Destination: Australian Lodges
A lot of travelers know that Australia requires a big trip because it’s a long flight from anywhere, but what many don’t recognize is that once you arrive, it is also a really big country (roughly the same size as the continental US). The most obvious place to start a trip is Sydney. It ranks with New York and Paris as one of the world’s most pleasurable cities to visit. For food, natural beauty and spirited people, it is hard to beat.
Understanding the essence of Australia, though entails time at the beach and in the bush, an Aussie term that refers to the countryside or wilderness. Even in cities, you will feel the wilderness. I have seen wild stork-like birds wandering around Sydney’s busy Circular Quay with rush-hour crowds swarming past them barely giving them a glance. Visitors who see kookaburras or cockatiels flying free in Sydney often assume that they are escaped pets. The Royal Botanic Gardens and Sydney Aquarium, too, harbor elements of Australia’s weird and wonderful wild specimens like dugong and platypus but to really experience the continent’s unique natural beauty, you should schedule time on the Great Barrier Reef, in the Outback or in the bush as well. Ideal is a mix of all of them.
Though Australia is roughly the same size as North America, it has few truly luxurious resorts. In a sense, this is not surprising because Australians tend not to be overly formal or grand; on the other hand, many of them are extremely well-traveled and live in sophisticated cities with access to great comforts and conveniences. In recent years, a number of world-class properties have opened so visiting Down Under no longer means one has to downgrade expectations.
On my most recent trip, I visited a number of the new “super lodges,” some of which have been modeled after the wilderness wonder camps of South Africa and New Zealand. The result: I came away with a renewed sense of awe for the natural beauty that Australia offers as well as its residents’ infectious warmth and enthusiasm. For people who like to travel to see the “works of god” i.e. wilderness and wildlife (versus the “works of man” i.e. museums and ruins), Australia is a must-visit.
Note: Even in Australia’s luxury lodges, you are not guaranteed a bathtub. With sustained periods of drought, the country’s residents have incorporated water conservation into their lifestyle. In fact, not so long ago, during a severe drought, the government gave out timers for people to use in their showers—at least you won’t find those in the luxury properties.
Coming soon: Read about a wonderful eco resort on the southernmost reef: Capella Lodge on Lord Howe
Coming soon: A review of Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island
Read about Wolgan Valley, a luxury retreat in the Blue Mountains
Read about Pretty Beach House, one of the smallest five-star properties in the world
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