Discover East Arnhem Land and Australia's raw and rugged coastline by water on our exclusive charter aboard the M/Y Iron Lady. Fly into the homelands by charter plane as you venture deep into Australia's backyard and into one of the countries greatest untouched wilderness areas. Disregard traditional maps, follow ancient songlines and delve into Yolngu land. Spearfish with locals for mud crabs, gather bush medicine and foods as you are educated on Yolngu kinship, traditional lore and language. Embrace the Homeland lifestyle - unchanged for over 40,000 years. Your mind will boggle as you learn that each homeland has its own creation story, personality and landscape. To be immersed in the most culturally intact Aboriginal nation in Australia is such a rare privilege. So exclusive that only a select few will be issued permits to enter these homelands in East Arnhem Land. Your experience supports the time frozen community with economic development, employment opportunities and increasing skill levels, independence and breaking down cultural barriers. Learn to take only what you need to from the land. Sail between virgin islands, hike on stunning sand bars and visit remote pearl farms. Cruise in style as you fish for squid, explore the tangle of mangrove rivers for exquisite bird life and try your hand at fishing for barramundi in one of the most remote and productive barramundi locations in Australia.
Every meal is prepared by our onboard cook, who takes delight in exceeding your culinary expectations. Our mouth-watering meals are not complicated, but the quality of the food will have you feeling as though you were being served at a 5-star restaurant. They understand that you are not escaping the hustle and bustle of the real world to then encounter complicated food. When you get on board make sure you have a look around for the crab pots. If you don’t see the pots that’s because they are already in the water! You can never have too much Australian mud crab!
The vast tidal rivers, mangrove lined estuaries and rich coastal waters will show you a side to the Australian wilderness that you did not know existed and your engagement with the Yolngu will teach you a kinship that will forever warm your heart. Your experience will move you beyond words. Primitive, uninhabited, crystal blue ocean explored in style.
Day 1 - Arrival
Welcome to East Arnhem Land! You will begin your adventures by flying into Gove from Darwin departing Darwin with Air North at 0730hrs. Upon arrival in Gove, you will be greeted and transferred to the charter plane hanger where you take your charter plane to the homelands. Depending on permit availability, we will fly into Nyinyikay, Wigram Island or the Ramingur Homelands. This flight will be a great introduction to your East Arnhem Land experience as you take in birds eye views of spectacular landscape below.
Late morning, you will land and meet the locals. Be welcomed by a traditional smoke ceremony known as ‘Welcome to Country’. This is a moving experience and a practice of respect to guests and traditional land owners. This will set the tone for the next few days.
Enjoy a morning tea of damper and locally made jam as you mingle with the local Yolgnu people as they share dream-time stories with you of live in the homelands.
Farewell your humble hosts as you make your way aboard the M/Y Iron Lady. Lunch will be served on board as you cruise towards Elizabeth Bay. Weave between virgin islands spotted throughout the turquoise waters. Depending on the tides, there may be an opportunity to go a walk along one of the remote beaches for sunset where we will set up for drinks and nibbles. If the tides are not in our favour, we will enjoy the sunset from our deck. (B,L,D)
7 nights M/Y Iron Lady
Day 2 - Elizabeth Bay
After breakfast, you will cruise towards a local pearl farm for a guided tour. This pearl farm is so remote, that it is only accessible by water. Enjoy learning about the pearling process and see the stunning pearls grown in these waters. If the carver is on site, there may be an opportunity to witness the intricate carvings that are hand carved into the pearl shell. There will be ample opportunity to purchase some pearls of carvings for those interested.
Return to the Iron Lady for lunch. This afternoon, we will anchor at our anchorage point in Elizabeth Bay where we can take the zodiac to shore for a relaxing beach walk. You will also have the chance to feed the Lemon Sharks and catch fresh squid from the back deck which our crew will cook for your dinner. (B,L,D)
Day 3 - Rainbow Bay
This morning following breakfast, you will set off on a scenic voyage towards Rainbow Bay through a scattering of islands and islets.
This afternoon is spent relaxing or enjoying blue water fishing. Fishing around the rocky headlands makes for exciting finds such as queenfish, giant trevally, golden snapper and black jewfish are just some of the bluewater fish you may hook. If we can obtain permissions from the local land owner nearby, there is another gorgeous beach worth exploring on foot at low tide, one of the most beautiful sandy beaches in East Arnhem Land. (B,L,D)
Day 4 - Arnhem Bay
This morning following breakfast, steam towards Arnhem Bay via the Red Cliffs, Mallison Island and Howard Island. This will be a spectacular cruise with the sun burning onto the rusty red cliffs. We edge closer towards the tropical tidal rivers which are only accessible to non-indigenous people carrying appropriate entry permits. Here is where our next adventure begins. We will spend time in these rivers bird watching the incredible bird life that is attracted to this fish rich waters. Hunting for mud crabs is also on the agenda as we also search for crocodiles. These rivers are prime barramundi locations. We take only what we need and the rest is released back into the wilderness. (B,L,D)
Day 5 - Rivers
Today we are still anchored in the river for more barramundi fishing, bird watching and croc spotting. There are always more mud crabs to be caught too! Enjoy the beauty of nature and tangle of mangroves. Later in the day, steam over to Nyinyikay homelands where we will anchor for the evening. (B,L,D)
Day 6 - Yolngu Cultural Experience
Enjoy breakfast on board before heading ashore to the homelands. To spend time in the homelands, is a truly rare opportunity. Here, you will participate in a cultural awareness program, teaching you about the Yolgnu’s traditional way of life. Women are given the opportunity to participate in activities such as weaving with pandanus, collecting shells and beading with them as well as a traditional medicine walk, whilst men may partake in a mangrove hunting walk, fishing, hunting and a sightseeing cliff walk. Throughout the day you will learn about Yolngu culture and kinship, basic Yolgnu language skills including sign language, Yolngu law, sign language and much more.
Lunch today, is enjoyed onshore with the Yolgnu people. We will say on shore for sunset before returning to the Iron Lady for dinner. (B,L,D)
Day 7 - Yolngu Cultural Experience
After breakfast, your cultural awareness program continues as you gain a much deeper and thorough understanding of this incredibly rich culture and learn of the unique traditions.
Continue on with your activities from yesterday as your relationship continues to grow with the Yolgnu. You are now one of them. Embrace your experience being part of this incredible ‘family’. During your time here, why not ask the local family their story of their Homeland – they will be happy to share and this will provide a deeply moving part of your time here. The sky this evening will be unlike anything you have ever seen. A true blanket of stars, more vivid than anywhere else you may have been.
Bid a fond farewell as you head back to the Iron Lady for dinner. The remainder of the evening is yours to reflect upon the incredible journey you have just experienced. (B,L,D)
Day 8 - Departure
This morning following your last breakfast onboard the Iron Lady, farewell your incredible crew as you head to the airstrip for your flight back to Gove. On arrival, you will be met and transferred to visit the world famous Buku Larrnggay Mulka, located in the Yirrkala community, which is one of the oldest and most respected Aboriginal Art centres in Australia. Enjoy exploring the interpretation of the historical Aboriginal Land Rights Bark Petitions and Church panels. There is also the opportunity to purchase some local works unique to this particular region for those who are keen to take home some keepsakes.
Relax with a picnic lunch before transferring to the airport for your flight back to Darwin. (B,L)
- Return flights Darwin/Gove/Darwin
- Charter flight Gove/Nyinyikay/Gove
- Return Airport transfers
- 7 nights accommodation aboard M/Y Iron Lady
- Breakfast, lunch & dinner daily
- Beer, wine & soft drinks
- Transportation in a private vehicle
- On board chef
- Local tour leader and full onboard crew
- Activities as per the itinerary
- Homeland Fees
- Yolngu Escort and guides in the homelands
- Permits for entering the homelands
- Fishing equipment
- International & domestic flights not mentioned above
- Travel and medical insurance
- All services, meals other than those indicated above
- Any changes to the proposed and confirmed program.
- All items of a personal nature e.g. drinks, laundry, telephone calls, tips etc.
**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.
* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.
* A minimum of 8 adults is required to guarantee this departure.
A non-refundable deposit of 25% per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.