Seven wonderful ways to make a splash around Australia.
A free, natural spa treatment in Australia’s South West? Wyadup is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy – or at least refreshed and energised after a trip to the beach. When the surf is up at Wyadup Beach (about 15 minutes from Yallingup), the combination of surf and rock fissures turns the pool there into Mother Nature’s own bubble bath. BYO robe.
New South Wales
The Royal National Park is a glorious expanse of wilderness just under an hour’s drive south of Sydney’s CBD that stretches over 150 square kilometres. The exact location of the Figure Eight Pool isn’t clearly signposted so half the excitement is finding it in the park’s southern precinct. Strike up a conversation with fellow hikers along the track and they’ll be happy to point you in the right direction. Adventurers are rewarded with a perfectly formed double spherical rock pool inviting you to take a plunge in its crystal-clear ocean water. Plan to get there at low tide to see the pool in its full glory.
Explore the rugged beauty of Tasmania’s national parks and waterways as part of the newly launched Hobart to Hobart cruise. This immersing, seven-day experience takes place on board the Coral Expeditions I catamaran and transports you to pristine spots such as Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour – normally only accessible by light aircraft or a seven-day hike. Best to book while you can, though, as there are only seven upcoming departures planned – in November and February – and, with a capacity of 46, places are strictly limited.
Renowned for its soaring quartzite cliffs, Trephina Gorge – about an hour’s drive east of Alice Springs – is also home to shimmering bodies of water, including the ever-changing John Hayes Rock Hole. The cooler months, from May to September, are an ideal time to take a dip. But the place is just as splendid in summer, when the water evaporates, leaving behind a creek bed parched of life yet gloriously beautiful. Beware, though: the gorge is accessible only by 4WD – all the better if seclusion appeals.
The rising sun bathes the Noosa River in a soft golden glow, the water is still and the only sound comes from chirping birds – perfect conditions for a bespoke yoga class. On a paddleboard. A guided two-hour session with Pilates by the Sea (also available as part of a Luxe Fitness Escapes package) takes you among the mangroves and ends with 15 minutes of meditation on your board. This could be the most relaxing way to explore Noosa.
The mirror-like Lake Elizabeth, in the Great Otway National Park, offers a rare audience with this elusive monotreme. A platypus colony inhabits the small lake so visitors are almost assured of encounters. The tour leaves from Forrest, a hamlet in the hinterland area of the Great Ocean Road, with operator Bruce Jackson guiding guests in four-person canoes and claiming a 95 per cent platypus-sighting success rate.
Sure, swimming with sharks has been done – unsuccessfully by some –but cage diving with Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions is unusual in that it can take you to the ocean floor. You’ll plunge 20 metres into the Southern Ocean, off South Australia’s scenic Neptune Islands, “comforted” by the guarantee that you have a “99 per cent chance” of coming within arm’s length of great white sharks. If you’re not a hardcore diver, opt for the Surface Cage experience, where you strap on a snorkel, step into a cage off your boat and submerge just under the surface while nearby Jaws wannabes flash you their gruesome grins.