Turtle Dreaming + Tiwi Islands


An immersive cultural and eco-sailing experience – 4 days 3 nights


  • Explore Bare Sand Island, an important turtle nesting site
  • Walking tour of two unique modern-day Aboriginal communities
  • Meet the artists and purchase artworks direct
  • Learn to throw a spear with a woomera
  • Have billy tea and damper
  • Drop a line and try your hand at hooking a salmon or jewfish
  • Learn to sail aboard a 50ft luxury catamaran

Pickup from: Cullen Bay Jetty (outside the Marina)

Duration: 4 days 3 nights

Depart: 9am Day 1           Return: 4pm Day 4

Sails: See scheduled dates to the right, plus on request. Best time to see turtles is around new moon and full moon.

Vessel: Sundancer 50ft deluxe sailing catamaran (genuine sailing vessel)

Capacity: Minimum 4 guests, Maximum 12 guests


Sometimes we visit the Tiwi Islands first, and sometimes we visit Bare Sand Island first, depending on prevailing winds, tides, Art Centre opening days, and what guests want to do. A typical itinerary is below.

Day 1

We set sail early in the morning to Bare Sand Island, arriving around midday. With our local Larrakia guide Rocky who is a traditional owner of this area you’ll go ashore in the afternoon and look for turtle tracks and learn about the dreamtime stories of the island and surrounding area. Rocky will also teach you how to make and throw a traditional spear using a woomera, and introduce you to some bush-tucker. After a relaxing afternoon ashore,you return to Sundancer for a delicious meal aboard, bathed in the glorious
colours of the last lights of the setting sun.

After dinner, we return again to the beach where we watch for sea turtles making their way up the beach, and hopefully the chance to witness a female turtle making her nest and laying her eggs. Later in the season (from July onwards) you may also see the eruption of baby turtle hatchlings from their homes beneath the warm sand, as they begin their scramble towards the water.

We return you to Sundancer with cool drinks waiting, where Rocky will serenade you with the haunting sounds of the didgeridoo. You’re welcome to learn how to play; or just lay back on the deck with the balmy night air wrapped around you like a soft blanket and the Milky Way a brilliant ceiling of stars across the night sky. At your leisure, make your way to your airconditioned private cabin for a peaceful night’s sleep at a quiet anchorage (or if you prefer, you can sleep in a swag on deck, under a sky of diamonds).

Day 2

In the morning, after a wholesome breakfast aboard we can explore any of several nearby reefs, and possibly hook a salmon or jewfish for some fresh lunchtime sashimi! Many a time dolphins will join us to play on the bow wave, plus there’s a chance to spot dugong and massive sea turtles. After lunch we sail north to the Tiwi Islands and anchor in the Apsley Strait which separates Bathurst Island and Melville Island, close to the township of Wurrumiyanga (previously Nguiu).

Day 3

After breakfast we go ashore at Wurrumiyanga on Bathurst Island, the largest community in the Tiwi Islands, where guests will join a full day tour by Tiwi Designs.  On a typical day tour you will be met by one or more of the elders, given a traditional welcome to country, and join them for billy tea and damper. You’ll then take a tour of the famous Tiwi Designs gallery where you can watch the artists, carvers and screen printers at work. Tiwi designs are noted world-wide – in 1986 the Tiwi people prepared the vestments worn by Pope John Paul during his Australian tour, the designs included both papal and Tiwi symbols. Tiwi pottery and Tiwi Pima woodcarvings are also expanding industries. Guests have the opportunity to buy goods direct from the artists. You’ll also visit the museum which traces the history of the Tiwi people from Dreamtime to the present and the extraordinarily beautiful and unique Tiwi Catholic church. There’s plenty of opportunity to meet and interact with locals and guests also have an opportunity to create their own piece of Tiwi Art to take home. After returning to Sundancer for another delicious barbeque dinner aboard, our overnight anchorage is again in Apsley Strait.

Day 4

Depending on the prevailing winds, we may take a detour across to the Vernon Islands Conservation Area on the last day where there are some excellent deep holes and reefs for fishing, before a brisk sail back on the afternoon seabreeze – with keen guests permitted to assist with sailing and navigation – which sees us sailing back into Darwin harbour just in time for sunset.


(click to view larger images in a slideshow)

Where we go:

Bare Sand Island is part of a chain of islands to the south-west of Darwin, at the entrance to Bynoe Harbour. The islands have strong cultural significance to local Aboriginal people and are part of the Dreamtime story. The route and itinerary can be varied to suit guests specific requirements. A typical route is shown below (click to open an interactive map in a new window).

Other information

Inclement Weather: All sailing is subject to suitable tides & weather and guest safety is paramount. The Skipper has the final say if a trip is to be rescheduled or cancelled due to bad weather. Bookings can be transferred to another day and time or a 100% refund can apply.

Minimum Passenger Numbers: All trips except for a sole charter have a minimum passenger requirement of guests. If your journey is rescheduled or cancelled due to this we will endeavour to accommodate you on an alternative trip. Should this not be suitable a 100% refund can apply.

Pricing: is on a per person twin-share basis.

* Turtles nest at Bare Sand Island during the dry season. Sighting of nesting or hatchling turtles is totally dependent on nature and cannot be guaranteed. Peak times for sightings are at full moon and new moon, 2 hours before and after the high tide.




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Sail Darwin
2/27 Paspaley Place, Cullen Bay DarwinNT0820 Australia 
 • 0437243579