Northern Territory

Northern Territiory Tourism Brolga Award Winner 2000

The Never Never Experience.
As seen on GETAWAY TV Program

This is the location that put Mike Keighley and FAR OUT ADVENTURES on the International tourist map over a decade ago and continues to do so. It embodies the ‘real’ Australia – Aboriginal culture, wildlife, bush tucker, waterfalls, wetlands, camping by warm springs, and right in the middle of an Aboriginal owned cattle station in the remote Northern Territory.

The Never Never country is pretty well the closest thing you will get to real paradise – well that’s what our guests say – we agree. However – if you like masses of tourists around you to make you feel safe, or the comfort of a five star hotel and your bed turned down - then don’t read on.

Of course if you are unsure about camping under the stars we also offer alternative outback motel accommodation nearby in the town of Mataranka – but its not the Sheraton!

We want you to experience the World’s oldest culture in an unstructured way, back to basics, away from crowds and tourist buses, and you are invited to join discerning travellers from around the world who rate this place and it’s people as one of their best experiences in Australia. Comments such as – ‘never thought a place like this could exist’, ‘don’t change a thing’, ‘so untouristy’, ‘will be back next year’, ‘wished we could have stayed longer’, ‘am giving up my day job’, and ’trip beyond fabulous’.

Day one
Leave Katherine at 8am and head south for two hours. Arrive at our campsite by the Roper River and set up camp for the next three days. Afternoon we go on safari exploring some country with the local Aboriginal guides – ‘the Never Never Bush Rangers’. Night time around the fire and after dinner the Aboriginal people will join us.

Day two
After breakfast its off on another four wheel drive safari - to the ‘Jungle’ – an amazing wetland and jungle area that is home to the worlds largest stand of Livistona Rigida palms. Its all part of the spectacular eco system that defines the Never Never country. We take lunch with us and travel on dirt tracks – often escorted by wallabies that run through the bush and across the path in front of us. Later in the day we find clear water to swim in – or try our hand at fishing for the elusive barramundi. Dinner once again cooked on the open fire and sleep under a million stars to the sound of bubbling streams.

Day three
The scenery here just gets better and today we go on safari to the ‘waterfall’ – a series of small waterfalls that surround an emerald coloured pool – you can enjoy swimming here – or just photographing this magic location. Afternoon we do activities with the children – and if you have skills you want to pass on – this is your time to share. This is our last night in the Never Never so we try to have a sing-a-long with our new friends and laugh together.

Day four
We break up camp, say goodbye to new friends and make our way back to Katherine arriving around 3pm.,

Where is it?

140klms south- east of Katherine or 440 klms south – east of Darwin is the Never Never country - a 1.2 million acre area that is spread out either side of the emerald green Roper River.

This is the home of the Mangarrayi Aboriginal people - some of whom can recall the time they saw their first white man – Grook Grook they called him – ‘ghost’.

Some history

It was nearly a century ago a best selling novel 'We of the Never Never' was written by Mrs Jeannie Gunn - she was the first white woman to come to this area. She said in her book ' those who venture into this land and love it will never never want to leave it'. A full length movie 'We of the Never Never' was shot here on location in the 1980's and subsequent documentaries and travel stories have tried to capture the essence of the country.

Fact is – nothing can capture this enchanting place – you just have to be here!

The growing number of guests who come back attests to this. Mikes father visited this country in the 60’s and enthralled Mike with his stories of the Never Never and people. Mike Keighley became a close friend of the traditional owners and they invited him to bring guests into their land of clear thermal pools, bubbling bush jacuzzis, lily covered lagoons, tropical jungles, vast savannah plains and ancient culture.

What happens on the Never Never Experience?

The ‘experience’ leaves the twentieth century behind and takes you back to a time free of materialism. Transport is in a purpose built four wheel drive vehicle. You camp out with us in comfortable bush swags beside a warm thermal pool (no crocs ) wake to the sound of kookaburras, come on peaceful bushwalks , take a ride with us in our boat to Red Lily lagoon , paddle a canoe through ancient jungles, swim under clear waterfalls with Aboriginal children , share in cooking up the spoils of the day – and relax around a flickering campfire as night settles – you can do as much or as little as you wish out in Never Never land – it is totally enchanting.

Mike and his friends can take you on bush tucker walks - collect native foods, catch fish, make bread over a coal fire, learn the sounds of the birdlife – and then there is always the wildlife to go looking for – birds, reptiles, wallabies … and the occasional freshwater crocodile.

You will have a first hand experience in seeing how the world’s oldest culture copes with the challenges of dealing with western civilisation – the stone age meeting the nuclear age if you will. Your visit will be part guided by the ‘Never Never Bush Rangers’ - a small group of enthusiastic youth who are training to become fully accredited Aboriginal guides. If you have a skill or profession you’d like to pass on to encourage the young people of the community with – please let us know so we can arrange some time to do so.

To ensure you get the best out of your visit we don’t combine groups – when you come with your friends or family you are the exclusive guests of Mike and the Mangarrayi people - this ensures a unique experience away from crowds.

When to come?

The best time to come is between May and October – the weather is warm to hot during the day – and cools off at night – this is the Dry season in the Northern Territory. Of course you can come at other times of the year as well. We recommend a stay of at least two days – and more if you can !

We do stress this – advance bookings are ESSENTIAL – we turn away many guests each year because we only facilitate about 8 groups each year . You will be hard pressed to find this trip available with any regular travel agents as it does not fit into mainstream tourism. Best to contact Mike direct and he will deal with you or put you in contact with his agent.

If you can come please try to do so – this type of interaction with Aboriginal people in their homeland is unique and in the near future will not be possible as the Old People die off and the younger ones merge with Western ‘culture’.

Cost is based on number of days you wish to stay, the number in your party and each trip is quoted accordingly. The final cost includes most everything including royalties to the Aboriginal people and support for the Never Never Foundation. Part of your payment goes to maintaining the guide program and supporting the Never Never Aboriginal Foundation.

We also arrange transport to and from Darwin.

This tour has achieved Advanced Ecotourism Accreditation and was a National Finalist in Heritage & Cultural Tourism. Frommers Guide to Australia rates this under the 'Best Outback Experiences in Australia'.

Email any enquiries to

Mike’s comments

I have operated tours across Northern Australia for the past decade – from Broome to Arnhemland – Kakadu, the Kimberley , Litchfield and so on. Many of my international clients also visit other locations whilst in Australia – Daintree, Barrier reef, Cairns, Uluru , Kangaroo Island , Sydney, Melbourne.

I get regular emails after they have returned to their home country - to say that the highlight of Australia was Never Never country – and that they will be coming back .

Of course often it is not always possible to return – but for those who have been touched by Never Never land there is a bond between them, the land and it’s people that crosses borders and oceans.

I have not seen this with any other location I travel to.


Northern Territory

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