A secluded island surrounded by turquoise Arafura waters, teeming with aquatic life. A sanctuary for a myriad of sea birds, false killer whales, green, olive Ridley, flatback and hawksbill turtles. An unspoilt haven with pristine white powdery sand that squeaks beneath your bare feet. A slice of East Arnhem Land paradise that the small group of 20 Yolngu owners are only too proud to share with you.
Sleep under the million-star sky while slumming it in your five-star, ensuite glamping tent two steps from the sea. Toast the sunrises and sunsets from your private balcony or the pool, lounge and bar sundowner deck overlooking the western bay. Tantalise your tastebuds with award-winning dishes prepared daily utilising the freshest island produce and bountiful seafood on your doorstep.
Catch Spanish mackerel, tuna, trevally, queenfish, red emperor, jewfish and coral trout. Swim, kayak or snorkel around the translucent saltwater. Stretch your legs amongst nature along the 1.3 and 2.5km walking trails. Learn about early Macassan and Yolgnu history. The choice is yours. Nothing is rushed or forced here.
Welcome to Banubanu Beach Retreat — a dream resort on the northern tip of Bremer Island (Dhambaliya in Yolgnu), 15-minutes flight or three-hour boat ride north of Gove.
Created by Helen Martin and Trevor Hosie, they have steadily grown the facilities without interruption to the surrounding nature and environment.
“I’ve got a dream job in paradise,” says Helen. “We work hard, but it’s a great feeling seeing our dreams coming to fruition.”
An Arrernte woman from Alice Springs, Helen met Trevor in Darwin in 2000. Together they began building their Banubanu dream in 2005.
“It was Trevor’s dream. I followed. ”
Trevor’s dream began years earlier, 1983, while working for Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority surveying Sacred Sites within the NT. Although part of the team that classified Bremer Island a protected zone, the island always stayed in his heart.
After moving to Nhulunbuy for a sea change in 2001, Trevor operated a fishing charter business. He’d pull his vessel into the sheltered western bay of Banubanu for lunch onboard as no one could go ashore on Aboriginal Land. His island love rekindled. A love Helen easily shared.
Eventually, Trevor approached the traditional owners. Remembering him from earlier days, they granted permission for development of Banubanu Retreat.
The fee visitors pay when visiting the island go directly to the traditional owners.
Trevor says Banu in Persian means lady. Early Macassan traders named the massive boulders at the point Banubanu, a group of ladies.
“Banubanu was always going to be totally self-sufficient,” says Helen. “We operate on 100 per cent solar power, and the water comes from the bore.”
While they have an excellent relationship with the traditional owners, it took until 2014 to secure a 25-year Land Use Agreement lease with the Northern Land Council.
“This was the gamechanger,” says Helen. “For almost ten years, we’d poured our hard-earned cash and sweat into the retreat.
“The lease enabled us to apply for much-needed grant funding and loans to develop the business. We could transform our humble fishing shack into a world-class eco-resort.”
In 2016 they purchased three deluxe eco safari tents with canvas sides, a solid back, front deck and ensuite. Each sits directly in line with the beach.
In 2019 they purchased three more. One is a larger, eco penthouse tent. Perched on top of a sand dune, it overlooks the other accommodation.
All meals are included in a stay at Banubanu, and until recently, Helen and Trevor shared preparation of the exquisite offerings.
“After spending ten years and winning five Gold Plate Awards for the Arnhem Club, we welcomed Chef Andrew Causley in 2019,” says Helen.
His award-winning dishes are prepared with the island’s native bush foods and daily fresh catches.
“Guests don’t expect the gourmet dishes in such a rustic setting. It’s delightful.”
Two specialty dishes Andrew prepares, use locally collected green ants. His Ginger Brûlée and Buerre Blanc with fresh seafood.
For those booking a stay at Banubanu Beach Retreat between 1 April and 30 October 2022, mention Green Ant when booking and join Chef Andrew for his tree to plate experience. Watch as he harvests green ants for the dishes and prepares the world-class dishes.
Banubanu Beach Retreat
(08) 8987 8085