Effortless luxury and sustainable travel can coexist, allowing for deep connection with Australia’s culture, community and environment.
Australia’s luxury destinations offer superb dining, unforgettable wilderness and remarkable wildlife. But for an increasing number of guests, it’s not just about enjoying a place. It’s about adding value while visiting - value to the place, and to one’s self.
Whether you engage in the works of a private nature or wildlife conservancy, discuss ancient stories and contemporary art forms with local Aboriginal artists or get hands-on with local producers across the land, there are plenty of ways to choose high-quality and sustainable travel in Australia.
Stay on a nature or wildlife conservancy
Australia’s luxury lodges sit on some of the most beautiful land in the country, and the protection of the ancient and beautiful landscapes is fundamental to their operation.
Many of the Luxury Lodges of Australia are guided by strong conservation principles. Arkaba, located in South Australia’s rugged Flinders Ranges, is equal parts luxury homestead and private wildlife conservancy. Set on 60,000 acres (24,281 hectares) of bushland, Arkaba is one of Australia’s most remote and exclusive stays. Arkaba has changed the lives of over five million native animals thanks to its conservation efforts, and the wildlife surrounding the property continues to thrive. Home to just five guestrooms with shaded verandas and individual views of the stunning bush landscapes, Arkaba invites guests to engage with the land, the wildlife and their conservation work while enjoying the luxury of space, grand scale landscapes, expert guiding and the privacy of a luxury lodge.
Located a scenic 2.5-hour drive from Sydney, Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley occupies just one per cent of the privately-owned 7,000-acre (2,832-hectare) nature reserve in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. The sustainable resort boasts impeccable villas among stunning cliffs and valleys, but a stay here isn’t only about the crackling fireplaces and private pools. It’s also about the locally-sourced dishes in the on-site restaurants and the property’s dedication to sustainability. Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley has been a global leader in sustainable tourism; it was the first carbon-neutral hotel in the world, and it continues to receive this certification from CarbonZero every year. As a guest, you’re invited to participate in their conservation efforts, or simply relax in absolute luxury with the knowledge that your choice of stay is a responsible one.
Support local artists and culture
Australia is home to the world’s oldest living culture. The history of Aboriginal people stretches back more than 50,000 years, and their art practices are some of the most ancient in existence. Aboriginal art experiences allow you to not only delve deep into the fascinating culture and stories of Aboriginal people, but also support talented artists.
Longitude 131, a luxury lodge located near the sacred monolith of Uluru in the Northern Territory, offers the exclusive opportunity for mindful travellers to visit the oldest continuously-running Aboriginal art centre. During your visit to Ernabella Arts, you’ll meet a diverse group of artists, hear their stories and learn how they use Indigenous symbols to express their Tjukurpa (sacred stories of country and law). Your newfound knowledge will be your inspiration as you create your own ceramic tile.
For an Aboriginal art experience that combines connection to land, ancient culture and unique insight into art, join an Anangu guide from Maruku Arts. Start with a walk to the Mutitjulu Waterhole at the base of Uluru; along the way, your guide will share with you the stories of the landscape and how these stories are expressed through art. After, enjoy a hands-on painting session, where you’ll learn the meaning behind the art.
Savour local produce
Australia’s abundance of locally-grown and created produce is some of the richest in the world, and a testament to not only our diverse landscapes, but our clean air, clean soil and clean water.
Lake House, located 1.5 hours from Melbourne in Daylesford, is not only a luxury lodge with a consistently-lauded restaurant and cooking school, but also a leader in nurturing an entire community of local producers all driven by sustainable practices. The two-hatted (hats are the Australian equivalent of Michelin Stars) Lake House restaurant is a genuine example of paddock-to-plate dining, sustained over 30 years. The menu is all about seasonal dishes - using what’s available, what’s local and what’s best quality. The restaurant has created an incredible demand for sustainable producers, and much of the produce is sourced from organic farms within minutes of the property. Sit down in the restaurant for hand-picked, expertly prepared produce, or learn from some of Australia’s best and most inventive chefs at the Lake House Cooking School. There’s even private dining on offer here; dine surrounded by 10,000 bottles of wine from the Lake House wine list in the enchanting Cellar Room.
Nomad, nestled in Sydney’s buzzing suburb of Surry Hills, is just one of many eateries for the mindful traveller. The threads of quality and sustainability runs through each element of the restaurant, from the water that’s filtered and carbonated on-site to the responsibly-sourced charcoal, which makes the woodfired breads and smoked beef cheek taste all the better. Nomad is also committed to a ‘nose-to-tail’ approach, utilising ethically-raised animals for rich sauces, stocks and charcuterie.
Visit wildlife in the wild
One of the most enticing and exciting experiences when travelling in Australia is the connection with abundant native wildlife, in the wild. Here, kangaroos lounge on the beach, wombats waddle across grassland and marine life dart and dash around coral reefs.
Lizard Island, the northernmost island resort on the Great Barrier Reef is the luxe base camp for snorkelling, diving and boating in the world’s largest reef system. As part of their stay, guests are encouraged to visit the Lizard Island Research Station, a research facility committed to protecting the health of the reef. Guests of Lizard Island Resort can visit the station, learning from the resident researchers about new technologies and reef conservation.
For immersive and ethical experiences with Australia’s unique wildlife, Australian Wildlife Journeys is a collection of independent operators united by their delivery of unique animal encounters in the wild, underpinned by strong conservation activities. Naturaliste Charters offers one of the country’s most heart-pumping marine experiences, taking guests into the waters of Western Australia’s Bremer Bay to spot one of the ocean’s most revered creatures: the killer whale. The one-day Bremer Canyon Killer Whale Expedition is led by a passionate and experienced crew. The excursion is carefully structured to ensure the safety of the area’s marine life, but allows guests to see and understand the lives of these spectacular whales in the wild.
Play a part
Sustainable travel is as much about choices and understanding as it is about action, and many of Australia’s luxury experiences allow you to learn about and play a part in the conservation of environment and wildlife.
Freycinet National Park on the east coast of Tasmania, is a place of clear running water, crisp air and the kind of wilderness that stops you in your tracks. Saffire Freycinet, a Luxury Lodge of Australia, creates an experience that brings together nature, effortless comfort and the chance to get hands-on with a cornerstone of the state’s (and arguably the world’s) ecosystem: the bee. During Saffire’s Beekeeping Experience, guests will join Rob ‘The Bee Man’ Barker in full-body apiarist suits and venture to bee hives that look out to the signature landmark of the region, the Hazards Mountains. Feel the excitement and sense of place as you approach the hive and help extract honeycomb dripping with honey.
You can also take part in conservation when you stay on a wildlife conservancy or nature reserve at Arkaba and Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley. At Arkaba, you’ll gain deep insight into the rugged South Australian landscape you walk upon as you choose from activities like joining a conservationist and guide on land surveys and searching for signs of vegetation critical to endangered animals. Not only will you find a rewarding and profound appreciation for the delicate ecosystem, but you’ll also aid in Arkaba’s continued conservation efforts.
At Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley in the Blue Mountains region of New South Wales, partake in meaningful work in an awe-inspiring landscape. Spend an hour with the property’s conservation team, playing a part in the region’s wellbeing as you plant trees, survey wombats, assess habitats and test water quality.