Australia Trip May 2012

Ian Walsh 04 May 2012
I was very lucky to win this trip with some colleagues courtesy of Qantas Airlines and Australia’s Gold Coast tourist board.

We flew out to Brisbane via Singapore and were fortunate to be upgraded, if affordable for you I would definitely recommend as the little touches are so worth it not to mention the larger seats and extra leg room. Arriving at 7 am we were greeted by our host for the trip and promptly whisked off to our first accommodation, Peppers Broadbeach. The apartments are simply stunning in every aspect – décor, size, amenities, cleanliness and the breathtaking views.

Our first activity was to take a boat trip courtesy of ‘Duffy Down Under boat Hire’ and I recommend this to everyone visiting the area. The only company in Australia with totally green electric boats. The waterways in the area has more km of waterways than Venice & Amsterdam combined!

Day 2 started off with a trip to Currumbin Wildlife Centre and this place is a load of fun for all age types and group sizes. We fed Kangaroos, met Koala's and zipped through the trees on an adventure challenge. Surf lesson on day 3 and where other than Surfers Paradise with our hosts ‘Go Ride A Wave’. Our 2 hour lesson began with the usual health and safety – but what a laugh we had. I am now proud to say that I know the basics but I won't be going pro anytime soon!

We then travelled inland for a couple of hours rising about 1000m above sea level to a place steeped in history called O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. We met with Australian wildlife expert Mark who introduced us to some of the indigenous animals they were caring for. We had a guided tour round the tree top walk which boasts some stunning views from the canopy of the rainforest.

Before dinner we were taken on O’Reilly’s glow worm tour – our guide Nick drove us in a 4 x 4 to a clearing and because there is no light pollution he was pointing out some of the star configurations such as the Southern Cross and quite clearly visible was the red planet Mars – breathtaking.

As we trekked through the rainforest Nick pointed out plant and tree life which could seriously damage your health if you came into contact with it, as well as showing us a funnel web spiders lair, our final stop on the tour was the glow worm grotto and once everyone had switched off their torches and our eyes became accustomed to the darkness we were treated to a fantastic sight of these creatures in their natural habitat.

Back down into the valley to visit O’Reilly’s Vineyards in Canungra our guides for the day were Southern Cross 4WD tours. We did a spot of wine tasting and buying ! We had a very pleasant lunch by the riverside before setting off up another mountain this one called Tamborine. The final road down was not for the fainthearted but we made it intact.

Our accommodation for the next 2 nights was the Sea Temple Surfers Paradise which towered over the beach. Once again stunning apartments with every mod con you could want. We took breakfast at the hotel and the chef would make your eggs how you like them. Mine was a ham and cheese omelette and it was one of the best I have ever had. We strolled along the seafront to Skypoint an observation deck 77 floors up at the top of Q1 tower which gave us 360 degree views of all the golden beaches and lush hinterland. Another treat in store that afternoon was a jet boat ride guaranteed to get wet but all part of the fun.

On our last night on the Gold Coast we were treated to dinner and a show at Jupiter’s Casino and a little flutter in the casino.

The next morning we flew from Brisbane to Sydney and checked into the stunning 5* Sheraton on the Park. The hotel is in a prime city centre location and is within a few minutes walking distance to Sydney Opera House and The Rocks area. The Westfield shopping centre is just around the corner and has wide range of designer and high street shops.

To finish off the trip we attended the fantastic Travel Counsellors Australian Conference. It was great to meet some Aussie colleagues and it rounded off the trip nicely.

Visit Australia soon, it’s an amazing destination.