Bushfire-destroyed Blue Mountains wilderness stay reopens as luxury eco-lodge

The Jemby Rinjah eco-lodge at Blackheath in the Blue Mountains was a popular, award-winning wilderness getaway before the property, built by local civic stalwart Peter Quirk and opened in 1987, was destroyed by the December 2019 bushfires.

But it wasn’t long before new owners came on the scene with a vision to establish a bush getaway combining eco-values ​​with style, luxury and comfort on the seven-hectare site adjacent to the national park. The result is Chalets at Blackheath.

“We worked with local experts, conservationists and bush reclaimers to restore the property,” said general manager and co-owner Angela O’Connell.

This included removing the hundreds of native plants growing from the charred soil so that they could be cared for in a nursery during construction before being replanted when they were strong enough.

As for the built environment, the owners emphasized “biophilic design,” an approach to architecture that seeks to connect building occupants to nature. This means organic textures, colors and materials linking housing to the landscape.

Four self-contained cottage studios feature a king-size bed, wood-burning fireplace, and oversized limestone bathroom, with two rain showers and a deep soaking tub. Details include Frette linens, fully stocked Subzero wine fridges and Moët & Chandon Champagne upon arrival.

Six other chalets are to be built as well as a spa and an indoor magnesium swimming pool.

Eco-friendly features include a feature wall built to maintain ideal temperatures, rainwater harvesting with sufficient storage capacity to help protect the wider region in the event of a bushfire, and advanced solar energy and systems minimal waste.

$1300 a night. See chaletsblackheath.com.au

IN OTHER NEWS

FIND THE WAY

Western Australia’s new Smartreka maps use built-in GPS capabilities on smartphones or tablets to plot real-time whereabouts and directions in national parks, even off-grid. Smartreka maps are available for over 10 areas, including the Fitzgerald River and Walyunga National Park, with more to come. See ourwaparks.org.au/smartreka

UP TO BUSINESS

Unique Fijian ingredients are on board in a revamp of Fiji Airways’ new business class menu. There’s kava and cinnamon ice cream on the dessert menu and Fijian vegetables such as cassava, yellow kumala, dalo and plantain join a signature range of smoked proteins, including walu fish and fillet of beef. Fiji Airways business class between Australia and Nadi costs from $1841. See fijiairways.com

YOU DIP IN

Bookings have opened for Alba, the new spa and spa on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula, which is due to open in the spring. The 15-hectare property that combines bushland and luxury sits directly across from the peninsula’s famous hot springs and will include a restaurant by Karen Martini. Springs starting at $95, spa starting at $350, packages $950. See albathermalsprings.com.au

LIFE ON A SUPERYACHT

For anyone who’s ever sailed the Mediterranean and wondered what happens on board the flotilla of superyachts that glitter in the most glamorous ports, a new book by Australian Brendan O’Shannassy offers rare insight, taking a view from the deck, rather than a gossip-wall-like look. Superyacht Captain – Life and Leadership in the World’s Most Incredible Industry; Adlard Coles, $29.99. See Bloomsbury.com

About Michael Brafford

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