Australia's top lodges and resorts
Photography: Courtesy Southern Ocean Lodge
Australia's world-renowned resorts, lodges and breathtaking beach properties set the benchmark for premium accommodation. The lavish desert camp Longitude 131° (Yulara Drive, Yulara, NT, longitude131.com.au) upped the ante this year when it unveiled balconies on its 15 tented suites, all the better to capture evocative Uluru views. After a nightcap by the outdoor fireplace, guests can sleep under canvas in a signature Baillie Bed or under the stars in a swank swag.
Baillie Lodges also runs the exceptional Southern Ocean Lodge (Hanson Bay Road, Kingscote, SA, southernoceanlodge.com.au), a 21-room clifftop resort with spectacular views across Kangaroo Island and the wild Southern Ocean, and an abundant supply of unique animals on the doorstep.
The old Club Med site in northern NSW has had a stylish reincarnation as Elements of Byron (144 Bayshore Drive, Byron Bay, NSW, elementsofbyron.com.au), a 103-villa property on a 20-hectare site that unites coast, wetlands and rainforest. The one- and two-bedroom configurations combine relaxed beach styling - tie-dyed headboards, driftwood shelving - with iPad-controlled interiors. Downtown Byron Bay is a two-kilometre stroll along the beach .
Closer to Sydney, on the far side of the Blue Mountains, Emirates One & Only Wolgan Valley (2600 Wolgan Road, Wolgan Valley, NSW, oneandonlyresorts.com) offers an authentic encounter with the Australian wilderness from the pampered comfort of 40 luxury cottages.
Across the border in the Sunshine State, Qualia (Hamilton Island, Mackay, QLD, qualia.com.au) and One & Only Hayman Island (Raintree Avenue, Hayman Island, QLD, hayman.oneandonlyresorts.com) continue to create unforgettable Queensland experiences. At Qualia, the combination of Hamilton Island isolation, rainforest-fringed pavilions above the Coral Sea and innovative cuisine by executive chef Craig Knudsen is an irresistible offer . Across the waters at Hayman, an $80 million renovation has given the veteran Whitsundays resort a new lease of life.
Lizard Island's (Lizard Island, Cairns, QLD, lizardisland.com.au) pole position in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef means guests at its 40 refurbished suites can tumble out of bed and straight onto this World Heritage-listed wonder. The giant clam gardens at Watsons Bay have to be seen to be believed .
Indigenous lore comes to the fore at the 18-room Cicada Lodge (Gorge Road, Katherine, NT, cicadalodge.com.au) in Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge in the Northern Territory. The traditional owners share their 40,000-year-old rock art with guests and interpret the gorge's waterways, flora, fauna and geology.
In the beautiful south, Saffire (2352 Coles Bay Road, Coles Bay, Tas, saffire-freycinet.com.au) has views across Coles Bay to the pink granite peaks of the Hazards, just one of many high points of Tasmania's Freycinet Peninsula .