In the wild and salty northwest, Ningaloo Reef is the only place in the world where one can swim freely with the surprisingly gentle whale shark. This rustic, tented camp is set in white sand dunes that directly access the reef, and offers a remote glamping experience like few others. The emphasis is on simple design (think lots of driftwood) and serious sustainability (composting toilets) with the bonus of an almost total communications blackout. Books, board games and swimming, anyone?
When it opened ten years ago, this elegant reimagining of the humble Tasmanian beach shack perfected unfussy Australian hospitality and turned the relatively unknown and sleepy Freycinet Peninsula, two hours from Hobart, into an instant tourism hot spot. Despite all the attention, Freycinet is still sleepy, its famous Wineglass Bay still pristine, the views of the Hazards mountains heart-stopping, the surf breaks awesome, and the beaches Friendly (that’s their name.)
Nestled on the Elysian banks of a small lake in the pretty spa town of Daylesford, this fine country hotel is beloved for the extraordinary hospitality of chef Alla Wolf-Tasker, who has (longer than anyone in Australia) been a tireless promoter of regional produce and community. Staying in this gourmet’s paradise is like being cosseted in the home of a favorite, ultra- glamorous, aunt, who happens to have one of Australia’s best wine cellars and therapeutic mineral springs on tap.
Only twenty guests at a time can share this magnificent safari camp on more than 100 square miles of Australia’s most dramatic landscapes. (That’s A-level social distancing.) The working buffalo station on the edge of the glorious Kakadu National Park has ten bungalow tents scattered through the bush. The coastal floodplains and rich savannah are home to tens of thousands of birds—and the highest concentration of saltwater crocodiles in the hemisphere.
Lord Howe Island is a tiny dot in the Tasman Sea (population about 300), a two-hour flight from Sydney. Capella Lodge sits above a small beach on the World Heritage site—70 percent of the island is a protected reserve—with box seat views of the island’s much-photographed twin volcanic mountains. With only nine rooms, it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine the breezily beautiful Capella is your own beach shack.
The Daintree rainforest is considered to be the oldest living rainforest in the world, hosting 74 species of mammals, 150 species of reptiles and 330 species of birds. The lodge, consisting of treehouses and river houses set in dense jungle on the Mossman River, occupies 80 acres of it, meaning tranquility is its signature experience. The lodge, owned by Australian hospitality dream team James and Hayley Baillie, has been closed for extensive renovation and will reopen October 2021.
Melbourne native Lee Tulloch is a journalist whose writings on fashion, popular culture and travel have appeared in Vogue Australia, Elle, Jalousie, Harper’s Bazaar and New York Magazine. She is the author of five novels, including Fabulous Nobodies and The Woman in the Lobby (May 2008). Lee is currently based in Sydney with her photographer husband, Anthony Amos.