Top 10 Unique Places to Lay Your Head is the best (and quirkiest) accommodation from our 100 Incredible Experiences (right here in your backyard) special issue.
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Having stayed in amazing accommodation across the country, the Australian Traveller team is often asked what our favourite places are. Contrary to popular opinion, what we consider to be the ‘best’ is not always the most luxurious or au courant; these days, we prefer accommodation with a difference. Here, we’ve collated 10 of the most unique and beautiful stays around the country.
1. Retreat to the mountains – Moonbah Huts, Moonbah Valley, NSW
Who hasn’t dreamt of staying in a cute stone cabin nestled in the snow in the mountains? Moonbah Huts are located on the outskirts of Jindabyne in NSW’s Snowy Mountains. On the banks of the Moonbah River, each of these two charming huts boasts a large open fireplace, underfloor heating, and an indoor bathroom. Depending on the season, the area is fabulous for getting out and about, whether it be fly fishing, horseriding, bushwalking, snowshoeing, and, of course, skiing.
Who will love it? Great outdoors enthusiasts. There’s no television reception, but when you can read a book on this sweet verandah, taking in some of the crispest air you’ll ever breathe, why would you need it?
2. Sleep in a Scandi-style Federation house – The Estate, Trentham, Victoria
This estate is an absolute treat for the eyes: raw, simple styling inspired by Scandinavian design, fresh white walls, dark floors, natural wood, a glorious blend of old and new furnishings… this 1902 Federation house sits less than an hour from Melbourne, in Trentham, a small town nestled midway between Woodend and Daylesford at the top of the Great Dividing Range. Guests stay in one of three chic bedrooms cosying up in bespoke pure linen. The lounge area is just as cushy with oversized sofas layered with blankets and cushions, large wool rugs, and an open fireplace; there’s a second fireplace in front of the tub in the central bathroom.
Who will love it? Cooks. The gardens surrounding the house are pretty and practical – there’s an array of herbs and veggies fresh for picking, as well as a mini orchard, an idyllic spot for a long lingering lunch.
3. Enjoy a remote outback oasis with some frills – Karijini Eco Retreat, Karijini National Park, WA
Deep in the heart of the rugged Pilbara region is Karijini National Park, a breathtaking oasis of pristine pools and dramatic gorges dating back a staggering 2500 million years. despite being utterly remote (its nearest town, Tom Price, is 60 kilometres away), visitors are not left to rough it in a swag, unless you want to, of course. Karijini Eco Retreat is a sustainable getaway, 100 per cent owned by the Gumala Aboriginal Corporation.
Who will love it? Happy glampers. Just a short walk from some of the park’s incredible natural attractions including Joffre Gorge, the retreat offers comfortable tents, an al fresco restaurant and bar.
4. Stay in a surf shack like no other – Roozen Residence, Margaret River, WA
The Roozen Residence is a stunning architecturally designed home that overlooks surfers’ favourite Prevelly Beach in the Margaret River region. The house has a relaxed industrial vibe; its exterior is resplendent in cement render and copper, the interior with polished terrazzo floors and crisp white walls.
Who will love it? Surfers. Owner and artist Ron Roozen (whose art graces the walls), and designer, Dale Jones-Evans (the man behind Bennelong at the Opera House), are surfing fanatics. With 180º ocean views, you can check the surf from almost every room and watch as surfers ride world-class breaks into shore.
5. Feel a million miles away – Marion Bay House, Marion Bay, Tasmania
The work of award-winning architects, the simplistic design of Marion Bay House was inspired by weathered rural farm buildings, built with natural timbers, cement sheeting, and rugged, rough-sawn macrocarpa. The interiors are spacious, with large windows inviting the dramatic landscape in. Despite being just an hour from Hobart, you’ll feel completely secluded.
Who will love it? Design devotees. Suspended from the ceiling, the fireplace can rotate 360⁰ to warm any area in the living/dining space – it’s so unique, it was exhibited in Stockholm’s Museum of Modern Art in 2000.
6. Rent an historic seaside cottage – Dickebusch, Patonga
This humble fibro–weatherboard cottage built in 1929 is an enigmatic stay located in the quiet seaside suburb of Patonga on NSW’s Central Coast. Its unusual name was chosen to commemorate the son of its original family who died in the First World War and was buried in Dickebusch, Belgium. Though the outside retains its original form, the interior has been almost completely rebuilt by its current owners, the same people behind Australian design brand Koskela.
Who will love it? Families. Just a couple of quiet blocks from the beach, one block from the lake, and surrounded by national park, this is the perfect family weekender and the complete antidote to city living. See koskela.com.au/accommodation
7. stay in a restored convict cottage – Ratho Farm, Bothwell, Tasmania
In the 1860s, a well-travelled English writer described the house on Ratho Farm as one of the most picturesque and ideally English homes outside of England. Snuggled in the highlands of Bothwell just an hour from Hobart, Ratho Farm has survived an interesting history; past guests (some uninvited) include bushrangers, golfing royalty and exiled Irish nationalists. The restored colonial farm buildings and convict cottages retain elements of its remarkable past with original masonry and carpentry.
Who will love it? Golfers. The farm is home to Australia’s oldest golf course, which has been consistently played on since the 1800s.
8. Have a wild (luxurious) adventure – Bamurru Plains, Kakadu, NT
On the edge of Mary River floodplains in Kakadu National Park, this exquisite lodge offers a uniquely Australian experience, one they like to call ‘wild luxury’. Complementing the natural beauty of this biodiverse area, Bamurru Plains lodge has creature comforts such as safari bungalows, fine food and wine, an infinity pool, and a well-stocked library.
Who will love it? Adventurers. This is an extraordinary experience where you can discover abundant wildlife and some 236 bird species by foot, 4WD and airboat.
9. Get stranded (by choice) on a remote island – Haggerstone Island, Queensland
Live out your Robinson Crusoe fantasies at this private island, which lies 600 kilometres north of Cairns in the Great Barrier Reef. Getting to Haggerstone is an adventure via private charter, but once here, life is simple with the only necessities cossies and bare feet. You’re not a complete castaway, though, with a very civilised bar, fireplace, wine cellar and library in the main house to share with just a handful of lucky guests. The accommodation itself is made up of a host of individually designed rustic lodges sitting within a tropical canopy with views of the pristine Coral Sea.
Who will love it? Castaways. This island is a place where coconuts are abundant, Champagne is served at sundown, and the only other locals you’ll likely meet are turtles, rays and the abundant sardine population.
10. Make like a Bond villian – Alkira, Cape Tribulation, Queensland
Located on 28 hectares of rainforest in Cape Tribulation, with direct access to a private beach, this incredible house sits at the point where two World Heritage areas, the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics, meet. This otherworldly piece of architecture comes with a kitchen fit for a hatted chef, a 2400-bottle, temperature-controlled wine cellar suitable for any sommelier, and a grand open-plan design to suit any fussy family or two. Its name Alkira comes from the Aboriginal word meaning ‘A happy place in the sun’.
Who will love it? Eco warriors. The carbon-neutral sanctuary is the work of local architect Charles Wright and is completely self-sufficient. See contemporaryhotels.com.au