Travel

Stay At Australia’s Best Eco-Friendly Resorts

Barefoot luxury at its best.

Longitude 131 Uluru
Photo Courtesy Longitude 131

Australia is home to some of the most remote landscapes in the world, which makes accessing them a challenge, but not impossible. In the red deserts of the Northern Territory to a remote island in the Tasman Sea, and on the banks of some of the bluest waters, you will find eco-lodges hosting travellers looking to escape into the wild. The best part, each accommodation is eco-friendly and can be removed from the landscape without leaving an impact. Each lodge also has a small number of guests at a time, so you can enjoy your holiday without the crowds. 

If you’re looking to explore a remote wonder of Australia, book a stay at Australia’s top Eco-lodges. 

Capella Lodge
Photo Courtesy Of Capella Lodge

Capella Lodge

Lord Howe Island
In a world where technology rules, take a well-needed digital detox on a secluded island, in almost the middle of nowhere with only a few hundred people allowed at once and no cell reception. Lord Howe Island is a World Heritage-listed site boasting pristine landscapes from rainforests to the southernmost coral reef in the world. Set in palm trees, on a hill that commands views of two impressive volcanic peaks and turquoise waters is Capella Lodge, an eco-lodge with only nine contemporary island suites. The lodges are designed to complement the landscape, instilling a natural vibe, fitted with modern furnishings. Along with panoramic views, Capella Lodge holds a far-reaching reputation as a knockout dining destination, offering produce from the island and mainland Australia in a beach-house styled Restaurant and Bar.

Longitude 131 Uluru
Photo Courtesy Longitude 131

Longitude 131

Uluru Kata Tjuta
True beauty and adventure lie in the centre of Australia, also known as the Red Centre. While it’s only a short flight to Alice Springs from Sydney or Melbourne, staying near Uluru has always been a challenge, until Longitude 131 popped up. With 15 tented pavilions, Longitude 131 is a base camp at the foot of Uluru, making it the closest accommodation to the sandstone monolith. Here, you will find tents complete with custom Australian designed furniture, ensuite, floor to ceiling windows yielding views of Uluru and surrounding sights, and an expansive balcony with day bed, armchairs and fireplace, for chilly nights under a clear starry sky. For a unique experience opt-in for Table 131, an exclusive four-course dinner under the stars, complete with resident astronomer and tales of the Southerly constellations.

Sal Salis
Photo Courtesy Of Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef

Sal Salis

Ningaloo Reef
Go where the outback meets the reef with Sal Salis, a beachside safari camp on the sand dunes of Ningaloo Reef. Here, you will find 15 eco-tents and one hidden honeymoon tent, but the real attraction here is the reef itself. It’s renowned for its resident whale sharks, manta rays, and dolphins—all of which you can swim with. Due to its location, guests of Sal Salis can also explore the coastal dunes and gorges of Cape Range National Park, home to red kangaroos, echidnas, emus, and more. The camp is designed to operate in tune with the fragile environment of Cape Range National Park, which is why the camp is solar-generated. Each en-suite bathroom has a ‘natureloo’, water usage is very carefully managed and no waste material escapes into the surrounding ecosystem. 

Silky Oaks Lodge
Photo Courtesy Of Silky Oaks Lodge

Silky Oaks Lodge

Daintree Rainforest
The Daintree Rainforest is the oldest tropical rainforest in the world. Deep inside the forest is Silky Oaks Lodge, a collection of 40 treehouses offering access to the region’s spectacular natural attractions, including the Daintree, Mossman Gorge, the Great Barrier Reef and Cape Tribulation. Each treehouse retreat comes in different sizes, from one bedroom to three. Some have an infinity pool, others have an outdoor bathtub and views of the river or waterfall. They all leave a minimal impact on their surroundings, with sustainability management practices in play. Enjoy a hike through the forest, dive the Great Barrier Reef, canoe on the river, or learn about the indigenous culture of the local Kuku Yalanji people who have lived in the Daintree continuously and have a deep connection with the country. 
Note: Silky Oaks Lodge is under reservation and will reopen October 2021.

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Travel

Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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