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Holiday You: The Luxuriator

Holiday You: The Luxuriator

You’ve put the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door, slipped off your shoes, popped the champagne, and stepped out onto your private deck, just in time for sunset.

Fond of luxury you may be, but that’s because you simply can’t afford to roll the dice when it comes to those precious moments off. For you, a holiday means hassle-free comfort – all-inclusive if possible, so all you have to decide on are drinks and mains. We know you are perfectly happy by the pool or enjoying a hot-stone massage at an award-winning resort spa, but once recharged you can also be found seeing the sights – preferably by helicopter or private boat. Here is a glimpse into WA’s most spectacular cruise holidays and luxury lodges, pointers on where to go ‘glamping’ or find rare pink diamonds, and tips for scenic flights, weekend retreats, golf and more.

LUXURY ACCOMMODATION

City glamour

Sometimes we need a night away. The perfect city for a staycation, Perth is richly adorned with luxury hotels, resorts, boutique hotels and indulgent day spas. Check in and enjoy a night of blissful comfort on the river, cool off in the aircon, and unwind with an expert massage treatment, or maybe a dip in the pool. After a snooze, stroll down to the bar, dine at the hotel restaurant (they can be some of Perth’s best), or head to town to a top spot and take in a show. Sleep in (don’t you love five-star sheets?) and, after a sumptuous breakfast, return to the world at large. 

Crown Perth in the city.

Down south

The south, particularly the Margaret River region, is a favourite weekend getaway for most of Perth. That’s not just because it’s a world-class food-and-wine destination, with the world’s most biodiverse forests and more heavenly beaches and coastline than anywhere in the country. It also has a host of five-star private enclaves where you can pamper all of your senses and recharge. 

The region’s largest resorts line the stunning and tranquil shores of Geographe Bay, from Abbey Beach Resort, Aqua and Broadwater Beach Resort in Busselton-Vasse, through to the Pullman Bunker Bay Resort near Dunsborough. Rated the number-one hotel in the Naturaliste region on Trip Advisor, Pullman Bunker Bay has been praised for its coastal location, infinity pool and relaxing villas. Other luxury retreats are dotted throughout the southwest, or, for more bespoke luxury, there are multi-million dollar holiday houses available for rent.

Pullman Resort Bunker Bay near Dunsborough.

Up north

North of Perth, on the reef-fringed Coral Coast, there are several luxurious resorts to choose from, including Best Western Sea Breeze Resort, Exmouth Escape, and Novotel Ningaloo Resort.

After a day on the water fishing, head back to the civilised lodgings to cook in your full kitchen, and dine on the balcony overlooking the surf. Or let the staff cook for you, with fabulous wines to match.

A visit to one of the world’s last true wilderness areas – the Kimberley – is the epitome of experiences both rich and enriching. Think exclusive guided tours by 4WD and helicopter in search of the elusive barramundi, thundering waterfalls, ancient rock art, and secluded plunge pools. This is also where the uber-luxurious, bucket-list holiday destinations can be found.

In the Kimberley Outback, among soaring escarpments and rugged gorges that only the privileged few have seen, you can enjoy the ultimate homestead experience, the most famous being El Questro, deep in the savannah near Kununurra.

Broome has a number of resorts, the best-known being Cable Beach Club, and they are all just a three-hour flight from Perth – an easy option for escaping the winter blues.

Along the Kimberley coast are some of the top secluded destinations in Australia: the aptly named Faraway Bay, 280km north of Kununurra; the exclusive Kimberley Coastal Camp wilderness retreat (not so much luxurious as simply amazing, and perfect for fishing and rock-art fans); and the incredible ocean-side villas of The Berkeley River Lodge, only accessible by air, and probably the premium holiday destination in WA.

Berkeley River Lodge in the Kimberley.

Spas and wellness retreats

Perth is richly adorned with luxury hotels, resorts, boutique hotels and indulgent day spas. Enjoy a night of blissful comfort and pampering and unwind with an expert massage in the spa. After a snooze, stroll down a local bar or restaurant or take in a show. It’s close, easy and fuss-free. For total indulgence, there is a stunning range of luxury spa retreats outside of Perth, mostly dotted around the coast. From the Kimberley down to Albany, from $1000 per person per night to $250 per couple, the choice of luxury is yours.

Glamping

Let’s face it, for some of us, pitching a tent and swatting flies is too much like hard work. But that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the thrill of getting back to nature. You just have to go glamping, and camp with the help of the experts.

In the northwest, you’ll be more than comfy in the purpose-built tents at Karijini Eco Retreat, Kooljaman at Cape Leveque, Eco Beach Wilderness Retreat and Kimberley Coastal Camp.

Down south, book a glamping experience with a catered camping operator in Pemberton and Margaret River. As you explore the wilderness, they will set up a tent and all the camping essentials and treats – and pack up after you leave, of course.  

Glamping allows you to enjoy the great outdoors... without any risk of tent rage (photography Soul Camping).

 

FLIGHTS OF FANCY

WA is unique in that the vast majority of it remains in a pristine, natural state. If you’re serious about exploring even a fraction of the more than 2.5 million sqkm, flying is the most effective way to do it. What’s more, many of WA’s true wonders are only accessible by air, so you really have no excuse…

Both fast and fabulous, a scenic flight or safari gives you a chance to take it all in. Whether you’re soaring above the coastline in a plane, hovering over waterfalls
in a helicopter, spotting aquatic life by float plane, or zig-zagging over gorges in a microlight, flying gives you a whole different perspective on the state’s unique colours, landscapes and beauty.

Scenic flights

For sheer dramatic impact and bang for your buck, nothing beats a scenic flight. In a light plane or helicopter, you almost literally disappear, immersed into the landscape with a God’s-eye view… Only from this vantage point can you truly experience natural wonders like the Horizontal Waterfalls and the Bungle Bungles in the Kimberley, the 100-plus islands of Recherche Archipelago near Esperance, or the entire length of the Ningaloo Reef along the Coral Coast.

The Horizontal Falls seen from the air.

Air safaris

If you prefer to take your time and spend a week, an air safari is for you. You’re strapped in and humming along through the bright blue skies, thoroughly enthralled by your window-seat views. Now and then you look over to your travel partner and grin the widest of grins. Today, and for the next six days, the only challenge is getting the camera ready for that breaching whale below, that reef-rimmed archipelago, or the ancient river gorge. Then check in to your luxury accommodation for the night, in WA’s most exquisite and remote locations – think The Berkeley River Lodge on the cliffs of the Kimberley coast, Faraway Bay, or
the Kimberley Coastal Camp.

Charters

Chartering a private flight means you choose when and where you go, and
who your fellow passengers are. You also have a choice of pilot. Whether you’re looking for historical tidbits or an unexpected coral reef, what WA’s pilots all have in common is a passion for the land, and they know it like the back of their hand.

Bespoke air safaris

A step up from chartering, this is about tailor-making a whole safari. Maybe you want to add an extra week, or have exclusive access to your pilot, who knows just where to find those humbling rock-art sites, cascading waterfall locations, or remote mountain peaks where you can be dropped with a flash bottle of wine for sunset.

Photography Broome Aviation.

Flight plans

FIXED-WING OR HELICOPTER? In general, you can bring more companions and go further and faster on a fixed-wing flight. On the other hand, choppers can hover, stop quickly, and land almost anywhere. Because of this ‘wow’ factor, helicopter flights tend to be more expensive. Helispirit in the Kimberley is a good place to start.

CRUISE BY AIR AND SEA Sail the Kimberley coast on a luxury yacht with an on-boat helicopter, and switch from submerged relaxation to an on-high view of the sights in an instant. Both True North and The Great Escape Charter Company offer this package.

ISLAND HOPPING Like the sound of playing Gilligan for the day? Whether it’s the Abrolhos Islands, Cygnet Bay, or the Buccaneer Archipelago, your privately chartered helicopter or floatplane can drop you at any far-flung island your heart desires. Beware: you may be tempted to make it a one-way flight, or to find yourself ‘stranded’ at extreme low tide.

WINE TOURING BY AIR Imagine flying down to Margaret River and landing your chopper on the manicured lawns of Voyager Estate for lunch and a sip of chardonnay. Then flit off for dessert (and more wine, of course) at the equally elegant Vasse Felix. Perth-based wine lovers can charter a fixed-wing or helicopter flight from Jandakot Airport. Heliwest offers three-leg tours of Margaret River and its award-winning wineries, including private wine tastings and a three-course lunch.

HELIFISHING The Kimberley is home to some of the country’s best barramundi fishing. From September to March, a helifishing tour will raise your chances of landing a monster upwards of 60kg. Your helicopter pilot will fly you to the best remote fishing holes where you can check for barra from the air, before touching down with all the gear you’ll need for an unforgettable day. Best of all? No boat means no seasickness. 

Where to fly

KIMBERLEY
North West
Horizontal Waterfalls at Buccaneer Archipelago; Dampier Peninsula.
North East The Bungle Bungle Range in World Heritage-listed Purnululu National Park; the Argyle Diamond Mine; Lake Argyle.
Far North The majestic multi-tiered Mitchell Falls and Mitchell Plateau; Mt Trafalgar; the 80m-high King George Falls; the whale-breeding sanctuary of the Montgomery Islands and reefs; terraced Kings Cascade; and the iconic red gorges of Berkeley River.
Who to fly with Broome Aviation, Bush Pilots, Helispirit, Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures, Kimberley Air Tours, Kimberley Aviation, King Leopold Air, Kingfisher Tours, Shoalair, Aviair.
Tip Book a scenic flight straight after the wet season, when the land is lush, and the rivers, lakes and waterfalls are full and teeming with wildlife.

Lake Argyle (photography Shaana McNaught).

 

CORAL COAST
Must see Stingrays, dolphins and whales among the reef-rimmed Abrolhos Islands; the seagrass beds of Shark Bay; the 150km-long stretch of limestone Zuytdorp Cliffs, towering 200m above the ocean; the ancient Stromatolites; salty Lake Macleod; Ningaloo Reef; and Mt Augustus, the world’s largest rock.
Who to fly with Geraldton Air Charter, Kalbarri Air Charter, Kookaburra Air, Microlight Aircraft Specialist, Norwest Airwork, Ozwest Aviation, Shark Bay Air Charters, Shine Aviation.

PERTH AND SURROUNDS
Must see The endless stretch of perfect beaches and sailboats along the Perth coastline; the bays of Rottnest Island; the unique Darling Scarp; the cityscape; the winding Swan River; the patchworked farmland of the Avon Valley; and the forested Perth Hills.
Who to fly with Attitude Aerobatics, AVWest, Heliwest, Kookaburra Air, Maxem Aviation, Ozwest Aviation, Paul Lyons Aviation, Rotorvation Helicopters, Rottnest Air Taxi, Royal Aero Club, Windward Balloon Adventures.
Tip Thrill-seekers shouldn’t go past visiting Attitude Aerobatics for a ride on ‘The Extra’, a 300- horsepower aircraft that reaches speeds of 400kph over Perth.

Photography Jade Just.

DOWN SOUTH
East The craggy peaks of the Stirling Range and Porongurup National Parks; and iconic Wave Rock.
West The Blackwood River; Margaret River farmland; Geographe Bay; and the lighthouse at Cape Naturaliste.
Far South The Gap and Nature’s Bridge in Torndirrup National Park near Albany; the stunning boulder-dotted Greens Pool near Denmark; the towering 400-year old tingle tree forests in The Valley of the Giants.
Esperance The 100 islands of the Recherche Archipelago; the bright Pink Lake; Fitzgerald River National Park; the beautiful white beaches of Cape Le Grand National Park; towering Frenchman’s Peak; Cape Arid National Park; and Mt Ragged.
Tip In winter, the region is one of just three places in the world where southern right whales calve. In spring, coastal hills, cliffs and river valleys are covered in colourful blooms.
Who to fly with Air Charters West, Albany Aviation, Ashburton Air Services, Busselton Air Service, Helispecs, Heliwest, Kookaburra Air, Ozwest Aviation, Paul Lyons Aviation, Rotorvation Helicopters.

Photography Elements Margaret River.

LUXURY WALKING TOURS

Explore the stunning coastal Cape to Cape Track in Margaret River, on a luxury walking tour. Instead of camping each night, arrive at five-star accommodation, enjoy post-hike massages, gourmet food and beverages, and wine tasting, with luggage transfer between hotels. Four- and eight-day tours are available from Walk Into Luxury. walkintoluxury.com.au

SEGWAY TOURS

See Perth City in a whole new light: Segway Tours WA –  winner of the 2014 Tourism Council award for New Tourism Development – offers hour-and-a-half foreshore tours, one-hour riverside tours, and Rottnest Island tours for adults and children. It sure beats walking, and we bet you’ll get some envying looks
from passers-by. segwaytourswa.com.au

LUXURY CRUISES

You can spend a lifetime cruising the rivers and waterways of the world, only to realise the second you start to cruise WA that the best of the best was waiting for you, right here at home.

These luxury boat trips will blow everything you’ve ever done before out of the water. From helipads and top catering, to five-star accommodation (if a little smaller than an Infinity Suite at Crown Perth), it’s all about location, location, location.

Imagine stepping out of your suite and finding yourself adrift in breathtakingly pristine wilderness – ready to swim in freshwater pools, snorkel coral reefs, or take the chopper out to bushwalk through historical sites and spot diverse wildlife (maybe a croc or two), then return to the boat to enjoy gourmet meals prepared by the chef. If you want to stay in for the day, no one will stop you: take a book from the extensive library and escape to the sundeck, or relax in the on-board spa and enjoy spectacular views.

KIMBERLEY QUEST II
This award-winning cruise ship offers extended wilderness expeditions along the Kimberley coastline. The 25m vessel can accommodate up to 18 guests, and offers six- to 14-day tours. There’s even a spa and sunbeds on deck.

MS CALEDONIAN SKY
Enjoy a 10-day Broome-Darwin cruise on this beauty, in July, August and September. The ship can accommodate 100 passengers and a whopping 75 crew. There are many deluxe suites available with their own private balconies.

SILVER DISCOVERER
A new cruise liner to visit the Kimberley, the Silver Discoverer offers 10- to 13-night cruises from Broome to Darwin. All suites feature a butler service, a bar stocked with your favourites, and champagne on demand.

CORAL EXPEDITIONS I
Formerly the Coral Princess, this 35m vessel carries 48 passengers on 10-day cruises from Darwin to Broome. Its upper deck and deluxe staterooms will be right up your alley. 

TRUE NORTH
Likened to a luxurious hotel, True North is a 50m ship with the capacity for 36 passengers, complete with its own helicopter. Cruises are available from Perth and Broome, exploring the Coral Coast and Kimberley regions.

King George Falls (photography Kimberley Quest).

 

MV GREAT ESCAPE
This small luxury cruise vessel with onboard chopper and amazing catering can access more nooks and crannies of the Kimberley, and with only 14 guests the cruise is flexible – meaning you can take advantage of the wisdom of crew, and see all of the area’s secrets and hidden treasures. Departing Broome, tours include the Kimberley, Rowley Shoals, fishing expeditions and more.

CORAL ESCAPE
The Coral Discoverer, formerly known as the Oceanic Discoverer, is suited to a leisure lover with a sense of adventure. On board, there is an excursion boat and comfortable accommodation for 72 passengers. Ten-day cruises are available from Darwin to Broome.

ODYSSEY
This small boat can accommodate 20 guests in twin-share single cabins and deluxe double cabins. It offers a nine-day Mitchell Plateau expedition, and a 14-day complete Kimberley coast trip, departing from Broome or Wyndham.

LADY M
Form your own group of six couples and enjoy an intimate seven- to 12-night cruise along the Kimberley coast from Broome to Darwin. Enjoy a dip in the eight-seater spa while you take in the sights.

ECO ABOLHOS
The Eco Abrolhos travels from Broome to Darwin and offers 13- and 14-night cruises. Thirty-eight people can stay on board in twin-share cabins with ensuites. Three small boats transport passengers to activities.

PACIFIC EDEN
P&O Cruises’ luxurious Pacific Eden offers a nine-night cruise from Fremantle up to Broome. There’s also a three-night return cruise option from Fremantle to Margaret River. The ship boasts two pool decks, a waterfront restaurant,
cinema and more.

SUN PRINCESS
Three- and four-night cruises are available from Fremantle to Margaret River in March and December 2016, and in January 2017. The ship can comfortably accommodate 1011 guests and 924 crew. It has three pools, five whirlpool spas, fitness centre, casino, movies under the stars and more. 

GOLF

What does WA have no shortage of? Space and open plains. And that means golfers can expect everything from sand courses in the outback to lush green ranges amongst vineyards, covered in hopping (or more likely sleeping) kangaroos. There are also niche courses, private clubs and state-of-the-art driving ranges. 

Where to go

PERTH Perth offers some of Australia’s most challenging and picturesque golf courses. Some of the best public courses are Joondalup Resort,
Port Kennedy, The Vines, and Araluen. Schmooze any acquaintances who are members at Lake Karrinyup Country Club or Cottesloe Golf Club.
PEEL Affectionately known as ‘The Golf Coast’, Peel is a golf lover’s paradise, with many clubs scattered across the region. Attempt a hole-in-one at The Links Kennedy Bay, Secret Harbour Golf Links, or Meadow Springs Golf & Country Club, which is rated in the top ten of resort courses in the country.
BROOME Enjoy spectacular views over Roebuck Bay at Broome Golf Club. The 18-hole, par 72 course is famed for its lush green fairways.
MARGARET RIVER Margaret River Golf Club has been around since the 1950s. It’s a par 77 course spread across 6092m of cleared bushland, with plenty of water hazards. Book ahead if you’re not a member. While you’re down south, stop by Mercure Sanctuary Golf Resort in Bunbury.
TIP Don a collared shirt, covered shoes and pants before you hit the green, and don’t dilly dally on the course.

Metropolitan clubs

Perth and surrounds has some fantastic courses open to the public. Here are the top nine.
Araluen Golf Resort (08) 9397 9000, araluenresort.com.au
Carramar Golf Course (08) 9306 1133, carramargolf.com.au
Collier Park Golf Course (08) 9484 1666, collierparkgolf.com.au
Joondalup Golf Resort (08) 9400 8888, joondalupresort.com.au
Point Walter Golf Course (08) 9330 3262, pointwaltergolf.com.au
Sun City Country Club (08) 9561 1148, suncitycountryclub.com.au
NOVOTEL Vines Resort & COUNTRY CLUB (08) 9297 3000, vines.com.au
Wembley Golf Complex (08) 6280 1300, wembleygolf.com.au
Whaleback Public Golf Course (08) 9457 8999, whalebackgolf.com.au

World's longest golf course

If you thought the inner-city golf courses were endless, you haven’t seen anything yet! Nullarbor Links Golf Course is the longest golf course in the world, spanning a massive 1365km. It is a 16-hole, par 72 course from Kalgoorlie to Ceduna in South Australia. For more info, go to nullarborlinks.com.

 

Photography Tourism WA.

FASHION AND JEWELLERY

The best fashion shopping is, of course, in Perth. Leading boutiques can be found on King Street in the CBD, and there are plenty of other precincts to explore, showcasing international and local designers. But outside Perth, especially down south and even on Rottnest, you can find some gems. Dunsborough is becoming a southwest style centre, and up north, Broome is the place to find pearls and Argyle diamonds. You’ll find many of the high-end jewellery stores on Dampier Terrace.

Pearls

The most revered and highly prized pearl in the world, the Australian South Sea pearl is cultured in the Pinctada maxima oyster from the pristine coastal waters of northern WA. The perfect marine environment, combined with the most modern pearling techniques and practices, produces the largest, finest-quality pearl in the world. The Australian South Sea pearl is the result of an intricate operation in which the oyster, over a period of two years, coats a spherical nucleus with a substance known as nacre. It’s primarily due to the thickness of this coating that the pearls have a natural lustre unequalled by any other variety. They range in size from 9mm to 20mm, however pearls more than 16mm are rare.

CYGNET BAY PEARL FARM TOUR
Have you ever wondered where your string of pearls comes from? Take a tour of Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm in Dampier, Australia’s oldest family-owned pearl farm, where you can go behind the scenes on all the action. Operating since 1946, the farm is home to the world’s largest South Sea pearl, measuring 22.24mm in diameter. This baby took decades to produce, but sadly, luxury lovers, you can’t purchase it – it’s estimated worth is priceless. cygnetbaypearls.com.au.

WILLIE CREAK PEARL FARM TOUR
The Willie Creek Pearl Farm Tour is Western Australia’s most awarded tour, and welcomes many thousands of visitors each year. Half an hour out of Broome, on a picturesque tidal estuary, it’s the place to learn all about the Pinctada maxima and how the oysters and their shells are kept clean and healthy, producing several pearls over the years before retiring. The tour takes you over the bright blue waters of the creek where you’ll see where the pearls grow and also spot waterbirds in the mangroves (maybe even a resident croc), before seeing the final stunning product on display in the showroom. (08) 9192 0000, williecreekpearlfarm.com.au.

Ace of diamonds

In the Kimberley Outback, Rio Tinto’s Argyle Diamonds is the largest diamond-producing mine in the world. It is one of the state’s most unique tourist attractions, and is open to visitors on a guided tour only. Learn how the diamonds are produced and all about the mine’s relationship with Traditional Land Owners.

The drive to Lake Argyle is gorgeous, with Australia’s largest expanse of freshwater supporting a thriving ecosystem as well as growing tourism, agriculture and mining industries. The memories, and your souvenirs, will last a lifetime.

FACT Only five per cent of Argyle’s mined diamonds are of gem quality – hence the huge operation. Eighty per cent of them are brown, followed by 16 per cent yellow, two per cent white, two per cent grey, and less than one per cent pink and green. Despite the low production volume of pink and red diamonds, the Argyle mine is the only reliable source of them in the world, producing 90 to 95 per cent of the world’s examples.

A pink Argyle diamond (photography Tourism WA).

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