Live out your James Bond fantasies

Ever wanted to be James Bond for a day? In the Northern Territory, you can.

00Seven are a Darwin company offering epic Bond-themed adventures, on both water and land.

get lost took on the Casino Royale tour – a jet-ski adventure at full throttle along Darwin’s waterfront.

Fly along at long sun drenched, unspoilt coastlines while spotting marine life, feeding fish and enjoying the thrill of the pristine, open water. The tour goes over World War Two shipwrecks, and past Darwin’s iconic Mindil Beach Casino, making it feel as if you’re in hot pursuit of Le Chiffre following a high-stakes poker game.

All of the jet skis are named after Bond girls (get lost found itself on Pussy Galore) with the best tours running at sunrise and sunset, with the stunning ambience of Darwin’s famed red skyline providing the perfect backdrop.

As well as Casino Royale, other excellent picks are Golden Eye (an amateur photography class, by jet-ski) and Espresso Martini tour (an express session, with a ‘secret’ mission).

Back on land, the Moonraker, Licence to Thrill and Skyfall four-wheeler tours through Charles Darwin National Park are epic adventures in their own right, taking in wild trails, World War Two ammunition storage spots, bunkers and more.

The company is a well-oiled machine, with free photography and videos a part of the tour at the end of the day, and knowledgeable guides providing information along the way.

All skills and experience levels are welcome – you don’t have to be a Bond-level marksman, and doing a flip on a jet-ski that’s on fire as you chase a bad guy is not expected.

Darwin

Darwin can be visited at anytime, but is definitely best during the dry season, from May to October each year.

Temperatures are generally in the late 20s and the Top End’s famed humidity is more than manageable during this time.

Grand Designs in Portarlington

The 1888-built Portarlington Grand Hotel has had a few renovations over the years, but none as big as this.

A $10 million refurbishment has turned the local watering hole of this once sleepy town on the Bellarine into an absolute coastal gem.

There’s a few different parts to get your head around. First, the Atrium; a light-filled, open-air space with nautical vibes that don’t overdo it.

Out the back of the Atrium there’s the Lawn, a breezy, green area with picnic tables and umbrellas. You can imagine an absolute vibe kicking up here in the summer months.

Heading indoors there’s the front bar; with wooden floorboards and booths – a bloody good spot to catch some mates. And further down through the classy walkway is the bistro, which is packed out most weekends for lunch and dinner.

The pub’s food offering makes heavy use of this coast’s excellent seafood. Portarlington mussels – the subject of a truly riotous mussel festival every January – are especially delicious here in the seafood-and-chorizo risotto. You’ll also find pub staples such as panko-crumbed schnitties, the classic chicken parma, whiting with chips and more. Locals supply the grog, with esteemed wineries Jack Rabbit and Terindah Estate, plus Flying Brick Cider Co, The Whiskery and more.

Portarlington is only an hour from Melbourne by ferry, which cuts across Port Phillip Bay and is actually shorter than driving, making it the perfect weekend getaway location. There’s 18 stunning rooms upstairs from the pub main, six featuring balconies looking out over the town and the water.

There’s been plenty of pub and restaurant openings over the last few years, and s well as being on the water and a destination in its own right, Portarlington is in close proximity to surf coast hotspots like Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads.

Get down there…before everyone else does.

SHELLBACK

At the very southern tip of mainland Australia is both a landscape and promontory so magical they belie the true nature of the destination.

Wilsons Promontory in Victoria is one of Australia’s most breathtaking national parks, laced with white sandy beaches, wombats, endless walking trails and ancient bushland. Shellback in nearby Cape Liptrap offers unbelievable views over ‘The Prom’, a laidback farm-style stay with modern touches in an open plan kitchen and living room. Life doesn’t get much better than sitting on the deck with a craft-beer from nearby Burra Brewing in Korumburra, and farmland lapping at the edge of this timeless property.

From AU$450 per night

Click here for a S’HELL OF A STAY

A BY ADINA

New hotels come and go in big cities, but when they make an effort to truly redefine the guest experience from the minute those lift doors open, you know it’s a keeper.

The studio rooms and apartments at A by Adina in Sydney are completely surrounded by office buildings and sandstone Victorian architecture in the city’s CBD skyline, but not imposingly so. Instead the rooms here feel cradled and secure, like a jewel in the casing of a necklace. The modern fit-out of the two-bedroom apartments, including the fully automated blinds on the floor-to-ceiling windows, are certainly chic, but not overstated. But please do yourselves a favour and hire a babysitter so you can saunter upstairs to Dean & Nancys on 22, a swanky new speakeasy featuring some of the most Instagram worthy cocktails in the city.

From AU$399 per night.

Click here for A PLUS LUXURY

Chasing Waterfalls in Fiji

TLC told you not to, but contrary to popular opinion, I did and don’t regret it. Chasing waterfalls’ is the game, and Taveuni, Fiji’s Garden State, is the playing field.

For those in need of a breath of air from the rigour of scuba diving on Tavenui’s famous coral reefs, the Lavena Waterfall Adventures is the right level of moderate adrenaline-filled thrill-seeking to help recharge the battery.

Within moments of a quick phone call to a local Lavena guide, you’re out on the water exploring the waterfall-rich southeast side of Taveuni, unreachable by land.

The final stop on tour is an impressive three-tiered waterfall cascading from the spectacular mountains of the lush Bouma National Park. You’d be remiss not to take a dip. Freshwater is the perfect remedy to Fiji’s tropical humidity.

One of the friendly guides at Aloha Tours will be more than happy to coordinate this adventure for you, along with other off-the-beaten-track experiences in Taveuni. Just ask about the natural waterslide; you won’t regret it.

Heli-Hiking: The best of both worlds

Hiking is so old hat. In 2022, Heli-Hiking is where it’s at.

When you go on a hike, you spend a lot of the time looking at the ground in front of you, concentrating on where your next step is going and making sure not to fall A over T.

It means you can miss some of the best views and bits of wherever you are. And when you’re somewhere as beautiful as Tasman Island, that’s not what you want to be doing.

The way around this? A Heli-Hike, which combines the stunning birds-eye vistas of a scenic helicopter flight with the endorphins of completing an epic hike.

Life’s an Adventure has released a three-day, Walk Three Capes itinerary combining the best of these two worlds. After a helicopter takes you to the top of the island, near the south-eastern coast of Tasmania, you’ll complete a two-night hike across dramatic cliffs and through lush rainforest, before eventually being escorted back to Hobart in a chopper like some sort of hiking mega-celebrity.

This is an epic way of spicing up of the regular hike; an amped up way of getting some fresh air and touching base with nature.

FREYCINET LODGE

When get lost stayed at Freycinet Lodge, we got a knock on the door at 5pm on our first night for housekeeping. The ‘housekeeping’ turned out to be a complimentary shot of local whiskey, and some chocolate. We knew we were in our place.

This touch is one of several small details that takes Freycinet beyond any average nature lodge.

From the balcony of a gorgeous array of secluded rooms, you can see Freycinet’s jagged peaks, called The Hazards, and Richardson’s Beach, a quiet bay which backs onto the Tasman Sea that never seems to have more than about 10 people on it at one time.

You’re surrounded by gumtrees and the call of kookaburras, and the luxuriously-sized bath that backs onto a floor to roof window allows you to bask in all of that while completely starkers.

freycinetlodge.com.au

Getting Arty in the Jam Factory

The cartoon-like symmetry of the Henry Jones Art Hotel in Tasmania from the front like it’s makes it seem like it’s been plucked straight from a Wes Anderson film. It’s as luxurious and chic as an Anderson film, too.

The hotel is set in an old jam factory, built in the 1820s. You don’t need to read this article to work this out – there is jam literally still oozing down the walls, despite IXL closing proceedings 52 years ago.

Greg Ball is the Art Curator at Henry Jones and says that when the hotel opened in the early 2000s, guests and staff initially believed there to be a leak somewhere – a worst nightmare-scenario for any new hotel.

The leak however had a faintly sweet smell, giving away its real identity as jam which had risen to the roof of the building, condensed with the heat of the build and slowly trickled down the walls of each level. The streaks have been left as a reminder of what was, as have various bits of graffiti, including an anti-Apartheid in South Africa message scrawled hastily on a beam, apparently from a former jam factory employee, now frozen in time.

Henry Jones was Australia’s first-ever dedicated art hotel, and exhibits works from artists from right around the country. It lines the walls and is in every room, around 500 pieces in total.

There’s all sorts – contemporary art, Indigenous art, big and small art, and weird art – both good weird and weird weird – and all of it is for sale.

Peacock and Jones is the fine-dining restaurant built into the hotel, where former Masterchef contestant Ben Milbourne looks after things.

Luxurious rooms look out over the marina on one side and Hobart’s mountains on the other, so there’s always something to look at if you’re done with the art.

Whether you’re an art person, a food person, a jam person or just a person, Henry Jones is an indulgent spot – right up there as not just one of Tassie’s finest, but one of Australia’s.

The rogue whisky maker in central Tasmania

Peter Bignell takes waste reduction to a new level.

About 13 years ago the sixth generation sheep farmer in Tasmania’s central highlands, came into possession of an excess of rye. To get rid of it, he decided to start making his own whisky. And so Belgrove Whisky was born.

Since then, his whisky has gone from strength to strength, from winning national awards to being served in high-end Tasmanian restaurants like Peacock and Jones (where he recommends his white rye whisky be paired with the wallaby tartare). He’s had Gordon Ramsey out to his property, and had him unceremoniously shovelling sheep shit for the ‘Wholly Shit Whisky’ blend.

Peter and his Iraqi offsider Maan (who gave up a PhD to brew the good stuff for a living) do not do things the traditional way. An old washing machine is used in the mixing process. Peter makes his own stills. He places a reliance on smell and taste where others would use tools and computers.

“We’re here to make flavours, not alcohol, and that’s very important,” he says.

“We do everything by hand, so no two of our blends are ever exactly the same.

“And yes, we could probably get a bunch of computers together that regulate everything and make some really good whisky out of it. But gee that would be boring, wouldn’t it?”

Tours and tastings of the Belgrove’s distillery is not the clean-cut, streamlined beauty of the bigger operations, and therein lies the beauty. The distillery is at Peter’s house. Tastings take place in his shed, rather than a glitzy tasting room. Instead of a spittoon or a sink, any leftover whisky from each sample should be tipped onto the floor.

The Belgrove White Rye whisky is the one featured on Peacock and Jones’ menu, and on the day get lost visit, the aptly named Bogan Burnout is a favourite. The whiskey is emblematic of a commitment from Peacock and Jones, and indeed the Tasmanian culinary scene in general, to sourcing local produce wherever possible.

Best of all, the man himself doesn’t seem to give a shit.

“Things don’t always work out. For instance, I tried to make a whisky that no one likes,” Peter says.

“I failed miserably. Everyone seems to like Bogan Burnout.”

Belgrove Whiskey features on a brand new menu at Peacock and Jones, based within Hobart’s Henry Jones Art Hotel. 

The best of Vanuatu

It’s been a long wait, but the deserted beaches, underwater adventures and geographic anomalies of Vanuatu are once again within reach of travellers.

The Pacific Ocean country, made up of around 80 islands, released restrictions to fully-vaccinated travellers on July 1.

Our editor Jeremy Drake visited in 2019, just before the pandemic – this is what the world has been missing out on the last few years:

 

There aren’t many places you can lay on a deserted beach, surf epic breaks and dive stunning reefs, as well as climb to the edge of a volcano and zipline through a jungle.

Air Vanuatu will re-open five non-stop flights a week from Sydney to Port Vila, which is just  three hours and 30 minutes. This makes Vanuatu one of the most accessible adventure travel spots for Australians.

We at get lost reckon we know the South Pacific pretty well…it is a region that feels a bit like those people that live down the street that you eventually become best mates with (check our South Pacific Cool Guide from issue one of our digital magazine for more South Pacific epicness).

7 get lost favourites in Vanuatu: