Just the tonic: blending health and hedonism on the Dawn Princess

Thick and rich, the mud seems to pulsate with a life of its own, like an extra from Doctor Who. Scooping a hearty handful, it’s just begging to be slapped on your face.

Standing
in a green paddock in rural Fiji, clad only in swimmers and smothered
from ponytail to toenail in the green-grey goop that smells like cattle
dip, it’s not what I had in mind when I signed up for a seaward jaunt on
board Australia’s best-loved ship, the Dawn Princess. Don’t get me
wrong: it’s great fun, just greatly unexpected.

To read more about life on the good ship Dawn Princess, click here.

 This story was published in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper’s Traveller section. 

Ferry trip to northern Tasmania: The spirit of Tasmania

The Nut at Stanley, Tasmania
The
little french bulldog rolls its great eyes, a young german shepherd starts to
howl, the ship shakes free of its moorings, and we’re off.  If you thought
you had to get to the Mediterranean to go sailing, you’ve forgotten about our
own modest sea crossing, from Melbourne to Tasmania. 
Sure, you
can fly to Tassie – it’s just two hours from Sydney and but an hour from
Melbourne to Launceston. But the luxury of time and the convenience of driving
your own car obviously appeals to many, for tonight’s sailing on the Spirit of
Tasmania is a busy one. There holidaymakers with their fur families (hence all
the hounds in the hold), caravanners with kids’ car seats and those who, like
us, have a few empty eskies  waiting to be filled with Tassie’s spectacular
produce.
We set
sail on the Spirit just in time for dinner, and already the message is clear:
you’ll never starve on this island. The ship’s yet to clear Melbourne’s Port
Phillip Bay and already our dining table in the ship’s Leatherwood restaurant
is laden with smoked quail, brandied chicken pate, ocean trout all from the
island state – and that’s just entrees. The exploration of Tasmania’s 60-plus
vineyards also starts here, with a handy list of cellar doors and wines
including Ghost Rock’s hard-to-get, sparkling wine, the Catherine, and a cheery
MacForbes Riesling, both from northern Tasmania. 
Our gang
of three shares a four-berth cabin: it’s compact and comfortable with two sets
of bunk beds, and the ship rocks gently across the Bass Strait to arrive in
Devonport just on sunrise. The information booth hands out leaflets on the best
breakfast cafes open at this ungodly hour, and the recommendation is for
Anvers’ Chocolate Factory, in nearby LaTrobe (anvers-chocolate.com.au).
Bingo.
The plan
is to drive from east to west along the north coast in just a few days, seeking
out its hamlets and beauty spots, avoiding the (relatively) big smoke of
Launceston, the Bass Strait keeping us company all the way. 
I have
already drawn up a shopping list for our three-day getaway, and it’s
embarrassingly food-oriented: raspberry jam from Christmas Hills in Elizabeth
Town (raspberryfarmcafe.com),
Hellyers’ single malt whiskey in Burnie (hellyersroaddistillery.com.au),
Tasmanian wagyu pies in Devonport (wagyupiecompany.com). There are scallop pies to
be devoured, wine and cider to be drunk, berry ice-cream to be licked. Lucky
I’m also sailing home: the airlines surely would charge me excess baggage on
the return journey.
A word on
driving in Tassie:  a hundred kilometres will not take an hour: there be
many corners, there be wild animals on the road, there be the cutest little
beach just right for paddling, a pick-your-own berry farm or a glorious vista
begging to jump onto your Instagram feed. 
Scallops at Lost Farm

On the
drive east of Devonport, our journey comes to a screeching halt at a crossroad
on the B82, amid  a cluster of Australia’s top sparkling producers,
including Jansz and Piper’s Brook, and we celebrate our find with a glass of
bubbles. 

Further
along, at Bridport, the diversion is a sweet little local bakery followed by a
walk through the rolling sand dunes that stretch out in front of our room for
the night at Barnbougle Dunes, whose  golf course, The Dunes, is rated
11th in the world. We snicker at road signs warning of kangaroos and golfers, and
play “what’s that funny name”  when passing Squeaking Point and
The Dazzler Range.
Driving
west of Devonport, the diversions are many and fabulous, such as the hamlet of
Turners Beach, notable for its kid-friendly beach and the welcoming La Mar
cafe, which packs together a dinner for our night’s stay in the self-catering
The Winged House. 
Further
on, at Penguin, we stop to admire a giant (concrete) penguin, penguins painted
on shop walls and the town’s rubbish bins garnished with penguin sculptures.
The actual penguins are absent, although a smiling woman at Cocoon, one of
Penguin’s brace of remarkable homewares shops, tells me she spent the morning
watching a baby whale frolic in the warm coastal waters with its mum. It’s
lunchtime so the  order is for a couple of scallop pies from the town’s
bakery and, like every other time I’ve eaten them, I’m surprised all over again
that the fat scallops are baked in a curry sauce so thick it’s almost rigid.
Not Thai or Indian or some exotic curry, but more like a super-yellow,
English-love-it Keen’s-curry-powder curry, and I just can’t help but feel a
little sad.
La Mar cafe at Turners Beach
With a
population of 20,000, it feels like we’ve hit the big smoke at Burnie, which
has more than its fair share of great finds, including the best little drive-in
boozer in the north, with rare and wonderful ciders galore, set beside the
recently renovated Ikon Hotel, with great family-sized apartments. But if you
had to make but one stop along this coast road, make it Burnie’s Maker’s
Workshop. 
The town
is packed with art deco architecture thanks to a cash injection via the
Australian Pulp and Paper Mill in 1938, yet the Makers’ Workshop is a
super-modern construct of glass and steel, built in 2009 on the waterfront. At
any time, up to five “makers” will be creating anything from
jewellery to baskets, paintings to glassware and I strike up a conversation
with a peg dolly maker and a felt maker. 
The glass-fronted cafe lets you watch
the working waterfront from a cosy perch. The tourist information centre is
comprehensive and its gift shop, selling Tasmania’s artisan wares, really is
worth saving your pennies for. While the paper mill has since closed, they’re
still making paper here – but this time, it’s from wombat poo or apple pulp and
visitors can turn their hand to making it on the frequent paper-making tours.
But  it’s not all scones and cappuccinos. There’s also a monstrous, yellow
Elphinstone underground loader in the foyer, a reminder that Burnie is also the
home to a Caterpillar factory and the former mechanic and the state’s richest
man, Dean Elphinstone. 
The Winged House, Table Cape

Table
Cape is best known for its tulip farm, but it’s out of season, and no vivid
strips of flowers to be seen. From our architecturally intriguing  home
for the night, The Winged House, the coastline disappears into the mists, first
mapped by Matthew Flinders with his surgeon friend, George Bass, in 1798. To
the west is The Nut at Stanley and further on, Robbins Island and Cape Grim,
said to have the world’s most pure air. It’s a delight to learn that the IGA
supermarket at nearby Wynyard  does what a franchise is supposed to do,
and stocks local scallops, whole Tassie salmon fillets and the famed beef from
Cape Grim.

It’s
 invigorating here on this headland, with the Roaring Forties living up to
its name. So after photographing the coastline from the island’s last working
lighthouse, we push on to Boat Harbour, which a Tassie friend tips as a
must-visit. She’s not wrong. The tiny harbour has a sunny cafe-cum-surf
life-saving club, set on a sandy beach that curves sweetly into the headland,
every one of the village’s beach shacks has commanding water views. It’s the
same story at nearby Sisters Beach, where sea-changers and retirees are
providing brisk business for the local tradies and real estate agents. 
Despite
its location on the north-west edge of Tasmania, little Stanley is terribly
chic. Sure you can hike or catch the chairlift to the top of The Nut, a rough
volcanic bluff  but it also sports a genuinely boutique hotel, @ VDL
Stanley,  upmarket fish-and-chipperies, more fabulous homewares shops and
cafes with a dash of city slickery. 
Next time,
I’m going to juggle my days better to hit the Sunday markets at Penguin and
pretty Ulverstone, I’m going back to funny little Tomahawk to pitch my tent
once again, and I’m going to finally hike in the Tarkine wilderness.
  
On the
way home, a vivid super-moon lights the ship’s decks and I score an upgrade to
a vast deluxe cabin with a double bed, right at the very front of the ship.
Instead of portholes, there are panoramic windows, just the spot to sit and
write that list for the return journey. 
TRIP
NOTES
MORE
INFORMATION
See discovertasmania.com.au.
The
Spirit of Tasmania sails from Melbourne into Devonport. Children travel free
between March 6 and September 13, book by February 28. Costs from $96 adults in
an ocean recliner, or from $258 for two adults and two children in a four-berth
cabin, one-way. See spiritoftasmania.com.au. Virgin Australia (virginaustralia.com),
Jetstar (jetstar.com)
and Qantas (qantas.com.au)
fly from Sydney and Melbourne to Launceston. Rex Airlines flies Melbourne to
Burnie (rex.com.au
STAYING
THERE
Barnbougle
Dunes in Bridport costs from $190 a night. Phone (03) 6356 0094, see barnbougledunes.com.au.
The Winged House at Table Cape costs from $360 a night,  Table Cape. See thewingedhouse.com.au.
Ikon Hotel, Burnie  costs from $170 a night. Phone (03) 6432 4566, see ikonhotel.com.au.
EATING
THERE
Create
your own foodie drive across northern Tasmania, see cradletocoasttastingtrail.com.au
or  the food review app, see tasmanianfoodguide.com.au.
WHILE
YOU’RE THERE
Makers
Workshop, Burnie, makersworkshop.com.au is a must-see. 
FIVE MORE
GREAT TASSIE DRIVES
East
Coast
Hobart to
St Helens.
Explore
some of the island’s  best national parks, including Bay of Fires and
Maria Island. Distance: 295km.
Convict
Trail:
Hobart to
Port Arthur via Richmond. Discover our picturesque, yet brutal colonial
history. Distance: 205km.
Cradle
Country:

Devonport to Cradle Mountain. Balance farmgate snacking and shopping with
world-class hiking. Distance: 226km.
Due
South:
Hobart
to Cockle Creek. Camp at Cockle Creek and take a short walk to South East Cape,
the most southerly point on the island. Distance: 148km.
Wild
West:
Burnie
to Strahan. Drive through Australia’s largest rainforest, the Tarkine
wilderness, via Waratah to the remote west coast. Distance: 180km.


The
writer was a guest of the Spirit of Tasmania, Barnbougle Dunes and the Winged
House.  
This feature by Belinda Jackson was published in the Sun-Herald’s Traveller section.

Crossing the Maldives (while also dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s’)

Photo: Belinda Jackson

Endless beautiful islands, endless sun (except for the occasional monsoon), endless luxury. Immerse in all this fabulousness, it’s easy to miss Maldivian culture when you’re holidaying on the exclusive isles in the Laccadive Sea.
So here’s a quick fact hit: the local language
of the Maldives is Dhivehi. It draws on Arabic, Urdu and Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese. The alphabet, when printed on official signs, looks as though
someone’s been too lazy to finish writing their Arabic script, and not
imaginative enough to make it decorative. To the untrained eye, it could even
resemble a series of punctuation marks.

But what words you can create with its
25-letter alphabet! We’re trying to jump from the luxury resort of
Cocoa Island by COMO, famed for its diving, to its new sister property, Maalifushi by COMO, further
south and an up-and-coming star in the surf arena. If we had a sea plane, we
could skip between the two in a matter of hours.
But we don’t. 

Instead, we take Cocoa’s boat
40 minutes up to the capital Male’s airport, where we will take a commercial
flight south to Thimarafushi, and then another boat to Maalifushi. Lost yet?

(Incidentally, the island of Male is so
small, at just 4sqm, and so densely populated, with around 200,000 people – about half the nation’s population – that the airport is on the next island,
and linked by a taxi rank of public dhonis (local boats), who charge 15 rufiyya, or US$1, to
cross the water.)
Photo: Belinda Jackson
At Male airport, we learn that Thimarafushi airport is closed because ocean swells have
engulfed the runway. “It’s a very, very low atoll,” a local tells me. “Very
good for surfing, very bad for flying.”
For a Maldivian to say something’s low, it
must be very, very low indeed. The highest point in the Maldives, incidentally,
is a towering 2.4m. The lowest official point is 1.5m. I’m tipping that point
is somewhere near Thimarafushi airport. 
So, back to language, instead of aiming for Thimarafushi,
we’re going to Kadhdhoo Kaadedhdhoo airport. Or so we think. Then we learn
we’re actually going to Kadhdhoo Kooddoo airport. 
Imagine trying to do a Maldivian crossword!

20 reasons to visit Colombo, Sri Lanka

Colombo classic: The historic Galle Face Hotel.
Colombo classic: The historic Galle Face Hotel. Photo: Getty Images

1 PETTAH
Brave the streets of Pettah to pick up everything from
fabrics and fruit to watches and wedding invitations. “It’s utter
chaos,” the locals cheerfully admit. “You can get a suit made in two
hours, though it may last only three.” The streets are crammed with
saris, electronics and ayurvedic medicines, while the fruit and
vegetable market heaves with sacks of outrageously fierce-looking
chillis.

2 GALLE FACE GREEN
 It’s easy to forget Colombo is a seaside city when you’re
stuck in a 1pm traffic snarl on the Galle Road. The best way to
reconnect with the Indian Ocean is by making like a local and
promenading on the Galle Face Green. Sundays are a big day for local
families, kite flyers and food trucks serving deep-fried snacks.

3 SRI LANKAN CRAB
Singapore’s famed chilli crabs actually come from Sri Lanka,
so go back to the heart of it all at Ministry of Crab, one of
Australian-Sri Lankan chef Peter Kuruvita’s top picks on the Colombo
dining scene. It may be the priciest place in town, but chef Dharshan
Munidasa’s cooking is worth it (ministryofcrab.com). Crab gets the Tamil
treatment on Sundays in a Jaffna-style crab curry at Yarl (56 Vaverset
Place, Wellawate, Colombo 6) or little sister Yarl Eat House (Cnr Galle
and Station roads, Wellawatte).

4 OLD DUTCH HOSPITAL
Until recently, the Old Dutch Hospital was a crumbling ruin.
Dating from 1677, it’s the oldest building in town and now its long, low
courtyards are Colombo’s new heart. It’s a one-stop shop for clothes
and gifts, spa treatments, chic dining, serious tea drinking at Heladiv
Tea Club or more relaxed pizza and steins of beer at Colombo Fort Cafe.
Come nightfall, it’s a buzzy hotbed of locals and tourists.

5 CLOTHES SHOPPING
Odel is Colombo’s fashion house of choice (5, Alexandra Pl,
Col 7) and KT Brown its designer, with ethnically inspired designs (7
Coniston Place, Col 7, ktbrownstudio.com).
For leaner budgets, Cotton Collection (143 Dharmapala Mw, Col 7) has
fab finds and nearby Kelly Felder (117 Dharmapala Mw) employs only local
designers with new stock every Tuesday. For cool beachwear, check out
the super-colourful Arugam Bay label, in Odel, Barefoot and their
showroom (32 Ward Place, Col 6), which is also home to contemporary
Buddhi Batiks. Grab a tuk-tuk and skip between ’em.

6 BAREFOOT
It’s a cafe, an art gallery, a performance space and shop.
Established 40 years ago by Sri Lankan artist, entrepreneur and
philanthropist Barbara Sansoni, its signature style is hand-woven,
hand-dyed yarns made into brightly coloured children’s toys,
free-flowing clothing and fabrics manufactured ethically by women across
the country. Also one of the best places for books on Sri Lanka (704
Galle Road, Colombo 3 and Old Dutch Hospital, barefootceylon.com).

7 BOUTIQUE HOTELS
It’s a small country and Sri Lanka has embraced the small,
boutique hotel concept. Lovers of classic interiors head to style guru
Shanth Fernando’s 10-room Tintagel (tintagelcolombo.com) while Casa Colombo is a playful (some would say over-the-top) 12-suite remake of a 200-year-old mansion (casacolombo.com). Park Street Hotel mixes minimalism and antiques (asialeisure.lk) while Lake Lodge’s 13 rooms overlook South Beira Lake (taruhotels.com). Newcomer Colombo Courtyard doesn’t have the design pedigree but it’s small and centrally located (colombocourtyard.com). Because of a government tariff, Colombo hotels aren’t cheap. They also book up quickly, so get in early.

8 AYURVEDIC SPAS
The subcontinent’s traditional ayurvedic medicine morphs into
a sublime spa experience at the Siddhalepa Ayurveda Spa (33 Wijerama
Ma, Col 7, siddhalepa.com) or Spa Ceylon, with its scents of white tuberose, red sandalwood and jasmine (Dutch Hospital, Park Street Mews, spaceylon.com).
A warning: be prepared for days of oily hair or plenty of hair washing
if you’re signing in for Shirodhara, where warm oil is continually
dripped onto your third eye (forehead).

9 ART MARKET
Support local artists with a visit to Colombo’s kala pola
(art market) on Sunday mornings, where affordable artwork is hung around
Viharamahadevi Park (Col 7). If you miss the market, Saskia Fernando
Gallery exhibits Sri Lanka’s top artists (61 Dharmapala Ma, Col 7) or
cool down at artist Harry Pieris’ serene Cinnamon Gardens mansion, the
Sapumal Foundation (34/2 Barnes Place, Col 7). Barefoot and Paradise
Road Gallery and Cafe (2 Alfred House Road, Col 11) show and sell the
country’s greats.

10 GEM & JEWELLERY SHOPPING
Sri Lanka is most famous for its blue sapphires, as worn by
the British royals. Slip in to premier gem dealer Colombo Jewellery
Stores for a quick education and check out the well-priced men’s watches
while you’re there (1 Alfred House Gardens, Col 3, also Old Dutch
Hospital, Galle Face Hotel, cjs.lk). Ridhi is a good stop for affordable silver jewellery (74 Lauries Road, Col 4, ridhi.lk).

11 SUNDOWNERS
The verandah of the Galle Face Hotel, looking over the Indian
Ocean, is the place to be seen for a sunset cocktail or dinner
aperitif. The grand dame has been swizzling sticks since 1864. Budget
alternatives include the sleepy rooftop bar of the Colombo City Hotel
beside the Dutch Hospital, or join the locals on Galle Face Green with a
bottle of pop.

12 CRICKET
Go to a cricket match. “There’s no sledging here, it’s just a
big party,” swear the locals. Catch the internationals at the R.
Premadasa Stadium. For more slap of leather on willow, pop in for lunch
and current matches or old classics on the many big screens at the
Aussie-owned Cricket Club Cafe, (34 Queens Road, Col 3, thecricketclubcafeceylon.com).

13 TEA TASTING
Taste some of the world’s finest teas at Mlesna Tea Centre
(89 Galle Road, Col 3) or the Australian favourite, Dilmah Tea Shop (5
Alexandra Pl, Col 7). If you can endure the seriously lacklustre service
in the government-owned Sri Lanka Tea Shop, you’ll find a broad range
of teas, from working-class brews to elaborately packaged gifts.

14 WALKING TOUR
Colombo local Mark Forbes takes you by the hand through the
Portuguese, Dutch and British architecture and influences on Colombo.
Pause for a cuppa, butter cake and harbour views at the Grand Oriental
Hotel, which dates from 1837, before continuing on through the Pettah
markets and into the ramshackle 180-year-old mansion that is the Dutch
Period Museum (colombocitywalks.com).

15 SHORT EATS & HOPPERS
Colombo’s short eats are a vast collection of pastries with
such fillings as curried chicken, seeni sambol (caramelised onion) and
fabulous fish rolls. Kollupitiya, in Colombo 3, is fertile hunting
ground for short eats cafes: try Perera & Sons’ modern, super-clean
branches (2 Dharmapala Mw), stalwart The Fab (474 Galle Road), Cafe on
the 5th (108 5th Lane) or Sponge, which many rate the top short eatery
in town (347 Galle Road). Hit local fave Green Cabin for hoppers, thin
pancakes made with coconut milk, designed to scoop up curry sauces (453
Galle Road). Don’t expect gushing service.

16 UNIQUE SOUVENIRS
Resist globalisation and discover unique, locally produced
artisan products: find textural elephant dung paper, ceramics at the
government-owned handicrafts shops Laksala (60 Fort St, Col 1) and
Barefoot’s signature bright woven linens. Sri Lanka’s premier homewares
store, Paradise Road, prints the curvaceous Sinhalese alphabet and
elephant motifs on to household linens in a palette of black and French
beige (213 Dharmapala Mw, Col 7). Find affordable gifts at Casa Serena
(122 Havelock Rd, Col 5) or try Lakpahana (14, Phillip Gunawardena Mw,
(Reid Ave, Col 7), Suriya (39 Layards Rd, Col 5).

17 FEEL-GOOD TOURISM
Shop for fair-trade toys, ethically produced food and craft
at the kid-friendly Good Market, every Thursday from noon-8pm (Water’s
Edge Park, Battaramulla, thegoodmarket.lk). The Warehouse Project gives
good reason to eat more cake: profits from its Wonderbar soul food and
Cakes for a Cause projects help run community programs for the local
Maradana population. Email for a tour of the watta (shanty community).
See warehouseproject.lk.

18 MULTI-FAITH VOYEURISM
Pick a religion, you’ll find an elaborate place of worship in
Colombo: the Buddhist Gangaramaya temple on Beira Lake was designed in
part by the influential architect Geoffrey Bawa. Wolvendaal Church is
the country’s oldest Protestant church, from 1749, while the red and
white striped Jami-Ul-Alfar is open for visitors except during prayer
times. For a hit of intricacy, visit a Hindu kovil: the old and new
Kathiresan Kovils in Pettah were built to appease the war gods. The
Catholic St Lucia’s Cathedral is modelled on St Peter’s Basilica in the
Vatican and the Sambodhi Chaitiya is a shining white dagoba (stupa)
raised so seafarers could see it offshore.

19 THE FORT DISTRICT
Fort is the heart of Colombo, named for the 17th-century,
Dutch-built ramparts pulled down by the Brits in 1879. Its modern face
is the glitzy World Trade Centre (where you can get a decent coffee) and
the revitalised Old Dutch Hospital. Its British Raj face is undoubtedly
the gothic pink-and-white Cargills Building on York Street, the Old
Parliament building (1930), the old GPO (1891) and the Lighthouse Clock
Tower, built two years before London’s Big Ben, in 1857, now towered
over by skyscrapers.

20 MOUNT LAVINIA
Dive into the Indian Ocean at Mount Lavinia, half an hour
north of central Colombo. The waters are far cleaner than off the Galle
Face Green and the beach is lined with seafood restaurants. For a taste
of luxury, check into the five-star British colonial Mount Lavinia Hotel
for colonial-style High Tea overlooking the ocean, from 3.30pm daily (mountlaviniahotel.com).


By Belinda Jackson, published in the Sun-Herald newspaper.

Next best things in cruising: innovations in travel design

Seabourn Sojourn’s spiral atrium.

Design is at the forefront of modern travel, with yet more innovations on the way in cruising. Here’s what’s happening on the high seas. 

Forget communal tables and allocated seating: it’s all about how you
deign to dine when you’re all at sea. Crystal Cruises is one of many
saying “no” to long buffet counters, replacing them with “food islands”
and more tables for two.

Private dining is also on the rise, with
Seabourn’s large verandahs set up to encourage private alfresco dining
while Princess Cruises’ newest ship, the Royal Princess, features a new
Chef’s Table Lumiere, sectioned off by a curtain of light around a glass
table in one of its dining rooms.

On-board spas are larger and
more glamorous, with more facilities and treatments. Expect couples
retreats, cabanas, indoor-outdoor spaces and capitalisation on those
ocean views. The Seabourn small ships’ spas top the range, coming in at
more than 1000 square metres, with thermal suites, herbal baths and walk
pools. Its four new penthouse spa suites are connected to the main spa
by a dramatic spiral staircase and come with a spa concierge, because we
all need a spa concierge.

We’ve also seen the rise of all-suite
ships, with more private verandahs – up to 95 per cent of Silversea’s
new Silver Spirit has verandahs. Adjoining staterooms and two-bedroom
penthouses are another in-demand feature, in response to the increase of
families of up to three generations taking to the seas together.

P&O’s popular Pacific Pearl and Pacific Dawn were refitted with
adjoining rooms last year: expect to see more adults-only pools, most
likely adjoining the spa, and a rise in single cabins. In fact, the
first single balcony cabins are now on the market as more solo cruisers
hit the seas, without paying a costly single supplement.

Source: Belinda Jackson

This extract was published in the Sydney Morning Herald/The Age. But wait, there’s more! Click here to read about innovation in trains, luggage, hotels and airlines.

Where Maggie Beer relaxes, Fleur Wood eats and wellness and eco escapes: Good Weekend

Where does Maggie Beer truly relax, and Fleur Woods
find a Victorian gourmet getaway? Part of Good Weekend’s 52 ExtraordinaryJourneys that cover wellness retreats and eco-escapes.
 

MAGGIE BEER, cook,
restaurateur, author

The experience: Consistency, attention to detail and utter relaxation
on Kangaroo Island. 
“I have visited the Southern Ocean Lodge four times, as
I host a Kangaroo Island Food Safari each year. Recently, I stayed at the lodge
for five days. I’m a detail freak and I appreciate every little bit. The luxury
is the staff, who are lovely people. It’s in the swivel chairs you sit on. It’s
in the way everything is so restful, and how every window is set to capture a
view: the first time I walked into the lodge’s great room, it took my breath
away. It’s in the greeting on arrival, the freshly made lamingtons served and
the good-quality tea. On my last visit, we walked the cliffs to Hanson Bay
every morning, and every morning the staff would offer to pack us cut fruit on
ice or a picnic and rug. We sat outside for every meal we could, eating the
best food, using seasonal, local produce. The lodge’s signature scent is lemon
myrtle, so there’s a sense of the bush. I don’t relax easily unless I’m by the
sea. Here, I am so relaxed, I just give myself over to it.” 
Dream to reality: Regional
Express (rex.com.au) flies daily from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island; Sealink
(sealink.com.au) has a daily ferry service from Cape Jervis on the mainland.
Southern Ocean Lodge, Hanson Bay, two-night stays from $990 a person a night,
twin share. southernoceanlodge.com.au

WELL-BEING
CLEAN
SKINS, TAS
The experience:
 Chardonnay body scrub, pinot bath and a glass of wine.
Snuggled in the wild dunes of Tasmania’s far north-east, Barnbougle Lost Farm’s
spa menu includes vinotherapy – embracing blends from the nearby Tamar Valley’s
cool-climate wines. Think chardonnay exfoliant, pinot noir body mask, then a
still-water pinot bath.
Dream to reality: Barnbougle Lost Farm, Waterhouse
Road, Bridport, is one hour’s drive from Launceston. Fly direct from
Melbourne’s Moorabbin Airport. Rooms from $190 a night, twin share; 150 minutes
of vinotherapy from $320 a person. lostfarm.com.au

MASSAGE THERAPY, NT 
The experience: Waterfall “treatment” in
subtropical climes.
Nature’s hand replaces that of the therapist, no booking is required, and there
are no man-made products – just an invigorating pummelling. In and around
beautiful Litchfield National Park south of Darwin, the popular Florence Falls,
Wangi Falls, Sandy Creek (Tjaynera Falls), Surprise Creek Falls and Buley
Rockhole can deliver neck-and-shoulder workouts. The best time to try is early
in the
dry season, May-June.
Dream to reality: Litchfield National Park is a
90-minute drive from Darwin. Walk from carparks to individual waterfalls.
travelnt.com

PAMPER PACKED, WA 
The experience: A splendid bolthole and secluded
beach in the south-west.
Injidup Spa Retreat’s 10 villas have heated plunge pools, ocean views, in-villa
dining and an in-villa massage service. A member of the Small Luxury Hotels of
the World network, Injidup is adjacent to Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park and
within driving distance of the Margaret River wine-and-dine bounty, yet well
suited to travellers who seek to be alone, but pampered, near a brooding sea.
Dream to reality: Injidup is a three-hour drive
southwest of Perth. Two-night weekend villa stays from $650 a night.
injidupsparetreat.com.au

TUB THUMPER, SA 
The experience: Barossa bush bathing.
The seven-suite Kingsford Homestead, built in 1856, has an alfresco two-person
bath set in a private corner of the estate. Guests are handed a basket
containing a bathrobe and salts before they walk into the bush to bathe.
Dream to reality: Kingsford is an hour’s drive
north of Adelaide. Two-night stays from $1780 for two. kingsfordhomestead.com.au

BODY CAMPS, QLD 
The experience: A Noosa ‘‘bodibreak’’ for those
made of tough stuff.
Train like a pro under the direction of Life’s A Gym coaches: think
bootcamp-style sessions on the beach, in the ocean and pool, as well as
running, bike riding, and stand-up paddling and surfing sessions. The regimen
is bespoke and includes fitness and nutrition advice.
Dream to reality: Fly direct from Sydney or
Melbourne to Sunshine Coast Airport. Stay at Outrigger Little Hastings Street,
Noosa. Four-day ‘‘bodibreak’’ from $1650 a person, twin share. lifesagym.com
ECO
WINGING
IT, QLD

The experience: Savannah meets wetlands meets
lodge comforts.
Wake to a chorus of brolgas after a night’s sleep in an African-style tented
stay overlooking the 2000-hectare Mareeba Tropical Savanna and Wetland Reserve
in
the Atherton Tableland west of Cairns, in Far North Queensland. The Wildlife
Conservancy of Tropical Queensland spent 10 years developing the reserve.
Dream to reality: By car, it’s about a 90-minute
drive from Cairns or Port Douglas. Lodge stays from $229 a person a night, twin
share. Cairns-Mareeba train and bus services available. Transfers from Cairns
to the Jabiru Safari Lodge are available by special request.
jabirusafarilodge.com.au

BEST BEDS, SA
The experience: Stylish digs deep in native
forest.
Winter and early spring bring forth flowering plants and orchids at the
spectacular Tanonga, a 100-hectare property on the Eyre Peninsula where more
than 25,000 native trees, shrubs, grasses and sedges have been planted to help
restore the land. It’s a robust landscape of incredible views, with two
architect-designed, self-contained lodges sitting among it.
Dream to reality: Regional Express flies daily
from Adelaide to Port Lincoln. Tanonga Luxury Eco Lodges are a 20-minute drive
from the airport. Lodge stay is $310-$340 a night. Minimum two-night stay.
tanonga.com.au

BORN WILD, TAS 
The experience: At home on the edge of the wild
Tarkine.
Corinna is a former goldmining settlement, its riverside workers’ cottages and
stores since renovated and an additional 14 retreats built to complement the
settler vernacular. On the southern side of the Tarkine – the largest temperate
rainforest in Australia – Corinna has rainwater on tap. While you’re there,
take a Pieman River cruise on the stunning Arcadia II, a 17-metre vessel made
of huon pine in 1939.
Dream to reality: Corinna is a three-hour drive
south west of Stanley or 90 minutes north of Strahan, on Tasmania’s west coast.
One-bedroom retreats from $200 a night for two people. corinna.com.au

STYLISHLY SOLAR, VIC
The experience: Corrugated-iron “bush
shelters”, courtesy of architects.
Self-contained studios insulated with sheep’s wool and decorated with found and
recycled materials form The Odd Frog, built on
4.2 hectares in Bright in Victoria’s north-east. It’s a solar-powered stay,
with grey water going to the orchard, walking and cycling tracks (including the
sealed Murray to the Mountains rail trail) nearby, and Bright’s shops a short
stroll away.
Dream to reality: Bright is about a three-hour
drive from Melbourne. Nearest airport is Albury, NSW. Studios from $150 a
night. theoddfrog.com

ROO THE DAY, NSW
The experience: No plastic, thanks, we’re
permaculture people.
Tucked between a sandstone escarpment and the Morton National Park, Kangaroo
Valley has National Trust-listed landscapes and village buildings, a
long-standing ‘‘no plastic bags in shops’’ policy, and tourism operators who
are upfront about their efforts to reduce their carbon emissions. About 1300
people live in the valley, and it’s
a badge of honour for many that there are no traffic lights in the area.
Dream to reality: Kangaroo Valley is a two-hour
drive south of Sydney. kangaroovalleytourist.asn.au
FLEUR WOOD, Sydney fashion
designer

The experience: Towns that let the tables do the talking. 
“Victoria’s Daylesford region is a foodie revelation All
we did on a weekend visit was eat. My favourite restaurant is Kazuki’s –
modern, Japanese-inspired bistro food. There’s beef and foie gras on the menu,
but it’s very light. It’s my kind of food and I wanted everything on the menu.
Wombat Hill House cafe, in the botanic gardens, is a great place to take kids
and the food is fresh, organic and healthy. We had lunch in the conservatory
and were struck by the delicious salads with fresh herbs and the local spring
water. I did manage to get to Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa and visit Lavandula, a
Swiss-Italian-style lavender farm for the signature lavender scones, of course.
It is really beautiful, a good place for a post-spa afternoon tea. There are so
many restaurants, yet there’s still an Australian country town aesthetic about
Daylesford. With a husband and young baby, plus restaurants and spa treatments
to experience, I didn’t have much time for shopping, but we took home some
home-made apricot and almond jam. So much of the food is local and organic and
there’s a real pride in growing and producing your own foods. It’s such a great
community. If it was just outside Sydney, I’d be there every second
weekend.” 
Dream to reality: Daylesford
and the Macedon Ranges is north-west of Melbourne. Self-guided touring
recommended. visitvictoria.com

This article originally appeared in Good
Weekend
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Source: Belinda Jackson, Good Weekend Magazine