NT: Spot wildlife on the Finniss River

Watch fiery Northern Territory sunsets and vivid cerise sunrises from the just-opened Finniss River Lodge.

A 90-minute drive or a 20-minute flight from Darwin, the lodge features six luxury rooms, a restaurant and bar, and a horizon pool with glorious views of the area’s vast floodplains and wetlands that seem to go on forever.

Activities include hiking, 4WD trips, air boating, wildlife spotting, birdwatching, fishing, Indigenous tours and helicopter flights over the spectacular landscape. The two-night minimum stay includes two guided onsite daily activities including learning to track wildlife, birdwatching and setting mud-crab traps. Dining is an adventure, showcasing local produce including premium beef, local prawns, mud crab, barramundi, venison and seasonal fruit including mangoes, limes and native plant food. 

See: finnissriverlodge.com.au

Finniss River sunsets.

QLD: Visit a ghost town in Mount Mulligan

A ghost town visit is one of the many highlights of a stay at the luxe Mt Mulligan Lodge which sits in the shadow of its lofty namesake, an 18-kilometre sandstone escarpment that’s bigger than Uluru. 

The bones of a railway station, picture theatre, bath house, post office and two pubs remain at the abandoned Mount Mulligan township where more than 300 people once lived. There’s also a tribute to the 75 miners who perished here after a huge explosion in 1921. 

The lodge features chic outback tents near the main lodge and luxury rooms hemmed by a weir that’s perfect for fishing, paddleboarding and kayaking. It all sits on a 28,000-hectare cattle property, a 35-minute helicopter trip north-west of Cairns or a 2.5-hour drive by 4WD.

Fabulous food is served in the Outback Retreat which has soaring ceilings, rock features and  a pool. 

See: mountmulligan.com

Dramatic scenery of Mount Mulligan.

NSW: Stay in a heritage station in Tamworth

As well as having a catchy name, Goonoo Goonoo Station, this beautifully restored village of historic 19th-century heritage-listed buildings offers a variety of accommodation catering for up to 62 guests with private cottages, shearer’s quarters for two and the stately homestead which sleeps 10 and offers a heated swimming pool and tennis court. 

The working farm in the Peel River Valley, 25 kilometres south of Tamworth at Timbumburi, is home to 9000 cattle. The historic shearing shed was built to accommodate 47 shearers and is now the site of the stunning, multi-award-winning Glasshouse Restaurant which overlooks rolling hills and the Liverpool Range. The menu showcases the area’s finest seasonal produce, including premium beef sourced on site. Guided tours provide all the historic details. 

See: goonoogoonoostation.com

VIC: Let the kids play at a farmstay in Granya

You can feed the chooks, collect the eggs, pat the alpacas, pick fresh fruit from the orchard and soak in a stoked woodfired hot tub at the family-friendly HG Farmstay at Granya, a rural village and former gold-mining town in north-east Victoria, 40 kilometres east of Albury-Wodonga. The working hobby farm is home to two self-contained restored houses on 2.8 hectares on the banks of the Murray River with spectacular views. 

Cedar House accommodates eight and has a spacious living area, large deck with barbecue and water views, while Silver Gum Lodge sleeps four. Light a roaring fire and snuggle up with a good book and there’s a firepit perfect for roasting marshmallows. You can try paddleboarding, kayaking and take a dip in the Hume Weir, or just watch the blood-red sunsets creep across the sky. 

See: hgfarmstay.com.au

NSW: Find your inner jackeroo in Gundagai

Bunker down at Kimo Estate in sleek eco huts, renovated shearer’s quarters and worker’s cottages with beautiful views. You can also get a jackeroo fix on a special five-day, six-night cattle station experience on the 2800-hectare working sheep and cattle farm, 10 minutes’ drive west of Gundagai. 

There are horse-riding adventures for all levels of riders – horses and tack are included and support from experienced stockmen and horse professionals. Operated by Horses and Cattle Australia, it includes all meals, and wine and beer with dinner. Kimo, which means mountains, has a colourful history and was established in 1832. It’s been visited by many dignitaries over the years including illegitimate French royalty and legitimate Australian royalty. 

See: kimoestate.com

Cosy at Kimo.

WA: Learn about organic farming in Margaret River

Immerse yourself in regenerative farming practices and self-guided walks at this sleek Margaret River farmstay, Burnside Organic Farm. You’ll be hosted by Jamie and Lara McCall, who love growing their own food and sharing their knowledge about resilience for future sustainable living. 

In the onsite winery, the couple make organic wine with no added yeast or chemicals from grapes grown in their vineyards that are hand managed under Demeter Biodynamic certification and dry grown. 

The 15-hectare farm has an avocado orchard, caper plantation, beehives and a market garden as well as dexter cows, saddleback pigs, chickens, geese and sheep. Accommodation includes one- and two-bedroom bungalows. 

See: burnsideorganicfarm.com.au

VIC: Step back in time in Ballarat

Relive those goldmining days at the Sovereign Hill Pioneer Village, described as a living museum. It showcases the story of the former gold rush town which in 1851 saw one of the world’s greatest alluvial gold rushes. 

The Sovereign Hill Hotel is a short walk from the centre and a perfect base for families. You stay includes access to the outdoor museum where the 60 historically recreated buildings are manned by costumed staff.

See: sovereignhill.com.au

TAS: See the starry skies in Sorell

Look up and check out those starry southern skies from your geodesic eco dome at this farmstay set on 16 hectares of mixed farm and bushland in a secluded valley. Located in Wattle Hill, 30 minutes’ drive from Hobart, Richmond and the Coal Valley vineyards, the property runs daily free farm tours with chats about the region’s history. 

Guests can brush the Scottish highland cow and play with cute pygmy goats and other farm animals. It’s a definite contender for the best outdoor bath on a farmstay, with “stop you in your tracks” farmland views, but it’s those night skies that will take your breath away. 

See: lunalodge.com.au

NSW: Find wellness in Wagga Wagga

Killer views over Wagga and the Great Dividing Range take centre stage at this country bolthole that’s a 15-minute drive northeast of Wagga. Stride out along a 30-minute walking track or stretch out on a sunlounge and revel in the fresh air and birdsong.

Part of the Belisi Wellness and Equestrian Centre, the luxury two-bedroom cottage, made from shipping containers, sleeps six, and includes a stone bath, private deck and kitchen. Yoga, pilates and meditation sessions, plus facials and massages, are offered as well as private art and cooking classes. Riding instruction for all ages and equine wellbeing sessions are also available. 

See: belisi.com.au

SA: Stay in a bush retreat in the Flinders Ranges

Spot kangaroos and emus sipping from water troughs along with cattle and sheep at the Flinders Bush Retreat, owned by the sixth generation McInnis family. Located on 4550 hectares near the town of Hawker, in a corner of the ancient Flinders Ranges, there is a choice of self-contained accommodation ranging from eco glamping tents to two self-contained houses accommodating 6-8 guests.

Willow Waters Gorge is a great for camping, picnics and bush walking and there’s a resident wedge-tailed eagle. The hills in this ancient gorge are estimated to be 800 million years old, making them some of the oldest in the Flinders Ranges. 

See: flindersbushretreats.com.au

VIC: Learn to cook Italian in the King Valley

Learn the secrets of great pasta and gnocchi plus other classic dishes with Katrina Pizzini at the purpose-built A Tavola Cooking School in the King Valley, three hours from Melbourne. 

You can stay the night in the two-bedroom Pizzini Vineyard Guesthouse or the four-bedroom Rosetta’s Garden Guesthouse, two kilometres from the tiny town of Whitfield. Katrina shares cooking secrets and family recipes from Italy and around the world.

See: pizzini.com.au

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