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