Enjoy an experience all your own with these private travel experiences in Australia.
By Leah Dobihal
A trip to Australia isn’t just about ancient rainforest or bright white beaches; it’s also about the unforgettable experiences you’ll encounter from the moment you step off the plane. Many of these experiences are private, exclusive and one-of-a-kind, allowing you to feed your passion and sense of adventure away from the crowds.
Australia’s luxury lodges are not only sought after because of their rooms, but their connection to place. Often, you’ll find yourself sharing the lodge with few other guests, and in some cases, only those you came with.
And it is the connection with the people of the place, our storytellers, that often offers the most potent and memorable of Australian experiences.
Here are some of Australia’s most remarkable private experiences.
Have dinner with David Walsh, founder of Mona
From David Walsh’s mind came Mona, a modern art museum in Hobart that has evoked every emotion ranging from delight to disgust. In a Dinner with David experience, you have the chance to pick the mind of the master over a private dinner with matching wines at The Source, the museum’s hatted (hats are the Australian equivalent to Michelin stars) restaurant. Chat about art, astrophysics or simply existence - David is sure to have much to say. It’s not only a degustation dinner you have to look forward to; the experience also includes a private jet transfer from anywhere in Australia, two nights in the impeccably-appointed Mona Pavilions, a private tour of the museum and a VIP tour of the on-site winery.
Embark on a seafood safari
Tasmania is home to some of the freshest seafood in the world, and you can head straight to the source on a Seafood Seduction tour with Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. After departing from Hobart, stop first at an oyster farm to pluck the delicacies from the clear, rippling water. Next, jump in with your snorkel to catch wild abalone before visiting a salmon farm, where you’ll enjoy locally-sourced sashimi. Indulge in wine and rock lobster as you cruise through the blue water and float past empty beaches, breathing in the crisp air that helps make this the freshest seafood feast you can find. Book out the boat for a private tour.
Dine in an art gallery with The Banquet of Cleopatra
After the crowds have left and the lights dim, find yourself sitting at a private dinner within the galleries of Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), Australia’s oldest and most visited art museum, during The Banquet of Cleopatra, where the Gallery is yours for the evening. Arrive at the museum’s iconic waterfall entrance before being escorted by an NGV curator or guide on a private tour of the international collection. Live music will flow through the halls as you sit down to your dinner in front of the NGV’s most famous masterpiece, The Banquet of Cleopatra by Giambattista Tiepolo.
Soar over the sensational Heart Reef and Whitehaven Beach
One of the most iconic sights in the vast expanses of the Great Barrier Reef, Heart Reef rests just minutes from Hamilton Island by air. Tackle a bucket list experience as you board a private helicopter bound for both Heart Reef and the white silica sand of Whitehaven Beach. You’ll find yourself lost in the weaving spirals of aqua water and underwater coral cays. Over the one-hour flight, you’ll look down upon the beautiful Hill Inlet, the romantic azure waters around Hook Passage and dozens of Whitsunday islands.
Be a star at the Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is world-famous for its shows and performances, and you can land one of a limited number of walk-on roles to join the cast of an Opera Australia performance. During the Star at the Sydney Opera House experience, you’ll don a custom-fitted costume and be a part of the show for one night. You’ll learn when to be still and when to act your part before stepping onto the iconic stage. This experience allows you to experience opera from the performer’s perspective, with a visit to the Opera House studio, rehearsal with the director or choreographer and backstage photos as a unique souvenir. This is a once-in-a-lifetime moment as you step into the spotlight with the artists from Australia’s leading opera company.
Stay at El Questro Homestead
El Questro, an outback station perched on a clifftop in the wild landscapes of Western Australia’s Kimberley region, is an oasis of privacy. El Questro Homestead has just nine rooms and sits on almost 700,000 acres (283,000 hectares), surrounded by burnt-orange cliffs, frangipani trees and gorges - the silence broken only by bird calls and rushing water. Set off into nature on private river cruises, wildlife tours and exclusive use of the reflective pools of Zebedee Springs, which are reserved for homestead guests each afternoon. It’s not just beauty and adventure that awaits; it’s also the privilege of staying in luxury, in the safe hands of hosts and guides, in the sheer vastness of one of the world’s last true wilderness frontiers.
Find true solace at Swell Lodge
Christmas Island is home to Jurassic-like forests and millions of red crabs, but what makes it truly special is its remoteness within the waters of the Indian Ocean. Swell Lodge provides private Christmas Island accommodation, offering just one glass-fronted chalet with national park on one side and the open ocean on the other. Explore the island’s clear, warm ocean as you snorkel through coral, or venture to waterfalls hidden deep in the jungle. The lodge has also been awarded Ecotourism Australia’s highest level of certification and offers carbon offset programs to ensure guests enjoy a sustainable travel experience
Discover a spiritual connection to place at Longitude 131
The Red Centre is Australia’s spiritual heart, often leaving visitors with a sense of calm and connection - to the land, to oneself and to one another. At Longitude 131, one of the Luxury Lodges of Australia, you’ll be immersed in equal parts mesmerising red sand landscapes and superb luxury lodge accommodation. The desert basecamp has a unique out of sight of any other guests in the Red Centre, with unparalleled views of Uluru, Australia’s sacred red rock monolith. Each standalone, tented pavilion has a king-size bed and private balcony, but its real draw is the profound sense of place, resting on ancient ground. The two-bedroom Dune Pavilion is a standout as the resort’s most secluded experience.
Retreat into nature at Pretty Beach House
An intimate private guesthouse with only four pavilions, Pretty Beach House blends luxury accommodation, natural surrounds, attentive but unobtrusive service and superb food with ease of access to Sydney. It is located in Bouddi National Park, about two hours from Sydney by car or 25 minutes by seaplane. Enjoy a private welcome to country smoking ceremony with a local Aboriginal leader, swim in the infinity pool overlooking the surrounding bays, charter a boat to hidden coves and retreat into peaceful solitude in your pavilion. Pretty Beach House can also arrange a first-class round of golf, de-stress spa treatments and guided walks to coastal sandstone cliffs and near-deserted white sand beaches. Bring along your swimming costume for a dip in the salty ocean.
Explore the Kimberley from a private yacht
The Kimberley region of Australia is simply extraordinary, as one of the last untouched wilderness areas in the world, and one of the least populated. There’s no better way to experience its majestic and diverse coastline than from the water. The Kimberley’s waterways - from the rushing of Horizontal Falls and the quiet of faraway coves to the dramatic cliff tops of its deep river systems - give way to the frontier’s little-known swimming holes, soaring escarpments and white, sandy beaches. A private yacht ensures you experience the wilderness in its most natural state. An exclusive charter means complete customisation, allowing you and your family and friends to venture into the places that draw you in the hands of an expert crew, who will tailor the journey to cater for specific interests like fishing or wildlife.
Go behind the scenes of RM Williams
RM Williams wasn’t just the creator of an enduring, sophisticated footwear brand; he was also a bushman, a poet, a horse trainer and a true icon of the outback. On a VIP tour of RM Williams workshop with The Tailor, you’ll get an up-close view of the many processes that make these hand-crafted boots so impeccable and gain first-hand experience of the care each pair receives. Then, you’ll take home your very own personally-fitted RM Williams boots. For a more in-depth experience of this iconic Australian entrepreneur, embark on a three-day journey to ‘Follow in an Outback Legend’s Footsteps.’ You won’t only get a private tour of the workshop but also an immersive outback adventure, complete with a scenic flight over Lake Eyre, a stay at a famous outback pub and the chance to meet many Aussie characters along the way.