Back to the homestead
Stay: Arkaba Station
Australia is, fairly or unfairly, characterized by a lot of things — didgeridoos, Bloomin’ onions, kangaroos, boomerangs, Steve Irwin (RIP) — but it also makes the list for one of our most coveted vacation spots. The craggy Flinders range of the Australian Outback meets unpredictable luxury at Arkaba Station, an 1850s homestead turned hotel. Where there are no TVs, phones, or mini bars (don’t worry, you lush — there’s still a fully stocked bar), the allure of Arkaba lies in the unscathed red-rock Australian countryside that surrounds the homestead as far as the eye can see.
Basking in plush surrounds amid raw wilderness is neat and all, but even better is the long list of activities Arkaba offers. Enjoy a day with kangaroos, emus and wallabies while driving through the Outback on a 4WD vehicle or mountain biking through gorges, creeks and stunning rocky landscapes. More recently, Arkaba has begun offering photography excursions with Lonely Planet’s Richard I’Anson so you can try out your wannabe (wallaby?) photography skills while receiving live instruction from the pro himself. Arkaba also leads “walks” (read: hikes) through the wilderness. For you non-hikers, there’s Australian wine, deluxe meals and crisp cotton sheets for nights under the stars.
After a long day’s walkabout, unwind in the wet-edge pool with a view or one of Arkaba’s five rustic guest rooms following a gourmet meal at the on-site restaurant. The rooms have cowhide rugs, framed ‘roo pictures and access to a veranda that looks out over the vast countryside, so you couldn’t forget you were in Australia even if you wanted to. The homestead includes a large library with plush leather chairs and a stone fireplace for good measure. The level of comfort versus creatures is totally up to you, but Arkaba offers both ends of the spectrum and everything in between.