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5 adventures to have in Australia (part 3: NT, SA)

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1  Litchfield camping, NT

One of the easiest and most enjoyable micro-holidays is a weekend of camping, and the best place to pitch a tent near Darwin is popular Litchfield National Park. The park is home to waterholes you can swim in during the dry (April to October) and at the top of your list should be Florence Falls. The small, 4WD-only campground nearby promises back-to-basic magic.

 

2   Alice Springs oasis, NT 

If you’re keen to see the Outback, but want the comfort of travelling with a trusted company, check out AAT Kings. Most of its tours are upwards of 10 days, but they also have one-day add-ons. So, if you’re in Alice Springs (or you plan to be), join the Palm Valley Outback Safari by 4WD. You’ll follow Finke River, visit an Aboriginal community and see the spectacular valley oasis. 

 

3  Mount Lofty nature escape, SA

The best thing about micro-adventures is that they can be as simple and small as you want, and Mount Lofty Botanic Garden is the perfect morning destination for anyone in Adelaide. There are numerous walking trails across the 97ha, as well as a lake that makes an idyllic picnic view. Lakeside Trail is an accessible route with sculptures, Braille and an audio story.

 

4  Kayak through a ships’ graveyard, SA

Paddle through the remains of at least 40 abandoned vessels hidden within the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary, only 20 minutes’ drive from the CBD. The Garden Island Ships’ Graveyard Maritime Trail is the largest and most diverse ship graveyard in Australia and includes a variety of sailing, steam and motor vessels, barges, pontoons and dredges. If you’re lucky you might even spot some of the resident bottlenose dolphins swimming by your kayak.

 

5  Dive with great white sharks, SA

An experience like no other. Get up close and personal with an apex predator – the great white shark – from the safety of a protective cage in the Neptune Islands Conservation Park. Watch them tranquilly glide past in what is a premier ethical wildlife experience.

 

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Top 5 new glamping sites in Australia

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1  Evamor Valley, NSW

 

With its rolling hills criss-crossed by vineyards and rustic farm gates offering a wealth of epicurean adventures, Mudgee is a country town that food lovers should have on their Australian bucket-list. But in case you need another reason, check out Evamor Valley. Set on a lush 32ha farm property alongside the Cudgegong River and just out of town, the region’s newest glamping has three secluded eco-tents with king-size beds, ensuites, kitchenettes, decks and private fire pits, allowing guests to switch off and get back to nature without breaking a sweat.

2  Bukirk Glamping, SA

You don’t have to venture far to find solace in nature. Just a two-hour drive from Adelaide in the foothills of the Clare Valley (and a stone’s throw from neighbouring wine regions), five spacious adults-only bell tents are set on 42 hectares of farmland, and promise an oasis ready for romance or solitude (maybe both). The tents of Bukirk Glamping have king, queen or twin beds and private decks where you can enjoy your evening wine while watching the spectacular sunset over the gentle hills. 

3  Katherine Outback Experience, NT

If you want to experience the outback but roughing it isn’t on the agenda, this is the solution. Owned and operated by country singer Tom Curtain and his wife, Annabel, Katherine Outback Experience have introduced a lavish glamping addition that deserves a spot on every wanderlust-fuelled Pinterest board. After a day of exploring Nitmiluk National Park or horse-riding on the farm, cosy up around the communal campfire and take in a stunning Top End sunset before retreating to your cushy bell tent. It’s closed for the wet season, reopening in May next year.

 

4  Luna Lodge, TAS

Nothing says glamping quite like using a remote control to invite the southern stars in as you drift to sleep on a Tasmanian oak king-size bed. Set on 16 hectares of mixed pasture and bushland in a quiet farming valley half an hour out of Hobart, Luna Lodge provides a dreamy escape from the chaos of life with a few magical touches. Adorned with twinkling fairy lights, the eco dome (a second is being built) is decked out with handcrafted furniture and surrounded by an expansive patio for you to lap up the scenery or get a few downwards dogs in at sunrise. As the sun sets, the outdoor bath carved from a single volcanic rock is the best place to be. Cheese plate and rosé optional, but recommended. 

5  Skyview Bubbletent, VIC

Become one with nature in the comfort of your own luxurious cocoon with no nosey neighbours. In Eganstown near Daylesford, set in a native bush clearing on a private farm, the clear-roofed Skyview Bubbletent takes sleeping under the stars to a whole new level. Nod off comfortably under the heavens in a protected dome in the light of millions of twinkling stars. By day explore the bushland, or fire up the pizza oven for an outdoor evening cookout. 

 

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Top 5 hottest Australian hotel restaurants

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1  Lona Misa, Ovolo South Yarra, VIC

Lona Misa is the new star of Ovolo Hotels’ phenomenal collection of restaurants. Celebrated chefs Ian Curley and Shannon Martinez oversee a menu that’s almost entirely vegan, with dishes such as konjac vegan prawns with spicy coriander and lime dressing, and whole peri-peri cauliflower fire-roasted on a Josper grill. For drinks, there are seasonal cocktails and a wide-ranging wine list. The digs? They’re defined by a wall of Renaissance-style art graffitied with the words “mételo en la boca” – that’s Spanish for “put it in your mouth.” 

2  Lollo, W Melbourne, VIC

The jewel in the glittering crown of the new W Melbourne, Lollo sets itself apart with its warmly furnished capacious dining room and star chef Adam D’Sylva’s inspired Italian-inflected menu. There’s asparagus and ricotta tortellini with silverbeet, rotolo lasagne elevated by minced duck, and a cacio e pepe Caesar that subs in grilled cos lettuce for the pasta. Wine leans hard into Victorian drops, and the imaginative cocktail menu will have you arriving early or staying late. 

 

 

3  Automata, The Old Clare Hotel, NSW

Part of the new wave of Sydney restaurants that made hotel dining cool again, Automata is efficiently wedged in a two-storey semi-industrial brick, concrete and glass space in gentrified Chippendale. Still, it’s celebrated chef-owner Clayton Wells you’re really here for, his local produce-focused set menus dishing up the likes of Murray cod with a bug roe emulsion, braised fennel and Geraldton wax, and globe artichokes with mussels, braised pumpkin seeds and a white pepper broth. Drinks keep it curious, from local vermouth and beer to unique French wines and junmai sake. 

4  Bentley, Radisson Blu, NSW

Arguably the Australian hotel restaurant by which all others are measured, Bentley is parked beneath the Radisson Blu in Sydney’s CBD. It’s an intimate, inviting space defined by a striking lighting installation and the wine fridge and racks that line a back wall. Co-owner chef Brent Savage’s modern Australian menu includes dishes such as Skull Island prawn with koshihikari rice and ’nduja, and Jerusalem artichoke with buttermilk, chestnut and plum. As for that wine, co-owner Nick Hildebrandt has compiled a list 1000 bottles strong that includes a stack of Champagne, European riesling, Burgundy and Rhône Valley varietals. 

5  Yamagen, QT Gold Coast, QLD

The long-awaited reimagining of Yamagen in 2017 revealed a fun, funky venue of dark timber, rope chairs and fishing-basket lampshades, where the lights are kept low and energy high. Still, don’t underestimate the food, chef Adam Lane (formerly at Tetsuya and Nobu) effortlessly remixing traditional Japanese cuisine with modern techniques. You might have truffle wagyu tartare with a 63-degree egg, or miso-glazed toothfish with pickled cucumber, hazelnut and shiso. Pair with sake, or a cocktail from one of the best lists on the Gold Coast. 

 

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5 best winery stays in Australia

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1  Dinny, ACT

 

Bring the bare necessities and leave the hairdryer at home for a stay in this cosy new tiny home tucked within Mount Majura vineyard, 15 minutes from Canberra CBD. Named after the vineyard’s original owner Dinny Killen, the layout references the layout of her shed with three spaces divided by timber frames. The showstopper is the view across Mount Majura’s riesling block from the oversized picture window at the foot of the queen bed, while everything inside – from the furniture to the hand soap – is made locally. 

Check out: www.nakedcubbycollective.com

 

2  Lost Retreats, SA

 

Wine and great accommodation are a match made in holiday heaven and actor Teresa Palmer and her architect and sustainable building friends, Steve Brooks and Damien Chwalisz, believe sustainability also belongs in that mix. Sitting pretty between a lake and vineyards with an outdoor bath on the deck the best spot to soak in the views, the solar-powered retreat comes stocked with records, and handmade soaps, ceramics, glassware and artwork. 

Check out: www.lostretreats.com

 

3  Airstream Hotel, Mitchelton Estate, VIC

When you book a stay here, you’re completely surrounded by nature while having an award-winning cellar door, day spa and Australia’s largest Aboriginal Art gallery at your doorstep. Designed with luxe linens and private ensuites, you’ll find all the comforts of home as well as a gourmet breakfast hamper and complimentary mini bar. 

Check out: www.mitchelton.com.au

 

4  Lancemore Lindenderry Red Hill, VIC

Cool climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fans would be remiss not to plan a trip to the Mornington Peninsula for a ramble among the vineyards. Head straight for the recently reimagined 40-room Lancemore Lindenderry Red Hill and you’ll find a chic spot to lay your head, set amongst 13 hectares of gardens and vines. With Halliday rated wines being poured in the hotel’s cellar door and farm-to-table restaurant, and picnics amongst the vines available to book, all the finer things in life are taken care of. 

Check out: www.lancemore.com.au

 

5  Nashdale Lane Wines in Orange, NSW

Dishing up privacy and fresh country air in spades, the two adults-only glamping cabins at Nashdale Lane Wines in Orange are the ultimate playground for wine lovers. Individually designed with a light footprint, the cabins are just a short amble to the character-filled farmgate where you can taste test their single-vineyard wines. Wrapped in double layer, durable all-weather canvas insulation with a fireplace, hardwood floors and a custom made four-poster bed, hunker down and take in views to Mount Canobolas, with your favourite drop in hand. 

Check out: www.nashdalelane.com

 

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