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Pioneer Settlers

19 Jul - 3 Aug 2021

Agriculture in Australia’s north is booming. New developments in dryland and irrigated cotton and other crops; large horticulture developments finding ready markets in Asia and, of course, the beef success story of recent years.  And there is no more beautiful place on earth.

Agricultural highlights include:

  • The Atherton Tableland, one of the most varied, beautiful and successful agricultural regions in Australia;
  • Pioneering cotton farms around Mount Garnet;
  • Northern Territory farmers who are getting great results growing cotton. We should arrive at or just before picking and get an update the on plans for a cotton gin in the area;
  • Near the WA border, we will visit big cattle stations with a long history of Kimberley development; and,

A full day of visits in the Ord irrigation area.
There will be plenty of opportunity to sample the best scenery, landscapes and activities the north has to offer. For instance:

  • Nhulunbuy in Arnhem Land and the magnificent Banubanu Island Retreat (https://www.banubanu.com);
  • The best of Kakadu;
  • Lake Argyle and cruising down the Ord;
  • Air tour of the north Kimberley coast;
  • The magical gorges and waterfalls of the Kimberley; and,
  • Cable Beach and Broome.


Because group members will be arriving from all parts of the country, the tour is priced out of Cairns. Airfares (or other means of travel) to Cairns and out of Broome are additional. We are happy to help arrange these.

The day to day itinerary details are constantly being updated so please check this website regularly.


View or Print Itinerary

Day 1

Monday 19 Jul

Arrive in Cairns, the gateway to northern Australia. Transfer to the hotel before a get
together with drinks and nibbles as the sun goes down.
Of course, some people will have arrived early and spent some time at Port Douglas,
on the reef or in the Daintree. There are plenty of options.

Pullman International
Cairns view website

Day 2

Tuesday 20 Jul

We leave Cairns and climb up to the Atherton Tableland along the famous Gillies
Highway with a brief stop at one of a chain of beautiful crystal clear crater lakes
once we reach the to. Then it’s time for a cuppa as we visit the Nerada tea plantation,
the biggest in Australia. We’ll have a tour of the tea plantation and the factory which
supplies all of the Nerada tea in Australia, then a well earned Devonshire tea.
At nearby Malanda, we’ll have lunch at the biggest timber pub in Australia, built
in 1911 where we will meet up with local farmer Dougal Millar before we tour his
plantation of 5000 avocado trees.
Later in the afternoon, we’ll continue through to the Undara Volcanic Park which has
some of the most impressive larva tubes in the world.

Day 3

Wednesday 21 Jul

Guided tour of the larva tubes in the morning before a short drive to the property St
Ronan which is being developed by Gwydir Valley based Sundown Pastoral Company
as a cattle and cropping operation with an emphasis on pioneering cotton production
in the region.
It will be lunchtime when we leave and luckily, just up the road is Pinnarendi Station
Stay & Cafe whose homemade sourdough pizzas and other delicacies are renowned
across the north, and they boast of having the best coffee anywhere. We shall see.
In the afternoon, we will continue through to Atherton with maybe a farm visit on the
way. This evening we get the chance to sample that icon of Australian country town
culinary excellence – the Chinese feed. Gluten free options available.

Atherton Motel
Atherton view website

Day 4

Thursday 22 Jul

In the morning we will catch up again with Dougal Millar who will show us around for
the day. The first visit will be with Laurie Masasso who farms a variety of crops and
also runs a packing shed operation for other clients including Dougal. Laurie will give
a great insight into the operation of the supply chain from north Queensland farms
to southern supermarkets. The range of crops grown on the Atherton Tablelands is
truly amazing. There are 39 large agricultural industries on the Tablelands including
sugarcane, bananas, avocados, dairy and beef cattle, mangos, potatoes, citrus and
papaya, with cotton emerging as a potential new crop.
On the way to Mareeba, we’ll visit a client of local farm supply company Nutrien. This
farmer has built a major farming operation from nothing to become one of the biggest
pawpaw suppliers in the country.
We will have lunch at Mareeba before the short drive to Kuranda where we will take
the world famous Kuranda Skyrail, over the tropical rainforest with spectacular views
of the Barron River and a different perspective of the lush jungle, as we wend our way
back to Cairns.

Pullman International
Cairns view website

Day 5

Friday 23 Jul

A leisurely start before we head to the airport for a flight across the peninsula and the
Gulf of Carpentaria to Gove (Nhulunbuy) in north east Arnhem Land. Nhulunbuy is the
home of a large bauxite mine but is also the traditional homeland of the Yolgnu people
who are especially renowned for their art and music. It is often acknowledged as the
birthplace of the didgeridoo and the group Yothu Yindi.
When we land at Gove, we will split into two groups. The first will go into town and
take a boat offshore (15 minutes) to the remote Banubanu wilderness retreat.
The other group will travel to the world famous Yirrkala Art Centre before some
touring around this amazing part of the world and then dinner overlooking the Arafura
Airnorth TL161 12.25-13.45

Banubanu Beach Resort
Nhulunbuy view website

Day 6

Saturday 24 Jul

Time to swap around today. The first group will have to leave the island but can enjoy the peace and tranquility for most of the day. Both groups will also have the option
of a half day fishing charter from the island in these beautiful fish-rich waters (cost
about $250).

Walkabout Lodge
Nhulunbuy view website

Day 7

Sunday 25 Jul

Group 1 will have a morning exploring Gove while Group 2 can relax on the island for
a little longer, before we join up again for the flight to Darwin.
Time to settle in at our hotel on the revamped Darwin Waterfront before we head to
the Darwin Sailing Club for a spectacular tropical Darwin sunset over the water and
dinner. Then back to the hotel or the opportunity to visit the famous Mindil Beach
Airnorth TL161 14.15-15.25

Vibe Hotel
Darwin view website

Day 8

Monday 26 Jul

A free day today with lots of different options. If you haven’t been to Kakadu, now
is your chance and there are lots of different options. Or, you can take a crocodile
jumping tour on the Adelaide River or head down to beautiful Litchfield National Park.
We will provide you with plenty of choices.
Free evening, and our hotel is located right next to a swag of good waterfront

Vibe Hotel

Day 9

Tuesday 27 Jul

Time to look at some more farms. We will visit famous Tipperary Station and look at
their agricultural operations including their recent foray into cotton production.
After our packed lunch under the shade of a suitable tree, we will visit and talk to
other pioneering cotton growers in the region and get an update on the plans for a
new gin in the area.

Knotts Crossing Resort
Katherine view website

Day 10

Wednesday 28 Jul

Morning cruise on the Katherine Gorge then a farm visit near Katherine before we
head west and watch the country change into a Kimberley landscape before we enjoy
some real country hospitality at Timber Creek. The area has some amazing history
and nearby is the Victoria River, one of the most beautiful in Australia.

Timber Creek Hotel
Timber Creek view website

Day 11

Thursday 29 Jul

We will visit the massive Auvergne cattle station near the Western Australian border.
After another packed lunch under a shady tree, we will cross the Western Australian
border and continue to the massive Lake Argyle to get a panoramic view of the lake
and maybe a visit to the Durack Homestead museum which was dismantled and
rebuilt stone by stone as the lake waters rose, before an afternoon cruise down the
Ord River to Kununurra.

Kimberley Grande Resort
Kununurra view website

Day 12

Friday 30 Jul

The East Kimberley is not only home to Lake Argyle and the Ord Irrigation Area, it
is a base to explore arguably the best scenic areas of the Kimberley. Included in the
tour will be the option of a number of different tours today. Such as scenic flights to
the Bungle Bungles, day trips to El Questro and helifishing the Kimberley gorges and
coast. Take your pick.
Then back to the hotel to swap notes and compare stories.

Kimberley Grande Resort

Day 13

Saturday 31 Jul

Full day of farm visits in the Ord, including the latest Stage 2 area. We will discuss
cropping opportunities with a range of local farmers and other experts.
We’ll talk with Kimberley Agricultural Industries, the developers of Ord Stage 2, visit
a Sandalwood plantation and catch up with farmers growing crops such as hay,
corn, cotton, rockmelons, honeydews, pumpkins, chickpeas, Borlottis – just about
A highlight (for some) will be a visit to The Hoochery, a rum distillery developed
by local farming legend Spike Dessert who passed away 4 years ago. The award
winning distillery is the ultimate in farm diversification and is still operated by Spike’s
Dinner will be at the sensational Pumphouse restaurant, with an unrivalled
position on the banks of the Kununurra Diversion dam. The Pumphouse produces
internationally renowned food, with a culinary philosophy that focuses very strongly
on the fresh local produce of the Kimberley region.

Kimberley Grande Resort

Day 14

Sunday 1 Aug

We fly to Broome this morning. After a quick lunch at an iconic Broome eating spot,
we head to the heart of Chinatown for a fascinating 2 hour Pearl Luggers tour which
gives an insight to Broome’s unique heritage of a hazardous industry which drew
people from all over the world to risk their lives in the pursuit of the riches beneath
the azure waters of Broome.
Later we will freshen up at our hotel before a short tour of Broome including the
wharf, the Japanese cemetery, Gantheaume Point and sunset drinks on the sand of
Cable Beach.
Airnorth TL332 10.50-12.15

Oaks Broome
Broome view website

Day 15

Monday 2 Aug

This morning, we head north of town to the Willie Creek Pearl Farm nestled on a
tropical inlet of the Indian Ocean. You will learn about the collection and spawning of
oysters in the purpose-built hatchery, appreciate the delicate operations of seeding
and harvesting oysters and understand the value of pearls and the creation of
stunning jewellery.
A highlight of the tour will be cruising Willie Creek’s calm azure waters and view live
oysters suspended in their natural environment.
Some free time in the afternoon before our farewell dinner as we watch the sun set
over Cable Beach.

Oaks Broome

Day 16

Tuesday 3 Aug

Time to explore historic downtown Broome featuring Chinatown, and, of course,
time for an investment in a Kimberley pearl.
Better still, stay an extra day or two or extend your adventure to the Horizontal
waterfalls and the 1000 island archipelago