The Little Black Book is FULL of insider tips you need to know about. From where to stay, to adventures you’ve probably never heard of, and the secrets you need to know about to have the best time ever.
Our little secrets:
Having explored the length and breadth of the country, the Australian Traveller team shares their hidden gems and secret spots.
STAY at the old sheep shearers’ digs at Kinchega National Park, just over an hour’s drive from Broken Hill. You could be the only people there on this old sheep station and its magnificent woolshed, surrounded by bush with only kangaroos and emus for company; follow their tracks in the red dirt. – Dan Down, deputy editor
Wedge Island, location North of Lancelin on the WA coast, is an amazing place to watch the sunset. You can camp on the dunes if you are not lucky enough to own one of the vintage beach shacks that dot the sands here. – Lilli Dickson, account manager
The FLINDERS RANGES is one of the most overlooked yet most spectacular landscapes in Australia. The best way to really see it in all its glory is from the air; I’ve flown over Uluru and this trumps it hands down. The highlight of my trip was getting an insight into the Indigenous people’s relationship with the land and its significance to their culture and traditions. – Michelle O’Callaghan, sales manager
I’ve just returned from a trip to ARMIDALE, where one of the highlights was a Wayward Trail. This foodie tour takes in all the secret best bits of New England – places you might not discover on your own. It was amazing to visit Dobson’s Distillery, in the tiny village of Kentucky, where maverick master distiller and designer Stephen Dobson makes his world-famous gins and other spirits. Stepping into his eclectic speakeasy-style bar, the fact that Dobson is also a cinematographer who’s worked on films like Moulin Rouge! makes it all make sense. I also love that the tagline here is ‘not for everyone’; and true enough it’s only the lucky few who’ll get to experience this irreverent gem of a destination. – Imogen Eveson, chief sub editor
Regional Secret Escapes
Our little secret: The heady combination of World Heritage National Parks, extraordinary natural attractions, stunning gorges and waterfalls.
HAS BEEN keeping a secret: the four distinctively different national parks right on its doorstep. There’s a monumental jumble of granite boulders to climb in Cathedral Rock National Park while, along the aptly named Waterfall Way, Ebor Falls in the Guy Fawkes River National Park is one of several majestic waterfalls to inspire you. Much of the extensive wilderness in both the New England and Oxley Wild Rivers National Parks is World Heritage listed; when you spy the views from Point Lookout, walk along the trails that wind through the Gondwana Rainforest, or even hike through the spectacular gorges and encounter dramatic waterfalls, you’ll see the many reasons why.
Once you’re set to explore, you have a multitude of walks to choose from that cater to all abilities, and the stunning views, gorges and waterfalls are a short, easy stroll from the carpark and picnic areas. How has this been kept so secret for so long?
PHONE: 02 6770 3888
Incredible NT tours
Our little secret: Hike to the top of Gunlom Falls and be rewarded with a refreshing dip in the plunge pool overlooking Kakadu.
Rekindle the wonder of travel with Inspiring Journeys and delight in the sheer pleasure of boutique travel. Offering a range of journeys, from five to 22 days, to the most idyllic, breathtaking and iconic locations in Australia and New Zealand, all in the company of an expert Journey Director, guests will have the opportunity to truly immerse themselves in the sights, sounds and flavours of each destination. Be spellbound by the evocative landscapes of the Northern Territory, from the Red Centre’s majestic natural wonders to the Top End’s vibrant floodplains and hidden waterfalls. Travelling with a maximum of twenty like-minded guests, Inspiring Journeys’ unparalleled wealth of expertise unlocks every destinations true potential, creating lasting travel memories through enriching and inspiring experiences. Their experts ensure that all their journeys showcase a roster of off-the-beaten-track highlights that are both wonderfully authentic and truly engaging.
DEAL: Book now and SAVE UP TO 10% on all Inspiring Journeys before 31 January 2019. Terms and conditions apply.
PHONE: 1300 669 175
Zephyr at Hyatt Regency Sydney
Our little secret: Zephyr Sky Bar’s design was inspired by luxury yachts that cruise the Mediterranean.
Sitting atop Australia’s largest upscale hotel, Hyatt Regency Sydney, the breathtaking view from Zephyr Sky Bar earns it a spot high on your Sydney bucket list. Panoramic
views of Darling Harbour pair up with an equally impressive food and drinks list to make it absolute perfection for an afternoon aperitivo or summer evening cocktail.
Zephyr’s curved navy bar, white leather lounges and sleek lines reflect those of a luxury yacht setting sail through the Mediterranean, mixing seamlessly with its watery surrounds
since it opened in early 2017. The sensory journey continues with a connoisseur-grade cocktail list; try the Signature G&T, based on a tailored gin developed in partnership with Archie
Rose Distilling Co., or explore the unique vermouth-inspired cocktails and rums sourced from around the world on Zephyr’s extensive drinks list. Take your pick from fruity, fresh, spicy or sweet, all served high above Sydney at this open-air oasis.
PHONE: 02 8099 1234
FOLLOW: @zephyrbarsyd #zephyrbarsydney
PHONE: 02 8099 1234
Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel
Our little secret: You can stay with a 177 year old Lord, and it’s kind of heavenly.
A stay with The Lord Nelson is a step back into Sydney’s past and a taste of Sydney’s present – the sort of experience that is truly local. Located in a quiet corner of the historic Rocks precinct and within easy walking distance of most of Sydney’s major attractions, this hotel and brew-pub is bursting at the seams with history, personality and conviviality. ‘The Lord’ is Sydney’s oldest continually licensed hotel and home to Australia’s oldest pub brewery and is both an institution and a treasure, a space that entices the visitor to settle in and linger. Don’t miss sampling the flavours concocted by the craft brewery located in the back area of the bar and cellar as well as the restaurant, Upstairs, on the first floor and celebrate next-level food- and beer-matching plus an extensive, award-winning wine list.
PHONE: 02 9251 4044
Sydney Harbour Boat Tours
Our little secret: Discover New South Wales’ only Little Penguin colony in the heart of Sydney
The world’s largest natural harbour offers so much beyond the must-sees of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Beyond the frenetic buzz of Circular Quay, the vast waters of the harbour give way to tranquil coves and uninhabited beaches. Taking the waterways less travelled, with local boaties, opens up a completely different world, and one of Sydney’s best-kept secrets is the secluded Store Beach in Sydney Harbour National Park, only 15 minutes from Circular Quay aboard Sydney Harbour Boat Tours’ fast, beach-accessible sports cruisers. Store Beach is home to New South Wales’ only colony of Little Penguins – and the occasional fur seal – yet it’s all but unknown even to Sydneysiders, since the beach is only accessible by kayak, but 2018 TripAdvisor ‘Hall of Famer’ Sydney Harbour Boat Tours can now land you right on the beach for small-group nature tours, including private seafood beach picnics.
DEAL: RECEIVE 15% DISCOUNT on scheduled tours or French champagne with private charters: use discount code ‘ATpromo’ when booking.
PHONE: 1300 183 365
PS Emmylou Murray River Paddlesteamers
Our little secret: You can cruise on the world’s only wood-fired cruising paddlesteamer.
Paddlesteamer Emmylou is now offering Australia’s most luxurious boutique inland cruise. Recently relaunched following a specially designed luxury upgrade and fit-out, the wood-fired cruiser Emmylou now has an an extended three- to four-night program taking in the most incredible sights of the Murray River.The cruise takes passengers to pristine and intact ecological forests, to world-heritage wetlands and places of geographic and historic significance, travelling along the world’s third-longest navigable river. Emmylou can moor right alongside outstanding river wineries, drop in to local producers and pause to explore heritage sites and stations. The paddlesteamer’s nine refitted cabins include fine linens and silky duvets, with the boats’ premier cabin, the Emmylou Suite, featuring French doors opening to a private deck. Chef-prepared dining features fine local food and wine; riverside dining and campfires complete this wonderfully Australian experience.
DEAL: SAVE 15% when you book a 2019 cruise online using code “ATS”.
PHONE: 03 5482 5244
Great Ocean Road and Beyond
Our little secret: The diversity of scenery between Melbourne and Adelaide is unlike anywhere in the world.
Great Ocean Road and Beyond operates the only four-day Melbourne to Adelaide tour with weekly departures, ensconsing you in reclining-seat comfort and a diverse itinerary filled with family-run hospitality, local food and wine, and down-to earth experiences capturing incredible scenery, amazing wildlife, and fascinating history, as part of a small friendly group, with private four-star accommodation all the way. South Australia’s huge pine plantations make way for a visit to Umpherston Sinkhole and the Blue Lake before crossing the Murray River and delving into the wine region of Langhorne Creek and the picturesque Adelaide Hills. With overnight stops in the historic townships of Port Campbell, Port Fairy and Penola, there’s time to immerse yourself.
After four days of discovery and relaxation arrive at your destination refreshed and ready to indulge in all that Adelaide and South Australia has to offer.
PHONE: 08 8357 1594
Our little secret: Experience the ‘wow’ factor when you enter your own luxe Whitsundays apartment
Nestled on the waterfront of Whisper Bay, in the heart of the Whitsundays, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, is Mirage Whitsundays. This award-winning resort sets its spacious, luxurious contemporary accommodation – including three-bedroom apartments, two- or three-storey villas, and four-bedroom penthouses – with unprecedented proximity to the turquoise waters and uninterrupted views of the Whitsundays archipelago. The newly opened Cafe Mira makes the most of the tropical sunshine and beautiful views around you, or sequester yourself away in the tranquil Satori Spa, a hidden gem in the resort set to bring you peace and relaxation as soon as you walk in. Spend time cooling off in one of the resort’s enticing swimming pools or just lounge alongside; the Lagoon Swimming Pool is perfect for some quality family time, with a spa to relax in, while the adults-only Horizon Pool brings blessed seclusion.
DEAL: RECEIVE 18% DISCOUNT using promo code ‘Black’ when you book online.
PHONE: 1300 088 988 (Australia)
Cocos Keeling Islands
Our little secret: There are 25 uninhabited, pristine tropical islands to explore here, amongst aquatic perfection
One of Australia’s last unspoilt paradises, the Cocos Keeling Islands lie in the azure waters of the Indian Ocean. With 27 islands to explore in total, you can relax on empty beaches, visit uninhabited islands by canoe, observe spectacular birdlife or catch the inter-island ferry to Home Island to get amongst the culture and traditions of the Cocos Malay people; limited visitor numbers ensure a genuine and authentic travel experience where you are truly made to feel like a local. There is also spectacular snorkelling, world-class scuba diving, excellent fly fishing and kitesurfing on offer in these magical islands, described as “heavenly and hypnotic” by Charles Darwin himself. Home to the best beach in Australia, Cocos Keeling Islands and the waters surrounding them are as close to aquatic perfection as can be found anywhere on the planet.
DEAL: FREE WELCOME PACK on arrival for Australian Traveller readers.
PHONE: 08 9162 6790
Our little secret: With 63 secluded beaches and 20 beautiful bays, each day brings a brand new adventure.
In a state filled with unforgettable sights, Rottnest Island, located just off the coast of Western Australia, is still a standout. ‘Rotto’ gives visitors a stunning natural playground of sparkling beaches and diverse wildlife, just a 25-minute ferry ride from Fremantle. Karma Rottnest is the island’s premier accommodation, set in a historic building given a new lease on life as a laid-back resort. It’s ideal for families, couples and solo travellers looking to explore the incredible beauty of Western Australia’s hidden gem, plus Karma Rottnest also manages the island’s golf course, meaning you can stay, play 18 rounds, and head to Gov’s Sports Bar for a pint on the 19th. The resort’s newly opened Karma Spa is redefining the spa ritual with the global debut of Karma’s Apothecary Massage Bar. With this flagship Karma Spa as the first to open in Australia, Karma Rottnest promises any visitor a sumptuous sense of place as it reflects the charm and relaxed island ambience of Rottnest.
DEAL: STAY 3 PAY 2 with fully cooked breakfast included when you book through firstname.lastname@example.org. Valid until 30 Jun 2019, subject to availability.
PHONE: 08 9292 5161
Our little secret: Phillip Island, just six clicks south of Norfolk, is an incredible volcanic landscape described as the ‘Uluru of the Pacific’.
Everywhere you look on Norfolk Island there is something to explore. Locals with surnames such as Christian, Evans, Buffet and Nobbs are a constant reminder of this tight community’s fascinating history, dating back to the infamous mutiny on the Bounty. Jump into a Mini-Moke or onto a pushbike – just make sure you avoid the resident cows who have right of way on all the roads and tracks. Catch sight of the rare Green Parrot which can only be found in this safe environment, or even take a trip to Phillip island, the National Parks’ treasured ‘Uluru of the Pacific’ and a pristine nesting place for sea birds and unique flora and fauna. Enjoy a beachside picnic or cliff-top seafood banquet, or head to one of this food-loving island’s many cafes or restaurants and feast on an array of homegrown vegetables, fruits and cheeses – oh, and the island has its own winery too. Swim, snorkel, kayak, fish or play a round of golf on a World-Heritage course and find out just how much there is to Norfolk Island.