Wilson Island, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland © Tourism and Events Queensland
No Wi-Fi, no worries: where to go off-grid in Australia
Sometimes all we need is a quiet wide-open space to sit back, relax and enjoy the simple things in life. Start planning your dream nature escape with these ten secluded stays.
By Ute Junker
With so many wild spaces scattered across the continent, Australia is a wonderful destination to go off-grid; places where you can let go of the urge for constant digital connection and instead focus on the natural beauty around you. Not all of the escapes on this list are completely tech-free, but if you are ready to switch off and unwind, these back-to-nature getaways will help you get there.
Wake up to whales in Ningaloo Reef
If you can live without TV and mobile phone coverage, but not without piping hot water and 500-thread count sheets, Sal Salis is your kind of bush camp. Located in Western Australia’s Cape Range National Park near Exmouth, a two-hour flight from Perth, these glamping tents are picturesquely perched between the ocean and the bush. Spend your days exploring the marvels of the Ningaloo Reef, the world’s largest fringing reef, by snorkelling the house reef where colourful fish swim through vibrant corals. Or if you're looking for friendly giants, head out on a boat to swim with marine animals such as manta rays, turtles migrating whale sharks and humpback whales.
Sleep amid the vines outside Canberra
You don’t have to go far to escape Australia’s cities. Just 20 minutes’ drive outside of Canberra, the Mount Majura Vineyard takes things back to basics with its old-school glamping option, the Naked Cubby Co. No, you don’t have to take your clothes off – here, “naked” simply means that this is a totally tech-free zone.
Named after winemakers Edgar and Frank, there are just two tents located in suitably scenic corners of the property, each one equipped with the old-fashioned basics – beds, books and board games – that let you savour the stillness and the joys of good wine and company. Better yet, rates include breakfast in bed.
Find stillness on Bremer Island
A vast wilderness in the north-east corner of the Northern Territory, Arnhem Land lures visitors with its rich Aboriginal culture and its world-class fishing. At Banubanu Beach Retreat on Bremer Island, which features glamping-style bungalows overlooking the Arafura Sea, you can enjoy both.
A 15-minute flight from Gove Airport (reached by plane from Darwin) brings you to this unspoilt island; once you are here, there is little to do other than stroll the beaches, fish for Spanish mackerel and coral trout, and learn more about the Indigenous Yolngu culture. The fan-cooled rooms are simple but comfortable, and meals are a highlight, with the resort’s chef serving up superb seafood tinged with tropical flavours.
Relax among the treetops in New South Wales
At Paperbark Camp on the scenic New South Wales South Coast, 2.5 hours south of Sydney, it’s all about savouring your surroundings. Stay in one of their safari-style tents and you may wake to the sight (and sounds) of a kookaburra perched on a nearby branch. The tents themselves are indulgent – each one has hardwood floors, a comfortable bed draped with an alpaca throw and an open-air bathroom – but here it’s about the simple joys of the wild, whether that’s stretching your legs on a bush hike or enjoying a gentle kayak in the creek.
Unwind on a tropical island in Queensland
It’s not just your phone you leave at home when you head to Wilson Island – it’s the children, too. This adults-only, tech-free island on the Southern Great Barrier Reef, near Gladstone, hosts just nine glamping tents and is designed to let you slow down and rejuvenate. You might start the day with a snorkelling session, exploring the colourful marine life that surrounds the spectacular Great Barrier Reef. If that sounds too energetic, you may prefer to lie back in a hammock while the breeze dances through the leaves of the palm trees.
Drift off to sleep on the Great Ocean Road
If you didn’t know they were here, it would be easy to overlook the glamping tents at Pebble Point, hidden away as they are in the coastal scrub surrounding the village of Princetown. This low-key bush retreat, 2.5 hours south-west of Melbourne, makes a great base for exploring Australia’s most iconic drive, the Great Ocean Road. The majestic 12 Apostles are within walking distance; alternatively, you may decide to head out on a coastal cliff walk, explore the lush Otway Ranges, or simply sit on your private deck and savour the fresh salt-tinged air – and maybe even spot an echidna.
Go wild on Tasmania's King Island
King Island may only be 50 minutes’ flight from Melbourne, yet it feels like it could be the end of the Earth. The deserted beaches, melaleuca forests and wetlands are great for hiking, but this laidback Tasmanian island is also home to three superb golf courses and a surprisingly lively arts scene. Yet when you are holed up at Kittawa Lodge, which features two architecturally designed, self-contained oceanfront cottages, it is easy to imagine that you are the only people left on the planet. Your magnificent solitude will only be disturbed by the red-necked wallabies hopping about outside your cliff-top villa.
Sleep under canvas on Kangaroo Island
Just a 35-minute flight from Adelaide, Kangaroo Island is known for having some of Australia’s best wildlife spotting; it also has one of Australia’s most memorable glamping experiences. With Wandering Souls, you can choose a tent to suit your style: the designer interiors range from tropical flair to boho chic. That’s not all you get to choose. You can also decide where your tent is going to be pitched: along a deserted beach, perched above a vineyard, or conveniently located near the settlement of Kingscote in the island’s north-east. The one thing you don’t have to do is set up the tent yourself: the Wandering Souls team will take care of that.
Stargaze from your bathtub in Tasmania
Set on a secluded headland on Tasmania’s east coast, a stone’s throw from Freycinet National Park, the wind- and solar-powered Thalia Haven rental cottage, which has four bedrooms built from ancient stone, lets you immerse yourself in nature. Wake up to the sound of the sea, and enjoy long walks on your own private beach before grilling up some fresh fish for lunch on the outdoor fire. Treat yourself to a long soak in the outdoor bathtub, where you can enjoy stargazing with spectacular views of the Milky Way. It is hard to believe that such tranquillity is available just a couple of hours’ drive from Hobart.
Retreat to Queensland's ancient rainforest
The tents at the solar-powered Nightfall camp are truly luxurious, with king-size beds, vintage baths and rotating fireplaces. However, the camp’s real draw is its setting, nestled in the midst of one of Queensland’s ancient rainforests, 90 minutes south-west of the Gold Coast. Choose your activities to match your energy levels: you might spend the day hiking rainforest trails in nearby Lamington National Park, enjoying a massage by the river rapids, or even watching for the elusive platypus in the crystal-clear creek. In the evenings, a gourmet meal cooked over the open fire is a perfect end to a relaxing day.