According to The Australian Financial Review, Australians have saved up $200 billion to spend once the threat of COVID allows them to break out of lockdown.
So while we can’t quite travel yet, where would we go to take revenge for the time we’ve been stuck at home? Our bet is Australia’s gorgeous islands, where you can lap up the good life in comfort.
If money is not an issue, you can spend up to $2490 per night for two in the best suite on Bedarra Island on the Great Barrier Reef, $3600 per night for two at Capella Lodge on Lord Howe Island, in the Tasman Sea, 700 kilometres northeast of Sydney or $6299 per night for four in the top villa on Lizard Island, also on the Great Barrier Reef.
Mind you, even at these princely prices, flights to the islands are extra. But the nightly rate does include meals and all the premium wine you can consume.
But if you want an exclusive holiday with your family members or your best mates on your very own private island with no outsiders to bother you, Australia has some of the best and most luxurious private islands on offer too.
One of the most remote, secluded and private island resorts in the country is Haggerstone Island, off Cape York Peninsula about 600 kilometres north of Cairns. Here you can spot schools of tuna besieged by flocks of dark brown noddies (sea birds) in aquamarine waters dotted with lime-green reefs resembling giant lily pads. The pristine waters are also home to manta rays, turtles, trevally, queenfish, alligator gar and coralfish.
The largely uninhabited island is covered with virgin rainforest with five villas spread sparingly along the island’s long, white sandy beach. Each open-plan villa offers absolute privacy with stunning ocean views from their private decks, front-row seats to the best entertainment – nature itself.
You can book the whole island for groups of 10 and the staff will cater to your every need, including daily adventures and dining experiences.
Here you can indulge in snorkelling, spearfishing, kite-boarding and treks to view amazing waterfalls. A skippered, 45-foot jet boat is also at your disposal.
The resort has an orchard garden with passionfruit, paw-paw, Kaffir lime, lemons, mango, snake beans and butternut squashes. Coconuts are also abundant and used extensively in the restaurant cuisine.
Rates for booking the whole island for 10 people cost up to $7600 per night, with a minimum of four nights which include all meals – flights are not included.
You must first fly to Cairns and then board a two-hour charter flight from Cairns to Haggerstone. For more information, visit haggerstoneisland.com.au.
Then there’s the heart-shaped, private retreat Makepeace Island owned by English business magnate Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Australia co-founder Brett Godfrey and Light Warrior founder Radek Sali. Nestled in wilderness, the island is only a stone’s throw from Noosa in Queensland. Makepeace Island encompasses barefoot luxury with accommodation for up to 20 guests in four, over-sized Balinese style villas, alfresco dining/entertainment areas with a private chef. The island fuses luxury with wilderness and has a tennis court, lagoon swimming pool, a 15-seater hot tub, outdoor cinema and indoor theatre. Guests can also indulge in walking trails, stand-up paddle boards, river fishing or a remedial massage
To book the whole island for eight to 20 guests costs from $13,200 to $18,000 per night including boat transfers and all meals. There is a minimum of two nights stay. For more information, visit makepeaceisland.com
The secluded hideaway, Orpheus Island on the Great Barrier Reef is everything an island escape should be. Located between Cairns and Townsville, the island is surrounded by 1300 hectares of national park. Its clear, turquoise waters are fringed with coral reefs which makes it a haven for snorkelling and diving enthusiasts as you can swim with green turtles, manta rays, humpback whales and reef sharks. With its 11 kilometres of immaculate coastline, Orpheus promises an unspoilt paradise where you can simply step out of your villa and see the pristine coral reef.
Owned by Chris Morris and family, Orpheus can host a maximum of 28 guests in an all-inclusive package which includes all gourmet meals, a selection of premium wines, beers and spirits plus a daily Orpheus experience from a sunset cruise, a guided hike to a cocktail class. The 14 contemporary suites all face the beach and has an all-inclusive mini-bar, unlimited wi-fi and unlimited use of motorised dinghies, paddleboards, kayaks, catamarans, fishing and snorkelling gear.
Just pack your swimmers, T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops.
You have to fly to Townsville, then board a short helicopter ride to Orpheus. To book Orpheus island for the exclusive use of 28 guests cost from $25,350 to $31,800 per night. For more information, visit orpheus.com.au.
Another Great Barrier Reef beauty is Wilson Island, an adults-only hideaway island with a Bohemian vibe, about 80 kilometres north east off the coast of Gladstone in Queensland. This is an island made for the tranquil life of a castaway with no television and no phone. You just have to disconnect, recharge your batteries and rejuvenate your soul.
To get to Wilson Island, you have to catch a 30-minute boat ride from Heron island or you can take a 30-minute scenic helicopter ride from Gladstone Airport. You have to first fly to Gladstone. Expect some adventure and lots of detoxing with nature walks, star-gazing, bird-watching, kayaking, paddleboarding or simply lazing in the sunshine. There are lots of hammocks on the island where you can read a book or if you are lucky you might even spot the hatching of baby turtles. The choice of accommodation is unusual as you stay in one of nine over-sized, eco reef safari tents with separate modern amenities in another building. Here the only roads are made of crushed seashells and pristine white sand.
To book the island for the exclusive use of 18 guests, prices start from about $8500 per night. For more information, visit wilsonisland.com.
If you want a life changing experience on your own private island adjacent to Freycinet National Park in Tasmania, then lose yourself in the natural beauty of Picnic Island which is surrounded by the majestic backdrop of the pink granite Hazards mountain range. Your accommodation is a copper clad retreat designed by local architect John Latham, next to one of the top beaches in the world, Wineglass Bay. Here you can fish for flathead and squid off the jetty, collect mussels off the rocks and dive for abalone, crayfish and sea urchins. You can also go on overnight trips to watch the penguins and shearwaters return to their burrows at night. The nice thing about being marooned on your own private island is that dolphins and seals visit regularly and you may even spot whales.
To get to this hideaway, you have to fly to Launceston or Hobart and drive over two hours to Coles Bay. At Coles Bay, you will be transported by Freycinet Adventures for a 10-minute boat ride to the island. Or if you prefer to travel in style you can fly direct by seaplane from Hobart.
Private bookings for 10 people start from $2200 per night. Hosted retreats are extra and charged on a per head basis. If you are into yoga, you can experience a meditation and yoga retreat at $1000 per person. For more information, visit picnicisland.com.au.