From the sun-kissed beaches of the Gold Coast to the spiritual heart of the Red Centre, Parineeti Chopra’s Australian holiday takes it all in.
By Georgia Rickard
- Time: 6 days
- Distance: 5000 kilometres (3100 miles)
- Transport: Plane, car
- Nearest major cities: Gold Coast, Melbourne
- Price: $$$$$
“I’m extremely delighted to be back in Australia as this is one of the countries where I feel at home. Australia tops my list of holiday destinations when it comes to fun and adventure.” – Parineeti Chopra, actress.
Based on Bollywood star Parineeti Chopra’s trip to Australia, we've curated a luxury six day trip that takes in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, the Red Centre and Melbourne. From hugging koalas to riding Harleys around Uluru, it’s a trip that will make you feel like you’re in a movie of your own.
Day 1: say g’day to Brisbane
After your international flight arrives in the Queensland capital, check into your hotel, the Stamford Plaza Brisbane. Freshen up in your marble bathroom, spend a few moments admiring the views of the Brisbane River and city skyline, and then get moving. The world’s largest koala sanctuary, Lone Pine, is just 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) from Brisbane's city centre and easily reached by hire car, taxi, bus or boat. It’s home to more than 130 koalas, creatures that are as strange and fascinating as they are cute. After a cuddle with a koala plus fish and chips (an Aussie classic) at the sanctuary, head back into Brisbane to join a Brisbane by Bicycle tour – a fun, easy-paced cycling tour of this laid-back, very liveable, very Australian city, led by a local guide who can give you a real insider’s view of what makes Brisbane tick. Return to your hotel to get ready for a special first-night dinner at Alchemy Restaurant & Bar. “Indulged in the magical dining experience at Alchemy in Brisbane last night, a unique Australian dining experience with the best views of the Story Bridge,” Parineeti Instagrammed after her Alchemy dinner.
Day 2: meet whales, dolphins and more
It’s time to get to know some more Australian wildlife. An hour south of Brisbane by car or train is the city of Surfers Paradise, in the heart of Queensland’s capital of fun, the Gold Coast. Here you’ll hop aboard a whale-watching cruise with Whales in Paradise and get up close to some awe-inspiring humpback whales as they make their journeys up and down the Australian coast. From June to October, Whales in Paradise guarantees you’ll see a whale. But today’s encounters with amazing sea life don’t end there. You’ll spend the afternoon at the Gold Coast’s Sea World Resort, where you can pat dolphins, cage dive with sharks and even step onto the ice with Antarctic penguins. Then check in to the recently refurbished Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa and perhaps have a swim or snorkel with tropical fish in the hotel’s saltwater lagoon or a stroll in the tropical gardens. Dinner is at Etsu Izakaya at nearby Mermaid Beach. An izakaya is a Japanese tavern that also serves superb, shareable dishes of sushi, sashimi, teriyaki and more over the course of an evening. You’ll find lots of Asian influences and food in Australia.
Day 3: catch a wave and walk in a rainforest
They don’t call this place Surfers Paradise for nothing, so jump in and grab a two-hour surf lesson with Go Ride a Wave. Experienced instructors will have you catching waves and hooked on surfing before you know it. Then hop in your hire car and in less than an hour you’ll be in the Gold Coast hinterland, an unspoiled world away from the glitz and glamour of the coast. Call in at Tamborine Mountain Distillery, where fresh local fruit is turned into liqueurs, vodkas, schnapps and eaux-de-vie that have won a staggering 300 international awards. Then head into Springbrook National Park to spend a few hours exploring the lush rainforests, stunning waterfalls and idyllic swimming holes of this unforgettable area. Make sure you visit the Natural Bridge waterfall and rock formation, and take a short bushwalk or two, looking and listening for wildlife including carpet pythons, rare butterflies and dozens of bird species. Back in Surfers Paradise, have a browse at the fashion, art and homewares at the Surfers Beachfront Markets before a superb seafood buffet dinner at the Marriott’s Citrique restaurant.
Day 4: get a bird’s-eye view of the coast
You’re aiming high this morning with a mind-boggling Skypoint Climb up the outside of the Gold Coast’s landmark Q1 building. After taking the elevator to level 77, you’ll be stepping outside and going where elevators can’t reach. This is Australia’s highest external building climb, a leg-wobbling 270 metres (886 feet) above ground level and offering impossible-to-beat 360-degree views of the Gold Coast. Scary? You bet. But safe: you’ll be in a climb suit and full body harness. Don’t worry, you can spend the rest of the day at ground level, exploring the Gold Coast and being as active or indulgent as you like. You might fancy a spa treatment back at your hotel, hanging out at the beach, visiting shops or markets, playing one of the Gold Coast’s many championship golf courses or heading to one of its famous theme parks, which offer adrenaline-pumping rides galore (if you’re in need of more excitement) alongside everything from movie star street parades to walks with tigers.
Day 5: fly into Australia’s red heart
It’s time to say goodbye to the beaches and rainforests of the coast and set off inland to experience a very different landscape. Today, you’re heading to one of the world’s most iconic locations: Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock. You’ll reach the centre of Australia via a 90-minute flight from Brisbane to Sydney, followed by a three-hour flight from Sydney to Ayers Rock Airport, before checking in to the five-star Sails in the Desert. Part of the Ayers Rock Resort, this is more than just a luxurious hotel. As a swimming pool, a spa and a range of dining experiences that will make you feel you’re in some kind of indulgent oasis, there are opportunities to get to know local Aborginal culture through the resort’s range of free indigenous activities and Aboriginal art and galleries. After breakfast at the hotel, it’s time for a new perspective with a scenic helicopter flight over Uluru and Kata Tjuta, an extraordinary rock formation also known as The Olgas. Dinner tonight is an extraordinary experience: Tali Wiru (‘beautiful dune’ in the local Anangu language) is an open-air restaurant with stunning views of Uluru. After sunset champagne and canapes to the sound of didgeridoo, you’ll enjoy a four-course dinner featuring indigenous Australian flavours paired with Australian wines, followed by Aboriginal storytelling. It’s limited to 20 guests, and it’s unforgettable.
Day 6: immerse yourself in Uluru-Kata Tjuta
Uluru’s character changes dramatically from hour to hour, and experiencing the full array starts with getting up early to watch the sun rise. There are various ways of seeing an Uluru dawn, but one the most extraordinary combines the grandeur of the rock with the magic of an inspired installation created by renowned artist Bruce Munro. In the Field of Light sunrise experience you’ll be picked up from your hotel and taken on a short drive to where 50,000 frosted-glass spheres illuminate the land in front of Uluru beneath a starry outback sky. Then watch the sun come up, and slowly transform this undeniably spiritual site. In the afternoon, discover how the landscape has inspired you by creating your own work of art at an Aboriginal dot painting workshop. Then head back out to Uluru on the back of late-model Heritage Softail Harley Davidson motorbike in a sunset experience that will leave the world’s most famous monolith scorched in your mind.
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