Eleven Luxury Domestic Travel Destinations

Discover the country’s most unique and engaging experiences — to dream (and book) now.

By Natasha Dragun 06/07/2021

Ultimate Outback Charter

At a time when distance is arguably the world’s greatest luxury, exploring the Australian outback in a private plane with just six other people could be considered the epitome of travel experiences. Abercrombie & Kent’s journey around South Australia doesn’t cut any corners—or compromise on style. Over eight days (pick between dates in August 2021 and March 2022), you’ll have the opportunity to glimpse attractions both from the air and on land en route.

Your journey begins in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park—all red peaks, gorges and valleys of striated rock. Your pilot will take you low over Wilpena Pound before landing at Rawnsley Park Station, your base for the night and gateway to the rugged Bunyeroo and Brachina gorges, providing a window through 130 million years of the Earth’s history. Onwards you’ll visit Australia’s smallest town, William Creek, population 16. And then Coober Pedy, the country’s opal capital, where your accommodation for the night takes you deep underground—cave hotel, anyone?

Certain Australian sights bear an enormity that can only be grasped from the air: Kati Thanda, or Lake Eyre, is among these. Come sunrise, you’ll continue by gliding over this spectacle to witness the area’s surreal salt flats that shimmer all the way to the horizon. Your next destination is Mt. Ive Station, where Lake Gairdner’s own glistening salt pans cut a stark contrast against the hills of red sand that surround. The scenic whiplash continues as you reach Coffin Bay on the coast, and the brilliant blues of the Southern Ocean.

Swap sky for sea and cruise out to discover how the region’s Pacific and angasi oysters are grown and harvested, with dolphins, seals and seabirds as your travelling companions. Back on shore, national parkland reveals untouched beaches and dunes, bordered by ancient sandstone cliffs that cast long shadows over the land. Between here and Port Lincoln, your only diversion is for refreshments at a winery—more of which awaits at your final destination, the seafood capital of Australia.

abercrombiekent.com.au

Torres Strait By Superyacht

Set your super yacht’s GPS for about as far north as you can travel in Australia and you’ll reach the Torres Strait Islands, one of the world’s last true wilderness frontiers and a place that steals the soul with its sheer, unadulterated beauty. Off the tip of Cape York, the archipelago of 274 islands strings across the ocean between Queensland and Papua New Guinea, fringed by the northernmost reaches of the Great Barrier Reef—minus any of the crowds you’ll find snorkelling further south.

This remoteness guarantees nature writ large, whether on powdery beaches or atop volcanic peaks on drops of land that emerge from gin-clear water. The same blissful isolation means this part of the country is not easy to explore, unless you’ve chartered the shiny De Lisle III for $165,000 a week.

The price tag provides your group of 10 unfettered access to this 42-metre super yacht, custom fitted with teak and brass, and topped with an enviable jacuzzi for scenic soaks between anchor drops. Which may well be in the middle of nowhere, to snorkel with dugongs, dolphins, sea turtles and giant marlin, totally unperturbed by your presence—because they’ve likely never seen another human before. Then cruise out to more remote haunts to find hidden curves of sand, opaline bays and tiny villages that nurture Indigenous culture and traditions dating back more than 70,000 years.

Many Torres Strait Islands are also people-free, with only 20 inhabited and just a few others permitting visitors. Thursday Island, the area’s capital, is one; sleepy today, but once a bustling hub for pearling with hundreds of ships and divers based here. This part of the country—between Australia and the rest of the world—has also played a major role in defence over the decades, and you’ll still find decaying reminders of this heritage on far-flung outposts. Like Thursday Island’s 1891 Green Hill Fort, built to protect against a potential Russian invasion. And various gun emplacements, trenches and a wrecked aircraft on Horn Island, the only place in Australia where Aboriginal and European-descended soldiers served side by side.

This sobering reminder of the tragic past somehow makes the destinations you’ll sail to even more appealing; beauty can, it seems, survive and thrive, even when tested by the most extreme of human forces.

oceanalliance.com

Exclusive Sitting At Chae

The most talked about newcomer in Melbourne dining, Chae is a six-seat Korean effort housed in an apartment in Brunswick. That’s right, an apartment—the small home of head chef Jung Eun Chae and her husband Yoora Yoon. This is intimate and elevated home cooking—impeccable in taste and unique in experience, something Australian dining is too often lacking. Book exclusive use and, with a group of friends or family, experience something you simply won’t
find elsewhere.

chae.com.au

The Dreaming’, Kinara Spa, Longitude 131

Uluru is Australia’s spiritual heart, so it’s fitting that the most upscale lodge in these parts offers spa treatments that conjure blissful, soul-salving emotions. Under the gaze of the world’s mightiest monolith, exclusive Longitude 131° features tented villas scattered among native bushland. Prepare not to leave for three hours when you book “The Dreaming”, a reviving ritual based on philosophies tens of thousands of years in the making by the region’s Anangu people. It all begins with a body mud wrap of desert salts and yellow clay, for detoxification. Then you’ll ease into a Kodo (Aboriginal rhythmic) massage, scalp invigoration and lush facial, before ending your experience with a hand-and-foot treatment. Don’t forget to inhale along the way—products are infused with native ingredients including lilly pilly, munthari berry, quandong and wild rosella.

longitude131.com.au

Exclusive Hire, Orpheus Island

The only way to reach Orpheus Island is a private helicopter transfer from Townsville, your sky-high chariot whisking you off the Queensland coast over a coral-studded sea.

As if your ride north wasn’t exclusive enough, on arrival you can have the entire retreat—all 14 luxurious rooms—to yourself and 27 of your closest friends for $25,000 a night.

In the middle of the Great Barrier Reef and set on 1,300 hectares of national parkland, the island and its only resort began life as a humble retreat in the 1950s—back then a favourite getaway among the likes of glam British actor Vivien Leigh, who came to switch off and bliss out.

Today, the design inspiration is Hamptons-chic, replete with sun-kissed rooms, suites and villas bedazzled in crisp whites, azures and emerald greens—think Robinson Crusoe meets The Ritz.
But the goal remains the same as when Leigh roamed the grounds—this is a place where you can disconnect from technology and reconnect with the nature that encompasses the resort.

First stop should be the world’s largest reef, the waters surrounding this island idyll churning with an astounding 1,100 of the Great Barrier Reef’s 1,500 species of fish, not to mention almost every single species of hard coral ever recorded. Strap on a mask and fins to swim with manta rays, sea turtles and even humpback whales during migration season (May-November). Then dry off to make the most of the resort’s on-land natural luxuries, like gourmet picnics on the sand or dinner degustations under the stars.

If bobbing about in the ocean appeals, plan an extended stay on the resort’s opulent 32-metre M.Y. Flying Fish, able to accommodate overnight jaunts around the reef in serious style. There’s space for eight on board, plus a rooftop helipad enabling guests to chopper off to remote sandbanks for sunset cocktails, or opt for beach fishing whenever the mood strikes.

orpheus.com.au

Ultimate Staycation & Seaplane To Jervis Bay

Few hotels in the world boast as enviable a location as Sydney’s Four Seasons, steps from Circular Quay and with swoon-worthy views over the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. If you can tear yourself away from the vista, a feature central to most rooms and suites, then leave the planning of your day in the begloved hands of the hotel’s concierge. Their little black book of “Extraordinary Experiences” covers everything from a private lobster lunch while cruising the harbour, to sunrise yoga atop the world’s most recognisable aforementioned bridge. Or consider the pièce de résistance: a leisurely seaplane jaunt down the New South Wales coast to Jervis Bay.

This is an outing where the journey matters just as much as the destination, your ride soaring over national parkland, crystalline coves and jagged cliffs before dropping you off on a dazzling beach—the South Coast of the state boasts some of the whitest sands in the world. Your hosts prepare lunch while you recline and spot bottlenose dolphins and (if you’re here from May through November) migrating humpback and southern right whales which regularly create a splash in the marine park just offshore from the open-air dining spot.

Soar back to the Four Seasons in time for a cocktail masterclass and degustation in the opulent two-bedroom Presidential Suite’s dining room. The hotel’s cocktail craftsman Cedric Mendoza will help you shake and stir your way through a private session, with plenty of time to sip concoctions on the balcony of the hotel’s highest floor, while dinner—a five-course degustation—is prepared. Don’t close your curtains; this is a view you will want to awaken to.

fourseasons.com

Dinner (And Tennis) With MONA’s David Walsh

Ten years ago, millionaire philanthropist David Walsh went on a wild ride to open Australia’s most talked about gallery. His Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) in Hobart lies on a peninsula just a short ride up the Derwent River from the centre of town; when you arrive, you’re greeted by a heritage 1958 Roy Grounds-designed cottage, which then channels you down
a rabbit warren of dramatic subterranean spaces crafted by local architectural firm Fender Katsalidi.

While the museum and its collection of edgy, provocative artworks, themed around sex and death, is the peninsula’s major draw, over a decade the site has evolved to now include accommodation, restaurants, a brewery and neighbouring winery. And you can get a taste for all offerings—and meet their charismatic owner—for $50,000 per person.

The Cultural Attractions of Australia “Dinner With David” offers unheard-of access to this self-proclaimed “maths nerd”. Jet into the Tasmanian capital from Melbourne or Sydney via private plane,
then sit down with Walsh in Mona’s The Source restaurant for a degustation while sipping Moorilla wines, made just a few metres from the dining room.

Sleep soundly in one of the on-site Mona Pavilions—each named after a famed Australian artist or designer—then wake leisurely to enjoy lunch in sensory-exploring dining room Faro. Afterwards, Moorilla’s vintner Conor van der Reest will guide you around the estate, offering a behind-the-scenes glimpse into winemaking in this part of the state. Don’t be surprised if Walsh then challenges you to a hit of tennis—he has a mean backhand, or so the legend goes.

culturalattractionsofaustralia.com

Opera At Uluru

Every year, Opera Australia unites song and spirituality in the heart of the country. Enter the troupe’s exclusive series of September shows at Uluru, which can be enjoyed with just a handful of other select guests, under the stars and backdropped by one of the world’s greatest natural wonders.

Choose Captain’s Choice and fly in for the gala performance on a private, all-business-class charter, sipping fine wines and savouring a gourmet lunch on board before touching down at Ayers Rock Airport beside the Northern Territory’s hulking sandstone monolith.

Your afternoon here is spent wandering through the legendary landscapes of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, with ancient rock escarpments and gorges that appear to cleave off the edge of the Earth. This is a place as inspiring as it is humbling, made even more memorable by the live music that will fill your soul as it does the landscape: such as the dramatic notes of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. You’ll be serenaded by Australia’s finest soloists, led by Opera Australia’s artistic director, Lyndon Terracini AM, in a performance outshone perhaps only by its own setting among the Field of Light.

Created by British artist Bruce Munro, this dazzling union of 50,000 spindles of light blankets the Red Centre’s soil, the stems breathing and swaying through a desert spectrum of ochre, deep violet, blue and pearl. The epic glow—on display only until the end of December—illuminates your alfresco meal, prepared using locally sourced native bush ingredients that speak of the land. When the event ends, check in to your room at Sails in the Desert hotel at Ayres Rock Resort, where rooms encircle a dreamy gumtree-lined pool, and an on-site gallery showcases Indigenous art.

captainschoice.com.au

Flinders Island By Helicopter

Tasmania is known, among other things, for wild landscapes, some of the world’s tastiest seafood and standout wines. These attractions all coalesce on a day trip with Unique Charters. Jump in your helicopter from Peppers Silo Hotel in Launceston, then zip northeast to Flinders Island, the largest of its kind in the Bass Strait’s Furneaux Group. This is a place of untamed, windswept beauty, with precipitous cliffs, empty white-sand beaches and rocky shores blanketed in fiery-hued lichen—look out for seasonal whales splashing about offshore as you near your destination.

Your hosts will be waiting with a Flinders Island Gin and tonic—your aperitif while lunch is caught and prepared for you. And what a showcase of local produce your meal is: ocean-fresh crayfish, plump oysters, juicy octopus and cheeses made on neighbouring islets. Your spread is served just steps from the sand at Killiecrankie Beach, a sweeping crescent of azure water that you will likely have entirely to yourself.

If you don’t want the day to end, extend your experience and drop in on some of Tassie’s northern vineyards for a flight or two of a more flavourful kind, before returning to your base.

uniquecharters.com.au

Day Trip To Lord Howe Island

Scenic coastal views across Lord Howe Island.

Off the coast of New South Wales, Lord Howe Island has a permanent population of just 360, and daily visitor numbers are capped at 400. And you’ll be one of the lucky few when journeying here for lunch with Crooked Compass by Air. Before touching down at the petite airport, your private charter plane will circle over record-breaking Ball’s Pyramid, a dramatic hunk of basalt that, at 562 metres high, happens to be the world’s tallest sea stack.

After wheels down on Lord itself, enjoy the morning exploring a setting so untamed and otherworldly that it’s earned a UNESCO listing for natural beauty. Its Jurassic-like landscapes of soaring sea cliffs and tangled jungle serve as the breeding ground for 14 species of seabirds, not to mention 130 permanent and migratory bird species—among them the endemic Lord Howe Island woodhen, saved from extinction by local conservation efforts. They flutter between unspoiled and empty beaches, swirl over the towering kentia palm-clad peaks of Gower and Lidgbird, and swoop low across a crystal-clear lagoon protected by the planet’s most southern barrier reef—you can take a dip here with green and hawksbill turtles, bottlenose dolphins and all manner of fish after lunch. But first, the food.

Your dining venue is Anchorage Restaurant, helmed by executive chef David Chlumsky, who earned his stripes at applauded Sydney restaurants Quay, Otto and Longrain. On Lord Howe, Chlumsky’s mod-Australian menu is produce-driven and seasonal, utilising the best of the island and its surrounds, whether organic fruit and vegetables or sustainably caught seafood.

Dust off the crumbs and decide how to spend your afternoon: gliding about the lagoon in a glass-bottom boat, snorkelling over immense coral bommies to explore shipwrecks in the company of huge schools of Moorish idols, or wandering along the sand being entertained by chattering terns and shearwaters. You’re just here for the day—your private charter plane awaits to whisk you and your entourage of seven back to the mainland in time for dinner.

crookedcompassbyair.com

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