The best weekends away in South Australia and Western Australia

Vineyard stays, sea-lion safaris, tree-top walks and truffle sourcing: serious hotspots that make it worth going the distance.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA​

MAYFAIR HOTEL

45 King William Street, Adelaide; (08) 8210 8888; Mayfairhotel.com.au

THE LOCATION With views along King William Street, one of Adelaide's grandest boulevards, the 170-room Mayfair Hotel could hardly be more central. The Central Market, the Adelaide Oval and the Art Gallery of South Australia are within easy walking distance, while shopping precinct Rundle Mall is on the doorstep. After dark, the nearby laneways come alive with small bars, buzzy diners and dance spots.

THE PLACE Occupying a flamboyant 1930s office building, the Mayfair brings a splash of cosmopolitan flair to the CBD, offering a good choice of tastefully furnished rooms and suites, French-inspired cuisine, a fitness centre and stylish rooftop bar.

THE EXPERIENCE The Mayfair is an oasis of calm amid a boisterous urban environment. Its spacious rooms, whisper-quiet ambience and grown-up service will appeal to many, whether in town for a romantic weekend, big sporting event or winery tour.

DON'T MISS A pre-dinner drink at Hennessy on level 13: this bar-in-the-attic, with a fabulous outdoor space, offers a good range of artisan wines, beers and ciders. The cocktail list includes its signature drink, Honey Trap: a caprioska infused with ginger and natural honey from the hotel's own beehives.

IDEAL FOR Singles, couples or those with older kids. - Mark Chipperfield

From $249 a night for a deluxe king room.

LONGVIEW VINEYARD SUITES

154 Pound Road, Macclesfield, SA; (08) 8388 9694; Longviewvineyard.com.au

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Longview Vineyard in the Adelaide Hills, SA.

Longview Vineyard in the Adelaide Hills. Photo: supplied

THE LOCATION The Adelaide Hills, about 45 kilometres from Adelaide, are a lot less touristy than the Barossa, and this is a great way to get away from it all. In historic Macclesfield village is the Three Brothers Arms – one of South Australia's oldest pubs.

THE PLACE Wine lovers will adore the sweeping views over pinot vines from this spectacular property's luxury king suites. The suites are a recent addition to the property; accommodation is also available in the older homestead. Each has a king bed, kitchenette and Wi-Fi, as well as breakfast provisions.

THE EXPERIENCE​ Longview is a gourmet magnet, with its cellar door open for wine tastings seven days. The new Cucina space serves Italian dishes (from panini to platters) Wednesday to Sunday, while Sundays also feature a multi-course Italian feast.

DON'T MISS The region is dotted with great cellar doors, including Shaw + Smith and Nepenthe.

IDEAL FOR Couples wanting to combine an Italian-accented food and wine experience with some quiet time together. - Winsor Dobbin

From $175 to $245 a night for king or twin suites.

SEPPELTSFIELD VINEYARD COTTAGE

27 Gerald Roberts Road, Seppeltsfield, SA; (08) 8563 4059, Seppeltsfieldvineyardcottage.com.au

Seppeltsfield Vineyard Cottage, SA.

Seppeltsfield Vineyard Cottage, SA. Photo: supplied

THE LOCATION This rural luxe experience in the Barossa is just over an hour's drive from Adelaide, in a quiet vineyard setting. Hentley Farm restaurant is a five-minute walk away on a new walking trail, and Fino at Seppeltsfield a 10-minute walk in the other direction. Appellation at The Louise is across the road.

THE PLACE​ An 1860s cottage with modern luxuries including a Bose entertainment system, espresso machine, bathroom with double shower, underfloor heating, deep rainwater bath and French doors which open to the vines.

THE EXPERIENCE The award-winning cottage is part of a 12-hectare farm, half of which is under vines. The owners, who make wines under the Seize The Day label, are able to offer introductions to those "hard-tovisit" wineries, but many guests prefer to just soak up the cottage's ambience or do an on-site wine tasting.

DON'T MISS The cottage's own private wine cellar.

IDEAL FOR Couples looking for absolute luxury. - Winsor Dobbin

From $750 a night. Two-night minimum stay.

SOUTHERN OCEAN LODGE

Hanson Bay, Kangaroo Island Sa; (02) 9918 4355 Southernoceanlodge.com.au

Southern Ocean Lodge. Kangaroo Island, SA.

Southern Ocean Lodge. Kangaroo Island, SA. Photo: supplied

THE LOCATION Australia's third-biggest island lies 112 kilometres south-west of Adelaide, worlds away from city sprawl. While roughly half its 4600 inhabitants live in Kingscote, the largest settlement, the island has become a magnet for wilderness fanatics, with a third of the island protected. Gourmands will find scrumptious cheese, seafood and wine, and honey from a unique colony of Ligurian bees.

THE PLACE Set in the spectacular wilderness of Hanson Bay on the island's southwest coast, Southern Ocean Lodge packs a "wow" factor that hits you the instant you step through its doors. Everything about this eco-friendly, 21-suite oasis is designed to maximise the mesmerising ocean views. The vibe is comfortable glamour and sensory immersion in a magnificent landscape.

THE EXPERIENCE Fabulous tranquillity. The rate covers everything from airport transfers to wildlife tours, meaning the biggest decisions are which wines best compliment the delectable meals. Walk the 61km Wilderness Trail and this lodge turns luxury base camp. Another highlight: bounding marsupials jockeying for photo ops at the "Kangas & Kanapés" sunset excursion.

DON'T MISS Seeing the Australian sea lions frolicking across Seal Bay Conservation Park's pristine dunes, east of the lodge. Nowhere else can you safely get so close to these endangered creatures, and the guided tour is a must.

IDEAL FOR Luxe-loving adults (no children under 10 allowed). - Helen O'Neill

From $1200 a person a night. Two-night minimum stay.

RAWNSLEY PARK STATION

Flinders Ranges Way, Hawker, SA; (08) 8648 0700;  Rawnsleypark.com.au

Rawnsley Park Station, Hawkers, SA.

Rawnsley Park Station, Hawker, SA. Photo: Jacqui Way

THE LOCATION Spread out on a working sheep station south of Wilpena Pound's Rawnsley Bluff, this is a scenically convenient base for exploring the central Flinders Ranges.

THE PLACE Rawnsley Park was first farmed in 1851 and it continues to stock as many as 3000 head of sheep at any one time. But since 1985, tourism has been the primary industry, attracting 20,000 visitors each year. Nowadays you have the choice of camping in the station's caravan park, bedding down in motel-style holiday units or swankier Eco Villas, or staying in the self-contained homestead – built in 1950 from stone quarried on the property.

THE EXPERIENCE As simple as you like, with a few extravagant options. An à la carte restaurant serves home reared lamb inside a repurposed woolshed, and scenic flights over Wilpena Pound and Lake Eyre take off from its own airstrip. There are four-wheel-drive tours and helicopter rides, while hikers and cyclists can tackle a series of tracks to lookout points, waterfalls and the peak of Rawnsley Bluff.

DON'T MISS High on the priority list – provided you can spare the cash – should be spending a night under the stars on a "Heli-swag Experience". Depart late afternoon on a scenic flight before setting down on the Chace Range, where staff will set up your swag and camp for the night and help you get a two-course campfire meal cooking; they then return to collect you the following morning.

IDEAL FOR Couples and families. - Mark Daffey 

From $420 a night for a one-bedroom Eco Villa.

INDIAN PACIFIC

From Sydney to Perth; 1800 703 357; Greatsouthernrail.com.au

The Indian Pacific Train, from Sydney to Perth.

Aboard the Indian Pacific, from Sydney to Perth. Photo: Heather Dinas

THE LOCATION One of the world's great rail journeys, the Indian Pacific crosses the continent over 4352 kilometres of track – including the longest dead-straight section in the world, 478 kilometres across the flat and empty Nullarbor Plain. It's a spectacular route through mountains, cities and vineyard country, past outback ghost towns, and across stark deserts.

THE PLACE The Indian Pacific has had an upgrade in recent years. The economy seating is gone, replaced by only sleeper cabins in "Gold" and "Platinum" service. Gold is a comfortable experience in the mode of the classic sleeper train: bunk beds and booth-style seating in a dining car. Platinum is a step up, with a double bed which converts to a sitting room, and meals in a stylish restaurant and bar area.

THE EXPERIENCE The four-day, three-night journey resembles a luxury cruise, with off-train excursions a big part of it. Passengers disembark at regular intervals – for tastings and dinner in the Barossa Valley, for instance, or an outback dinner under the stars. On board, top-notch meals include ingredients from the regions the train traverses. Even better, all excursions, food and drinks (even the alcoholic ones), are included in the fare.

DON'T MISS It's easy to stay put in your cabin, relaxing as you watch the diverse landscape slip by. But the Indian Pacific passengers are a sociable and international lot, and it's fun to hang out in the bar car, spotting distant emus and kangaroos out the window as you chat.

IDEAL FOR Couples and sociable single travellers. - Tim Richards

From $2099 for a Gold Service single cabin.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA 

EMPIRE RETREAT AND SPA

1958 Caves Road, Yallingup; (08) 9755 2065; Empireretreat.com

Empire Retreat, Yallingup, WA.

Empire Retreat, Yallingup, WA. Photo: supplied

THE LOCATION Beach, bush and fine wines – Margaret River ticks just about every box. While the area is best-known for its top-notch wineries, including premium producers such as Cullen Wines and Leeuwin Estate, it's also a great place to get active, whether you favour mountain biking or kayaking, bushwalking or surfing.

THE PLACE Located just outside the town of Dunsborough, the adults-only Empire Retreat has a tranquil setting flanked by fields, woodlands and vineyards. The main building, an old timber and stone farmhouse, has inviting lounges open to all guests, as well as two loft apartments upstairs. The other eight rooms are located just a short stroll along the boardwalk. Each of the individually decorated dwellings features tactile furnishings and elegant bathrooms; the luxury villas up the ante with an open fireplace and a private courtyard complete with al fresco shower.

THE EXPERIENCE Cushion-laden couches and feature rugs, cane armchairs and designer lamps – walking into Empire Retreat feels like stepping into a spread from an interiors magazine. Hardly surprising, then, to learn that the team behind the retreat also runs the stylish Empire Homewares stores. Days start in the sunny dining room, where a huge breakfast buffet is served; in the evenings, enjoy a fireside pre-dinner drink in the living room before heading out to dinner at one of the area's many restaurants.

DON'T MISS The chance to indulge yourself at the delightful Asian-influenced spa, where massages and facials feature local Sodashi products.

IDEAL FOR A romantic retreat. - Ute Junker

From $295 a night for a loft suite, breakfast included.

THE TRIBE HOTEL

4 Walker Avenue, West Perth; (08) 6247 3333; Tribehotels.com.au

The Tribe Hotel, Perth, WA.

The Tribe Hotel, Perth.

THE LOCATION West Perth has never been a holiday hotspot but this hip hotel lures stylish travellers. Kings Park is on the doorstep for a morning run or an afternoon stroll.

THE PLACE The rooms are tiny, but guests are encouraged to hang out in the foyer instead, with the ground floor loosely divided into areas to suit different moods, with rustic wooden tables, low velvet sofas, even high-backed blush pink '50s armchairs.

THE EXPERIENCE It's surprisingly comfortable, thanks to clever design. There is ample storage for suitcases, luxe thick towels behind the bathroom door and floor-to-ceiling windows.

DON'T MISS Cycle to Subiaco's shops and bars on one of the hotel's free bikes.

IDEAL FOR Solo travellers who like to socialise. - Ute Junker 

From $149 a night.

FORAGERS

1 Roberts Road, Pemberton; (08) 9776 1580; Foragers.com.au

 Foragers, Pemberton, WA.

Foragers, Pemberton, WA. Photo: supplied

THE LOCATION About 300 kilometres south of Perth, you'll find verdant orchards and lush bushland, where karri trees can soar 90 metres. Local wineries are another highlight, producing some superb cool-climate drops.

THE PLACE This culinary hub encompasses a dining room, a cooking school and self-catering accommodation (hearty breakfast hampers are available). Options include open-plan studios, two-bedroom chalets and the three-bedroom farmhouse.

THE EXPERIENCE As well as bushwalking, the area boasts tree-climbing experiences, or the more sedate Tree Top Walk. Regional specialties include marron, trout and truffles, along with chestnuts, peaches and plums – perfect for a picnic at nearby Beedelup Falls.

DON'T MISS The seasonal dinners on most Saturday nights. Also delicious: the cooking classes, usually on Friday evenings.

IDEAL FOR Fit foodies and their families. - Ute Junker

From $250 a night for a luxury studio. Two-night minimum stay.

INJIDUP SPA RETREAT

32 Cape Clairault Road, Yallingup; (08) 9750 1300, Injidupsparetreat.com.au

Injidup Spa Retreat, Yallingup, WA.

Injidup Spa Retreat, Yallingup, WA.

THE LOCATION Yallingup is a 3½-hour drive south of Perth in the Margaret River region, which is dotted with wineries and caves. The real stars are its white sand beaches, clear water, pounding surf and incredible sunsets.

THE PLACE This retreat is quiet and private. No children are allowed. Villas have a plunge pool, barbecue and limestone fireplace, plus an oversized bath and rain-shower in the large bathroom.

THE EXPERIENCE Nothing can prepare you for the villas' jaw- and bag-dropping 180-degree ocean view. The breakfast hamper offers enough provisions for at least two breakfasts and a lunch. Dining options include Lamonts winery, Bunkers Beach House and Swings & Roundabouts winery. The beautifully restored Caves House makes a good pub meal.

DON'T MISS Dunsborough. The water is astonishingly clear and there are stunning limestone caves to explore.

IDEAL FOR A sensory indulgence. - Jane Richards

From $650 a night. Two-night minimum stay.

Some writers stayed as guests of the properties.

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