Australian Traveller Australia's Top 10 Romantic, February 2006 Issue 7
Those secret corners of the country that are lighting it up in time for Valentine’s Day.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, Australian Traveller turned to its stable of experienced travel writers for romantic guidance. After all, what other group of individuals has seen so much of what this country has to offer? So the questions were posed: Where are Australia’s most romantic destinations? What are its dreamiest activities? The final result is this compilation of Ten Romantic Hotspots. And while we point out that they are in no particular order – and are certainly not the be-all and end-all of potential hideaways to take your intended for Valentine’s Day this year – they will most certainly impress, will definitely leave you in the mood, and might just give you that romantic idea you were searching for. Enjoy...
A Little Slice of Bali
Blokey sportfishing publisher Jim Harnwell is a softie at heart; when he’s not catching big fish in the wilds of the Kimberley or Cape York, he can think of nothing better than spending time with his wife and family. Margaret River is his pick for a romantic getaway, with the wineries, fine foods and classy lodgings combining to create a sensory overload. “If a bottle of great red, some nice cheese and the sun setting through the gum trees doesn’t get you in the mood for love,” he says, “it may well be that you are dead.”
After a day spent touring wineries, olive groves and a variety of cafes, antique emporiums and assorted retail outlets – not to mention strolling along deserted beaches to watch surfers brave the booming Indian Ocean swells – my wife and I were feeling pretty shagged (in a very relaxed and pleasant way, I hasten to add). This was our first romantic trip away in almost five years. At home on the east coast our two young sons were safely in the care of grandparents; we didn’t have to do anything or be anywhere for at least a couple of days. This was a rare opportunity to pretend we were again the young, carefree couple that I dimly recall we were before kids, mortgages and careers got in the way of everything.
Friends on either side of the continent had urged us to spend a day or two in Margaret River, so we dawdled south from Perth. Inspection of the local Visitor Centre revealed a plethora of places to stay. The nice lady at the counter suggested quite a few cottages but none caught my eye – until I found a brochure on a place called River’esque. “Oh yes, that’s very nice,” the lady said. “Very luxurious. People rave about it.” We were sold.
Booked in, we went to a local deli and purchased all the food we used to eat before the arrival of kids saw our culinary adventures come to a sudden halt. Smoked salmon, Brie, nice bread, olives, sun-dried tomatoes. I had a couple of bottles of local Shiraz hidden in the boot of our rental car.
We found River’esque, a stylish Balinese-inspired chalet perched amongst eucalypts on a hill above the actual Margaret River. A note propped up against a smiling Buddha welcomed us and urged us to make ourselves at home. No sooner said than done. I had the first bottle open in a jiffy and we sipped the peppery wine as we explored the house.
Immaculately presented, it was hard not to feel instantly relaxed. The comfortable rooms flowed into one another, all leading to a marvellous balcony set among the treetops. We collapsed into the comfy armchairs before spreading our feast out on a low table and opening the second bottle of red. The evening passed in a blur of languid indulgence. We bathed in the moonlight in the fern-covered outdoor shower before running back in and leaping into the huge steaming bath.
The vast white bed in the upstairs room was so big and soft I almost lost my wife in it. But I found her eventually. The outcome of that is a whole other story. Let me just say that when we arrived at River’esque we had two children. When we left, a third, now known as Suzanna May, was on the way...