A luxury holiday in Australia is many trips in one, from the vibrant cosmopolitan cities of Sydney and Melbourne to the eerie silence of Australia's vast desert interior.
If it's big scenery you're after then there's no shortage of options in Australia - from the rugged mountains, wild bushland and deserted beaches of Tasmania to the wildlife abundant Kakadu National Park, the mystical Uluru (Ayers Rock) and stunning scenery of Flinders Ranges National Park. Australia's cities are as varied as the landscape that surrounds them; Sydney - famous for its iconic Harbour - is a glamorous cocktail of beaches, boutiques and bars, Melbourne is Australia's cultural capital known for its thriving art scene and sporting events, and Perth abounds in sunshine and surf beaches.
In the far north, the quirky tropical frontier town of Darwin couldn't be further apart in both geography and atmosphere to the elegant historic sandstone city of Hobart in the south. If you're looking for time relaxing on the beach you'll be spoilt for choice as Australia has a total of 50,000 kilometres of spellbinding coastline – varied, unspoilt and for the most part, uncrowded. The sheer scale and variety of Australia makes it almost impossible to choose our favourite accommodation but luckily we have an Australian heading up the team (Alice) who has travelled many miles to find the very best.
THE S&A TO DO LIST
- Go on safari in Kakadu and Arnhemland’s spectacular outback wilderness with Sab Lord, a proud Territorian with a deep understanding of the local Aboriginal people
- Swim with whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia
- Take a classic seaplane flight to Cottage Point Inn for lunch, soaring high above Sydney Harbour and its impressive landmarks
- Immerse yourself in the bush on the four day Arkaba Walk in the Flinders Ranges
The 19th Century Arkaba is a quintessential Australian homestead set in the beautiful and remote Flinders Ranges of the South Australian outback. Arkaba runs a range of conservation projects aimed to protect native species and plants across its stunning 60,000-acre property, and it remains one of the best places Alice has stayed. In the heart of the continent, Longitude 131 provides the ideal base from which to view Uluru whilst in the far north Bamurru Plains Safari Lodge offers an immersive wilderness experience on the coastal floodplains of the Mary River delta, on the edge of Kakadu National Park. For those wanting to fully appreciate the scale and beauty of Western Australia’s stunning Kimberley region we highly recommend an epic 6-day private helicopter safari dreamt up by pioneering air charter company, HeliSpirit, (set up by Alice's cousin Kate and her husband Michael McConachy). This heli-circuit is the first of its kind and takes in all the best scenery and lodges in the area including Berkeley River Lodge, Kimberley Coastal Camp and El Questro.
Pretty Beach House is a four-bedroom retreat located in the serene Australian bushland setting of the Bouddi National Park, just 1.5 hour’s drive north of Sydney (20 mins by heli or seaplane). An area of special signiﬁcance for its Aboriginal heritage, guests can hike through the vast surrounding wilderness to discover hidden beaches and bays, or traverse the local mountain bike trails. Also within 3 hour’s drive from Sydney is Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa, a luxury bush station set on a 4,000-acre eco-reserve in the beautiful Greater Blue Mountains. Wolgan Valley activities include guided wildlife walks, 4WD safaris, mountain biking and horse-riding, heritage tours, and visits to the cliffs and canyons of the Wollemi and Gardens of Stone national parks. Set on a vast cattle station in Queensland’s Scenic Rim, Spicers Peak Lodge is the highest non-alpine lodge in Australia, with views over the Main Range National Park and the Great Dividing Range, and near to the Granite Belt wine region. Scenery, fine food and wine are the drawcards here, and guests can walk off the calories on guided bush walks, or go mountain biking, riding and fishing.
Beach lovers and diving enthusiasts naturally flock to the Whitsundays in Queensland, 74 palm-fringed islands tucked inside the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. On the secluded northern-most tip of Hamilton Island, qualia is set amongst native Eucalypts, each pavilion handcrafted from natural materials and offering expansive views out across turquoise water and white sand beaches. Those looking for guaranteed privacy and a real desert-island experience should continue on to Lizard Island located 17 miles off the Queensland coast with dreamy beachfront suites and spectacular diving, fishing and snorkelling on the doorstep. Further south in New South Wales, world heritage-listed Lord Howe Island is a two-hour flight from Sydney where just a handful of guests are accommodated in nine luxury suites at Capella Lodge, overlooking idyllic Lover's Bay. On the mainland The Byron at Byron is set within a stunning 45 acre lush rainforest a short stroll from the beach, the perfect base from which to explore Byron Bay, famous for its glorious surfing beaches and a lifestyle that combines hippy chic with hedonistic fun. Enjoy pristine beaches all to yourself on Tasmania’s stunning Freycinet Peninsula at the five-star Saffire Freycinet, or for a more dramatic coastline head to Kangaroo Island in South Australia, where Southern Ocean Lodge perches atop a cliff overlooking stormy seas. For something completely unique, visit the place where the outback meets the beach at Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef Resort, an exclusive safari camp hidden in the white sand dunes of Western Australia's Cape Range National Park where guests can enjoy world-class diving and have the chance to swim with whale sharks.
With its impressive location at the tip of Sydney Cove and a rooftop pool overlooking the Harbour Bridge on one side and the Opera House on the other, the Park Hyatt Sydney remains our top pick of Sydney’s harbourside accommodation. In Melbourne we recommend The Olsen Hotel, a quirky boutique bolt-hole full of the artist John Olsen's colourful abstract works and prints - one of a series of boutique art hotels in the city. Flying south to Hobart, art lovers and history buff’s alike will enjoy The Henry Jones Art Hotel which is housed in a former jam factory and has a fabulous in-house modern art gallery and museum, as well as the brand new sister property MacQ01. Inspired by the unique character of the Tasmanian people, each of the rooms here are linked to Tasmania's famous historical characters - from bushrangers to convicts to aboriginals - meaning guests not only get a bed for the night but also a history lesson.
Looking to extend your trip?
Australia’s size and variety of terrain and climates means that it works well as a stand-alone destination, but there are a number of stopovers that combine well to break the journey depending on where you are flying from...