If you love the idea of spending a few nights in the middle of the Australian wilderness, these eco retreats are guaranteed to get you deep into nature.
By Ashlea Wheeler
Toss aside your technology, folks, as you won’t need it here. For any feelings of stress, we prescribe a large dose of the Australian wilderness. A few nights in one of these eco retreats will have you sleeping under starry southern skies and listening to the bird calls of cockatoos and kookaburras each morning. Immersing yourself in nature is truly the perfect way to feel refreshed and relaxed.
Habitat Noosa, Queensland
Once a campground for travellers looking for a weekend in nature, Habitat Noosa has had an overhaul and now offers visitors an eco glamping experience like no other. The 65-acre site has 500 metres (546 yards) of riverfront along the Noosa River, and is located inside the pristine Great Sandy National Park. A stay here will allow you to watch the resident eastern grey kangaroos frolic around the grounds, and if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, there are canoes and stand up paddle boards available for guests to enjoy on the picturesque river. An eco cruise through the Noosa Everglades is also bookable through the resort.
What you need to know: Habitat Noosa is located 25 minutes drive north of Noosa in Queensland, or 50 minutes drive from Sunshine Coast Airport. Couples can stay in a wilderness tent for a cosy glamping experience, or families can book a small cabin with bunk beds.
Lady Elliot Island, Queensland
It’s easy to feel like a modern-day castaway on Lady Elliot Island, a remote destination on the Southern Great Barrier Reef. For visitors wanting an authentic wildlife experience, Lady Elliot Island offers visitors the chance to swim with wild manta rays and see turtle hatchlings make their way to the sea (between February and May). The island's relaxed eco resort has accommodations ranging from glamping tents to eco cabins, and any overnight stay comes with the opportunity to experience truly spectacular sunsets over the ocean. Despite the resort’s modern appearance, you'll find no television or telephones in the rooms here – the resort encourages you to connect with your surroundings instead.
What you need to know: Lady Elliot Island is accessible only by scenic flight from Brisbane, Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, or Gold Coast airports. Flights can be organised through the resort in conjunction with your accommodation booking.
Outback Adventure Camp, Northern Territory
For a true outback nature experience, it doesn’t get much better than this. The Ultimate Overnighter package from Outback Floatplanes (which is run by Matt Wright, otherwise known as the Outback Wrangler) takes you via seaplane to a remote adventure camp in Northern Territory. The experience is action-packed, with an airboat ride, a scenic helicopter flight, and a billabong cruise included in your overnight tour. On arrival, you’ll be presented with a luxurious safari tent and outdoor shower, followed by a gourmet Aussie barbecue on an elevated dining deck and a cosy fire pit to sit around while the sun sets over the Finniss River Floodplains.
What you need to know: Outback Adventure Camp includes hotel pickup from Darwin. There are 2-3 departures each week between June and August. Double or single occupancy is available at the camp.
Ramada Eco Beach Resort, Western Australia
This eco retreat, which sits on the border of the Kimberley region far from civilisation, proves that sustainable travel can be truly luxurious. The accommodations at Ramada Eco Beach Resort range from spacious glamping tents with power outlets and ensuites to luxury eco villas with air conditioning and a full kitchen. Slow-paced activities like yoga, kayaking or paddleboarding are available to keep you occupied during the day, or you can choose to do nothing but sip cocktails by the infinity pool overlooking the Indian Ocean. If you’re lucky, you might spot whales migrating along the coast between July and October.
What you need to know: Ramada Eco Beach Resort is a 1.5 hour drive south of Broome, which is accessible by direct flight from Perth, Melbourne, or Sydney. Travel in the dry season between May and October to catch the best weather.
Sal Salis, Western Australia
If you’re planning a trip to Ningaloo Reef, then you should definitely include this epic eco accommodation in your itinerary. Sal Salis is one of Australia’s most exclusive luxury lodges. This beachside safari camp is so close to the ocean that you can step out the door and start snorkelling right off the beach. Hidden in the sand dunes of Cape Range National Park, the retreat offers comfortable stays in 16 semi-permanent glamping tents including an ensuite bathroom and handmade timber bed. Included in the rates are three-course meals served at long, communal tables under a starry outback sky.
What you need to know: Sal Salis is about an hour drive along the coast from the town of Exmouth on Western Australia’s Coral Coast. There are direct flights to Exmouth from Perth.
Rawnsley Park Station, South Australia
The luxury eco-villas at Rawnsley Park Station are fully self-contained, making it the perfect place to escape into the wilderness for a few days. From your private verandah, there are views of the surrounding Flinders Ranges which provide a spectacular setting for sunrise each morning. The onsite restaurant is set in an authentic Australian woolshed, and the cuisine on offer is modern Australian made from local produce (including Rawnsley’s own home grown lamb). There are also outdoor activities on offer with 4WD tours, mountain biking, bush walking, scenic flights, and sheep shearing demonstrations. If you’re looking for a true Aussie outback experience, this is it.
Picnic Island, Tasmania
This little sandstone island, positioned only 800 metres (0.4 miles) offshore from Coles Bay in Tasmania, is the only place in the world where you can sleep with a penguin colony on an island. Picnic Island is a safe haven away from predators for the penguins, and watching as the small creatures return to their burrows at dusk is one of the great attractions of staying here overnight. The architecturally designed accommodation, which runs off solar power and uses rainwater tanks, has four eco cabins and features a communal dining area and lounge room.
What you need to know: Picnic Island can only be accessed by boat or Aqua Taxi with Freycinet Adventures. Transport to the island from Coles Bay is included in your booking cost. Coles Bay is a 2.5 hour drive north of Hobart.
Freycinet Lodge, Tasmania
Tasmania’s Freycinet Peninsula has some of the most spectacular landscapes in Australia. A few nights in the new Coastal Pavilions at Freycinet Lodge will have you fully immersed in this natural setting while staying in comfortable and elegant rooms. One of the attractions of these coastal retreats is the outdoor baths which have been embedded into each private deck, and the use of Tasmanian timbers along with curved glass makes this architecturally designed lodge blend right in to the bushland surrounding it. Top off your stay with a Tasmanian-themed dinner platter delivered straight to your room.
What you need to know: Freycinet Lodge is located inside Freycinet National Park. The lodge is a 2.5 hour drive from Hobart Airport, or a two hour drive from Launceston Airport.
Derby Pods, Tasmania
This unlikely travel hotspot, set in the middle of a Tasmanian forest, has one of Australia’s best eco adventure activities. Derby’s mountainous terrain provides a wonderful setting for the mountain biking travel experience known as the Blue Derby Pods Ride. Comprising more than 100 kilometres (60 miles) of cycling trails which wind through eucalypt forests and rocky gorges, the cycle paths are suitable for both beginners and experts. A maximum of eight people are permitted on the ride, which combines daily guided cycling trips through the wilderness with sustainable, chef-prepared meals featuring local produce, and the real star of the experience: luxury, architecturally designed sleeping pods that almost feel like a treehouse raised off the forest floor.
What you need to know: The experience departs on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays from the city of Launceston in northern Tasmania. Direct flights into Launceston Airport are available from Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane.
Thousand Lakes Lodge, Tasmania
Thousand Lakes Lodge is an intimate nine-suite retreat surrounded by World Heritage wilderness in a landscape characterised by native wildflowers, scattered boulders, expansive plains, and of course, plenty of lakes. The original lodge was built as an outpost of the Australian Antarctic Division; scientists were sent here to acclimatise to extreme weather conditions and isolation before embarking on missions to the icy continent. However, the building was eventually abandoned and fell into disrepair before it was converted into a modern luxury wilderness lodge. The resurrected building, which is run entirely off-grid, makes use of preserved materials and features wherever possible, including the original floor tiling and doors created with pine logs repurposed from the old building. Other features include an honesty bar with local produce, Tasmanian craft beers, wines and spirits, and a changing roster of daily menus curated by Wursthaus Kitchen.
What you need to know: Thousand Lakes Lodge is a 1.5 hour drive southwest of Launceston in Tasmania's Central Highlands.
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