Feb 2024

Magic of the mini break

Small in length but big on impact, the micro-cation is one of life’s underrated pleasures. Check in to one of these dreamy Australian stays, and totally check out

SATELLITE ISLAND

Where: Southern Tasmania, so basically the edge of the Earth. Why go: If you thought you had to travel to The Bahamas to stay on your own private island, think again. Satellite Island, a tiny speck of land in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, is your own exclusive hideaway – though it couldn’t be further from the typically glitzy private playgrounds of the A-list. Instead, it’s a blissful off-grid sanctuary, comprising a three-bedroom weatherboard and a two-bedroom shack, plus a luxury bell tent. It’s utterly remote, so you’ll need to bring your own supplies or forage from the ocean and veggie patch – or you can arrange for a top Tasmanian chef to come and cook for you. Who with: Gather up to eight friends for a slow and salty weekend spent fishing off the jetty, shucking wild oysters, swimming, snorkelling or paddleboarding, and curling up by the fire. So much to do, and yet so little to do. What to pack: A Uniqlo puffer jacket (the next stop after Satellite Island is Antarctica); and a pack of Skull cards (like poker, but without the boring bits).

OH, BUOY

Where: Moored on the backwaters of NSW’s Hawkesbury River.
Why go: To put the magic in your minibreak. Husband and wife Laurie and Jess Rissman restored and converted the 1970s houseboat after living on a sailboat themselves, and today it’s a retro-cool floating stay where you’ll actually feel the serenity. Don Draper would have loved it. Who with: This has all the makings of a romantic retreat for two. You’ll be greeted with champagne and cheese on arrival and, while the pantry is fully stocked, you can also take a motorboat to fine-diner Berowra Waters Inn. What to pack: A chic straw sunhat and classic boating novel, like Swallows and Amazons or The Old Man and the Sea.

MAGGIE A-FRAME

Where: Magnetic Island, off the coast of Townsville, Queensland. Why go: For a nostalgic beach holiday – the bohemian cabin is surrounded by palms and mango trees with unspoilt bays and beaches on your doorstep. Who with: The A-frame sleeps five, though you can also rent the adjoining studio and make a family trip of it (no kids under 12 in the A-frame). What to pack: Thongs, which you’ll most likely kick right off.

ROLLING SEAS

Where: Bilinga Beach, a quiet seaside suburb on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Why go: The sprawling villa has just opened its doors and boasts everything you want and need for a luxe weekender: stylish (and shoppable!) interiors by Three Birds Renovations, an infinity pool, wine cellar and an ocean view so dreamlike it was probably your old Microsoft screensaver. Who with: A group of girlfriends for an opulent sleepover. The estate sleeps 12 across a guest house and cottage. What to pack: Your Eres swimsuit and a silk robe to slip into day or night.

VINTAGE HOUSE

Where: Daylesford, about 90 minutes from Melbourne. Why go: For some R&R in an old miner’s cottage, exquisitely styled by interior designer Kali Cavanagh. Who with: Someone who appreciates great aesthetics. What to pack: Not much, so you can hit the local markets and antique stores.

EYRE WAY

Where: On an untouched corner of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. Why go: To get off-grid without going completely bush. Choose from two sustainably and architecturally designed tiny homes. Who with: Your nearest and dearest in these close confines. What to pack: A pair of binoculars for whale watching.

SAL SALIS

Where: In the sand dunes near Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef. Why go: For a once-in-a-lifetime seaside safari. You’ll glamp on 500-thread-count organic cotton, swim in the turquoise reef with manta rays and whale sharks, laze in a hammock and dine under the stars. It’s the kind of break that’ll leave you feeling not only rejuvenated, but a lot more wondrous about the world. Who with: A special someone who you can happily converse with for hours on end – don’t expect wi-fi reception here. What to pack: Insect repellent and breezy linen layers.

THE WENSLEY

Where: In Victoria’s Surf Coast Hinterland. Why go: Because the rustic-luxe home set on 32 hectares of farmland seems tailor-made for a minibreak: drive The Great Ocean Road, be at one with nature and soak in the outdoor tub. Who with: A group of up to 10. What to pack: Sturdy shoes for brisk walks and bike rides, and top-shelf booze for mixing cocktails in the pm, if that’s your thing.

THE GHAN

Where: Aboard a legendary railway train. Why go: It’s the Aussie equivalent of the Orient Express – perhaps not as high on glamour, but still considered one of the world’s greatest train journeys. Choose from one- to three-night itineraries, traversing the ochre-red earth between Adelaide, Alice Springs and Darwin. You’ll connect with First Nations cultures and enjoy old-fashioned hospitality. Who with: Your mum, dad or kids. What to pack: A vintage-style travel trunk (see Louis Vuitton) and an Akubra.

WANDER

Where: South-east Queensland’s Scenic Rim, 80 kilometres from Brisbane. Why go: When you’re on the brink of dissolving into burnout, wind down in a WanderPod – five glass-fronted cabins with an agri-meets-eco focus. Who with: The compact pods sleep two but also lend themselves to a peaceful solo trip. Wander also runs transformational wellness experiences for women. What to pack: A tablet loaded with meditation or yoga apps – though you can also organise an in-room (or rather, on-deck) session.

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