Two quick getaways in Australia

getaways

Parachilna, South Australia

A night in an outback bar is an eye-opener. A session at the front bar of the Prairie Hotel can prove epic.

That is where graziers, shearers, pilots, hedge-fund billionaires, film stars and anyone who happen to be passing gathers to get a drink. The 1890 verandah looks over plains of the scrubby desert and by the time the sun is creating silhouettes of the Flinders Ranges, the front bar – hung with memorabilia from 135 decades of great nights gone before – becomes a beacon of light and noise. Sometimes there is music; often there is laughter and roughly 8 pm that an air horn sounds, draining the bar so everyone can wave in the coal train as it thunders past en route to Port Augusta.

Needless to say, the Prairie has set itself on the map for more civilized motives than beer: its kitchen serves dishes spiced with desert components and a now-famous feral mixed grill; it has been a movie place for the likes of Jane Campion and Phillip Noyce; and its lodging, such as four-star suites, is smart and comfortable.

Kimberley coast, Western Australia

We have been flying for an hour north of Broome when the seaplane arcs across the inhospitable and uninhabited landscape of the Buccaneer Archipelago and dips over Talbot Bay. Below are just two narrow gorges: one only six meters broad, another 24 meters thick.

When the high wave changes – the tidal range here is eight to nine meters, climbing to an astonishing 13 meters on the summer king wave – the equivalent of all of the water in Sydney Harbor races using these gorges. Even though they look from the air like white-water rapids, the wave rushing through the gorges is falling like a waterfall; thus the name coined by the English naturalist David Attenborough.

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