Rawnsley Park, South Australia (Rawnsley Park)
List Words : Hazel Plush | 04 November 2019

Aussie escapes: 9 epic places to stay in Australia

Looking for a truly unforgettable experience Down Under? These little-known hotels, lodges and campsites will put you right in the heart of Australia’s most epic locations...

1. Tanja Lagoon Camp, New South Wales

Melalueca bedroom (Tanja Lagoon Camp/Kit Goldsworthy)

Melalueca bedroom (Tanja Lagoon Camp/Kit Goldsworthy)

Though it has just four safari tents, Tanja Lagoon can get crowded – with ’roos and wallabies, that is.

The luxurious hideout is set in Mimosa Rocks National Park, where beaches and woodlands can be discovered on bushwalks and canoe trips. Double beds overlook the lagoon. 

Secret tip: Swim or kayak in Wapengo Lake, a 15-minute walk away – and buy Sydney rock oysters from the farms on the water’s far side. 

Booking info: Deluxe safari tents from AU$215 (£120) per night, including breakfast. More info via Tanja Lagoon Camp

2. Karijini Eco Retreat, Western Australia

Under the Milky Way (Karijini Eco Retreat)

Under the Milky Way (Karijini Eco Retreat)

With its hulking gorges, thundering waterfalls and rolling hills strewn with wildflowers and wallabies, Karijini National Park is one epic spot for hiking, climbing and canyoning.

What’s more, this eco retreat (based in the park) treads lightly on the landscape, thanks to its solar power, lack of air conditioning and non-permanent (yet beautifully furnished) tented suites. 

Secret tip: The retreat’s takeaway service means you can enjoy dinner on your deck. 

Booking info: Deluxe eco tents from AU$339 (£189) per night, including breakfast. More info via Karijini Eco Retreat

3. Wildman Wilderness Lodge, Northern Territory

Wildman Wilderness Lodge at sunset (Habitat Hero)

Wildman Wilderness Lodge at sunset (Habitat Hero)

In the Mary River Wetlands, mid-way between Darwin and Kakadu National Park, Wildman couldn’t be better placed for off-grid adventures – with complimentary mountain bikes, guided bushwalks and billabongs bursting with birdlife.

The safari-style tents blend almost seamlessly into the landscape, with sunset-view decks and welcoming king size beds. 

Secret tip: Wildman’s Aboriginal painting workshops, heritage-themed hikes and bushtucker tasting sessions provide a glimpse of indigenous life in Australia’s Top End. 

Booking info: Safari tents from AU$845 (£471) per night, including breakfast. More info via Wildman Wilderness Lodge

4. O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, Queensland

Looking out across the rainforest (O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat)

Looking out across the rainforest (O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat)

Deep in Lamington National Park, O’Reilly’s is more than a hotel: every day starts with a free birdwatching walk, and the treetop canopy trail puts you nose-to-beak with king parrots, crimson rosellas and more.

Over the past 93 years, the estate has grown from a simple remote homestead to a veritable village made from recycled materials– with solar power and spring-fed water. 

Secret tip: Follow the path to Morans Falls: the 80-metre cascade roars after heavy winter rain.

Booking info: Double rooms from AU$241 (£134) per night, including breakfast. More info via O'Reillys

5. Pumphouse Point, Tasmania

Aerial view of Pumphouse Point ( Pumphouse Point)

Aerial view of Pumphouse Point ( Pumphouse Point)

A tiny white cabin surrounded by Lake St Clair’s shimmering waters, Pumphouse Point is a cosy pier-end retreat in Tasmania’s Central Highlands.

Quietly indulgent, with deep-soak bathtubs and a stylish snug stuffed with Tassie wine, you’ll find forest-fringed coves, pristine beaches and the Shadow Lake Circuit nearby. The latter, at 12km, is one of Australia’s premier day walks and hops with wild wallabies and Tasmanian devils. 

Secret tip: A 15-minute drive away, ‘The Wall’ is a 100-metre-high, hand-carved sculpture – a must-see. 

Booking info: Double rooms from AU$495 (£276) per night, including breakfast. More info via Pumphouse Point

6. Balgownie Estate, Victoria

The safari tent at Balgownie Estate (Melanie Fry)

The safari tent at Balgownie Estate (Melanie Fry)

Bendigo’s family-owned vineyards are renowned for their quaffable Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon wines – and Balgownie Estate was one of their first, established 50 years ago.

After the rush of Melbourne (a two-hour drive away), its lush grounds and wine tastings are just the tonic. Each of its vineyard-view bell tents has a double bed and Balgownie wines aplenty – the Cellar Door bar is within stumbling distance too. 

Secret tip: Try the Black Label Sparkling Shiraz – for plum and black currant flavours. 

Booking info: Glamping bell tents from AU$191 (£106) per night, including breakfast. More info via Balgownie Estate Bendigo

7. Rawnsley Park, South Australia

Look out across the Flinders Ranges (Rawnsley Park)

Look out across the Flinders Ranges (Rawnsley Park)

This Flinders Ranges’ camp offers everything from inexpensive tent pitches to a two-bed homestead with private pool, all with one thing in common: goosebump-inducing views of mighty Wilpena Pound.

Known originally as Ikara (meeting place), this crater- shaped rock formation is rich in Aboriginal spirituality and raw beauty – not to mention excellent day walks. On a five-hour guided hike to Rawnsley Bluff’s summit and back, keep an eye out for emus and wedge-tailed eagles.

Secret tip: In winter, the topped-up watering holes attract Western Ghat kangaroos and yellow-footed rock wallabies. 

Booking info: Campsite pitches from AU$29 (£16) per night, cabins from AU$185 (£103) per night. More info via Rawnsley Park

8. Billabong Falls, Victoria

The billabong at Billabong Falls (Billabong Falls)

The billabong at Billabong Falls (Billabong Falls)

It’s no surprise to learn that Billabong Falls’ owner is a renowned landscape designer, and former gold winner at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Surrounded by waterfalls and gigantic ash trees, Phillip Johnson’s Aussie opus features a freshwater swimming pool that flows underneath its woodland-view lounge – with space for up to four guests in the two rustic-luxe bedrooms.

Secret tip: A bottle of Victoria wine, home-gathered eggs and a freshly baked loaf awaits new arrivals.

Booking info: Whole property from AU$550 (£306) per night, including breakfast basket. More info via Billabong Falls

9. The Kilnhouses, Victoria

The Kilnhouses (The Kilnhouses)

The Kilnhouses (The Kilnhouses)

After a sharp redesign, these three farm buildings have garnered praise aplenty for their contemporary design and soothing vineyard vistas.

They’re set on a working cattle ranch, flanked by nothing but mountains, wine fields and a few grazing cows. In summer, there are free bikes for exploring your glorious isolation – and in winter, Mount Hotham ski resort (an hour’s drive away) receives a generous dusting of snow. 

Secret tip: The retreat hosts regular cooking classes with Italian-born Patrizia Simone – chef-owner of an award-winning local restaurant. 

Booking info: Whole properties from AU$350 (£195) per night, including breakfast. More info via Kiln Houses

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