A Journey Woven in Time
From your tented lodge, in a remote and restricted area of Kakadu, we will learn the skills of collecting pandanus and preparing the fibres for dyeing, before weaving our very own masterpiece. And in between our weaving workshops we will swim in cool rock pools (crocs permitting!), walk through wetlands and discover hidden creeks, waterfalls and view Aboriginal art that is seldom seen. We will cruise the scenically spectacular East Alligator River, wander beneath the sandstone cliffs of Arnhem Land, tour Injalak Arts – the non-profit Aboriginal owned social enterprise, and we will end each day witnessing spectacular sunsets, with a glass of wine in hand, before delicious dinners beneath a star studded territory sky.
This nine day journey delves into Dreamtime, offers a rare insight into traditional indigenous art & provides the opportunity to discover the delights of Darwin – from the thriving waterfront and hidden treasures of the city to the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets where fire twirlers, musicians and street performers will entertain.
Be humbled by extraordinarily beautiful landscapes and enjoy a meaningful travel experience as we connect with Australian Indigenous culture. You will return home infinitely richer for having spent time with likeminded ladies and wonderful weaving women.
Due to Bininj cultural restrictions this exclusive departure is only open to women.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers please note that the content may contain the images and names of people who have passed.
You will love
- Kakadu & Arnhem Land adventure
- Indigenous weaving workshop
- Iconic landscapes
- An array of activities
- Cultural immersion
- All inclusive & rare opportunity
- Small group departure
9 UNFORGETTABLE DAYS
DAY 1 | DARWIN | 2 NIGHTS | THE OAKS ELAN
Darwin is world famous for its fabulous food, colourful outdoor markets and a diverse range of activities.
On arrival in the Territory’s tropical capital city we will be met and privately transferred to The Oaks Elan Hotel with views of the tropical city, Darwin Harbour and Frances Bay.
Ideally positioned in the heart of Darwin the Oaks Elan Hotel is just minutes from the Darwin Waterfront precinct and in the midst of the city’s dining, entertainment and shopping hub. The Oaks Elan rooms are spacious and stylish with unbeatable views of the surrounding city and ocean. Alongside the guest rooms the hotel also offers an outdoor lap pool, well-equipped gym and their on-site restaurant opens daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
On checking in the early afternoon is at leisure to settle in before we
rendezvous for a transfer to the oh-so-funky Darwin Waterfront where we take a stroll before enjoying a Welcome Cocktail at Wharf One Food & Wine over-looking the lagoon.
Later we will sit down to dine, alfresco, on a wood-fired tapas menu – delighting in small bites such as wood-grilled SA squid with smoked hummus and lemon; wood-fired prawns with radish salad and chilli jam; followed by NT barramundi with miso and pickled daikon (or similar).
DAY 2 | DARWIN
Enjoy breakfast in The O.A.K. (Original Australian Kitchen) within the hotel this morning before we head out on a 2 hour Guided Heritage Walk.
Escorted by an expert guide we will gain a local’s insight, and enjoy an informative commentary, on the WWII bombings, Cyclone Tracy, the Overland Telegraph Line, the 1800s gold rush, Aboriginal culture and ‘Australia’ the movie; before travelling to East Point Reserve.
Popular with both locals and visitors alike, East Point Reserve is famous for offering safe year-round saltwater, ‘stinger-free’ swimming, military history and uninterrupted views of Darwin and Fannie Bay. And it is famous for Pee Wee’s at the Point where we will dine on some of the finest food you’ll experience in the Top End. You wont be able to resist Coffin Bay Oysters, Soft Shell Crab or oven-baked wild-caught NT saltwater barramundi!
We will return to The Oaks Elan Hotel for an afternoon siesta before heading to the famous Mindil Beach Sunset Markets. Local markets are a big part of Darwin’s personality and the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets provide us with the opportunity to treat ourselves, or find the perfect gift, among stalls of art and craft before enjoying fire twirlers, musicians and street performers and sampling international cuisine from some 60 food stalls – Sri Lankan, Turkish, Greek, Cambodian, Japanese – to eat on the beach before we head for home. After lunch today, dinner this evening is for your own account so you can eat as much, or as little, as you desire.
DAY 3 | KAKADU NATIONAL PARK | 4 NIGHTS | HAWK WILDERNESS DREAMING LODGE
After breakfast this morning we depart for one of Australia’s most majestic natural wonderlands, Kakadu National Park, registered as a World Heritage Area. This is a timeless place of extraordinary ecological and biological diversity that supports an astonishing array of endemic plants and animals. The unique tropical environment encompasses eight distinct habitats including deep shaded woodlands, stunningly beautiful rock formations, towering sandstone escarpments, monsoon vine forests, lowland savannas, broad floodplain, deep gorges, tumbling waterfalls and mangrove-covered tidal flats. It has been home to more than 19 traditional-owner clan groups, known as Bininj, for more than 65,000 years and showcases a spectacular collection of Aboriginal rock art.
Our first stop on entering Kakadu National Park is the Bowali (pronounced Bor-Warl-ee) Visitor Centre west of Jabiru where there are interpretative displays that will provide a deeper understanding of this fascinating landscape the people and the flora and fauna of the region.
We will then delve into the landscape for a first-hand encounter, bound for Hawk Dreaming Wilderness Lodge. This is our home for the next four nights – ‘glamping’ in tents complete with comfortable twin beds, a full bathroom, storage space and a small deck. With canvas and fly screens for walls there is little between us and the tranquil sounds of nature.
Hawk Dreaming Wilderness Lodge is located in an exclusive and restricted area of Kakadu National Park, an extremely special and justifiably renowned part of Kakadu, known as Cannon Hill. The area is abundant in wildlife, especially bird and marine life, and is where Kakadu’s diverse landscape elements come together. Cannon Hill is a registered sacred site with the sandstone outliers around Cannon Hill hosting significant rock art dating back many thousands of years. The lodge is owned and managed by the traditional land owners and features just 12 ensuite safari tents complete with comfortable twin beds with crisp linen, a light, fan, bedside table and a small verandah. We are warmly welcomed into camp by our hosts before travelling to a stunning sandstone escarpment to watch our first spectacular sunset over the wetlands. We will return to camp for a delicious evening meal, accompanied by fine wine, beneath a blanket of stars before retiring to the comfort of our tented safari cabin in preparation for our heart warming cultural immersion in the days ahead.
DAY 4-6 | KAKADU NATIONAL PARK | WEAVING WORKSHOP
This morning we awake in this ancient and powerful landscape. After breakfast we will meet Anita Nayinggul of the Manilikarr clan, our chief weaving instructor, along with theincredible women who will generously welcome us into their lives, onto their land and who will share with us their knowledge and the weaving skills that have been handed down through generations.
WEAVING WORKSHOP CONTINUED
Every day will be negotiated between us, the balanda (white) women, and the Manilikarr women. There is no pre-set itinerary.
Our teaching will be conducted as it has been done for thousands of years in traditional Aboriginal communities. Together we will harvest fibre from the Pandanus tree and strip the plant in preparation for dyeing and weaving. We will forage for sand palm and other natural dyes –Wirdlwirdl (the red bulb of Haemadorum breviculae grass) for brown, Windilk (the seeds of the Haemodorum Coccineum plant, related to Kangaroo Paw) for pink, Mandjurndum (the bright orange roots of the Pognolobus reticulatus bush) for yellow and ashes from burnt bark for red – all the while also learning their traditional culinary (‘bush tucker’) or medicinal purposes.
We will grind and pound the plant matter on rocks as the ladies avidly chatter in their language before boiling the Pandanus leaves in the variety of colours we create. Then together we will sit, we will observe the women’s techniques, learn some local language and we will begin to weave under the watchful, smiling eyes of the women, guided by their experienced, strong hands. And all the while we will share stories, we will listen and we will laugh.
When we are not weaving we explore Kakadu National Park. Crocs permitting (!) we will swim in cool rock pools, enjoy daily Sunset Safaris, walk through wetlands and discover hidden creeks, waterfalls and seldom seen Aboriginal art.
We will enjoy a Guluyambi Cultural Cruise – the acclaimed unique boat cruise that operates on the scenically spectacular East Alligator River which separates Kakadu National Park and Arnhem Land. We will take in the wonderful pristine wilderness of this World Heritage landscape and culture as we leisurely cruise up stream. An Aboriginal guide will provide us with an insight into their culture, local mythology, the river’s abundant food chain, traditional uses for many plants and animals as well as bush survival skills. We have the opportunity to disembark on the Arnhem Land side of the river – one of the most remote regions in all of Australia.
We will also tour the Injalak Arts and Crafts Centre – a non-profit Aboriginal owned social enterprise, in Gunbalanya where we can watch the local artists painting and weaving and, if you wish, we can purchase artworks direct from the Art Centre benefiting the artists living in remote communities.
Each night we will sit back, glass of wine in hand, around the fire beneath a star bright territory sky.
DAY 7 | DARWIN | 2 NIGHTS | THE OAKS ELAN
On our final morning in Kakadu the women will take us to a site for women’s business only. They will call to the spirits and we will bid farewell to the ancestors. Returning to the lodge we will pack up and begin our return journey to Darwin, saying our goodbyes, tinged with sadness but also with gratitude for all our weaving guides have shared; and happy in the knowledge that we have empowered them by attending this weaving workshop so that they can continue to work on their own land and bring up their children and grandchildren in a safe environment, with pride in their own culture.
Arriving in Darwin we trade in tradition for fresh and vibrant accommodation in the city. This evening is at leisure. You are welcome to band together for dinner or you may prefer to take a swim, indulge in the spa and dine in. The choice is yours now that we are ‘back in the big smoke’.
DAY 8 | DARWIN
Today we will attend the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF) a prestigious event that is one of the most significant festivals showcasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts in the world. There is a range of artistic styles, mediums and products on display including: paintings on canvas, bark paintings, works on paper including limited edition prints, sculpture, didgeridoos, fibre art and cultural regalia. The diversity of Indigenous art at the DAAF is remarkable!
The Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair boasts a program of artist workshops, spectacular traditional dance performances, film, fashion and more. You will have the opportunity to meet both emerging and established artists from more than 75 communities across Australia – a memorable experience engaging with the oldest continuous living culture in the world!
Lunch today is to your own account as there are several food outlets for you to choose what tickles your tastebuds.
We return to The Oaks Elan to prepare for our Farewell Dinner at Snapper Rocks this evening. At this award-winning NT restaurant you can choose from an array of gastronomic delights – from snapper to sushi, sirloin or squid and much much more. We will raise a toast to our fabulous week in the Top End!
DAY 9 | END OF JOURNEY
Your final morning in Darwin is relaxed. An opportunity to explore under your own steam or simply enjoy a long lazy breakfast. The group departure transfer to Darwin Airport is at 11:30am when we will bid farewell to newfound friends and begin our journey home.
NEED TO KNOW
9 days | Departs 31 July 2021
Departs 31 July 2021
$5,790 per person twin share
per person twin share
START: Darwin, NT | Finish: Darwin, NT
Destinations: Darwin | Kakadu | Arnhem Land | Kakadu | Darwin
- 4 nights in The Oaks Elan Hotel Darwin including breakfast
- 4 nights in Hawk Dreaming Wilderness Lodge including all meals
- Welcome Cocktail + Dinner & Farewell Dinner in Darwin
- Wine with group dinners & at Hawk Dreaming Lodge
- Walking Tour of Darwin (2hrs)
- Lunch at Pee Wees at the Point in Darwin
- Transfers to and from, and evening at, Mindil Sunset Markets
- 3 day Aboriginal Women’s Weaving experience
- Kakadu National Parks Pass
- Arnhem Land Permit
- Guluyambi Cruise on the East Alligator River
- Transfers to and from, and entry to, The Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair
- Arrival and departure airport transfers in Darwin and transportation to / from Kakadu National Park
- Safari shirt & leather luggage tags
- Hosted by Sarah Hoyland – Director of The Classic Safari Company & Founder of The Secret Women’s Series
- Flights to and from Darwin
- Meals (2 dinners + 2 lunches) and drinks other than Welcome Cocktail & wine with dinner in Kakadu
- Comprehensive Travel Insurance
- Optional touring, items of a personal nature & personal purchases
- Arrival & departure airport transfers for flights other than Qantas to/from Sydney if arrival & departure times are vastly different
- Any item not specified
Recommended flights ex Sydney are : SAT 31 JUL QF840 Sydney 0830 Darwin 1230 SUN 08 AUG QF841 Darwin 1320 Sydney 1800 For recommended flights from alternate cities please contact us
HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDED IN YOUR ITINERARY :
SPECIAL DINNERS : Welcome Dinner at Wharf One Food & Wine, Darwin | Lunch at Pee Wees at the Point, Darwin | Welcome to Country and Sunset drinks on arrival in Kakadu National Park | Farewell Dinner at Snapper Rocks Restaurant, Darwin | Three course meals beneath the Territory’s star studded sky in Hawk Dreaming Wilderness Camp
EXCURSIONS & ACTIVITIES : Weaving with the daluk (women) of the Bininj people in Kakadu National Park | Heritage Walking Tour of Darwin | Visit to the famous Mindil Sunset Markets | Daily excursions in Kakadu National Park to view ancient rock art, spectacular vistas and birds and wildlife | Visit to the Injalak Arts Centre | Visit to the Bowali Visitor Centre in Jabiru | Guluyambi Cultural Cruise on the East Alligator River | Walk on Arnhem Land | Attendance at the Aboriginal Art Fair in Darwin
Please note that all cultural interactions in Kakadu & Arnhem Land are subject to change due to any unmissable, spur-of-the-moment opportunities that may arise, along with any last-minute directives or restrictions imposed by the traditional owners of the land.
COVID19 : IF THE TRIP IS UNABLE TO PROCEED DUE TO COVID19 GOVERNMENT IMPOSED TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS FUNDS WILL BE HELD IN CREDIT TOWARD A FUTURE DEPARTURE
Sarah is the Founder of our Journeys for Women collection and co-Director of The Classic Safari Company. Over the years she's travelled to all seven continents, visited over 63 countries, forged global lifelong friendships and honed her haggling skills to perfection! In her own words 'I am happiest when I am lost in a souk, on safari in Africa, travelling with my daughters or when I have the privilege of viewing wild and wonderful places afresh through the eyes of the ladies I host on our womens-only soirees!'.
Firstly thank you for introducing me to the wonderful tours of the Secret Women's Series / Journeys for Women. The trip was superbly organised, the hotels brilliant and activities, informative and spectacular. This definitely won't be the last trip that I take.Kris I
Sarah was full of fun, life ideas, knowledge and of course madly making it all happen seamlessly for us!! So so appreciate everything you did for us, our survey was just full points on every score because everything to do with the trip was full points on every score!Jacquie R
OMG – what an unbelievably, amazing experience we all had. All accommodation and staff were fabulous. So blessed and so lucky – still smiling as I think about my adventure!! Thank you Sarah for such an amazing trip. I can’t begin to tell you how fabulous it was and how much of a spectacular time I had.Dianne B