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Why Go Now: Australia

Australia has a plethora of perennial draws, including its vast outback, surfing vibe, unique fauna—from bandicoots to wombats—gorgeous harbors and beaches, not to mention the magnificent Great Barrier Reef. But there are timely reasons to visit, too. Here are six of the most compelling for going right now.

Contact Indagare for assistance planning a trip to Australia. Our specialists can match you with the hotels that are right for you, plan great meals and activities, introduce you to our favorite guides and arrange for special access.  

1. Breakout star Tasmania

Entrepreneur David Walsh bemused the art world when he poured $80 million into a showcase for his enormous collection of controversial contemporary art in the unlikely setting of Hobart, Tasmania. His Museum of Old & New Art, however, quickly confounded cynics with its success: within a year of opening, in 2011, it had pushed the island state’s annual visitor numbers past one million for the first time ever (655 Main Rd., Tasmania). Now, with the recent opening of the luxurious Macq 01 hotel, where every room evokes a different character from Tasmanian history, museum visitors have über-sleek digs in which to overnight (macq01.com.au). Other island attractions include a twenty-hole golf course at Barnbougle (429 Waterhouse Rd.); Sweet Envy, a destination for dessert lovers (341 Elizabeth St.); and the Maria Island archipelago, a national park and ecological time capsule in the Tasman Sea that active travelers can explore from a base at the luxurious Saffire Freycinet lodge, on Tasmania’s east coast (saffire-freycinet.com.au).

Related: Tasmania Today: Seven to Know

2. Global, and globally renowned, cuisine

Both molecular maestro Heston Blumenthal and Nordic cuisine champion Rene Redzepi decamped to down under while their signature restaurants in Europe were closed for renovations; Blumenthal was so smitten that he opened a permanent spot in Melbourne, Dinner (8 Whiteman St.). Aussie eateries Attica and Brae (4285 Cape Otway Rd., Birregurra, Vic) are listed among 2017’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and homegrown talents like Matt Moran—chef-owner of Chiswick, in a Sydney suburb (65 Ocean St., Woollahra)—and Giovanni Pilu, whose namesake restaurant draws a tony crowd to the surf mecca of Manly (Moore Rd., Sydney), have helped nurture Australia’s reputation as an eating mecca. Since this is the culture that introduced avocado toast to breakfast tables across the world, don’t skip breakfast.

Related: Australia Destination Report

3. Canberra, sleepy no more

Local brothers and developers Johnathan and Nectar Efkarpidis kick-started the Australian capital’s current buzz with their New Acton project, which includes the chic, eco-minded Hotel Hotel (hotel-hotel.com.au). Canberra’s coolest neighborhood is Braddon, an old industrial area that has become a down under Williamsburg, thanks to restaurants like Gus Armstrong’s Eighty Six (Corner of Eloura & Lonsadale Sts.). The city center is a nightlife hub—sample one of the more than 200 different whiskies at Hippo (1/17 Garema Pl.). No wonder the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s number crunchers recently declared this the best place in the world to live.

Related: Zimmermann: The Australian Designer Making Waves

4. The reopened, reinvigorated, Longitude 131°

Long the preferred perch for anyone aiming to explore Australia’s Uluru and Red Center, this glamping-style resort has become a manmade landmark in the desert. A major renovation added private balconies to its 15 safari-like rooms, as well as the penthouse-style Dune Pavilion suite, which has its own plunge pool and affords views of both Uluru and nearby Kata Tjuta. The onsite spa now offers treatments inspired by the traditions of the local Anangu people.

Related: Behind the Scenes with Indagare: Australia and New Zealand

5. The wineries (and truffles) of Margaret River

Since the Bordeaux-like climate of this bucolic corner of Western Australia, a short drive from Perth, first attracted vintners five decades ago, it has become major center of viticulture, the source of 25 percent of the premium wine produced in the country. Classic wineries like Leeuwin (Stevens Rd., Margaret River) and Vasse Felix (Caves Rd. & Tom Cullity Dr., Margaret River)—known for top-tier Cabernet Sauvignons, Chardonnays and a signature blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc—have been joined by newer operations, including family-run McLeod Creek (10 McLeod Creek Road Karridale). The terroir has also proved fertile ground for another industry: truffles. Sample the temperamental tubers between June and September in the town of Manjimup.

Related: Black Book Magazine: Best of Australia

6. The Jackalope, Melbourne’s new must-see hotel and winery

Think of Jackalope as Australia’s aspiring answer to Aman Resorts (indeed, both the general manager and executive chef are Aman alums). The brand’s first property is located on the Mornington Peninsula, a short drive from Melbourne (it is looking to open one in downtown Melbourne soon), on the grounds of a 27-acre working vineyard that produces superb vintages. The sumptuous, 46-room, high-design hideaway gives exceptional attention to service, intending, for example, to offer a package in which a guest’s favorite drink will be gratis whenever ordered on-property.

Contact Indagare for assistance planning a trip to Australia. Our specialists can match you with the hotels that are right for you, plan great meals and activities, introduce you to our favorite guides and arrange for special access.  

– Mark Ellwood on January 16, 2018

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