Feel like you’ve travelled further at these 8 exotic escapes

Posted by Casey Warrener on Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Australia is an exotic destination, a place of intrigue for travellers around the globe. With red desert sands and sweeping golden shorelines, mountain ranges and tropical rainforests, sprawling farmlands and bustling metropolitan hubs, there are plenty of reasons our vast backyard is a stellar place to explore. But let's be honest – we all long for the new and exciting, for experiences far removed (and far away) from our own. So why not choose a getaway with an international vibe? From French elegance in Victoria to Japanese Zen in South Australia, these eight hideaways will make you feel like you’ve travelled further – minus the price tag, long–haul flight and post trip downtime. Soak up everything our homeland has to offer in jet set style.

Villa Parma, Daylesford, VIC

Want a wallet-friendly trip to Italy? This is totally doable, minus the expense of flights to Europe. We reckon skipping the 24-hour journey and instead booking a luxe villa in Daylesford would be just as good (and hey, maybe even better). Victoria’s spa country is a must-visit, offering up hot springs, great cafes, eclectic boutiques, and all the gourmet food and wine you could want. Amongst this incredible countryside is the heritage-listed Villa Parma – built in 1864 by a Swiss-Italian vigneron, it now functions as an opulent getaway to make you feel like royalty. Set within the gardens of Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat means you’re dangerously close to its pampering menu. But then again, you may just want to pop a bottle of prosecco and spend some time soaking in one of the villa’s two double spas.

Hatherley Birrell Collection, Launceston, TAS

Launceston combines stunning landscapes, architectural heritage, excellent restaurants and wine country, making for one awesome holiday escape. And if a mix of art, design and history appeals – with a heavy dose of luxe thrown in for good measure – then the Hatherley Birrell Collection will be your ideal rest. There are five accommodation options to choose from here, all at the epicentre of Tassie’s second largest city. Our top pick of these is the orient-inspired ‘Teahouse’; a spacious, light-filled apartment surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows and two courtyards. With interiors full of antique eastern artworks and curiosities, you’ll love chilling out here between adventures.

The Australasian Circa 1858, Goolwa, SA

It’s not often you find an iconic Australian landscape like the Murray River complete with a luxury hotel and award-winning restaurant. Yet in the small South Australian town of Goolwa, overlooking the river and its wharf precinct, The Australasian Circa 1858 offers just that. The owner of this boutique beauty is both Japanophile and chef – the result being five feng shui savvy suites and top-notch room service eats. Sure it’s fun choosing from plastic food displays and ordering noodles from a machine, but the three-course dinner menu here is pretty great too. You’ll be digging into fresh seafood prepared with fragrant herbs and spices, before sinking into your ultra-plush bed ready to do it all again at brunch – when a buffet is delivered to your door.

Black Springs Bakery, Beechworth, VIC

If you can’t get to Provence this year, we’d suggest heading to Black Springs Bakery. Located just outside of Beechworth, this area is a more than worthy substitute for the French countryside. High Country’s rich autumnal landscape and wide streets lined with heritage buildings make it one of Victoria’s prettiest regions, complete with an array of food and wine to sample while you take in the scenery. As the name suggests, Black Springs began its life as a bakery in the 19th century, since transformed into a romantic bolthole for two. Set within 10 acres, there are plenty of garden nooks to set up camp and enjoy a cheese-filled picnic. Oh, and the owners just happen to run a cute home-wares shop specialising in all things French, which explains the stunning fit out. Très magnifique.

Circa 1860, Kyneton, VIC

The vast countryside of Kyneton, with the Macedon Ranges as its backdrop, is home to some of Victoria’s best dining and food producers, as well as a range of antique stores and art galleries. And right in its heart, on the famous Piper Street, is Circa 1860. On entering this multi-level space you could be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped into a chic Parisian apartment. Relax downstairs in the library room, or follow the sweeping staircase up to the living areas, where there’s a sumptuous king-sized bed, plush chaise lounge, open fireplace, and quaint kitchen with a Vintec wine fridge to stow your Bordeaux. Once you’ve eased yourself into the day and spent a bit of time moving between lie-down spots, you’ll want to pretty up and head out to one of the area’s awarded restaurants for an indulgent meal.

Freostay, White Gum Valley, WA

Fremantle offers up a great blend of culture, history, beaches and dining. And just a fifteen-minute walk from its hub is Freostay – a getaway designed to give you a taste of African village life. Set amongst huge old Tuart trees are two suites that share access to a ‘Shebeen’, a unique outdoor space with a kitchen, BBQ, bar and stools to perch on. This is great for friend retreats, with plenty of room to spread out and relax in the cottages, and a communal gathering spot to spend time together. Though if it’s a romantic retreat you’re after, each of the cabins is completely separate, with their own private outdoor areas decked out with daybeds to cuddle up on. The owners have designed all the spaces to give you a feel for their homeland, with patterns and hues that invoke the spirit of savannah landscapes.

Meringa Springs, Wartook Valley, VIC

Famed for its spectacular natural beauty and award-winning sparkling wines, the Grampians is a bucket list destination. And on the sunny side of its rugged ranges you’ll find luxury escape Meringa Springs. The ridge-top location of these three African-style villas means extraordinary views to the neighbouring National Park, a heritage listed beauty with majestic waterfalls, ancient rock art, wildflowers and unique wildlife. The outdoor landings here have been carefully thought out – each villa has a private verandah positioned for sunsets and a patio for sunrises. Then there are the communal spaces. A sun-soaked deck borders a glistening infinity edged basin; order cocktails from the bar, and then take a seat poolside looking across the valley. It’s not an African safari, but nature lovers will love this stunning retreat.

Amala Villa, Byron Bay, NSW

Who doesn’t love Byron Bay’s laidback bohemian vibe? It has rainforest, beaches (both open stretches and hidden coves), quirky hinterland enclaves, great seafood, fun bars filled with friendly locals and better-than-average late-night kebabs. Folk bands. Melt-in-your-mouth burgers. Super smoothie bars. The list goes on and on. Amala Villa is a romantic retreat tucked away in the midst of all this, with a private lap pool and spa in exotic Balinese style. With a cool location and incredibly inviting outdoor area to laze in, you’ll easily forget you’re still on the mainland.