From oceanfront eco-chalets to wellness in the wilderness, here’s what’s hot down under in 2019.
By Leah Dobihal
Whether you love sipping decadent wines or relaxing on a remote island, the offering in Australia is always changing. In 2019, you can glamp among rows of vines, restore with Aboriginal-inspired spa treatments or embrace a truly authentic outback experience.
Glamp among the grapes
Glamping, or glamorous camping, is the perfect way to stay in luxury within the natural landscapes of Australia. Now, add another element to the mix when you stay on a working vineyard just steps away from cellar doors, tasting rooms and, of course, plenty of wine. Nashdale Lane in New South Wales’ Orange region, about four hours west from Sydney, offers beautiful glamping tents set within the lush growing land beneath Mount Canobolas. Sip on quality wine and snack on local produce while you stare up at a starry sky unencumbered by city lights.
Just a two-hour drive from Melbourne you’ll find the safari-style tents at Balgownie Estate in the town of Bendigo. Cruise down the driveway lined with olive trees and vineyards before stepping inside luxurious glamping tents with views of the vines. Head to the nearby cellar door for a taste of the region’s wine, including Balgownie’s flagship White Label Cabernet.
If Queensland is your destination, head to the quaint town of Mt Cotton, just 40 minutes from Brisbane by car. Treat yourself to a stay at Sanctuary by Sirromet, a collection of tented pavilions. Nestled into the quiet bushland, Sanctuary by Sirromet provides not only beautiful accommodation but also access to Sirromet’s jam-packed event and concert calendar. Check out a musical performance or embark on a Wild Food and Wine Safari before touring the state-of-the-art winery facility and dining at the award-winning Restaurant Lureen’s.
Harness Aboriginal-inspired wellness
Several Australian destinations offer remote retreats, but you can take your wellness journey a step further with spa treatments inspired by the world’s oldest living culture.
Spa Kinara, located within the Northern Territory’s luxurious Longitude 131, offers a signature menu of rejuvenating spa packages that embrace local and native ingredients. Inspired by the traditional healers of Aboriginal Anangu culture, Spa Kinara’s treatments use powerful bush plants ranging from Kakadu plum to Australian yellow clay. Indulge in the renewing treatments, recharge in the pavilions overlooking Uluru, and connect with nature in the Red Centre, known as the spiritual heart of Australia.
Southern Ocean Lodge on South Australia’s stunning Kangaroo Island - a ferry or plane journey from Adelaide - also boasts an extensive menu of Indigenous Spa Journeys designed to purify, nourish and harmonise the body. Using Aboriginal healing practices, Southern Spa provides wellness that’s true to the land it sits on. Relax with ancient Aboriginal massage techniques, experience a lilly pilly and lemon myrtle facial treatment and unwind within the calm, natural landscapes of Kangaroo Island.
At Peninsula Hot Springs, located on Melbourne’s picturesque Mornington Peninsula, visitors can gain meaningful insight into Aboriginal wellness on an indigenous cultural walk, which run fortnightly. Begin with a two-hour walk with an Aboriginal guide, who will share their extensive knowledge of bush tucker, bush medicine and the cultural significance of viewpoints and landmarks. Next, experience an unforgettable didgeridoo meditation before slipping into the hot springs for some time of reflection and relaxation. Visitors can also choose from a range of body clay rituals, which use a series of native, detoxifying clays.
Stay in style on a remote island
Over 2600 kilometres (1616 miles) off the coast of Perth lies one of Australia’s most remote and remarkable outposts.
Christmas Island is known for being a secluded paradise with wild jungle, spectacular coral reefs and jaw-dropping natural wonders. Now, you can stay in style at Swell Lodge, one of the world’s most exclusive eco-lodges. Bordering the wilderness of the Christmas Island National Park, the lodge is a single, glass-fronted eco-chalet surrounded by the ever-changing ocean and lush rainforest. Step out and enjoy the deck overlooking the sea before experiencing all that the island has to offer, from the natural rockpools to the unforgettable annual red crab migration, in which 50 million red land crabs make their way from the forest to the coast. Swell Lodge offers snorkelling tours, delicious meals and guided walks to ensure you experience the island like a local.
You can reach Christmas Island on a Virgin Australia flight, which operate regularly from Perth’s international terminal.
Feast at a farmstay
Australia’s culinary scene is all about authenticity, and it doesn’t get more authentic than dining next to the fields where the food is grown. Barn by Biota, located about two hours south of Sydney, offers bespoke loft accommodation in addition to exceptional culinary experiences. With its rustic decor and cosy spaces, Barn perfectly reflects the tranquillity of the surrounding 40 hectares (100 acres) of fertile pasture. Gaze out to the panoramic views toward Sydney before digging into the food and wine that makes Barn by Biota truly stand out.
Barn by Biota offers a farm-to-table experience unrivalled by anything you’ll find in a big city. Each month, the barn will transform into a restaurant that heroes local produce. In fact, Barn’s dishes will only use ingredients sourced from local growers and farmers. Chefs will be free to throw away convention and cook in the outdoors, even preparing food over coals from the property’s fallen timbers. The result is a dining experience unlike any other. Walk through the orchard, explore the pastures and visit the beehives before sitting down to a meal that’s as fresh as they come.
Embrace unique yoga
Australia’s love affair with yoga isn’t new, but unique yoga experiences are popping up in every corner of the country. From Sydney’s open-air Yoga by the Sea to Canberra’s stand-up paddleboard Lake Yoga, visitors can embrace the ancient practice with a new twist.
Beyond the city, participate in one-on-one yoga as part of a spa retreat in Western Australia’s Margaret River region, located a three-hour drive south of Perth. Injidup Spa Retreat features ten adult-only villas, giving you a serene setting for your yoga practice. As well as a gourmet breakfast hamper on arrival, each villa has a private plunge pool and views overlooking the ocean.
Injidup Spa Retreat can help you improve your yoga skills with private classes by knowledgeable instructors. After your class, take your mat onto the expansive outdoor balcony and continue your practice surrounded by soft ocean breeze.
Have a true outback experience
For a quintessential Aussie experience, head into Queensland’s outback. A three and a half hour drive from Cairns, you’ll find Mount Mulligan Station, an outback frontier with a difference. Opening in April of 2019, Mount Mulligan Station brings together the luxuries of premium accommodation with the ruggedness of the Australian outback. The standalone pavilions feature views out onto the wide open spaces, and all stays in the lodge include three gourmet meals per day along with curated daily activities.
Live the outback way by day and unwind under the stars at night. Pan for gold and fish for barramundi before indulging in a chef-prepared gourmet picnic in quiet, secluded locations.
After you’ve been invigorated by the outback, visit the seaside town of Port Douglas, a 3½ hour drive from Mount Mulligan, where you can snorkel with schools of fish and explore the nearby Daintree Rainforest - the oldest tropical rainforest on the planet.
Ride an anniversary train
Australia is home to one of the world’s great rail journeys, and 2019 marks 90 years since The Ghan - a renowned passenger train - embarked on its inaugural voyage and cemented its place in Australian history. To celebrate the milestone, The Ghan will invite guests to join in 90 days of festivities throughout June, July and August.
The Ghan will offer six signature itineraries that make the most of the cross-country rail ride, but a trip on The Ghan is about more than the journey along the tracks. For a truly memorable experience, take a trip on the dedicated Anniversary Train, departing from Adelaide to Darwin on 4 August 2019. The one-off journey will feature unique on-train experiences and off-train excursions that allow passengers to both relax and relish the stunning surrounds. At the end of the line, celebrate with an outback birthday party like no other.
In addition to its 90th birthday festivities, The Ghan will also introduce a new train, named Great Southern. It will traverse between Adelaide and Brisbane in Australia’s diverse south-eastern corner on a three-day northbound or four-day southbound journey. The new train, which features 28 carriages and two locomotives, will join the ranks of the internationally-regarded Australian rail journeys, including the ride from Adelaide to Darwin on The Ghan and Sydney to Perth on the Indian Pacific.