Experiencing the wilds of Bamurru Plains

Experiencing the wilds of Bamurru Plains

Bamurru Plains is a eco lodge nestled on a buffalo pastoral station, Swim Creek, on the Mary River flood plain. The station is just west of Kakadu National Park, spread across 300 square kilometres. The natural habitat, includes coastal flood plains, savannah woodlands and paper bark swamps. The flood plains and swamps come alive every wet season, flourishing with an abundance of flowers, birds and wildlife. The exception last year when the region experienced the driest wet season in 40 years. Reducing the flood plains to grass lands with narrow channels of water. However, the birds and wildlife still managed to thrive in the water deprived conditions. I have had the fortune of visiting Bamurru Plains this year and last, experiencing the two extremes.

Paper Bark Swamp - Driest Wet in 40 years 2016
Paper Bark Swamp – Driest Wet in 40 years 2016 (Canon 5D MKIII, 17-40mm f/4 lens)
Paper Bark Swamp - After the Wet 2017
Paper Bark Swamp – After the Wet 2017 (Canon 5D MKIII, 11-24mm f/4 lens)

There are approximately 230 different bird species inhabiting the flood plains. Last year some bird species such as the magpie geese and whistling ducks were absent. However, this year they returned in large numbers to the flood plains, which added to some of the birds spotted on both visits. These included, rainbow bee-eaters, blue winged kingfishers, raptors, egrets, jabirus and plovers to name but a few.

Rainbow Bee Eaters nestled together on a branch
Rainbow Bee Eaters (Canon 7D MKII, 110-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lens + 1.4x III extender)

There is also an eclectic mix of land based wildlife to enjoy, both around the main camp area and in the woodlands. This year, around the main camp, apart from usual water buffalo and agile wallabies, there were four wild brumbies grazing on the immediate grassed areas.

With all wetland areas, there comes our insect friends, including the obligatory mosquitoes. These were more of a nuisance in the early morning or late afternoon and evening, usually when you are closer to the water. There was also a plethora of dragon flies and may flies. All appearing in different areas on the property in all shapes, sizes and colours.

The big highlight of this trip was navigating the paper bark swamps at sunrise and sunset in an airboat to see the play of light on the tree trunks and water lily’s. The waters in these areas are clear, whilst darkened by tannins from the trees. Protected by large plains of reeds in the water looks like a mirror. In the light of early morning and late afternoon the reflections of the trees on the water are stark. Broken only by the vibrant greens of lily pads and the white and lilac flowers jutted up from the surface of the water.

Bamurru Plains, sunrise in a paper bark swamp with water lilies
Bamurru Plains, sunrise in a paper bark swamp (Canon 5D MKIII, 17-40mm f/4 lens)

What of the crocodiles? These lurked beneath the waters of the floodplains, with one sighting in the distance over the five days I was there. I did get a good sighting of a couple on a trip up the Sampan river last year. It’s lovely to be able to see them in the wild, such menacing and prehistoric looking creatures.

Crocodile basking in the sun on a muddy bank of the Sampan River, Northern Territory
Crocodile (Canon 1Dx MKII, 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens)

Bamurru Plains is one of four properties in the Wild Bush Luxury Collection. Bamurru Plains provides guests with a range of experiences, including walks, fishing, food and photo safaris. My visits were part of their annual Top End Wilderness Photo Safari with the renowned freelance photographer Richard I’Anson. I have started to join these types of events because they provide a mix of adventure and an opportunity to stretch my photography skills. I shoot with Canon equipment so when I’m not travelling I join Canon’s ‘Canon Collective’ events, again to stretch my skills.

More of my images can be found in my Northern Territory Gallery

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