Australia Is Open & New Adventures Await
Australia is open and the travel restrictions are lifted. As your U.S. Aussie Specialist Ambassador, I was grateful once again to have been asked to travel back and film some of my journey with Tourism Australia for their Aussie Specialist program. This time my travels took me to Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and the South Coast of New South Wales.
First stop on this epic journey back to the Land Down Under was Melbourne. If you haven’t been to this vibrant city, one of the best things I recommend is taking a walking tour to orientate yourself with all there is to see and do. There is an amazing company that has tours for “people who don’t like tours”. It’s catered to your needs, off the beaten path and you are shown the city from a local’s perspective talking about the architecture, the local markets, hidden laneways, artwork, cafes, epic street art, all while guiding you around the parks and river walkways. A fabulous way to spend 2-3 hours in a new city.
Just a quick hour drive from the heart of Melbourne is the coastal and culinary paradise of Mornington Peninsula. You would be remised if you didn’t make a stop along the way to the Brighton Beach Bath Boxes. A group of 82 brightly colored wooden beach huts that line the beach. Originally built to preserve the morality of swimmers during a time when bikinis weren’t the accepted form of swimwear, they now store beach items for those that want to enjoy some amazing beach time along Port Phillip Bay. Once in Mornington Peninsula, there are numerous culinary delights to experience, along with spectacular wineries, art installations, lunch spots and more. Did I mention all the amazing food and wine found around this region and throughout Australia? Pinot Noir is the star of the Mornington Peninsula region. A stop at the Green Olive at Red Mill for a picnic lunch had us pairing wine with the most delicious bites. Then, we relaxed and exhaled at the end of the day at the Peninsula Hot Springs. Discover an oasis of geothermal mineral springs. Serenity and tranquility await with over 70 geothermal baths.
Onward to Southern Queensland where I experienced the beauty of Brisbane and Tangalooma. Since the start of covid, there have been so many new hotel accommodations that have popped up around the city, including the Emporium Hotel South Bank. A very impressive 143 room property on the Southbank with large rooms and picture windows overlooking the river at the front of the hotel. Funky décor and lifts that entertain. The property is centrally located, within walking distance to the Brisbane city center, the Performing Arts Centre, the Gallery of Modern Art, the Queensland Museum, and the Queensland State Library. It is surrounded by Brisbane’s best bars, dining, and lifestyle options.
A family favorite activity to do while in Brisbane is to visit Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. I was totally blown away by what there was in addition to the 101 Koalas that happily call Lone Pine home. Not only is there a koala hospital and rehabilitation area there were reptiles, birds, wombats, kangaroos, crocs, dingo’s, farm animals, turtles, platypus, bats and so much more, a really great interactive way to spend half a day with great little pop up café at the end of it all. There is a great ferry from the city to Lone Pine that has many visitors enjoying this sanctuary all year long. Check out all the amazing wildlife encountered along the trip.
A quick 75 minute ferry ride over to Moreton Island brings you out of the city and onto an oasis retreat of Tangalooma with sandy beaches and beachfront accommodations. Protected and treasured, this is nature’s theme park where amazing natural encounters are just part of the everyday experience as the 3rd largest sand island in Australia. I had assumed the island was all about dolphins as that is what I always heard, but I was wrong. Yes, the dolphins are there – daily – and the feeding of them is really special and controlled. However, there is also so much else to do on this fun island. I have snorkeled and dived in many places around the world but the sunken boats and shipwrecks in the front of this resort over many years have created coral reefs that are second to none and the amount of fish and turtles that you can swim with will blow your mind. Strong and confident swimmers can swim straight out from the long sandy beach, or you can get out by boat and be guided out to the shipwrecks. On the island you can also enjoy everything from quad bike tours to sand tobogganing, sunset sails and more.
A quick one hour and 15 minute flight had me back in iconic Sydney enjoying all the sites and sounds of this vibrant place. Yes, I climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge climb just as I did nearly 20 years ago. This time I scaled to the summit of the Sydney Harbor Bridge discovering a fresh perspective on the city below with an Indigenous Storyteller as a guide. It was a chance to become immersed in Sydney's Aboriginal history and truly brought you back in time. Once you see Sydney from above, it's always a new perspective to see it from below with a small boat tour. Mark, the owner of Sydney Harbor Boat Tours, shows you around the island in private or small group setting designing curated itineraries for you including sightseeing, bay-hopping, swimming, and onboard lunching too.
With more than 100 picturesque beaches in Sydney-from calm, sheltered bays and secret coves to busy surf beaches and world famous tourist destinations, you need to dip your toes in the water at some point. I was so excited to take surfing lessons with the Let's Go Sufring team right on Bondi Beach. Bondi is Australia's most famous beach and home to one of the oldest surf lifesaving clubs in the world and one of Australia's oldest swimming clubs, the Bondi Icebergs. This beautiful city has so much to offer, from its thriving arts, culture and nightlife scenes. It's no wonder that Sydney is one of the most sought-after places to visit in the world.
One of the highlights of my time in Sydney was partaking in the ATE conference (Australian Tourism Exchange) which brought together hand selected individuals from over 34 countries. The buzz at the conference was electric with many of us catching up with industry friends for the first time since 2019. It was also my chance to really immerse myself in what is new and trending in travel around Australia to stay up to date on creating some of the best itineraries for my travel clients.
SOUTH COAST NSW
My final leg of the journey was spent in the South Coast of New South Wales. I like to call it the hidden gem of this region with over 892 recorded beaches along a coastline that stretches 1590km from Point Danger in the north to Cape Howe in the south. From the warm welcome smoking ceremony and Indigenous dance experience with the Mandahla Gamura in Muraya to the oyster shucking in the Sapphire Coast, I truly didn’t want to leave. A truly enjoyable experience was my first time on an e-bike around the Eurobodella region admiring the towering cliffs, hidden bays, and beautiful headlands. On Montague Island, just off the South Coast of NSW, near Narooma we spotted an abundance of wildlife including sea lions, dolphins, sting ray and whales too. This natural treasure is certainly a place I'll be recommending to more travelers in the years to come.
With the lifted restrictions for entry, now is the time to experience all that there is to offer in Australia. I'm truly passionate about sharing this amazing country with you and I’ll be leading a small group back to Australia in 2023. More details to come filled with wilderness, wine and wellness. Interested in learning more? Drop an email to email@example.com with "Australia bound" and you’ll be in the know once all the details are released. As always, encouraging you to live well and travel often. Don’t Go Small Go Australia.