A holiday in Australia will never be a quick trip for us Brits, with its 24 hour journey time, but it is certainly a country I would recommend pencilling in on your bucket list. I have just returned from a two week trip to this amazing country and, although I would recommend spending a little longer in each place than I managed, Australia is a fantastic luxury holiday destination. Give yourself 2.5 weeks and you will be able to experience some of the very best that this hugely diverse country has to offer.
Planning is Key
My first nugget of advice to anyone thinking of going down under - don't try and do everything. This is a vast country with too much to see and do and not all of it will be right for you. Let's put this into perspective; Tasmania, the tiny-looking island off the South of Australia, is the size of Switzerland. The Gold Coast is larger than Thailand and Malaysia put together, while South Australia is larger than Germany, Austria and the UK... I suggest you tackle a couple of areas maximum during your holiday and see Australia as you would the American states, picking the combination of regions that work best for you.
I started my adventure on Kangaroo Island, South Australia; a wonderfully wild island, just a 30 minute flight south from Adelaide. For all would-be David Attenboroughs, this is a wildlife lover's paradise with kangaroos, koalas, supremely colourful birdlife, reptiles, dolphins, endangered sea-lions, seals and much more. Famous for its stunning scenery, I was not disappointed; I visited the Remarkable Rocks which roll off into the cliffs below, enjoyed canapés amongst wild kangaroos in rolling green fields, and walked the stunning coastline while gazing across the vast turquoise bays. I explored hidden coves and walked along beautiful white beaches, sharing the endangered sea-lions' sunbathing spot. A stay here is not complete without spending some time at Southern Ocean Lodge - talk about an entrance!
The Barossa Valley
Next stop the Barossa Valley, home to the oldest vineyards in the world, as well as some of the most prestigious wines in Australia. Step back in time and learn about the original settlers in this area and how the wine industry has developed here (I must stress it was not convicts who first settled here and the south Aussies are very proud of this). Luscious green vineyards stretch as far as the eye can see and spending your time sampling, I mean exploring, the numerous cellars in the area makes for the perfect day trip. The must-visit hotel in this area is The Louise, which gives you sweeping views across the stunning landscape.
Just a 5 hour drive from the Barossa or a short 90 minute flight from Adelaide, you can step into the unknown. The outback was always going to be a personal highlight for me and the Flinders Ranges certainly did not disappoint. This area of Australia used to be under the sea and is over 550 million years old; you can see fossils of the first ever life forms and learn about the fascinating geology of the area - which totally rocked (oh come on, that was funny). The wildlife was also fabulous; we saw wonderful birds, lots of kangaroos, reptiles and also discovered the interesting history of the flora and fauna.
The Great Barrier Reef
Now it wouldn't be a trip to Australia without a visit to a beautiful beach now, would it? So I headed up north to Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef for two nights. We took a helicopter from Townsville to the beautiful Orpheus Island. This National Park is home to just one hotel with 14 rooms and made the most idyllic end to my trip. Not only did I snorkel the fringing reef, exploring giant clam gardens, but I also snorkelled with two humpback whales as they made their way to the bay in front of the hotel. It would be a lie to say I could see them underwater, they were not that close, but they were close enough that I heard a crashing whilst paddling around the bay. I popped my head up out of the water to see two whales breach 15 metres from me. We tried to play catch up but they were having none of it, but we did watch them swim off into the distance. Life doesn't get much better right? Well it almost does, if you go out on a kayak through the mangroves around the hotel watching turtles and sting rays swim all around you.
Now everyone wants a bit of Sydney in their trip, so I was incredibly kind to you all and made sure I spent a couple of nights here in the name of 'Product Research'. What a great place to either start or end your trip with; the Opera House is a great sight and life along the harbour is a lot of fun. Sydney is about taking it all in, so whether you watch the world go by as you brunch in a local café or explore the city by foot, you will simply fall for this city.