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Merribrook Retreat: Merribrook River, Australia

The Pool House at Merribrook Retreat     Photo: courtesy, Merribrook

2. MERRIBROOK RETREAT :: COWARAMUP, AUSTRALIA
ALTHOUGH MERRIBROOK RETREAT, an elegant ensemble of rammed-earth chalets, isn't in the outback—no enormous crocodiles or freaky red-rock formations here—it's still situated in one of the most geographically isolated spots on earth, southwestern Australia's Margaret River region. A three-hour drive south from Perth delivers rolling grasslands, stately eucalyptus forests, and the deserted talcum beaches and crystalline waters of the southern Indian Ocean.
Room & Board: Nine chalets, set among fruit orchards and scattered around a small lake, come stocked with handcrafted soaps and plush beds. Sip a regional sauvignon blanc in the hot tub while watching the resident kangaroos come out to feed. Dawn brings an alfresco breakfast of house-made granola, berries, and local sheep's-milk yogurt while cobalt-colored fairy wrens flit overhead.
Out the Back Door: If not surfing, canoeing, or abseiling, join up with Merribrook owner Richard Firth for a one- to six-day hike along the spectacular Cape-to-Cape Track, an 80-mile trail that winds past coastal limestone caves and quiet beaches from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin. Firth forages for abalone and serves it with boutique wines, artisan-crafted bread, and cheeses he packs in himself.
Details: Doubles, $149–$183, breakfast included; 011-61-8-9755-5599, www.merribrook.com.au

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