ultratravel The Telegraph
In association with australia.com
the hottest hotels down under
A U ST R A L IA SPE C IA L
CHAMpION’s CHOICe Why Michael Clarke is still bowled over by Sydney
THe FAT DUCK TAKes FLIGHT Heston Blumenthal’s culinary journeys through Oz
NAOMIe HARRIs Miss Moneypenny checks in to Byron Bay
Australia. It’s time to Drink Up in the Barossa
nights (5 star)
Just a short drive from Adelaide is one of Australia’s ﬁnest wine producing areas: The Barossa Valley. Stay 4 nights at The Louise and enjoy a complimentary upgrade to a Stonewell Suite with an outdoor rain shower, saving you £250pp. Alternatively how about a two week trip to the Margaret River and Barossa travelling on the luxurious Indian Paciﬁc train? Visit our website for more information.
Gaze Up at Uluru
Catch UP in Sydney Take in some of Australia’s most iconic sights in Sydney, the ultimate Australian bucket list destination. The famous Harbour Bridge and Opera House are just part of the appeal of this vibrant city which boasts mile after mile of surf beaches and ﬁne dining opportunities around every corner. Stay 5 nights for the price of 4 in ultimate style at the Four Seasons Sydney and enjoy a free room upgrade with our offer. Sydney is the perfect starting point for the ultimate two week escape and we recommend combining a stay in the city with some time in the Whitsundays or a classic Sydney, Rock and Reef itinerary. Visit our website for more information.
Sails Up in the Whitsundays
Comprising 74 idyllic, mostly uninhabited islands tucked inside the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea, the Whitsundays are best enjoyed by luxury sail-boat or at the sensational One&Only Hayman Island.
nights (5 star)
A true Aussie icon... World Heritage-listed Uluru is one of Australia’s most recognisable landmarks, located in the heart of Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia’s Red Centre. Enjoy a 3 night stay at 5 star Sails in the Desert where we include complimentary breakfast. Want to make two weeks of it? Visit our website for a luxurious two week Sydney, Rock and Reef holiday.
Enjoy 7 nights at this ultra luxurious hotel from £1280pp, saving you £150pp. For an extra dose of unadulterated luxury add on 3 nights at One&Only Wolgan Valley and 4 nights at the Intercontinental Sydney. See more details on our website.
Two weeks in Australia… a thousand
live it UP
Up your game in Melbourne
nights (5 star)
Melbourne plays host to some of the world’s biggest sporting events from the Australian Open, the Australian Grand Prix as well as international rugby and cricket ﬁxtures galore. This uber cool city also boats a sensational bar and restaurant scene and is gateway to the awe-inspiring Great Ocean Road. Discover all this and more staying 4 nights at 5 star Crown Towers Melbourne from £299 including a free room upgrade. For two week trips and a huge choice of excursions visit DialAFlight.com.
Upgrade to Emirates Business Class Watch the sun come Up in Perth Australia’s sunniest state capital is bursting with natural beauty and offers a relaxed pace. Enjoy 3 nights at 5 star The Richardson and enjoy a free room upgrade.
nights (5 star)
Travel in style from a choice of 6 UK airports with multi award winning Emirates from just £725. For ultimate comfort enjoy ﬁne dining, fully ﬂat beds, complimentary chauffeur-drive service and lounge access when ﬂying Emirates’ Business Class. Call for the latest prices, it may cost less than you think.
Check out our website for a huge selection of excursions from Perth including cruises down the shimmering Swan River or check out our two week holiday to Perth, the Margaret River and Barossa, travelling on the Indian Paciﬁc luxury train.
ways to live it up
contents Australia 2015
34 Features 10 The migration of The Fat Duck Heston Blumenthal explains why he’s moved his renowned restaurant to Melbourne, and chooses his favourite places to eat in Oz 14 New inn town From city chic to stylish seclusion, Ultratravel introduces the best of the country’s new and newly renovated hotels and resorts 20 A tale of two towns Both Noosa and Byron Bay have brilliant beaches, galleries and restaurants, but which of the fashionable resorts comes out on top, asks Lydia Bell 24 Two-week wonderlands How to explore such a vast and fascinating country in just a fortnight? Three writers set off on different journeys to get a taste of Australia 30 Natural highs Stanley Johnson immerses himself in the delights of the Great South West Edge, with its fabulous flora, fauna and cultural heritage
34 Trek or train? Travelling at a leisurely pace (and with creature comforts), Alexander McKendrick hikes the Great Ocean Road while Mark Skipworth crosses Oz by train
Regulars 6 The next big thing A first peek at Sydney’s new waterside district; plans for the Great Kimberley Marine Park; the Gold Coast’s new cultural centre; and the well-judged Albany museum honouring the Anzacs 9 Accessories Great Aussie designs – from surfboards to ceramics – cherry-picked by Laura Lovett 41 Intelligence Indigenous ingredients are back on the menu: Brendan Shanahan talks to Jock Zonfrillo, the Scottish chef who’s heading up the trend. Plus, the actress Naomie Harris reveals her favourite hotel down under 42 Travelling life Michael Clarke, captain of the World
Cup-winning cricket team, tours the world for six months of
the year, but says his heart still belongs to Australia
COVER IMAGE The One&Only Hayman Island foatplane approaches the Barrier Reef resort
Editor Charles Starmer-Smith Creative director Johnny Morris Deputy editor Lisa Grainger Photography editor Joe Plimmer Contributing editor John O’Ceallaigh Sub-editor Vicki Reeve Executive publisher for Ultratravel Limited Nick Perry Publisher Toby Moore Advertising inquiries 07768 106322 (Nick Perry) 020 7931 3039 (Chelsea Bradbury) Ultratravel, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0DT Twitter @TeleLuxTravel
booming barangaroo The 22-hectare Barangaroo is just moments from central Sydney, on the western harbour foreshore of the city’s CBD, but has been locked away from the public for more than 100 years. That’s about to change. Formerly a container wharf, this vast expanse on the edge of Sydney Harbour is being transformed into a new district, abundant with waterfront restaurants, shops and tourist attractions including a foreshore promenade running the length of the site. The development is due for completion around 2022, but visitors can take a first foray into the precinct this year. At the northern end, and opening soon, Barangaroo Point (below) is a six-hectare waterside park that will feature bush walks, a cove, tidal rock pools and 75,000 native plants.
the next BIG THING
A round-up of developments down under, from a new waterside district in Sydney and an arts precinct on the Gold Coast to Albany’s poignant National Anzac Centre
the n e w ba r r i e r r e e f Punctuated by untouched islands and pristine coral reefs, the tranquil waters off the Kimberley’s coast shelter snubfin dolphins, endangered sawfish and up to 30,000 humpback whales which calve here each year. In one of Australia’s most significant environmental initiatives, plans are in place to create a marine reserve here to rival the Great Barrier Reef in size and biodiversity, and to ensure this delicate ecosystem remains a marine sanctuary and area of outstanding natural beauty for generations. Tranches of land and sea have already been designated as protected sites and when the project is completed, by mid-2018, the Great Kimberley Marine Park will extend from Talbot Bay to the Northern Territory border.
FutuRESCAPE An artist’s impression of central Barangaroo as it might look (subject to planning approval)
n late 1914, more than 41,000
Wales) at the outbreak of the Great War
Australians and New Zealanders
“The horses came here from all over
embarked from King George Sound
Australia,” he explained. “They’d never
in Western Australia and set sail for Europe
seen waves or heard the roar of the surf.
and the First World War. So it’s fitting,
They had to get used to it.”
writes Stanley Johnson, that a hundred
Of the thousands of Australian horses
years later, a new museum has been opened
that left Albany in 1914, only one returned:
to commemorate not just their bravery but
Sandy, Major General Sir William Bridges’
the speed at which they gathered to fight.
favourite mount. Bridges himself died in May
The new National Anzac Centre in
1915, of wounds received on Gallipoli, but
Albany, Western Australia, overlooks the sound – one of the world’s finest natural harbours – from which, a century ago, the the Anzacs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) departed, on November 1 1914, just a few weeks after war had been declared. Inside, the tales have been brilliantly told, through visual cues and hands-on “experiences” in which visitors are encouraged to assume, electronically, the identity of one of the 32 Anzac-related characters and to follow his personal experience of the Great War. My assumed “identity”, the day I visited the centre, was that of Lance Corporal
Sandy was brought home in 1918 – as a
George Mitchell. Mitchell’s 10th Battalion,
posthumous tribute to General Bridges –
AIF (Australian Imperial Force) helped to
and was turned out to graze at Maribyrnong
spearhead the Gallipoli landing, before
near Melbourne. Eventually, blind and infirm,
withstanding three weeks of constant
Sandy was put down in 1923.
fighting. Mitchell survived unscathed, but
There is a wonderful photograph of Sandy
collapsed with typhoid in July 1915 and was
at the Centre, with a quotation from the
hospitalised. Having been awarded the
Sydney Evening News, 13 September 1923:
Military Cross, he returned to Australia,
“He was one of a heroic band that worked
entered politics and, just after he married,
for humanity – patiently, faithfully, silently
was called up for the Second World War in
and then laid down toil-wracked bodies for
Construction is about to begin on the country’s latest creative
which, as commanding officer of the No 43
the same cause. Far from the land of their
hub: the Gold Coast Cultural Precinct. The 16.9-hectare,
Landing Craft Company, he provided
birth they worked – and far from that land
£156-million development will serve as the region’s
transport for army personnel in New Guinea.
they died; all save one: Sandy.”
premier cultural quarter, with attractions such as outdoor
He finally died in 1961.
g ol d e n at traction
performance spaces, multiple performing-arts facilities,
George Mitchell was one of the lucky
Go to the Anzac Centre in Albany, if you possibly can (this weekend’s
a botanical garden and a 14-storey arts museum.
ones. A third of the 41,265 combatants who
commemorations there will be particularly
The latter will be particularly enticing to adrenalin-
set off from Albany did not return. Many
poignant, marking the centenary of
lovers who may prefer adventure sports to exhibitions;
who did were disabled or traumatised.
the landings in Gallipoli). But take
they will be able to bungee jump from a platform that
When I was in Albany, I visited the
a handkerchief with you
extends from the building’s roof. Given the scale of
beaches where they trained the horses prior
the project, authorities expect it to take 10 to 15 years
to embarkation for Europe. I was taken there
to complete, but tracts of the development will hopefully
by Gary Muir, whose grandfather, Robert
The second volume of
open by April 2018, when the Gold Coast hosts the
Forrest Muir, had supplied the 10th Light
Stanley Johnson’s memoir,
Horse Regiment with “Walers” (so named
Stanley, I Presume, is
because the breed originated in New South
published by The RobsonPress
FOR THE LATEST IN LUXURY TRAvEL telegraph.co.uk / luxurytravel ultratravel
Embark on an
-door VIP door-to e travel ser vic included
19 nights† from £4299 £3999^ Including optional travel insurance or a discount of £49 if not required
Savour Sydney and its world-famous landmarks, discover the Great Barrier Reef and see the sun set over Uluru. This unforgettable tour offers a once-in-a-lifetime chance to explore the highlights of Australia, from the dynamic cities of a modern nation to the ancient heartland of Aboriginal culture.
Pictured from left: A glorious sunset over Sydney Harbour Bridge and the iconic Opera House; Australia has a fascinating Aboriginal culture
SAVE up to £300 when you book by May 15, 2015 – see below for details
AUSTRALIAN ADVENTURE Highlights…
INCLUDING… 17 nights in hotels and 2 in flight 24 meals: 17 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 5 dinners Excursions and visits ■ Perth city tour and Swan River cruise ■ Alice Springs guided tour ■ Sunset drink at Ayers Rock ■ Catamaran trip to Green Island in the Great Barrier Reef ■ Guided tour of Sydney and its opera house ■ Melbourne city tour ■ Dinner cruise on the Yarra River Plus all this… ■ VIP door-to-door travel service – please call for details ■ Optional travel insurance and additional cancellation rights ■ Return flights and transfers ■ Saga tour manager ■ Porterage at all hotels ■ Tourist visa**.
Enjoy a glass of bubbly as the sun sets over Uluru (Ayers Rock) ■ Visit the Great Barrier Reef ■ Explore the cosmopolitan cities of Perth, Sydney and Melbourne Day 1: UK-Perth. After taking Saga’s included UK door-to-door travel service to Heathrow, fly to Perth. Day 2: Perth. Arriving in the afternoon you’ll be met from the airport and taken to the Rendevous Grand Hotel Perth Scarborough for a three-night stay. Enjoy a welcome drink and dinner tonight. Day 3: Perth. Join an included sightseeing tour followed by a short cruise to Fremantle. Day 4: Perth. Explore Perth at your leisure or choose to join optional excursions to the Pinnacles Desert or Rottnest Island. Day 5: Perth-Alice Springs. Fly to Alice Springs and stay overnight at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Alice Springs. Day 6: Alice Springs-Ayers Rock. Journey through the outback to Uluru (Ayers Rock). There is also an optional helicopter flight allowing you to experience this natural wonder from the air. Stay overnight at the Desert Gardens Hotel. Day 7: Ayers Rock-Cairns. Fly to Cairns for four nights at the Pacific Hotel Cairns, situated
on the waterfront within walking distance of the city’s art galleries and shops. Day 8: Cairns. Enjoy a day at leisure or join one of a variety of optional excursions. Day 9: Great Barrier Reef. Spend the day on the Great Barrier Reef on an included excursion with lunch. Day 10: Cairns. A variety of optional excursions are available today. Day 11: Cairns-Sydney. Fly to Sydney where you stay for four nights at the Rydges World Square Hotel. Day 12: Sydney. An included sightseeing trip, with lunch, highlights the Rocks district, Harbour Bridge and Botanical Gardens, and includes a guided tour of the Opera House. Day 13: Sydney. Enjoy a day at leisure or join the optional excursion to the Hunter Valley. Day 14: Sydney. Perhaps explore the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains on an optional excursion. Day 15: Sydney-Melbourne. Fly to Melbourne for four nights at the Radisson On Flagstaff Gardens. Day 16: Melbourne. Enjoy an included full-day city tour taking in Captain Cook’s Cottage and Queen Victoria Market. Day 17: Melbourne. Spend the day at leisure, perhaps by soaking up the atmosphere of Federation Square. An optional excursion to Phillip Island to see the penguins is also available.
Day 18: Melbourne. You have more free time to explore the many highlights of this exciting city today. Enjoy a dinner cruise this evening on Melbourne’s Yarra River. Day 19: Melbourne-UK. Travel to the airport for your overnight flight. Day 20: Melbourne-UK. You arrive in the UK for your included UK door-to-door travel service home. You can extend your holiday in Melbourne, Dubai or Singapore. Please call for details. Exclusively for solo travellers 19 nights† from £5799 departing October 29, 2015 (£5799) and February 25, 2016 (£5899). Follow the same itinerary and enjoy the company of other solo travellers. Holiday code: AF397
Australian Adventure – 2015/2016. Holiday code: AZ723. All prices are £s per person. These may only be available for a limited number of bookings. Prices may change and current available prices will be confirmed upon enquiry. For the latest prices visit saga.co.uk/oz or call 0800 056 6083. Please call for full details. Prices from: Holiday duration Sep 3, 2015 Nov 19 Jan 21, 2016 Feb 4 Mar 17 Apr 14 May 12 Sep 8 Oct 6 Nov 3 4549 4599 4549 4499 4399 4149 4299 3999 4399 4299 4449 4399 4499 19 nights† 4399 4499 4399 §There are discounts available of £49 (16-22 nights) or £60 (23-29 nights) if you do not need Saga’s optional travel insurance and additional cancellation rights – please call for details. †Includes two nights aboard aircraft. Single room supplement (per person, per tour): £1299 on Jan 21, Feb 4, Mar 17, Apr 14, May 12, Sep 8, Oct 6 and Nov 3, 2016; £1499 on all other dates, subject to availability. ^Book by May 15, 2015: SAVE up to £300 on Nov 19, 2015, Feb 4, Apr 14, May 12, Sep 8, Oct 6, 2016.
For more information please call
FREE on 0800 056 6083 quoting UTA59 or go online at saga.co.uk/oz Charges may apply to calls made from mobile phones. All prices and offers subject to change and availability. For the latest prices, visit saga.co.uk/oz or call 0800 056 6083. Prices are per person and based on departure dates shown above with two people sharing and include offer discount. TRAVEL INFORMATION: Fly from Heathrow to Perth via Dubai wih Qantas and Emirates, returning from Melbourne with Qantas, via Dubai. Journey time to Perth from 18 hours 55 minutes. Journey time from Melbourne from 23 hours 35 minutes. Upgrade to Premium Economy (on international flights operated by Qantas), Business Class or First Class for a supplement, subject to availability. Domestic flights are available as part of Saga’s VIP door-to-door travel service – please call for details. This is not a brochure. **Tourist visa for full British citizens resident in the UK. Please call for details. Terms and conditions apply. Saga holidays are for anyone aged 50+. A travel companion may be 40+. All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information, or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate. NHA-GH3023
ULTRA T REAT S
THE WIZARDs OF OZ
Laura Lovett selects souvenirs from the country’s top designers
1 Marbled bowls From her studio-cum-shed at the bottom of her garden in the suburb of Brunswick in Melbourne, French artist Lucile Sciallano handcrafts a variety of slipcast ceramics that are both hardy and pretty. lapetite fabriquedebrunswick.com; $140/£94 2 ZiMMerMann sunhat Zimmermann is the country’s quintessential beachware brand and its wide-brimmed hats have become an essential part of Australia’s “Slip Slop Slap” protection rules: slip on a longsleeved top, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat. zimmermannwear.com; $390/£205
3 duskii wetsuit Built to last, Duskii’s neoprene surfsuits provide a high level of thermal comfort, while their light but supple fabric flatters and sculpts the silhouette. The long-sleeved Liquidity model is a favourite of paddlers, swimmers, surfers and divers. duskii.com; $300/£158
4 bandwagon sunglasses Le Specs, the relaunched 1980s Australian sunglasses brand, has taken inspiration from the street to create cult-worthy sunnies with a difference. Framed in violet acetate, these lenses have a mirrored blue coating and 100 per cent UV protection. net-a-porter.com; $62/£33 5 aesop facial toner Completely alcohol-free, and packed with antioxidants and organic moisturising oils, this potent parsley-seed elixir is one of the most popular products sold by the local wonder brand Aesop. aesop.com; $39/£27
6 walker surfboard Hand hewn in Adelaide by surfer and trained furniture designer Peter Walker, each hollow wooden board is made from a silky, light blond Paulownia wood and meticulously vented, fibreglassed and sealed to ensure a beautifully smooth ride. walkersurfboards.com; from $4,000/£2,110
7 sarah and sebastian ring Sarah and Sebastian, the Sydney-based collaborative founded by Sarah Gittoes and Robert Sebastian Grynkofki, is known for its strong but delicate pieces. Their ninecarat yellow-gold “Ellipse” creation taps into the jewellery world’s current fascination with architectural design. sarahandsebastian.com; $580/£306
8 Majorelle round towel Although officially a towel, this circle of 100 per cent cotton, which comes in several blue-and-white designs, is useful, too, as a multipurpose throw, picnic blanket or outdoor tablecloth, and is a generous 1.5 metres wide. thebeachpeople. com.au; $99/£52 9 Zenith scarf The Sydney-based designer Eloise Rapp has used her impressive textile skills to turn lightweight silk crêpe de chine into a sizeable 120cm square – digitally printed in pretty summer colours – that can be used as a scarf, wrap or throw. rrrapp.com; $120/£63
LIKE A DUCK TO WATER Heston Blumenthal (right) outside Sydney Opera House. Left (from top): timepiece in The Fat Duck Melbourne; salmon poached in liquorice, with gel endive, vanilla mayonnaise and golden trout roe; the Glenorchy Art & Sculpture Park, Tasmania; Blumenthal tries to catch a wave at Boodjidup Beach, near Margaret River, with fellow chefs looking on
tHe new CAPTAIN COOK Heston Blumenthal, whose Fat Duck has relocated to Melbourne for six months, takes Ultratravel on a culinary tour around his new home, and picks his top gastro hotspots
e turned off the main road and followed a dust track that led to another dust track, before reaching hills of shrubland with no track whatsoever. The Jeep bounced over the rocky terrain – bump, bump, bump – and then, after a few minutes, our destination came into view. An expanse of beach stretched for miles along the coast, warmed by the morning sun and with not a soul in sight. Not a soul, not a crushed Coke can, not a footprint in the yellow sand. In the shrubs behind us, a dozen massive kangaroos, paws to their chests, eyed us up, checked us out, but left us alone. My guide, Josh Whiteland, was taking me for breakfast, native Australian style. He is one of the Noongar indigenous people and his company, Koomal Dreaming (koomaldreaming.com.au), takes visitors on tours of this part of Western Australia. It’s not the usual sightseeing stuff he likes to explore, but rather the country and caves, the bush tucker and bush medicine. Josh is utterly content, extremely cool and spiritual. He plays the didgeridoo, too. On this particular morning, he was taking me foraging. “Let’s go this way,” he said, and we walked along the beach, stopping to eat the leaves of saltbush, which are salty and succulent. Then we stepped into the ocean, and walked across rocks that stuck out above the waves before kneeling to gather oysters, which we ate: as fresh as can be, and slightly sweet and juicy. I felt a bit like Captain Cook foraging on a deserted beach, rather than a cook on a mission. We weren’t that far from Margaret River, in Western Australia, which is home to an annual event called the Margaret River Gourmet Escape (gourmetescape.com.au), a three-day food festival in November. The Escape attracts visitors and chefs from Australia and all over the world, including some from Britain, such as Sat Bains (one of my best mates), Rick Stein, Clare Smyth and Claude Bosi. I was also there because I have “moved” The Fat Duck, my restaurant in Bray-on-Thames, to the Crown Towers hotel in Melbourne (thefatduckmelbourne.com). The Duck by the Thames is being refurbished, and until it reopens in September, the Duck in Melbourne is keeping the name alive. Yes, it’s a long way away. But I don’t care, because I love it. No matter how many times I go to Sydney, I end up gazing at the Opera House, rendered speechless (a rarity). In Melbourne, I enjoy the chilled-out coffee-shop culture. I’ve enjoyed blissful relaxation, “downtime”, as they say here, in Byron Bay and Kangaroo Island. While I haven’t yet been to the Kimberley in Western Australia, I would like to – if only to see the road sign that reads, “Next Petrol Station – 1,600 miles!”
I am also in love with Australia’s food. If you want three-Michelin-starred French cuisine then you should head for Paris, and if you are after Zen-like cooking, you are best off in Kyoto or Tokyo. But if you savour diversity, then Melbourne and Sydney are essential cities to visit. They should be on anyone’s list of top 10 cities in which to eat. In fact, it surprises me that Australia does not have a Michelin Guide – I’m sure it’s just a question of time. I first visited Australia in 2002 and must admit that my expectations had been slightly influenced by my father, who had never visited the country but believed I wouldn’t be welcome. Dad was right about many things, but not about the Australians, as I discovered on that first trip when I arrived as guest of honour at the Gourmet Traveller Awards. For Australians are welcoming and open-minded: qualities that have worked their way into their food culture. The wine industry has boomed for a long time, but over the past decade there has been an almighty explosion in Australia’s food scene, a kind of food-culture awakening that is unrivalled anywhere else on earth. The country has become a place not just for the gourmet
I am in love with Australia’s food. Melbourne and Sydney should be on anyone’s list of top 10 cities in which to eat or wine connoisseur, but for every curious cook with a fascination for unusual but delicious produce: things such as lemon myrtle, Geraldton wax and bush tomato, and fish such as bass groper and dhufish. Before visiting Margaret River, I journeyed to Tasmania – or Tassie, as it’s known. The island state 150 miles off the south coast of Oz was host to Invite the World to Dinner, which took place in Tassie’s MONA (Museum of Old and New Art; mona.net.au). Rather than just dinner, the event turned out to be a reflection of the nation’s gastronomic development: a journey through the incredible produce, flavours and skills Australia has to offer. As a few hundred of us gathered on the quayside in Hobart, the Tasmanian capital, we were offered oysters – wild Angasi, Sydney rock and Pacific – accompanied by House of Arras Blanc de Blancs. At the Glenorchy Art & Sculpture Park (gasp.org.au), where we arrived by boat to glowing barbies and air filled with delicious smells, we ate plump marron (a bit like crayfish) brushed with wasabi butter, steaming cups of roasted wallaby-tail broth, and wood-roast Tasmanian lobster dripping in
HESTON’S HOT LIST Orana From a minuscule kitchen in Adelaide, the substantially tattooed Glaswegian chef Jock Zonfrillo produces dishes of unquestionable elegance. And he does so with indigenous ingredients that most Australians have yet to taste. We’re talking saltbush, mountain pepper, riberry leaves, Lilly pilly and… grass. When did you last enjoy Moreton Bay fig shoot with pandannis? Or prawn with Davidson plum? 0061 8 8232 3444; restaurantorana.com; tasting menu, including wine, about £155 per person
Vue de MOnde A memorable gastronomic experience.
melting kombu butter. Then we were back on to the boats, and to MONA. Here, guests were greeted by our host for the evening, David Walsh, a flamboyant character who owns the museum and Australia’s largest private art collection. In his massive gallery, which is largely beneath the ground, 300 of us were treated to a feast by some of Australia’s top chefs: Ben Shewry, Neil Perry and Peter Gilmore. There was South Australian red kangaroo and bunya bunya; a dish of pig cheek, smoked and cooked as confit, and served with black-lipped abalone, koji, fermented grains, shiitake and seaweed. And there was grilled sirloin steak (courtesy of the Wagyu cattle-farmer David Blackmore) with braised cheek, oxtail and a little kick of red-curry jus – all accompanied by wines from producers such as Woodlands, Henschke, Bobar, Castagna, plus a Tasmanian pinot noir called Moorilla Muse. As the savoury part of the meal reached an end, an opera-singing transvestite climbed on to one of the long tables and, strutting over glasses and plates, microphone in hand, sang an aria, before beckoning guests to a vault where desserts were served, as well as magnificent cheeses from the Bruny Island Cheese Company and whisky from the Lark Distillery in Hobart.
a taste of oz Blumenthal at Gourmet escape (top left). above: nitro poached apéritifs are on his menu at the fat Duck. top right: the Noongar guide Josh Whiteland. at Invite the World to Dinner, marron with wasabi butter was served (above left); the entertainment included a transvestite (above) and a barbecue on the beach (below)
Whizz up to the 55th floor of Melbourne’s Rialto skyscraper, and get a little dizzy during cocktails in the glitzy bar with its wow views of the city. Then walk through the 6,000bottle wine cellar – yup, a mile-high wine cellar – into the dining room with its open kitchen. This place is as cool as the chef himself, Shannon Bennett, who says, “Just kick back and enjoy the food.” It includes barramundi, Blackmore Wagyu beef and softshell crab – using exciting cooking techniques and heaps of panache. Save room for that damn fine chocolate soufflé. 0061 3 9691 3888, vuedemonde.com.au; tasting menu from about £105 per person
POrt PhilliP estate An escape from the hustle-bustle of Melbourne, this estate is just over an hour’s drive south of the city, in Mornington Peninsula wine country.
MARGARET RIVER; REx
First, taste the estate’s wine at a table
THIS WASN’T THE ONLY GASTRO EXPERIENCE, THOUGH. From Tasmania, I stopped off in Melbourne, before flying on to Perth to savour the renowned Margaret River Gourmet Escape food festival. Of all festivals, this one is particularly special – albeit for a very sad reason. In its first year, 2012, I had accepted an invitation to attend and was due to fly out when I was informed that there had been a nasty car crash, in which two of my chefs, Ivan and Magnus, had been killed. What should have been a celebration turned into an awful, indescribable nightmare and, naturally, I could not go. Since then, though, this sad event has somehow made this festival even more extraordinary, because it’s turned into a celebration not only of food, but of the chefs who put their heart and soul into making it. There are scores of events, including dinners and lunches cooked by well-known chefs in the magnificent properties on wine estates such as Leeuwin, Voyager, Cullen and Vasse Felix. There are Q&A sessions, cookery demonstrations and wine tastings, pop-up restaurants and bars, and a farmers’ market. It’s great fun, and people somehow manage to move themselves from one table to another, Friday morning through to Sunday, when Rick Stein finishes the party with a barbie on the beach. When I say “barbie”, food here has progressed since the days when Crocodile Dundee in his cork hat said, “Throw another shrimp on the barbie, mate.” It’s some of the best on earth. Oh, and by the way, the Australians say “prawn”.
overlooking the picturesque and dramatic, hilly landscape of vines and gum trees that stretches to the sea beyond. Second, don’t leave that table. Enjoy the fuss-free food such as risotto Milanese; seared scallops with eel croquette; roasted Glenloth squab; pan-roasted Hapuka with caper gnocchi; Ocean trout and garden tomato fondue; and organic suckling pig and beef fillet with snail ragout. 0061 3 5989 4444; portphillipestate.com. au; three-course menu from about £45 per person
Oakridge Winery Stunning location in the Yarra Valley (about an hour’s drive from Melbourne) with great wines and exceptional service. Oh, and the cooking’s not bad, either. On a sunny day, it’s a perfect lunch place, where chef José Chavez keeps it simple, showing off local produce such as Buxton trout and Flinders Island rabbit. Stop by the cellar for a takeaway bottle of chardonnay. 0061 3 9738 9900; oakridgewines.com. au; three-course lunch, about £42 per person
Our pick of the country’s hottest openings – in the bush, by the beach and in the most glamorous bits of the city
THE CITY HOT E LS
The Langham Sydney When new owners decided to give this Sydney landmark a facelift last year, only a couple of things escaped untouched: the dark-blue subterranean swimming pool – above which glitters a ceiling painted with the southern night sky – and its external colour. From the outside, from the neighbouring Rocks area in the harbour, the Langham Sydney still looks as pink and as elegant as it did in its former incarnation as The Observatory Hotel. But inside, the feel is distinctly different. Here, GA Design of London has brought the cool, calm blues, greens, greys and whites of the buildings and green spaces across the water into the 98 rooms and almost gluttonously spacious Observatory Suite. The hotel’s culinary pedigree has remained intact, too. Guests at the Kent Street Kitchen restaurant and Palm Court can still expect from chef Daniel Rudolph such clean, local fare as homesmoked trout and roe, quails’ eggs and tiny coils of apple (revealed with a flourish so the fishy smoke swirls around the table) and pepperinfused Grey Goose vodka with fat strawberries. Between the hotel’s balconies and the water lies a hotchpotch of old houses, lanes and waterside developments which puncture the view yet offer a strong sense of location. Artworks throughout the hotel reference both old and new Sydney: the two dramatic resin pieces at the entrance are by Asher Bilu, while prints of colonial Australia are placed alongside contemporary works by artists such as Sidney Nolan and Brett Whiteley. 0061 2 9256 2222; langhamhotels.com; doubles from £325
glamour refreshed Palm Court in The Langham (main picture), refurbished on the inside - but still pink on the outside. The rooftop pool and terrace at the newly decorated InterContinental Sydney Double Bay (below) Photographs by PETRINA TINSLAY
The InterContinental Sydney Double Bay Sydney If you start to feel rather grand swishing about this Double Bay institution, that’s entirely natural. Life here has always been about excess. It’s the place in which Elton John, Madonna, Nicole Kidman and Bill Clinton slept, and from which Diana, Princess of Wales, waved shyly from a balcony. It has long been a celebrity in its own right. Now, under the InterContinental brand, the refurbished hotel has sprung back to life as Sydney’s only fashionable five-star hotel outside the city centre. While it attracts stylish urbanites, this is still the spot where old-money Sydney gathers, and down in the Stillery, which stocks 60-plus types of gin, there’s a sense of polite glamour. (Although it can be lively, it’s usually well mannered because grandma, swathed in diamonds, might be here, sipping a Tanqueray No Ten Martini.) Beneath the sun-snatching rooftop and pool – in warm weather popping with Sydney’s most gorgeous people – are 140 L’Occitane-scented rooms furnished in slate grey. The views from here, and the graceful arched windows of the Stockroom restaurant, are as soothing as the menu. Even if you’re offered a French steak knife to cut the Rangers Valley Black Angus striploin, you won’t need it. It’s that tender. 0061 2 8388 8388; ihg.com/ intercontinental; doubles from £235
TH E W E E K E N D BO LT H O L E S
Pretty Beach House NSW There is really only one way to arrive here: 20 minutes by
heated plunge pool, the main pool, where guests can hang
seaplane from Sydney’s Rose Bay, flying north over celeb-
over the edge on a warm night and stare into oblivion as
magnet Palm Beach. Then it’s just a few minutes’ rumble up
the heat and eucalypt fragrances drift up the hill, is the
a steep lane until you are greeted with a hot chocolate, if
most inviting. The use of natural and reclaimed materials
it’s chilly, or lemon myrtle and rosella iced tea, if it’s warm.
allows the main residence to blend into the shady hill.
A large boulder featuring indigenous carvings is where Gavi,
Sandstone and marine-grade hardwood predominate as
an indigenous local, “welcomes you to Country” with a dab
flooring, with stout timber supports from a disused bridge
of ochre. This little miracle opened for business just a few
repurposed in the lodge. Elegant Italian Busatti table linen,
weeks ago and sits atop a wooded hill, overlooking a distant
Limoges porcelain, Riedel glasses and a million dollars of art
sparkling bay. The original building was destroyed by fire in
all speak of the designer Michelle Leslie’s eye for luxury.
2012 and although, sadly, some trees never made it, a new
Super-chef Stefano Manfredi was snared to work his magic
and stellar view to the bay emerged. All four secluded one-
in the kitchen: his grilled local crayfish with zinging “salsa
bedroom pavilions can be booked together. Top pick, and
piccante” is often served in the atrium dining room, down
the largest, is called The Retreat, located within the lodge
a small flight of steps. It’s the beating heart of this
itself. The rest are located just a few minutes apart, through
eucalyptus-green beauty. 0061 2 4360 1933;
gnarly angophora woods. While each pavilion has its own
prettybeachhouse.com; doubles from £515, full-board
distance learning Pretty Beach House (above) and Angel Wing (below) offer chic respite for the bushwhacked. Remote Pumphouse Point in Tasmania (right) is in a watery wilderness
Angel Wing NSW Deep in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, this is a place where diamond-sharp luxury meets ancient wilderness. The focus here is nature. From the air, Angel Wing can’t be seen, as its flat roofs, when full of rainwater, reflect the sky. Treats include sitting in the evening around the firepit, sucking up the silence, and waking up to epic Megalong Valley views from one of the four bedrooms. This is a mini-hotel space that’s been designed for guests who don’t mind fixing their own food and whose idea of bliss is lying in a claw-footed bath looking at acres of nothing. 0061 2 9331 2881; contemporaryhotels.com.au; doubles from £515
T H E RE M OT E RE T RE ATS
Pumphouse Point Tasmania
Arkaba South Australia
Luxury for guests here is lying, wrapped in
and butlers. Each of 12 tranquil guestrooms over
by Ellen Miller and Peter Dombrovskis, in
Once the headquarters of a 60,000-acre
a wool throw, watching a watery dawn rise over
three floors in the Pumphouse (the top floor is
which they can read, while warming themselves
sheep station, this picturesque homestead in
Tasmania’s Lake St Clair, with Cradle Mountain
best) is finished in steel greys and whites, and
by the fire with a Moores Hill Pinot Noir, that
the Flinders Ranges is now an idyllic base for
in the distance. Or stepping into a piping-hot
has king-size beds and enormous view-gorging
there is nowhere on earth to get a better fix of
outback adventures. As well as being an elegant
shower in which they could spend a week,
windows. Six more are set in the mid-century-
Tasmania’s beauty than in this wonderful old
country home, with a pool, four country-style
then tucking into a slab of wood-smoked
style Shorehouse at the end of the flume, where
pumphouse. Built in 1940 by the Hydro Electric
rooms and a cottage, Arkaba is a conservation
salmon, pickled octopus and pork rillettes
the restaurant serves, on shared tables, pork
Commission, this industrial plant has been
centre too: see rare yellow-footed rock wallabies,
(ordered by tablet). Or walking or cycling to the
from the Cuckoo Valley, heirloom carrots, and
reinvented to generate a very different sort
perhaps on the four-day Arkaba Walk. With
end of a flume to hot coffee and eggs in the
warm orange polenta cake with vanilla-bean ice
of power, of a soothing, cosseting kind.
no mobile coverage and little traffic, this is a
cream. In the small lounge areas of this remote
0061 428 090436; pumphousepoint.com.au;
precious place to hide from modern life. 0061 2
This is not somewhere that has plunge pools
retreat guests can find the book This Quiet Land
doubles from £125
9571 6399; arkabastation.com; doubles from £420
Hayman Island Great Barrier Reef
THE P R IVAT E ISLAN DS
Bedarra Island Resort Queensland Bedarra is not an island whose beauty shouts. It is
Australia’s most iconic Queensland
somewhere, rather, that slowly seduces with its quiet charms:
resort reopened last year after a £41-
thick tropical forests dotted with Day-Glo butterflies and
million refurbishment. While no amount
exotic flowers. Beaches whose white sand is raked every
of money can change the architecture –
morning. Friendly staff who treat visitors like welcome friends. Hammocks and loungers miles apart on the beach. Benches at the end of island paths, so trail-walkers can admire the views. A cocktail bar with recipes, so guests can create their own cocktails. And a chef who whisks up tonguetingling Australian cuisine, from crab lasagne to vanilla pannacotta with sesame-seed fairy floss. The island’s owners, Sam and Kerri-Ann Charlton, have spent millions refurbishing the resort, turning the 16 slightly tired
PLEASURE iSLANDS Bedarra Island Resort (above, left and below) has beautiful forests and beaches as well as man-made spaces. One of Hayman’s attractions is its pool (right), with bar and DJ
a Brutalist building housing 160 bedrooms – what has changed is the level of luxury. Today, it’s a hassle-free, upscale family resort, with two big pools, a 60ft yacht and helicopter for transfers, Kerry Hilldesigned beach villas and a penthouse by Diane von Fürstenberg, to satisfy the most upmarket guests. There are tennis and squash courts, a Technogym, and
rooms into an eight-villa retreat where, its GM says, “guests
a fun kids’ club. Food is a highlight: the
[such as Russell Crowe] can have a totally personalised
seven restaurants serve feasts from
experience – where they can sip champagne all day by the
barbecued seafood on the beach to
pool, if that’s what they want, or be left in total seclusion, or
seven-course tasting menus. 0061 7 4940
have romantic picnics, or hang out in a hammock”.
Each room, overlooking a beach and enveloped in forest, is
doubles from £410
slightly different: the best, The Point, is built on the edge of bus-size granite rocks with a private plunge pool. What they all have is polished wooden floors, king-size beds cooled by quiet solar-powered Haiku ceiling fans, big white bathrooms with Aveda products, an integral iPod and TV system, and a minibar with a personalised choice of snacks and drinks. Best of all, it’s sustainably run, with solar panels, rainwater tanks, LED lighting, louvred walls and water-waste recycling to keep the island both quiet and green. There is also heaps to do, whether that’s snorkelling, diving, fishing and exploring with Jason Shearer of Mission Beach Charters (missionbeachcharters.com.au), or going for sundowners to remote sandbars on the Seadog boat (which has wheels that allow it to cruise up on to sand). 0061 7 4068 8233; bedarra.com.au; doubles from £560 all-inclusive
Reviews by RALPh BEStic and LiSA GRAiNGER
Undiscovered AUstrAliA Experience the real Australia with Silversea Expeditions and Trailfnders. Immerse yourself in a luxury 15 night package that includes; • 2 nights at the sumptuous Raffes Hotel in Singapore • 1 night at a 5* property in Darwin • 10 days exploring the dramatic Western Australian Kimberly
Coast aboard Silver Discoverer • 2 nights at a 5* property in Perth • International and domestic fights included in price
Call Trailfnders dedicated Cruise Team on 020 7368 1300 or visit Trailfnders.com/silversea Price from £7999 per person for 28th March 2016 departure. All international and domestic fights, and most transfers included. Local charges not included.
NOOSA vs BYRON BAY Noosa and Byron Bay are Australia’s most fashionable coastal resorts, with cerulean seas, long surfing beaches, and destination restaurants and galleries. But which has the edge? Ultratravel puts the two towns to the test words LYDIA BELL
BYRON BAY Since the 1960s, white sand, crashing waves
Beach is the starry Rae’s on Watego’s
and popular nightclub La La Land Byron
and glorious sunshine have been luring beach
(raes.com.au). High-profile visitors who want
(lalalandbyronbay.com.au) hosts local
bums to the Byron Bay region, where the green
to be less visible turn to Byron Bay Luxury
musicians, burlesque nights and films.
Northern Rivers hills meet the coast, and where
Homes (byronbayluxuryhomes.com), which
hippies and permaculturists came for spiritual
can open the doors to the region’s most
enlightenment, to swim with dolphins and to be
exclusive beach villas, or the secluded Byron
left alone. But in recent years Byron Bay’s
View Farm (byronviewfarm.com): a winsome
bohemianism has had an upward bent as
cottage filled with global artefacts. For hippies
wealthy hipsters join the fold. Today, art
looking for a dose of spiritual healing, Olivia
galleries, fusion cafés, slick spas and fashion
Newton-John’s gloriously laid-back Gaia is
boutiques are as commonplace as Tantric yoga
classes, float-tanks and surf centres. And as Byron Bay grows up, so its influence trickles into the increasingly chic hinterland.
THE CROWD Byron is catnip for dropouts (which, these days, might mean a hedge-funder turned restaurateur, boutique hotelier, organic farmer or spa therapist). The tie-dye-clad anti-frackers have fled to the hinterland, which now is home to a heady mix of upmarket lifestylers and trueblue hippies, leaving the cool Watego Bay to such starry regulars as Russell Crowe, Elle Macpherson, Nicole Kidman and Baz Luhrmann. THE BEACHES Byron’s cornucopia of perfect-break beaches are sheltered from the southerlies, fringed with cornflower-blue waters and remain uncluttered by buildings. Tallow Beach is a wild stretch, Watego’s is a sheltered north-facing spot with Rae’s Fish Café for lunch (raesonwategos.com), and Whites Beach perfect for peace. The latter is accessed from a dirt track off Seven Mile Beach Road, and is accessible only by 4WD and foot, but it’s worth the trek to get to the beach often voted as the best in Australia.
THE RESTAURANTS New in town is Cicchetti (cicchetti.com.au), which takes Italian small plates and wine very seriously (try the veal-stuffed olives and
porchetta pig roast); its chef, Enrico Semenzato, came from a Michelin-starred restaurant in Italy. Down the road at St Elmo Dining (stelmodining. com), Spain is on the menu but the wine list is global. On glorious Clarkes Beach, friendly Byron Beach Café (byronbeachcafe.com.au) serves up laidback but top-notch Aussie cuisine – and particularly delicious Asian salads. Some of the best restaurants are in the hinterland: Uptown Café and Restaurant (townbangalow.
THE HOTELS Eco-chic The Byron at Byron (thebyronatbyron. com.au) is still hands down the best hotel in town (see review by Naomie Harris on page 41), with steel-framed rooms scattered through 45 acres of rainforest, a spa, friendly staff, and a Scottish chef, Gavin Hughes, who champions local produce. Newer, though, is hipsters’ choice The Atlantic (atlanticbyronbay.com.au), whose fashionably refurbished vintage timber cottages have a stripped-down Scandi appeal. A quirkily bohemian boutique hotel on gorgeous Watego’s
THE HINTERLAND The scenery in these rainforests can truly be described as epic: Nightcap National Park has spectacular escarpments, wild pools and dramatic falls, and Mount Warning, which dominates the hinterland landscape, was once a volcano. The best way to see the interior is in a helicopter with Green Cauldron Tours (greencauldrontours.com.au). Surfers – or wannabe surfers – should sign up for a one-on-one with the former United States champion Rusty Miller (rustymillersurf.com). Those who prefer land-based activities might head inland, where there is plenty for shoppers. Although the tie-dye brigade complain that Crystal Castle (crystalcastle.com.au), near the bohemian town of Mullumbimby, is a tourist attraction, the gardens – decorated with a stupa, Indian statues and towering chunks of semi-precious stones – are a treat to wander in. Bangalow is particularly good for shopping, with specialist boutiques such as Island Luxe (islandluxe.com.au), Our Corner Store (ourcornerstore.com.au) and Raw Vintage (rawvintage.com.au). Nearby Lismore is a favoured destination for vintage-store fans.
com.au) in hippyish Bangalow turns local ingredients into complex, light degustation treats. Equally fun is its downstairs spot
THE MARKETS Nothing says Byron like the Byron Farmers’ Market (byronfarmersmarket.com.au), held on Thursdays, when the community gathers to sample wheatgrass shots, organic produce and sets by live acoustic musicians. Bangalow Market (bangalowmarket.com.au), on the fourth Sunday of every month, is considered to be the best artisanal market in Australia: a place where artists, bakers, wine-makers, therapists, farmers and friends meet.
Downtown, which specialises in cakes and brunch. At rustic Newrybar, Harvest Café (harvestcafe.com.au) draws crowds with its organic produce and contemporary dishes, as does The Farm (thefarmbyronbay.com.au), a new garden-to-plate café and cheese shop.
THE LATE HOTSPOT Reborn after it burned down in a fire, the quirky
THE FESTIVALS Byron Bay Bluesfest (bluesfest.com.au), held every Easter, is Australia’s largest festival of Blues and Roots music; August’s writers’ festival is one of the best in the country (byronbaywritersfestival.com.au) and a successful international film festival is organised every March (bbff.com.au).
TAkING A LEAF One of the many beautiful stretches of sand in the bay (above); the Bluesfest (left); a retro caravan room at The Atlantic; a starter using local cheese and herbs at Town in Bangalow; Elle Macpherson, heading off surfing Main Photograph Ming nOMchOng
When our cameraman switched on his lights we saw a blue seam of lapis a foot thick which runs at shoulder height right through the mountain
Art galleries, organic fusion cafĂŠs and spas are as commonplace in ByronBay as Tantric yoga classes and surf centres
NOOSA Long, clean beaches, lush tropical rainforests,
who like privacy: the five-level Grandé Villa at
exceptional surf and a koala-studded headland
Outrigger Little Hastings (grandvillanoosa.com.
are the backdrop to Australia’s swankiest resort
au) has ocean views and the riverside 70 Noosa
town. Sophistication, money and celebrity have
Parade (accomnoosa.com.au) is moments from
been here a long while (hence the world-class
Hastings Street. Villa Getaways (villagetaways.
restaurants and fashionable boutiques), but, this
com) also has access to top-end hideaways, such
being Australia, there are a healthy number of
as Villa 505, sleeping 22 – a Balinese-style home
flip-flops and board shorts to balance things out.
situated on an island in the middle of the
This microcosmic paradise has surfing bays filled
national park – and Villa 518, a modern, four-
with dolphins, a national park with an everglade
bedroomed waterfront home on Noosa Sound.
on which to kayak and bush in which to walk, and sunshine which warms the skin and soul all year.
THE CROWD Well-heeled Noosa attracts off-duty sports celebrities, from Ironman world champion Pete Jacobs and tennis star Pat Rafter to rugby greats in training and Sir Richard Branson, who owns an island in the Noosa River. Plus, of course, chic linen-clad Brisbanites, here to walk, surf and sample world-class cuisine.
THE BEACHES Each beach has a character of its own, and attracts visitors to match. Virgin surfers hang out at Noosa Main Beach – not only is it patrolled, but it’s one of the few spots that face north, so waves are manageable. Dog-owners inhabit Noosa Spit, where their creatures are allowed off-leash. Lovers of wilderness and surf aim for the headland swathe of the national park – either to Alexandria Bay if they want to throw off their clothing, or to First Point, to surf on a perfect longboard break. Sunshine Beach, a nine-mile stretch of rolling surf, is backed with celebrity villas, and from the boardwalk of Coolum Beach walkers can watch whales breach. THE HOTELS The hotels in Noosa are less vibrant than the restaurants. But for straight-up contemporary luxury, Seahaven Noosa (seahavennoosa.com. au), which reopened in late 2013 after an £8.4million refurbishment, has direct access to Main Beach and has rooftop penthouse apartments with panoramic ocean views. Reworked the same year, the Sheraton Noosa remains popular (sheratonnoosaresort.com); its two-bedroom apartment suits families, and its penthouse has great views. It’s not going to win design awards but is the only five-star and is in the heart of Hastings Street, adjoined by Peter Kuruvita’s Noosa Beach House (noosabeachhousepk.com. au), a favoured local hotspot for lunch. Villa companies offer sensational spaces for those
THE RESTAURANTS These are no slim pickings. Locale (localenoosa. com.au), a modern Italian trattoria in the French Quarter, brings together two great chefs: Rio Capurso, from Lindoni’s, and Brent Ogilvie, from Ricky’s (rickys.com.au). Also on the river, Embassy XO (embassyxo.com.au) is known for its sophisticated Asian fusion, as is Wasabi (wasabisb.com), one of the country’s top Japanese restaurants, which is just round the corner. Berardo’s Restaurant & Bar (berardos. com.au) is the best place for seafood, Sails (sailsnoosa.com.au) the top pick near Main Beach, offering modern, light cuisine, and the laidback Thomas Corner in Noosaville (thomascorner.com.au) the place for fine Australian produce. Those who love big breakfasts will queue for a table at Bistro C (bistroc.com.au), a beachfront spot offering a feast of pulled pork, cornmeal, eggs, bacon jam, roast tomato, tortilla and chipotle sour cream. THE LATE HOTSPOT The upbeat Miss Moneypenny’s (missmoneypennys.com) in Hastings Street, opened by Sydney restaurateur Ben Walsh, is the place to hang out with a glass of cool Margaret River chardonnay. Those who prefer a lively scene should visit on Sunday: the day for Ibiza beach-style music and all-day cocktails. For something moodier, Rumba Wine Bar (sailsnoosa.com.au) is known for its wide range of wines, boutique spirits and shucked oysters. THE HINTERLAND There are endless possibilities for outdoor activities here. Surfing is the most popular activity (former world champion Merrick Davis has a school on Main Beach; learntosurf.com.au), although there is also fishing, paddle-boarding, diving, hiking, horse-riding on the beach, kayaking, camping and boating. Less active visitors might prefer the glut of upmarket shops, day spas and restaurants, as well as wineries,
Noosa has surfing bays filled with dolphins, a national park and sunshine which warms the skin and soul all year
tearooms and artisanal producers in the hinterland, from Cooroy to Kin Kin. Dingo-filled Fraser Island, with its white sand, lakes and forests, is near enough for a day trip.
THE MARKETS Foodies flock on Sundays to Noosa Farmers’ Market (noosafarmersmarket.com.au). But for perhaps the best art, craft and produce in Australia, Eumundi (eumundimarkets.com.au) is just a 20-minute drive away and open on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. THE FESTIVALS May’s Noosa International Food & Wine Festival (noosafoodandwine.com.au) is a serious affair for chefs, producers, wine-makers and foodies. September’s Jazz Festival (noosajazz.com.au) is equally well regarded.
COOL COASTAL SPOTS Noosa Beach House, Peter Kuruvita’s restaurant (above); Tea Tree Bay and Noosa Heads (far left); a dish of fresh mussels and a bartender at the local International Food & Wine Festival
The VERDICT byron bay
A dream beach destination for the visitor who enjoys nothing more than surfing and vintage shopping, and a spot of lunch at the local market. In holiday season, when the town gets gridlocked, it’s worth joining the local migration to the hinterland, where equally chic spots can be found.
A less arty but equally sophisticated town that is much smaller and much hotter than byron bay. the place for the older, well-heeled visitor who expects worldclass food and wine, and who might enjoy walking in the outback or spotting koalas in noosa national park.
tHE bEACHES 10
tHE bEACHES 10
tHE HotElS 9
tHE HotElS 5
tHE rEStAurAntS 7
tHE rEStAurAntS 9
tHE lAtE HotSpotS 8
tHE lAtE HotSpotS 7
tHE HIntErlAnd 9
tHE HIntErlAnd 8
tHE mArkEtS 8
tHE mArkEtS 9
tHE fEStIvAlS 9
tHE fEStIvAlS 6
fAntAsy fortnights The trick when visiting a country as diverse as Australia is not to try to cover it all in one go, but to pick a region and explore it in depth. Here three writers travel to the far North, the wild West and the Golden Triangle, taking in spectacular wilderness as well as the best beds and tucker in town
T WO W EEKS IN . . .
mong the world’s remote coastlines, few are as alluring as Australia’s Kimberley. More than two and a half thousand islands, thousands of miles of wilderness filled with mysterious cave art, green eucalyptus forest, dancing cascades, echoing canyons, grinning crocodiles, leaping dolphins and mirage-inducing desert – much of it untrodden by man since the dawn of time. If you want to see pristine and littoral nature at its most glittering and Edenic, then the Kimberley Coast is probably the ultimate destination. The trouble is, or was, its remote location. Until recently the only practical way for people without yachts and jets to see the entire Kimberley was to drive along its haunted and dusty tracks. But even that presented significant problems: the roads are often dangerous (many are simply closed in the rainy season), they also fall short of some of the most intoxicating sights, which are only accessible from the water or the air. You’d also need a spare couple of months to do the area justice, given the enormous distances overland. By now you might be asking, “Why can’t I tour the glorious Kimberley on a cruise boat?” If so, your prayers have been answered: since April last year, the Silver Discoverer has been plying the majestic blue waters of far north-western Australia. Cruising the Kimberley is pretty much the perfect way to explore this splendid corner of Oz (though you can also do quicker excursions by plane or helicopter; see overleaf). In the dizzying heat of the day, you duck in and out of creeks and coves on Zodiac dinghies, chasing flying fish, admiring the cave art and marvelling at sea eagles; then you retreat in the evening to your butlered suite and champagne followed by a pink slice of Angus rib-eye, cooked on red-hot rocks, washed downed with a Margaret River shiraz. And you eat this on a mosquito-free cruise deck under a purple-black night sky,
on top of the world A view over the northern outback from the Edgar Ranges, easily reached by helicopter Photograph by PAUL PARIN
channelling australia Montgomery Reef in the Kimberley region
jewelled with the diamanté tiara of the Southern Cross, as you chat with slightly intoxicated, happily sunburnt fellow passengers, cheerfully anticipating tomorrow’s helicopter excursion to the dramatic Mitchell Falls. Even better, Silver Discoverer is staffed with 11 experts, including scientists, who make each day an intellectual as well as a geographical adventure. They come equipped with daunting, evocative facts, such as this: the Kimberley is so old (two billion years) it dates back to before the time the earth had an atmosphere – or blue sky. Those burnt-red rocks you can see from the deck once stared up at a starred, eternal darkness. That’s the kind of heart-stopping magic you only find in a cruise along the magnificent Kimberley.
ESS E N T I A L STO P OFFS
Horizontal Waterfalls The boat’s first port of call after leaving the harbour at Broome (see page 29) is these famous “horizontal” falls. The name is slightly deceptive – the cataracts don’t gush sideways like firehoses; they are a racing tidal mill, caused by the almost-meeting of the cliffs, which crunch the mighty tides of Kimberley’s vast seas into a phenomenally fierce and speedy current. Sharks and crocodiles abound on this beautifully desolate stretch of water, which can be accessed by dinghy, or by seaplane or light aircraft from Broome (kimberleyaviation.com.au).
Kimberley This area may seem empty (and much of it is), but Aboriginal Australians have maintained a faint but definite presence here for at least 40,000 years. The most powerful and poignant evidence of that life is the peerless rock art, abundant on this coast and preserved on cave walls and boulders by the unpolluted dryness of the climate. In one single canyon it is possible to see the oldest expressions of the human form anywhere on earth (the mysterious Bradshaw art, possibly not Aboriginal in provenance), and a few hundred feet away uncover evidence of the world’s oldest continuously surviving religion (Wandjina art). Intense, brooding, unforgettable. Because much of this rock art is wildly remote and inaccessible, expert guidance and piloting is obligatory: tours can be arranged through outbackspirittours.com.au. In complete contrast, fine accommodation is offered at El Questro Homestead (elquestro.com.au), more than 60 miles from the nearest town and on a property so large that they are still discovering new pockets, such as Amaroo Falls, a series of falls found in 2010 and only arrived at by chopper. It’s a source of argument as to which is the best place to stay here: the Homestead’s top suite, stilted over the river, or the newer Cliff Side Retreats – three glass-edged retreats with egg-shell tubs for meditative soaks at sunset.
by day, you chase flying fish on zodiacs and admire cave art, and at night eat under purple-black starry skies
Mitchell Falls There are many spectacular waterfalls along the
T WO W EEKS IN...
Kimberley, including the rainbow-misted Kings
SYDNEY, REEF & ROCK
Cascades (scene of a horrible incident in 1986, when a croc killed the American model Ginger Meadows), and the magnificent King George Falls, twin cataracts that spill over cliffs into grand, Tolkien-esque canyons. But perhaps the most inspiring is the naturally blingy, four-tiered waterfall of the Mitchell Plateau, complete with its series of glittering billabongs. The best way to see this very remote beauty spot is by helicopter, which lands on a beach, picks up passengers, then spirits them to the falls like a touristic James Bond (helispirit.com.au).
Bungle Bungles One more jaw-dropping natural wonder awaits before the end of the odyssey: the Bungle Bungles, in the Purnululu National Park, an unearthly terrain where desert rocks have been eroded into sculpted and striated labyrinths, coloured ochre, red, pink and cream, like a bizarre giant tray of coffee and cherry patisserie all but melted in the sun. A flight over the Bungle Bungles (the best and maybe only way to see them) also offers a glimpse of the world’s biggest diamond mine (aviair.com.au).
Darwin It’s hot, it’s steamy, it gets hit by enormous cyclones, but languid, prosperous, pleasantly palmy little Darwin is a welcome sight for the wilderness explorer: civilisation at last. And nice beaches too. The best hotels are either the citycentre Hilton (hilton.com) with its inviting pool, or Argus Apartments (argusdarwin.com.au) for stylish seclusion. One of the finest restaurants is Pee Wee’s at the Point (peewees.com.au), right by the Timor Sea – its soft-shell crab is delicious. For a contrast to all that luxury, Jetty & The Fish, a brilliant fish ’n’ chip truck on Casuarina Drive, is worth a stop-off. SEAN THOMAS Bridge & Wickers (020 3411 1948; bridgeandwickers. alamy
co.uk) offers a 10-day Silversea Kimberley voyage from £7,990 per person, including flights, two nights in Broome, meals and drinks and most excursions.
he Golden Triangle, a classic two-week trip to Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru (Ayers Rock), is an undertaking that drives the locals bonkers. “What’s the flamin’ hurry?” they ask. But the attraction of hopping from Australia’s most cosmopolitan city to the world’s largest aquatic playground, then losing yourself in the Red Centre is undeniable. The Harbour City is the obvious place to start. “If you’re not living in Sydney, you’re camping out,” Paul Keating, the former Australian prime minister, declared. No one who has sailed across its glittering harbour, plunged into the Bondi surf or wandered along its manicured foreshores would challenge the “Lizard of Oz”. Two days should be enough to get a taste of Sydney before driving north on the famous Pacific Coast Drive to Byron Bay or flying direct to Ballina, and on to Brisbane, where it’s possible to board a dive boat, take the helm of a luxury yacht or sip a poolside cocktail. Nearby Dent Island has the country’s only 18-hole championship golf course situated on a tropical island. Qualia resort is the obvious destination for an indulgent holiday, and the revamped One&Only Hayman Island the best place in the Whitsunday Islands to eat remarkably well. Just a short flight north is Port Douglas, the perfect springboard for game fishing, scuba diving and snorkelling trips to the outer reef or for expeditions to the Daintree National Park. Or from Cairns there are direct flights to Uluru, the most photographed monolith on the planet. Here, the days of roughing it in the desert are long gone – today’s explorer enjoys air-conditioned accommodation, exquisite food and wine and a mind-boggling range of activities – from bush-tucker tours to star-gazing sessions. Most visitors need no less than three days to immerse themselves in an indigenous culture that dates back at least 40,000 years, but it’s tempting to stay a lot longer.
E SSE NTIAL STOP OFFS
Sydney Probably the only place in Australia that needs no introduction, with its iconic Opera House, magnificent beaches, yacht-studded harbour and dynamic restaurant scene. Sydney’s natural beauty, sunny climate and cultural diversity make it an unmissable part of any Australian travel itinerary. Signature experiences include climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge (bridgeclimb.com), a tour of the fish market (sydneyfishmarket.com.au) and an indulgent lunch at Quay Restaurant (quay.com.au). The choice of accommodation has never been better, with several new five-star hotels opening recently. The Langham Sydney (langhamhotels.com), InterContinental Sydney Double Bay (intercontinental.com; see page 14 and 15) and The Darling (thedarling.com.au) are all worth considering. Two days should be enough to tick off major sights – the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Botanic Gardens, Bondi Beach, Darling Harbour, Circular Quay, Manly – but it’s worth leaving time for the Blue Mountains or Hunter Valley wine region too.
Byron Bay The 484-mile drive from Sydney to Byron Bay is a wonderful introduction to the laid-back pleasures of Australia’s eastern seaboard. The two-day road trip offers outdoor adventure, empty beaches and fresh seafood. A popular stopoff is in the coastal city of Coffs Harbour: Aanuka Beach Resort (breakfreeaanukabeachresort.com.au) offers a good range of rooms, thatched “bures” and villas. Four hours further north is Byron Bay, the year-round party town populated by extroverts, artists, healers and property tycoons (see page 20). Highlights include Cape Byron Lighthouse (byronbaylighthouse.com), the most easterly point on the mainland, from which dolphins, turtles and whales are often sighted. For those who don’t feel like driving, there are direct flights from Sydney to Ballina Airport, half an hour’s drive away.
Hamilton island Given that the Great Barrier Reef covers an area bigger than the combined size of Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, it’s impossible to do justice to this natural wonder in a single trip. With its large airport, Hamilton Island is the natural entry point for anyone wishing to explore the reef in just a few days. Recent developments, such as a new marina and 18-hole golf course, have put Hamilton in a different league from other Queensland resort islands. The jewel is Qualia (qualia.com.au), celebrated for its fine dining, exclusive pavilions, spa and water sports. The magnificent Yacht Club Villas (hamiltonisland.com.au) are great for large groups. But for the ultimate Great Barrier Reef indulgence, Hayman Island is an obvious choice. Following a £41-million revamp, the One&Only resort (hayman.oneandonly resorts.com; see page 18) has 160 lavish rooms, and transfers by luxury launch, helicopter or seaplane from Hamilton.
Port douglas Small yet perfectly formed, Port Douglas has just about everything the modern beachcomber might desire: deluxe accommodation, world-class cuisine and a laid-back vibe. It also provides easy access to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. Founded in 1877, this old gold-mining settlement is now a shrine to conspicuous consumption, with pavement cafés, expensive boutiques and swish beachside resorts. The Port Douglas Peninsula Boutique Hotel (peninsulahotel.com.au) is a charming, family-run property overlooking Four Mile Beach, close to all the action. Silky Oaks Lodge (luxurylodgesofaustralia. com.au), on the edge of Daintree National Park, is more rural. Port Douglas is the adventure capital of Far North Queensland: scuba-diving lessons, sailing expeditions and indigenous rainforest tours are all available. For those who want to release their inner Hemingway, Far North Sports Fishing (farnorthsports fishing.com) offers trips with expert guides on a comfortable boat with onboard chef, wine cellar and helicopter transfers.
uluru (ayers rock) Known colloquially as The Rock, Uluru (pictured below) exerts a magnetic appeal. Apart from its sheer size, the ancient monolith is at the centre of a fascinating indigenous belief system. Its constantly changing colour scheme – from orange to charcoal – provides a remarkable spectacle. There are now direct flights to Ayers Rock Airport from Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns, making Uluru and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) accessible to those with limited time. Aboriginal-led guided walks, camel rides and scenic flights are the most popular ways of experiencing the area. Longitude 131° (longitude131.com.au), an eco-friendly resort away from the main township, offers the illusion of camping under the stars but with none of the privations, with spacious tented cabins, superb cuisine, spa treatments and private tours. The ideal way to end a stay is with a dinner at Tali Wiru (ayersrockresort.com.au). This intimate open-air experience includes four courses, premium
T WO W EEKS IN ...
Australian wines, live didgeridoo music and Dreamtime stories.
MARK CHIPPERFIELD Audley (01993 838 800; audleytravel.com) can organise a 12-night Highlights of Australia trip, staying two nights full-board at Longitude, three nights b&b at Silky Oaks Lodge, three nights b&b at Qualia and three nights b&b at The Langham Sydney, from £8,290 per person, inclusive of international and domestic flights, and transfers.
ess familiar than Australia’s topline tourist states, Western Australia nevertheless captures the quintessence of the lucky country in one vastly spacious hunk. As well as unparalleled wilderness, rugged, empty beaches and biodiverse reefs, it has world-class wines and local produce, serious restaurants and bush comforts to rival any southern African safari camp. Australia’s sunniest city, Perth, is on the rise. Where it used to be a launchpad for Margaret River and the Kimberley, it’s evolving into a gourmet and culture hotspot, partially due to the immense wealth gathered from the mining industry
(Perth has the highest number, per capita, of self-made millionaires in the world). Although cranes line the skyline, accommodation lags behind the food and drink scene, but that’s changing as boutique options come on stream, and local neighbourhoods become more soulful and gentrified. The nearby town of Margaret River has also felt the effects of the city’s growth: as well as wineries, it also now has a selection of art galleries, top cellar-door eateries and farm-gate artisanal treats. Heading north of Perth, Ningaloo Reef is one of Australia’s best-kept natural secrets, and one of the best places on earth to swim with whale sharks - and camp in comfort on the dunes. Then on to Broome, the charming outpost poised between the turquoise Indian Ocean and the red earth of wilderness, but with a bewitching, surprisingly sophisticated composite of Asian and European influence – and a launching post into the wilderness of the Kimberley (see page 24).
Winery tours and truffle hunts can be arranged, as can safaris to spot the Western grey kangaroo
easy living Cape Lodge, one of Australia’s leading gourmet hotels
ESSE N T I AL STO P OFFS
Perth-wide walking tours can be tailored to
trekking on Cable Beach is a classic activity,
foodies’ interests (foodloosetours.com.au).
At this extraordinary, low-footprint outpost
as is watching the caravan plodding in at
A trip to the Swan Valley, Western Australia’s
(salsalis.com.au), the outback nudges the sea,
sunset from the comfort of Cable Beach Club
Hotels are not Perth’s forte (although more
oldest wine region, with Sergio Libertino
and nine tents are dotted amid the white dunes
(cablebeachclub.com.au): a dated but town
are on the drawing board – watch out for the
(libertinotravel.com) is fun for oenophiles, as
that border the reef of Western Australia’s Coral
institution and the place to stay for those who
opening in summer of the Old Treasury
are bars such as Helvetica (helveticabar.com.
Coast. One of the country’s best-kept natural
insist on beachfront rooms and a butler. The
Buildings). But The Richardson in West Perth
au), which also has a long whisky list.
secrets, this is a superior site for spotting and
most sophisticated place to stay is Pinctada
swimming with whale sharks and manta rays
McAlpine House (mcalpinehouse.com.au),
(guided by an experienced diver); sea kayaking
a traditional lattice-work residence laced with
(therichardson.com.au) is the best for service and room standards; its restaurant Opus is
one of the foremost in the city, and its three-
The wine area is three hours’ drive from Perth,
is also a marvellous way to gently explore the
charm, once owned by Lord Alistair McAlpine,
bedroom, 1,830sq ft Kings Park Suite has views
set against a backdrop of ocean and forest,
reef. Back on land, red kangaroos, rock
who fell in love with Broome, founded the Cable
to Perth’s trademark gardens. The city has fine
and the 22-room Cape Lodge is its jewel and
wallabies, goannas and emus stroll freely
Beach Club and, many argue, made the town
Indian Ocean-facing beaches, such as
one of Australia’s top five gourmet retreats, set
through the camp. By night, upmarket seafood
what it is today. From here, helicopter rides can
Scarborough, and a characterful port, Fremantle,
within 40 acres of parkland and vineyards.
feasts are served on the shared dining deck.
be taken into the Kimberley and the beaches
at which Perth’s only true beachfront restaurant,
At its Lakeside Restaurant Tony Howell’s
Bathers Beach House (bathersbeachhouse.com.
menus change daily in response to local
au), has opened. As for other food: from Nobu
produce. Winery tours (topdroptours.com.au)
This unlikely, balmy and civilised outpost on the
in the Crown Casino (crownperth.com.au) to
and truffle hunts can be arranged, as can
brink of the desert – miles from any metropolis
the new Standard Bar Garden & Kitchen
sunset safaris to spot the western grey
and overlooking the turquoise horizons of the
Scott Dunn (020 8682 5060; scottdunn.com)
(thestandardperth.com.au), an inside-outside
kangaroo. Treatments at the nearby Injidup Spa
Indian Ocean – started out as a pearling centre,
offers a 13-day trip, with two nights at
garden oasis with the best drinks list in Perth,
Retreat (injidupsparetreat.com.au), beside the
attracting a multicultural population that left
The Richardson, three nights at Cape Lodge,
there’s an abundance of class. For something
Indian Ocean, are always sublimely relaxing.
its mark. These days it’s a launchpad for the
four nights at Sal Salis and three nights at
more idiosyncratic, Leederville’s new food
And for great cellar-door lunches, both Vasse
wilderness, but is still worth stopping at for
Pinctada McAlpine House, from £4,995 per
safari by rickshaw (leedervillefoodsafari.com.au)
Felix (vassefelix.com.au) and Aravina Estate
some good food, beach walks and shopping for
person, inclusive of return flight, internal flights,
takes in the area’s Asian fusion kitchens, and
(aravinaestate.com) are highly recommended.
Broome pearls and rare pink diamonds. Camel
transfers and car hire.
and cliffs of the Aboriginal stronghold Cape Leveque (kimberleyaviation.com.au). LYDIA BELL
a REaL FORCE OF NATURE Among the world’s most important ecosystems, the ‘biodiversity hotspot’ of the Great South West Edge is full of delights – from sweeping coastal views and fabulous fauna to rich cultural heritage. Stanley Johnson taps into its raw power
andrew crowley; getty
super natural Top row, from left: a curious quokka; Hookers banksia at Kings Park and Botanic Garden in Perth; Busselton Jetty; western rosellas might be spied from Tree Top Walk. Centre row: Stanley Johnson; an example of Noongar art; Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. Bottom row: melaleuca trees beside Bunker Bay; red tingle trees in the Valley of the Giants; clownfish, as seen at Busselton Underwater Observatory
have been visiting Australia for more than 30 years. I have travelled around many of the coastal areas, including Tasmania (twice), and have crisscrossed the interior. Although I have been to Perth, the capital of Western Australia, and to the north of that state to visit Broome and the Kimberley, I had never gone south down the coast of Western Australia, past the Margaret River and on to Cape Leeuwin, the great granite promontory where two great oceans – the Indian and the Southern – meet. Last December I had a chance to remedy that omission. The Great South West Edge, ranging over 435 miles from Bunbury, south of Perth, to Israelite Bay, on the western fringe of the Great Australian Bight, is one of the most exhilarating places in the world and Australia’s only “biodiversity hotspot”, among the earth’s richest and most important ecosystems. For an overview of the environmental treats in store, on the first day of my trip I visited Perth’s Kings Park and Botanic Garden (bgpa.wa.gov.au). First gazetted in 1872 with 175 hectares of bushland, it was renamed in 1901 to mark the accession of Edward VII to the British throne. Today, with its spectacular setting on Mount Eliza and views of Perth City, the Swan River and the Darling Range, it provides an extraordinary introduction to the region’s flora, earning its place as WA’s top tourist destination. I spent the morning with Lesley Hammersley, director of conservation, and Grady Brand, senior curator. “There are 25,000 plant species in Australia,” Hammersley said. “Over 12,000 are to be found in Western Australia. And between 6,000 and 7,000 are endemic to the South West. Grady here has even had a banksia named after him.” The man who put the Banks into banksia was, of course, Sir Joseph Banks, who accompanied Captain James Cook on his first great voyage to the Pacific and later served as President of the Royal Society for a record 41 years. As we walked round the Banksia Garden that morning I learnt that, of the 76 banksia species recorded nationally, 62 occur only in Western Australia. One of the best ways to appreciate the natural wonders of Australia’s Great South West Edge, if you have time (you need about a week), is to follow the track from Cape Naturaliste, about 155 miles south of Perth, to Cape Leeuwin. You will be richly rewarded. The Cape to Cape Track extends over 83 miles. I was lucky to have as my guide Gene Hardy, a young, dedicated conservationist (capetocapetours.com.au). As we walked near Bunker Bay, Gene explained, “The Track runs through the LeeuwinNaturaliste National Park for almost the whole of its length. You have sheltered forests and amazing beaches.” Gene himself was a champion West Australian surfer, as was his father. “He’s a shaper now,” Gene said. “He carves surfboards. He’ll carve you one if you like.” Out here on ultratravel 31
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Combine iconic destinations, unique & luxurious properties and a fabulous array of inclusive activities Trailfnders 16 day Absolute Luxury Australia holiday from £5,999 – Upgrade to Business Class from £1,949 Including all fights, 13 nights 5 to 5+★ accommodation, Avis car hire, touring, full board in the Blue Mountains and all inclusive on Kangaroo Island & Lizard Island Days 1 London to Sydney Days 2-4 Sydney Arrive in Sydney and enjoy a memorable stay at one of the city’s most luxurious and sophisticated hotels. With an unbeatable location on Sydney Harbour, you’ll enjoy fabulous views and top notch service. On your last evening, take to the water for a wonderful dinner cruise on the harbour. Day 5 Sydney to Blue Mountains Pick up your Avis car and head out of the city. A short drive this morning takes you to the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains. Enjoy breathtaking views, pretty towns and a wide choice of activities. Tonight you’ll take refuge in a stunning resort centred around a fully restored homestead, part of the Luxury Lodges of Australia. Day 6 Blue Mountains Spectacular scenery is all around you, peaking with the Three Sisters at Katoomba gazing out towards Mount Solitary. Go bush walking or enjoy a ride on Australia’s steepest cable car at Scenic World. Be sure to include a visit to the Jenolan Caves and the picturesque village of Leura.
Day 7 Blue Mountains to Adelaide Drive back to Sydney airport for your fight to Adelaide. Day 8 Adelaide to Kangaroo Island Next stop on your incredible journey is Kangaroo Island, famed for its pristine beaches and amazing wildlife including kangaroos, koalas and the rare Australian sea lion. Take a short fight from Adelaide and transfer to the spectacular Southern Ocean Lodge. Day 9 Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island With a striking clif top location, Southern Ocean Lodge ofers the perfect blend of luxury and nature. Relax in contemporary surrounds framed by boundless coastal wilderness and feel at home with friendly, frst-name service. You may also choose to visit the secluded Southern Spa. In the evening, savour culinary delights in the restaurant and peruse the walk-in cellar featuring an exclusively South Australia wine selection. Day 10 Kangaroo Island to Adelaide After a gourmet breakfast, transfer to the island’s airport for your fight back to Adelaide.
Day 11 Adelaide to Lizard Island Board your fight to Cairns followed by a one hour scenic fight over the reef to Lizard Island. Days 12-14 Lizard Island Lizard Island is Australia’s northernmost island resort on the Great Barrier Reef. Recently refurbished, the Hecker Guthrie interiors are understated luxury and sit as one with the beauty of the tropical beach backdrop. 24 pristine private beaches, snorkelling straight of the beach where clam gardens, coral and marine life are abundant and diving on the inner and outer reef to some of the world’s most famous dive sites is why Lizard Island is simply like nowhere else. The food philosophy embraces local, fresh produce with a daily surprise and delight component and Essentia Day Spa is luxurious and indulgent. Day 15-16 Lizard Island, Cairns, London Enjoy your scenic fight from Lizard Island to Cairns for your return fight home.
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As I stood there, looking at the waves swirling over the rocks, I felt the hand of history on my shoulder. This place has seen so many adventurers pass by the coast, having a bespoke surfboard is a bit like having a bespoke suit, though probably more useful. I didn’t try my hand at surfing, but we swam and snorkelled whenever we could. After a morning’s hike, plunging into crystal sea is about as near bliss as you can get. No need for a wetsuit: these waters are warmed by the south-flowing Leeuwin current, which sweeps down the west coast of Western Australia, round Cape Leeuwin, and continues around the southern shore towards Tasmania, bringing with it an extraordinary diversity of marine life. Busselton, a thriving town in the middle of Geographe Bay, boasts a jetty over a mile long, the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere, which allowed ships to remain in deeper water as they loaded timber.
oday, happily, the National Park is in place, the logging industry is in retreat and other uses have been found for the jetty (busselton jetty.com.au). A little Noddy train transports passengers to the end of the pier and to the entrance to the Underwater Observatory, eight metres below sea-level. In the observation chamber you can view the corals and fish life. I am no marine biologist (I’m not sure I can tell a squid from an octopus), but Gene was ecstatic. “That’s a dhufish!” he exclaimed. “There’s a yellowtail kingfish. And a sea slug!” And that was just a small sample of the marine diversity on offer. More or less halfway down the Cape to Cape Track, you cross the Margaret River. The region is celebrated for its wine-making: Western Australia produces four per cent of Australia’s wines, but 20 per cent of its premium wines. Vanya Cullen, MD of Cullen Wines (cullenwines.com.au), showed us round the vineyard, telling us, “We are certified organic. We work with a biodynamic system, avoiding traditional, potentially toxic chemicals.” If the Cullen wines tasted like the best of the Bordeaux vintages, Vanya had a ready explanation: “The climate is Mediterranean, similar to that of Bordeaux.” We would have lingered, but had to move on. The Margaret River wineries may have a recent past, only 50 or 60 years, but their future looks long and glorious. If you’re travelling Cape to Cape in a southerly direction, journey’s end is the great lighthouse at Cape Leeuwin. At 128ft, it is the tallest lighthouse on mainland Australia. It is still manned. Paul, who has lived on site for 16 years, took us up to the observation platform. “The light flashes every seven and a half seconds,” he said. “Each lighthouse has a different signal. Out at sea, you time the flashes to know which light you’re observing.” As I stood there, looking at the waves swirling over the rocks below, I felt, as Tony Blair once put it, the hand of history on my shoulder. This awesome place has seen so many of the world’s great adventurers pass by. Matthew Flinders, for example, the first man to circumnavigate Australia, began his survey of the south coast at this point in December 1801. It is thanks to Flinders that this new great continent acquired the name Australia. From that high point, we had a clear view not only of the coast we had traversed, right up to Cape Naturaliste, but also of Western Australia’s southern margin, which we had still to explore, stretching east, towards Denmark and Albany. The most remarkable afternoon of my week in the Great South West Edge came with a visit to the Valley of the Giants. If the Sydney Opera House and Uluru are Australia’s two best-known features, I submit that this valley will soon give them a run for their money. Between Denmark and Walpole, in the Walpole-Nornalup National
Park, it is the only place in the world where you can find a 6,000 hectare stand of tingle trees (Eucalyptus jacksonii). In fact, the Walpole-Nornalup National Park is the only place to find the red tingle tree, which can live up to 400 years, reach a height of 246ft and a circumference of 72ft, making it the largest buttressing eucalypt in the world. A treetop walk was first proposed in 1994, to protect the trees’ shallow root systems and to allow increased access. Two years later the Tree Top Walk (parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/ site/tree-top-walk) was completed. You can walk (or even use a wheelchair) for 1,968ft at treetop height. If you are a “birder” you can hope to spy white-tailed black cockatoos, western rosellas, red-winged fairy-wrens, ring-neck parrots, purple-crowned lorikeets, crested shrike-tits or the owlet nightjar, to name a few. If marsupials are your thing, at dawn or dusk you might glimpse brush-tailed
View To A THRill A glorious vista on the West Cape Howe coast
phascogales, quokkas, southern brown bandicoots, brushtailed possums, grey-bellied dunnarts, mardo, woylies, chuditch, ring-tail possums and western grey kangaroos. Gene and I spent three hours in the forest. Back in Perth, at Kings Park and Botanic Garden, I had seen many magnificent specimens of Western Australia’s native trees: jarrah, marri, tuart and, of course, the superb banksias. But here, in this arboreal reserve were some of the rarest trees in the world, in their hundreds, or even thousands. Many of these forest giants existed here long before Captain James Cook came to Australia. If they – and we – are lucky, they may still be with us in hundreds of years. In Albany we had the good fortune to dine with Prof Stephen Hopper, a tall, amusing Australian who had not been only the director of Kings Park and Botanic Garden in Perth, but had also served as head of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. “Come out tomorrow,” he urged, “and I’ll show you why this land is so unique.” So the next day we drove out of town and walked to the
summit of Stony Hill. I have seldom seen a more extraordinary panorama. From our vantage point, I could see – to the south and east – the huge sweep of King George Sound, one of the world’s great natural harbours. Here the convoys of ships gathered, a century ago, to transport more than 41,000 Australians to the battlefields of Gallipoli, the Middle East and Europe, and to an event that marked Australia perhaps more profoundly than any other in its history. More than a third of those men never came back, and many who did were fearfully injured. To the west, we could see the magnificent cliffs and beaches stretching back towards Cape Leeuwin. Fifty miles to the north, we could see the dark mass of the Stirling Range. “From majestic tingle and karri trees to boldly coloured kangaroo paws,” the professor lyrically proclaimed, “from Albany pitcher plants to exotic dasypogons, from spider orchids to the beautiful banksias, wildflowers may be seen at any time of year along this south coast, and in winter and spring, further north.” “This is Minang Noongar country,” he continued. “The Minang stories and legends are interwoven with, and often based on, the salient features of the landscape we are actually looking at now.” Later, Prof Hopper took us to a place known as the Quaranup entrance, Babingerboy or teaching rock. “Look,” he said, pointing to a large stone propped up by another, smaller one. “That’s a lizard trap used by the Noongar people. They prop the stone up to encourage lizards to go underneath. Then they’ll come and lift up the stone and catch the lizard as it runs out. This could be the world’s first example of animal husbandry.” He believes there are few places that offer as much cultural heritage from people who have occupied land continuously for more than 50,000 years. “The landscape comes alive,” he concluded, “when you are privileged to experience it through a Noongar cultural perspective.” Which, thankfully, guests are increasingly able to appreciate, thanks to the cultural resurgence of the Noongar nation in South West Australia. A wildflower wonderland, pristine beaches, clear warm waters, rich marine biodiversity and a cultural heritage spanning 50,000 years. This is what Australia’s Great South West Edge offers. For a nature lover, what more could one ask? Wexas Travel (020 7590 0605; wexas.com) offers an 11-night Margaret River and West Coast itinerary (including Perth, Margaret River, Pemberton, Denmark and Albany) from £2,315 per person, based on two sharing and including international flights with Cathay Pacific, transfers, nine days’ car hire, 11 nights’ accommodation, meals and touring.
WHere TO STAY The Rocks Albany The only five-star heritage accommodation in WA has just six rooms, fabulous gardens and views of Princess Royal Harbour. 0061 8 9842 5969; albanytherocksalbany.com.au; doubles from £184 Karri Valley Resort It’s lakeside living here, on the shores of Beedelup, surrounded by forest. Guests, in waterside rooms or larger chalets, can
really get away – there’s neither wifi nor mobile coverage. 0061 8 9776 2020; karrivalleyresort.com.au; doubles from £100 Perth Ambassador Hotel This functional hotel is in the business district, so extremely central and convenient for quick stopovers. The premium deluxe rooms are the most inviting. 0061 8 9325 1455; ambassador hotel.com.au; doubles from £53
Fraser Suites Perth Most of these 236 slick serviced apartments in the business district have great views of the Swan River over which the building towers. There’s an indoor pool, gym and spa. 0061 8 9261 0000; perth. frasershospitality.com; from £93 Pullman Resort Bunker Bay Right on the beachfront, this five-star hotel has 150 airy, contemporary bungalow-style
villas with lake or garden views, and an award-winning spa. 0061 8 9756 9100; pullman resortbunkerbay.com.au; doubles from £122 Cape Howe Cottages Between Albany and Denmark, enveloped by nature yet with fully equipped kitchens, the four-star, cabin-style cottages here have room service too. 0061 8 9845 1295; capehowe. com.au; doubles from £80
Slowly does it The most pleasurable way to take in Australiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wild landscapes is at a leisurely pace. Ultratravel writers set off on foot and by train â&#x20AC;&#x201C; taking in very different terrains
Hiking the Great Ocean Road words alexander mckendrick
the long and winding hiKe Walkers finally catch sight of the Twelve Apostles – limestone stacks – on the final day of their trek
very landscape has its signature, that unique combination of physical presence and atmosphere. And as I stand in a forest of weird-looking, electric-green “grass-trees” and above them the tortured limbs of stringybark eucalypts, held aloft as if in agonised prayer, I realise that I could be in no other place on earth. It’s one of those privileged moments of travel, and an essential sense of Australian place. The moment occurred on the Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk in south-western Victoria, a hike that ranges the coast for around 34 miles, along clifftops, beaches, forests and flatlands and – as you’ll guess by the name – neatly culminates at the iconic Twelve Apostles, the state’s most famous site. Fear not, though: this isn’t sweaty, tented travel. It’s as close to luxury as hiking comes. Day one of the four-day hike begins with a three-hour drive from Melbourne. We set out from The Lyall Hotel at 8am and head south and west into the seemingly limitless sun-bleached outback, eventually cutting south through forest to the coast. After a quick stop at the lodge to kit up, Bea, our guide, leads us off from a bend in the Great Ocean Road to Castle Cove. The hiking path meanders into coastal scrub, and we traverse slopes, clambering over headlands and descending into coves. The hillsides are oddly patterned – the onshore winds have sculpted the beard heath into lines. To our left lies the seething Southern Ocean, which is brutalising and undermining the coastline. The waves form an audible backdrop, thudding sometimes and hissing. But as the path turns inland into a gully, there is silence. Here, shielded from gales, the trees grow to normal size. And then there’s the signature moment, when the grass-trees look like a spiked haircut on a shaggy green St Bernard, with, behind them, the twisted stringybarks, invoking some malevolent spirit. It is almost spooky, and exceptionally beautiful. The daily hiking distances are not huge – between five and eight miles, with a few optional extras to take it over 30 – but the terrain is enough to leave the muscles aching at the day’s end. After snaking and switchbacking, we end the first day on Johanna Beach, a mile-plus stretch of superb blond sand (and quite an aerobic workout, as it happens). From here it’s a hop and a skip inland, to the Twelve Apostles Lodge itself. As I mentioned, the concepts of hiking and stylish comfort don’t often coincide (most of my considerable experience has involved living out of an overgrown plastic bag), so the Twelve Apostles Lodge comes as quite a surprise. Proper linen, a chef and good Aussie wine, for a start. In the morning they tend your blisters, pack a lunch for you, and out on the path they explain the flora and fauna. Practically the only thing they don’t do for you is the walking. We gather for canapés before dinner, pork belly glazed with pineapple and squid in ginger chorizo jam, before sitting for a main course of roasted tenderloin in red wine, cooked by the estimable Ha, the Lodge’s ultratravel 35
Vietnamese-New Zealand chef. Before dessert we are given a briefing for the next day. Day Two is the long day: eight miles over the walk’s most rugged terrain, with an option to make it 20. The path climbs through pasture before dropping and climbing into forest, where tree ferns carpet the ground between the eucalypts. We pass banksia, puffballs, Austral bracken and common heath, Victoria’s floral emblem. Views open back and forth along the coast. Hiking in a group slightly resembles travelling in a yacht: you are in close confines with new people, whom you spend your days getting to know and ruminating with. My co-hikers are an easy-going bunch of three couples – five Australians and a South African – gracious enough to include me. At the end of the day, world set to rights and feet throbbing, we’re happy to load into the van, dreaming of the Lodge, where there are cakes. It’s not long before I find myself back there, feet in a bowl of warm and soapy water, beer in hand. Dinner is muted, though. Tired after all those miles, it’s early to bed. There is space for 10 at the lodge. With its self-consciously exposed metalwork, it is visibly a temporary structure, but the floors are polished wood and the beds large and extremely comfortable. Viewed from the deck, the forest – ferns below, bushes and trees above – hangs like a theatrical backdrop. The hike is surprisingly remote. We pass only one person walking the other way on day three (the trail is designed to be walked in our direction, with more gradual upward slopes and steeper descents). And the breeze, straight off the Southern Ocean, is fresh, some of the cleanest air in the world. We’re packing ozone, then. Near the end of the day a lone stack of rock appears just offshore. There is a murmur of confusion. “Ah, no,” says Bea. “That’s a wannabe Apostle.” There’s a pattern of morale to the hike, too. The bulk of the walking done, our last evening has a lighter note, as we tuck into another of Ha’s creations – salmon this time. “Last of the guilt-free eating,” says a fellow hiker. Day four is leisurely by comparison, a winding five miles through scrub-covered dunes and low cliffs. We’re all waiting for one thing, and at a bend we sight two stacks: Gog and Magog. But they’re not Apostles, either – although they are made of the same material. The layered-limestone stacks glow as yellow as Battenburg cake, their sides brutalised by the waves that dissolve, undermine and carve them from the coast. Our first sight of the real Apostles raises a cheer. Oddly, there are only eight of them, but they rise, distinctive, out of the teal-blue sea with varying bulk, bravely defiant but ever diminishing. Diminishing, in fact, more than half an inch per year. This is erosion
in action. One Apostle collapsed in 2005. Another stands slender, like a single-finger insult. We make our way down the cliff on to the beach, where Gog and Magog loom over us in their full glory, 130ft high and lined with strata. There’s a demob lightness to the group now. The challenge has been defeated, and we feel better for it. But the trip is not done yet. The last thing we have to do is fly over the glorious coast we’ve just walked. Most helicopters are pretty utilitarian, so with padded seats and plenty of glass for the view, this Eurocopter EC130 feels plush. We clamber aboard and strap in. The airframe wobbles as the blades begin to turn and shudders as we slowly lift off. At 30ft, the pilot dips the nose and we slide forward, speed increasing, the grass of a neighbouring paddock racing beneath. As he levels off, the whole turquoise to royal blue of the Southern Ocean is revealed before us. The 100ft cliff we climbed flashes beneath, insignificant. Walkers on the beach – us a few moments ago – are ants. We fly out to sea and circle the massive stacks from above, inspecting them from all angles. They really are spectacular. This is fun, too. The pilot pulls a couple of turns, blades whacking at the air. Suddenly, angled down at the sea and a spectacular yellow stack, I realise I’m experiencing another cool moment of travel with, undoubtedly, a signature view.
The Twelve Apostles are diminishing – more than half an inch per year. This is erosion in action
Bridge & Wickers (020 3642 8551; bridge andwickers.co.uk) can tailor-make a 12-night trip from £3,595 per person, including three nights at The Lyall, three nights on the Twelve Apostles walk, two nights at Chateau Yering, two nights at Daylesford’s Lake House and two nights at Boroka Downs, with Singapore Airlines flights, transfers and six days’ car rental. The Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk (0061 3 5237 4276; twelveapostleslodge walk.com.au, and visitmelbourne.com) costs £1,050 per person, all-inclusive, and is part of the eight Great Walks of Australia (greatwalksofaustralia.com.au).
THE ALTERNATIVE: Tasmania The four-day Freycinet Experience Walk (0061 3 6223 7565;
Crossing the country by train
freycinet.com.au; £1,235 per person from Hobart) through Freycinet National Park on Tasmania’s east coast covers some of the loveliest landscapes in the southerly island. The walk starts from the southern end of the national park (Schouten Island, where you climb Bear Hill for a superb view back across Coles Bay) and tracks north via the magnificent curve of Wineglass Bay and pink granite heights of Mount Graham, before heading along the shores
words MARK SKIPWORTH
of the Southern Ocean to Friendly Beaches. Accommodation is at the sustainably built Friendly Beaches Lodge, where again, there are cakes and attentive care, comfortable rooms and excellent fare served at a huge Tasmanian oak table.
the height of adventure Near right: the Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk ends with a helicopter flight over the coast. Far right: The Ghan train travels through the Red Centre
It was more than 30 years after the first man landed on the Moon that The Ghan railway was completed in the form we know it today. Australia’s transcontinental “space mission” is no less impressive than mankind’s lunar adventure. After a century or more of stop-start planning, at a cost of around £500 million, one of the biggest engineering projects in history finally conquered Planet Earth’s very own otherworldly landscape a decade ago. On average, 30 coaches are dragged 1,851 miles by two steroidal locos (totalling 1,400 tons) from Darwin in the far north to Adelaide in South Australia, traversing the ferocious emptiness of the Red Centre. It’s an epic journey that unifies this gigantic continent and its people –
townsfolk, pastoralists, frontiersmen and Aboriginals. The Ghan’s north-south route covers such a vast expanse that you can start in one season (in my case, Darwin’s tropical dry season) and finish in another (Adelaide’s “Mediterranean” autumn). Despite the distance and formidable terrain, it’s surprisingly quick – four days, three nights to get from the Timor Sea to the Southern Ocean on a new extended service, with stops en route. The Ghan is also extremely comfortable, the private cabins cleverly designed with bathrooms, showers and fold-down beds. Throw in faultless room service, allinclusive drinks and haute cuisine and it soon becomes obvious that you’re experiencing the ultimate “land-cruise”. What you get, above all, is a real flavour of the immensity of the outback and its remarkable variety. The landscape is far from monotonous, forever changing from dense tropical forests to open bush country, followed by unique rock formations and mountain ranges. Four hours in, the train halts at Katherine, the most southerly of the Top End communities, so passengers can cruise its famous gorge or take a helicopter flight. Katherine Gorge is a series of linked canyons flooded by surrounding wetlands to create elongated tropical “fjords”. Aboard the cruise, our
Aboriginal guide explains that the region is home to “harmless” freshwater crocodiles that are not known to attack humans – although you wouldn’t want to swim in the waters to find out. The excursion ends with a flourish – a pop-up in a field beside the gorge of fine-dining bush tucker: crocodile soup (not unlike scotch broth), then camel and kangaroo kebabs. Back at The Ghan, as the light fades, I leave the cabin blinds open to catch a final glimpse of the tropical sky, the stars ablaze. A night to remember. Next morning The Ghan approaches Alice Springs, the geographical centre, where passengers can now spend a full day, on the new extended service, exploring the town and outlying areas or upgrading their excursion with a scenic flight over Uluru. I apply my test of “great travel” – gazing out of my cabin window – and realise there is nowhere else in the world quite like the Red Centre. It’s been said before, but you really could be on another planet: blood-orange soil broken by the occasional heroic mulga tree, the sun’s unforgiving rays beating down throughout. The MacDonnell Ranges to the north provide contour for seemingly endless vistas of desert. Its foothills are where I’m heading to get a brief taste of the “burnt country” – on the back of a camel. Marcus, the camel
centre’s charming owner, has lived in Alice for a quarter of a century and lays on these “ships of the desert” for visitors. In its colonial heyday, Australia used more than 12,000 camels, brought largely from Rajasthan. Afghans were recruited to be their cameleers and hundreds of them crossed the continent north to south – hence The Ghan’s name today. Leaving Alice, our stainless-steel serpent slithers into South Australia. The extended journey takes in a welcome stop at Coober Pedy, one of the weirdest places on earth. It’s the world’s opal-mining capital, with more than 70 opal fields, and at least half its inhabitants live underground in cave homes or “dugouts” to escape the scorching sun. As well as visiting a Serbian Orthodox Church (also underground), we are invited to have a go at opal mining or play a game on the golf course, famous for being free of grass. At the end of the day, almost imperceptibly, the red dust fades to bleached-white flatlands; beef cattle appear, and more and more sheep. In this harshest of landscapes, what do they eat? After breakfast, the train eases into Adelaide, which is an unexpected delight, with one of the best indoor food markets in Australia, gracious Victorian villas, a first-class art gallery and, of course, the picturesque Oval cricket ground. The Hilton hotel proved ideal for all the major sights here – many of which can be viewed from the panoramic rooftop swimming pool. Although, after the sweltering north, the city’s cooler “Mediterranean” climate seems positively polar. This is not a place in which to dip a toe: at the end of this line, the water is truly freezing. Trailfinders (trailfinders.com) offers an 11-night north-to-south Australian trip from £4,499 per person, including return flights with Malaysia Airlines to Darwin and returning from Adelaide, a night in Darwin, three in Kakadu, three on The Ghan in Gold sleeper class, one in Adelaide and three at the Southern Ocean Lodge, plus three days’ car hire. Details: greatsouthernrail.com.au; southaustralia.com and travelnt.com.
THE ALTERNATIVE: The Indian Pacific The other epic cross-country rail trip is the Indian Pacific which, as its names suggests, runs east-west from Sydney on the Pacific Ocean to Perth on the Indian Ocean. The four-day route takes in the world’s longest straight stretch of track – nearly 300 miles – across the fiery Nullarbor Plain, with a stop in Adelaide (greatsouthernrail.com.au; from £1,200 Gold Service).
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For more info or to book visit travelbag.co.uk or call 0845 543 6620 Visit your local Travelbag shop: London, Alton, Brighton, Cheltenham, Knutsford, Solihull & Winchester Subject to availability. Prices correct at time of print. Prices based on two people sharing. Valid for selected travel dates April - June 2015. Book by 30th April 2015.
A L IT TL E P LACE I K NOW
THE BYRON AT BYRON Naomie Harris – Miss Moneypenny in the James bond film Skyfall and in the upcoming Spectre – reviews her favourite place in which to escape down under
his is the most beautiful hotel, not only because of its location in byron bay, but
because it is run by some of the most dedicated and caring staff i’ve come across. because it’s not that big – it has 92 light, bright modern suites, surrounded by trees, with a great beach a few minutes’ walk away – it is pretty ideal for any kind of break. there are buggies to take you around the site, and lots of places nearby to visit: the lighthouse, crystal castle and shambala Gardens,
Max abadian/corbis outline; alaMy; discovery; Matthew turner
as well as the hippie, alternative town of nimbin. the rooms are as pretty as the scenery. i particularly loved the brilliant anti-bug and mosquito mesh surrounding the balcony, which meant we could be outside without getting bitten. it has managed to create an atmosphere that is homely, without compromising on service. i love hotels that have an unpretentious, relaxed feel, and the byron at byron has that. in fact, you feel so at home that sometimes it is like staying with family. i took my mother, and chrissy and Michael on reception went above and beyond to ensure we felt looked after. when i had a cold they even sent honey, lemon and ginger drinks to my room, as well as incredible fresh vegetable and fruit juices. the early-morning yoga was particularly good, as were the wonderful massages. i would defy anyone not to feel relaxed and enjoy themselves here. it’s pretty perfect.”
e used to eat two types of snake,” says
if this renaissance has a leonardo, then it is probably
Jennice Kersh of her time on the balgo
the chef Jock Zonfrillo. a scotsman who trained under
reservation, a remote area of australian
Marco Pierre white, Zonfrillo now owns the critically
desert. “the Gogadja men called the pythons ‘slow
acclaimed orana (restaurantorana.com) in adelaide,
buggers’ because they were not dangerous. but the
a sort of down-under response to foraging restaurants,
poisonous ones they called ‘cheeky buggers’. luckily,
including noma in denmark and doM in brazil. the
there were so many pythons that we never really had
ever-changing menu features dishes such as squid with
to catch the poisonous ones.”
finger lime and aniseed myrtle (a rainforest tree with
now 71, Kersh is something of an australian food
wild plum and cinnamon myrtle; and kangaroo with
edna’s table in downtown sydney, australia’s first
mountain pepper and ox-eye daisy. Kwong (a cantonese-australian fusion concept offering
the 1960s, edna’s used ingredients such as macadamia
dishes like caramelised wallaby tail; billykwong.com.au)
nut, kangaroo and yabby (a small freshwater crustacean).
and Melbourne’s attica (ranked number 32 in the san
all are now familiar to most australians, but at the time
Pellegrino world’s 50 best restaurants 2014; attica.com.
were “exotic” novelties.
au) are changing the australian public’s perception of
native food had been nothing more than a fad. in recent
a night for a double.
alongside orana, restaurants such as sydney’s billy
on their time spent living in aboriginal communities in
edna’s closed in 2005 and, for a while, it seemed as if
2000; thebyronatbyron.com.au) costs from £175
fragrant leaves); wild peas with muntries (a native berry),
legend. in 1981, with her brother raymond, she opened restaurant to showcase indigenous ingredients. drawing
COOKING WITH ROOTS Jock Zonfrillo (top) on the hunt for ingredients for his restaurant which features Spencer Gulf prawns, macadamia nuts and wild peas with cinnamon myrtle
The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa (0061 2 6639
native ingredients as mere novelty food. “i think they have been misunderstood and misused,”
years, however, spurred on by the growth of the foraging
says Zonfrillo. “often growing in arid locations, many of
movement and a trend for local, sustainable ingredients,
them are strong and astringent in flavour. to understand
australian indigenous products – plants and animals that
how and when to use them, and why, with respect to
live wild in the outback and have been eaten for millennia
country and culture, is key.”
by aboriginal people – have had a major comeback.
he 34-year-old cricketer has been one-day and Test captain of the Australian team since 2011, and has led them to several victories, including the recent World Cup and
Ashes. He has achieved several records – including the most runs against India in a Test (329), which was also the most Test runs at the Sydney Cricket Ground – and is the only Test batsman to have reached four double centuries in a calendar year (2012). Wisden’s Leading Cricketer in the World
My bats are made in India, so whenever I’m there I get new ones. It’s fun designing them and watching them being made
2013, he has won Australia’s most prestigious cricketing medal a record four times, is married to presenter Kyly Boldy, and lives in Sydney. How often do you travel? One of the great advantages of playing cricket for Australia is getting to travel around the world and to see some amazing destinations. We are away from Australia for about six months of the year and travel within it during our summer, for about four months of the year. Which places have you most enjoyed visiting – for work or pleasure?
South Africa and England. I love Cape Town as there is so much to do and it reminds me a lot of home. It has beautiful beaches and cafés, and the people are very friendly. London is a great part of the world too – there’s always something
Travelling life Michael Clarke He’s a fan of Cape Town and London and fancies a white Christmas, but the Aussie cricket captain says there’s no place like home happening. When I have downtime I like to stay
I played my first Test match for Australia.
(catalinarosebay.com.au) and Raw Bar
fun designing and shaping your own bat and
in Australia; coming home feels like a holiday.
Playing cricket in India is indescribable, the most
(rawbar.com.au). And I often go to the south-
watching it being made.
If you could advise visitors on three things
amazing atmosphere you can ever imagine.
west suburbs: to Lakemba for Lebanese and
Where would you like to visit next?
to do in Australia, what would they be?
The most relaxing place to go on holiday?
Cabramatta for Chinese. Watsons Bay hotel
Aspen for a white Christmas. A few of my
One would definitely be to go to the Boxing Day
Definitely the West Indies. The people and the
(watsonsbayhotel.com.au) is wonderful, too: the
mates head over there every year and are
Test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
atmosphere and surroundings are so laid-back.
food, service and atmosphere are all great.
always saying how amazing it is.
The others would be to spend a day on Sydney
We have a joke in the team where we say we
Do you travel with any specific luggage?
The most romantic place you’ve ever been?
Harbour and to visit Penfolds’ winery at Magill
are on “West Indies Time”; everything is so slow
I take the same bags everywhere I go: my
Emirates One & Only Wolgan Valley
Estate in South Australia (magillestate.com).
and relaxed. The other great thing about the
cricket kit, a bag full of my training gear and
Where around the world do you particularly
Caribbean is the beaches: white sand, crystal-
a suitcase of casual clothes. I also always travel
my wife (pictured above) and I got married,
love playing cricket?
clear water and a nice temperature.
with my Baggy Green [official Australian Test
although the most romantic room – in fact the
Lord’s (lords.org) in London because of the
Favourite hotel in the world?
cricket cap] in my carry-on – never in my case.
greatest room ever – is in the Crown Metropol
history and tradition that come with playing
Crown Resorts Melbourne (crownmelbourne.
If you could have supper anywhere in the
Mansions (crownhotels.com.au) in Perth.
there. Newlands (wpcc.co.za) in Cape Town
com.au), which has everything. The service
world, where would it be?
Worst travel experience?
because of its scenery: the backdrop of Table
is impeccable, there’s a great gym, and the
On a boat on Sydney Harbour. I’d have a seafood
The 2005 Ashes. Losing in England was tough –
Mountain when you’re walking out to bat is
rooms are amazing. It also has so many types
platter with some great mates and my family.
although I do love England. It’s a beautiful place.
stunning. Sydney Cricket Ground (sydneycricket
of food; the cultural experience and quality of
Anything you hate about holidays?
ground.com.au) because it’s my home ground,
food within one place are what get me.
Leaving home. I love my house and being
Qantas. The minute I step on board I feel like
and I love the support from the crowd and
around my family and friends. Packing and
I’m home. The crew have that special Australian
having my family and friends there. Melbourne
Sydney. It has so many beautiful restaurants,
unpacking is never fun, either.
sense of style and hospitality, and the food is
Cricket Ground (mcg.org.au), as you can’t beat
private beaches and bays, and an amazing
Are there any things you’ve bought abroad
amazing. Flying gives me a rare opportunity
the atmosphere during the Boxing Day Test and
harbour. My favourite restaurants vary;
that you particularly love?
to switch off and relax – I love settling in with
there is no greater stadium in the world. And
because the city is so multicultural, there’s an
My cricket bats are made in India, so whenever
Neil Perry’s steak sandwich and catching up on
Bangalore (ksca.co.in) in India, which will always
enormous choice. I love Spice Temple
I am there I get new ones. I arrive with three
my favourite TV shows and movies.
have a special place in my heart as it was where
bats, and come home with about 30. It’s great
Interview by Lisa Grainger
© Telegraph Media Group Limited 2015. Published by TELEGRAPH MEDIA GROUP, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0DT, and printed by Polestar UK Limited. Colour reproduction by borngroup.com. Not to be sold separately from The Daily Telegraph. Ultratravel is a registered trademark licensed to The Daily Telegraph by PGP Media Limited
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