A working cattle ranch in the remote far north of Queensland seems an unlikely location for a luxury retreat, but this eight-room lodge manages to take everything iconic and adventurous about its Australian outback setting and give it a stylish twist. A three-hour drive—or 35-minute helicopter flight—northwest of Cairns, the intimate property is dwarfed by the 28,000-hectare spread of sun-scorched land it calls home, not to mention the towering red-sandstone escarpment of Mount Mulligan, a sacred Dreaming site known to the Djungan people as Ngarrabullgan. Melbourne-based architectural studio Dubois designed the four solar-powered accommodation pavilions—each housing just one room and suite—to reference their surrounds, layering rustic elements like stone and corrugated iron with soft leather and polished reclaimed timber. Also on hand: deep soaking tubs fashioned from rainwater tanks that sit on private patios overlooking a eucalyptus-fringed reservoir. Golf buggies are at the ready to zip guests to the pool (heated naturally via black tiles) or to the main lodge building, where wine is poured around an open fire and chef Amanda Healey creates hearty, daily changing meals that might include local grass-fed beef with lemon myrtle, or kangaroo tataki drizzled with miso cream. But it’s the remote and rugged landscape that’s the real draw, with diversions ranging from kayaking or barramundi fishing in the reservoir to exploring the property by 4WD: itineraries include a visit to the historic Tyrconnell goldmine or an eerie drive through a long-deserted coal town. If your timing is right, you can even take part in that most quintessential of outback activities—a cattle roundup.
—61-7/4777-7377; mountmulligan.com; doubles from US$1,115