Bearhands and I had been looking forward to this trip since January. We celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary on the 27th and given our history of celebrating anniversaries, we wanted to make this one special.
I'd read about the Berkeley River Lodge in the Qantas magazine a few years ago, so when a ridiculously cheap deal came up on Luxury Escapes I nabbed it, then kept it a secret until Bearhand's birthday.
We flew to Darwin on Wednesday, then onto the Berkeley River in a light aircraft. The flight took an hour and forty minutes. It was the first time I'd flown in a Caravan - David's aircraft - and I had mixed emotions during the flight. Luckily we were sitting in the back row of seats; so no-one but Bearhands saw me cry. I don't think it would have been a conversation any of us wanted to have.
With the change in timezone in our favour, we landed just ten minutes after we departed. We were picked up in a converted Landcruiser troop carrier and welcomed at the lodge with a cool towel and a cold drink.
This was the view from the pool deck - it was everything I'd hoped for and more!
We chose the activities we wanted to join during our stay, then shown to our amazing villa. Where we discovered we'd been upgraded to a villa with an ocean view. On the drive to the villa, our guide Bec asked what brought us to the Berkeley River and I told her it was our anniversary. Straight away, she suggested that she'd happily put together a cheese plate and a bottle of champagne and drive us to a spot for sunset if we'd like. Would we ever??!!
After the sun went down, we wandered back to the lodge for dinner. Cleaning my teeth in the outside bathroom with just the stars for a roof, I promised myself a bath under the stars before we left and we tucked ourselves into bed.
I woke before sunset the next morning. The sky was glowing red and I was just too excited to go back to sleep - lucky there's a nespresso in the rooms!
We outdoor showered - this time admiring the native grevillea flowers - then we headed off to breakfast and our next adventure - a cruise up the river
The skipper Dempsey warned us to go easy on the photos. "You'll be overcome by the beauty of this reach and take a hundred photos, then we'll turn the corner and it will be even more beautiful." He was right, but when have I ever spared the camera?
He invited us to move around the boat. So I spent a while sitting at the very front of the boat, we rounded a corner to reveal massive red rock cliffs and I found myself a little bit teary. For all the unpleasantness of the past few months, we were actually in the Kimberely. All the house arrest had paid off, my health had held up....we'd made it!
I didn't sook for long. Soon we pulled into this ridiculously beautiful spot for a picnic lunch and a cold beer.
Then travelled a little bit further upstream for a swim in the fresh (saltwater crocodile-free) section of the Berkeley.
Later we went for a wander on the beach, found the world's tiniest hermit crabs and a spectacular array of shells.
Dinner was another delicious offering at communal tables at the lodge. By the time we made it back to the villa, I was too tired to wait for the massive bath to fill.
It seemed that the Berkeley had delivered a perfect day, I didn't realise she had even more up her sleeve.
(You can read about our perfect day here.)