Camping isn’t for everyone. The equipment hauling, the uncertain weather, the questionable (or absence of) bathroom facilities. Nature, on the other hand, is a real crowd pleaser. If only there was a way to enjoy camping’s many wonders without all its pitfalls. All hail the rise of glamping. The glamorous/camping amalgam has taken off in Australia and shows no signs of waning as new and unique variations of the trend continue to pop up in bustling cities, in sweeping bushland, on sandy shores – anywhere there’s room to pitch an (admittedly larger than average) tent. Here, some of Australia’s top glamping options.
One sip at Sirromet’s tasting room and you won’t want to leave. And fortunately, you don’t have to. Less than 40 minutes from Brisbane, Sirromet offers 18 luxury safari-style tents, allowing guests to linger a little longer among the grand paperbarks and scribbly gums. Each tent boasts contemporary furnishings, private bathrooms and air conditioning, and a balcony where guests can mingle with the resident wildlife. The modern Australian cuisine at its restaurant, Lurleen’s, won’t disappoint either.
Set behind the geological marvel that is the 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, just over three hours from the heart of Melbourne, Pebble Point is truly bush meets beach. Located within a few feet of three national parks, Pebble Point’s six safari tents put nature front and center. Amazing walking trails, migrating southern right whales and secluded beaches await, as do those craggy limestone stacks – numbering seven rather than 12 these days due to erosion, but still a truly dramatic sight.
For glamping fans, a visit to the place responsible for the portmanteau is a must. ‘Glamping’ is believed to have been coined by a UK journalist after his visit to Paperbark Camp – a luxe 13-tent property, located just minutes from the township of Huskisson and easily accessible from Sydney. Tents are set in the thick of beautiful casuarinas, spotted gums and, of course, paperbarks, while eastern grey kangaroos, brushtail possums, king parrots and crimson rosellas are among Paperbark’s regular visitors.
Set against the grandeur of centuries old red gums on the Limestone Coast (less than four hours from Adelaide), Bellwether Wines’ campsite includes 10 bell tents, all just a short stroll from the tasting room. Each tent is decked out for a cozy stay, including a complimentary bottle of world-famous Coonawarra red wine. Outdoor kitchen facilities are at your disposal, but for something really special, book the Table of Twelve experience – a six-course celebration of fine food, wine and conversation set in a repurposed 1868 shearing shed.
As if the name wasn’t intriguing enough, The Naked Cubby is all about celebrating “good food, wine and even better company” – a travel trifecta. ‘Naked’ is a reference to stripping down, letting go of technology, leaving the stress of day-to-day life and reconnecting with yourself or a loved one… and with nature. There are two cubbies, Edgar and Frank, both set on Mount Majura Vineyard, located just outside the nation’s capital, Canberra.
Guests can stay simple in Edgar or stay ‘schmick’ (Australian slang for stylish) in Frank. Either way, going Naked (metaphorically or literally – you’ll be the only guests on the vineyard, so bare bottoms are encouraged) is a real treat.
Forget a room with a view; this is a room with a zoo. Roar and Snore is Taronga Zoo Sydney’s own unique glamping experience. Safari-style accommodation comes with a glamorous backdrop of Sydney’s famous harbor, but what’s really wild about Taronga’s overnight offering is the permanent residents. Intimate animal encounters and an exclusive night safari are all part of the experience before guests turn in for the evening, to be lulled to sleep by a wildlife serenade.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s biggest draws. About two million people visit the World Heritage-listed wonder each year, lured by the opportunity to swim, snorkel or dive in the aquatic Eden. Now you can spend the night on it, too. A once-in-a-lifetime experience, Reefsleep’s two-day, one-night excursion brings new meaning to the expression ‘ocean views’. Guests spend the night on a permanently moored pontoon, in an elevated swag (a sleeping bag with an inbuilt mattress) under a canopy of stars and surrounded by the deep blue. Guided snorkeling safaris, scuba diving and scenic heli-flights are available extras, giving guests a 360-degree look at the technicolor dream.
In the heart of Karijini National Park, the Karijini Eco Retreat puts guests face-to-face with remarkable ancient landscapes. Glamping is just one of the accommodation options at the environmentally friendly retreat, and each spacious tent has its own deck. A short walk away, the spectacular Joffre Gorge is a sight to behold; its deep, rugged crevices just waiting to be explored. Aboriginal people are known to have lived in the region for at least 20,000 years and the sense of place is truly powerful.