The Tiwi Islands are a collection of eleven islands located about 80km north of Darwin. Home to only around 2500 inhabitants and spanning 8,320 square kilometres, these are some of the most sparsely inhabited islands in Australia.
A few years back, local croc wrangler Matt Wright opened a small retreat on one of the islands, and ever since then, I had desperately wanted to visit. A few months after Ella and I got together in early 2021, we decided that we were both in desperate need of a holiday and thus we decided to finally make the trip across the Timor Sea to the beautiful Tiwi Island Retreat.
Our journey was short and sweet, but far from boring. To get to the retreat you have two options – either make your own way via boat or book a private air charter with Air Frontier. As we are not lucky enough to own a boat, the latter was the best way for us. We arrived at a private hangar around the corner from Darwin International Airport, checked in and in no time were on our way.
The flight is only 20 minutes in duration and affords passengers with incredibly scenic views of this wild, remote and stunning archipelago.
Once we had landed, we were greeted by a Tiwi Island Retreat employee who escorted us to a small speedboat for a 10 minute ride through the inlet.
I was so unbelievably happy to have arrived. The trees were lush, the sand felt wonderful under my feet and we were pretty much immediately greeted by icy cold beers.
Accommodations themselves are fairly basic, each room holds a comfy queen bed and a fantastically effective aircon, although it should be noted that bathroom facilities are shared with other guests. As it was the low season when we visited, the shared bathrooms weren’t ever an issue.
Our room was directly behind the pool, something which I was very pleased with. The wet season in the Top End is brutally hot and humid, so being pool adjacent allowed me to cool off frequently and with ease.
Having a pool may seem like a luxury, but for us it was very much a necessity. Sure, we may have been on a beach, but these waters are definitely not ones that you want to take a swim in…
After spending a day by the pool, we were treated to a sunset picnic on the beach. The snacks were delicious, the beers were refreshing and the sunset? Well, it was nothing short of glorious.
I mean seriously, how is this for a sunset? The colours just kept getting more and more intense, it was like opening a present and finding a better present inside.
The next day started in absolutely fantastic fashion. This cheeky lady was hanging out on the shore when we got up and finally allowed me to get some decent pictures of her.
The day quickly got stinkingly hot, so many hours were spent drinking coconuts, cocktails and beers in the pool.
Eventually we did do a bit more beach exploring and found so much along the way. Huge shells, crabs and stunning beaches were in abundance and well worth the sweaty trekking. Ella found an absolutely enormous shell and we were both very pleasantly surprised when staff told us that we could take it home! It sits on a shelf in our lounge room now and she is still incredibly proud of such an epic find.
The next morning it was time for us to leave the Tiwi Islands, but not before saying goodbye to the locals!
And yes, Ella was yelling at me the entire time to not get so close to water.
Our stay at the retreat had allowed us to relax, recharge and truly take a breather. The wi-fi wasn’t working for the entire duration of our stay and neither of us had phone service – which may sound like a nightmare – but for us (and Ella especially as her work requires her to be online almost all the time) it was a tech detox that was much needed.
We were still doing long distance when we went on this trip, something that caused me a fair bit of anxiety and stress. Being able to have this time together and to have nothing else to distract us or to stress us out was a gift.
Before too long, we were saying goodbye to the retreat. I was sad to leave, but so unbelievably happy that we had had this time away together.
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Tiwi Island Retreat: We visited during the low season in 2021 and managed to score a half price deal due to low tourist numbers in the NT due to Covid, but in 2022 the only way to visit is through set departures of three night stays. These three night stays will set a couple back $5658 AUD, which is quite a hefty price tag, but this does include half board, air transfers, a visit to local community Wurrumiyanga, a sunset picnic and your choice of either a deep sea fishing expedition of a Tiwi Islands cultural tour. Click here to learn more!
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 lenses
Remember: Bring insect repellent, sunscreen and a healthy dose of caution when on the beach!