Ash Chin from Sojourns Of gives us an insight into sustainable travel around Australia…

I have a passion for immersing myself in new cultures, seeking out unforgettable experiences, escaping to the many facets of beauty in our world, and, above all, helping and inspiring others to do the same through my bespoke travel design service Sojourns Of.

For as long as I can remember, my curiosity has driven me to explore the world; the archetypal antipodean really. I’ve lived in foreign places and have discovered many corners of the world – from Argentina to France, South Africa to China – everywhere with something unique to offer and everywhere impacting me in a different way.

Travelling with purpose is so important to me and the impact of the pandemic our ability to travel freely has highlighted the meaning of this much more. We have to better appreciate the world and each other. We have to seek out experiences that enrich our lives. And we have to do so in a way that is sustainable and beneficial to the world and the societies and cultures we seek to discover.

1. Top 5 Wellness retreats within Australia we are dreaming of going to

Gaia Retreat & Day Spa –

An internationally renowned wellness retreat beautiful set in the NSW’s Byron hinterland. Olivia Newton John is one of the founders of this beautiful property.

Gwinganna Health Retreat –

Set on the side of a mountain in the quiet Gold Coast hinterland, this is extremely well-regarded retreat is famous for its 7-day detox programs. Hugh Jackman is one of the owners here, sensing a trend?

Elysia Wellness Retreat –

This was once known as Golden Door – the famous Hunter Valley retreat of Sydneysiders looking to disconnect and reconnect with themselves.

Samadhi –

A serene retreat, very focussed on mindfulness and meditation within its Zen setting north-west of Melbourne. Multi-award winning, extremely boutique.

Kangaroo Island Health Retreat –

Really well regarded for detox and in one of Australia’s most beautiful locations – Sue McCarthy has been in the wellness game for over 40 years and has really designed a program which meets the needs of today’s wellness seeker.

And a special mention should go to…

Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley –

Whilst this is one of Australia’s absolute top luxury destinations, they are extremely focussed on sustainability and conservation. Ultra-luxurious (every villa has a private pool…), the property caters for many types of guests and wellness seekers will not be disappointed with One&Only Spa’s range of holistic therapies using Australia’s very own organic and natural products by Sodashi. Outside of the spa, the offerings to learn ‘the art of slowing down’ are extensive, from yoga to sound therapies.

Some others?

Injidup Spa Retreat ( in WA

Billabong Retreat ( near Sydney (a bit more low key and affordable, great for yoga)

Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa in VIC

2. Environmentally friendly travel hacks for the best road trip?

It’s not practical to suggest we should all be driving a Prius, or better yet, a Tesla, but I think we can all make sure we’re conscious of the impact we make as we travel, and how we can help make sustainable choices. I love the idea of supporting local, staying in smaller, locally owned properties. And if sustainability and the environment are really important to you – take the time to research and understand where you’ll visit on your destination.

We now have the opportunity to explore our beautiful country, Australia. What are you top weekend road trip getaways?

  • Melbourne I love Jackalope Hotel on the Mornington Peninsula – it’s a fabulously designed property and a great, easy escape from Melbourne. Or get along the Great Ocean road starting at Lon Retreat & Spa in Point Lonsdale, and ending at Drift House in Port Fairy.
  • Sydney It really has to be Wolgan Valley for me! It’s such a nice drive from Sydney up and over the Blue Mountains, and once you reach the property, you’ll taken to an entirely new world. Another great road trip is to explore the south Coast – and stay at one of Australia’s best glamping properties Paperpark Camp.
  • Brisbane – Spicers have some nice properties on the Sunshine Coast (such as Tamarind Retreat) or head to the Gold Coast hinterland’s scenic rim for the well-regarded Spicers Peak Lodge
  • Adelaide – I would really recommend make a five-hour road trip into the outback for one of Australia’s most special experiences at Arkaba Conservancy in the Flinders Rangers. This is a really special place and a member of Luxury Lodges of Australia where just 10 guests at a time can explore a stunning 60,000 acre wildlife conservancy dedicated to the conservation of Australia’s unique wildlife and birds.
  • WA – Margaret River is always a fantastic road trip option from Perth with some of Australia’s best vineyards, craft breweries, local produce, and scenic coastline meaning there is something for everyone. Stay at Cape Lodge or Emipre Retreat, both in Yallingup
  • NT – Just under 3 hours drive from Darwin will have you at Bamurru Plains, a Luxury Lodge of Australia, with exclusive access to vast areas of Australia’s Top End. Located on the edge of Kakadu National Park, you are able to immerse yourself in this extraordinary area with its wildlife, and culture of Australia’s Aboriginal people.
  • Tasmania – Tasmania has really come into its own of late and there are many ways you can explore this beautiful corner of Australia. One of my favourites is to recommend people drive just south of Hobart through Bruny Island (the oysters here…) before ending at Satellite Island – one of Australia’s most special private island stays. Or head north of Hobart to the stunning Freycinet area, and of course, Saffire – consistently regarded as one of the best properties in the country.
  • Canberra – One of my favourite experiences in the ACT is actually a staycation at Jamala Wildlife Lodge. Connected to National Zoo & Aquarium, the high-end accommodation allows guests to have exclusive interactions with a variety of animals in residence at the zoo, and you can learn about how the zoo contributes to the conservation of at risk species around the world.

We are all a little bit rusty on booking accommodation when traveling, where are your top places to stay?

(same as above) 

This is a difficult one and really depends on what people are looking for when they’re travelling. Australia has many exceptional places to stay, and many more exceptional regions to explore. In addition to the above, here are some more options to explore.

  • Lizard Island has been at the pinnacle of Australian island resorts for a long time and justifiably so. A friend once commented that it can feel like a mini St Barths.
  • A fantastic combination recently has been a reef, rainforest and bush package using the gorgeous Northern Escape Collection properties Orpheus Island, Daintree Ecolodge and Mt Mulligan Lodge. You really get a taste of everything that is special about far north Queensland.
  • Qualia is of course an exception property and a favourite of Sojourns Of clients who are looking for a refined escape
  • Halcyon House, a member of Small Luxury Hotels, located in the Tweed area of northern NSW is a fabulous boutique property with a hatted restaurant and offers a beautiful seaside escape on 20 minutes south of Coolangatta Airport.
  • Pretty Beach House on the Central Coast is one of Australia’s undiscovered gems – ultra exclusive, the property is by far one of the best retreats within a short drive from Sydney.
  • Capella Lodge on Lord Howe Island should be on everyone’s list. Actually, put Lord Howe Island on your list full-stop! With world’s most southern coral reef ecosystem and a massive focus on sustainability and eco-tourism, UNESCO World Heritage listed Lord Howe Island is a special escape just a two hour flight from Sydney.
  • The Kimberleys and El Questro Homestead makes for a stunning way to explore the wilderness of one of Australia’s most beautiful regions.
  • Stay at the exclusive safari camp Sal Salis and swim with whale sharks right off the shore of the camp when they come to visit the UNESCO World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef
  • Explore the heart of Australia’s Red Centre and the culture connected to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Stay at Longitude 131 for a truly special Australian experience.

When traveling on a road trip what are your top 5 packing tips?

I’m the worst when it comes to packing… I take far too much for all my travels whether it is a night away at our family’s farm in Bowral, or a four week trip to Europe.

My attempt at five recommendations for a sustainable road trip would be:

  1. chic sunglasses;
  2. refillable water bottles;
  3. reusable coffee cups;
  4. research; and,
  5. and your spirit of adventure.

Now that we have had the opportunity to reassess our ways of travel, what are some steps we can implement to be more environmentally conscious whilst traveling on the road?

At times, travel does mean sustainability and my environmental conscious do have to be put to the side – for example, as an Australian, sometimes flights are simply unavoidable, even for domestic travel. However, I believe to be conscious about anything, you need to put effort into understanding. And when relating this to environmentally friendly or sustainable travel, this means not just the impact of your desire to travel, but also how and where you choose to spend your time and money.

For some of us, we won’t be able to let go of our fabulously indulgent sojourns to Capri, but I question how you balance these trips. Where else do you go? What else do you seek? How else do you open your mind? One of the key things for me is that each year I want to visit somewhere new, and somewhere which will be a truly different and inspiring experience either culturally or to do with nature. For example, an African safari (where many of your safari costs go towards conservation efforts), or getting off the beaten track somewhere like India where your tourist dollar helps developing communities become self-sufficient and rely on sustainable income rather than the need to migrate to big cities. These types of experiences help to broaden your mind – they educate you on the world, they show you new perspectives, and at times, they can be grounding especially for people from developed countries who sometimes live in bubble of excess consumption.

It is often said that ‘travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer’. For many of us we have had the privilege of travel taken from us due to the pandemic. When we can travel again, ask yourself: How is this experience enriching me?

Travel with purpose. Travel with meaning. Travel aware.


Tessa James

Tessa James

Australian Actress & Founder of James Wellness


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