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Fly direct between Brisbane andMelbourne with

Jetstar, Qantas, Tigerair and Virgin Australia

Fantasy retreat

You might well ask “Mira Mira on the wall which is the weirdest place to

stay of all?” and Carl Ward’s fantasy retreat is bound to be near the top of

the list. Mira Mira, less than two hours south east of Melbourne in rural

Gippsland, began as a retirement project for Ward’s parents who wanted to

fulfil their wildest imaginations when they set out to build accommodation

on their 22-hectare retreat. One soon led to another and the fantasy creations

eventually caught the eye of visitors who wanted to stay while they explored the

surrounding country in the foothills of Mt Baw Baw.

Today the region is popular for its art and gourmet trails, fishing, bush

walking and four-wheel drive tracks. Mira Mira is located in Crossover and

guests may well wonder whether they have crossed into another dimension

when entering through the mouth of Magog to the underground ‘Cave’, or

the Gaudi-inspired ‘Tanglewood’ (


) where there are no straight lines, or

across the pond to the Japanese-style ‘Zen’ retreat.

Each is a self-contained two-bedroom ‘cottage’ set

out of sight from each other with kitchens and

shower or bath facilities and heating for colder

months (Mt Baw Baw is a ski area in winter).

Prices from $400 for two nights (minimum stay)

midweek, from $500 at weekends.


There’s no doubt that just getting to

your room in one of Canada’s Free

Spirit Spheres (


) is an awe-

inspiring experience – each of the three

pods is suspended amid soaring cedar, maple and fir groves in a forest

on Vancouver Island and access is by raised walkways, spiral stairways

and short suspension bridges – and yes, the spheres do sway slightly

in mid-air, but that just makes it even more appealing to lie-in in the

morning. Owner Tom Chudleigh set out to mimic nature when he

created the spheres and, like nuts, they are light with a tough skin,

while suspension ropes that tether the pods to the trees function

much like a spider web – strong, a little stretchy and resilient to hang

securely. Chudleigh has also borrowed from sailboat construction and

interior style with compact interiors fashioned mostly from wood,

windows like port holes and space-saving features – for example,

the largest pod features a murphy-bed that pulls down from the

wall. The compact design also means that bathroom facilities are on

the ground, a path best not attempted in the middle of the night.

Naturally, there are some great adventures to be had nearby – sea

kayaking, nature and cave tours and ziplining across canyons. Prices

range from about $175 per night for the single size pod to $314 per

night for the largest double pod. See

Hanging in

the forest

Fly direct between Brisbane and Vancouver

with Air Canada

It might be hard to get a good night’s sleep squeezed into an

economy seat on a long haul flight but it’s a different story for

budget-minded guests on board the Jumbo Jet 747-212B parked

permanently on the ground at Arlanda Airport, Stockholm



). The Jumbo jet was built in 1976 and had travelled

far in service to Singapore Airlines and Pan Am before it was

repurposed as the Jumbo Stay hostel and repositioned to have

a commanding view of the taxi-runway. The interior of the

aircraft has been completely remodelled to create 33 rooms, from

four-share dorms (under $70 per night) to the double room and

ensuite in the cockpit (under $300 per night). Every nook and

cranny has been utilised and there are beds in the (former) engine

room, the wheelhouse (under the plane) and an observation deck

on the wing that is a popular viewing platform in the summer

and has been used for weddings. Visitors, too, can ‘walk the wing’

in the summer and call in for refreshments at the café and bar

inside the jet hostel, even if they are not staying there, and it’s just

a short shuttle bus ride from the terminal. See

Emirates flies direct between Brisbane and Dubai

with onward connections to Stockholm, Sweden

Grounded in Stockholm

BNE November/December 2016 |