Travel

Comedian Froomes Spills on Her Top Northern Territory Travel Secrets

We asked Froomes to spill on her favourite hidden gems and places in the Northern Territory.

Things to do NT

Comedian, actor, presenter, and writer, Lucinda Price, also known as Froomes is one of the fastest rising names in Australian entertainment. Recently, Froomes created some comedy gold, hosting her own Northern Territory series with Jetstar and Tourism NT.

We asked Froomes to spill on her favourite hidden gems and places in the Northern Territory.

Best swimming holes in NT

Litchfield National Park
My personal fave waterfall zone is Litchfield National Park. I love it there because you can choose your own adventure with long walks and short walks, big popular watering holes or secret lil’ ones—stunning.

Ormiston Gorge
Ormiston Gorge in the West MacDonnell Ranges is wilding. This is quintessentially Australian, with red rock, yellow sand and emerald water—nothing like it!

Bitter Springs and Mataranka Hot Springs
I’m obsessed with natural springs because I don’t understand them and they feel good. These thermal pools are in Mataranka which is about an hour south of Katherine.

Maguk and Jim Jim Falls
These are lesser-known spots for those who love the scoop. Maguk has a pristine waterfall and a natural plunge pool. This is accessible only by 4WD, so you best get yourself a Darwin bae and hitch a ride.

Wave Pool and Recreation Lagoon
Of course, the list is only complete with an ‘intentional’ watering hole, otherwise known as the Wave Pool and Recreation Lagoon. I personally love the challenge and drama of a Wave Pool, and this one delivers.  It’s especially good for those who aren’t interested in hikes. Live your truth and relax. 

Best places to eat and drink in NT

Charlie’s of Darwin Gin Bar and Restaurant
A gin moment is always encouraged, especially after a long day flitting between watering holes. 

Del La Plage Beach Café
No need to leave the continent when you can enjoy fair dinkum alfresco right here in Darwin. They’re big on local and organic ingredients and their breakfast menu boasts a range of dishes that will satisfy the fanciest of folks and the easiest of eaters. We’re talking beetroot sauerkraut with snow pea sprouts right on through to your classic breakfast roll replete with crispy bacon on a bakery-level Turkish bun. Yum! 

Peakabrew
 Loves a pun. Located on the main strip in Katherine, this one has all the local breakfast suspects, along with throwbacks like a blue heaven milkshake, which personally nourishes every fibre of my being.

Casa Nostra Pizza & Spaghetti House
This is a local institution and a must-see. The outside looks like the kind of Mexican restaurant that wouldn’t be out of place in LA — and the inside looks like an Italian restaurant in New York—All right here in Alice Springs. May I recommend the Tropicana pizza, which is Italian for ham and pineapple? Simple pleasures.

Dinner under the stars
The Red Centre is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and the benefit of being in the middle of the desert is that you see billions of stars every night! So you must treat yourself to a dinner under the night’s sky right next to the towering walls of Uluru.

Things to do NT

Best wildlife experiences in NT

Crocs, Choppers and Airboats
I am obsessed with Top End Safari —the staff there in particular are the best mix of knowledgeable and down to earth and love a post-croc boat drink. It’s an all-inclusive experience… hitch a ride in a helicopter, go croc spotting in an airboat and come back to camp for a top-notch feed and a glamp.

A camel ride in Uluru
It’s a pretty special (and slightly ridiculous) way to experience the NT’s iconic red sand dunes and witness the sunrise over Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

Spectacular Jumping Croc Cruise along the Adelaide River
I won’t give anything else away—I’ll just say, gird your loins hun.

Yellow Water Billabong Cruise in Kakadu
It gets that name because, at sunset, the water turns yellow. It’s a beautiful, low-key way to explore the wetlands and maybe even spy a little croc.

Free Flying Bird Show at the Alice Springs Desert Park
They call this the ‘Nature Theatre’ because these birds know how to put on a show. You can hold an eagle, but my favourite bit is learning about the humble magpie – a very secretly impressive animal who does much more than terrorise suburban front yards.

Must-have experiences in NT

Mindil Markets
Mindil markets aren’t a secret, but if you haven’t been you’ll be shaken by how good it is. This is a quintessential market experience—you’ve got every cuisine under the sun to choose from, right along with authentic knick-knacks for your homecoming. You can even get a massage there, which is a power move.

Daly Waters
The NT is the kind of place I imagine every overseas person imagines Australia to be, so it’s paramount you live that fantasy when you visit and spend a night at the pub. And it doesn’t get more iconic than ‘Daly Waters’. I couldn’t dream up a more classic pub—it’s got a red tin roof, a rinky-dink welcome sign with a wild bougainvillea growing over the top. You can get a world-class parmi, an ice-cold pint of your fave poison and even an overnight stay. 

Lake Bennett
Have a crack at kayaking and stand up paddle boarding at Lake Bennett! This is a really fun way to have a gander and I pinky promise there are no crocs—just beautiful calm water, tall trees and a cocktail or two. You’ll love it.

Head to Jetstar.com to book a newsworthy flight to the NT today. Jetstar’s NT sale runs from 12.00am AEST Thursday 2 June to 11.59 pm AEST Monday 6 June and include one-way fares from $89 (Melbourne (Tullamarine) – Uluru (Ayers Rock)).

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Travel

Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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