If thinking about countryside accommodation has you picturing faded hotel signs and blinds that haven’t been cleaned since the 70s.. time to think again. Regional Australia has grown up, and right under our noses!
Pretty sneaky if you tell us.
So how do you go about finding these secret stays?
Look no further - we’ve done the hard work for you and collected the new wave of modern stays into eight groups: 8 epic ways that ensure you find trendy places anywhere you go. Goodbye tired hotels, hello uber stylish.
Our pick: Nightfall Camp, QLD (from $795 AUD / night)
If the word 'camping' causes you to break out into a cold sweat whenever your outdoorsy friend mentions it, this might be the solution for you. Test the waters (and your nature-threshold) by going glamping. Think of it as any other stay, except the walls are flimsy and you use a zip to get in. The floor is raised and the bed is too, so you're safely protected from (most) creepy crawlers. And the bathroom? It's right there in your private tent - complete with flushing toilet!
Book a facial that comes to you, or a romantic dinner set up by the creek. Your fridge comes packed with gourmet organic treats. For the more adventurous, there's a pretty advanced hike nearby, or simply ask the guides to match a walk to your preferred level. Some might say it's even better service than a traditional hotel. You be the judge.
Our pick: Riparide, VIC & NSW (from $85 AUD / night)
What happens when you bring a bunch of creative photographers together with owners of quirky accommodation stays? An epic collection of story-led adventures and an Australian-specific platform that could rival that of the quickly-becoming-too-mainstream options (*cough* Airbnb).
If your friends are hassling you for a group getaway and you want to show them something that will really blow their socks off — have a look at Riparide. As their tagline says, you’ll likely end up with a ‘soul-filling escape’. Most stays are located out of the city and work with rather than against, their surrounding natural environment. Eco cabins, rustic cottages, treehouses, chalets. You’ll be spoilt for choice — get in quick!
Our pick: Shacky, VIC (from $199 AUD / night)
Has a cluttered mind slowly led to a cluttered house? Hit reset with a tiny house getaway. Not only will you get totally off-grid and amongst nature — but you’ll also be forced to make peace with minimalism. (That, or face a pretty cramped couple of nights!)
With three locations around Victoria, Shacky will have you either (1) staying in an olive grove to wander with the alpacas; (2) bushwalking in the Yarra Valley while fending away any ghouls (or the dreaded sniffles) with organic garlic crops; or (3) stargazing beneath ancient trees to the backdrop of a mountain range. Whatever you choose, it’s gotta be better than scraping last week’s pasta sauce off the bathroom rug. Now how did that even get there..
Tiny house escapes are definitely the new trend in hideaways. Other notable options are Unyoked (NSW, VIC, QLD) and Tiny Away (NSW, VIC - see our Q&A with founder Adrian).
Our pick: Bubbletent Australia, NSW (from $610 AUD / night)
If you've ever fantasised about sleeping under the stars, but been too afraid of falling asleep without the safety of walls around you - this one's for you. It may only offer one continuous (and bouncy) wall, but that means practically 360-degree unobstructed views of your surroundings. The Capertree Valley provides a picturesque setting and is also Australia's biggest canyon. Not only can you say you've slept under stars, but you may also sleep above diamonds - some have been found by gem prospectors in the abandoned mines.
In terms of comfort, you'll be fine. Featuring an attached toilet, stove and cheese platter if requested (plus we spied a hot tub for one tent!) you'll have most things. Just bring your own drinking water and any other food or drink. With the three tents on offer named after star signs, the only question will be: are you channelling Leo, Virgo or Cancer?
Our pick: Top End Safari Camp, NT (from $495 AUD / night)
Australia really does have it all. Including spots where you can fill your days with the thrill of dangerous animal sightings, then rest your head in a luxurious tent. Hop on an airboat in the morning to whisk by crocodiles and into the rainforest. Then take to the air on a scenic helicopter ride. As the sun dips below the horizon of the floodplains, soak it all up at the Sky Deck - then it's back to your private spot for stargazing by the fire.
All experiences have been designed by Matt Wright, an Outback lover 'raised on the rugged Australian plains'. Wondering whether you're in safe hands? No fear, watch him at work in National Geographic's Outback Wrangler.
Our pick: Coldwater Cabin, TAS (from $170 AUD / night)
Like stepping into a scene from your own 1800s countryside story, Coldwater Cabin lies in the heart of Tasmania's Central Highlands and by The Great Lake. Curl up by the window-set ledge of the royal green reading room. Or perhaps on the balcony by the firepit, watching the sun dip below the horizon of a light-speckled lake. With the right timing, your visit could also mean snow. True magic.
There are heaps of indie boutique cabins in Australia (especially in Tasmania, also see Whale Song Shack), terms like 'cabin' and 'secluded' will help you on your search - and don't forget to ask the locals!
Our pick: Bullo River Station, NT (from $1,200 AUD / night)
Don't let the picture fool you, what looks like a resort oasis is actually part of a working cattle station. Live out your farm life dreams and get a taste for what life out here is really like. Or just relax - it's up to you. One thing is certain, this can be a pretty active experience! For part of your stay you can actually help out on the station. Choose an exhilarating day filled with dust and sweat, or swap that out for a relaxing cruise up the river or helicopter tour.
Not a fan of organised activities? Then just take a walk and you'll stumble on ancient rock art from the region's Miriuwung-Gajerrong ancestors. The station offers comfortable rooms and tasty meals - grab a picnic of fresh food to have down by the river, then chomp on barramundi and prime beef by the fire over dinner. Though if the location is just a bit too remote for now, also check out Kimo Estate in NSW. Lots of options across Australia to catch some farm life.
Our pick: Love Cabins, NSW (from $390 AUD / night)
Channel your inner Tarzan or Jane and take to the trees only an hour or so drive out of Sydney. There's a treehouse, enchanted cave, love studio... But don't worry, this isn't just a retreat for loved up couples. If anything - it gives off a Lord of the Rings, Hobbit-in-the-Shire vibe. Walk across the sloping ramp into a sizeable hideaway with patchwork quilting and wooden skirting. Curved ceilings and walls add to the cave feel, but with floor to ceiling windows this is nowhere near dark and dingy.
Not a big fan of heights? There's also a cabin option planted more firmly on the ground, as well as a teepee (well, more glamping-like) style stay. Regardless, most come with spectacular views from your windows, cosy fireplaces and a spa to relax in. One you've gotten a taste of the peace and quiet of bush life, you may start to wonder if a more permanent move to the mountains really should be something worth considering.
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