Although it might inspire panic, there are few things more liberating than knowing you’re out of range for mobile reception. Once your devices are rendered useless, you’re free to enjoy your surrounds without the constant connectivity that can sometimes stifle your everyday existence. Whether it’s a national park that doesn’t support your smartphone habits or a retreat that’s left wi-fi off the list of inclusions, here are Australia’s best digital detox destinations.
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, New South Wales
No amount of scrolling on your smartphone can rival the experience of staying at this mist-veiled luxury accommodation. You’ll hardly have time, anyway – on any given day, you can experience a range of unique activities such as mountain biking, horse riding, archery, guided nature walks or an indulgent few hours at the on-site spa. Although wi-fi is offered, there’s no mobile phone reception, giving you the perfect excuse to drop your phone in a drawer and bathe in the beauty of the natural surrounds.
Arkaba Station, South Australia
Set against the sunburnt ripples of the Elder Range and Wilpena Pound’s natural amphitheatre, the rustic Arkaba Station is shrouded in the kind of quiet, rural seclusion that demands you switch off. Additionally, there’s no phone or satellite reception so checking in on social accounts plays second fiddle to checking IRL. No matter – this vast wildlife conservatory and its inhabitants (namely the threatened yellow-footed rock wallaby or the short-beaked echidna) will keep you busy.
Yorke Peninsula, South Australia
At the edge of the Innes National Park – the toe on the boot-like headland four hours’ drive from the Adelaide CBD – mobile reception disappears almost at the exact moment you descend into the wind-wearied scrub. Speed limits decrease, coastal views surge and from then on there’s little reason to have your device on hand. Keep yourself occupied with surfing at Pondalowie, fishing for salmon at Brown’s Beach or taking a wander on any of the tracks that take from 30 minutes to four hours to complete.
You’ll be forced to down tools due to the location of the historic mining property that is Corinna Wilderness Resort, nestled within the largest temperate myrtle-beech rainforest in Tasmania’s far western Tarkine region. Surrounded by lush natural beauty, tranquillity can be reached in seconds when you surrender your (now useless) devices with a boat ride down the flowing Gordon River, a bushwalk on the easy Huon Pine Walk or, for something a bit more challenging, the two-hour Philosophers Falls route.
Hinchinbrook Island, Queensland
Mobile phone reception is sketchy at best on Hinchinbrook Island, about 130 kilometres north of Townsville. Within the catchment of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, this Jurassic island permits just 40 people at a time, in order to preserve the island’s unique biodiversity. In absence of your smartphone and devices, you could challenge yourself with the 32-kilometre Thorsborne Trail – regularly touted as a bucket-list walk – or simply kayak around its lush, mangrove-covered coastline.
Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia
Sal Salis’ eco credentials reveal a lot about its nature-first attitude: run almost entirely on solar power and carefully constructed with the environment in mind (paths on raised platforms to minimise disturbance to the wildlife, for example), a digital detox seems the “right thing” to do. Choice aside, there’s no phone or satellite reception at this Ningaloo Reef accommodation so other than the camp’s landline for emergencies, you’re on your own.
Tjoritja/West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory
Is there any excuse to be binge-watching The Crown when there are 161 kilometres of national park to explore here? You’ll have significant trouble logging on anyway – on the renowned Larapinta Trail, for example, mobile coverage is limited except on ridges and mountaintops. Throw yourself into rugged, ancient natural passages such as Simpsons Gap, Ormiston Gorge and Glen Helen Gorge instead.
Unyoked, New South Wales and Victoria
Devotees of minimalism will have trouble resisting these chic and streamlined mini cabins hosted on remote properties across New South Wales and Victoria. These one-room hotels are designed for the express purpose of switching off and keeping distraction to a minimum, which means each 15 square-metre solar-powered home is furnished with only the basics: a gas stove, a bar fridge, composting toilet and a hot shower. That way, the huge glass window onto the wilderness is your interference (and a welcome one at that).
Scenic Rim, Queensland
It may be a black spot in terms of phone reception but the Scenic Rim – a cluster of parks and wilderness blanketed in forests that reaches from Tamborine Mountain to Kalbar – isn’t devoid of connection when it comes to scenery. Some 40 kilometres east of the Gold Coast, you can relish the opportunity to put your phone deep into your backpack and enjoy the views across lush Lamington National Park or the waterfalls of Tamborine National Park.