As published in The Q Review Spring 2020 Magazine. Follow the link to Subscribe and receive your FREE copy each quarter!
Guests at Berkeley River Lodge are encouraged to do as much or as little as they want, but the personalised itinerary is hard to ignore.
This pristine wilderness just begs to be explored and the team at Berkeley River have curated a number of activities to do just that.
Our four night stay included activities every morning and every afternoon, experiencing the best of what Berkeley has to offer, but admittedly, without much down-time (a five or six day stay might be better if more lazing around time is desired).
Our first afternoon brings a beach safari in an open-sided Landcruiser, exploring creek-beds and turtle tracks before sunset cheese and drinks under a pandanus tree.
The next day it is a fishing morning, in the barramundi-rich waters of a nearby mangrove pool – and while the majority of the haul was catch and release, a perfectly-proportioned barramundi did become a very delicious lunch!
That afternoon, it was time for a helicopter trip – and although the only one of Berkeley’s activities not included in the room rate, it is definitely an unmissable highlight – with a low cruise over the nearby reef, teeming with turtles and crocs, an exhilarating gorge landing with a swim in a pristine waterhole, a visit to some of the most remote and impressive aboriginal rock art in the Kimberley, and a sunset sundowner on the crest of nearby Mount Casuarina.
All activities are accompanied by experienced guides, who’s love for this land is readily apparent and their enthusiasm infectious.
Despite the isolated nature of the resort, Berkeley River Lodge prides itself on gourmet dining, and it doesn’t fail to deliver. Each morning, breakfast is served between 7am and 9am, with a buffet of favourites, while more hearty faire is available via the a la carte menu, such as poached salmon, eggs benedict and omelettes.
For guests who are at the lodge during the day, lunch is served at Dunes, with a small but satisfying collection of casual meals taken on the terrace.
While dishes such as the calamari and the fish and chips are excellent, we found it hard to go past the crocodile burger – a succulent and salty patty of minced crocodile, dressed with camembert, relish and greens, and served with crisp fries.At dinner, the lodge ramps up to fine dining, beginning with sunset canapes on the deck.
From the bar, a selection of beers, wines and sparklings are available and included in the room rate, as are simple mixers such as gin and tonic.
With drinks in hand, guests mingle on the terrace, sharing stories of the day’s adventures, while lodge staff circle with platters of petite treats.
Once the sky is dark and filled with stars, guests are invited into the restaurant for long-table dining with fellow guests (although private tables can be arranged). Dinner is a multi-course degustation, exquisitely presented and unfailingly delicious.
An entrée of Moreton Bay bug might be followed by a main course of crispy skin duck, concluding with a dessert of vanilla pannacotta with angelico cream.
Each course is accompanied by matching wines, including a sticky with dessert – free-flowing and regularly topped up by the attentive staff throughout.
Creating such epicurean wonders in this remote locale, with the tyranny of distance and supply-chain logistics, is a testament to the skill of the chef and his small team, and we found our dining experiences at Berkeley River Lodge to be one of the highlights of our stay.