Megan Arkinstall finds seven long-weekend ideas to take you away from it all so you can indulge in, well, pure indulgence.
1. Glide on water in the Top End: Kakadu National Park, NT
Bamurru Plains coined the term ‘wild bush luxury’ to describe their accommodation; a down-to-earth camp with a focus on fine details, designed to draw your attention to the surrounding environment rather than the distractions of modern life. There are a host of activities to get you out and about to explore the wildlife, but we recommend starting with a morning glide on the wetlands on board a fan-propelled airboat (specially for shallow waters) – a unique way to view the birdlife native to the area. At night, retreat back to camp for a hearty meal cooked with local ingredients, before falling into a deep sleep to the sounds of Kakadu silence: croaking frogs and local owls. Sounds like a bloody good long weekend to us.
Location: Bamurru Plains is a three-hour drive or 20-minute flight from Darwin. Swim Creek Station near Point Stuart in the Mary River Region, 10 kilometres from Kakadu National Park’s western boundary; 1300 790 561; bamurruplains.com
2. Create a work of art in your own studio: Swansea, Tas
Two kilometres up a dirt road brings you to the secluded and stunning Rocky Hills Retreat. Set on 250 acres of dry bush, the house overlooks a valley and out towards Maria Island. Have a bath on the deck and watch the sun go down, or awaken your inner artist in the fully-equipped on-site art studio. In here you’ll find tools to draw, paint, sculpt and knit… the possibilities are endless.
Location: Rocky Hills Retreat is 1.5 hours from Hobart. 11901 Tasman Highway, Rocky Hills, Swansea; 1300 361 136; rockyhillsretreat.com.au
3. Take a private seaplane to a secluded getaway: Whale Beach, NSW
Jonah’s boutique hotel, on Whale Beach just north of Sydney, offers an idyllic getaway without really getting away at all. Kick back on your private balcony and simply admire the 180-degree views of the ocean… and imagine previous guests Sir Anthony Hopkins, Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger doing the same. To really knock your socks off, we recommend arriving in style by private sea plane – you can transfer direct from Sydney’s Rose Bay, as part of a hotel package including a three-course dinner at their hatted restaurant and brekky. Now that’s how a long weekend should be spent (if you’re comfortable with spending, that is).
Location: Jonah’s is a 50-minute drive from Sydney or 20 minutes by seaplane. 69 Bynya Road, Whale Beach, Sydney; 02 9974 5599; jonahs.com.au
4. Soak it up on a private rooftop spa: Noosa, QLD
Perched on the highest point of Noosa’s Sunshine Beach Esplanade is a not-so-average retreat, complete with four bedrooms, five bathrooms, a gourmet kitchen, media room, billiards room, pool and yes, a rooftop spa overlooking the Coral Sea. Turn on the bubbles, pour some bubbles and toast to the Queensland winter sun with a few of your favourite friends, before a barbecue on the deck. Winter warming at its best.
Location: The Beach Shack is two hours north of Brisbane. 19 The Esplanade, Sunshine Beach, Noosa. Book through R&W Noosa Holidays; 07 5448 0966; rwnoosaholidays.com.au
5. Retreat to a weekend of relaxation and pampering: Byron Bay, NSW
Sometimes, the best kind of indulgence is a break from indulgence. Whether you want to detox, de-stress, lose weight or simply gain some peace, the sprawling hinterland of Byron Bay, home to Olivia Newtown-John’s eco-retreat Gaia, is a beautiful place to do it. With activities like yoga, tai chi, meditation, body balance, cooking classes, art and sculpture classes, and a multi-award winning day spa – your mind, body and spirit are covered. Leave your mobile phone at home… we dare you.
Location: Gaia Retreat & Spa is two hours south of Brisbane. 933 Fernleigh Road, Brooklet; 02 6687 1216; gaiaretreat.com.au
6. Luxury beyond words in a picture worth a thousand: Wolgan Valley, NSW
Brush up on your photography skills and capture the beauty of Wolgan Valley with a guided photography tour. The six-star Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort is a beautiful 4000-acre property with 40 luxury suites boasting a private pool and terrace, and double-sided fireplaces (no wonder it was voted number five in AT’s 100 Incredible Travel Secrets). Step out from behind the lens to enjoy the other onsite activities including hiking, mountain biking, 4WD tours and horse riding. Then return home with your stunning photos to prove that yes, you were indeed at Wolgan Valley. Lucky you.
Location: Wolgan Valley is a three-hour drive from Sydney. 2600 Wolgan Road, Wolgan Valley, Lithgow; 02 6350 1800; wolganvalley.com
7. Take a bush bath: Barossa Valley, SA
An elegant country manor located on a 225-acre estate… sounds like an idyllic place to rejuvenate. And what better way to do that than running yourself a soothing bath and soaking to the sound of silence in the middle of the bush? (Yes, it fits two.) The all-inclusive two-night stay at Kingsford Homestead includes drinks and canapés served on the verandah as the sun goes down, cooked breakfast, complimentary wines from the cellar, a five-course degustation one night and a three-course dinner the other. The 1856 homestead may look familiar: it was the previous home to McLeod’s Daughters, but now it can be yours.
Location: Kingsford Homestead is 45 minutes from Adelaide. Kingsford Road, Kingsford; 08 8524 8120; kingsfordhomestead.com.au