Visiting the Northern Territory was at the top of our Aussie bucket list! On our recent holiday there we visited Kakadu National Park and stayed at Cooinda Lodge in one of their Outback Retreats.
The Outback Retreats are new to Kakadu National Park and our experience was generally positive, with a few small negatives. However, given the limited options of accommodation in Kakadu, Cooinda was definitely the best option.
The Outback Retreats are a canvas tent with one solid wall, glass front door and a deck. They are also built on an elevated platform and we did really appreciate all the environmentally friendly choices that Cooinda has implemented across the lodge in order to have minimal impact on the environment.
The furniture in the retreats was of high quality and the beds were very comfortable with quality linens. The decor and interiors blended perfectly with the bush landscape that surrounded us in the National Park and we loved that a lot of the elements of the Outback Retreats were designed and hand made here in Australia.
The Outback Retreats do not have their own ensuite bathrooms and guests use a shared amenities block. We knew this when booking so this was not a shock. The amenities block was clean when we arrived however we don’t think it was cleaned over the next 48 hours throughout our stay as it was really grotty by the time we left. This was quite disappointing given how much we paid to stay and was something that is reflected on many reviews online.
We booked one of the Outback Retreat Plus’ which had a queen bed and bunk beds. Obviously Addie is too little for the bunks but we had planned to put her travel cot in the back section where they were, however we found that it only had a small fan and it was like a sauna in there so we kept her cot in the main part of the tent and kept that part zipped up.
We liked the outdoor sitting area and enjoyed sitting out there for a bit once Addie had gone to bed at night. We also ate breakfast out there each morning. We self catered most of our stay as it is just easier with a toddler and we had read mixed reviews on the dining situation. Our room had a small bar fridge/freezer which was plenty of room to store what we needed for a couple of days. We had done our shopping before we left Katherine, but there is a small shop on site however being very remote, the price is obviously reflected in that!
The Outback retreat also had power, USB charging ports, a ceiling fan and air conditioning. We found that even with the air conditioning on 18 degrees, that the tent didn’t really cool down properly until about 8 or 9pm. For most people this would not be an issue but when you have a baby needing a day sleep and going to bed early, this isn’t ideal. I couldn’t find the same issues online however it could have just been that we were visiting at the hottest time of the year and perhaps our tent was in the sun more than others!
Overall, we did enjoy our experience in the Outback Retreat, it felt like an appropriate place to stay in such a naturally beautiful location. It certainly isn’t cheap, at $806 for two nights, however as we mentioned earlier – given the remote nature of Kakadu National Park, there isn’t many options! If we had our time over, we potentially would have booked one of the lodge rooms just to avoid the issues with the hot tent however hindsite is always a good thing!
Cooinda Lodge itself has great facilities with two refreshing lagoon pools, a kids playground, jumping pillow and bbqs for guests. There are also two restaurants on site, a shop and a bar. We found the staff we came into contact with not to be rude, but just generally not that happy to be there or that overly helpful.
We would love to return to Kakadu and given the great facilities on offer at Cooinda (mostly the pools)! we would stay there again. Hopefully next time just on a powered site as we are hoping to return with a four wheel drive and a caravan!
Whilst this wasn’t the most positive of reviews, we did have a more positive than negative experience. There was just a few things that we felt could be improved such as the cleaning of the amenities block and the demeanour of the staff. The air conditioning issue was likely one most people don’t experience as they probably don’t go to bed until later on when it actually does cool down. We found that the air conditioning was excellent by then! It is just something people with small kids should keep in mind, or at least ask about. It may have even been that it was just extremely hot during our visit!