Forget your swag and leave the two-person tent behind, because you don’t need to get the camping kit out to have a back-to-nature getaway. A new kind of stay has changed the way travellers are experiencing the great outdoors. Introducing glamping – that’s glamorous camping. There are no sleeping mats or camp ovens here. Instead, you can expect plush beds, running water and comforts you’d find at any swanky hotel. One step up from glamping is the eco-luxe retreat. These digs often have impressive environmentally-friendly credentials and are perfect for those who want to spend time in nature but prefer four walls and a roof to a tent. So where can you find your next glamping or eco-luxe stay? Right. Here. We’ve rounded up eight properties that all fit the bill – and none require a sleeping bag.
Thala Beach Nature Reserve, Queensland
Impressive eco-friendly credentials and luxury accommodation meet at Thala Beach Nature Reserve in North Queensland. Located on private headland between Cairns and Port Douglas, Thala Beach Nature Reserve offers guests a complete experience. It starts from the moment you unbuckle your seatbelt – think arrival cocktails in the open-air lobby – and continues as you’re shown to your room and left to settle in. The timber bungalows at the resort are tucked away within the rainforest and built at varying heights; some sit in the upper canopies of the forest and others are set low on the forest floor. Connecting guests with the environment is a top priority at Thala Bach Nature Reserve, so a smattering of complimentary on-site tours is available. Choose from an Indigenous cultural presentation, nature walk, beach discovery walk, coconut odyssey or even a stargazing tour. Remember to bring your camera!
The Bush Verandah House, Northern Territory
The Bush Verandah House is an eco escape just outside of Darwin. The house was built from salvaged timber, renewable sources and solar power; its architect-approved design makes sure the house blends into its natural environment. With its two bedrooms, The Bush Verandah House can comfortably sleep couples, families and travellers on self-drive getaways – there is room for a caravan or boat underneath a covered car park. An outdoor bathroom immediately evokes a Bali-inspired vibe and comes with a large rain shower and bathtub. The home sits on more than two acres of tropical savanna, and the best place to take in the surrounds has to be on the north-facing deck, or in the sparkling swimming pool.
Tanja Lagoon Camp, New South Wales
Comfort with a side of eco-credibility doesn’t come much better than at Tanja Lagoon Camp. The camp is perched on the edge of a lagoon and surrounded by Mimosa Rocks National Park. You’ll find four safari tents at the camp, but chances are these tents aren’t quite what you’re used to. Each tent is elevated on a sleek timber platform (no sleeping on the cold ground for you) and comes with everything you’d want from a true glamping experience, from the plush bedding and fluffy towels to the ensuite and kitchen. The tents also boast a breezeway with barbecue and a roomy, lagoon-facing deck. The stay is fit for couples and families; there’s even a family tent that comes with an option of swag single beds for children. Don’t expect to look at other camping trips the same way once you’ve visited Tanja.
Rawnsley Park Station Eco Villas, South Australia
It’s a big call, but the eco villas at Rawnsley Park Station have an unbeatable setting. The Flinders Ranges offer an outback experience like no other, and when you’re weary from a day of exploring, a night in one of the station’s eco villas will surely work wonders. The solar-powered villas definitely live up to the eco-friendly moniker and feature rendered straw-bale walls, polished timber floors and raked ceilings. Meanwhile, deep soaking bathtubs, private verandahs and plush linens take care of the ‘luxe’ in eco-luxe. Don’t be surprised if the retractable canopy ceiling above your bed hogs your attention for a while though – the view of the Flinders Ranges night sky is hard to ignore. The property is also home to a separate accommodation, Arkapena Station, which is located three kilometres away and is ideal for larger groups and families.
Wilderness Retreats at Wilsons Promontory, Victoria
You won’t have to sacrifice your love of creature comforts at Wilderness Retreats at Wilsons Promontory. Hugged on all sides by Wilsons Promontory National Park, this stay is operated by Parks Victoria and is home to gorgeous safari-style crash pads. The retreats come stocked with everything you need to make your stay cosy and comfortable, including blankets, linens, full ensuite, small dining table and timber floors. Outside, there's a covered timber deck. The camp also has an equipped communal kitchen where guests can rustle up meals and snacks. Most of your time at the camp will likely be spent outside, and Wilsons Promontory offers plenty to explore. The Mt Oberon track is a popular climb, or you can wander along one of the less-trodden trails for a peaceful stroll.
Mornington Wilderness Camp, Western Australia
Mornington Wilderness Camp sits in the heart of the Kimberley and is one of the properties helmed by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy. The camp is home to 10 elevated safari tents, all kitted out with queen or single beds, ensuite, mini bar and deck. An on-site restaurant caters for breakfast and dinner, and has a bar where guests can relax after a day spent swimming, bird watching or exploring neighbouring gorges. Be sure to arrange a packed picnic for lunch, which you can take with you on a guided walked or self-drive tour. Mornington is primarily a research and scientific station (it has the only genetics lab in the Kimberley), and when the sun sets on another spectacular day there are often talks from the scientific and naturalist staff.
43 Degrees Bruny Island, Tasmania
The eye-catching semi-circular exterior of 43 Degrees Bruny Island is just one of the features that sets this stay apart. These custom-built digs are environmentally friendly and come with natural timbers, stonewalls, freestanding stone bathtubs, double-glazing and balconies overlooking Adventure Bay Beach. The apartments are ideal for a couple and are conveniently perched opposite the departure point for Bruny Island Cruises. 43 Degrees Bruny Island has accommodation closer to town too, thanks to three separate studios. Bruny Island is a go-to destination for foodies and nature lovers alike. Get your dose of fresh air with strolls on the stunning beach or walking tracks, then replenish your energy stores with a pitstop at the chocolate factory, smokehouse or berry farm.
Aquila Eco Lodges, Victoria
You’ll find Aquila Eco Lodges in the Grampians National Park at the foot of Mount Abrupt, near Dunkeld. As you might guess from its name, Aquila Eco Lodges embodies everything an eco getaway should be. Its location gives guests a true bushland experience, and native animals and birdlife frequent the property it sits on. There are two kinds of accommodation to choose from: the Tree Houses and the Loft Houses. The three-storey Tree Houses have a bedroom on the top floor, which gives a feeling of sleeping in the trees. The Loft Houses also have a loft bedroom. Both lodges boast wood fires, evaporative cooling, modern furnishings and walls of glass – the Tree Houses even have glass-walled showers. The lodges’ sustainable label is also well earned, thanks to their use of rainwater, solar power, self-composting waste treatment and low environmental impact.