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Australia’s Victoria coast, on the country’s southeast tip, has never been a checklist destination for those seeking something more than a backpacker special—until now. Tucked near a cliff along the breathtaking Great Ocean Road is Moonlight Head. The modern brick-and-steel lodge, which opened in June, is the first piece of a complex that will include a 33-room boutique hotel and five four-bedroom lodges spread over 100 acres (the buildings were designed by Pritzker prize-winning Australian architect Glenn Murcutt with help from his wife, fellow architect Wendy Lewin). In keeping with the area’s ecofriendly vibe, the chef uses local ingredients and there will be an organic garden and wind-generated electricity. But it’s Moonlight Head’s location that makes it spectacular.
Hidden just outside Lorne—a small Victoria town two hours from Melbourne that’s popular with surfers—the secluded setting is surrounded by the sea and a pristine national park. The views are world-class: Windows are strategically placed at bed level so that guests don’t miss even one frame of the blush-colored sunrise while lounging on the Savoir beds. Murcutt even insisted that the ceilings be free of light fixtures to avoid interfering with moon- and stargazing through the skylights.
Fortunately, the out-of-the-way location doesn’t confine guests to days spent relaxing on the living room’s Pelton Frau sofas, watching kangaroos hop by—though there’s certainly no shame in such use of time here. The staff will arrange a sightseeing helicopter ride along the coast or a walk with an ornithologist to help you spot the re-gion’s rare birds. For the adventurous, they’ll toss over the keys to a Ducati motorcycle for a spin along the Great Ocean Road’s twists and turns. Moonlight Head’s debut followed the launch of the Great Ocean Walk, a spectacular 56-mile track that links Apollo Bay to the dramatic Twelve Apostles sandstone formations. A section of the trail passes right by the lodge, and surely it won’t be long before other hoteliers catch on to the allure of this spot. Go now while you can have it all to yourself. From $2,400, two-night minimum; 61-3/5237-5208; moonlighthead.com.