A green getaway is more than just a fun alliteration—it’s the way we should all be travelling going forward. We’re talking about booking a stay somewhere that uses low-lighting, harvests rainwater and composts, among other things.
But going green doesn’t mean you have to substitute luxury. There’s loads of swanky, eco-friendly retreats all over Australia.
To help you out, we’ve created a list of our fave sustainable escapes that’ll make you feel even better about saying yes to that getaway. After all, you’re doing it for the environment.
Nightfall Camp, Lamington National Park
Located smack bang in the middle of Lamington National Park (just an hours' drive from the Gold Coast), Nightfall Camp is the perfect mash up of glamping with eco-goodness. With bush regeneration of native plants, organic cuisine sourced from local markets and a natural spa (a swirling, bubbling spa in the middle of their nearby creek), holidaying was never so good for the environment. They also have on-site waste-water treatment, are a chemical-free site, use a 5KW grid-connect solar-power system and are dedicated to monitoring nearby Christmas Creek and protected species including the glossy-black cockatoos which frequent Lamington Valley.
O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, Canungra
Surrounded by 20,000 hectares of subtropical rainforest, O’Reilly’s is the perfect escape to reconnect with nature. Owned and operated by the O’Reilly family, pioneers of ecotourism, O’Reilly’s boasts the world’s first Treetop Walk in the canopy of the rainforest and an Advanced Eco-accredited ‘Discovery Program’ of guided rainforest activities operating every day. Bliss out in one of 48 self-contained and architecturally designed Villas (made from recycled materials) perched onto the sloping hillside. There’s also plenty of activities here to get you out amongst nature, we recommend ordering a picnic hamper and setting off to one of 500 world-class waterfalls accessible via 160-kilometres of nature trails.
New South Wales
Paperbark Camp, Jervis Bay
Paperbark is one of Australia’s OG glamping experiences, pitched on a camp in the glorious wilderness of Jervis Bay. Sustainability has always been a part of their mandate, so while you’re enjoying an idyllic (and very comfortable) Aussie bush experience, you can rest assured knowing the environment around you has not suffered at your expense: these guys are the real deal. Tents are solar powered and designed with shallow foundations and off the ground. Only biodegradable cleaning products are used, exotic species (non-natives) are regularly removed and guest vehicles are kept away from the camp.
Coralie By Unyoked, Southern Highlands
The ethos at Unyoked is all about low-impact, essentials-only escapes—put simply: minimum footprint, maximum chill. This inspired start-up has six hidden cabins peppered across Victoria and NSW, and one of our favourites, Coralie, is only a little over 1.5 hours from Sydney. Adventure is a part of the deal here too. You’ll be given coordinates (like, longitude and latitude) to locate the cabin the day before your stay as well as a couple of pointers—otherwise, you’re on your own as you descend into a lush, leafy valley, down a dirt track and into a grassy field. If you're looking for one of the best sustainable retreats in Australia, this is it.
The Twelve Apostles Lodge, Great Ocean Road
The Twelve Apostles Lodge is a forest-hugged refuge three hours from Melbourne. This amazingly designed lodge has been crafted with environmental sensitivity in mind. Think: passive solar design, hydronic heating, low consumption electric and water fittings, on-site wastewater treatment and composting, plus a self-sufficient water supply. You and your mates will have the lodge all to yourself too, with five generous bedrooms with private en-suite bathrooms. Yep, you’ll never want to leave.
Boroka Downs, Grampians
If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious but still sustainable then this beauty has your name written all over it. Perfect for those who aren’t the type to rough it out in nature (we don’t blame you), Boroka Downs has literally got you covered. Nestled in the gram-worthy Grampians it’s ecotourism-accredited and a member of Land for Wildlife promoting the establishment of habitats for wildlife. This place is all about creature comforts too, think huge tubs for soaking, incredible views, plush beds fitted with linen bedding and cosy robes. There’s even binoculars so you can spot the nearby wildlife.
Jude CABN, Adelaide Hills
This minimalistic, eco cabin is seriously special. Less than 25 minutes drive from Adelaide CBD, this retreat will feel like a world away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Made from locally sourced timbre, the entire fitout has sustainability at the forefront. There’s composting loos, rainwater catchment and solar power—it’s designed to make as little impact on the environment as possible and you are encouraged to do the same. They also strongly encourage unplugging—there's a lock box on site if you’re really struggling to detach from your device. Honestly, you’ll be too busy reconnecting with nature for your phone. Think bushwalking, waterfalls dips and bird watching.
Tanonga Eco Lodge, Eyre Peninsula
Just a 20 minute drive from Port Lincoln lies this idyllic escape. ‘Tanonga’ has the Aboriginal meaning ‘sweet water’ referring to the permanent spring, billabong and creek running through the 100 hectare property which should give you a hint about how important nature is to this retreat. Owners Michael and Jill Coates have worked hard to regenerate the area planting over 25,000 native trees, shrubs and understorey grasses which has caused natural wildlife to return in abundance—100 bird species have been recorded in the area. The eco-cabins boast sustainable features like solar power, double glazed windows and an organic worm treatment for wastewater. Plus the views are stunning so go ahead and book your trip now.
Banubanu Beach Resort, East Arnhem Land
If you’re looking for something that is equal parts tranquil and sustainable then Banubanu is it. The retreat is located on Bremer Island, just a 15-minute flight from Gove Airport in the pristine waters off Nhulunbuy. The eco-sensitive beach retreat was built in partnership with the Yolgnu people to ensure guests experience and appreciate the natural wonders and the culture of East Arnhem Land. There’s five pristine beachfront rooms to choose from including an exclusive elevated penthouse. All rooms come with ensuites and beachfront decks and the resort has a drool-worthy restaurant, bar and pool with magnificent views overlooking the Arafura Sea.
Bamurru Plains, Kakadu
Immerse yourself in an incredible bush experience on the coastal floodplains of Australia’s Top End at Bamurru Plains. The safari lodge boasts ten bungalows with exclusive access to 300 km² of floodplains and savanna woodland on the Mary River, on the edge of Kakadu National Park. The solar-powered camp was built with a minimal impact on the environment meaning you can sip wines in the infinity-edge pool, scan the shallows for big saltwater crocodiles as you skim across floodplains by airboat or slowly cruise the Sampan River knowing your carbon footprint here is minimal. Understand why this place is one of our fave eco retreats in Australia now?
Sal Salis, Ningalo Reef
Sal Salis’ list of eco-credentials is long. Perched on the shores of the incredible Ningaloo Reef, the eco-retreat generates almost 100% of its power via solar panels and the wilderness tents are built above ground and connected by boardwalks to ensure the natural flora and fauna go undisturbed. There’s also gas hot water, nature loos, organic cotton and chemical free linens on the beds, locally-made, organic beauty products in the bathrooms, and all recycling, grey water and waste is disposed of thoughtfully. On top of this, to conserve water, each guest is allotted 20 litres of fresh water from Cape Range National park per day for washing and showering and they can refill their reusable drink bottles at the camp, so there’s no need for nasty single-use plastics.
Kooljaman At Cape Leveque, Cape Leveque
An off-the-grid escape on the Kimberley’s incredible Dampier Peninsula, Kooljaman At Cape Leveque is a sight to behold; think red pindan dirt, pristine white sandy shores and the bluest water you’ve ever seen. Kooljaman is jointly owned by the Djarindjin and Ardyaloon Aboriginal communities, operates using solar power and bore water and is a three-hour unsealed drive from Broome that you’ll be needing a 4WD for. Their low-impact Deluxe Safari Tent, named after Bari Elder Pop Louie, provides all the creature comforts you could desire as you glamp in the wilderness. But, if you’re not afraid to get your hands (and feet) a little dirty, the Beach Camping Shelters provide an incredible experience. Perched on the cliff-tops overlooking the ocean, the Bardi-style shelters are made with palm fronds and include open fire pits, outdoor showers, sandy floors and picnic tables.
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Image Credit: CABN, Paperbark, Nightfall Camp, Twelve Apostles Lodge, Sal Salis, Unyoked Luisa Brimble