Darwin and NT hotels?

Jan 6th, 2003, 10:18 AM
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Darwin and NT hotels?

We saw a package for the NT that includes hotels stays. The hotels are :

- Aurora Frontier (Darwin)

- Gagudju Lodge Cooinda (Kakadu)

- Mercure Inn (Katherine)

- Mount Bundy Station Balcony B&B (near Litchfield)

Any experiences with any of these hotels?

Thanks for any advice,

Jan 6th, 2003, 10:53 AM
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I stayed at the Frontier in Darwin...it was just ok, but I think you can do better. For one thing, it's not as convenient as other properties in Darwin. It's not too too far but there are better spots. My room was fair--could've been cleaner, very basic. It's a tourist-class hotel that caters to big tour groups. Contiki was one that I saw staying there during my visit last July.


Jan 6th, 2003, 11:46 AM
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Hi Debbie,
Thanks for the reply. I am happy to get some feedback about this hotel in Darwin, because I am looking for something modest but in a good, central location. The Frontier is part of a package that I am considering, but it would probably be just as easy to choose the hotels on my own.

Did you go to Kakadu? Are you the one who did the day trip? We are going to make sure that we stay at one of the hotels in the park for at least 1 night (thought about camping, but my husband doesn't think that he can handle it.

We are not sure how many days we should spend in the Top End and the Red Centre, but are working on an itinerary.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Jan 6th, 2003, 04:20 PM
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Hi Keri
I live in Darwin and Debbie is right in what she says about the Frontier Hotel, it is average and is a little way out of the city centre. Of all the places you mention, the only one we have stayed at and can speak of from personal experience is Gagudju Lodge, Cooinda and I highly recommend it. An alternative to camping is to stay in one of their cabins which comprise a single room and a bathroom and toilet. They are very clean, comfortable and air conditioned so you can get a good nights sleep. I don't know anything about the Mercure Inn in Katherine, but I have heard only good reports about Mount Bundy Station B&B. As far as accommodation in Darwin city, we can personally offer a fully furnished and serviced unit in the city centre with views across the harbour which is available for short term stay. I'm not sure of the cost as the unit is managed for us, but it would be comparable to any hotel stay and there are lots of cafes and restaurants just a few minutes walk away. We have never stayed in hotels in Darwin but I'm happy to offer advice on locations and possible standards. My husband and I are also host members of SERVAS (www.servas.org) and most of our overseas visitors have done trips to Kakadu. The general concensus has been that two to three days in Kakadu is enough, four to five day trips are too long and too exhausting, especially during the wet season which can be quite hot. You don't mention the time of the year you will be travelling. There are two seasons in the Top End, the wet which is from Oct to April and the dry from May to Sept. Unless you're really accustomed to hot weather the best time to visit the Red Centre would be from May to September. Whatever you decide to do I hope you enjoy your trip and I wish you safe and happy travelling.
Jan 6th, 2003, 05:03 PM
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Hi again,
Yup, I'm the goofball that got talked into a day-trips Kakadu and Litchfield by my travel agent. Live and learn! I'm glad that you and your husband are thinking of spending a night or two in Kakadu--I think you'll get more out of it than I did.

In talking to fellow travelers, I heard that Billy Can Tours is a good outfit for the Top End. Perhaps a package through them might work for you. I hear Jim Jim Falls is a special part of that massive park.

IMO, you don't need a ton of time in Darwin. It's a good jumping off point and terrific place to shop for Aboriginal art but it's more of a town than a city.

Feel free to email me directly if you have any other questions!
Jan 7th, 2003, 08:34 AM
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Thanks Debbie and Margi~
I did some more reading and research, and I have another idea to toss around:

Thurs: Arrive in Darwin by plane
from Alice Springs
-spend night in Darwin
- go to Mindil Beach Market
Fri: Drive to Kakadu
- Yellow Rivers cruise
- aboriginal art sites
- stay in Gagudju Lodge

Sat: All day tour (through tour company)
to Jim Jim and Twin Falls
- stay in Gagudju Lodge

Sun: Drive to Litchfield
- hike?
- tour?
- stay in Batchlor or Darwin?

Mon: fly Darwin to Cairns

We will be in Australia from mid-July to mid-August, and the Top End part will be at the end of July.

This itinerary is based on a cruise that we might be taking from Cairns that leaves on a Monday. We wanted to be in Darwin on a Thursday night for the market - which I read is a must-see.

What do you think about this itinerary?

Prior to this, we will have been in Sydney and Uluru/Alice area (also 2 weeks in NZ before OZ). From here we will go to Cairns (for GBR cruise), one of the islands, and Port Douglas.


Jan 7th, 2003, 02:49 PM
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Hi Debbie
It sounds like a great itinerary. From my experiences Sydney is my favourite city and the harbour is beautiful. Uluru is awe inspiring. Alice Springs is a small city, with a lot of Aboriginal art and craft shops in the mall, although there are just as many opportunities to buy Aboriginal art and craft in Darwin.At Mindil Beach market there's lots of food stalls and craft stalls, it's busy and colourful. The Yellow Waters cruise during the dry is spectacular and I'd love to do it during the wet. Weather in July in Darwin should be very pleasant, although with the changing weather patterns around the world it's always just a tad unpredictable. Jim Jim and Twin falls probably won't be fast flowing in July but the landscape is beautiful nonetheless. Batchelor is a very small town and we've only ever driven through but I'm sure it would be a very pleasant place to stop over. Litchfield National Park is huge with lots of water holes and walking trails. I've never hiked it so can't comment on that aspect. We've driven and stopped at Florence Falls, Wangi Falls, Buli Rockhole to name a few and they're all beautiful. July is tourist season so you'll be sharing space with lots of others. All the best and happy travelling.
Jan 7th, 2003, 03:21 PM
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Hi Keri!
I too heard Darwin's good on a Thursday...I couldn't manage to be there that day of the week, so you'll have to let me know if it's as good as everyone says!

From what you last wrote, it sounds as if you're going to have a car, sightsee on your own Fri. and then pick up a tour Sat., is that right? Make sure you don't need some kind of special permission to be in Kakadu--I know to enter Aboriginal land some type of permit has to be obtained. (Margi--Will they have any trouble going to Kakadu on their own??)

One other thing I'm not sure of is the distance between Kakadu and Litchfield. Kakadu is 3hrs from Darwin and Litchfield is (if I remember correctly) around 1 1/2 hours, but they're in different directions. But, if you get an early start, that should work! BTW, Litchfield seemed like a place you could easily do on your own. There were loads (and I mean LOADS) of families doing their own thing when I was there. The signage for the main falls and trails appeared well-marked and you'd have the advantage of structuring your day as you pleased. Maybe spend the night around Litchfield and book an afternoon flight to Cairns for that Monday.

Where are you staying in Queensland? I may have already told you but I didn't like Cairns but loved Port Douglas!

Hope this helps! Good luck w/all the planning. I can't wait to go back to Australia!

Jan 8th, 2003, 07:36 PM
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Hello Keri
Debbie is correct when she says there's an entrance fee to Kakadu. I'm not exactly sure but I think it's about A$16 per person. If you go on an organised tour I expect that will be taken care of by the tour guide. I looked at www.google.com for information on the Northern Territory. This particular site http://www.xploretours.com.au/xp3.htm has some tours that sound great. I also saw a posting on www.fodors.com from someone who did a tour of Kakadu with Billycan Tours (www.billycan.com.au). I can't personally recommend them but from what she wrote it was a great trip. Again I can't speak from personal experience as I haven't yet been there, but my husband has been on several fishing trips to Corroboree Billabong. He tells me there's an abundance of wildlife and birds and it's a beautiful area. A young woman I work with says there are guided tours of the billabong, so that might be something else you can enquire about from the travel agents.
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