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Eco chamber Sangoma Retreat in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales (page 27)
Features 8 Island escapes With 8,222 to choose from, where should visitors to Australia head? 10 Double take We pick four classic Australian experiences, from Uluru to the Great
Barrier Reef, and pair each with a lesser-known alternative. How do they compare? 14 An Antipodean feast On a gourmet tour of Australia, Graham Boynton meets the producers, winemakers and chefs who are beating the Old World at its own game 27 Mr & Mrs Smith Down Under James Lohan and Tamara Heber-Percy, founders of the acclaimed boutique-hotel guide, pick their top 10 stays in New South Wales 30 Not so wild From retro hotels and swish outback camps to a luxury catamaran
cruise, Western Australia has much to offer the well-heeled traveller, says Lydia Bell 33 Home from home Mark Chipperﬁeld, who recently moved to live in Adelaide, celebrates the city’s charms and the relaxed, outdoor lifestyle of South Australia 36 Let’s go walkabout Yolanda Carslaw hikes up Mount Gower on Lord Howe Island; plus four great walks elsewhere on the continent
Regulars 7 Ultra gems The world’s top ﬁne-jewellery houses can’t get enough of the opal, Australia’s mysterious national gemstone 38 Ultra intelligence Australia’s best design and furniture; great
COVER PHOTOGRAPH NICK LEARY @ A&R Model: Donna McPhail at Union Models Shot on location at Sydney Harbour
places to stay on the Mornington Peninsula; a bar in a barber shop; and a season of inspirational outdoor music, from Uluru to Sydney 42 Travelling life The fashion designer Collette Dinnigan picks her favourite hotels, restaurants and destinations in Australia and beyond
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TBOGH ART Butterfly brooch in yellow diamonds, briolette-shaped
Fine-jewellery houses are increasingly beguiled by the myriad, shimmering colours of opals, Australia’s national gemstone, says Caragh McKay
emerald and Australian opals. Price on request from Bogh-Art (020 7495 0885, bogh-art.com).
WDIOR Méduse brooch in white gold, sapphires, black opal, tourmalines and doublet opal. Price on request,
TLOUIS VUITTON Voyage dans le Temps ring in white gold, diamonds and Australian opal. Price on request from Louis Vuitton (020 7399 4050, louisvuitton.co.uk).
from Dior Joaillerie (020 7172 0172, dior.com).
TCHAUMET Parure No 5 ring in platinum, diamonds and Australian opal weighing 5.95 carats. Price on request from
Chaumet (020 7495 6303,
Butterfly earrings in white
gold and diamonds and Australian opal. Price on request from Faraone Mennella (020 7235 1183, faraonemennella.com).
hen bestowing the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth with a gift on her first visit to Australia in 1954, a magnificent opal was the obvious choice. It was, after all, the country’s national gemstone (95 per cent of the world’s opals come from Australia) and there was no better example than the
Andamooka Opal, or the “Queen’s Opal” as it is known. This fiery, 203-carat beauty is one
of the largest ever mined and is now part of the Royal Collection. Throughout history, the mysterious appearance of opals, which come alive with colour as light dances through them, has attracted superstition as well as admiration. Gem buyers from fine-jewellery
maisons including Dior, Van Cleef &Arpels and Chaumet have now fallen under their spell.
WVAN CLEEF &ARPELS
Brilliant Victoire de Castellane, left, Dior’s fine-jewellery designer, loves opals for their “special fiery lights, their changing reflections and their wicked reputation”. Right: Coober Pedy in South Australia, land of the white opal
Zodiac Scorpio clip in white gold, diamonds, sapphires and spinels and Australian black opal. Price on request from Van Cleef &Arpels (020 7493 0400, vancleef-arpels.com).
YOU LITTLE BEAUTY WHERE TO FIND OPALS IN THE OUTBACK BLACK OPALS NEW SOUTH WALES: LIGHTNING RIDGE Dark body tones mean colours stand out even more brilliantly in these, the rarest and most highly prized opals. WHITE OPALS SOUTH AUSTRALIA: ANDAMOOKA, MINTABIE, COOBER PEDY, LAMBINA Ranging from milky white to cloudy pink and blue, these are plentiful but less highly prized. BOULDER OPALS QUEENSLAND: QUILPIE, OPALTON, WINTON Mined from boulders, these can be any colour of the spectrum with a natural layer of brown ironstone on the underside. CRYSTAL OPALS SOUTH AUSTRALIA: WHITE CLIFFS If you can see through the stone, even if it is black, it is a “crystal” opal. The transparency results in dazzling colours.
2 TIWI ISLANDS Once off-limits to non-Aborigines,
AUSTRALIA’S SEVEN DROPS IN THE OCEAN
the Tiwi Islands now make a popular day trip from Darwin. The two islands, Bathurst and Melville, are famous for their arts and crafts, pristine beaches, sport fishing and love of Aussie Rules football. Most visitors come on an organised tour from Darwin, but various fishing lodges offer basic overnight accommodation.
This vast continent has no fewer than 8,222 islands. Where should the cash-rich but time-poor head? To make the choice easier, we select seven of the best
3 KANGAROO ISLAND Just 30 minutes by air from Adelaide, Kangaroo Island (or “KI”) is jaw-droppingly beautiful – a mix of farmland, forest and pristine coastline. There 1 ROTTNEST ISLAND
are sea lions, possums, koalas, wallabies and, of
Famous for its quokkas – small, wallaby-like
course, kangaroos by the score. Feast on seafood,
marsupials – this is where Perth comes to chill;
artisan cheese and cool-climate wine. For a dash
there is a regular ferry service from Fremantle.
of glamour, book into Southern Ocean Lodge
Outside school holidays in particular, Rottnest
(0061 2 9918 4355, southernoceanlodge.com.au).
is idyllic, offering sparkling blue ocean, coves for swimming and miles of safe cycling. With
4 PHILLIP ISLAND
its spa, Italian restaurant and upmarket
Cute little penguins are the lifeblood of Phillip Island. The daily penguin parade
suites, Rottnest Lodge (0061 8 9292 5161,
is world-famous, but the island (an easy drive from Melbourne, and connected
rottnestlodge.com.au) is the perfect getaway.
to the mainland by a bridge) is also home to seals, koalas and migratory birds. Long popular with families, Phillip Island is going upmarket with fine
MAP ILLUSTRATION RUSSELL COBB
For flights to Australia, book at ba.com.
dining, great wineries and smart accommodation, such as the 170-room
For more information, see australia.com.
Silverwater Resort (0061 3 5671 9300, silverwaterresort.com.au) in San Remo.
5 BEDARRA ISLAND There are plenty of islands on the Great Barrier Reef, but glamorous, secluded Bedarra has always been a cut above the rest. A short boat trip from Mission Beach, on the mainland, Bedarra fulfils every tropical-island fantasy. Swim, snorkel, kayak or just kick back. For maximum indulgence, book a private villa at the refurbished Bedarra resort (0061 7 4068 8233, bedarra.com.au).
6 MONTAGUE ISLAND Whales, seals, dolphins and penguins are just some of the attractions on Montague Island. Located less than six miles from the south coast of New South Wales, the island is teeming with wildlife. There are half-day tours from Narooma. But if you have time, book the two-night eco tour which includes a night in the old lighthouse keeperâ€™s quarters (montagueisland. com.au/accommodation.htm).
7 FLINDERS ISLAND First charted in 1798, this rugged island off the north-east tip of Tasmania has a dark and treacherous past, but is today a paradise for birdwatchers, hikers and beachcombers. Sawyer Bay Shacks (0061 4 1125 5179, sawyersbayshacks.com.au) comprises two well-equipped beachfront eco cabins, with easy access to both the town of Whitemark and the airport.
Take your pick Johanna Beach (main picture), part of the Great Ocean Walk in Victoria. Below: a red-collared lorikeet feeding on swamp bloodwood in Kakadu
Kakadu vs Great Ocean Road Tropical or temperate? That is one of the questions facing anyone who wants to see wildlife in Australia, a continent which contains a dazzling range of landscapes, from the torpid swamps of Kakadu to the temperate rainforest of the Otway Ranges. For most visitors, a trip to Kakadu National Park seems almost mandatory. Where else will you see rock art dating back 20,000 years, 280 species of bird, eight kinds of kangaroo, bandicoots and saltwater crocodiles all in one place? So popular is it, Kakadu
has aCOAST well-developed tourist with safari-style 1 TOinfrastructure, COAST ON A HARLEY camps such as Bamurru Plains (bamurruplains.com), billabong cruises, helicopter flights and a plethora of wildlife tours. By comparison, a three- or four-day journey along the Great Ocean Road, which runs along the southern coast of Victoria, may seem a little tame. But, while you are not going to see large animals, the sea-ravaged coast and lush hinterland has much to offer â€“ including forests inhabited by such endemic creatures as tiger quolls, echidnas, wallabies and koalas, and quaint fishing settlements in which to enjoy cool-climate wines and ocean-fresh seafood. Leave the car behind and tackle the Great Ocean Walk, alone or with a local hiker from the respected Bothfeet guiding operation (bothfeet.com.au). With a little bit of luck, you might even spot an elusive platypus.
CLASSIC versus ALTERNATIVE AUSTRALIA For every iconic destination, thereâ€™s a lesser-known part of the country
offering experiences every bit as rich. Here we select four of the best
CLASSIC versus ALTERNATIVE AUSTRALIA
REEF Great Barrier vs Ningaloo Few places on Earth can hope to
Barrier Reef. Ningaloo may lack the
turtles, whales, reef sharks, manta
accommodation options (hotels in
match the sheer pulling power of the
luxury resorts of Queensland, the
rays, dugongs and more than 500
Exmouth and Coral Bay, stopping-off
Great Barrier Reef. Comprising some
superyachts and the tropical
species of fish, plus hundreds of
points for Ningaloo, canâ€™t match those
2,800 individual coral reefs, islands and
ambience, but it has one unassailable
varieties of coral. And, unlike the Great
of Port Douglas or Hamilton Island). If
sand cays over 160 miles, it is an
drawcard: the annual arrival of its
Barrier Reef, many of Ningalooâ€™s best
you value solitude and the harsh
aquatic playground without peer.
whale sharks (March to July). This is
dive sites are less than 300ft from the
desert beauty of Western Australia,
Or is it? Leap to the other side of the
one of the few places where you can
shore; all you need is a mask, fins and
you will fall in love with Ningalooâ€™s
Australian continent and you will
swim with these placid monsters.
snorkel. On the downside, Ningaloo
raffish lifestyle. But anyone looking for
discover Ningaloo Marine Park (see
Recently included on Unescoâ€™s World
lacks the established infrastructure
epic dive sites, the glamour of the
page 30), a vast area of fringing coral
Heritage List, Ningaloo is an area of
of its Queensland rival: flights are
Whitsundays and pampering in a
with everything you will find on the
astonishing biodiversity, supporting
more expensive and there are fewer
resort should opt for the Barrier Reef.
Reefish charm A turtle encounter on Ningaloo Reef; and a sandbank in the Whitsunday Islands, Queensland
Melbourne Cup vs Aussie Rules The Melbourne Cup, Australiaâ€™s wealthiest and most prestigious horserace, is still the iconic sporting event Down Under: a national celebration that has grown into a global phenomenon. Known as â€œthe race that stops the nationâ€?, it attracts dedicated punters, fashionistas, party-goers and celebrities to Flemington Racecourse to watch the worldâ€™s best horses and trainers in the richest two-mile handicap on the planet. Celebrations are not confined to the racetrack, however; with its fashion parades, street parties and gala dinners, the spring event (this year taking place on Tuesday November 5) is when Melbourne really shines. But it is not the only event on which sports-lovers are placing their bets. According to its adherents, Australian Rules Football (afl. com.au), a fast-paced aerial contest played by huge men in tight shorts, is destined to conquer the world. Given that AFL ambassadors have been dispatched to China to plant the seed there, who knows? GETTY; SUPERSTOCK; TOURISM AUSTRALIA
Although played in most parts of Australia (and even New Zealand), the gameâ€™s spiritual home is Melbourne, which is why the High jinks Aerial contest at the 2012 AFL Grand Final; a track gallop between races at the Melbourne Cup; and racecourse millinery
AFL Grand Final is such an important sporting event â€“ a gathering of the clans, no less. The annual match (this year taking place today, September 28, but sometimes in early October) dates back to 1897 and is staged at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in front of 100,000 raucous fans. Whether the sartorial elegance of the spectators will match the standard at the Melbourne Cup is debatable, but the roar of the crowds will be on a par â€“ particularly if a local team is playing.
OUTBACK Uluru vs Karijini
It is no accident that Uluru (Ayers Rock) and the Sydney Opera House are Australiaâ€™s most frequently used tourism images. The Rock evokes the ancient Dreamtime spirit of the land, while the opera house projects a message of urban sophistication and modernity. While both exude a certain rock-star appeal, Uluru seems to tap into something deep in the human psyche. Its combination of sheer size, an extreme desert location and its place in Aboriginal myth make Uluru irresistible. The Rock is also blessed with direct flights from Sydney and Melbourne, some pretty swish digs, such as Longitude 131 (longitude131. com.au) and excursions ranging from camel rides to helicopter flights, bush-tucker trails and formal dinners under the stars. Located in the remote north-west of Western Australia, Karijini National Park offers a similar taste of the outback â€“ but without the constant presence of tour buses and campervans. This is the ideal place if you crave wilderness and solitude. Carved from the harsh, arid landscape, the park has plenty of rugged gorges, waterfalls and swimming holes, and is perfect if you like hiking, photography and seeing some of the continentâ€™s shyest creatures, from rock wallabies to bats. The national park (870 miles north of Perth) is also rich in native flowers. While most visitors still camp out, the African-style Karijini Eco Retreat (karijiniecoretreat.com.au) offers safari tents with creature comforts, as well as such activities as rock climbing, hiking, abseiling and rafting. For flights to Australia, book at ba.com. For more information, see australia.com.
Australia rocks Climbers in Karijini National Park (above); and a camel ride near Uluru
Coast to coast
Turning the TABLES
On a month-long gourmet tour of Australia, from Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula to Mudgee and Margaret River, Graham Boynton samples food and wine as elegant, mature and sophisticated as any in the Old World. Here, he charts the progress of a country that is beating the French at their own game e
Top marques Mark Best (left) of Marque in Sydney, Gourmet Travellerâ€™s Restaurant of the Year in 2012. Above: his Coffin Bay oyster. Below: a vine in the Barossa Valley. Far left: al fresco dining at Cullen Estate, Margaret River
orget all the clichĂŠs about Australiaâ€™s cuisine being centered around tossing a couple of shrimps on the barbie, and its wines best for laying down and avoiding. These days, Australia is a land of organic cultivation, elegantly balanced wines and award-winning international haute cuisine. Thus, in the 21st century, a tour of Australiaâ€™s food and wine regions â€“ the Mornington Peninsula, the Barossa Valley, the Adelaide Hills and Margaret River, to name a few â€“ is a journey through a country that has long emerged from beneath the petticoats of Empire and is expressing itself as a stand-out, global gastronomic centre. As the celebrated Sydney chef Mark Best told me as we sat in the cool conďŹ nes of his award-winning restaurant, Marque: â€œFinally, Australia is sure of itself and of its place in the world. Itâ€™s a combination of no longer measuring ourselves against the Old World and also recognising that, geographically, Australia is part of Asia.â€? For a month I travelled through the country from New South Wales to Victoria and South Australia and ďŹ nally across to Western Australia, a 4,200-mile odyssey that took in all manner of vineyards, farmersâ€™ markets, country restaurants, â€œthree hatâ€? haute-cuisine establishments, gourmet food vans, urban gastropubs and rural organic pubs. In the end I realised that, as vast as Australia is geographically, so it is gastronomically and viticulturally.
NEW SOUTH WALES
I began this Antipodean blow-out by meeting Mark Best and having dinner at his much-praised Surry Hills restaurant Marque (marquerestaurant.com.au), Gourmet Travellerâ€™s Restaurant of the Year in 2012. Best has been named Australiaâ€™s Chef of the Year many times, and for the past two years Marque has been listed among the worldâ€™s top 100 restaurants. Unlike so many places in the El Bulli mould, Marque serves real food rather than presenting a culinary pantomime. So, although you get an 11-course degustation
menu, it is very much in the tradition of new French cuisine. â€œI worked at Lâ€™ArpĂ¨ge under Alain Passard, my inspiration is the French nouvelle school and my heroes are people like Passard, Pierre Gagnaire and FrĂŠdy Girardet,â€? Best explained â€“ and his food reďŹ‚ects those inďŹ‚uences. It was worth crossing half the planet just to taste his smoked eel with parmesan gnocchi and pumpkin, followed by the striped trumpeter with green tomato, verjus, potato paper, ďŹ sh milk and roe. The degustation menu costs A$160/ÂŁ90. Sydney, not surprisingly, is replete with ďŹ ne-dining establishments including Neil Perryâ€™s Rockpool Bar&Grill and Peter Gilmoreâ€™s Quay, this year named among The Worldâ€™s 50 Best Restaurants. However, Mark Best recommends Golden Century (goldencentury.com.au) in Sussex Street, a 600-seat Cantonese restaurant popular with Sydneyâ€™s top chefs and costing only A$25-A$30 a head. A rural alternative to bustling Sydney is Mudgee, a small town a few hoursâ€™ drive, or a 45-minute hop by plane, across the Blue Mountains. In the Wiradjuri Aboriginal dialect, Mudgee means â€œnest in the hillsâ€?, appropriate because the town is in the fertile Cudgegong Valley. In the 19th century, it was sustained by the regionâ€™s gold-mining boom and more latterly by coal mining. In recent years, the growth of low-key rural tourism has given it a new lease of life. SoporiďŹ c and gently amiable, Mudgee is much like the Hunter Valley was 25 years ago. Locals talk about its â€œhumble brillianceâ€? as a wine-producing region in the throes of a serious renaissance. There are 23 cellar doors within four miles of the town centre, and some excellent restaurants. Iâ€™d particularly recommend the Butcher Shop Cafe at 49 Church Street for a huge, unhealthy full Australian breakfast and a close-up of the locals gossiping, and Sajoâ€™s (sajos.com.au), formerly the townâ€™s pharmacy, for modern healthy Aussie cuisine in a stylish setting. The Mudgee wine revolution is being led by Black Tongue, a group of young winemakers who have thrown off the areaâ€™s reputation for jammy, old-fashioned reds and are making modern, balanced wines which, if my tastings are anything to go by, are about to start winning awards. Already Jacob Stein, the 28-year-old winemaker at the
â€˜Mark Best worked at Lâ€™ArpĂ¨ge under Alain Passard, his inspiration is the French nouvelle school and one of his heroes is Pierre Gagnaire. His food reďŹ‚ects thatâ€™
A CASE OF THE BEST On his coast-to-coast tour, Graham Boynton selects 12 bottles from Australiaâ€™s top cellars
ROBERT STEIN RIESLING 2012 (A$30/ÂŁ17.50) Prices quoted are cellar-door. Region Mudgee, New South Wales. The flagship wine of Jacob Stein, named young winemaker of the year. PIERRO CHARDONNAY 2011 (A$78) Region Margaret River. Mike Peterkin and his son Nick produce one of the regionâ€™s, and the countryâ€™s, most stylish chardonnays. KOOYONG FAULTLINE CHARDONNAY 2010 (A$60) Region Mornington Peninsula. Clean, fruit-driven wine from Morningtonâ€™s largest producer. LEEUWIN ART SERIES CHARDONNAY 2010 (A$85) Region Margaret River. No apologies for offering a second Margaret River chardonnay. It is a regional speciality and one of the Degustation (left to right) Maggie Beerâ€™s Farm Shop, on a lakeside in the Barossa; sampling wine at Cullen Estate; the tasting bar at The Lane. Bottom: prawn, nettle, young garlic, smoked barramundi and lettuce at Vue de Monde, Melbourne
highest scorers in the Australian Wine Companion. HAHNDORF HILL GRU GRUNER VELTLINER 2012 (A$28) Region Adelaide Hills. Textbook Austrian varietal grown under Australian sunshine.
family-owned Robert Stein Winery&Vineyard (robertstein.com.au) has been named Young Australian Winemaker of the Year 2012, and fellow Black Tongue members including Liam Heslop at Lowe (lowewine.com. au), Josh Clementson at Skimstone Wines (skimstone. com.au) and Peter Logan at Logan Estate (loganwines. com.au) are surely on the verge of similar accolades.
Melbourneâ€™s long tradition of European cuisine was broken only relatively recently by the opening of Shannon Bennettâ€™s Vue de Monde (vuedemonde.com.au), offering a wild Australian degustation menu. Relocated from Normanby Chambers to the 55th ďŹ‚oor of the Rialto building in 2011, it provides panoramic views of the city and surrounding ocean. Gastronomic ďŹ‚ourishes include scrambled emu eggs and trufďŹ‚es, wallaby steak, and poached Pemberton marron (langoustine) with tarragonspiked emulsion and salt dust. On departure you are handed a goodie bag of brioche and tea for the next dayâ€™s breakfast. Bennettâ€™s head chef, Cory Campbell, says the menu is representative of contemporary Australian cuisine, with marron and wagyu beef as â€œcore coursesâ€?. Expect to pay A$250 a head without wine and around A$400 if you include something from the extensive cellar. If youâ€™re after more traditional Melbourne-Italian fare, try Grossi Florentino (grossiďŹ‚orentino.com) at 80 Bourke Street or the marvellous Ombra (ombrabar.com.au), next door, run by Guy Grossiâ€™s son, Carlo, and modelled on a northern Italian salumi (cured meat) bar. Food is served on rustic wooden boards and the home-made mortadella and the various salamis are outstanding. The wine list, featuring a good selection from Italy, also offers some excellent examples from Victoria. But it is out on the Mornington Peninsula that the great viticultural treats lie. There, a band of clever eccentrics have shelved their main careers, thrown themselves into single-vineyard, small-production winemaking and turned out some of Australiaâ€™s most delicious pinot noirs and chardonnays. One of these Peninsula pioneers is
Richard McIntyre, a surgeon-turned-winemaker who prefers to discuss the joys of whole-bunch fermentation to the internal organs of human beings. With the help of his daughter Kate, a Master of Wine, he makes not only the Moorooduc range (moorooducestate.com.au) but also the highly regarded Ten Minutes by Tractor wines with grapes from a neighbouring estate. As we taste the 2011 Moorooduc Robinson Vineyard pinot, Dr McIntyre declares it the best wine he has made at the estate. Not far down the road is another career convert, Nat White, a civil engineer who ďŹ rst tasted pinot and chardonnay in Burgundy in the 1960s and liked them so much he thought heâ€™d try to make some. He bought Main Ridge Estate (mre.com.au) in the 1970s, took a wine science course by correspondence and now makes about 1,000 cases a year. Their rarity, and the quiet charm of Nat White himself, are reason enough to visit the place, but the clincher is that it serves wonderful Sunday lunches accompanied by some of the estateâ€™s rarer, older wines.
The stateâ€™s principal food and wine areas outside Adelaide are the Barossa Valley (an hourâ€™s drive away) and the Adelaide Hills (half an hourâ€™s drive). Both are awash with big Australian characters. Maggie Beer, the former host of the long-running television series The Cook and the Chef, is one of them, whirling like a dervish among the diners, drinkers and shoppers at her eponymous Farm Shop (maggiebeer.com.au) in the Barossa. A pioneer of fresh, authentic regional produce, she opened the shop in the late 1990s and now serves picnic fare all day from 10.30am, so you can sit at the wooden tables on the deck, drink some local wine and contemplate the rural idyll. As I looked out on 50 acres of olive groves, vineyards and orchards, Maggie pulled out a copy of Barossa Living, the local glossy lifestyle magazine. The cover featured a moody monochrome portrait of Peter Lehmann, the â€œBaron of Barossaâ€?, who had died the previous week. â€œWhat a great loss,â€? she said. â€œWithout Peter, none of us would be here.â€? The original larger-than-life, swearing,
ANAPERENNA 2010 (A$155) Region Barossa Valley. The shiraz-cabernet blend is the winemakerâ€™s own favourite. Big and beautiful. LOWE ZINFANDEL 2009 (A$75) Region Mudgee, New South Wales. Big, balanced, high-alcohol (15 per cent) red from one of Mudgeeâ€™s family vineyards MAIN RIDGE ESTATE HALF ACRE PINOT NOIR 2010 (A$70) Region Mornington Peninsula. Probably the great find of this trip, a perfect balance of New and Old World winemaking. CULLEN DIANA MADELINE 2011 (A$112) Region Margaret River. Biodynamic brilliance. Bordeaux-style blend that will keep and improve for years. The 2009 vintage was Australian Wine Annualâ€™s wine of the year SONS OF EDEN ZEPHYRUS SHIRAZ 2011 (A$32) Region Barossa Valley. Lively and perfectly balanced. One of the Artisans of Barossaâ€™s stylish interpretations of a regional classic. .THE LANE BLOCK 14 BASKET PRESS SHIRAZ 2012 (A$40) Region Adelaide Hills. John Edwardsâ€™s big prize-winner and an example of his â€œEuropean-style wines with sunshine in themâ€?. CHARLES MELTON GRAINS OF PARADISE SHIRAZ 2010 Region Barossa Valley. Traditional Barossa shiraz, perfectly balanced. Will improve with cellaring.
MATT TURNER; TOURISM SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Modern Australian (clockwise, from top) The restaurant at Cape Lodge; Charles Melton at his winery in the Barossa; a trout dish at The Lane
drinking, chain-smoking Barossan, Lehmann not only saved the grape-growing industry but also transformed this region from a mass-producer of table wine into one of the New Worldâ€™s most successful wine regions. The Barossaâ€™s wine trails are sophisticated, varied and well organised, with cellar-door tasting rooms and excellent farm restaurants. At Charles Melton Estate (charlesmeltonwines.com.au), I had lunch on the small terrace overlooking the vines (the gourmet lamb pie with shiraz sauce is outstanding) and stayed overnight at the estateâ€™s 19th-century Lutheran church, transformed into a rather charming two-bedroom guesthouse. On the outskirts of nearby Tanunda, the Artisans of Barossa (artisansofbarossa.com) â€“ a collective similar to Mudgeeâ€™s Black Tongue group â€“ have also set up a cellar door and restaurant with a view of the Barossa vineyards. The chef-in-residence is Mark McNamara, formerly of the Louise, a smart country retreat in the Barossa, which means the food is excellent. His Sunday long-table lunch â€“ ďŹ ve courses and a selection of the Artisansâ€™ wines for A$95 per person â€“ comes highly recommended. But wine is the real draw of the Barossa, a region on the way up. Several of its small-production, multi-varietal wineries have achieved ďŹ ve-star status in the 2013 edition of James Halliday Australian Wine Companion. Among them are Peter Schellâ€™s Spinifex label (spinifexwines. com.au), Jaysen Collinsâ€™s Massena (massena.com.au), and Sons of Eden (sonsofeden.com), whose principal winemaker, Corey Ryan, has worked at Henschke and Penfolds and is a veteran of 20 vintages. My next stop in the Barossa was Glaetzer (glaetzer. com), run by Ben Glaetzer, whom I had last visited six years ago. Back then, he had just been declared Australiaâ€™s Young Winemaker of the Year, so I was curious to know what he made of the current generation of young bucks, Black Tongue and the Artisans of Barossa. â€œIâ€™m only 35 myself,â€? he said, â€œand some of these â€˜young tyrosâ€™ are the same age as me and quite a few are older.â€? That settled, we proceeded to taste Benâ€™s signature wines â€“ Amon-Ra shiraz and Anaperenna cabernet-shiraz blends â€“ and his impressive entry-level Heartland wines. These are the big, bold Barossa reds of yore, but perfectly balanced and with a less heavy-handed use of oak. There is no attempt to recreate the wines of France in the southern hemisphere,
â€˜After a feast of cured ocean trout, nashi pear and sea parsley, I left South Australia with a heavy heart and a burgeoning waistlineâ€™ an indication of Australiaâ€™s impressive self-conďŹ dence. On my ďŹ nal day in South Australia, I had lunch in the Adelaide Hills with John Edwards, creator of The Lane Vineyard (thelane.com.au) and its excellent bistro. A bear of a man, he said he was making â€œEuropean-style wines with sunshine in themâ€? â€“ and although he claimed not to be interested in wine competitions, he was clearly delighted that his 2012 Block 14 shiraz had just won The Lane its ďŹ rst major prize. The restaurant and tasting bar look down on the vineyards and the food is as fresh, local and delicious as I had come to expect of Australiaâ€™s winelands. After an Antipodean feast of cured ocean trout, nashi pear (what we call Asian pear) and sea parsley, followed by masterstock braised pork belly, I left South Australia with a heavy heart and a burgeoning waistline.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA The ďŹ nal leg of my month-long odyssey took me to Margaret River, three-and-a-half hours south of Perth, which produces more than 15 per cent of the countryâ€™s ďŹ ne wines. Over the past decade, it has grown as a tourist destination, thanks mainly to the refurbishment of the Perth-Bunbury Highway, which has shortened the drive by 40 minutes and made the journey so much easier. Bordered by the Indian Ocean to the west and ancient forests to the east, Margaret River is a laid-back gourmet enclave with more than 60 cellar doors. Several wineries have restaurants serving lunch, while ďŹ ne-dining options include Cape Lodge (capelodge.com.au), where chef Tony Howell offers an impressive tasting menu (Esperance
scallops, Exmouth prawns, Gracetown dhuďŹ sh, quail) with wine pairings for A$220, dinner, bed and breakfast. The ďŹ rst vine planting in Margaret River was in the 1960s, when three doctors â€“ Tom Cullity of Vasse Felix, Bill Pannell of Moss Wood and Kevin Cullen of Cullen Wines â€“ decided to test the theory that the region could produce high-quality wines. As they subsequently proved, the climate and soil are ideal for growing cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay. In fact, compared with Bordeaux, Margaret River has 25 per cent fewer days when temperatures rise above 30C but enjoys more sunshine hours during the growing season â€“ viticulture perfection. My ďŹ rst stop is the Cullen Estate (cullenwines.com. au) where Vanya Cullen, the daughter of one of the founding doctors, is making some of the best wines in the region. She was the ďŹ rst woman to be named Australian Winemaker of the Year in 2000 and was â€œGreen Personality of the Yearâ€? in 2011 for her work in sustainability. Cullen is a certiďŹ ed biodynamic estate which Vanya describes as â€œa winery with a biodynamic gardenâ€?. This rather understates the case, for the food and wines served in the restaurant are memorably good and the jam, the pickle and the honey are exquisite. I have never been a great consumer of honey, but this was so good it was addictive. And the barramundi I had at lunch at Cullenâ€™s was the freshest and sweetest I have tasted. Fifteen minutes south is another of the founding wineries, Leeuwin Estate (leeuwinestate.com.au), but this one was created not by a doctor but by a surfer. In the late 1960s, Denis Horgan came across the 120-acre property while surďŹ ng the famous Margaret River waves and was quietly raising his young family on his new farm when the California winemaker Robert Mondavi offered to buy it. Horgan thus became aware of its viticultural possibilities and, with input from Mondavi, one of the regionâ€™s great estates was born. Today, it produces classic cabernets and chardonnays, the latter described by Wine Spectator as the greatest white wine Australia has produced. Today, Leeuwin is much more than a wine estate and has become something of a cultural gathering place. Since 1985 it has staged summer concerts in which the performers have ranged from major European philharmonic orchestras to Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Shirley Bassey, Roxy Music and Sting. It also now boasts a substantial art gallery, born out of the Art Series labels on its premium wines and now comprising more than 100 works created by signiďŹ cant Australian artists. Leeuwinâ€™s large, award-winning restaurant really is a treat, overlooking the rolling lawns and karri trees and serving up excellent contemporary Australian cuisine (try the freshwater Blue Ridge marron in a bisque with crĂ¨me fraiche). Iâ€™d particularly recommend the â€œWine and Food Flightsâ€? tastings, where a selection of the estateâ€™s premium wines are matched with various dishes. By now I was ready to leave Australia. After one month on the road, 4,200 miles travelled, 30 wine estates visited and 40 restaurant and vineyard tables sampled, a serious fast lay ahead. However, there was one temptation remaining. As I was about to leave Margaret River, I was persuaded that there was one more food hero I had to meet â€“ a young chocolate-maker by the name of Josh Bahen. For a decade, he had been a winemaker at Moss Wood but, on a trip to France, bit into a piece of chocolate â€œthat tasted like fresh fruitâ€? and decided, with his wife Jacq, to set up a small chocolate factory on the family farm. Bahen&Co (bahenchocolate.com) was born. Just as the wines I had been drinking and the fresh, well-prepared food I had been eating represented the new, conďŹ dent, independent Australia, so on this small Margaret River farm I discovered a dessert to beat all desserts. Nothing I have tried from Marc Demarquette, La Maison du Chocolat, Rococo or even Pierre HermĂŠ matches Josh Bahenâ€™s post-prandial delights. Vive the new Australia. Now for the gym. Fly in to Sydney with British Airways and back from Perth with its codeshare partners, with return fares from ÂŁ899. Book at ba.com. For more information, see australia.com.
AUTHENTIC AUSTRALIA Your eight-page guide to holidays that combine the best of Melbourne, Victoria and the Northern Territory
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The Daily Telegraph
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In association with Victoria and the Northern Territory
A trip of incredible contrasts Over the past 15 years, Melbourne has enjoyed a phenomenal transformation from a businesslike state capital into a city with a global reputation for great shopping, food and entertainment. It is the national powerhouse for the arts, fashion, sport, design and gastronomy and is now widely regarded as a natural stepping-off point for exploring other parts of Australia â€“ a direct ďŹ‚ight to Alice Springs will land you in the very heart of Australia in just two-and-a-half hours. While stylish high-rise buildings such as the Eureka Tower, Freshwater Place and Crown Towers have transformed the cityâ€™s skyline, its bustling, creative laneways more accurately reďŹ‚ect its quirky character. Restaurants such as Attica, Vue de Monde, Jacques Reymond, Flower Drum and MoVida are now attracting international recognition, while the cityâ€™s distinctive laneway bar and cafĂŠ scene is being mimicked by every other Australian city. Melbourneâ€™s range of museums, art galleries, contrasting architecture and grand 19th-century parks is truly astonishing. With its eight separate galleries, Melbourne Museum provides a stimulating overview of Victoriaâ€™s natural history, Aboriginal culture, colonial past and great moments in popular culture (including the remains of champion racehorse Phar Lap). The Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre offers a brilliant introduction to indigenous art and expression â€“ and will prove fascinating for anyone planning to visit the desert communities of Central Australia. With its wide, tree-lined boulevards, neoclassical architecture and European-style trams, Melbourne has always exuded a certain Victorian grandeur, but today that sense of heritage is coupled with a new spirit of style, enterprise, irreverence and fun. Some of Australiaâ€™s most ravishing countryside is a short drive away â€“ and no Melbourne sojourn is complete without a trip to Daylesford, Mornington Peninsula, Phillip Island or along the Great Ocean Road, an epic road trip that includes the famous 12 Apostles. Victoria balances self-indulgent experiences such as wine tasting in the Yarra Valley and chilling out in Spa Country with a good portion of outdoor adventure. Walking, riding, swimming with dolphins and seals and kayaking are all popular. Hikers will enjoy the Great Ocean Walk â€“ a guided adventure through cool temperate rainforest and along spectacular coastlines, providing an opportunity to see native fauna such as koalas, seals and wallabies in their natural habitat. Independent walkers should base themselves at the award-winning Great Ocean Ecolodge, a very special place where wild kangaroos graze outside your bedroom window and you can observe incredible birdlife and endangered tiger quolls in the company of ecologists. The Red Centre may seem like a long way from the Great Ocean Road, but you could be swimming at Torquay one day and riding a camel in the Outback a few hours later after taking a direct ďŹ‚ight from Melbourne to Alice Springs. Once a vital link for the overland telegraph that connected Australiaâ€™s southern cities to the outside world,
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Alice Springs has always held a certain rugged glamour â€“ a taste of frontier life when huge camel trains crossed the desert driven by Afghan handlers. Alice Springs remains a crossroads settlement where visitors rub shoulders with desert Aborigines. There are old landmarks such as the colonial Telegraph Station, but also funky cafĂŠs, souvenir shops and upmarket galleries that sell Aboriginal paintings and handicrafts. For a township of just 25,000 people, Alice offers a surprisingly wide menu of attractions, including the Alice Springs Reptile Centre, School of the Air, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the Olive Pink Botanic Gardens and one of the worldâ€™s best desert golf courses. Signature experiences such as hot-air ballooning and champagne sunset ďŹ‚ights by helicopter ensure unforgettable memories. If you prefer travelling on two feet, consider walking one or more sections of the Larapinta Trail. Self-guided
walks and camping grounds are available but, given the terrain and desert heat, only experienced walkers should tackle this 139-mile trail without an expert guide. For a more relaxed taste of the stunning West MacDonnell Ranges, book a Mbantua campďŹ re dinner with local indigenous chef Bob Taylor, who owns and operates RT Tours (rttoursaustralia.com/au). This three-course meal is cooked in a bush oven or barbecue and features Outback ďŹ‚avours. Despite its isolation, Alice has always enjoyed a lively dining, pub and hotel scene. One of the most established restaurants is Hanuman at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Alice Springs, which specialises in Thai, Indian and Nonya cuisine from Malaysia. The hotel itself is a luxury eco-friendly resort with superb views of the West MacDonnell Ranges. Alice is the ideal hub from which to explore the nearby ranges and surrounding desert. Those who want to
For more information on holidays that combine Melbourne, Victoria and the Northern Territory, LCKI8KI8M<C
begins in the dazzling city
Perfectly matched: left, Melbourne; 12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road; right, a Kings Canyon waterfall; Tali Wiru is an intimate dining experience overlooking Uluru
venture further can follow the Red Centre Way, a fourto ďŹ ve-day driving adventure from Alice Springs to Uluru and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) via Ormiston Gorge and Kings Canyon. There is plenty of good resort and ecolodge-style accommodation en route and the roads are well maintained â€“ driving time between Alice and Uluru is four-and-a-half hours and the entire journey can be completed on the â€œblack topâ€?. Experienced off-roaders may wish to hire a 4WD and explore the back roads but youâ€™ll need to be fully provisioned for the desert. With their ancient, chiselled features, seductive waterholes and mysterious gorges, the West MacDonnell Ranges are growing in fame. But even their beauty cannot hope to eclipse the sheer grandeur of Uluru (Ayers Rock), which continues to be the major attraction in the Red Centre in tandem with Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). Whether your ďŹ rst glimpse of the Rock is from the air or from the desert ďŹ‚oor, no written description can hope to
come close to the visceral impact of seeing such a large and yet beguiling natural formation, which is taller than Londonâ€™s Shard. Uluru and the surrounding land belong to the Anangu people and strict protocols have been introduced. While traditional owners discourage visitors from climbing the Rock, it is still possible to do so. Dating back 550 million years, Uluru and Kata Tjuta are visible tips of a massive rock slab extending for more than three miles below the Earthâ€™s surface. The harsh terrain supports a unique range of animals including wallabies, kangaroos, bats, moles, reptiles and 178 bird species and a rich array of trees, grasses and shrubs. The ďŹ rst explorers who passed through here naturally slept under canvas. Today, you can choose from a wide range of accommodation options at the Ayers Rock Resort, which comprises a number of distinct properties from the exclusive Sails in the Desert to the familyoriented Ayers Rock Campground. Discerning travellers
may choose Longitude 131, an eco-sensitive luxury lodge where guests stay in tented suites with uninterrupted views of the Rock and enjoy the ďŹ nest service, a private touring programme and gourmet food and wine. Make sure that you spend at least one evening dining out under the stars. Not only is this a magical time to be in the desert but the resort has also perfected the art of sophisticated Outback dining. Choose between the popular Sounds of Silence dinner or the more intimate Tali Wiru experience, which features a four-course dinner with Louis Roederer champagne and canapes plus Australian premium wines. In fact, these are just two of 13 dining experiences available at the Rock. Sipping a chilled glass of white wine under the shadow of the worldâ€™s most famous monolith might be a ďŹ tting way to end your odyssey from Melbourneâ€™s bustling laneway to the glorious emptiness of Central Australia. Savour the moment.
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N O R T H E R N T E R R I TO R Y
V I C TO R I A
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Experiencing â€œauthentic Australiaâ€? can often involve more time than most of us can afford. But an itinerary that takes in the unique cultural experiences of Melbourne, driving the world-renowned Great Ocean Road and a vineyard lunch in the Yarra Valley or on the Mornington Peninsula comes pretty close. Combine this with a hike through Kings Canyon, dinner under the stars at Uluru, seeing some of the planetâ€™s oldest land formations, taking a journey into the world of Aboriginal culture, exploring the cosmopolitan city of Darwin and the unspoiled Top End of the Northern Territory and you truly have the complete Australia experience covered. Early European visitors were astonished by a land where trees shed their bark, animals carried their young in pouches and the desert seemed to have no end. The explorers Burke and Wills famously took a small
boat with them to central Australia, convinced they would ďŹ nd an inland sea. It never sailed. Today, every journey in Australia still seems like an adventure, an epic worthy of Burke and Wills, Ludwig Leichhardt or the other great 19th-century adventurers who braved the Outback. In contrast to the sheer scale of the wilderness, Melbourneâ€™s once quiet style has given rise to a modern metropolis â€” smart, chic, full of surprises and thoroughly liveable. The state of Victoria is also the most compact. Less than an hourâ€™s drive from the centre of Melbourne you will ďŹ nd vineyards (Yarra Valley), parading penguins (Phillip Island), gastronomic and coastal delights (Mornington Peninsula) and one of the top 10 drives in the world (the Great Ocean Road). Travel to Victoriaâ€™s Spa Country around Daylesford and you seem to enter a rural arcadia with lavender farms,
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great experiences orchards and eclectic towns. Venture further inland and the country changes beyond recognition, culminating in the Grampians, a rugged mountain range which attracts mountain bikers, hikers and those wanting peace and solitude surrounded by nature and Australian wildlife. The Victorian coastline is equally dramatic. Names such as Torquay, Apollo Bay and Lorne may sound familiar and comforting but the Great Ocean Road contains some jaw-dropping scenery, where the big rollers from Bass Strait crash against wild beaches and high cliffs. Victoria covers about the same area as the British Isles and contains every imaginable type of landscape â€“ from snow-capped mountains to temperate rainforest, broad acre farms, windswept beaches and rolling vineyards. While Victoria does not offer anything approaching the immense emptiness of central Australia, even this relatively populous state still has huge tracts of
wilderness that have changed little since European settlement. A new generation of traveller is beginning to rediscover some of Victoriaâ€™s hidden gems, such as the Great Otway National Park, which offers a rare chance to see creatures such as koalas, wallabies, platypus and kangaroos in their native habitat and is home to tall forests, magniďŹ cent waterfalls and tranquil lakes. Melburnians, Australiaâ€™s most urbanised people, have an infectious taste for outdoor adventure. Places such as the Mornington Peninsula, the Dandenongs and the Otway Ranges are now popular weekend destinations. For those who enjoy the water, Port Phillip Bay offers scuba diving, swimming and yachting. Victoriaâ€™s diverse coastline plays host to both blue and southern right whales, fur seals, little penguins, dolphins and other marine creatures; an example of how the wilderness continues to assert its presence over the city.
Diversify: begin your holiday in Melbourne, explore Victoriaâ€™s vineyards and Great Ocean Road, then head to the Outback and Darwin in the Northern Territory
Flying to Uluru will certainly add to the excitement level. Hiking in the West MacDonnell Ranges, dining under the stars at Uluru or driving across the Red Centre are not everyday experiences. Not even the most hardened traveller would downplay the antiquity, scale and terrifying beauty of this place, where visitors can marvel at the sheer cliff walls of Kings Canyon which date back 440 million years, explore the rock domes of Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) inhabited by a snake king called Wanambi, or gaze in wonder at a massive rock (Uluru) which is sacred to Aboriginal people, including its traditional custodians the Anangu. A trip to the Red Centre of Australia is more than just a chance to see some of the oldest land formations on the planet (and its clearest night skies). Itâ€™s also a journey into the complex world of Aboriginal culture, with its Songlines, creation stories and beautiful rock art. Bridging the gulf between Melbourne and the vast interior was the dream of the early European explorers. Modern air travel now makes such a journey almost routine â€“ except that nothing quite prepares you for that very ďŹ rst glimpse of the Rock, a giant pink monolith rising 2,831ft from the desert ďŹ‚oor. Here, visitors can join a number of organised tours and walks led by Anangu guides who will share some of their Dreamtime stories and explain how traditional peoples learned to harvest the ďŹ‚ora and fauna and develop their own complex system of bush medicine. At Uluru there is a wide range of dining options and high-end accommodation choices, including the revitalised Sails in the Desert Hotel or the more secluded Longitude 131, a collection of â€œtentedâ€? suites with uninterrupted views of Uluru. While The Rock naturally remains the centrepiece of every journey to the Red Centre, travellers should not ignore the claims of Alice Springs â€“ a small, feisty Outback town with oodles of personality. Once regarded as little more than a refuelling station in the desert, Alice is now becoming a springboard for all kinds of adventure activities, including hiking on the Larapinta Trail, collecting Aboriginal art or hot-air ballooning in the nearby desert. The Red Centre Way from Alice to Uluru offers an exciting and yet perfectly safe driving route, taking in other important landmarks such as Kings Canyon and Kata Tjuta. Taking between three and ďŹ ve days to complete, the loop trail is the perfect opportunity to experience the desert ďŹ rst hand â€“ along the way youâ€™ll ďŹ nd resort and eco-lodge-style accommodation, rock pools for swimming and remote Aboriginal communities. From Alice, you can add to the adventure by taking an overnight journey on The Ghan, the train that follows the old Afghan cameleersâ€™ route all the way from Adelaide in the south to Darwin at the Top End of the Northern Territory. Relaxing in the historic trainâ€™s premium platinum service suites makes the journey even more compelling. By now you should have no doubt that Victoria and the Northern Territory are perfect complements for those seeking a holiday that showcases exhilaratingly different aspects of Australia. Where else could you absorb such spirituality â€” in the ancient cultures and landscapes â€” and such exuberance, in the colours of natureâ€™s palette and the diversity of ďŹ‚ora and fauna? And still appreciate all those magical holiday moments involving delectable food, wine and luxurious retreats? In Australia, youâ€™ll discover, every great travel moment is only the prelude to the next.
} For more information, go to visitmelbourne.com and australiasoutback.co.uk
In association with Victoria and the Northern Territory
The stylish way to have a wild time #MJH OC@ CDGGN JA 6<MM< 3<GG@T OJ @SJOD> (<F<?P TJP]GG @SK@MD@I>@ OC@ =@NO JA ,U N<TN *D>C<@G $@=D>FD Lavishly endowed with wineries, wildlife, golf courses, dazzling views, ďŹ ne dining and accommodation, the Yarra Valley and the Mornington Peninsula encompass many of the highlights of any visit to Australia, both within a one-hour drive of Melbourne. In contrast, Darwin is the gateway to the Top End, which stretches in a broad band across Australiaâ€™s Northern Territory. This is a rich landscape ripe with opportunity for anyone who travels in search of the exotic. While some of its adventures come from the Bear Grylls playbook, there are also plenty that come with crisp linen, massages and a well-chilled chardonnay. For British visitors, an itinerary that begins in Melbourne and ends in Darwin not only provides extraordinarily diverse and authentic Australian experiences but also makes good sense, since Darwin is the closest of any Australian gateway city to Europe.
Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula The ďŹ‚owing hills of the Yarra Valley produce some of Australiaâ€™s ďŹ nest cool-climate wines. This is also the oldest wine-growing region in the state of Victoria and the diversity of its terroir enables it to produce a range of classic wine styles. About 40 of the valleyâ€™s wineries are open for cellar-door tastings, guided wine tours and many offer wonderful restaurants and places to stay. Steeped in the precise green geometry of the vineyards, Chateau Yering (chateauyering.com.au) is an exceptional country-house hotel with spectacular views across the Yarra Valley to the Great Dividing Range. Built in 1854, its 32 suites preserve the opulent character of the original homestead while offering a high level of contemporary style. Surrounding the house are 240 acres of mature, heritage-listed gardens bordering the Yarra River. The hotelâ€™s two restaurants serve ďŹ ne local produce and outstanding Yarra Valley wines. One of the novel ways to see the Yarra Valley is from the basket of a hot-air balloon. An hour before dawn, ďŹ‚iers lift off from the lawns of Chateau Yering for a one-hour ďŹ‚ight, ending with a champagne breakfast and sublime memories of sunrise over the vineyards. Meanwhile, on the banks of the Yarra River, Yering Gorge Cottages (yeringcottages.com.au) offer premium self-contained accommodation ideally placed for exploring the nature reserve and 120 acres of riverside bushland, with frequent sightings of eastern grey kangaroos, wombats, echidnas and even platypus. Dangling down from Melbourne like a boot, the Mornington Peninsula brackets the cityâ€™s Port Phillip Bay
to the east. Its pleasures include outstanding golf courses, a huge choice of wineries and cellar doors, spas and mineral baths, water sports, coastal and bush walks, wildlife encounters and a coastline scalloped with sandy crescents. Its leisurely ways have made it a favourite with Melburnians and the tip of the peninsula boot is shod with stylish weekenders and chic restaurants. Only an hourâ€™s drive from Melbourne, the Big Blue Backyard (bigbluebackyard.com.au) is an award-winning beach-and-bush hideaway designed to blend into the natural environment. This secluded retreat is perfectly positioned to access estates such as Port Phillip (portphillipestate.com.au), an architectural landmark offering exceptional food and wine, and Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove (montalto.com.au) which boasts the Peninsulaâ€™s best restaurant. Golf comes naturally in these pristine surroundings, with some of the most prestigious courses in the whole of Australasia. The Melbourne Sandbelt is an association of eight elite clubs, including such distinguished names as The Royal Melbourne Golf Club, the Yarra Yarra, Kingston Heath and The Victoria Golf Club. The Peninsula Country Golf Club and The Victoria Golf Club offer accommodation as well as superlative play (thesandbelt.com).
Fine outlook: above, early-morning view across the Yarra Valley by hot-air balloon; top right, alfresco dining by the Katherine River; crocodile in Kakadu National Park; below, ancient rock art in Arnhem Land
Darwin, Kakadu and Katherine At Katherine, 187 miles south-east of Darwin, the Katherine River has chiselled a succession of 13 chambers, each a mirror of blue sky hemmed in by rearing sandstone walls. This eight-mile rock gorge is the centrepiece of Nitmiluk National Park. Katherine-based Gecko Canoeing & Trekking (geckocanoeing.com.au) operates various guided tours of the national park, with add-ons such as rock climbing, mountain biking and four-wheel-drive tours. A leap up the luxury ladder, Cicada Lodge is a window on the wonders of Nitmiluk National Park, offering stylish accommodation in the 18-room complex owned and operated by local Jawoyn people, the traditional owners of the national park (cicadalodge.com.au). To the east of Darwin, Kakadu National Park is the catchment area, ďŹ‚oodplains and coastal wetlands of the South Alligator River system. Water brings life to this ancient land, carving palm-fringed creeks and deep gorges from the rainforest, gurgling into mangrove swamps and billabongs where crocodiles sprawl on muddy banks. This was also one of the earliest parts of the continent to be settled by Australiaâ€™s Aboriginal people. Scattered throughout the park are habitation sites and galleries of rock art dating back 50,000 years. An outstanding example of the concept of â€œWild Bush
1C@ ?@GDBCON JA !<MRDI While Darwin is a staging post for the Top Endâ€™s adventures, plan a couple of days in town to absorb the atmosphere of this quirky, charismatic capital. Every Thursday and Sunday evening from late April to endOctober, Mindil Beach Sunset Market dishes up a feast of Asian flavours (mindil.com.au). George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens offers100 acres of cycads, orchids, ferns, bromeliads, boabs, bamboos, rainforest species and Aboriginal medicinal plants, (parksandwildlife.nt.gov.au). Skycity Darwin is the pick of luxury accommodation, combining a casino, several restaurants and bars and a day spa, in a beachside location (skycitydarwin.com.au).
Adina Apartment Hotel Darwin Waterfront offers plush accommodation with shops, restaurants, a boating lagoon and rolling parklands on the doorstep (adinahotels.com.au). In the shopping department, the cityâ€™s art galleries showcase works from the Central Desert and Arnhem Land regions. Paspaley (paspaley.com) harvests pearls from its own farms off the Western Australia coast, and its Darwin showroom offers pearls of the highest quality in imaginative settings. Another intriguing option is di Croco (dicroco.com), which sells a range of handbags, wallets and other business and travel accessories, all made from farmed crocodile leather.
Luxuryâ€?, Bamurru Plains sits on the wetlands of the Mary River, a humidicrib environment for a complete food chain, from insects to ďŹ sh, frogs and birds. The Mary River ďŹ‚oodplains are said to have the highest concentration of saltwater crocodiles in the world and Bamurru Plains (bamurruplains.com) delivers the Top End wildlife experience with style and serenity. The camp consists of nine â€œsafari suitesâ€? raised on platforms, with verandahs from which to watch the birds and grazing wildlife. Special touches include airboat breakfasts, a 24-hour open bar, a chef who turns out gourmet meals and guides who will remind you not to trail your ďŹ ngers over the side as your airboat skims through this croc kingdom. Another accommodation option on the Mary River ďŹ‚oodplains, Wildman Wilderness Lodge offers 10 guest mini lodges inspired by the vernacular forms of Australian bush architecture. Roofs are corrugated iron, the timber cladding is rough and raw but the comfort level is set to â€œmaximumâ€? with a chocolate, grey and taupe colour scheme and a mostly white bathroom with a ďŹ‚oor-to-ceiling window that gives the fauna something to ponder (wildmanwildernesslodge.com.au). Sab Lord has been operating tours in Kakadu and Arnhem Land for more than 20 years and his smallgroup, personalised trips are ideal for anyone who wants to make the most of this extraordinary region. The Top End is an open-air bush food larder but it takes an expert to tell the difference between a ripe bush passionfruit and one that will give you a stomach ache, and to unravel the mysteries of Aboriginal rock art. Sab also enjoys an intimacy with the regionâ€™s Aboriginal people that few others can match, with privileged access to some of their best-kept secrets (lords-safaris.com). Darwin is also the western base for expeditionary-style cruising along the Kimberley coastline, an astonishing wilderness of wild rivers, waterfalls and crystalline beaches, often with a crocodile somewhere in the picture. National Geographic Orion is a sturdy, spacious and modern cruiser that brings a fair degree of style to the business of expeditionary cruising with a health spa, gym, Jacuzzi, theatre for informative presentations, outdoor dining and marble-plated bathrooms throughout her 53 suites (expeditions.com). Taking the adventure factor to the red line, True North is the only vessel cruising the Kimberley coast that piggybacks a helicopter on its top deck, whisking guests away to rock art sites, ďŹ shing spots, swimming holes and picnics at plunging waterfalls that would otherwise be inaccessible (northstarcruises.com.au).
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Crazy mix The Gilt Lounge at the QT Sydney, where one cocktail features bourbon, creole bitters and chocolate-covered bacon
New South Wales
The SMITHS DOWN UNDER James Lohan and Tamara Heber-Percy, co-founders of Mr & Mrs Smith, have spent the past decade visiting the worldâ€™s best boutique hotels. In Australia, they pick their top 10 within easy range of Sydney
ew South Wales is the state that keeps on giving. We ďŹ rst went to Sydney four years ago and were bowled over by its beauty, and the optimism and innovative spirit of the people who live there. This year, when we returned with our children, we were wowed all over again. The city has always had plenty for visitors to enjoy and it had only got better since our last visit. Bill Grangerâ€™s cafe in Darlinghurst, called Bills, and Neil Perryâ€™s contemporary Chinese restaurant, Spice Temple, were as good as we remembered them. But there were lots of new discoveries, too: the garden-fresh food at Chiswick in Woollahra; the southern French menu at CafĂŠ Nice in Circular Quay; and Alpha Restaurant in Castlereagh Street, a fantastic new Greek restaurant where the moussaka comes with an Australian twist â€“ scallops. There were as many treats for our children as there were for us, both in the city â€“ Taronga Zoo, the Manly Ferry and the sandy beaches â€“ and in the areas around it. Nearby are the Blue Mountains, rich in myth, the vineyards of the Hunter Valley and a coastline famous for its sun-bleached beaches. At Mr&Mrs Smith, we look for hotels that balance style, service and personality without neglecting comfort, and on our trip, every place we stayed was of a high standard, whether it was a romantic retreat, a shoes-off beach hideaway or a decadent modern haven. What did we do? At QT Sydney, one of the cityâ€™s hippest boutique hotels, we took full advantage of the facilities, chilling out at the spa by day and drinking negronis in the bar by night. When we felt like kicking off our shoes, we went glamping by the sea in Jervis Bay or surďŹ ng in Byron Bay. We spied kangaroos in the Blue Mountains and sipped wine (perhaps a little too much) among the vines of Mudgee. Where will we stay when we go back? At these, our favourite boutique retreats.
1 Quirky and cool
Tamaraâ€™s tip: â€œBook yourself into the quirkily
QT SYDNEY, Sydney
elegant SpaQ, and unwind in the steam and
As soon as we walked into this 200-suite
ice room, inspired by a hammam, before
hotel in the centre of town, we knew it wasnâ€™t
indulging in a Kerstin Florian facial.â€?
a place for shrinking violets. For a start, the door
The details 49 Market Street, Sydney
staff greet you in stockings, high heels, red wigs
(qtsydney.com.au; doubles from A$280/ÂŁ160).
and berets (not your average doormanâ€™s outďŹ t). The building once housed the State Theatre and
2 Urban glamour
Gowings department store, and the designers
ESTABLISHMENT HOTEL, Sydney
have kept the Gothic and art deco spirits alive.
We felt immediately at home at this super-luxe
The food and drink are as inventive as the retro
hangout for Sydneyâ€™s movers and shakers,
interiors, from the coffee parlour (serving the
kicking off at the Establishment Bar (pictured
best banana and honey smoothies and freshly
above), with its 138ft-long pale marble counter,
roasted coffee) and the European brasserie to the
then moving upstairs to Hemmesphere for
seriously sexy cocktail bar. Men will appreciate
a cocktail. You canâ€™t help but love the food
the traditional barber. We appreciated the QT
here, from breakfast in the verdant Gin Garden
Sydney Concierge app, giving an inside track on
courtyard and authentic Japanese dishes at
the city that guidebooks canâ€™t.
Sushi E, to modern Australian cuisine at the
Jamesâ€™s tip: â€œWork your way up from negronis
ďŹ ne diner, Est, and glam Cantonese at Mr
at Parlour Lane Roasters, on the ground ďŹ‚oor, to
Wong. The hotel is incredibly comfortable, with
vintage cocktails at Gilt Lounge. Iâ€™d recommend
31 modern and spacious rooms, some dark
the Smoked Applewood Bacon Old Fashioned,
and vibrant, others lighter and more sedate.
an unlikely but delicious mix of bourbon,
The bathrooms suited us perfectly: I loved the
creole bitters and chocolate-covered bacon.â€?
drenching rain shower; Tamara was wowed
by the sleek freestanding tub and Bulgari products.
glamp-site than campsite. The bush camp was built
James: â€œTry the roasted duck, faux-sharkâ€™s ďŹ n soup,
by former Sydneysiders who escaped the city, and
abalone, and the best dim sum in Sydney at Mr Wong,
theyâ€™ve ďŹ tted out 12 tree-fringed tents with comfy
headed by chefs Dan Hong (from the Sydney hotspot
beds, organic toiletries and ensuite showers (and
Ms Gâ€™s) and Eric Koh (from Hakkasan).â€?
even baths in the deluxe rooms). They all have
Tamara: â€œDress up, not down; this is a place for
wrap-around verandas. We spent our days bush-
sociable party people, such as Robbie Williams
walking, kangaroo-spotting, kayaking, snorkelling,
and the Scissor Sisters.â€?
diving and whale-watching, and by night retired to
The details 5 Bridge Lane, Sydney
the treetop restaurant, Gunyah, for some modern
Australian-meets-Central American food. They call
this â€œa place for possums and foodiesâ€?; both were very much in evidence during our stay.
3 Rural relaxation
James: â€œOf all the tents, Kookaburra was our
SANGOMA RETREAT, Blue Mountains
favourite, for its prime location beside the creek:
The fun began the moment we met our South
ideal for our dawn kayaking adventures.â€?
African hosts, Michael (a former art consultant)
Tamara: â€œTake up the Paperbark Challenge and
and Zenga (a make-up artist), together with their dog,
canoe to nearby Huskisson and back, then chalk up
Pundah. They built this modern eco-retreat just
your time on the communal blackboard.â€?
70 minutesâ€™ drive from the city so Sydneysiders could
The details 571 Woollamia Road, Woollamia
go walking and relax. Relaxing isnâ€™t too hard in the
(paperbarkcamp.com.au; doubles from
ďŹ ve safari-style contemporary rooms, all with bush
views; the split-level Chiefâ€™s Suite even has its own plunge pool. The bush walks made us feel like
6 Gourmet getaway
we were a million miles from the city, although
BELLS AT KILLCARE, Central Coast
Zengaâ€™s Ottolenghi-inďŹ‚uenced seasonal food
We knew we would have to book well in advance
was a world away from Australian country fare
to eat here. Sydneysiders love Bells as much for its
(one of the highlights was the paella-esque dish
restaurant as for its Hamptons-style hotel. It took us
of prawns, chicken and meatballs in Moroccan
only 90 minutes to drive there (although we could
spices, accompanied by a salad of sprouts,
have taken a 20-minute ferry from Palm Beach),
peas and bocconcini).
a pilgrimage justiďŹ ed by the high standard of Italian
James: â€œSpend afternoons wallowing in the
food prepared by chef Stefano Manfredi. The dining
inďŹ nity pool or spotting kingďŹ shers from your deck.
room has a crisp, coastal feel (all blues, sands and
Come nightfall, head to the cinema room to settle
whites) in keeping with its location near Bouddi
down with some DVDs.â€?
National Park, and the bar is lined with chesterďŹ eld
Tamara: â€œSangomaâ€™s therapist is an expert in ďŹ‚owing
sofas, ideal for sinking into with a signature bellini.
Hawaiian Ka Huna massages, which are incredibly
Even nicer, after lunch we slunk off into our
therapeutic. Chill out afterwards in your two-person
cottage suite, with its elegant nautical interiors
Philippe Starck bath.â€?
and Ralph Lauren furnishings.
The details 70 Grandview Lane, Bowen Mountain
James: â€œPick up one of the hotelâ€™s bushwalking
(sangomaretreat.com.au; doubles from A$483/ÂŁ277).
maps and explore the local area, with its nine
6 Best of the bunch (clockwise from above) Nautical chic at Bells at Killcare; Sangoma Retreat at dusk; the white sands of Byron Bay; soothing interiors at Victoriaâ€™s at Ewingsdale; outdoors at Spicers Vineyard Estate; the 138ft-long marble bar at the Establishment Hotel and, centre, glamping at Paperbark Camp
pretty beaches. Backpacks, delicious Manfredi-
4 Design amid the vines
orchestrated picnic hampers and even guides to
DE RUSSIE SUITES MUDGEE, Mudgee
the area can be provided.â€?
We loved this delightfully urban, dark and seductive
Tamara: â€œTime your visit to coincide with Bellsâ€™
hideaway: an unexpected ďŹ nd in the up-and-coming
bi-monthly cookery classes or its monthly
Mudgee wine region, about three-and-a-half hoursâ€™
wine dinners, or just join a daily tour of the
drive from Sydney. More a b&b than a hotel, it is
fantastic kitchen garden.â€?
housed in an 1862 Mechanics Institute building, with
The details 107 The Scenic Road, Killcare
13 apartments painted in sedate monochrome and
Heights (bellsatkillcare.com.au; doubles
decorated with contemporary art and sophisticated
from A$250/ÂŁ144, b&b).
furnishings. Although a wonderful breakfast bag is included in the rates (crunchy Whisk & Pin muesli,
7 Spa-side wining and dining
fresh breads, Hankâ€™s Jam and Bills Beans coffee), we
SPICERS VINEYARDS ESTATE, Hunter Valley
enjoyed exploring the local delis, farmersâ€™ markets
There are two kinds of visitors to this estate: those
and cafĂŠs before we hit the wine routes. There are
who enjoy working off their meals playing bocce
more than 40 cellars nearby; we recommend Logan,
or tennis, and people like us, who prefer a spa. The
Optimiste and Robert Oatley Vineyards. Leave time to
Spa Anise here is particularly good, with poolside
check out the historic gold-rush towns and national
treatment rooms, aromatherapy massages using
parks further aďŹ eld.
local Waterlily products and detoxifying body
James: â€œWe liked Junior Spa Suite 201 for its
wraps (handy if you have hit the wine cellar a little
seductive spa bath and balcony: a perfect spot to
too hard). In this area, wine features prominently
sit with a morning coffee. For extra space, bag the
on itineraries: the Hunter Valley is just two hours
impressive Blue Room.â€?
north of Sydney, and there are more than 150
Tamara: â€œThe hotel was salvaged from an old
wineries nearby. Its Restaurant Botanica, headed
building; take a good look at photographs of its
by chef Mark Stapleton, serves up contemporary
restoration on the staircase leading to the rooms.â€?
Australian food, using home-grown vegetables
The details Corner of Perry and Gladstone Streets,
and home-reared meat. Sleep it off in one of the eight
Mudgee (derussiehotels.com.au; doubles from
neutral-hued suites overlooking ďŹ elds of vines.
James: â€œAt Botanica, make sure you get a table at the window or out on the airy veranda, to take
5 Glamping escape
advantage of the views, and try the caramelised pork
PAPERBARK CAMP, Jervis Bay
belly with soy, ginger, shallots and garden greens.â€?
This place is just a skip from one of the most beautiful
Tamara: â€œGet the concierge to arrange a tasting tour
white-sand beaches weâ€™ve ever seen: Jervis Bay
to sample the ďŹ nest wines, as well as cheese, olives
on the southern coast of New South Wales. Itâ€™s only
two-and-a-half hours from Sydney, but the 100-acre
The details 555 Hermitage Road, Pokolbin
retreat overlooking the Jervis Bay National Marine
(spicersgroup.com.au; doubles from A$299/ÂŁ172,
Park feels really remote. Accommodation is more
b&b and minibar).
8 Romantic retreat TOWER LODGE, Hunter Valley If we werenâ€™t already married, one of us would have popped the question here. Itâ€™s wonderfully romantic: a multicultural modern manor house littered with antiques and curios collected over decades of globetrotting. There are 300-year-old Rajasthani beds and marble-topped tables, an Italian-style courtyard, a chic pool and a spa ďŹ t for an emperor. We dined at the lodgeâ€™s Roberts Restaurant, where chef George Francisco blends Australian and global ďŹ‚avours. Tamara was impressed by the vegetarian menu (and sheâ€™s no veggie), and we both still remember the vanilla pannacotta with pomegranate and lavender. We didnâ€™t have time to try the 18-hole putting green, but itâ€™s always good to have an excuse to go back. James: â€œStay in the seductive Oriental Room, with a wooden bath on its deck.â€? Tamara: â€œFor heavenly vineyard views, take to the skies in a hot-air balloon (balloonaloft.com).â€? The details 6 Halls Road, Pokolbin (towerestate wines.com/tower-lodge; doubles from A$450/ÂŁ259).
9 Beachside sanctuary VICTORIAâ€™S AT WATEGOS, Byron Bay Our ďŹ rst impression of this feminine, 10-room guesthouse was that it felt like a slice of Tuscany, with its fairytale four-posters, antique dressing tables and sumptuous marble baths. But the setting is very Australian: a short hop from pretty Little Wategos, where, for the ďŹ rst time, we saw dolphins surďŹ ng the breakers. The beautiful beaches of New South Wales donâ€™t come more mind-blowing than those at Byron 3
Bay. Just a 75-minute ďŹ‚ight from Sydney (or a longish nine-hour drive), the little town has also become the place in Australia for alternative living, with
travellers drawn to its thriving surf scene, naturebased spas, spiritual leanings and superior coffee. James: â€œWalk to Cape Byron Lighthouse, Australiaâ€™s most easterly point, with its sweeping views. Whales often pass by in winter.â€? Tamara: â€œLook like Elizabeth Taylor in the 1970s by packing a vibrant kaftan, metallic ďŹ‚ip-ďŹ‚ops and oversized sunglasses for the poolside terrace.â€? The details 1 Marine Parade, Wategos Beach, Byron Bay (victorias.net.au/wategos; doubles from A$399/ÂŁ230).
10 Coastal manor VICTORIAâ€™S AT EWINGSDALE, Byron Bay We couldnâ€™t help but fall in love with this area, with its organic markets, yoga sessions and glorious beaches (there are seven, our favourites being Clarkes and Wategos, for swimming and surďŹ ng). Not that you would want to leave Victoriaâ€™s for long. Like its sister
hotel (above), it is a little tropical hideaway, with nine rooms overlooking gardens, a saltwater pool and a cabana for lounging. There is no restaurant, but breakfast and tea are served, and you can order gourmet picnic hampers and casual platters. Byron has lots of restaurants, too; our favourites are Byron Beach CafĂŠ, the Bayleaf CafĂŠ and Raeâ€™s Fish CafĂŠ. James: â€œBook into one of the spacious Executive Spa Suites, with their spa baths and Juliet balconies.â€? Tamara: â€œTake advantage of the in-house therapist, and have your treatment in the garden.â€? The details Top of McGettigans Lane, Byron Bay (victorias.net.au/ewingsdale; doubles from A$299/ÂŁ172). All the hotels above can be booked through Mr & Mrs Smith (0845 034 0700, mrandmrssmith.com), with a price-match guarantee. Fly to Sydney daily with
British Airways from London Heathrow Terminal 5, with return economy fares from ÂŁ899. Book at ba.com. For more information, see australia.com.
The big blue Ningaloo Reef, where visitors can swim with whale sharks, right, has recently joined Unesco’s World Heritage List. On the Shore Thing catamaran, far right, guests might spot humpback whales on their migration
THE BIG FISH
It’s vast, it’s beautiful and it’s the richest state in Australia, with more self-made millionaires per capita than anywhere in LCKI8KI8M<C
the world. Now it is luring well-heeled visitors, too, says Lydia Bell
n the centre of Kings Park, in Perth, there is a large boab tree which is 750 years old. It wasnâ€™t always there, but was transplanted in 2008 from the Kimberley, almost 2,000 miles away, accompanied by a police escort. Local communities applauded the rare tree as it travelled along the highway. Moving it was an ambitious project that carried a considerable risk of failure, but ďŹ ve years later it is growing healthily in its privileged position in the park. The arrival of the legendary boab is part of the wider reinvention of Perth. Back in the Seventies, it was viewed as a remote, conservative backwater, even though town planners had already begun to rip down heritage buildings that smacked of country towns, and throw up skyscrapers instead. Besides, it seemed too far from anywhere to be taken seriously as a notable world city. Almost four decades later, all that has changed. Perth is where itâ€™s at: closer than either Sydney or Melbourne to the UK and resource-hungry China, and the place where Australiaâ€™s riches can be found. Last year, the state of Western Australia exported ÂŁ112billionâ€™s-worth of goods, mainly minerals, from its ports. It also has the highest number, per capita, of self-made millionaires in the world, hence the glamorous buzz of its centre, where new inner-city residents spill out of the hip bars and restaurants. Food aďŹ cionados are picking up on the cityâ€™s culinary credentials. Co-op Dining, a hot â€œdegoâ€? (the Australian term for degustation) restaurant, joins AmusĂŠ as one of the go-to places in east Perth, while El Publico is among a handful of new-wave Mexican restaurants that have opened in the past six months. In the city centre, The Trustee, serving European food, has opened in the former WA Trustees Building, and there is now a branch of the Rockpool Bar&Grill, plus the acclaimed eco-friendly restaurant the Greenhouse. I visited the Print Hall: a four-storey bar and restaurant complex, serving everything from Asian street food to modern Australian cuisine, carved out of an old printworks. The highlight is Bobâ€™s Bar, which pays homage to Bob Hawke, Australiaâ€™s straight-talking former prime minister who comes from Perth. Under the sign â€œBobâ€™s Barâ€? is his quote: â€œYou donâ€™t know what youâ€™re talking about, you silly old bugger.â€? The refurbishment of inner-city areas such as Mount
Lawley and the cultural hub of Northbridge has been accompanied by a wave of hip openings, including speakeasies helped by a relaxation of the licensing laws ďŹ ve years ago. There are ambitious infrastructure projects, too, including a waterfront district, the redevelopment of the Crown casino to include a six-star tower hotel with 500 rooms, a transport link from the city centre to trendy Northbridge and a A$750-million airport upgrade. Given the number of tourists now coming to Western Australia, these upgrades are welcome. Last year, 3 per cent more visitors arrived (about 800,000 in total), thanks partly to the launch of new daily ďŹ‚ights to Perth from the UK. Historically, there has been a dearth of luxury hotels, but a handful of purveyors of boutique comfort are working on that. For instance, developers have turned St Georgeâ€™s House, an 1890s heritage-listed former bishopâ€™s residence, into the Terrace Hotel, a contemporary bolthole with a restaurant and bar full to bursting. All these developments signal that Perth has become much more than a gateway to the wilderness. However, that wilderness is quite something â€“ and not all of it is deserts and gorges. At Ningaloo Reef, the silence of a starlit Indian Ocean and the treasures that lie beneath it are the draw for visitors, some of whom arrive there courtesy of Sail Ningaloo. The company, now in its fourth season, can spirit passengers to unvisited sections of the reef on board the 51ft catamaran Shore Thing. From the boat, at what is called the Green Mile site, guests can dive with turtles and, from May to December, see humpback whales pass by. From other specially licensed vessels, visitors can swim or snorkel with whale sharks â€“ creatures weighing up to 21 tons, which in spite of their size are more interested in plankton than they are in people. Although Ningaloo Marine Park has just been added to Unescoâ€™s World Heritage List (see page 12), boosting its proďŹ le, the area has so far escaped mass tourism. Other than the Shore Thing catamaran, Sal Salis, a luxury bush camp, is the canny choice for enjoying this beautiful place in solitude. Its nine tents blend with their surroundings and the low-tech camp espouses a relaxed, barefoot lifestyle: it is all about immersing oneself in the silent, pristine wilderness of the Cape Range. At night, the chef cooks locally harvested seafood ďŹ‚avoured with indigenous herbs, for feasts on a deck overlooking the Indian Ocean.
Town and country Tented luxury, below and right, at Sal Salis camp at Ningaloo Reef; and the new Billi Resort, bottom right, in Broome
The place that draws most visitors to the area, though, is the Bungle Bungles Range, with its orange and black domes, sculpted by nature. The place to stay is the Bungle Bungles Safari Camp â€“ the ďŹ rst to open under Western Australiaâ€™s government-run Naturebank programme, designed to develop eco-friendly camps in protected beauty spots. Run by Kimberley Wild Expeditions, it is the only private camp in the park with views of the Bungles massif itself, so sundowners are the main event of the day, when the mountains glow red. Currently, guests can only stay as part of an expedition from Broome (the shortest lasts ďŹ ve days); next season, though, a new overland tour from Broome to Darwin will be launched, for those who prefer not to drive the Australia Way in a 4x4 themselves. This year is the 30th anniversary of the â€œdiscoveryâ€? of the Bungle Bungles, when a ďŹ lm crew stumbled upon their beehive domes, towering arches and natural
THE REAL LUXURY HERE IS NOT THE SUITES BUT THE TRANQUILLITY OF THE SURROUNDINGS amphitheatres, including Cathedral Gorge. Seeing it is akin to a spiritual experience. A â€œďŹ‚ightseeingâ€? tour is de rigueur; heli-tours are the best way to get close. True luxury can be found at Berkeley River Lodge, ďŹ‚anked by escarpments and waterfalls and accessed on a ďŹ‚oatplane from Kununurra, an hour away. Twenty smart metallic â€œshacksâ€? with ocean views sit on top of a coastal dune, with views over the Timor Sea and the Berkeley River; the luxury is not so much in the relaxed simplicity of the suites (louvred windows, ďŹ‚oors of pressed bamboo, whitewashed clapboard walls and outside bathrooms) but in the tranquillity and other-worldliness of the surroundings. Staying in this ancient landscape, glimpsed by most people only from a scenic ďŹ‚ight above, feels like a privilege. Days can be spent taking boat cruises, helicopter ďŹ‚ights, bush and beach walks, and going ďŹ shing; nights are for feasting on the modern Australian
food prepared by James Ward, who trained under Rick Stein. Before dinner, it is worth turning up for the stargazing session: feeling like an insigniďŹ cant speck in the universe is by far the best way to get life in perspective. The mere existence of this lodge speaks of the Kimberley â€œcan-doâ€? spirit. Everything came by barge from Wyndham, 30 hours away. To create this remote Eden, owners Martin and Kim Peirson-Jones left their home in Broome and spent two years sleeping in rough conditions while the project went up. The costs and complexities of maintaining such a place are phenomenal. While Berkeley River Lodge is certainly comfortable, the best example of real outback luxury is El Questro, the original stylish oasis in the harsh landscape of the Kimberley. Set on the sandstone banks of a river bend, the Homestead (just one element of the million-acre estate, which also has a tented resort, bungalows and a campsite) has been delivering a particularly Australian brand of luxury since 1991. Last year, the owners added three Cliff Side Retreats â€“ glass-fronted cubby holes with outside tubs â€“ that blend in seamlessly with the rugged terrain surrounding them. Staying in one of them is a meditative experience, though guests can always drift over to the Homestead for drinks and conversation if they wish. My outback thrills, like most peopleâ€™s, ended with a dose of tropical luxury in Broome, which clings to the perimeter of the Great Sandy Desert. Here, a new resort, The Billi, provides tented luxury for ďŹ‚y-and-ďŹ‚oppers (or villas for those who donâ€™t like canvas). The intimate little resort is characterised by a solipsistic tranquillity. Although the famous white sands and camels of Cable Beach are just down the road, most guests choose to spend time in the calm oasis of the gardens. With its private decks under towering trees echoing with birdsong, and its outside bathrooms with rainforest showers that bring new meaning to the phrase, The Billi is a reminder that Western Australia can provide not just beautiful bush, but creature comforts, too â€“ and do both with consummate ease. Fly to Perth with British Airways and its codeshare partners, with return fares from ÂŁ899. Book at ba.com. For more information, see australia.com.
THE DETAILS The Terrace Hotel Perth (0061 8 9214 4444, terracehotelperth.com. au) has rooms from A$450/ÂŁ264. Kimberley Wild Expeditions (0061 8 9193 7778, kimberleywild. com.au) offers a ďŹ ve-day tour through the Kimberley, with two nights at the Bungle Bungles Safari Camp, from A$1,595, including guides, transport and most meals. Berkeley River Lodge (0061 8 9169 1330, berkeleyriver.com.au) costs A$825 per person, including activities, meals and drinks. Rooms at El Questro Homesteadâ€™s Cliff Side Retreats (0061 3 9426 7550, elquestro.com.au) cost A$2,649, including tours, food and drink. A three-day, three-night tour of Ningaloo Reef with Sail Ningaloo (0061 4 0211 0427, sailningaloo.com. au) starts at A$1,700 per person, including meals, soft drinks, activities and guides. Sal Salis (0061 2 9571 6399, salsalis.com.au) costs A$725 per person including activities, tours, food and wine. A tent at The Billi (0061 8 9192 1711, thebilli.com.au) starts at A$265, villas at about A$325.
White out Lake Gairdner, the fourth-largest salt lake in Australia, is one feature of the Eyre Peninsula, to which city-dwellers decamp in summer. Below: Rundle Street, Adelaide
HOME & AWAY
Mark ChipperďŹ eld, who recently moved to live in Adelaide, explains the appeal of a city where you can kayak with dolphins in the morning, enjoy fresh seafood and ďŹ ne wine for lunch and spend weekends hiking in a vast landscape
couple of weeks ago, I gave my normal Monday morning routine a miss and went kayaking. In the less-than-picturesque waters of Port River, just 20 minutes from the centre of Adelaide, lives a much-loved colony of dolphins. I arrived to ﬁnd them cavorting under a ﬂawless powder-blue sky. For the next three hours, these resilient urban dolphins followed our every move, playing tag beneath the kayaks or ﬂashing their dorsal ﬁns mischievously – delighting us with their inventive aqua aerobics. On the far bank of the river lies a 10,000-year-old mangrove forest, part of an enormous wildlife sanctuary which has brought back this 30-strong pod of bottlenose dolphins from the edge of extinction. This precious remnant of mangrove, saltmarsh, seagrass and silence is all that separates us from Adelaide’s modern container port and, beyond that, the open waters of Gulf St Vincent. Surrounded by industrial smokestacks, warehouses and giant electricity pylons, the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary is one of the city’s oddest tourist attractions but a ﬁne example of its wayward, individualistic spirit. “We’re pretty well hidden down here,” said Phil Doddridge, who has been guiding on the river for a decade, “but most of our tours are fully booked – even on winter days when you have to be pretty brave to climb into a kayak. Dolphins have that effect on people.” Phil, who sports a salt-and-pepper moustache worthy of the tennis great John Newcombe, is a passionate conservationist. He knows most of the dolphins by name and works closely with Dr Mike Bossley, the marine biologist who has been studying this unique community of river dolphins for 25 years. “Before Mike arrived, the future was looking pretty bleak for these dolphins,” said Phil as we kayaked into the mangroves. “What this guy has achieved is phenomenal. He’s a real hero.” With its wide boulevards, trams, neoclassical buildings and municipal parks, Adelaide may look at ﬁrst like a mid-sized European city transplanted to the southern hemisphere: a cross between Edinburgh and Vienna, perhaps, with a dash of Eastbourne when you reach the seaside. Having moved here 18 months ago after two decades in Sydney, I’m beginning to realise that this city of church-goers, wine drinkers and cricket fanatics is the most authentically “Australian” city around – easy-going, generous, sentimental and pleasantly out of step with the modern world. “You blokes in Sydney are always knocking things down and putting up something worse,” a work colleague told me. “We like to keep things the way they are. Adelaide’s city centre looks pretty much how it did in the 1960s – low-rise and leafy.” Apart from the lack of urban crush (parking, even at the beach, is plentiful), Adelaide is a place where old-school manners are observed: strangers still say “Good morning” on the street, neighbours share home-grown lemons, ﬁgs and tomatoes, post ofﬁce staff are courteous and the evening news ends with a guide to the best ﬁshing spots. In South Australia, the gulf between urban and rural life is paper-thin. Sheep still graze within the city limits, horses roam the banks of the River Torrens and the hard, unblemished outline of the Adelaide Hills dominates the
skyline. Anyone who hankers for innocent, unhurried, post-war Australia (“The Land of the Long Weekend”) should visit Adelaide in the summer. The whole city snoozes under a dry blanket of heat and families drive south to Aldinga Beach, park on the sand and plunge into the ocean, leaving their towels on the tailgate. Summer kicks off with the Santos Tour Down Under bicycling race and culminates in “Mad March” when the city plays host to the Adelaide Festival, Womadelaide, the Fringe and the Clipsal500 supercar event. For a few days at least, performance artists rub shoulders with petrolheads on the carnival streets. For all of Adelaide’s supposed cultural, sporting and gastronomic aspirations, it often seems to me that most people here would rather “go bush” than sip lattes in a sidewalk café, wander through the city’s art gallery or explore the latest degustation menu. Like New Zealand, this is a place where people still like to ﬁsh, hunt and camp out under the stars – provided there’s a chilled beer or crisp white wine waiting for them, alongside a fresh catch of blue swimmer crab, abalone or King George whiting. Not that there’s a shortage of sophisticated places for them to go. The city has a handful of ﬁve-star hotels, and boutique camps and guesthouses on its outskirts, as well as ﬁne places to eat and drink, including Windy Point in Belair, recently crowned the best restaurant in South Australia. During the long summer holidays, though, it is to nearby resorts that city dwellers decamp – to their
THIS IS A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE LIKE TO CAMP, holiday houses on nearby Kangaroo Island, to the Fleurieu Peninsula, or further aﬁeld on the untamed expanse of the Eyre Peninsula, where this dry, unforgiving and largely uninhabited continent tumbles into the Southern Ocean. Port Lincoln, to the south of the Eyre Peninsula, is rapidly becoming the adventure capital of South Australia – a place where visitors can swim with ocean inhabitants ranging from the cuddliest (Australian sea lions) and most innocuous (tuna) to the most terrifying (great white sharks). It’s a spot at which you linger if you can, exploring the magniﬁcent Lincoln National Park or tootling over to Cofﬁn Bay for the afternoon to gorge on Australia’s most celebrated oysters. Although it may lack the cultural range (if not depth) of Sydney and Melbourne, Adelaide is the only capital city which can claim to be a true gateway to the outback – the Flinders Ranges are a manageable ﬁve-hour drive from Adelaide Airport. While Uluru (Ayers Rock) remains the iconic outback destination, it does not have the same majesty and unsullied beauty of the Flinders, a place where both European and Aboriginal stories are dwarfed by the broad sweep of geological time. Dating back 800 million years, these dramatic landforms contain some of the oldest animal fossils ever found. Names like Arkaroola,
Wilpena, Lake Eyre and Innamincka resonate with stories of colonial derring-do when intrepid (or just insane) Victorian explorers ventured north into the Red Centre on camel trains; descendants of their Afghan cameleers live here still. For a decidedly luxurious taste of frontier life, head to one of the glamorous new safari tents which have just opened at Wilpena Pound. This natural amphitheatre of ancient rock covers 52 miles and is a magnet for hikers, off-road drivers, mountain bikers and ornithologists. Given the number of places like this about, visitors don’t need the survival skills of a Crocodile Dundee to see them through a journey into the outback. With their taste for good wine, hand-made cheese, fresh seafood and other great produce, South Australians have an uncanny ability to civilise the harshest landscape. En route to the Flinders, the traveller can stop at two of the country’s most celebrated wine districts – the Barossa and Clare Valley – and enjoy world-class hospitality at North Bundaleer, a magniﬁcent colonial mansion, or Thorn Park by the Vines, a tasteful property in the heart of the Clare Valley. Once known entirely for its robust shiraz and grenache, the Barossa is now producing a wide range of lighter, food-friendly wines such as tempranillo, mataro, semillon, frontignac and pinot gris. Led by celebrity cook Maggie
Gone walkabout (clockwise, from above): exploring the dunes of the Flinders Ranges; dolphins in the Port River sanctuary; kayaking from Kangaroo Island; swimming with tuna at Port Lincoln; the Womadelaide festival; and North Bundaleer estate, en route to the Flinders Ranges
PROVIDED THERE’S CRISP WHITE WINE AND CRAB WAITING FOR THEM
Fly to Adelaide with British Airways and its codeshare partners, with return fares from £922. Book at ba.com. For more information, see australia.com.
HOW TO DO SOUTH AUSTRALIA IN STYLE Where to stay
8 8843 4304; thornpark.com.
au) is set in a noisy industrial
(maps from portenf.sa.gov.
au; doubles from A$650) is
space, and serving tapas-style
au). Further aﬁeld, Kangaroo
Adelaide (0061 8 8238 2400,
located near to Adelaide’s
sharing platters and interesting
Island is a perennial favourite,
best pubs and restaurants.
wines by the glass.
with its windswept beaches
from A$340/£200), a ﬁve-star
Where to eat
What to do
and abundant wildlife; book
hotel on the banks of the
After a 24-month reﬁt,
Thanks to the proximity of the
into Southern Ocean
Torrens, offers easy access
Magill Estate (0061 8 8301
countryside, there is always
Lodge (0061 2 9918 4355,
to attractions including the
5551, magillestate.com) has
plenty to do around Adelaide.
Adelaide Oval. The Adina
reopened under the direction
The top activity is a three-hour
au; suites from A$990). In the
Apartment Hotel (0061 8
of Melbourne chef Scott
trip through the mangroves
Flinders Ranges, Wilpena
8112 0000, adinahotels.com.
Huggins – hot competition to
with Adventure Kayaking
Pound Resort (0061 8 8648
au; doubles from A$229)
Windy Point in Belair (0061
SA (0061 8 8295 8812,
oozes old-world charm, and
8 8278 8255, windypoint.
au; doubles from A$340)
has a pretty courtyard and lap
com.au), recently crowned
A$70). The wide, ﬂat streets
has just unveiled a luxurious
pool, while the hipper Clarion
best restaurant in South
make cycling a pleasure; take
tented camp. Or take a short
Hotel Soho (0061 8 8412
Australia. For authentic
advantage of the Free Bike
ﬂight to Port Lincoln
regional Italian fare, it’s worth
Hire Scheme (0061 8 8168
au; doubles from A$131) offers
trying the family-run Chianti
9999, bikesa.asn.au) and
sample oysters at Cofﬁn Bay,
a rooftop jet-pool and ﬁne city
Classico (0061 8 8232 7955,
explore the River Torrens path
then relish the stunning ocean
views. For visitors who prefer
to Henley Beach. Alternatively,
views at the contemporary
to stay in a private residence,
for something edgier, Press
stroll in the Botanic Gardens,
Port Lincoln Hotel (0061 8
the one-bedroom Thorn Park
Food & Wine (0061 8 8211
or take a self-guided walk
8621 2000, portlincolnhotel.
In The City townhouse (0061
around Port Adelaide
com.au; suites A$340).
BARBARA SABERTON; TOURISM SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Beer, the region’s chefs are busily reclaiming its Silesian (Central European) food heritage, while embracing cuisines from Southeast Asia and the Mediterranean. There’s a similar gastronomic revolution sweeping across the Fleurieu Peninsula which, apart from containing some of the state’s ﬁnest coastal scenery and the lovely old port city of Goolwa, also includes McLaren Vale, the rising star of the Australian wine scene (see page 14). The visitor can wile away many happy hours visiting some of the region’s best cellar doors, including d’Arenberg, Primo Estate, Oliver’s Taranga and Wirra Wirra, or linger over lunch at Fino, a multi-award winning restaurant in the sleepy township of Willunga. Despite their emotional connection to the land, Australians live in one of the most urbanised societies on the planet. Young Australians are more likely to visit Barcelona than Broken Hill and the outback remains as remote as Mars. But in Adelaide, the bush and the bistro live cheek by jowl. The great outdoors begins at the end of every suburban street. Look up at night and you’ll see a magniﬁcent display of stars, each newly minted in the desert sky.
Coast to coast
The demanding, day-long hike up Mount Gower on Lord Howe Island is one of Australia’s best walks. Yolanda Carslaw climbs 3,000ft for a bird’s eye view of one of the country’s most enchanting secret places
HOWE TO GO WALKABOUT
place”, to “get up”, one by one. “That’s Wolf Rock, where the HMS Nottingham ran aground 11 years ago.” (It was a British ship, too, that “discovered” the hitherto uninhabited island, 225 years ago; 50 years later the ﬁrst settlers arrived to man a provisioning station for the whaling industry.) Higher up, we could see Ball’s Pyramid, a 1,800ft sea stack apparently ﬂoating in haze between ocean and horizon, where in 2001 Dean helped track down a species of giant stick insect thought to be extinct, having been wiped out on Lord Howe by black rats. Rodents and weeds remain a problem. Dean explained: “We got rid of goats, though three nannies were missed and they’re living out their days on Mount Lidgbird. Now we’d like to see rats eradicated, and there’s a proposal involving helicopters spreading rodenticides, but it’s political dynamite. Islanders are allowed to own a dog, provided it’s neutered, but cats are banned.” All of a sudden we were on Gower’s ﬂat top in the cloudforest, thick with island apples, tea trees, pumpkin trees with yellow ﬂowers and delicate, justunfurling ferns. Best of all, though, were the palms. There are four species endemic to Lord Howe Island, including Howea forsteriana, which is exported, and is the world’s most popular indoor palm. The varieties that grow higher up have distinctive green and silvery trunks, lavish fronds and produce bunches of crimson fruit. Among the vegetation, Dean pointed out burrows of the Providence petrel, an inquisitive bird that has been seen as far away as the Sea of Japan. As we ate our picnic we surveyed the crescentshaped island – which is being reclaimed, slowly, by the South Paciﬁc. “What you see,” said Dean, “is 3 per cent of what used to be here.” The millenniaold “original” volcanic island, 20 miles wide and now 300ft beneath the sea, surrounds today’s Lord Howe: its own “edge” drops another 3,000ft into the ocean. We had nearly 3,000ft of our own to descend – and, as always with mountain walking, going down was the killer. Arms as well as legs got a workout as we lowered ourselves down the paths, grasping rope, tree, tendril or root. The reward, back at sea level? A certiﬁcate declaring we had made it, as quaint as everything else on Lord Howe. And for the two of us, having declined the minibus lift that morning: a rather hilly bike ride back to our lodgings. Fly to Sydney daily with British Airways from London Heathrow Terminal 5, with return economy fares starting at £899. Book at ba.com. For more information, see australia.com
Natural world Clockwise, from main picture: the wild scenery of Lord Howe Island; McCulloch’s anemonefish; the view from Mount Gower; luxury living at Arajilla
lancing now and then at the swirling ocean far below, I pulled myself up the path, hand over hand on the ﬁxed rope, my feet seeking grip among roots and rock. Had I fallen, I would have landed in a bush of scarlet mountain roses a few feet away rather than in the sea, but it was still a relief to have something to grasp en route to our goal, the highest point on Australia’s most remote and enchanting island. Along with a dozen holidaymakers, I was halfway up Mount Gower on Lord Howe Island (population 300; guest beds 400), a hunk of igneous rock that juts out of the South Paciﬁc 380 miles from the mainland’s east coast. The day-hike has a reputation as one of Australia’s best. Described as “very hard and demanding” in the tourist-board literature, it is barely four miles each way, yet it takes at least eight hours and can be attempted only with a guide. My partner and I had prepared by taking shorter hikes and exploring by bike – the seven-mile-long, beach-fringed island is geared to enjoying nature and the outdoors, with no nightlife or mobile-phone reception. From different viewpoints, we’d admired the 2,870ft mountain, table-shaped and tangled with jungle, standing guard over the turquoise lagoon. In bright sunshine at 7.30am we met our fellow hikers and our guide, Dean Hiscox, once the island’s ranger. In front of us stood Gower; to our left its neighbour, the rarely climbed Mount Lidgbird. For the ﬁrst mile we skirted the coast and by 9.30am we had reached Erskine Creek, where we reﬁlled our water bottles and had a breather in a glade surrounded by banyan trees – whose roots, said Dean, spread like tentacles as far as several hundred yards from the main tree. Nearly half of Lord Howe’s 241 native plants grow nowhere else, and more than 200 bird species visit. The previous day we’d seen hundreds of blackand-white sooty terns gliding gracefully above their breeding grounds, and when we’d paddle-boarded to Blackburn Island, on the lagoon, we’d found it alive with mutton birds nesting in burrows. There are just a handful of mammals, and snakes, pleasingly, are absent: Lord Howe has none of the nasties that usually make me jumpy hiking in Australia, and we saw not a single ﬂy or mosquito. Soon the track veered sharply upwards, following a ridge that gave magniﬁcent views over island and sea, framed by curly palms, scaly barks and lilli pilli trees. “See down there?” said Dean, while we were waiting at a mildly tricky part called the “Get-up
4 OF THE BEST WALKS IN AUSTRALIA FREYCINET EXPERIENCE WALK Tasmania This 23-mile trek over four days takes in some of Tasmania’s rawest landscapes: steep hills, forested areas with lakes, and remote stretches of coastline. The itinerary starts with a boat trip to Coles Bay and from there it is a (pretty steep) hike up Bear Hill, then onward through ancient forests and past the curved white beach of Wineglass Bay. Hikers follow the Bluestone Bay clifftops along a path walked for centuries by the Oyster Bay tribe, to the fossil-rich ridgeline of St Marys. Stay at the eco-conscious Friendly Beaches Lodge (freycinet.com.au), on a 400-acre property bordering Freycinet National Park. THE ARKABA WALK South Australia Geology, traversing the Flinders Ranges and taking in outback scenery, from craggy ridges to dry riverbeds, are among the pleasures of this 28-mile trek over four days. The terrain is hilly, but not mountainous, rising from 1,150ft to about 2,000ft; accommodation is at the Black’s Gap Camp and Elder Camp, where guests can sleep under the stars, and at the comfortable mid-19th-century Arkaba Station (arkabastation. com). From the tops of ranges, there are far-reaching views over Wilpena Pound and the Elder Range, spectacular at sunset when the cliffs turn deep pink. Walkers spot kangaroos (both red and western grey), emus and wallaroos (marsupials bigger than wallabies but smaller than kangaroos). An optional extra is a scenic flight above the wilderness. THE GREAT OCEAN WALK New South Wales There are two options on this spectacular coastline: the 65-mile Twelve Apostles Walk, which takes seven days, and the 34-mile Great Ocean Walk, taking four days. Both routes use the contemporary eco-hotel Bothfeet Walking Lodge (bothfeet.com.au) at Johanna as a base, where muscles can be soothed with massages and energy replenished with locally sourced, low-GI meals, micro-brewery beers and excellent local wine. The Great Ocean Walk starts in
Where to eat
When to go
There are about 10 places to
The island has a mild climate,
eat and shop. Buy picnic food
with temperatures around 25C
for lunch and eat out in the
in high summer (December
evenings (Capella Lodge and
to February) and in the teens
Arajilla have good restaurants).
in midwinter (June to August).
It is possible to have fresh ﬁsh
Visitors can hike Mount
delivered to accommodation.
Gower with Dean Hiscox
What to do
from September to May.
Go snorkelling on the lagoon.
Where to stay
We saw green-blocked wrasse,
Capella Lodge (0061 02 9918
unicorn ﬁsh and tiny reef sharks
on a half-day trip with Islander
rooms from A$650/£380, half
Cruises. People don’t visit Lord
board), on a small beach with
Howe Island for the nightlife,
a lagoon at the foot of Mount
but we found the “Bowlo”
Gower, has sleek modern suites
(bowling club) was the place
and a horizon pool. Arajilla
to be the afternoon of the
(0061 2 6583 2622, arajilla.com.
Melbourne Cup. The island’s
au; rooms from A$615/£365, full
museum and visitor centre
board, minimum stay two nights)
has displays relating to history
is an eco-friendly boutique hotel
and wildlife; also look out for
on Old Settlement Beach, with
posters advertising ﬁlm shows,
a spa and gourmet dining. Less
nature talks and other events.
luxurious but equally charming
The golf course (£25 for nine
is Pinetrees Lodge (0061
holes, including clubs) is scenic,
2 6563 2177, pinetrees.com.au;
well-kept and deserted. Go in
ﬁve nights for A$1,115/£655,
late afternoon for the best light;
full board), which has tennis
there’s also a weekly barbecue.
courts, a spa and a boat
For details of all the activities
house with an honesty bar.
above, see lordhoweisland.info.
the seaside village of Apollo Bay and finishes at the Twelve Apostles, exploring along the way the pretty rainforests of Marengo Point, the beaches of Blanket Bay and the sheer cliffs of Castle Cove. The second part of the journey is the toughest, ascending from an altitude of 200ft to about 1,600ft in a day. Walkers who want to end on a real high might book a 12-minute helicopter flight over the Twelve Apostles. The peak season for walking is from September to May, when the weather is warmer and drier. LARAPINTA TRAIL Northern Territory Again, there are two options along this route: the first walk takes six days and covers 45 miles, and the second takes three days and covers half the distance. Both are through the desert, traversing the West MacDonnell Range and taking in wild, inhospitable and little-populated landscapes, from high ridgelines to bone-dry plains. Accommodation is in tented camps – Nick Murcutt’s Camp near Simpsons Gap and Charlie’s Camp near Serpentine Chalet – with a traditional swag for a bed and either a canvas awning over your head or the stars above. The first three days are the most testing, climbing rocky mountains to 3,200ft; on day five, a sunrise walk can be organised up Mount Sonder, with its views over Ormiston Pound, a ring of mountains dominated by Mount Giles. An optional helicopter flight can be arranged over the West MacDonnell Range. Book through Australian Walking Holidays (0061 2 8270 8400, australianwalkingholidays.com). More walks: greatwalksofaustralia.com.au
EDITED BY LISA GRAINGER
Lessons from global experts
he Sydney-based duo behind Dinosaur Designs, Louise Olsen and Stephen Ormandy, started selling their resin jewellery and homeware at a stall at
Paddington Market in 1985. Twenty-eight years later they have boutiques in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and New York, have collaborated with Louis Vuitton and Paul Smith, and have exhibited at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Their pieces reflect the natural colours of Australia: the Ocean collection draws inspiration from the Great Barrier Reef. From A$50/£29 for a ring to A$475 for a necklace (dinosaurdesigns.com.au). Furniture designer Trent Jansen is best known for upcycling old road signs into distinctive urban stools (moooi.com). But his most covetable piece is a little more luxe: a rocking chair for the design collaborative Broached Commissions in Melbourne, which aims to explore the identity of Australia through its designs. The Chinaman’s File rocking chair was a response to stories about Chinese immigrants in the mid-19th century who walked hundreds of miles to reach the country’s gold mines. “It struck me that a chair like this, with its motherly rocking movements, would have brought them some comfort,” says Jansen. From around A$9,835/£5,798 (broachedcommissions.com). In 2010 a group of surfers on Bondi Beach came up with the idea of creating sunglasses that were not only eco-friendly (made of sustainably grown wood and bamboo, waxed and fitted with polarising lenses), but also ones whose profits would go to a local foundation to restore sight to people in developing countries. The sale of one pair of wayfarer-style Grown sunglasses pays for surgery for one person, or eye examinations for 12 children. From A$115/£67 (growndesigns.com). Tim Jennings started his Mbantua Fine Art Gallery 25 years ago to provide an outlet for Aboriginal art from the Utopia region of the Northern Territory. Today, he has three galleries, in Alice Springs, Darwin and Mornington, featuring art by more than 50 artists – including Emily Kame Kngwarreye; one of her paintings sold in 2007 for A$1,056,000/£618,637, at that time the highest price ever paid for a work of Aboriginal art.
Jurassic jewellery Louise Olsen and Stephen Ormandy (with Skipper the dog), at the Sydney boutique of Dinosaur Designs. Their fan tortoiseshell choker necklace, left, costs A$345/£202
SEAN FENNESSEY; AIKI; GETTY; TOURISM AUSTRALIA
Artworks start at a few hundred dollars (mbantua.com).
Big country Matthew Wood, of the Darwin Symphony Orchestra, will conduct Verdi at Uluru on October 18
TRAVEL BY NUMBERS
Percentage of cetaceans worldwide found in Australian waters: 45 species of whales, porpoises and dolphins
Approximate age in years of the Kimberley’s Bradshaw rock-art paintings (five times older than the Egyptian pyramids)
Weight in kilograms of fireworks that will be let off in October’s display of tall ships and warships in Sydney Harbour
Cost in dollars of Perth’s new rollercoaster, which will carry thrill-seekers at 52 miles an hour, and at G-forces of up to 4.5 (greater than a space shuttle launch)
ROCK MEETS CLASSICAL Australians have always loved the
Telegraph’s music critic, Michael
9-26), followed by the biennial
great outdoors, but they have only
White; it will be repeated in March
dso). In a more conventional
Adelaide Festival (February 28-
recently begun to use their deserts,
next year). Next month, on October
location, the Sydney Opera House
March 16), the largest fringe festival
harbours and cityscapes as
18, Uluru will be the spectacular
will, on October 27, provide the
in the world after Edinburgh. The
backdrops for classical-music
backdrop for a Verdi concert by the
setting for a concert to celebrate its
Canberra International Music
extravaganzas. Earlier this year, the
Darwin Symphony Orchestra,
40th anniversary, with the same
Festival takes place in May, and the
Sydney Symphony Orchestra
celebrating the 200th anniversary of
Beethoven programme to which it
Australian Festival of Chamber
performed a three-night season at
Verdi’s birth and, on October 19, for
opened in 1973 (40.sydneyopera
Music in Townsville in August. There
Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa in the
an evening of contemporary
house.com). In 2014, the festival
are rock and jazz festivals, too. For
Blue Mountains (to acclaim from the
Australian music, from jazz to
season kicks off in Sydney (January
more information, see australia.com.
he new Peninsula Link freeway, connecting Melbourne to the Mornington Peninsula, has halved the journey time to 45 minutes – hence the growing number of new places to stay
along the coast. Visitors to the Provençal-inspired Tussie Mussie Vineyard Retreat (tussiemussie.boutique retreats.com.au) can choose from a lodge, a cottage or an old laundry, surrounded by kitchen gardens and rose beds. The Spindrift Beach Retreat (spindrift.boutique retreats.com.au), with its pale, New England-style interiors, overlooking Balnarring Beach, is available for private groups to rent. Gourmands might prefer to opt for George’s Boutique B&B (georgesonarthurs.com.au), with its cooking lessons, and then drop in to the new Red Hill Epicurean (redhillepicurean.com.au), which has
CUT TO THE CHASER We have had bars in record shops, bars in art galleries — so why not one in a men’s hairdresser? The latest incarnation from Sydney’s award-winning barman Mike Enright, above, is The Barber Shop, designed in the style
Essential tech for your trip Pocket Weather Australia A$1.99 This uses data from the Bureau of Meteorology, giving precise information on expected rainfall,
Sydney’s Living History A$4.49 Detail-rich city guide by Sally
sides, such as platters of ham and cheese.
Hammond, author of Sydney Café
into the bar and a bit of the bar into The Barber Shop” –
Relax Spindrift Beach Retreat, below, and Tussie Mussie Vineyard Retreat, above right
across the country.
short back and sides, as well as drinks with
apart, Enright said he wanted to put “a bit of the barber
information, see visitmelbourne.com/regions/mornington-peninsula.
temperatures and wind conditions
of a traditional English barber and advertising
Although most barmen try to keep knives and alcohol
a restaurant, wine cellar, bakery and cheese larder. For more
Culture, with quirky titbits from the city’s oldest pub to highlights from its museums. Australia Taxi A$0.99
which explains the mirrors, blades and brushes, and his
Phone numbers of local cabs in all
choice of cologne: a splash of gin. The Barber Shop, 89
the country’s major cities, with
York Street, Sydney (thisisthebarbershop.com).
GPS to find the nearest rank.
N EED I N SP I R AT I ON ? T HE R O Y AL AC A D E M Y ’ S E X H I B I T I ON , A US T R A L I A , H A S J US T OP E N E D , S H OW I N G 2 0 0 W OR K S N E V E R SEEN B EF O R E IN TH E U K (R O Y ALACADEM Y. O R G . U K )
In association with British Airways
How Down Under became much closer Air travel has come far since 1935, when it took two weeks to reach Australia, but just like today visitors couldn’t resist, says Paul Dunbar In 1935 Australia was almost a fortnight away, even by air. A four-engined biplane operated by Imperial Airways would lumber into the sky from London’s Croydon Airport and touch down in Paris, from where passengers caught a night train to Brindisi in Italy before lumbering into the sky again. And again. Twelve days later, after scraping over mountain ranges and battling through Indian Ocean storms, the intrepid adventurers finally landed – a little shaken and definitely stirred – at the fledgling airport in Brisbane, Australia. The 12,754 mile trip, inaugurated in April 1935 and operated weekly in partnership with Qantas Empire Airways and Indian Trans-Continental Airways, cost £195 one way, equivalent to more than £11,000 today. To put that in context, BOAC’s successor, British Airways, now operates a daily service from London Heathrow Terminal 5 to Sydney on a Boeing 777 at a fraction of the price in a shade under 23 hours with just a single refuelling stop. And, with its codeshare partners, British Airways can now take you to 11 destinations in Australia. The wonder is that anybody went at all. But then, as now, Australia was too enticing. Colourful cities, sun-soaked beaches, big skies, wonderful wildlife and friendly locals — Oz has it all and lots of it. Whether you’re snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, sailing in Sydney Harbour
Flight path: from past glories, right, to today’s friendly crew and World Traveller and First cabins, top, British Airways has always led the eld
or paddling with platypus on the Great Ocean Road, you don’t do things by halves. There’s Sydney, one of those cities where the clichés – touring the Opera House, climbing the Harbour Bridge, surfing off Bondi Beach – don’t seem like clichés when you’re doing them. Less than a two-hour drive from the city, the Blue Mountains offer great wildlife encounters, stunning scenery and some incredible accommodation. Hiring a car and doing the loop around to the Hunter Valley makes for a great road trip. Canberra is well supplied with first-rate museums and galleries and Melbourne, city of contrasts, dedicated in roughly equal measure to high culture, fine food and competitive sports, should not be missed. Sunny, booming Perth is famed for its laid-back coastal lifestyle of sailing, dining and surfing, while elegant Adelaide is surrounded by lush vineyards and bushland hopping with kangaroos. Brisbane has changed since Imperial’s biplanes roared in, becoming a cosmopolitan metropolis with the pleasure grounds of the Gold Coast just down the freeway. Hobart, gateway to Tasmania’s wild rivers, rainforests and amazing nature experiences, is also a delightful colonial-style city in its own right. Hedonistic Cairns is an ideal starting point
For more information on British Airways flights to Australia, visit ba.com
The high life begins on the ground
to visit the Great Barrier Reef, dubbed one of the seven wonders of the natural world. If the prospect of spending 23 solid hours on an aeroplane fills you with dread, be assured that things have come a long way since the first passengers endured those thundering biplanes. Each British Airways Boeing 777 has four cabins. First passengers have their own suite with fully flat 6ft 6in bed (with complimentary pyjamas!), power supply and a personal entertainment system that delivers endless hours of audio and video via its 15in screen and noise-cancelling headphones. In British Airways’ award-winning Club World, travellers have a super-comfortable armchair that converts into a fully flat 6ft bed, plus a power supply and a similar entertainment system with 10.4in screen. And World Traveller (economy class) offers great-value, all-inclusive fares with no hidden charges, delicious meals and full bar service. Plus today’s reclining seats are ergonomically designed and come with adjustable headrests and lumbar support. The entertainment system has a seat-back screen and free headphones. In World Traveller Plus (premium economy), seats are wider with greater recline, head and foot rests, lumbar support and extra leg room. They also have an entertainment system with noise-reducing headphones. Baggage allowances are generous, too: up to three bags free in the hold for First and Club World, two for World Traveller Plus and one up to 23kg in World Traveller. Dining aloft has a long pedigree. Even in 1935, Imperial Airways’ advertisements boasted that its cabin crews served “full restaurant meals”. Today, from World Traveller meals specially crafted by top chefs to match the time and duration of the flight, to the apex of the airline experience in First where travellers can choose from à la carte meals, prepared to order at any reasonable time, and a selection of fine wines, the choices and quality available are outstanding. I’d be tempted to stay on the plane and fly straight back.
British Airways flights to Australia depart from Heathrow’s spacious, state-of-theart Terminal 5, opened in 2008 and winner of the Best Airport Terminal category at the Skytrax World Airport Awards in 2012. It is used exclusively by International Airlines Group (British Airways and Iberia). There’s no need to queue to check in, as this can be done online up to 24 hours before departure — leaving more time to try out some of Terminal 5’s 100-plus stores and restaurants, including Cartier, Harrods and World of Whiskies. First and Club World travellers — and Executive Club Silver and Gold Members, and oneworld® Emerald and Sapphire frequent flyers — will find a sanctuary in the luxurious and relaxing Galleries lounges. Here they can read The Daily Telegraph and other quality periodicals, help themselves to complimentary food and beverages, including a selection of fine wines, and watch live sport or selected entertainment in the 20-seat cinema. Eligible customers can even enjoy a complimentary spa treatment at one of the terminal’s three Elemis Travel Spas, which offer a range of facials and massages, including the unmissable “exotic hand and arm re-energiser”. Facilities for arriving First and Club World passengers include showers and a clothes pressing service, so they can finish their journey as fresh as they started.
he 48-year-old fashion designer,
Qualia, on Hamilton Island, has the whitest silica-sand beaches. We saw whales in the bay and stingrays leaping out of the water
based in Sydney, was the ďŹ rst Australian to launch a ready-to-wear collection in Paris. Her range is now sold internationally, from Melbourne to Moscow, and fans include Nicole Kidman and Halle Berry. She has travelled widely, and at the age of eight spent four years on a yacht, sailing from South Africa to New Zealand. Where do you go on holiday? The past three years weâ€™ve been to Italy. Two years ago, my husband Bradley and I eloped to Positano, and this year we went back with our baby, to Villa Tre Ville (villatreville.it), which has only 17 rooms and its own vegetable garden and boat. Itâ€™s family-owned, and very discreet. Where next? Brittany, because Bradley loves to surf. Or South America. Or perhaps Nihiwatu (nihiwatu.com), a sustainably managed island off Indonesia which is owned by Chris Burch [co-owner of the fashion label Tory Burch]. Itâ€™s right on the beach, with great surf, so I can lie by the pool and eat the ďŹ sh we just caught while my husband goes surďŹ ng. Your idea of a perfect holiday? Somewhere I can go to a local market and be inspired by a culture, or the local people, or their crafts. It drives my husband insane, because he likes to lie about and relax. I relax by perusing.
TRAVELLING LIFE Collette Dinnigan
The Australian fashion designer on Sydneyâ€™s best restaurants, an Indonesian idyll and a six-star resort in Queensland
What if you did want to lie about?
stayed at Huka Lodge (hukalodge.co.nz) and eaten
Best places to eat worldwide?
Any tips for shopping abroad?
I once went to Naladhu (naladhu.anantara.com),
great food at Cape Kidnappers (capekidnappers.
In London, the River CafĂŠ (rivercafe.co.uk) for
Look out for art and antiques and ship them back.
a six-star resort in the Maldives. You get your own
com), on a farm on the North Island coast.
dinner and Petersham Nurseries (petersham
In London, I recommend Michael Hoppen Gallery
pool, and the sea is clear and teeming with ďŹ sh.
What about Europe?
nurseries.com) for lunch. In New York, ABC
(michaelhoppengallery.com) and, in Paris, the
Favourite holiday spots in Australia?
I love the family-run Villa Brunella (villabrunella.it)
Kitchen (abckitchennyc.com) or Locanda
lovely white porcelain shop Astier de Villatte
We have a magical, retro Hamptons-style house in
in Capri, which has a pretty pool and wonderful
Verde (locandaverdenyc.com), in The Greenwich
(astierdevillatte.com) or Le Bon MarchĂŠ
Palm Beach, an hour north of Sydney, which is
views. In Paris, Le Meurice (lemeurice.com) for
Hotel, which is unpretentious and fun.
(lebonmarche.com) for fashion. When I was in
right on the ocean, with kookaburras on the
work, or an apartment (booked through
Do you prefer luxury or simplicity?
St Tropez this year, judging at an Antipodean
verandah. We spend summers at our 30-acre
parisperfect.com) in the 6th arrondissement
I donâ€™t like frills and fuss; I prefer hotels or villas
ďŹ lm festival, I drove to Lâ€™Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, which
property three hours south in Milton, where
for a family trip, so we can wander to the food
with character. White linen and mosquito nets
is full of antique shops, then stopped off
Bradley surfs and my daughter rides her horse.
markets. And in Rome, a loft apartment rented
do it for me â€“ plus a view and room service.
for moules and a glass of wine. A perfect day.
The hottest hotels in Sydney?
The most glamorous room youâ€™ve stayed in?
Do you like travelling to remote places?
The revamped Watsons Bay (watsonsbayhotel.
Favourite restaurants in Sydney?
Last week I was in the Presidential Suite of the
You have to in Australia! We often rent houses in
com.au) opens soon: small, chic, and right on the
Itâ€™s hard to choose, there are so many. The ďŹ ve
Mandarin Oriental (mandarinoriental.com) in
the middle of nowhere for fashion shoots, and Iâ€™ve
harbour, beside beautiful beaches and a park.
I go to all the time are: Seanâ€™s Panaroma
Guangzhou, which had six beautifully-designed
been to Broome, where Lord McAlpine has a hotel
Blue Sydney (tajhotels.com), on a jetty by the
(seanspanaroma.com.au), on Bondi Beach, which
rooms, all Asian in style. The suites at the HĂ´tel
(mcalpinehouse.com.au), and Cape York, with
water, is just a short walk from the Opera
serves line-caught ďŹ sh and home-grown produce;
du Cap (hotel-du-cap-eden-roc.com), with its
only crocodiles, sharks and turtles for company.
House through the Botanic Gardens.
the sensational modern Asian restaurant Billy
gardens and romantic Thirties architecture, are
Finally, do you travel light?
Any other Antipodean favourites?
Kwong (kyliekwong.org) in Surry Hills; Neil Perryâ€™s
unbeatable. In Paris, the suite at the top of the
No, Iâ€™m a terrible packer. I take everything â€“ and
Weâ€™re just back from the six-star, super-relaxing
Rockpool Bar & Grill (rockpool.com) for seafood,
Plaza AthĂŠnĂŠe (plaza-athenee-paris.com) is
far too many shoes. On the last trip, I took about
Qualia (qualia.com.au) on Hamilton Island, which
beef and great salads; Fratelli Paradiso
incredibly lavish, too, as is the penthouse at
10 pairs. Iâ€™ve learnt: clothes donâ€™t crease quite as
has the whitest silica-sand beaches. We saw
(fratelliparadiso.com) for casual Italian; and for
Le Meurice, with its 360-degree rooftop view.
much in hard Samsonite suitcases, so everything
whales in the bay, and stingrays leaping out of the
ďŹ ne dining-style food in a relaxed warehouse
It makes me fall even more in love with the
is now thrown into one or two (or three) of those.
water. In New Zealand, where I grew up, weâ€™ve
setting, Kitchen by Mike (koskela.com.au).
city and want to throw a rock-star party.
Interview by Lisa Grainger
*Availability may be extremely limited, particularly during peak periods. Flight prices are return from London Heathrow to Melbourne and include all pre-payable taxes, fees and other charges, correct as at 05/09/13. Routing is based from London to Melbourne via Singapore and Sydney. Prices subject to change. Bookings must be made by midnight 15 October 2013 for selected travel between 03/11/13 to 26/11/13 and 09/02/14 to 02/04/14. Some payment methods attract a handling fee. For selected destinations, eligible travel dates and full terms and conditions visit ba.com/australiadeals
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Daily Telegraph's luxury travel magazine - special Australian edition