Quay, Sydney Harbour
Australia is the perfect place to keep the summer vibe alive all year round, whether you’re on a walkabout in Sydney’s undiscovered Outback, seeing little penguins off the coast of Melbourne or snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef. To give you a head start on planning, our award-winning Premier Aussie Specialist travel advisor, Lynda Schumacher, of Let’s Talk Australia, has outlined some of the amazing experiences that highlight the Aussie lifestyle of sand, surf and wildlife.
A day on Sydney Harbour
This aquatic playground is bordered by 240 kilometres (150 miles) of shoreline and golden stretches of unspoiled beaches. Lynda recommends getting out on the water your first day in Sydney to take in the stunning sights. A cruise around Sydney Harbour can also be a great way to feast on an Aussie barbecue with wines from the region with a ‘cruise-like-a-local’ experience.
Walk about at The Rocks
Sydney’s historic, harbourside quarter, The Rocks, is where Australia’s colonial settlement began. It’s home to artisan markets, friendly pubs and restaurants, and a perfect area to take a leisurely stroll along the picturesque cobblestone laneways. “On weekends, local artisans set up shop at The Rocks Markets, where you can pick up unique treasures to take home,” says Lynda. “A special treat is touring the Rocks with a local Aboriginal guide – art lovers should leave time to explore the Museum of Contemporary Art.”
Sydney’s undiscovered Outback
Just a short drive from Sydney, you’ll be well off the beaten path in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park – one of Australia’s most remarkable landscapes and a hidden gem. Take a guided day trip cruising the waterways north of Sydney, gazing at the lush scenery and learning about the area’s rich Aboriginal heritage. “I saw plenty of nativebirds and other wildlife when I did this fantastic tour,” Lynda says.
One of the world’s most livable cities, Melbourne is loved for its culture, sport, shopping and restaurant scene. Home to underground bars, rooftop cafes, colorful laneways, and grand interiors - Melbourne has so many hidden gems that it would take years to discover them all. Lynda recommends a walking tour to get a taste of this culture-filled city. For a restaurant with a difference, why not try the Colonial Tramcar? That’s right, there’s a restaurant on a historic tramcar where you can enjoy a delicious dinner while cruising through the streets of Melbourne.
Weedy sea dragons and hot springs
An hour south of Melbourne is the Mornington Peninsula, home to bay and ocean beaches, wineries, orchards and acclaimed restaurants. Lynda suggests starting your day on a snorkeling tour to see rare weedy sea dragons. Lunch and wine tasting can be had at one of the many fantastic vineyards dotted along the peninsula, and a stop at the Peninsula Hot Springs for a relaxing soak is an idyllic way to end the day.
Phillip Island penguins, seals and koalas
For those who like spas, golf or wildlife, a two-day stopover on Phillip Island is a treat – catch a ferry over from the Mornington Peninsula. Check out the seals at the Nobbies, see koalas at the Koala Conservation Centre and witness the spectacular penguin parade, where hundreds of little penguins return from the sea to their burrows every night. A stop at Moonlit Sanctuary also gives you the unique opportunity to have a dingo encounter.
Go walkabout with koalas
One of Lynda’s favorite experiences is exploring the You Yangs Regional Park with Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours. From Melbourne, this one-day adventure provides up-close encounters with one of Australia’s most endearing animals, the koala. You will have the opportunity to meet wild koalas with a naturalist guide, sharing stories about each individual koala’s history, social life and family. The tour also contributes to the health and wellbeing of this iconic animal through removal of noxious weeds to expand their habitat. Lynda says ‘as well as beautiful koalas, you will see kangaroos, emus and plenty of native birds on this amazing trip. A must-do.'
See the colors of the Great Barrier Reef
A visit to this part of the world isn’t complete without experiencing one of the wonders of the natural world, the Great Barrier Reef. There are many ways to see the world’s largest reef. Why not do them all – above the water by helicopter, on the water by comfortable boat and in the water. “You can snorkel, dive, see coral and fish up-close and enjoy a delicious lunch before returning to the mainland in time for sundowners,” says Lynda. Stay overnight on the reef itself for the ultimate sleep out experience under the stars.
Indigenous experiences in the Daintree Rainforest
While visiting Queensland, a must-see is the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest, north of Cairns. Older than the Amazon, the Daintree is a living museum of flora and fauna dating back at least 135 million years. It is also home to several rare and endangered species, including the southern cassowary and Bennett's tree-kangaroo. Lynda’s top recommendation to clients is touring the Daintree with an indigenous guide for an authentic experience of mud-crabbing, spearfishing or a Dreamtime Walk from the Mossman Gorge Centre to hear the fascinating stories of the local indigenous people. If time permits, you might also want to try jungle surfing.
Tasmania’s Freycinet National Park
On Tasmania’s east coast, Freycinet National Park is a place of wild beauty. Just a 2 ½ hour drive from Hobart, Freycinet is home to towering pink-hued mountains, known as the Hazards which shadow the landscape, and at their foot are the calm, blue waters of Wineglass Bay. Explore the picturesque Friendly Beaches, dine on an abundance of fresh seafood. Lynda recommends you stay at least a couple of nights at one of Australia’s exclusive luxury lodges – Saffire Freycinet
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