Australia in Style – Unique Australian Travel Experiences »

Explore five star accommodations across regional Australia

By Robyn Lewis
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The Tailor - Short getaways, South Australia

The Tailor - Short getaways, South Australia [©The Tailor]

The Tailor - Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa
The Tailor - Tasmanian culinary journey, Lark Whisky
Australia in Style
The Tailor - Tasmanian culinary journey, Cheeses

 

Australia has come a long way since 2008, when the last edition of Australia in Style was published. We’ve grown up. Australian chefs and restaurants now consistently rank in the global Top 100, our premium wines receive international show accolades, our foods grace the top menus of the world.

Tourism Australia has also recently recognised that wine and food are major tourism drawcards, and are moving on from the 70’s temptations of ‘prawns on the barbie’ to increase appeal to luxury seekers, increasingly from Asia, via a newly launched Restaurant Australia campaign.

But where should high-end visitors stay when they come to Australia, especially if they want to venture outside cities and casinos? It’s not enough to simply wine and dine in city style – culinary travellers seek genuinely memorable experiences, with accommodation and service to match, and at least a taste of the ‘real’ Australia.

This means the wow moments ­– like those on safari when a lion’s roar reverberates the darkness of your luxury tent, or a manta ray leaps yachtside in a sparkling sea, or a game fish you have caught on the fly is beautifully prepared and served to your party beneath the stars…. Experiences that you go home and tell your friends about, that tear at your heartstrings and make you yearn to return….. and with your every need attended to in unobtrusive, perfect detail.

They are here, but many are hidden gems, known only to the region’s cognoscenti or to bespoke travel agents. It’s time to showcase them to the world, and Australia in Style – Unique Australian Travel Experiences reveals some of the answers: eco lodges, island hideaways and wilderness camps with a five-star flavour scattered across the country, like specks of gold in a prospector’s pan.

The book is sumptuous, and I defy anyone it pick it up and not want to visit Australia immediately. Thirty-one properties are featured, from Tasmania to the Kimberleys, Margaret River to Cape York – including a cruising yacht, a train journey and a coastal safari – and all look glorious.

For this fourth edition, a team of top-flight photojournalists journeyed the length and breadth of Australia to capture these unique destinations with spectacular photography and evocative prose. Australia in Style is the ultimate resource for those seeking a sophisticated adventure off our beaten tracks, and is recognised as the Bible of five-star luxury travel in regional and remote Australia.

The collection is curated by Drew Kluska, founder of bespoke travel company The Tailor, and member of the Shackleton and Selous Society, an invitation-only society that acts as an advocate and endorser of an elite global network of leading travel guides. Drew knows his stuff, first hand, and his standards are high.

Where to start? I’ve been fortunately to stay at some of these places and can testify to their loveliness and relaxing ambiance. Others remain dreams. All look gorgeous, and more than one well-travelled person to whom I showed this book asked incredulously “Are they really in Australia?”

Naturally, I am drawn to those who make a special feature of Australian wine and food (although all are of five-star quality).

These include Cape Lodge in Margaret River, Australian Coastal Safaris off the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia (whose speciality is seafood, naturally), Capella Lodge on Lord Howe Island, the new and indigenous-owned Cicada Lodge at the entrance to Katherine Gorge – where the menu incorporates indigenous flavours, such as seasoned crocodile tail, and other dishes prepared by Chef Mark Olive, recognised as one of Australia’s leading exponents of indigenous cooking – the stunning El Questro in the Kimberleys (a working cattle station), and the $125 million Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa, west of the Blue Mountains in NSW.

In the Kimberleys is a Coastal Camp, only accessible only by helicopter and open in the dry season from March to October. It’s a nature-lover’s and fisher’s paradise, where Chef Jordan Smith will turn your catch of the day into a gourmet delight, in a kitchen where curious wildlife have been known to venture (there’s even a resident – and harmless – olive python).

Also without road access is the Kimberley’s newest remote luxury property, the Berkeley River Lodge, a perfect place for tropical sundowners, on the mouth of the Berkley River overlooking the Timor Sea.

There are tented safari style camps at Sal Salis, Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia and Longitude 131, the closest accommodation to Uluru in Australia’s red centre. You’ll never regard ‘camping’ in the same way again after 5-star tented luxury.

Tropical islands feature prominently in Australia in Style: there’s Haggerstone and Lizard Island off Cape York in Far North Queensland (home of the Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic), Orpheus Island further south, qualia on Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays – famous for yacht racing and internationally-renowned gourmet wine and food weekends – and Makepeace Island (owned by Sir Richard Branson) in the Noosa River, where you and your friends can rent his entire house and island.

Back in the south, Kangaroo Island – which from the air now looks like a giant farm (although the authors assure us that on the ground it’s a Noah’s Ark of native fauna) – is Australia’s third largest island and has become our fourth major tourist attraction, such is the lure of its food, wine and especially fresh seafood. You can tour for the day with Exceptional Kangaroo Island tours, or stay as long as you wish in the eco-friendly but stunning Southern Ocean Lodge.

No mention of Australian food, wine and islands is complete without Tasmania, and Australia in Style includes the historic Quamby Estate in the north, and Saffire Freycinet on the East Coast overlooking the glowing granite mountains known as the Hazards at Coles Bay.

Quamby is a rare example of Anglo-Indian architecture of the Georgian period, Saffire its modern antithesis, but both make a feature of Tasmania’s fabulous foods and wines, ripened to perfection in the cool climate and long summer daylight hours.

For those wishing to stay amongst the vines, the collection includes the luxury Tower Estate in NSW’s Hunter Valley and The Louise in South Australia’s Barossa. Or if spas are more your thing, close to Melbourne is the Lake House in Daylesford.  All are committed to excellence in wine, fine food and hospitality.

For some, the ‘real Australia’ is found in the outback, and Bullo River Station continues this theme from El Questro. Nearly 500 km north of Adelaide is the Prairie Hotel in the Flinders Ranges, complete with corrugated iron verandah and a signature dish called the ‘feral mixed grill’. The menu features kangaroo chorizo, wild game such as rabbit, camel and goat (all feral species) and farmed emu.

They utilise other local produce too, in dishes such as goat’s cheese tartlets, wattle seed crème brulée and native bush tomato butter chicken. Hosts Ross and Jane Fargher even make their own lager to wash it down, when not hosting your personal tours of the Flinders Ranges National Park, either by road or light aircraft.

Australia in Style is the perfect book for Australian luxury travel inspiration, for yourself or as a gift. The photography is superb, the stories enticing.

For those who think Australia is a culinary desert, and lacking the Abercrombie & Kent style travel luxury, it’s time to think again. If you live in this great southern land, you may well reconsider that overseas holiday when you browse through Australia in Style.

And if you are contemplating a visit from overseas, be assured that you’ll be treated to wonderful and luxurious experiences that you will never forget, and have you coming back for more.
 

Australia in Style – Unique Australian Travel Experiences edited by Therese Hall is published by R.M. Williams Publishing in partnership with The Tailor, Australian hand-crafted journeys (Adelaide, SA, 2013; hc 258 pp) and  is available for purchase on their website for A$54.95 including postage within Australia, or at leading bookshops, R.M.Williams stores and R.M.Williams Publishing for RRP $39.95. Production of an ebook version is underway. 

You can download an excerpt from Australia in Style on ‘True North’ here »

Explore a range of culinary and other journeys on The Tailor »
Including a food safari in South Australia »
Wine and wildlife in SA »
Perth and Margaret River »
Stations, Wine and Wildlife in South Australia »
A culinary journey in Tasmania »
Tasmania – Hobart and the East Coast »

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November 12th, 2013
 
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