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“Only limited by your imagination”, Head Chef, Locki Waddell, shares his magic from the kitchen

A significant part of your stay at Tiwi Island Retreat is the dining experience, with many guests leaving in absolute awe of the dishes carefully curated by our own chef, Locki Waddell. With an endless supply of fresh seafood and his passion for cooking, we asked Locki how he creates ocean to plate magic at the Retreat. 

Locki Waddell

With a career spanning over two decades, Locki embarked on his culinary career at the age of 16 through an apprenticeship. Now aged 40, he is not short of experience. 

“I got into the food industry because I love cooking. I love Tiwi for all its fresh produce. You’re only limited by your imagination and time.”

Originally from Adelaide, Locki brings a diverse background to Tiwi Island Retreat having spent four years in Indonesia running a restaurant. He recalls the difficulty and stress of getting fresh produce in Indonesia. Seeing a job opening at the Retreat piqued his interest.

Snapper Dumplings

“I couldn’t resist being able to have access to fresh fish all the time. Instead of going to a fish market at 3am, I can now walk past the filleting bench on my way over to work.”

He continued, “My favourite part of my job is the control of the food supply chain and access to so much amazing fresh seafood. For example, when guests come back from a fishing tour with a freshly caught queen fish, we prepare the fish at our filleting station then bring it straight to the kitchen just at the perfect stage for it to taste amazing. This is just not possible to do anywhere else.”

Kingfish Sashimi

His experience in Indonesia plays a crucial role in the influence of his dishes at the Retreat. Locki is inspired by South-East Asian food as the opportunities to experiment with recipes are endless.

“I’ve always enjoyed cooking South-East Asian food and classic Cantonese seafood dishes. The Retreat is 600km from Indonesia, so this style of cooking suits the climate and the produce we can get.”

Although guests of the Retreat leave their trust in Locki to craft extraordinary meals, a huge part of his day revolves around getting to know each guest and what they like to eat. As Locki said, he is only limited by his imagination and time, so whatever dish guests request, Locki will cater to. 

Beef Rendang

“I get the opportunity to ask guests what they would like and then produce it for them which is so satisfying. There are so many ways to cook up here, from the kitchen to the BBQ or smoking meats and fresh fish on the coals.”

In true Tiwi style, Locki loves fishing almost as much as he loves cooking them. In any downtime when he is not brainstorming recipe ideas or catching up on much-needed rest, Locki is out fishing with our tour guides Dwayne and Darcy, catching the next meal and having some fun.

A beachfront location offiering accommodation, fishing and cultural activities

Locki’s expertise in the kitchen and intimate knowledge of local produce, combined with the natural beauty of the Tiwi Islands, create a unique and exceptional dining experience for our guests. Many visitors regard his meals as standout moments of their holiday, undoubtedly something to look forward to when visiting the Retreat. All he asks of you is to come hungry and curious, ready to savour all that Tiwi Island Retreat has to offer. 


As a parting gift Locki has shared one of his recipes, a crowd favourite amongst Tiwi Island Retreat guests.

Black Pepper Crab


Ingredients (Measure to taste and your heart’s desire): 

Mud crab
Vegetable oil
Rice flour
Black pepper
Curry leaves
Chopped garlic
Light soy sauce
Dark soy sauce
Oyster sauce
Fermented soybean sauce
Diced chilli
Diced capsicum
Sliced onion



 1. Clean and prepare your mud crab. Lightly dust in rice flour.
 2. Place butter in a wok  to melt. Add curry leaves and a generous amount of black pepper
 3. Cook until the curry leaves are crispy. Add garlic and fry for one minute.
 4. Add water, light soy, dark soy, oyster sauce and fermented soybean sauce with a little pinch of sugar to taste and stir to combine.
 5. Remove the sauce from the wok. Fry the mud crab in hot oil for one minute.
 6. Remove mud crab from the wok.
 7. Add finely diced chilli, onion and capsicum into wok and toss until fragrant.
 8. Add mud crab back into wok along with the sauce.
 9. Plate and enjoy!