Australian Traveller looks at the country’s most extravagant and expensive Bush Palace campsites.

Bush Palaces

If you want to take your hairdryer and don’t want to fashion a peg out of some twigs when you camp, then lucky you’re in Australia. Blessed be the campers and credit cards that get you to these luxury sites . . .

1. Longitude 131 (NT)
It’s the granddaddy of stylish camping. Perched on a ridge overlooking Uluru, you can sit in your king-sized bed beneath the ubiquitous “crisp white linen sheets” and watch the colour show as the sun rises and sets over The Rock.

Having celebrated its fifth birthday on June 10 this year, Longitude 131 deserves its reputation as one of the most luxurious experiences in Australia. From $990 per night twin share, min two nights. AT reviewed Longitude 131 in Issue #002. Check out www.australiantraveller.com and www.voyages.com.au

2. Wilson Island (QLD)
Part of the same stable as Longitude 131 (Voyages Hotels and Resorts), Wilson Island is the Robinson Crusoe experience with a luxury bed, towels and toilet facilities.

Accessed from Heron Island just north of Gladstone on the QLD coast with just six permanent tents on the island, so you have the run of the place. No electricity, though, so no hairdryers. $495 per person per night, min two nights. www.voyages.com.au

3. Bamurru Plains (NT)
The closest and newest rival to the two Voyages properties (Longitude 131 and Wilson Island) for the luxurious outdoor experiences, Bamurru Plains launched in February 2007 and is more akin to an African bush camp than an Aussie campsite. Situated on a floodplain, the three (growing to nine by Feb ’08) corrugated iron and timber structures are purposefully built without the amenities of a five star hotel room, apart from very comfy beds and linen.

The idea is to be able to experience the raw wilderness thrashing about in the water and woods just outside your door. Jump in an airboat to zoom across the floodplain, take guided bush walks or bump around the savannah in a 4WD – you’re there to get up close and personal with the bush in style. From $850 per night, min two nights. www.bamurruplains.com

4. Paperbark Camp (NSW)
The latest additions to this exceptionally lavish outfit set among paperbark trees on the outskirts of Huskisson in south coast NSW are its two new Luxury Tents, featuring deep, traditional bathtubs (below).

There are 12 raised safari-style tents in all, as well as a central “Gunyah” restaurant that’s famous throughout the region. For pampered camping in NSW, Paperbark is yet to be surpassed. From $200 per tent per night. www.paperbarkcamp.com.au

5. Extravacamps (NSW)
Well, that about sums it up. In the not-so-secret gem of Kangaroo Valley two hours south of Sydney, Extravacamps will set up your tent, install a double bed, then set up your second tent (that’s for dining) and tow in the amenities block. You’re in a field all of your own and free to do as you please. And to make it not completely blow the budget, you can either bring your own food to cook or have it supplied. From $205 per person per night, min two nights. www.extravacamps.com.au

6. Gunya Titjikala (NT)
Three platform tents on the fringe of the Simpson Desert make up Gunya Titjikala. With king-sized beds, crisp sheets, ensuite bathroom and meals provided by the locals, Gunya is a personalised experience.

There’s no set itinerary, just whatever tickles your fancy. At the basis of it all is living like the local people, the Titjikala. Dig for grubs, eat a kangaroo and try the Indigenous skincare products. It’s exclusive, meaningful and very Australian. $1300 per tent per night, min two nights. www.gunya.com.au

7. Freycinet Escape (TAS)
A three-day hosted journey into the most remote parts of the Freycinet Peninsula (you arrive by boat), these are tents, but not as you know them. The local Park Depts won’t allow the structures to penetrate the ground, so they’re weighed down by seawater. We don’t have space to do these design marvels justice here, but take our word for it. Explore the beaches, Wineglass Bay, hang out in your tent – it’s totally up to you. Remote, rugged and all very comfortable. Three-day packages from $1595 per person. www.freycinetescape.com.au

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