Australia's Top Five Eco-lodges
From a chic outback stay close to Sydney to an indulgent rain-forest retreat in Queensland, T+L uncovers five stunning eco-lodges across Australia. By Benjamin Law
Published on Nov 17, 2011Page : 1 2 3 4 5
Australia’s vast and varied ecosystem is one of the world’s most breathtaking. Yet it’s also temperamental and volatile: some years bring droughts, while others bring record-breaking floods. Locals are acutely aware of climate change, and the organization Eco Lodges of Australia (ecolodgesaustralia.com.au) helps band together accommodation that adheres to high standards of ethical and sustainable lodging. As a bonus, they boast a wealth of creature comforts. Here, we pick five of the best.
+ NEW SOUTH WALES | TANDARA SYDNEY
Eco-lodges are usually synonymous with remote parts of Australia, but Tandara Sydney is a mere 10-kilometer train ride away from Sydney’s CBD, Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Not that you would know it: Lane Cover River Tourist Park, where Tandara is located, is so quiet and filled with sleepy, native animal life that it feels a world away. Staying in a luxury canvas tent, guests experience the latest in “glamping” (glamorous camping), with the fun of open-air sleeping enhanced by all the mod cons of a luxury stay: sleek bathrooms, a king-size bed, a floating wooden floor, a giant flat-screen TV and even Wi-Fi. Plassey Road, North Ryde/Macquarie Park, New South Wales, Australia; +61 2 9888 9133; lcrtp.com.au/tandara-sydney; doubles from A$390.
+ SOUTH AUSTRALIA | TANONGA LUXURY ECO LODGES
Travelers seeking complete isolation should head to South Australia’s Tanonga Luxury Eco Lodges, 650 kilometers from the state capital of Adelaide, yet a mere 15-minute drive from nearby Port Lincoln airport. Each of the two private lodges offers a distinct view: the Valley provides 360-degree panoramic bushland views (perfect for sunsets), while the Ridge overlooks the waters of the Southern Ocean. In fact, Tanonga—an Aboriginal word meaning “sweet water”—is surrounded by freshwater springs that run through the property and attract local wildlife, including possums, kangaroos and rare birds such as the yellow-tailed black cockatoo, an endangered species. Each lodge comes with a well-stocked kitchen of fresh local ingredients and condiments, though order ahead and the staff can arrange packages of local beers, wines, cheeses, meats and seafood. Don’t miss Port Lincoln’s renowned lobsters, prawns and oysters. Pope Drive, near Port Lincoln, South Australia; +61 8 8684 5066; tanonga.com.au; doubles from A$207.
+ VICTORIA | THE GREAT OCEAN ECOLODGE
For travelers hoping to get up close and personal with Australia’s wildlife, The Great Ocean Ecolodge goes far beyond a petting-zoo experience. Run by the Cape Otway Centre for Conservation Ecology, the lodge encourages guests to help local researchers preserve endangered species by collecting koala DNA, assisting with habitat restoration and gathering food for injured or orphaned koalas. At the end of the day, relax with a stroll along some of the world’s most renowned coastlines, feast on gourmet Aussie fare—curries; moussakas—made with organic ingredients grown on site while watching kangaroos graze nearby, then collapse into cozy, fully solar-powered cottage-style lodgings, appointed with antiques, crisp linens and locally made herbal bath products. Lighthouse Road, Cape Otway, Apollo Bay, Victoria, Australia; +61 3 5237 9297; greatoceanecolodge.com; doubles from A$160.
+ WESTERN AUSTRALIA | KARIJINI ECO RETREAT
Because it takes up such a huge chunk of Australia’s geography, Western Australia’s Karinji National Park is home to some of the most breathtaking natural vistas in the country, including Mt. Augustus, the world’s biggest monocline (a geologic fold). Karijini Eco Retreat takes full advantage of the surrounds, offering upscale tents with ensuites that are entirely solar powered and outfitted with recycled timber flooring. Most visitors rarely spend time indoors, though. Instead they opt for exploring the abundant nature trails, canyons and water pools, where sheer cliffs and spectacular gorges descend to pristine, hidden swimming holes, barely touched by humans. Karijini National Park, off Weano Road, Western Australia; +61 8 9425 5591; karijiniecoretreat.com.au; doubles from A$269
+ QUEENSLAND | SILKY OAKS LODGE
For serious indulgence, it’s hard to beat Far North Queensland’s Silky Oaks Lodge, set within Daintree National Park. Nestled in dense, tropical rain-forest and right next to the crystal-clear Mossman River, visitors are spoilt for choice here. Whether they check into a riverside or treehouse lodge, all guests are treated with giant in-room spas baths and uninterrupted nature views. Hiking aficionados can engage with traditional Kuku Yalangi Aboriginal culture on guided trails, while those who just want to unwind can relax at Healing Waters, one of the best day spas in the region, with treatments based on Australian botanicals (clay; macadamia oil; organic flower extracts) and floor-to-ceiling views of the outside vegetation. Best of all for your conscience, Silky Oaks’ power and waste-management systems ensure the lodge’s long-term environmental impact is neutral. Finlayvale Road, Mossman, Queensland, Australia; +61 7 4098 1666; silkyoakslodge.com.au; doubles from A$389.