Australia is a land of frontiers, of historic discovery and of exploration. Yet somehow, the wild landscapes and wilder animal life have bred a laid-back attitude, keenly felt by visitors to its welcoming cities, idyllic beaches and world-class wineries.
Home to spectacular natural sights, golden sands fringe castaway islands, roads skirt dramatic coastlines, rainforests chart 135 million years of growth and great red monoliths stand unique in the seemingly endless Outback. In fact, with nearly 700 national parks, Australia features the highest number of conservancies in the world. To put that into perspective, no other country even makes it into triple digits. It all makes for truly epic road trips.
Never outdone, Australia’s wildlife is equally diverse. While you’ll know those hopping icons, kookaburras and cuddly koalas from children’s books the world over, it’s the more alien that linger longest in the mind. The Outback hosts cold-blooded creatures with names such as ‘thorny devils’ and ‘frill-necked lizards’ while the Great Barrier Reef is a veritable underwater realm of rainbow coral plied by tropically coloured fish.
But, if you thought it was all campsites and barbies by the billabong then you’ll need to think again. Whether it’s a massage in a luxury island lodge, relaxing – cocktail in hand – on the white sands of a private beach, or enjoying a long lunch among the vines of one of Australia’s many esteemed wine regions, there’s no shortage of unique, luxury experiences. In Sydney’s big-city glitz too, you’ll find icons famous the world over and in Melbourne’s Gold Rush charm a thumping cultural scene of contemporary galleries and hip bars.
The smallest continent, the largest island: however you term it, Australia is a land of white sands and relaxation. There’s no shortage of dive spots and private offerings in the Great Barrier Reef and the idyllic Whitsundays, while Tasmania offers an altogether wilder proposition. While superlative vineyards and golden beaches abound, there’s alpine hikes to waterfalls and cragged coastline kayak routes that showcase everything from dolphins to penguins. But our top tip for exclusive luxuriating? Lord Howe Island for its off-the-beaten-track idyll.
Look beyond the curved grace – both operatic white and harbour-bridge steel – of Sydney to find a collection of cities beating with lively energy. There’s artsy Melbourne and its chic café culture, Adelaide’s ‘City of Churches’ moniker offset by its lively arts scene, and Perth – the poster-child for West Australia’s optimism, informed by its off-the-beaten-track wine regions, surf beaches and waterfall-littered landscapes.
Between the hopping eponyms of Kangaroo Island’s green and pleasant land, the dolphins and tropical fish of colourful Ningaloo Reef, and the crocodiles that inhabit the winding waterways of the Top End’s jungle-clad wetlands, there’s no shortage of premier wildlife watching opportunities. It all animates a natural world that careers from island idylls to the densely verdant Daintree Rainforest and the wild frontier land of the Kimberley, a hidden region in Australia’s northwest corner where majestic canyons hide freshwater swimming holes.
Australia’s giant skyscapes and endless sunny disposition has fostered a climate ideal for both wining and dining. European techniques fused with fresher-than-fresh ingredients – seafood and juicy meats are the stars of the show – have lead the charge of a foodie revival complemented by fine varietals from a near-unending range of wine regions. It’s ideal for tasting tours.
Taking up around two third’s of the country’s landmass but populated by only three per cent of its peoples, the Outback covers six million acres of amber deserts, mountain-studded plains and subtropical savannah. But its most recognisable icon is its great stone monolith – Uluru – whose sunset glows are matched only by its neighbour, Kata Tjuta – a series of 36 grand rock domes. It’s all wrapped up in rich Aboriginal legend.
Having arrived in Australia some 50,000 years ago, the Aboriginal peoples have occupied the same territory longer than any other population. Whether you’re simply admiring the vibrant colours of the culture’s emblematic artwork or taking a guided tour of their spiritual heartlands, you’ll be able to appreciate how their hardy ancestors carved out a way of life in the most inhospitable of environments.
Australia’s Natural Landmarks in Luxury
Showcase Australia’s natural icons – Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Rainforest and Kangaroo Island – with stays in ultra-luxury lodges, enjoying exclusive guided excursions and gourmet dining throughout.
Sydney, Uluru & the Great Barrier Reef
15 days from £3,780 pp incl. flights
Between luxury stays, catamaran cruises and flight hops, this is your chance to experience the best of Australia in style. You’ll stay right on Sydney’s harbour, learn about Uluru’s cultural riches with a sunset tour and snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef with a marine biologist.
Australia’s Winelands & Luxury Island Lodges
17 days from £9,500 pp incl. flights
Exclusive experiences that range from sightseeing flights in Sydney and private wine tours near Melbourne to island stays and oyster tasting in Tasmania show you the very best this vibrant country has to offer, all while staying in Australia’s finest accommodation