After months of living in isolation, Australia is slowly starting to reopen. And what better way to celebrate than with a few luxury escapes somewhere far off the beaten track.
As one of the leading nations to flatten the curve, the time couldn’t be better to support regional towns and communities – some deeply affected by the summer bushfires – all the while taking a well-deserved break from the stresses of the year.
From the famed Wolgan Valley in New South Wales’ picturesque bush to the mesmerising outback and chic bungalows at the Top End’s Bamurru Plains, there is a captivating experience for everyone – no passport or sacrifice of style necessary.
Australia truly has it all; outback adventures in open-top 4WD across its deserts, white winter wonderlands in the south, and a smattering of tropical paradises along its coastlines. The hard part? Where to start.
New South Wales
Pretty Beach House
Location: Central Coast
How to get there: 90-minute drive from Sydney
Cost: From A$2,000 p/n (two night minimum)
A private day spa, sandstone open fireplace, wine cellar and infinity pool are just some of the simple pleasures to be enjoyed at Pretty Beach House.
Nestled in the heart of Bouddi National Park, an array of earthy interiors, mud-brick walls and sandstone floors marry timelessly with coastal surrounds.
Soar high above the canopy in the Treetops Pavilion – the penthouse of the sanctuary – or retreat to the secluded haven of the Hideaway Pavilion where you can while away the days in the heated plunge pool or cast-iron slipper bath.
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley
Location: Greater Blue Mountains
How to get there: 2.5-hour drive from Sydney
Cost:from A$2,950 p/n
Reconnect with the untamed nature across Wolgan Valley’s 7,000 acres of breathtaking World Heritage-listed mountain ranges.
Truly a world away, guests can explore the awe-inspiring landscapes on foot or horseback, be pampered at the spa with Australian botanicals, and dine at the hearty restaurant with valley views.
At night, you can go for a late-evening dip in the exclusive temperature-controlled private pool or cosy up with a good book in a lounge chair beside the rustic double-sided fireplace before resting your head in the four-poster king-sized bed in the Three-bedroom Wolgan Villa.
Spicers Sangoma Retreat
Location: Blue Mountains
How to get there: 75-minute drive from Sydney
Cost: From A$1,299 p/n, all-inclusive offer
Wrapped in the natural serenity of the Blue Mountains, Spicers Sangoma Retreat effortlessly combines nature with understated luxury for a unique experience.
Privacy and seclusion are a priority here, and the range of suites offers much more than just a destination. Double bathtub and rain shower, king-size custom-made bed, wood-burning fireplace and under-floor heating are just some of the opulent features of the Luxury Bush Suites.
Whether you enjoy an action-packed adventure of abseiling down majestic canyons or finding inspiration among the beautiful surrounds for watercolour painting with wine is more to your taste, there is a rejuvenating activity for all interests.
Lake House Daylesford
Location: Great Dividing Range
How to get there: 1.5-hour drive from Melbourne
Cost: from A$1,410 p/n
One of the most beautiful resorts in the country, the Lake House is synonymous with the quaint country town in which is resides.
Go at your own pace and enjoy a glass of wine by the fire, spot koalas dozing in nearby forests or meander through the art studio. Perhaps getting involved in a class is more your speed; learn from Australia’s best chefs at the on-site cooking school or slow down with a yoga or meditation class. Either way, the Lake House is bound to reground you.
Each suite boasts its own delights – private courtyard, alpaca throws and deep ceramic tub in The Sutton Suite; private access to the lake, heated ensuite floors and double spa bath in The Waterfront Suites; double European style showers in the Lodge Suites – while hidden touches throughout the property such as birdwatching books with binoculars and original artworks from local artists truly set it apart from other retreats.
The Pole House
Location: Great Ocean Road
How to get there: About a 2-hour drive from Melbourne
Cost: from A$610 p/n
Suspended 40 metres above the wild coast is a home like no other and possibly the most iconic property in Australia.
Emphasising experience rather than accommodation, The Pole House provides panoramic views of the wild ocean unlike anything you would have seen before.
A floating fireplace will keep you warm as you gaze out towards the horizon. And if you’re feeling brave, you can stroll along the wraparound balcony with nothing between you and the salty air but a glass ledge.
Big Blue Backyard
Location: Mornington Peninsula
How to get there: 1.5-hour drive from Melbourne
Cost: from A$661 p/n (two-night minimum)
Relaxing, bathing, feasting, recharging and sleeping in are life’s little luxuries worth indulging in at Big Blue Backyard. This oasis brings to life what a grown-up tree house could be like, with little earthy luxuries.
Nestled among native bushland, Dunes is a charming hideaway at peace with nature, eminent with its ‘living deck’, bush kitchen, outdoor rain shower and tree lanterns. For those wanting to hit the reset button, the Beach retreat is ideal with its hand-built bed, driftwood sculptures and outdoor shower enclosed with natural branches – and it can only be found via a hidden boardwalk.
Meanwhile, there’s the Ocean suite with its giant glass doors for floods of natural light, a private deck for feasts and another for baths, and handmade light fittings and bubbles for outdoor spa baths, for a seaside retreat that leaves you feeling refreshed and connected to nature.
Location: Gold Coast
How to get there: 40-minute drive from Gold Coast Airport
Cost: from A$399 p/n
Dubbed the world’s first fashion-inspired hotel, glamour runs through the very core of the Italian-founded hotel.
Treat yourself to one of the 200 bedrooms and suites complete with bespoke Versace Home furnishing and private Juliet balconies. If that’s not enough, you can indulge with a Rolls-Royce Phantom chauffeur service.
Making you feel as if you’re in Milan – with tropical Queensland weather – the Imperial Suite is described as being the epitome of luxury with a king-size custom-made bed, walk-in wardrobe, butler service (on request) and private cabana.
Mt. Mulligan Lodge
Location: Far North Queensland
How to get there: 2.5-hour drive from Cairns or 35-minute helicopter flight
Cost: from A$1,700 p/n
Spanning 28,000 hectares of stark outback in Far North Queensland are just eight rooms featuring cosy wood-burning fireplaces, private decks, outdoor baths, homey living areas and electric buggies.
With the capacity to accommodate only 16 people at any one time, Mt. Mulligan Lodge is the perfect place to trade the bustle of city life for chef-prepared gourmet picnics followed by nights spent stargazing.
The property has a rich history of gold and coal mining but is now doubles as a working cattle station and luxury outback retreat with glistening weirs and native woodlands.
Lizard Island Resort
Location: Great Barrier Reef
How to get there: One-hour charter plane from Cairns
Cost: from A$2,029 p/n, all-inclusive
Expansive white shores and warm azure oceans encompass the tropical island paradise at this natural gem – the Great Barrier Reef.
The secluded resort has 40 rooms and villas for guests to enjoy along with private beaches, a day spa, glass-bottom sea kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and snorkelling equipment – making for memories to cherish.
For an extra opulent treat, guests can experience the Dom Pérignon Retreat. This decadent experience reimagines barefoot luxury with a snorkelling adventure topped off with flutes of chilled Dom Pérignon and an intimate fresh seafood picnic followed by an evening of stargazing with Dom Pérignon silk pyjamas, scented candles and customised beach towels.
Due to government COVID-19 travel restrictions, Lizard Island Resort is closed until September 2020.
Location: edge of Kakadu National Park
How to get there: 3-hour drive from Darwin or 25-minute charter flight
Cost: from A$1,140 p/n (two-night minimum)
For those wanting to experience the best of wild bush luxury while embracing utter outback beauty, Bamurru Plains is the place for you.
Home to a number of exclusive bungalows including The Lodge, Safari Bungalows and Kingfisher Suite, all of which feature intimate pieces of Aboriginal history, there is nothing like escaping reality for days spent on safari.
Quintessentially Australian, the Wild Bush Luxury retreat offers dress circle seating to the Top End’s stark outback and characteristic wetlands. And with no mobile phone reception, television or wi-fi, the spectacle of wildlife will have your full attention.
How to get there: 15-minute drive from Ayers Rock Airport
Cost: from A$1,700 p/n (two-night minimum)
Nestled among ancient dunes bursting in vibrant, rich red hues is Uluru – undoubtedly Australia’s best-known natural wonder.
Longitude 131° consists of a collection of 16 tented pavilions, which were designed to have minimal impact on the environment, providing a luxurious sanctuary in the heart of the Red Centre. After guests have enjoyed a night under the stars, Spa Kinara makes a perfect spiritual and revitalising oasis.
Designed as a modern homestead, the breathtaking Dune Pavilion boasts a private plunge pool, rain showers, eco-smart fireplaces and two bedrooms with ensuites as well as a one-of-a-kind view of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
Due to government COVID-19 travel restrictions, Longitude 131° is closed until late August 2020.
Wildman Wilderness Lodge
Location: Halfway between Darwin and Kakadu
How to get there: 2-hour drive from Darwin
For those who adore sleeping in the heart of the outback, a few nights spent at Wildman Wilderness Lodge will go down a treat.
A central lodge, 10 cabins and 15 safari tents create one of the best luxury escapes without hindering the surrounding wetlands and wildlife.
Keeping in line with its philosophical sustainable ethos, the ‘recycled resort’ was once Wrotham Park Station situated nearly four hours west of Cairns. When the park closed in 2009, it was dismantled and transported 2,800 kilometres north-west to create the Australian eco-lodge that sits on the remarkable Mary River Wetlands.
Due to government COVID-19 travel restrictions, Wildman Wilderness Lodge is closed until the 2021 season.
Australian Capital Territory
How to get there: 10-minute drive from CBD
Cost: from A$143 p/n
First opened in 1926, Hotel Kurrajong was designed by the same architect behind the Old Parliament House, John Smith Murdoch.
The iconic hotel exudes Art Deco décor, jazz music and Australian political heritage, making it a historically rich place to explore.
Compromising of 147 newly refurbished rooms overlooking the gorgeous terrace gardens, there is an abundance of suites to choose from.
How to get there: Five-minute drive from CBD
Cost: from A$205 p/n
Reignite your creativity with a few nights at Ovolo’s boutique luxury hotel, where every room is slightly different.
Blending innovation with sustainability, this Art Deco hotel is an intriguing work of art with its grand staircase, industrial-style library and captivating lobby boasting an array of textures and colours – and that’s all before reaching the suites.
The Meandering Atrium is the biggest of the rooms with a king-size bed, desk and concrete bathtub, and its reimagined textured walls and view of the internal atrium jungle of Tasmania tree ferns bring the Australian landscape indoors.
Jamala Wildlife Lodge
How to get there: 10-minute drive from the CBD
Cost: from A$1,195 p/n
If you’ve ever dreamed of going on African safari, then the possibility of sleeping with tigers, lions and giraffes without having to fetch your passport should certainly pique your interest.
Just moments from the heart of Australia’s political capital is Jamala Wildlife Lodge – an African-inspired luxury resort with a strong focus on conservation running through everything they do.
Whether you have dinner with rare white lions, sleep with sun bears or hand-feed tigers and meerkats, you can do it with a warm heart knowing the animals were rescued and now help promote the importance of wildlife conservation.
Berkeley River Lodge
Location: East Kimberley region
How to get there: 90-minute flight from Darwin
Cost: from A$2,850 p/n, all-inclusive
Perched on one of the last truly untouched wilderness areas on Earth is an unforgettable Kimberley adventure at Berkeley River Lodge.
Described as Australia’s most remote luxury lodge experience, only accessible by air, this escape will have you leaving life’s worries far behind as you venture along the coastal dunes and bunker down in one of the many opulent villas.
Venture across the desert with adrenaline-evoking 4WD tours, take in the area on scenic flights, peruse ancient Indigenous art, admire natural treasures during a river cruise and dine at the exclusive Dunes restaurant – this is what once-in-a-lifetime memories are made of.
Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef
Location: North West Cape of WA
How to get there: 90-minute drive from Exmouth Airport
Cost: from A$849 p/n (two-night minimum, all-inclusive)
Experience Australia’s longest fringing coral reef immersed in nature where the bush meets the coast.
This exclusive beach camp brings seaside safari to life, with eco tents so luxurious you’ll fall asleep just listening to the soothing sounds of the ocean.
Nestled between the Cape Range National Park and the Ningaloo Marine Park, the camp’s attention to sustaining the environment with minimal impact is paramount while simultaneously offering an authentic Australian holiday alongside the glistening coral reef.
Injidup Spa Retreat
Location: Margaret River wine region
How to get there: 3-hour drive from Perth
Cost: from A$680 p/n
With the tranquil beach, private yoga classes, private plunge pools, private chef and relaxing day spa, it’s little wonder Injidup Spa Retreat has been described as one of Western Australia’s best-kept secrets.
Gourmet hampers, bottles of wine, free-standing bathtubs, fireplaces, walk-in robes, panoramic ocean views and heated floors make for a secluded oasis in the Margaret River wine region that is simply breathtaking.
Whether you opt for the one-bedroom villa, honeymoon villa or two-bedroom villa, this adults-only retreat will leave you feeling pampered.
Location: Kangaroo Island
How to get there: 45-minute ferry from Cape Jervis
Cost: from A$450 p/n (two-night minimum)
Kangaroo Island was devastated by the 2020 bushfires; about 48% of the island was burned earlier this year. Six months later, many companies are back open for business, including the ultra-luxe Ecopia Retreat.
The eco-conscious and sustainable property reflects the owners’ passion for the environment. The residence is set among 150 acres of wilderness and is entirely powered by an off-grid solar energy system, with villas that have been crafted from rammed earth.
Just three retreat options can be enjoyed by guests, creating an incredibly private and peaceful getaway.
Location: Barossa Valley
How to get there: 45-minute drive from Adelaide Airport
Cost: from A$5,000 (two-night minimum)
Built in 1856 as the home of wealthy 19th century pastoralist Stephen King, the grand Kingsford Homestead makes it easy to get lost in time with its soaring ceilings, stone cellars and Gothic aesthetic.
The iconic building once starred in the popular Australian drama McLeod’s Daughters, and for eight years was closed to the public for filming, before it was bought from Kerry Packer and transformed into the five-star retreat.
Up to 14 guests can sleep across seven uniquely named suites each with its own ensuite. Culinary classes, outdoor bush bath with French Champagne and spa treatments certainly make for an enjoyable adventure, but it’s the hot-air ballooning across the picturesque landscape that will stay with you forever.
Location: Flinders Ranges
How to get there: 425km drive from Adelaide
Cost: from A$2,140 for two nights (all-inclusive)
Uncover the hidden treasures of outback Australia with creek-side massages, open-top safari tours, wildlife spotting, fossil hunting, helicopter tours and bush-tucker degustations.
Set upon 59,305 acres, Arkaba was once a sheep farming station but is now a rustic yet chic place to fritter away the days and learn about the country’s rich history spanning hundreds of millions of years.
There are only four character-filled guestrooms in the homestead, with an additional room separate to the house in the Coachman’s Cottage, located in the garden for extra privacy.
Open fires for frosty desert evenings, a wrap-around veranda, small library, pillow menu, decadent leather armchairs and swimming pool among the ranges are just some of the hearty features you can enjoy when you go bush.
The Woodbridge Tasmania
Location: Along the River Derwent
How to get there: 35-minute drive from Hobart
Cost: from A$295 p/n
Established in 1852, there is something special about dozing off in one of Australia’s oldest historical houses.
If walls could talk, there would be almost two centuries of stories to delve into at The Woodbridge Tasmania – a history-lover’s dream that’s been likened to receiving the keys to your friend’s country mansion.
Not suitable for young children, the property has a range of activities to dabble in before bunkering down in one of the eight river-view suites.
Due to government COVID-19 travel restrictions, The Woodbridge Tasmania is not accepting bookings until at least late September 2020.
Location: Freycinet Peninsula, East Coast
How to get there: 2-hour drive from Hobart or 30-minute scenic flight
Cost: from A$2,100 p/n
Walking barefoot along the sandy shores, getting up close with beekeepers and oyster farms, Wineglass Bay cruises, clay shooting and encountering the famed Tasmanian Devil are just some of the possibilities at Saffire Frevcinet.
That is, if you can drag yourself away from the comfort of the stunning signature suites.
The most spacious and private of suites are the Private Pavilions. Each one boasts a separate bedroom, plunge pool, private courtyard and kitchen – although you won’t have much use for it with your private, highly acclaimed chef on standby.
Location: Lake St Clair
How to get there: 2.5-hour drive from Hobart
Cost: from A$313 p/n
Australia may be renowned for its blistering hot red centre, but its snowy white winter wonderland should not be overlooked.
Industrial buildings have been transformed into an intimate retreat, allowing guests (no children allowed) to reserve a room among the wilderness along the edges of the glassy Lake St Clair – making it one of the most unique luxury escapes.
Quintessentially Tasmanian, Pumphouse Point has three buildings to choose from – The Retreat, Shorehouse and Pumphouse (suspended over the lake) – showcasing the iconic lake’s beauty.