Australia’s accommodation can be as awe-inspiring as the country’s natural attractions. We profile some of the finest hotels and luxury lodges, plus their surrounding activities.
Start your journey in Adelaide as many do, and you’ll find plenty of luxury hotels in town, including the Intercontinental on the River Torrens and Crowne Plaza, close to the boutiques of Rundle Street. The Rendezvous is close to the restaurants of Gouger Street, while the Mayfair is due to open in early 2015 and will link the refurbished Rundle Mall and the new Riverbank Entertainment Precinct.
Food-wise, you can’t go far wrong with Press on Waymouth Street, a restaurant that’s obsessed with local, natural food, or try the clubby Windy Point restaurant and café with its amazing views of the city.
Southern Ocean Lodge
Heading south of Adelaide, Southern Ocean Lodge sits on top of a secluded cliff on Kangaroo Island overlooking the Southern Ocean. You can reach the island on a 30-minute flight from the city, or via car and ferry taking you down South Australia’s coast.
The 21 suites provide a sanctuary of refined luxury and comfort: rooms feature lavish king beds, a sunken lounge, glass-walled bathrooms and spa amenities. The décor is understated and fitting with the landscape, with sandblasted limestone floors, recycled spotted gum tree walls and furnishing commissioned by local artists.
Your stay here is inclusive of accommodation, a la carte meals, drinks (including spirits and premium wines) and 4-wheel drive touring.
The lodge offers small group tours of the island’s highlights, travelling during off-peak times so you can enjoy a more exclusive ‘safari’ feel, including the Remarkable Rocks, Admirals Arch and the colony of fur seals, and a visit to Grassdale where you can watch kangaroos and wallabies grazing while enjoying drinks and canapés.
Luxury in the Barossa
In the Barossa, the famous wine region an hour’s drive north of Adelaide, you’ll find The Louise, a hotel nestled in the heart of the region. Deep spa tubs can be found in the suites, and the spacious gated courtyard and secluded rear terrace provide uninterrupted views of the world-class vineyards.
The Louise houses the award-winning Appellation restaurant, which prides itself on sourcing 85 per cent of its ingredients from the Barossa. You can blend your own wine in the valley, bottled for you to take home, and The Louise’s chefs will also put together a dish to match your creation.
At 160 year-old Seppeltsfield estate, close to The Louise, you can learn about the Seppelt family, tour the blending cellar and distillery and do a private tasting. Fino restaurant is based in the original bottling hall, and features furniture and cutlery made by the craftsmen at the Jam Factory, also on site.
FermentAsian, also in the region, specialises in modern Vietnamese food and grows much of its own produce. Owned by chef Tuoi Do, the restaurant has won several food and wine awards since opening in 2010.
Heading a few hours further north, you’ll find Arkaba private wildlife conservancy in the stunning Flinders Ranges, the state’s largest mountain range. Here, you can do the beautiful four-day Arkaba Walk, starting in the basin of Wilpena Pound and staying in the luxury Arkaba Homestead for a night, and sleeping out on a ‘star bed’ for two nights.
Heading to the Red Centre (you can fly to Ayers Rock airport from Darwin or Adelaide via Alice Springs in around three hours), Longitude 131 is situated at the gateway to iconic Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Fifteen luxury tents are elevated above the ochre red dunes, providing a private place to gaze in wonder as the sun rises over Uluru.
The camp’s central Dune House is a stunning meeting place to share stories of desert discoveries with other guests. You can enjoy outback fare in the Dune House Restaurant and seek light relief from the heat by taking a dip in the luxurious on-site swimming pool. All meals, drinks and touring are included in your stay.
Fly to tropical Darwin, three hours from Ayers Rock by plane, and head to the Sky City resort, which has an award-winning five-star beachside hotel and resort.
Here, you can enjoy an infinity pool, beachside lagoon with white sand and the Endota day spa and sauna. Rooms have iPod docking stations, private balcony and even pillow menus.
You’ll also find the renowned EVOO restaurant (it stands for Extra Virgin Olive Oil), and the lagoon-side Cove, which specialises in steak with a Japanese influence.
Head an hour out of the city and you’ll reach the luxury of Bamurru Plains, in the remote wilderness of the Mary River Floodplains. The lodge has a library, pool and lounging deck from which to watch wildlife grazing through the camp while an expert chef cares for your culinary needs – and food, drink (including fine wine) and touring is all-inclusive.
Nine safari bungalows are built on stilts above the floodplains and mesh screen ceiling-to-floor walls surround the bed on three sides so you can see and hear the wildlife and wilderness around you. The bungalows have spacious en-suites and the decor reflects the region’s pastoral history.
You can take an airboat trip from here, one of the best ways to view the area’s bird life, or head out on a four wheel-drive safari to see wallabies, buffalo and wild horses. If it’s the dry season (May to October), you can cruise the Sampan Creek and spot crocodiles basking in the sun.
The Northern Territory’s Top End is also home to Nitmiluk National Park, three hours’ drive south of Darwin. The main attraction is Nitmiluk itself, a sandstone gorge carved through by the Katherine River. The park is owned by the Jawoyn Aboriginal people, as is the spectacular Cicada Lodge, whose rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows, private balconies and indigenous artwork.
From here, you can tour the region. You’ll find lush greenery and powerful waterfalls during the wet season (December to March), and a sunset dinner cruise in the dry, or fly to the heart of the Dreamtime land to view Jawoyn rock art.
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