Megan Arkinstall seeks a sublime balance between adventurous and luxurious.
1. Float on Cloud Nine; Hawkesbury Valley, NSW
Make like a bird and float amongst the clouds in a hot air balloon over the picturesque Hawkesbury Valley–a great way to see the sprawling landscape. Retreat back to the Sebel Resort & Spa where there is plenty to do for restless travellers; set on eight hectares of manicured landscaped gardens, there is a golf course, tennis courts, a heated pool and day spa.
Location: Sebel Resort & Spa Hawkesbury Valley is 45 minutes from Sydney. 61Hawkesbury Valley Way,Windsor; 02 4577 4222; sebelhawkesbury.com.au
Details: From $780 for the Floating on Cloud 9 Package including one night’s accommodation, breakfast with sparkling wine and 45-60 minute hot air balloon ride for two people.
2. Get culturally rich in the Tiwi Islands: From Darwin, NT
Munupi Wilderness Lodge is located on Melville Island, part of the Tiwi Islands group – a culturally rich region with a thriving Indigenous art scene. The simple lodge is offering packages including airfares from Darwin, a guided fishing tour, picnic at the local swimming hole, a tour of the arts and craft centre, a trip to Fort Dundas, and a cultural tour including hunting for traditional foods, spear crabbing and gathering mud mussels. The lodge has been praised by the likes of Rex Hunt and Andrew Ettinghausen… and you’ll get permission from the Aboriginal elders to throw a line too.
Location: Munupi Wilderness Lodge is a 30-minute flight from Darwin. Lot 288 Pularumpi,Melville Island; 08 8978 3783.
Details: Three-night Explorer Package from $2844 per person based on five people.
3. Explore Rotty on two wheels: Rottnest Island,WA
RottnestIslandis better known as a typical summer getaway… but during winter, it’s just as beautiful and much quieter. And whilst the water is a bit fresh, on-land cycling is the perfect winter activity. With over 1300 bikes available for hire and an easy pick-up/drop-off system, exploring the island by two wheels is easy. Rottnest Island Bike Hire also provide helmets, locks, island information and cycling advice.RottnestIslandis a car-free island so you can travel over 50 kilometres of road and cycle ways and discover the stunning bays, beaches and the wildlife on the island, including the native quokkas.
Location: 40-minute ferry from Perth. 08 9432 9111; rottnestisland.com
Details: From $452 for a winter accommodation package for two people. One-day bike hire from $14 per child and $28 per adult.
4. Take a pilgrimage to the Twelve Apostles: Johanna, Vic
Both Feet Walking Lodge is located at the mid-point of theGreat Ocean Roadand specialises in hiking along the stunning Great Ocean Walk. The 104-kilometre trail can take around seven days to walk but a three-day option, which covers 35 kilometres, is also offered. The dedicated hiking trail winds through rainforest, beaches, cliff tops and ends at the Twelve Apostles. The lodge itself only takes 10 hikers at a time and is ecologically designed, comfortable and beautifully modern.
Location: Both Feet Walking Lodge is three hours from Melbourne. 70Stafford Road, Johanna; bothfeet.com.au
Details: Three-day self-guided hike with accommodation, meals and safety equipment from $1095 per adult.
5. Hit the slopes: Mt Buller, Vic
For an action-packed winter escape, you can’t go wrong with Mt Buller – there is something here for everyone. Spread out over 300 hectares of terrain, there is a range of runs from beginner to experienced, 22 lifts and two toboggan parks. Off snow, there is plenty to do as well: arts and artefacts walk, a spa retreat, cinemas, 30 bars and restaurants.
Location: Mt Buller is three hours from Melbourne.
Details: ‘White Hot Deal’ package including two nights, lift tickets and gear hire from $487 per person. In June and September, up to two kids stay free in several lodges and resorts – look out for the ‘kids stay free’ logo. mtbuller.com.au
6. Be with nature in the mountains: Lamington National Park, Qld
Located in the World Heritage-listed Lamington National Park, O’Reilly’s is all about the outdoors. They offer a huge selection of activities including rainforest walks, eco talks, 4WD excursions, a Bird of Prey show and complimentary wine tasting at nearby Canungra Valley Vineyards. Inside you’ll find all the creature comforts you need: a range of guest rooms in the Rainforest Retreat as well as the more luxurious Mountain Villas.
Location: O’Reilly’s is two hourssouth fromBrisbane.Lamington National Park Road, Canungra; oreillys.com.au
Details: Best of O’Reilly’s package from $423 per person.
7. Learn to fly a glider: Scenic Rim, Qld
Located at the very heart of the Scenic Rim and surrounded by 100 acres of bushland, the Bunyip Scenic Rim Resort is set amongst an amazing landscape. View it from a different vantage point: the resorts owner Rob offers flying lessons in his sleek modern fibreglass aircrafts. Climbing to over 1200 metres, you can see the city skyline, Stradbroke Island and the top of Mt Warning on a clear day.
Location: Bunyip Scenic Rim Resort is one hour from Brisbane. 139 Lutter Road, Charlwood; bunyipscenicrimresort.com.au
Details: Accommodation from $240 per couple per night. Air Experience Flight is $185 per person for 30 minutes.