GLAMP AMONG THE GRAPES

Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - TRAVEL NEWS - SU­SAN BUGG

Many of us who love the idea of sleep­ing in the great out­doors but refuse to pitch a tent or haul a camper trailer have been se­duced by glamp­ing. They might be made of can­vas but when they come with the com­fort of real beds and bath­rooms, floor rugs, and even lux­u­ries such as hot tubs, tent is too ba­sic a word to de­scribe the plush, of­ten uniquely de­signed ac­com­mo­da­tion on these sites. They’ve popped up from the beaches to bush in the past few years, a trend that shows no sign of slow­ing.

Two of the new­est deluxe sleep­outs are in vine­yards. Bal­go­wnie Es­tate Bendigo, in Cen­tral Vic­to­ria, has just launched 15 lux­ury tents with queen-size beds and decks from which to sur­vey the sur­round­ing vines or watch the sun set with a glass of wine. The win­ery’s restau­rant is open for meals. Prices per tent start from $205 a night. Next month, the win­ery is also launch­ing suites in the on-site homestead.

In Queens­land, Sir­romet Win­ery south­east of Bris­bane is set to open an 18-tent glamp­ing site in May. Sanc­tu­ary by Sir­romet’s air­con­di­tioned, sa­fari-style tents will have pri­vate bal­conies float­ing above the land­scape, cre­at­ing a “tree­house” ef­fect. There will be 15 cou­ples’ tents, two for fam­i­lies and one bri­dal suite, with rates from $280 to $480 a night (min­i­mum two-night stay). The sites are the first stage of the Sanc­tu­ary de­vel­op­ment with ap­proval for 55 in to­tal. On com­ple­tion, Sir­romet will have in­vested more than $10 mil­lion into the new tourism in­fra­struc­ture. BALGOWNIEESTATE.COM.AU, SIR­ROMET.COM

SWIM WITH WHALES

Ma­jes­tic Whale En­coun­ters, known for hump­back swim­ming hol­i­days in Tonga, is launch­ing its first Queens­land ad­ven­ture next year, this one with dwarf minke whales on the Great Bar­rier Reef. The June 2019 launch is timed to co­in­cide with dwarf minke whales’ an­nual mi­gra­tion to Rib­bon Reef north of Cairns, where guests, ac­com­pa­nied by a marine bi­ol­o­gist, can swim with the whales. The 10-night deal in­cludes a seven-night cruise and three nights at Silky Oaks Lodge in the Daintree, plus a trip to Daintree Rain­for­est and Cape Tribu­la­tion. Prices start from $7588 twin share. MAJESTICWHALEENCOUNTERS.COM.AU

SWEETER FOR SIN­GLES

An in­ter­na­tional ho­tel group, which in­cludes Syd­ney’s Tank Stream Ho­tel, has set up new ser­vices de­signed to help solo trav­ellers reach their dream des­ti­na­tions in com­fort and se­cu­rity. The pro­gram from the St Giles ho­tel group – which has ho­tels in Lon­don, New York and Malaysia – in­cludes a mi­crosite high­light­ing “solo-friendly” restau­rants, bars, en­ter­tain­ment and tours; spe­cial pack­ages, a ded­i­cated concierge and wel­come pack.

It’s good news given that when launch­ing its new Solo Travel Hand­book last month, travel pub­lisher Lonely Planet said many lone trav­ellers’ needs weren’t be­ing met by the travel and hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try de­spite ev­i­dence that more peo­ple were choos­ing to hol­i­day by them­selves. Crit­i­cisms ranged from the charg­ing of ex­pen­sive sin­gle sup­ple­ments and lack of choice in or­gan­ised ex­cur­sions, to be­ing seated in the worst spot in restau­rants. Lonely Planet said the pro­file of the lone trav­eller, rather than be­ing a young back­packer, had changed sub­stan­tially in the past few years, cross­ing age groups, back­grounds and gen­der.

For solo trav­ellers who want lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port and the com­fort of com­pany, ad­ven­ture tour com­pany In­trepid Travel has spe­cific trips on its 2018 ros­ter. Des­ti­na­tions are as far flung as Peru or In­dia, and as close as Bali. In­trepid re­gional di­rec­tor Brett Mitchell says solo travel is pop­u­lar right now and a great way to con­nect with your­self and a des­ti­na­tion.

WOMEN’S CY­CLING

Bi­cy­cles and tourism go to­gether, es­pe­cially on the alpine peaks and roads of pedal-pop­u­lar north­east Vic­to­ria. The re­gion now has another des­ti­na­tion cy­cling event, the first High Coun­try Women’s Cy­cling Fes­ti­val from April 20-22, a Bright­based fes­ti­val de­signed to in­volve more fe­males in cy­cle tourism. The fea­ture event is the 72km Buf­falo Women’s Ride on April 21. HCWCF.COM.AU

STARRY NIGHTS

As­tro-tourism is a grow­ing trend, whether it’s chas­ing so­lar eclipses or pho­tograph­ing the North­ern or South­ern lights. The lat­est des­ti­na­tion want­ing to high­light the clar­ity of its night skies to trav­el­ling as­tron­omy en­thu­si­asts is Pit­cairn Is­land. Known as the home of the Bounty mu­ti­neers and their de­scen­dants, the re­mote Pa­cific Is­land, 500km from its near­est pop­u­lated neigh­bour, has launched a cam­paign to be recog­nised by the In­ter­na­tional Dark-Sky As­so­ci­a­tion as a Dark Sky Sanc­tu­ary. The hon­our, granted to con­serve sites with ex­cep­tional or dis­tin­guished starry nights, has only been granted to three lo­ca­tions so far: Great Bar­rier Is­land in New Zealand, and re­mote sites in New Mex­ico and Chile.

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