Stir­rings across the coun­try

A chef who’s trained with Ray­mond Blanc and Rick Stein is in charge of the spank­ing fresh tucker

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Australia - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

DOMESTIC tourism con­tin­ues to face the chal­lenge of our high dol­lar (which surely by now we need to ac­knowl­edge as our ‘‘nor­mal’’ dol­lar) and the com­pe­ti­tion from overseas des­ti­na­tions for cashed-up Aus­tralians. But there is pos­i­tive news aplenty, with new prop­er­ties across the coun­try com­bin­ing sen­si­ble lev­els of lux­ury and a stir­ring sense of place.

Ci­cada Lodge, with 18 gue­strooms over­look­ing the Kather­ine River, has just opened in Nit­miluk Na­tional Park in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory’s Top End, and of­fers guests ‘‘tai­lor-made tour­ing pro­grams’’. The lodge is in­dige­nous-owned in a joint agree­ment be­tween the Ja­woyn peo­ple, Abo­rig­i­nals Ben­e­fit Ac­count and In­dige­nous Busi­ness Aus­tralia. It looks sat­is­fy­ingly re­mote and ar­chi­tec­turally re­mark­able. Also on your radar should be the 20-villa Berke­ley River Lodge on West­ern Aus­tralia’s Kim­ber­ley Coast, where fish­ing tours and tur­tle view­ings are on the sporty agenda and a chef who’s trained with Ray­mond Blanc and Rick Stein is in charge of the spank­ing fresh tucker.

In April, 8Ho­tels will open a 90-gue­stroom bou­tique prop­erty in a smartly re­pur­posed wool store in Syd­ney’s in­ner-city Pyr­mont, while Can­berra is the site for the oddly named Ho­tel Ho­tel, with 68 gue­strooms and 31 apart­ments aimed at ur­ban hip­sters. The new Ovolo in Mel­bourne is tar­get­ing the funky trav­eller who wants all the techno-wiz­ardry on tap, such as Ap­ple TV with heaps of chan­nels and free WiFi for un­lim­ited de­vices.

And World Ex­pe­di­tions is about to es­tab­lish semiper­ma­nent camp­sites on the Lara­p­inta Trail in the West MacDon­nell Ranges, via an ex­clu­sive deal with the tra­di­tional own­ers and the NT Na­tional Parks and Wildlife Com­mis­sion. The fa­cil­i­ties will be ‘‘stylish’’ and ‘‘spe­cially de­signed to keep oc­cu­pants com­fort­able in a cli­mate known for its tem­per­a­ture ex­tremes’’.

The struc­tures have been de­signed by Syd­ney firm Nee­son Mur­cutt Ar­chi­tects; Nick Mur­cutt died in 2011 and one of the camp­sites will be ded­i­cated to him as an em­brac­ing shel­ter in the bushy back of be­yond.

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