Where to stay to see the Australian Outback
Luxury camps, underground hotels and a working sheep station
Arkaba Station, Flinders Ranges, South Australia
Arkaba is a working sheep station with a mere 60,000 acres of typical Outback scenery: craggy sandstone bluffs and dry creek beds lined with gum trees; a place of vast landscapes and big skies. At the Homestead, which was built in 1851, there are four bedrooms plus one in a neighbouring cottage. They have no phone, TV or minibar — the focus is getting out and enjoying the environment — but there is a library, a pool, an open bar and a chef providing classic dishes with contemporary and native elements.
Details Doubles are from £960 per night, all-inclusive with a minimum two-night stay (0061 2 9571 6399, arkabastation.com )
Sal Salis, Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia
In a remote corner of WA, you’ll find this safari camp in sand dunes just 50m from the beaches of the Cape Range National Park. There are no ground mats and sleeping bags here — this is posh camping with soft beds and cotton sheets. There’s a bar and open lounge and lots of activities. Sea-kayaking, guided walks and star-gazing are included in the price, and for an extra cost you can go whale-shark spotting; nearby Ningaloo Reef is considered to be best place in the world to see these magnificent creatures.
Details Double rooms are from £852 per night, all-inclusive with a minimum two-night stay, or you can pay £430 per night for off-peak stays with no activities included (0061 2 9571 6399,salsalis.com.au )
Longitude 131, Uluru, Northern Territories
Uluru is the ultimate symbol of the Aussie Outback, and this luxury, tented camp allows you private views of the sun rising and setting over what was once known as Ayers Rock. There are only 15 tents onsite, so the unique experience of a stay is not spoilt by hundreds of other guests. At night, you can dine under the stars at the Table 131 restaurant.
Details Doubles are from £1,288 per night with a minimum two-night stay (00 61 8 8957 7131 )
Desert Cave Hotel, Coober Pedy, South Australia
In the opal-mining town of Coober Pedy, where summer temperatures soar way over 40C, many residents dig down to escape the heat, and the same goes for some hotels. The Desert Cave has 50 rooms, of which 19 are underground and are surprisingly spacious with high ceilings. All rooms have TV with free movies, there’s a pool and what the hotel claims to be the world’s only underground bar and gaming room.
Details Doubles are from £147 per night, room only (00 61 8 8672 5688, desertcave.com.au )
Paperbark Camp, Woollamia, New South Wales
The owners of this tented accommodation, two hours’ drive south of Sydney, claim it is “camping for grown-ups”, and you can see why: tents are surrounded by paperbark and eucalyptus trees, each has a verandah, solar-powered lighting and attached loo and shower — and some have a bath-with-a-view. The Gunyah eating area — with some innovative kangaroo dishes — is positioned to catch cool breezes coming off the sea.
Details Doubles are from £232 per night, B&B with a two-night minimum stay on some weekends (00 61 2 4441 6066,paperbarkcamp.com.au )
Home Valley Station, East Kimberley, Western Australia
This remote part of WA is where much of the film Australia, with Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman, was filmed. You can tour some of the filming locations, or there are dozens of traditional Outback activities on offer, including cattle mustering, fishing, bird-watching or swimming in the billabong. Accommodation comes in several forms: from air-conditioned “Grass Castles” on the banks of Bindaloo Creek, to semi-permanent eco-tents. There is also a campground with a loo block, showers and barbecue site.
Details Grass Castles doubles from £175 per night, B&B eco-tents from £82 per night, B&B and camping pitches from £15 per night (00 61 8 9161 4322, hvstation.com.au )
Don’t forget; if you are looking to visit these outdoor destinations in Australia you might need an Australia visa.