Gina, one of our Australia experts at Bridge & Wickers, recently got back from a fabulous trip to Australia.
My three week adventure started in Port Douglas (or the 'Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef') where there is accommodatation for all tastes, whether that is a boutique stay at Peninsula Boutique Hotel, luxury living at Coconut Grove, or an eco-adventure at Thala Beach Lodge.
I participated in two very different Great Barrier Reef cruises. The first one was on a large vessel with Reef Magic Cruises sailing to the outer barrier reef to a fixed pontoon where there are numerous options to view the underwater playground. As well as snorkelling and diving, there is also helmet-dive, which is great for children or those new to diving, as you can breathe normally and still get close to the marine life. Glass-bottom boat and submarine like tours are also available for those who would rather stay dry, as well as a helicopter ride over the reef offering a real bird’s eye view of the stunning colours.
The second cruise was a much smaller group experience with Ocean Freedom, sailing to Upolu Reef where we enjoyed five relaxing hours in crystal clear waters. You can again snorkel and dive in two places, including the stunning ‘wonder wall’ and stand on the spectacular sand bank right in the middle of the ocean.
A trip to tropical north Queensland would not be complete without a visit to Mossman Gorge for a guided rainforest walk. Here you can visit culturally significant sites with an experienced guide, who explains the history of cave paintings, demonstrates traditional plant-use and provides an enchanting narrative of the rainforest and their special relationships within this unique tropical environment. If you are looking for a rainforest stay then Silky Oaks Lodge is a luxury oasis overlooking the Mossman River.
My next stop was the Red Centre, where my three-day tour commenced with a visit to the mystical 36 domes of Kata Tjuta (also known as The Olgas) and Walpa Gorge before checking in at Voyages Sails in the Desert Hotel. For a luxury camping experience (glamping) stay at Longitude 131.
That evening I took a camel ride to the Sounds of Silence dinner, an evening of dining under the sparkling outback sky. It was a totally unique experience and a must for anyone visiting. As the sun set and darkness fell, I had an introduction into Aboriginal culture with traditional dances to the sound of the majestic didgeridoo.
Rise and Shine! A very early start the next morning, but I couldn’t travel all that way without witnessing the sunrise over Uluru, a truly spectacular sight! I was then met by a local indigenous guide for an interpretive walk at the base of this ancient monolith. The cultural significance of this huge rock to the aboriginal people is truly inspiring.
Next stop… Kings Canyon.
The following morning, I embarked on the Kings Canyon rim walk for a further sunrise experience. This was an absolute highlight for me as the 6km hike offered some of the most spectacular views over Watarrka National Park before descending into the green oasis of the ‘Garden of Eden’. The tour concluded in Alice Springs before I flew onto Melbourne.