride to the retreat through croc-infested mangroves.

As we pulled up to the retreat, it was “Claudia”, the resident crocodile, who was the first to greet us, before the very chatty and friendly “Siggy” met us on the beach with a buggy to collect our bags. He ran us through some of the safety precautions for the island (mainly, croc safety and falling coconuts), and then talked us through the menu for dinner that night. A super relaxed yet unforgettable way to arrive.

For somewhere as remote as this, the freshly cooked meals are surprisingly good. They are served in an air-conditioned dining area with communal tables and there is a distinct island vibe. Breakfasts are generally a mix of cold continental dishes, and for lunch and dinner, you can choose from a number of firm favourites (with fish being a big feature, of course).

If you have any luck fishing or mud crabbing during the day, you can choose to eat your catch for dinner that night. The food is simple but impressive given the retreat’s remoteness and the challenges faced in getting fresh food on to the island (food deliveries only come via plane a few times a week). Ice cold beers are served at the little “Great Northern Bar”, a covered deck bar next to the dining area overlooking the sea.

A sunset bonfire is a popular choice among guests. Courtesy of The Tiwi Island Resort.

Recommended excursions include visiting Tiwi Designs (one of Australia’s oldest and most diverse art centres), via a small plane to the other side of the island. There you’ll see ochre paintings on canvas and bark, ironwood carvings, screen-printed fabrics, ceramics and bronze and glass sculptures. Also on offer is a day out fishing with Robbo where you’ll learn all his secret fishing spots to find barramundi and mud crabs.

In the evening, the sunset beach buggy cruise (again with Robbo) will take you along an empty stretch of 4 Mile Beach passing casuarina trees, paperbark trees, turtle tracks, crocodile tracks, and lots of wildlife. There you’ll find a set-up picnic with a bulging cheese platter and chilled champagne, and a huge bonfire on the beach. With such stark beauty on offer, it’s clear that spending time on this island is not only a luxury, it is a privilege.


All packages for The Tiwi Island Retreat include flights from Darwin, boat transfers, all meals, buggy picnic and two three-hour fishing and mud-crabbing excursions.
Author, Georgia Hopkins, is the founder of travel platform, It’s Beautiful Here; she stayed at Five Acres as a guest of the hosts.