Megan Singleton warms to glamping at an eco resort in Broome.
It's 6am and I'm lying in my king-size bed under crisp white sheets - in a tent.
Yes I am camping, but this is no ordinary tent. For starters it has enough room for said king-size bed plus two side tables and a wardrobe. It also has an en suite.
This is what they call glamping - glamorous camping. I've always said I'm far more duvet than sleeping bag, and lying here an hour south of Broome on Australia's west coast, listening to the critters outside waking up, I'm feeling quite intrepid indeed.
The Eco Beach Resort has won several awards for its innovative ecological practices, like the 25 solar-powered luxury villas dotted along a kilometre of winding boardwalk, and 30 patented safari tents complete with en suites, mesh windows, flushing loos, solar showers and private verandas.
As the sun rises across the Australian continent to greet the west coast, it's gathering a heat that means I won't be staying in bed much past seven. I unzip my window, leaving only the mesh to protect me from unwanted guests, and jump back in bed to listen to the birds. Not that I needed to, their noise can probably be heard back in Broome.
Shadows of bird feet scamper across my tented roof and I'm reminded of the shape of birds in Aboriginal paintings - just the three prongs of feet. Their song covers every noise conceivable, from chicken "bok boks" to cooing, shrieking, squeals like children and the odd gobble. In fact no one is really singing at all, it's a cacophony of extreme sounds.
This is remote Western Australia, where humpback whales frolic in the ocean in front of the resort between July and September and activities like fishing, swimming in the sea or infinity pool, hiking, taking a yoga class or even getting married, are your daily choices.
As I'm glamping I arrived here by helicopter over impossibly baby-blue water that if I were to paint it, I'd be accused of taking artistic liberties. It's only 20 minutes from Broome if you do it this way, leaving you plenty of time for a mud and bubbles treatment before dinner.
The quirky mud and bubbles is a speciality invented by Jodie, one of the staff at the resort. It's mucky and bizarre and you really have to try it. In your togs, you assemble down at the beach and we sit in a row on the water's edge with our right leg extended over our neighbour's thigh (a great way to meet strangers) and give each other a sand exfoliation. The sand here is incredibly fine and did the trick very well. After swapping legs and turning in a conga line to exfoliate each other's backs we raced into the sea to wash it off.
Back on the beach Jodie poured bubbles and we delved into the bucket of mud she had collected from the mangroves at low tide and covered ourselves in a full body mask which turned dry as we drank. Then we hit the ocean again to wash off. It actually made my skin feel great - or maybe that was the bubbles.
Getting there: Air New Zealand offers four in-flight product choices between Auckland and Perth; including Seat, Seat + Bag, The Works and Works Deluxe. Connections are available from Air New Zealand's other domestic ports and with partner airline Virgin Australia.
Where to stay: Eco Beach Resort.By Megan Singleton