The Big Six: Outback outposts
Friday 28 September 2012
Berkley River Lodge, Western Australia
Imagine an area the size of Spain where stained red soil plummets into deep sandstone gorges and bulbous boab trees grow amid endless open savannah. This, is the Kimberley – a sparsely populated corner of Western Australia known as the "Outback's outback". It's home to the Berkley River Lodge, where 20 scattered suites stand on a coastal dune overlooking the Timor Sea. Spend days catching barramundi on the river, take bush drives into the abyss, or launch an aerial adventure over this utterly remote region.
Berkley River Lodge, Kimberley Coast, WA (00 61 8 9169 1330; berkeleyriver.com.au). Doubles A$2,900 (£1,933), all inclusive.
The Freycinet Peninsula is a fine finger of land on Tasmania's east coast. Sandwiched between the golden curve of Coles Bay and a string of granite peaks known as The Hazards, is this exclusive 20-suite retreat. It stands out of the natural expanse with sinuous roofs, a gym, spa and Palate restaurant that serves locally farmed oysters and goat from nearby Bruny Island. Guests can choose from included activities such as walks around Wineglass Bay and canoeing on the Swanport estuary.
Saffire, 2352 Coles Bay Rd, Coles Bay, Tasmania (00 61 3 6256 7888; saffire-freycinet.com.au). Doubles start at A$1,800 (£1,200), all inclusive.
Arkaba Station, South Australia
The Flinders range forms a furrow of folded sediments across South Australia. One of the area's most dramatic sights is the Wilpena Pound, a crater-like rock formation that carves a natural amphitheatre into the arid landscape. At its southern edge is Arkaba, a working sheep station with five rooms set in a traditional homestead and Coachman's Cottage. Free from telephones and televisions, this is a place where emus roam and wallabies walk the parched earth.
Arkaba Station, Wilpena Rd, Flinders Ranges, South Australia (00 61 2 9571 6399; arkabastation.com). Doubles start at A$1,580 (£1,503), all inclusive.
Wolgan Valley Resort, New South Wales
The misty Blue Mountains offer an accessible wilderness escape – just three hours' drive from Sydney. Here, the Dubai-based airline, Emirates, has established a private retreat at the eastern end of the Wolgan Valley with 38 suites that flaunt fireplaces and four-posters, plunge pools and private decks – plus mountain bikes and binoculars for surveying the scenery. Onsite stables and experienced local guides add five-star flourish.
Wolgan Valley Resort, 2600 Wolgan Rd, New South Wales (00 61 2 6350 1800; wolganvalley.com). Doubles start at A$1,560 (£1,040), all inclusive.
Longitude 131º, Northern Territory
Deep within the Red Centre, 15 luxury tents pay homage to early Australian explorers. Stay in "Sir Sidney Kidman" to muster amid the world of a 19th-century cattle drover. Or check in to "Miss Olive Pink" for an insight into the anthropologist and activist who blazed a trail on Aboriginal land rights. By night, the Table 131° restaurant lets guests dine under the desert sky while looking out to the dusty bluff of Uluru (Ayer's Rock).
Longitude 131º, Yulara, Red Centre, Northern Territory (00 61 2 8296 8010; longitude131.com.au). Doubles start at A$2,070 (£1,380), all inclusive.
Mt. Mulligan Station, Queensland
This working cattle ranch rests in a remote sandstone ridge at the foot of Mount Mulligan – Queensland's oldest and most sacred Aboriginal site. More than 160km by road from coastal Cairns, the station offers an authentic Outback escape with eight safari-style tents, 12 simple bunk beds, and unlimited camping pitches. Activities range from birdwatching and bush walking to horse riding and cattle mustering.
Mt Mulligan Station, Dimbulah, Queensland (00 61 7 4098 1149; mtmulliganstation.com.au). Doubles start at A$1,970 (£1,313), all inclusive.
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