CREA­TURE COM­FORTS

Con­tribut­ing ed­i­tor Chris­tine McCabe presents fi­nal­ists in three more cat­e­gories in TheAus­tralian’s 2007 Travel & Tourism Awards

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Tourism Awards -

ABEST HOSTED AC­COM­MO­DA­TION

Bur­rawang West Sta­tion, cen­tral NSW:

The ul­ti­mate Aussie dude ranch, Bur­rawang sprawls across 4000ha of big-sky Lach­lan River coun­try be­tween Parkes and Con­dobolin and of­fers guests the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence a work­ing cat­tle sta­tion in style. Life re­volves around the hand­somely ap­pointed home­stead where for­mal din­ners fea­ture pro­duce grown on the farm. Ca­sual meals are taken pool­side or un­der the river gums. Guests are ac­com­mo­dated in 12 suites lo­cated within four lux­ury lodges and spend a stay here bird watch­ing, ex­plor­ing on quad bike or spin­ning yarns around the camp­fire.

www.bur­rawang­west.com.au

BKim­ber­leyCoastal Camp, West­ern Aus­tralia:

CKim­sBeach Hideaway, Toowoon Bay, NSW:

A cen­tury in the mak­ing, this renowned NSW cen­tral coast hideaway com­bines the best of the old and new worlds. From the groan­ing buf­fet ta­ble (with meals sounded by a ship’s bell) to the lux­u­ri­ous guest vil­las, some with private pools, Kims has kept pace with the times with­out sac­ri­fic­ing its dis­arm­ingly old-fash­ioned sense of hos­pi­tal­ity. Tucked amid lush gar­dens be­side a sweep of beach and bay, it feels a mil­lion miles from any­where yet Syd­ney lies barely more than an hour away. This com­bi­na­tion of im­pec­ca­ble ser­vice and dress-cir­cle lo­cale has been lur­ing reg­u­lars for decades.

www.kims.com.au

DNorthBun­daleer, Jamestown, South Aus­tralia:

Lo­cated 30 min­utes north of the Clare Val­ley amid rolling hills, this hand­some, listed home­stead, res­cued from decades of ne­glect and painstak­ingly re­stored by Mar­i­anne and Mal­colm Booth, con­tin­ues to gar­ner rave re­views from in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors as­ton­ished to find such an oa­sis in the mid­dle of nowhere. Bun­daleer com­bines the grandeur of yes­ter­year (think gen­tle­man’s li­brary and ball­room) with a re­laxed friend­li­ness that sees guests con­gre­gat­ing by the Aga stove for a cuppa. The four lux­u­ri­ous gue­strooms are im­pec­ca­bly ap­pointed, right down to the in­no­va­tive en­suites that in­clude a con­verted con­ser­va­tory.

www.north­bun­daleer.com.au

EPep­per­sPerched on a small penin­sula over­look­ing the Ti­mor Sea and ac­ces­si­ble only by he­li­copter, this sim­ple but stylish re­treat may be an­glers’ heaven but it is equally suited for those wish­ing to ex­plore by boat and on foot (there are no roads) the re­gion’s abun­dant wildlife and strik­ing rock art. Guest gaze­bos of­fer sea views; the com­mu­nal Shed, with a raked ceil­ing, is the place to com­pare fish­ing notes while tuck­ing into fan­tas­tic meals har­vested from sur­round­ing wa­ters: bar­ra­mundi, oys­ters and mud crab. Bud­ding David At­ten­bor­oughs will be in sev­enth heaven as they en­counter croc­o­diles, tur­tles, din­goes and cheeky quolls.

www.kim­ber­l­ey­coastal­camp.com.au

Cal­stock, Delo­raine, Tas­ma­nia:

Once home to 19th-cen­tury Melbourne Cup cham­pi­ons, the charm­ing 1837-built Cal­stock, 45 min­utes from Launce­s­ton, is to­day an up-mar­ket guest­house in­ter­na­tion­ally known for its stand­out cui­sine and re­fined in­te­ri­ors. This hand­some Ge­or­gian home­stead fea­tures seven in­di­vid­u­ally dec­o­rated rooms and two suites in French coun­try style. Chef Daniel Tourancheau con­tin­ues the Gal­lic theme with sea­sonal menus built around lo­cally avail­able pro­duce served in a charm­ing restau­rant over­look­ing the gar­den. Cook­ing classes are a pop­u­lar op­tional ex­tra.

www.pep­pers.com.au/cal­stock

Park Coun­try House, Clare Val­ley, South Aus­tralia:

More than two decades ago, David Hay and Michael Speers trans­formed a near derelict 1850s home­stead into one of Aus­tralia’s best-loved coun­try house ho­tels. Thorn Park is still the rural get­away of choice for bon vi­vants. Hay is an ex­cep­tional chef and runs cook­ing classes; there’s a con­vivial break­fast ta­ble and cosy gue­strooms (cater­ing to a max­i­mum of six cou­ples). The house party vibe ex­tends from open fires and well-thumbed books to long coun­try walks and the oc­ca­sional post­pran­dial opera recital.

www.thorn­park.com.au

BEST LODGE AC­COM­MO­DA­TION

Lodge, Lord Howe Is­land, NSW:

This ac­claimed is­land bolt­hole sets the stan­dard for a se­ries of up-mar­ket prop­er­ties planned by James and Hay­ley Bail­lie who will open a deluxe lodge on Kan­ga­roo Is­land next March. At Capella a lucky few guests en­joy stylish in­te­ri­ors and mes­meris­ing views of the ocean, the reef, Gower and Lidg­bird moun­tains. There are am­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­plore the stun­ningly beau­ti­ful World Her­itage-listed Lord Howe (and the world’s south­ern­most coral reef in glass-bot­tomed sea kayaks) or sim­ply re­lax back at the lodge: in the day spa, on a day bed or over din­ner in the restau­rant where knock­out sur­rounds vie with ac­claimed con­tem­po­rary cui­sine.

www.lord­howe.com

BPep­per­sCa­sua­r­ina Lodge, By­ron hin­ter­land, NSW:

Tucked away in the lux­u­ri­ant By­ron Bay hin­ter­land, this charm­ing re­treat, fea­tur­ing up-mar­ket tim­ber cab­ins perched above the for­est, of­fers the best of both worlds: off-the-map pri­vacy but with ready ac­cess to the re­gion’s fa­mous beaches. Lodge life is laid-back, with rain­for­est walks, a ther­a­peu­tic mas­sage or pic­nick­ing by the creek all on the agenda. The Wil­son’s By the Creek restau­rant fea­tures dis­arm­ing views and mod­ern Mediter­ranean cui­sine cour­tesy of Ital­ian chef Dario Milano.

www.pep­pers.com.au/ca­sua­r­ina

CPep­per­sSeven Spirit Bay, Arn­hem Land, North­ern Ter­ri­tory:

Re­cruited to the rapidly ex­pand­ing Pep­pers port­fo­lio a year ago, this pi­o­neer­ing eco lodge, set amid trop­i­cal for­est me­tres from the beach on the re­mote Cobourg Penin­sula in Arn­hem Land, was one of the first ven­tures of its kind in the coun­try. Ac­com­mo­da­tion takes the form of habi­tats sit­ting lightly amid the wood­land, with floor to ceil­ing lou­vres mak­ing the most of sea breezes and bush views. Many vis­i­tors come sim­ply for world-class sport fish­ing but na­ture lovers are well served, too, with guided walks, cruises, sa­faris and bird watch­ing.

www.sev­en­spir­it­bay.com

DPep­per­sSpicers Peak Lodge, Scenic Rim, Queens­land:

Perched moun­tain­top in south­east Queens­land’s World Her­itage­listed Main Range Na­tional Park, Spicers

ETheLodge at Tar­raleah, Tas­ma­nia:

Over­look­ing the Tas­ma­nian wilder­ness two hours from Ho­bart, this con­tem­po­rary lodge, set within the shell of an el­e­gant 1930s art deco build­ing, is an­glers’ heaven. A 2007 Con­deNastTrav­eler Hot List con­tender, Tar­raleah of­fers ac­cess to some of the finest trout fish­ing in the world (across 30 lakes and six moun­tain streams). Lux­ury gue­strooms fea­tur­ing be­spoke beds; four-course din­ners (in­cluded in the tar­iff), a monumental wine list and more than 120 malts are com­ple­mented by a broad ar­ray of out­door ac­tiv­i­ties. Kayak­ing, golf­ing and guided walks are all on the agenda. Or sim­ply lounge in the clifftop hot tub.

www.tar­raleahlodge.com

FVoy­agesFThornACapel­laPeak Lodge fea­tures just 10 suites and won­der­ful views of an as­ton­ish­ingly beau­ti­ful land­scape. Ly­ing at the end of sev­eral kilo­me­tres of un­sealed road (four-wheel-drive trans­fers are avail­able) but only 90 min­utes from Bris­bane, Spicers is built in tra­di­tional moun­tain lodge style with high ceil­ings, tim­ber trim and open fires. Din­ner is a leisurely af­fair fea­tur­ing five or seven-course de­gus­ta­tion menus. Bush­walk­ing, moun­tain bik­ing, ten­nis or a dip in the pool fol­lowed by a mas­sage are the or­der of the day.

www.pep­pers.com.au/spicers

Wrotham Park Lodge, north Queens­land:

Sprawl­ing across 600,000 ha of re­mote sa­vanna coun­try, 300km west of Cairns, Wrotham prom­ises ur­ban­ites a slice of out­back liv­ing mi­nus the dis­com­fort. Guests are housed in 10 con­tem­po­rary Pike Withers­de­signed quar­ters perched above the dra­matic ochre-hued cliffs of the Mitchell River. With tim­ber decks, shady ve­ran­das and comfy day beds, th­ese post­mod­ern farm build­ings are more sug­ges­tive of siesta than smoko. The main home­stead, with el­e­vated swim­ming pool, feels like a private club. Ev­ery evening be­gins with sun­set canapes fol­lowed by a four­course sit-down din­ner or gourmet bar­be­cue.

www.wrotham­park.com.au

BEST FAM­ILY FO­CUSED TOURISM

Zoo, Monarto, South Aus­tralia:

AMonar­toAn easy 45 min­utes from Ade­laide, this pi­o­neer­ing open range zoo, set on the scrubby plains bor­der­ing South Aus­tralia’s Mur­ray­lands, plays a sig­nif­i­cant role in in­ter­na­tional breed­ing pro­grams and fea­tures Aus­tralia’s only drive-through chee­tah habi­tat and the coun­try’s largest herd of gi­raffes. From white rhi­nos to Mon­go­lian wild horses and one of the world’s largest zoo packs of the crit­i­cally en­dan­gered African painted dog, Monarto is home to some of the most threat­ened species. Join an ex­cit­ing be­hind-the-scenes tour to feed li­ons, pat cheetahs or work as a zookeeper for the day.

www.monar­tozp.com.au

BPhillipIs­land Na­ture Park, Vic­to­ria:

Phillip Is­land’s nightly pa­rade of lit­tle pen­guins is an Aussie hol­i­day favourite and ranks as the coun­try’s most pop­u­lar wildlife at­trac­tion. With a so­phis­ti­cated in­ter­pre­ta­tive cen­tre and ranger-guided tours, the Pen­guin Pa­rade is also home to a world-lead­ing re­search fa­cil­ity. The is­land’s new­est draw­card, lo­cated on Nob­bies cliffs, fea­tures state-of-the-art fa­cil­i­ties for view­ing one of Aus­tralia’s largest fur seal colonies, with cam­eras beam­ing back footage from above and be­low wa­ter. The mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar Nob­bies Cen­tre rounds out Vic­to­ria’s lead­ing eco­tourism at­trac­tion, which also in­cludes the pop­u­lar Koala Con­ser­va­tion Cen­tre and Churchill Is­land his­toric farm.

www.pen­guins.org.au

CS­paceWalker,Gold Coast, Queens­land:

Space­Walker, which closed ear­lier this year, has been nom­i­nated in recog­ni­tion of its con­tri­bu­tion to the Gold Coast tourism in­dus­try and its pop­u­lar­ity among read­ers of TheAus­tralian . Vis­i­tors found it one of the most in­no­va­tive fam­ily at­trac­tions in the coun­try, de­ploy­ing a range of clever, spe­cial ef­fects-laden tech­niques to take chil­dren on a jour­ney to the end of the uni­verse. Few at­trac­tions have com­bined such an en­ter­tain­ing approach to what was es­sen­tially an ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence.

DSyd­neyCel­e­brat­ing its first birth­day, this ex­cit­ing at­trac­tion en­ables chil­dren to ex­pe­ri­ence down un­der’s var­ied wildlife in the ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment of Syd­ney’s Dar­ling Har­bour. With three floors of ex­hibits (and about 1km of walk­way space), Wildlife World in­cludes a range of habi­tats, from the two-storey Flight Canyon, with its colour­ful pop­u­la­tion of lori­keets and par­rots, to semi­arid grass­lands, both re­cently ex­panded to be­come walk-through at­trac­tions. The noc­tur­nal and but­ter­fly houses are a hit but at the koala sanc­tu­ary guests can pat the cud­dly mar­su­pi­als. Daily bird and rep­tile shows add to the fun.

www.syd­ney­wildlife­world.com.au

Wildlife World:

EWarn­erBros Movie World, Gold Coast, Queens­land:

This highly pop­u­lar theme park con­tin­ues to en­chant young (and not so young) vis­i­tors with a spe­cial brand of movie magic. From the hi­lar­i­ous Po­lice Academy Stunt Show to the new Shrek stage pro­duc­tion, there’s ac­tion aplenty. Rides cater for all ages, from the re­vamped and ex­panded Looney Tunes Vil­lage for tots (re­launched this month as the Kids WB! Fun Zone!) to the $13 mil­lion Scooby Doo Spooky in­door roller­coaster and the new Batwing Spaceshot, a 4.5-G launch up a 60m tower. Par­ents can catch their breath at Rick’s Cafe Amer­i­cain or grab Make My Day na­chos at the Dirty Harry Bar.

www.movieworld.com.au

FWer­ribeeOpen Range Zoo, Vic­to­ria:

Wer­ribee Open Range Zoo pro­vides chil­dren with a first-hand glimpse of the dark con­ti­nent only 30 min­utes from Melbourne. Clever land­scap­ing fea­tur­ing tow­er­ing reeds and grasses, hid­den paths and scary sound­scapes make vis­i­tors feel they’re in deep­est Africa. Ob­serve li­ons feed­ing in a nat­u­ral set­ting or get up close and per­sonal with hip­pos in their spe­cial river habi­tat. Best of all, fam­i­lies can sleep over in a spe­cially con­structed camp perched above the wildlif­erich sa­vanna. Bunk down in stylish tents, then tuck into din­ner around the camp­fire while ze­bras, rhi­nos and gi­raffes graze nearby.

www.zoo.org.au Next week: Best Eco/Wilder­ness Ex­pe­ri­ence, Best Ad­ven­ture Tour Op­er­a­tor, Best In­dige­nous Tourism Ex­pe­ri­ence

Wild and won­der­ful: Clock­wise from top left, Monarto Zoo; Seven Spirit Bay; slum­ber sa­fari tents at Wer­ribee Open Range Zoo; Kim­ber­ley Coastal Camp; Spicers Peak Lodge; Pep­pers Cal­stock

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