22 August 2019
Accommodation can be much more than just a place to rest your head—it can be the highlight of a trip. From bedding down in a double-decker London bus and stretching out in a cave to snoozing underground, here is a selection of NSW’s most quirky places to stay.
They mine white opals in White Cliffs, in the far west of the State, a town that sits in a desert landscape that could be mistaken for the moon. It’s hot out there—really hot—which is why most residents live underground in homes called dugouts. Get to experience a little of what that’s like at the White Cliffs Underground Motel, where you’ll sleep in absolute darkness (can’t-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face-type darkness). But you’ll be cool: the rooms are a perfect 22 degrees year-round.
As unlikely as it seems, there’s a farm—sorry, ranch—raising American bison in Myrtle Creek on the NSW North Coast and, as a bonus, you can stay there. Not in any old accommodation, mind you, but in Native American-style teepees that can sleep up to a dozen people (and possibly several bison). The Aranyani Bison Adventure Tourist Park has plenty more on offer, including walking tracks, beach volleyball, mini golf and canoeing.
At Artisans Park, in Turondale, just outside Bathurst, you can sleep in a little bit of imported history—a 1949 double-decker London bus. The bus has been meticulously refurbished and includes a deck with beautiful valley views and a wood-fired heater for those chilly country nights.
The country town of Dubbo, a five-hour drive northwest of Sydney, might be the last place you’d expect an African-safari-style escape, but that’s exactly what’s on offer at the highly acclaimed Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo. You’ll sleep in luxury safari tents at the edge of the ‘African savannah’ and watch from your private deck as elegant giraffes, zebras and elands wander freely around.
Just outside the village of Monkey Creek in the Blue Mountains is a huge natural cathedral carved into the sandstone which one imaginative chap has transformed into a very cool camping spot. Part of the Hatter’s Hideout complex, the Hat Cave is set deep within a mountain gorge, surrounded by cool temperate rainforest. Features include a camp fire, gas BBQ, solar-powered lights, rainwater and a composting toilet.
Live like a 19th-century lighthouse keeper (or his assistant) for a couple of nights at one of two cottages on Montague Island near Narooma on the South Coast. The Head Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage and Assistant Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage are circa 1881 heritage buildings and offer an intriguing insight to what life would have been like in this isolated spot more than a century ago. Boat transfers are included in the cost.
Take a traditional Mongolian yurt and modernise it with every imaginable comfort, and voilà—the perfect option for those who like their accommodation a little off-centre. At Talo Retreat on the Murray River, you can indulge your yurt yearnings inside canvas walls lined with Australian timber and under a domed skylight to let you stargaze from bed. Rайхалтай*, as the Mongolians would say: fantastic.