Outdoor adventures are no longer the preserve of thrill-seekers. Soft adventure offerings include fishing trips, hiking tours, golfing getaways and wildlife encounters.
Blessed with dramatic cliffs, vast outback plains and shimmering coral reefs, Australia is a playground for adventure seekers. But not
all experiences need to trigger an adrenaline rush.
A growing line-up of soft adventure trips comes with an infusion of luxury.
With more than 4,000 fish species, Australia is an angler’s paradise. Great Fishing Adventures of Australia focuses on an array of casting styles across a range of locales. Head to the Top End to reel in barramundi at Dhipirri Barra & Sportfishing Lodge in Arnhem Land. Wade into the rivers of Tasmania to cast a fly for trout at Driftwater in Meander Valley, or venture to the Great Barrier Reef in search of marlin.
Great Golf Courses of Australia offers avid golfers access to the country’s most impressive courses; they have even collaborated with Air Adventure Australia on a trip to play four of Tasmania’s leading courses in four days. The ultimate golfing getaway might be the outback Nullarbor Links course, the longest in the world, along the iconic Eyre Highway between South Australia and Western Australia.
Hiking enthusiasts will relish the Cradle Mountain Huts Walk, a six-day, five-night pilgrimage traversing ancient temperate rainforests, alpine meadows and Tasmania’s highest peak. Spot native wildlife, such as wombats and Tasmanian devils, before embarking on a spectacular boat trip across Lake St Clair. If you prefer to combine walking with tippling, Southern Crossings has a Cape to Grape experience that takes in the spectacular scenery and rolling vineyards of WA’s Margaret River region
Fauna fans would appreciate a carefully curated wildlife excursion elevated with a few creature comforts. Whether it’s swimming with sea lions in Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula, scuba-diving with whale sharks in Ningaloo or spotting magpie geese in the Top End, tour operator Alquemie can tailor-make a wildly memorable journey.
Australia is home to the world’s oldest living culture, and there’s no more inspiring way to discover it than on an Indigenous travel experience that brings the landscape to life in a deeper way.
Tours that share in Australia’s rich Indigenous history make for life-changing itineraries. Discover the unspoiled wilderness, sacred sites and magnificent rock art of Arnhemland with Davidson’s Arnhemland Safaris, a unique eco-tour and lodge experience accessed by light plane from Darwin. Small-group tours are also the specialty of Lords Kakadu & Arnhemland Safaris. The Darwin-based group, helmed by guides Sab Lord and Dean Hoath, has the blessing of local Aboriginal people to host private experiences on otherwise restricted cultural lands. Guests venture into Kakadu and Arnhem Land, stay in lodges or on bush glamping sites and visit Aboriginal communities.
Meanwhile, Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel orchestrates eco-certified diving and snorkelling safaris to the Great Barrier Reef, just off the coast of Cairns. Be accompanied by local Aboriginal guides from the region and learn about the ancient relationships between man, marine creatures and the ecosystem that have existed for tens of thousands of years. Further south, Sand Dune Adventures offers quad biking tours of Stockton Beach in the Port Stephens region outside of Sydney. Participants learn about traditional Aboriginal food and history, as well as the significance of the dunes.
Similarly, what better way to experience Tasmania’s magnificent Bay of Fires than on a three-night, four-day trek hosted by an Aboriginal guide. Wukalina Walk is an inspiring journey that will deepen your understanding of Palawa (Tasmanian Aboriginal) culture and community history, and immerse you
in the beauty of this region. Guests spend two nights in domed huts and one night in the restored lighthouse keeper’s cottage. You’ll be walking on air.
ACCESS ALL AREAS
From VIP backstage tours of leading cultural institutions to unparalleled experiences at famed vineyards, these personalised expeditions are exclusive, immersive and truly seductive.
Demand for small-group travel experiences that resonate on a greater level is on the rise. In Canberra, behind-the-scenes tours offer a new perspective on the nation’s capital. Enjoy a personalised visit to Australian Parliament House, followed by a dining experience usually reserved for visiting dignitaries. Or take a private hot-air balloon flight with an expert from the National Museum of Australia, followed by a private curator-led tour of the museum and Champagne breakfast.
Tour operator The Tailor hosts two experiences pegged to beloved Australian brands. The first is
a three-day excursion where you’re fitted with R.M. Williams boots and spirited away on a private aircraft to the Flinders Ranges and Lake Eyre to “follow in the footsteps” of the legendary founder. The other spotlights Paspaley Pearls, and includes visits to its Sydney flagship and pearl farms in Darwin for a deep dive into its lustrous wares.
Immersive food and wine tours add spice to your travels. Seppeltsfield in the Barossa Valley offers customised visits to reflect life’s memorable moments. Try vintage tawny from the year of your birth or choose five moments from your life and sample the accompanying vintages. Perhaps the most extravagant experience is Dinner with David, an opulent feast hosted by Mona founder David Walsh that extends to private jet travel, high-end accommodation in Hobart and a tour of Mons’s
on-site winery, Moorilla. It’s $50,000 per head.
Cruising around Australia on a superyacht, with every meal, stop and activity customised to your desires, is possibly the most indulgent way to discover our pristine island nation.
Island hopping on a private yacht was once reserved for the elite, but boat charters have gone mainstream. Sailing with a small group of family and friends, diving off the bow into cobalt waters, enjoying spirited onshore excursions, sunset cocktails on the deck – the enticements are endless and every detail is taken care of.
Where to cast off? Operating in the Southern Great Barrier Reef, Port Douglas, The Whitsundays and beyond, Ocean Alliance has a fleet of superyachts offering impeccable service and world-class food and wine. A typical excursion includes skipping from islands to lagoons, snorkelling, glass-bottom kayak adventures, and private tours of wildlife research facilities. Its sleek vessels can find perfect anchorages to spot manta rays, migrating whales and a plethora of flamboyant reef fish.
Angling enthusiasts with a taste for luxury are also in luck. On the Great Barrier Reef, Kekoa partners with a number of local vessels, including Spirit (its 10-metre tender was designed for fishing and diving), Beluga (equipped with a stabilisation system for smoother sailing), and Atlantic Princess (ready to catch marlin in Cairns).
With 18 cabins, marri furniture and an on-board helicopter, True North is a megayacht that offers several trips. Choose from a five-night Coral Atoll cruise, a seven-night Kimberley Snapshot, both departing Broome. Meanwhile, in Sydney, Ghost II is also available for super-luxe voyages around the harbour. The custom-built 37-metre Majesty superyacht lodges 12 guests in five staterooms decked out in jet black and metallic silver. Its garage is stocked with several water-sports toys, including a Yamaha jet-ski, 16-foot Castoldi jet tender as well as an optional 36-foot high-speed chase and support boat. The world is your Sydney rock oyster.
FLIGHTS OF FANCY
From soaring over the Kimberley and zooming above Tasmania to fly-in, fly-out tours of Western Australia, private air charters allow you to experience more of this country than you ever thought possible.
In an admirable piece of blue-sky thinking, a host of local tour operators are offering private air excursions to some of our most remote regions. Leading the way is Abercrombie & Kent, with three tailor-made journeys aboard the Citation X, the world’s zippiest private charter jet. Glide from Queensland to Western Australia, including touching down in the Kimberley and staying at Broome’s Cable Beach, from Margaret River to King Island, or discover the vibrant sights of outback Queensland. All A&K’s itineraries can be personalised to your specific requirements.
Demand for navigating the Kimberley by air is soaring. Western Australia-based operator Kimberley Air Tours recently launched a series of air safaris on a Cessna 208 Grand Caravan. Spanning four to eight days, and with a maximum of 12 passengers, they are an unforgettable way to experience the rugged region. Still on the west coast, West Aussie Adventures has designed an 11-day, fly-in, fly-out eco-tour, including visits to Monkey Mia, Ningaloo Reef, Karijini National Park and Broome. Its tours focus on sustainable lodgings, wildlife spotting and explorations of heritage-listed sights.
Flying by private charter dissolves distances. Aboard The Tailor’s six-night air expedition to South Australia, guests will experience the beauty of the Eyre Peninsula, Flinders Ranges and Barossa Valley. Spending two days in each location, you’ll criss-cross acclaimed vineyard restaurants, secluded beaches and sheep stations. On the Apple Isle, Tasmanian Air Tours coasts to wineries, distilleries and beaches in a helicopter. Its short excursions are limited to two passengers, and the trips can be customised. A heli-experience to wilderness retreat Pumphouse Point could be just the ticket.
A spate of super-luxe lodgings is coming to Australia this year. Sprinkled around the country, they span urban boltholes, island retreats and beachfront digs. There’s never been a better moment to check in.
As the latest wave of high-end hotels attests, luxury is in the eye of the beholder. Situated on Rottnest Island in WA, Samphire has sun-bleached interiors, lagoon-like pools and native landscaping. The 80-room hotel treads lightly on the protected habitat known for its quokkas. On the opposite coast, a different take on barefoot luxury is coming to the Gold Coast. Opening later this year, and taking residence in a tower inspired by quartz crystals, The Langham will offer 169 swanky suites on the beachfront in Surfers Paradise.
Meanwhile, in Melbourne, there are two new CBD destinations to explore. The first, W Melbourne, has already opened with 294 rooms, including 40 suites and the brand’s jaw-dropping “Extreme Wow Suite”. The Ritz-Carlton, situated in West Side Place, will open later this year. It will be the tallest hotel in Australia, with 263 suites and panoramic views.
Sybarites in South Australia have lately been checking into Eos by SkyCity. The Adelaide property, with 120 stylish rooms, has raised the bar on guest services with in-room mixologists, hair and make-up artists and an unpacking service. Just as Eos has transformed Adelaide’s entertainment precinct, W Sydney is set to breathe new life into Darling Harbour later this year. With 593 rooms, it will be the largest W hotel in the world.
Also arriving in late 2021 is The Tasman in Hobart. Bookings are already open for this 152-room stunner that takes shape in several heritage structures in Parliament Square, including a Georgian-style building from 1847. Local art, a whisky bar and an Italian restaurant from chef Massimo Miele complete the inviting picture.
OR TALK TO YOUR LOCAL TRAVEL AGENT