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  • Writer's pictureAlison Fenton

Daly River - just like a reality tv show

Updated: May 25, 2020

24 August 2018

Daly River gave us experiences we could have never dreamed about. One of our favourite stays, it was like living an episode of keeping up the the Joneses.

I was searching for our next stop-over on the way to Darwin and found Daly River Wildlife and Adventure Lodge by accident.

I’d heard of Daly River before and knew of its reputation for barrumundi and salt water crocodiles. There were a surprising number of places to stay in the area, but the reviews on the Lodge really stood out as family-friendly.

Pete, the owner, told me that his kids, who were similar ages to Ollie and Chase, were great tour guides. Our boys were missing their friends, so we decided that time to hang out with other kids was just what they needed. Little did we know what they would end up doing!

People from Adelaide will understand our compulsion to stop along the Adelaide River on the Daly River Road for lunch. It was quite lovely but nothing like anything we'd see in Adelaide! We carefully walked along the top of the banks, but we didn’t see any crocs.

Tip #1: There is a free campsite at this spot which would be nice for over night stops. You can get right back off of the road if you want complete privacy.

We had a little trouble finding the Lodge because they didn't have their name on the gate. In the end we just drove down a long driveway, hoping that we'd found the right place.

To our absolute delight we were the only ones visiting, and had the pick of a lovely grassed area under the trees. We did have to share the bathrooms with a number of frogs and cane toads at night though.

The boys were soon introduced to the dorper sheep and told to stay well away from the new and very cranky bull that was down in the yards. Chase was desperate to pat a lamb, so Julie, one of the caretakers, helped him out with that before the afternoon was over.

I exercised one of the polo horses, the first time I've worked a horse in around 15 years. It took a little while, but I soon remembered where the buttons were!

I was happy already, but things just kept getting better and crazier too.

Our kids helped the hosts pick vegetables out of the gardens early the next morning and everyday after. It started a lot of discussion about getting our vege patches at home going again.

Vegetables done, they charged into the caravan, and asked if they could go out on the quad bikes with the host kids to exercise the hunting dogs. Farm accident statistics show that kids and ATVs don't mix, but try telling that to excited children.

We tentatively agreed and came around to the sheds to check the situation out first. Pete told us that his kids were pretty careful on the bikes, but we had a few words of caution anyway.

Three very happy dogs in protective suits and radio tracking collars, were eager to go. Fortunately no pigs were found. The boys had learnt a lot about the damage done by feral animals while staying at Charnley River Station on the Gibb River Road, but I’m not sure how they would have coped if the dogs had killed a pig.

I gave Oliver and Chase horse riding lessons in the round yard and they also enjoyed spending time with Rocky and her beautiful little foal. Oliver challenged the host kids to drink milk straight from the mare and then they all lined up for a squirt of milk. Luckily Rocky had a beautiful nature and didn't seem to mind a group of boys fooling around under her!

There was so much for the kids to do at the Lodge. This included swimming in the pool, playing with puppies and learning to shoot bow and arrows into hay bales just in front of the cranky bull.

Our hosts took us on their barge down the Daly River one evening. We spotted fresh and salt water crocodiles and some wild buffalo.

Tip #2: Do a barge trip. It's a great way to spend a couple of hours at the end of the day and the scenery is beautiful.

We went on an expedition around the back country behind the Lodge, and were driven about by the farm kids, who did great jobs maneuvering their cut down 4WD and quad bike. The surroundings were spectacular and we saw a large group of kangaroos and a healthy looking mob of brumbies.

We drove the old track that once serviced as the Darwin Road and visited the site of the Daly River Copper Mine. I was surprised to find information boards at the copper mine and wondered who on earth would find it out there.

Pete said that you could often spot rock wallabies in the quarry and we saw one as we arrived. What we didn’t expect to find was an olive python barely able to move, its sides bulging presumably with an unlucky wallaby. We were all amazed at the size of its meal.

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