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Graeme Australia Blog

Westoe Travel's Graeme Touring around Australia .

Graeme Brett from Westoe Travel is a Premier Aussie Specialists having visited Australia 25 times previously.
In this blog we follow him as he travels from London to Singapore, Sydney, drives The Sydney- Melbourne Touring Route, Eyre Peninsula (the seafood Capital of Australia, Adelaide, travels on the legegendary Australian train The Ghan, Alice Springs, Uluru (Ayers Rock), Cairns, Lizard Island in the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rain Forest and back to Sydney.
Graeme has previously travelled extensively throughout Australia and visited many new attractions on his latest trip. Contact Graeme to discuss your dream holiday to Australia

Friday 16 September - The Final Countdown
it's that last minute rush to check that everything is in place.

Saturday 17 September It's Lift Off
After a tour of the Qantas International London Lounge we were able to board the Qantas flight to Singapore.

Sunday 18 September - Singapore
After a very comfortable flight with Qantas and the chance to walk through the aircraft to see the fantastic new seating in First Class, Business and Premium Economy, our flight landed at Singapore.
Baggage reclaim was quick and then half an hour for immigration (much longer for anyone who had not applied for the Singapore Arrival Card in advance.
A taxi transfer to our hotel the Miramar at Rutherford Quay.
A favourite hotel of ours with the restaurants of Rutherford Quay and Clarke Quay a few steps aways.
After checking in we set off to join with the locals in some festivities for the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix in two weeks time with the Aston Martin Peroni team organising entertainment and music

Monday 19 September Singapore and on to Sydney
Today we had a whistlestop tour of Singapore including using the local transport to Marina Bay for a BUCKETLIST tour of the Marina Bay Sands with its amazing rooftop infinity pool and views including the F1 track for next weeked Then another visit to Clarke Quay and river cruise on the traditional bum boats.
Time for a quick change with the humid weather very humid, before heading to the airport and our next flight -The Qantas QF2 to Sydney Australia.
A 15 minute taxi ride to the Airport and a seamless check in and security check giving us planty of time to choose between browsing the vast range of Airport shops, restaurants lounges or Graeme's favourite to take a dip in the swimming pool at the Airport. Taking off bang on time we bid farewell to Singapore enroute to Australia

Tuesday 20 September -Sydney's newest Luxury hotel and a trip to Manly
After less than seven hours we touch down in Sydney one of the first arrivals of the day.
From leaving the airport doors and being able to fastrack through security by having the Australian E-Visa and other required documents, we collected our luggage and left the airport by taxi less than 20 minutes after leaving the plane. Surely something of a record. Taxi charged us AUS $96! which is well above the going rate.
We arrived at the new Crown Towers hotel in Barangarooa fifteen minute walk from Sydney Harbour Bridge and overlooking Darling Harbour.
Amazing views from the hotel.
The hotel has set new standards in hotels in Sydneys and now proudly claims to be Sydney's number one hotel, and the best breakfast in the whold of Australia.
A tour of the Crown Towers with Sophie showcased the amazing rooms and views available.
All of the latest gadgets including toilet seats automatically lifting when you enter the room and of course heated toilet seats and their signature egg shaped baths in every room.
Sydney hotel rooms are usually not ready until 3pm, so UK guests either have to book the room from the previous night to guarantee early access or leave their luggage to enjoy a leisurely introduction to Sydney. We chose the most popular a harbour cruise with Captain Cook Cruises although some gusts chose the whale watching cruise. Later we decided a 20 minute ferry ride across to the beach resort of Manly. Interesting to see one of the local schools have their games lesson on the beach with puplls choosing between surfing, beach cricket and beach volleyball.

Wednesday 21 September Sydney Harbour Bridge
Today its all about Sydney Harbour Bridge. An iconc landmark and a feeling of being at home for Graeme with it having the same design as Newcastle's Tyne Bridge.
A walk before breakfast from the hotel in Darling Harbour along the shore through Barangaroo Reserve, The Rocks, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, Royal Botanic Gardens Mrs Macquarries chair and we saw a flock of cockatoo.
Returning to the hotel we meet up with Chris Kemlow General Manager and Michael Fletcher Sales Director of the Crown Towers for a chat about how the hotel is seting new standards and how it is suited for our customers.
After breakast it was time to head back to Sydney Harbour Bridge and check in for our first BUCKETLIST tour in Australia - BridgeClimb Sydney Checking in includes medical questions and a breathalyser ( remember that if you are planning a drink on the previous night)
After being kitted out with the safety gear and traing for health and safety on the bridge, our guide Jarrad gets us linked to the safety wires and we set off on the 1332 steps.
As we cimb the Bridge at a nice slow pace allowing us to take in the awesome views of Sydney Harbour, the Sydney Opera House, the Navy base, and the iconic landmarks and views with Manly in the distance.
For someone who used to be scared of heights, "climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge cured me of that fear" says Graeme.
As we reach the top of the Bridge with the Aborignal flag and the Australia flag flying beside us, our guide takes photographs of our achievement. As we cannot take any loose items up the Bridge ourselves this will be our proof the 'we did it'
Our guide gives us many facts about the building of Sydney Harbour Bridge and how it took nearly ten years to get approval for Bridgeclimb Sydney to operate with 198 planning objections to overcome and resolve.
This is definitely the 'must do' tour in Sydney for all ages and something to remember for ever.
After returning to the visitor centre, and removing our safety equipment, we get our Bridgeclimb Sydney Certificates and purchase our photographs.
Then across to the Glemore hotel for the traditional victory celebration drink with our good friend and fellow Geordie Jane Hardie who is the Sales Director for Bridgeclimb Sydney.

Thursday 22 September Sydney Opera House and the Bodi to Coogee Walk
Today was a National Holiday in Australia to remember the Queen.
We had a busy day- starting with a one hourbucketlist tour of Sydney Opera House (where they are currently preforming Phantom of the Opera) The Sydney Opera House is the youngest building to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
This was followed by walking the Bondi to Coogee Walk- A cliff top coastal walk, the Bondi to Coogee walk extends for six km in Sydney's eastern suburbs.
After rushing back to the hotel for a quick change we enjoyed a sunset dinner with Captain Cook Cruises , departing from next to the hotel in Darling Harbour. No sunset but a nice way to end another full on day.
After the cruise we disembarked at Circular Quay to see the image of the Queen strikingly displayed on the Sydney Opera House.
There were two cruise ships in port today. One berthed at Circular Quay - walking distance from all of the tourist attractions and another berthed at White Bay which is not so central.
Details on the Cruise schedule for Sydney

Friday 23 September -The Sydney-Melbourne Touring Route to Paper Bark Camp, Jervis Bay
Time to bid farewell to Sydney.
Wearing our The Chloe and Liam Together Forever Trust Tshirts (in memory of Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry), we say goodbye to our friendly receptionist at the Crown Towers Jam helps Ken load a Australian sim card into his phone and install google maps.
Next stop driving the Sydney to Melbourne Touring Route
Thank you to Paul Cooper for your assistance.
Collected our hire car - much cheaper here than anywhere else at the moment - an MG MX SUV for seven days, one way £436!
We headed to the Royal National Park, Bald Hill Lookout, Sea Cliff Bridge, Wollongong Kiama with its blowhole and natural pools to Gorgeous Huskisson at Jervis Bay.
We then checked in to Paperbark Camp -Australia’s original luxury glamping accommodation -part of The Unique Boutique Collection.Combining premium tented accommodation with wonderful food & warm hospitality, Paperbark Camp is a peaceful bush retreat in beautiful Jervis Bay – think camping for grownups!
The canvas safari-style tents have been thoughtfully placed amongst the eucalyptus and paperbarks, built above the ground to give privacy and to capture the sea breeze.
A bath in the open air for Graeme, was followed by a lovely evening meal, in the warm friendly Gunyah restaurant and the chance to have a drink and share stories with fellow guests.

Saturday 24 September -The Sydney-Melbourne Touring Route to Canberra
An early start this morning as Graeme explores the trails around Paperbark Camp and finding some wild orchids, while Ken interviews the team for his Radio Alty Australia special.
We then hit the Sydney to Melbourne Coastal Discovery Route
Today we head to Canberra and take the scenic coastal route. After a brief stop to admire the beautiful at
Bateman's Bay we arrive at Canberra,
Neither of us have been to Canberra before so we excited to see what was in store for us.
After a quick check in at the Sebel Canberra Campbell, we meet up with Paul Cooper from Sydney to Melbourne Touring Route who takes us on whistlestop tour of Canberra, to showcase,
Parliament House, The National Gallery of Australia The National Museum of Australia, and then a tour of The Australian War Memorial, an incredible memorial and exhibition to Australia's brave armed forces and we watched the very moving Last post ceremony, which is performed every day at 5pm with a different serviceman honoured each day.
A drive near Lake Burley Griffin allows us to see our first kangaroos of the tour.
We then head up to Mount Ainslee Viewpoint to get amazing views of Canberra and the sunset
In the evening we head to a local Italian restaurant and are amazed at how busy and buzzing the centre is with crowds of people socialising and eating. Certainly not what we expected. Canberra is a very interesting city full of life, with something for everyone.

Sunday 25 September - Reflections of Canberra, Animal Rescue Heroes and on to Merimbula
Todays Walk before Breakfast was a walk along the R G Menzies Walk around Lake Burley Griffin
The cool early morning allows some great views of the Bell Tower and National Library reflecting in the Lake with the local wildlife enjoying an early morning swim.
Our hotels ideal location also allows time for a walk along Anzac Parade to view the many memorials.
A modern city that impresses with its cleanliness, activities and lifestyle.
We bid farewell to Paul Cooper and headed back towards Batemans Bay on our Sydney to Melbourne Touring Route
Our first stop was Mogo Wildlife Park where we met Sara Ang the Sales and Marketing Director who had travelled from Sydney to meet us and tell how they saved all of the animals from the bushfires on New Years Eve 2019.
The fires were approaching Mogo and an evacuation order was issued at 6am, with all residents told to go to the beach.
However the 14 staff led by Head Keeper Chad, reported to the park to save the animals, with some staff fire fighting from the river as the fire was trying to jump the river.
The other staff members looked after the animals including a newly born lion cub (now called phoenix).
"At 6AM we started putting water everywhere we could, wetting everything that could become fuel,"
"Lions, tigers, gorillas and orangutans went into their night dens and we kept them calm."
Any animals that we could move out of enclosures got moved out to Chad Staples house.
It was an honour to hear of the heroic efforts and since then the animals have all been breeding succesfully with 4 giraffe cubs being born, the latest just a few days ago and named Lillibet as a tribute to the Queen, monkeys, and six meerkat cubs this week.
We then took a lovely scenic drive stopping at Bodalla, the Historic Village of Central Tilba for scones and tea (cream or jam on top?) and Tathra before arriving at our stunning accomodation Robyn’s Nest in Merimbula and a huge dinner at the famous Wheeler's Seafood Restaurant halway between Merimbula and nearby Pambula
Serving Wheeler’s own Merimbula Lake oysters, the farm to plate experience comes full circle within the architecture of reclaimed wharf timber, high ceilings and stunning coastal bush surrounds.
As we return to the hotel we spotted a wombat on our way back to the hotel. Cannot get a good photo in the dark.

Monday 26 September- The Sydney-Melbourne Touring Route to Lakes Entrance and a few pelicans
This morning we had a walk around the extensive forest and lakeshore at Robyn’s Nest and spotting another kangaroo, before heading into Merimbula for a stroll along the waterfront and a look at the oyster farms.
Then it was off to Eden and time for a plodge (paddle) on the golden sands of Aslings Beach and then we saw whales in the bay from the lookout point.
Onto Quarantine Bay where we met local man Tony and his pelican fan club.
Tony showed us his catch including the octupus he had from the deep sea boats. Then we head to Mallacoota to meet the owners of Karbeethong Lodge for a tour of their property. We arrive at the same time as a film crew for one of Australia's cookery programs. A lovely small property ideal for hikers. Karbeethong Lodge is a stylish boutique guesthouse on the south east coast of Australia – the ideal location for a regenerating and relaxing stay. The sea is only a short distance away as are many wonderful wilderness walks.
After a drive along the coast to the mouth of the Snowy River at Marlo, we arrived at Lakes Entrance and meet Jan Davis for our overnight at Waverley House Cottages Lots of choice for meals with seafood once again being the speciality.

Tuesday 27 September - The Sydney-Melbourne Touring Route, via Metung Hot Springs to Walhalla -The Abandoned Mining Town
After an early morning walking tour to explore Lakes Entrance, our First stop today was to meet Rachel Bromage Co-Owner and Director of Operations at Metung Hot Springs (part of the The Unique Boutique Collection.
The property opens at the end of October, and takes luxury glamping and hot springs to a new level.Set on a natural undulating site overlooking the magnificent Gippsland Lakes,
Designed for pure relaxation especially for two, the glamping accommodation is nestled in the natural surrounds of the hot springs with private decks and a barrel pool, ensuite bathrooms, king beds and bespoke elements inspired by the surrounding environment.
After many years in travel we are blown away by this property
Rachel then asks us to test the hot springs and barrel pools.
Naturally we agree to assist and take in the magnificent views from the pools.
Then its time to move on as we head to the lovely rown of Paynesville.
We take the free ferry to Raymond Island, and follow the trail looking for koala's in the eucalyptus trees.
It doesn’t take long till we find our first koala and we saw ten in all.

Next stop on our Sydney - Melbourne Touring route was Walhalla.
This had been on our bucketlist for many years. We have known Michael Leaney the owner of Walhalla Star Hotel and shared stories at trade events in Australia for nearly 20 years
Graeme's daughter has stayed at the hotel and loved the hotel and former mining town and encouraged us to visit Walhalla.
Once one of Australia's richest towns and home to over 4000 gold seekers, this sleepy mountainside town is now frozen in time and is home to only 20 residents.
As we arrived in Walhalla we are immediately impressed by the historic buildings and charm of the town.
Michael meets us and along with Russell and the two Golden Retrievers Tilly and Rupert were the perfect hosts.
A tour of Walhalla followed by a lovely cooked meal and a couple of drinks listening to Michaels legendary stories about the characters that lived in the town over the years and we head to our very comfortable rooms

Wednesday 28 September -The Abandoned Mining Town of Walhalla and The Sydney-Melbourne Touring Route towards Melbourne
A guided tour of the remainder of Walhalla. with Michael, Tilly and Rupert, legendary stories and great food meant that we wanted to stay longer at this unique location, to visit the Walhalla Long Tunnel Extended Gold Mine, ride the Walhalla Goldfields Railway, and join the Walhalla Ghost Tour.
Walhalla. and Walhalla Star Hotel are some of Australia’s hidden gems and I am so grateful to have finally visited.
Visiting Walhalla gives a complete contrast to the Cities and Beautiful,Beaches throughout the Sydney to Melbourne Touring Route
A visit to Walhalla has to be on your Australia bucket list.
After leaving Walhalla we head towards Melbourne and check in to the Hotel Chadstone, in the nearby city of Chadstone.
This modern hotel is ideal for visiting the largest shopping centre in the southern hemisphere, Chadstone the Fashion Capital, with 550 top end shops .
Anne gives us a tour of the hotel with amazing views from the pool and bar on the 12th floor.
Ian from Chadstone the Fashion Capital, gives us a tour of the Shopping Centre including the VIP Lounge which guests on the free transfer shuttle from Melbourne use.
The special digital display welcomes us. Great venue for those that like their big names labels.
Then time for a catch up with Ian in one of the restaurants

Thursday 29 September- Onto Port Lincoln and beautiful Eyre Peninsula
Today our Sydney to Melbourne Tour comes to an end as we leave the state of Victoria.
Our time restraints mean that we only had five nights for what needs to be a nine day tour. This was an amazing tour and we would have loved to have more time to include Phillip Island and especially the Penguins, Nature and Wildlife and Wilsons Promontory National Park.
Completing the Sydney-Melbourne Touring Route in less than nine days means you will miss some of the amazing places enroute and spend more time driving each day.
If you cannot allow nine days in your itinerary, then you can do a shorter circular route or figure of eight route from Sydney or Melbourne.
Details of itineraries can be found at Sydney to Melbourne Touring Route

Then we moved on to the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, for the next part of our Tour.
An early morning drive through Melbourne to the airport and we pass the iconic sports stadiums including the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the football stadium where the FIFA Women's World Cup will play group gmes next year)
We board our Qantas flight from Melbourne to Adelaide and then a 40 minute Qantas flight to Port Lincoln - The seafood Capital of Australia.
Nice and easy domestic transfers and straight through Port Lincoln Airport, where we are met by the great character and friend ‘Lunch’ (David Doudle) of Australian Coastal Safaris
Lunch is a legend in the Eyre Peninsula and is so passionate about the area. He has been inviting us to experience the area for the last seven years.
After a quick stop at the perfectly located Port Lincoln Hotel, to drop off our luggage, we set off to Lincoln National Park, on an adventure of wildlife spotting, amazing scenery, a bit of fishing, driving along deserted beaches and over gigantic sanddunes and lots of fun and laughter with a sunset drinks in an amazing remote setting.
Lunch is the perfect host with stories, information and adventure rolled into one. He has prepared our Lunch as we sit in the remote beaches overlooking Boston Bay, with no-one else in sight. His four wheel drive vehicle allows us to access the beautiful coastline when standard cars and vehicles cannot reach.
We hit one traffic delay when a pair of emu's with their chicks stroll down the unsealed track in front of us. Welcome to the Eyre Peninsula
Later we travel to another remote location to see kangaroos, emu's and koalas in the wild. Followed by a few drinks and story telling as we watch the beautiful sunset. A perfect end to a perfect day.
To see the best of Eyre Peninsula you really need a private tour with a local expert like Australian Coastal Safaris or you will be unable to access the many hidden gems

Friday 30 September - Eyre Peninsula
After a big breakfast at the Port Lincoln Hotel, we are collected by 'Lunch' and head to Winter Hill, a short 5 minute drive from the centre of town, we are greeted with breathtaking views of the city, bay, Boston Island and on clear days the various islands off shore. We look over the back towards Coffin Bay and down to the south towards Whalers Way.
We then call at Port Lincoln Marina to see the fleet of fishing boats who operate and the famous Shark Cage Diving and Swim with Sea Lions tours depart. The Shark Cage Diving was awarded Awarded Australia’s Best Tourist Attraction in 2019. Both of these tours are optional inclusions in packages with Australian Coastal Safaris.
We the drive thirty minutes to Coffin Bay.
Coffin Bay oysters are produced in the remote, unspoilt and pure waters of the large Coffin Bay waterway at the entrance of the bay. They are one of nature's true delights. While visiting its a must to eat fresh oysters on a tour.
We join Experience Coffin Bay for their tour of the Oyster farm by boat, with demonstrations and the opportunity to sample fresh Coffin Bay Oysters.
Oyster Farm Tours can include freshly harvested and shucked oysters as part of the experience.
Then we pop into Oyster HQ where 'Lunch' has arranged with the Honourable Zoe Bettison, Minister for Tourism in the South Australia Government, who thanked ourselves for our efforts to promote Australia and Travel Weekly for publicising our trip to Travel Agents in the UK.
We also discussed, with her, the work we are doing, along with David Clifford, to promote tours to the FIFA Womens World Cup next year.
It was refrshing and a huge boost to hear the passion and support of the Minister for the travel industry and her determination to encourage more international visitors to South Australia,
Next stop was Yarnbala
Kane Slater and his wife Brooke bought a section the land that was originally a National Park – It’s like dropping into the national park but it’s their own property.
Kane takes us on a guided walk and explains the traditional uses of various trees and produce and then takes us to see the endangered and very cute Western Pygmy Possum.
Kane has provided 35 nesting boxes around his property and is helping them to increase in population.
Drinks and more seafood at the Del Giornos restaurant to end another amazing day.
The Eyre Peninsula really is a hidden gem. Just a 40 minute flight from Adelaide. An escorted tour with Australian Coastal Safaris is a must to access those out of the way places. For those looking to see Australian wildlife in the wild or to sample the best seafood then this is the place to be.

Saturday 1 October Meeting Old Friends and onto Adelaide
So sorry to be leaving the Eyre Peninsula.
Such a wonderful area with so much natural beauty and an abundance of wildlife in their natural surroundings.
Time for a quick coffee with good friend Kyrstell Rosetto who is on holiday here from Adelaide. Her family used to own Temptation Sailing in Glenelg who operate tours to see wild dolphins.
After a ten minute transfer to Port Lincoln Airport, we take the 40 minute Qantas flight to Adelaide and a taxi to the Majestic M Suites in Tynte Street.
We meet Shaun Brennan who shows us the very spacious suites.
The hotel opened last year and was used as the quarantine hotel for the top seeds in the Australian Open tennis.
After checking in, Graeme heads to Adelaide Oval to complete Roof Climb Adelaide Oval, which offers unparalleled 360 degree views of Adelaide and beyond, from the stunning coastline to picturesque foothills.
The evening allows us to catch up with another good friend Dave Atherton who for many years was the Journey Beyond contact in the UK for The Indian Pacific and The Ghan.

Sunday 2 October - All aboard the Legendary Train The Ghan
Today the clocks moved forward (for Spring time) by an hour in South Australia, but not across the whole of Australia.
Western Australia, Northen Territory, and Queensland, don’t change their clocks.
An early start and two hours exploring Adelaide before breakfast.
Just ten minutes walk to the Adelaide Oval and we see the cricket strips and machinery that are used to drop the strips into the Oval. This allows the stadium to be used for multiple sports events and concerts.
Then along part of the River Torrens Linear Park Trail.
The River Torrens passes Adelaide Zoo and then unfortunately we need to turn aound. Next time we will hire a bike to get further along the Trail. Adelaide is such a magnificent, healthy and relaxing city and you immediately feel at home with its wide open spaces and parks.
Shaun then takes us around the other Majestic Group properties in Adelaide providing accommodations for all budgets and requirements.
We then enjoy an excellent breakfast at the Majestic Roof Gardens Hotel
Shawn drops us at Adelaide Parklands Terminal, less than 15 minutes from the centre of Adelaide.
This is the base for Journey Beyond and their iconic rail routes
The Ghan, between Adelaide and Darwin,
The Indian Pacific, between Sydney and Perth, via Adelaide.
The Overland, between Melbourne and Adelaide and
The Great Southern, between Adelaide and Brisbane.
We are joining The Ghan a ‘bucket list’ journey and one of the World’s most iconic travel experiences
Named after the Afgan Cameleers who opened up inland Australia with their ‘ships of the desert’
We are shown to our comfortable single cabins in Gold Class (Upgraded cabins are Platinum Class)
We head to the Outback Explorer Lounge and join other guests, from around the world, swapping stories in a very relaxed atmosphere, whilst looking for wildlife
All meals are included in the Queen Adelaide restaurant and all alcoholic and soft drinks are included.
As we journey north the time flies by with excellent cuisine.
The train has is a kilometre long with 35 carriages and today 267 passengers.
As we head for dinner, the attentive crew change our cabins to the bed layout so we can get a comfortable nights sleep.

Monday 3 October - Aboard The Ghan to A Town Like Alice
This morning The Ghan, stops at Marla, where we have the opportunity to get off the train for our first Off Train Experience and watch the sunrise over the red sands and sparse spaces.
As The Ghan departs Marla, there is a chance to grab a couple of hours sleep or head to the lounge as we head through the ever changing landscape with the soil becoming a darker red as we head North.
As we cross the border into Northen Territory, we change our watches back an hour.
We arrive at our destination Alice Springs, bang on time, twenty six and a half hours after leaving Adelaide.
Most customers are travelling onto Darwin, and they get a choice of free included Off Train Experiences at Alice Springs and again at the next stop Katherine.
This is such an iconic journey that it would be misleading to call it a train journey. A ‘cruise on rails’ is a more realistic way to explain this experience with all of the off train excursions.
The Ghan, will head to Darwin, and then return to Adelaide as the four day The Ghan Expedition.
It is a fantastic feeling to have ticked off another of my bucket list items.
We head to Alice Springs, Another ‘bucketlist’ destination.
When I (Graeme) was 14, on a Radio Newcastle show quiz, I was asked the author of A Town like Alice and incorrectly said Alastair Shute, instead of the correct answer Nevil Shute and missed the star prize.
I needed to visit Alice Springs, to redeem myself!
A courtesy coach is provided by The Ghan, to our hotel The Alice Springs hotel (formerly the Aurora)
We take the opportunity to visit the nearby Alice Springs School of the Air, the World's largest classroom, which is an integral part of children’s lives in the Australian outback.
When then visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and hear about the history and the activities of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Then we go to Anzac Hill Memorial.
The Anzac Hill Memorial was unveiled on 25 April 1934 (Anzac Day) and has now become a memorial to all those who have served in the defence of their country during all wars in which Australia has participated.
Anzac Hill is also of significance to the local Arrernte people, who know it as “Untyeyetwelye”.
The lookout offers a panoramic view of Alice Springs and the beautiful surrounding ranges.

Tuesday 4 October - Alice Springs to Uluru and The Sound of Silence Dinner
A slightly earlier than planned start as the hotel fire alarm sounds at 5am
Apparantly another guest ad put the kettle on without adding water and set the alarm off. The hotel are not allowed to silence the alarm until the fire brigade arrive.
The hotel will be billed $968 which will be passed onto the forgetful guest.
At 6-30 our AAT Kings coach arrives to transfer us to Ayers Rock Resort in Uluru
Enroute in our very comfortable air conditioned coach, our driver highlights many points of interest. Firstly it is the Finke River - reputed to be the oldest river in the world. Totally dry on the service as it awaits the next rainfall.
This is also the venue for the Finke Desert Race every year.
Next we see an airstrip on a cattle station, a essential lifeline, allowing the Royal Flying Doctor Service, to land at the cattle station.
Next we learn of the Henbury Meteorite Craters. Located 145 kilometres south-west of Alice Springs, the reserve contains 12 craters that were formed when the Henbury Meteor, weighing several tonnes and accelerating to over 40,000 kilometres per hour, disintegrated before impact.
After several stops at very Australian roadhouses, where we manage to spot some Emu. We stop at a familiar looking view.
In the distance is Mount Connor this is nicknamed 'Foolaru' as tourists often mistake it for Uluru.
We arrive at the Desert Gardens Hotel, and check in to our rooms.
There are 101 tours to choose from. We head to the Bush Yarns, and listen to the stories of Aboriginal culture and tradition and saw men’s weapons that were used for hunting and learnt aspects about the local Pitjantjatjara language.
**In the 1985 film Crocodile Dundee Mick (Paul Hogan) was revealed as an initiated member of the Pitjantjatjara tribe
Time for a dip in the hotel pool, before the evening ends with the Sounds of Silence Dinner, another 'bucketlist' experience.
Our Sounds of Silence experience began with canapes and chilled sparkling wine upon a dune top overlooking the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. As the sun sets and darkness falls, we hear the sound of a didgeridoo and join our table of fellow international travelers for an unforgettable dining experience.
As the night sky twinkles to life, we were served our choice from a freshly prepared, bush tucker inspired menu incorporating native bush ingredients.
We settled back and listen to the star talker decode the southern night sky. Locate the Southern Cross, the signs of the zodiac, the Milky Way, as well as planets and galaxies that are visible due to the exceptional clarity of the atmosphere.
Definitely a 'must do'

Wednesday 5 October- Uluru Sunrise & Kata Tjuta and then onto Cairns
Todays Walk before Breakfast - Uluru Sunrise & Kata Tjuta with AAT Kings.
The early rise was well worth it as we experience the two major landmarks in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Starting with an amazing sunrise at Talinguru Nyakunytjaku, the Uluru sunrise viewing area. Afterwards, on the 45 kms drive to Kata Tjuta our Driver Guide provided us with an historical overview of the National Park. The walk through the sheer walls of Walpa Gorge led us into a world of rare plant species and lush evergreen scrubs.
Amazing experience. I have waited a long time for this and it exceeded my expectations
We return to the hotel for some time to explore Ayers Rock Resort before the free airport transfer provide by the hotel takes us to Ayers Rock Airport.
We then board our Qantas to Cairns. Our clocks go forward half an hour. We take a taxi ($20) to the Crystalbrook Flynn Hotel.
Crystalbrook Flynn isn’t just a new hotel in Cairns: It's a destination. It's about living it up, drinking it all in, and unwinding with some much-needed meditation. You feel at home the moment you walk through the entrance.
For many years Cairns. was in need of more high end luxury and The Crystalbrook Collection, have brought that to Cairns with Crystalbrook Flynn Hotel, and its sister hotels Crystalbrook Bailey Hotel, and Crystalbrook Riley Hotel, along with Crystalbrook Bailey Residences,
Now Cairns really has properties for all budgets.
We use the remainder of the evening to explore the Esplanade

Thursday 6 October- Cairns to Lizard Island
This morning from the hotel we see the early morning boats departing for day trips to the Great Barrier Reef.
If only there was another way to the Great Barrier Reef.……..
Later this morning we took a taxi to the East Air reception at Cairns Airport for our flight to Lizard Island in the Great Barrier Reef.
As the northern most resort on the Great Barrier Reef, and a luxury lodge of Australia, Lizard Island is truly secluded from the rest of the world. This is just one wonderful Lizard Island fact that makes it like nowhere else. The one hour flight from Cairns allows you to take in the true majesty and scale of the reef, and the resort is literally on the reef - no long boat rides are needed to enjoy one of the greatest natural wonders of the world.
This was the base for David Attenborough and his team when filming the Great Barrier Reef.
The property is situated in Lizard Island National Park, and all of the staff are proud of their surroundings and the need to protect the wildlife and lanndscape.
Lizard Island Resort is all-inclusive resort and for each day spent on-island, you'll enjoy the following:
Luxury accommodation
Gourmet meals daily
Unlimited non-alcoholic beverages
A fine selection of wine, beer, basic spirits and sparkling wine
Your own in-room mini bar, restocked daily
Access to a motorised dinghy to explore the many beaches*
Morning or afternoon refreshments pack on your private dinghy excursion*
Unlimited use of stand-up paddle boards*
Unlimited use of clearview sea kayaks*
Snorkelling gear for the duration of your stay*
The island's best-known animal are a yellow-spotted monitor Varanus panoptes lizard - Lieutenant James Cook named the island for this lizard during his exploration of the east coast of Australia in 1770, and Green Sea Turtles,
With our host Sarah, we were shown to our Beach Front Suites. Awesome.
After lunch we were given a dingy and a picnic to head to Watson’s Bay.
Once there we headed into the sea with the reef a few metres from the shore.
The were swimming around us and for the first time ever, I could wear a snorkel mask to see them.
We then watched a yellow-spotted monitor Varanus panoptes lizard digging a hole on the beach before heading to the historic site of Mrs Watson's Cottage
After a shower and time to relax we met up with Sarah for a tour of the various room types on Lizard Island.
Lizard Island presents elegant, yet understated Great Barrier Reef accommodation in a variety of rooms
Garden View Rooms
Garden View Suites
Ocean View Villas
Ocean View Plunge Pool Villas
Beach Front Suites.
The Pavillion
The Villa
The House
We then headed to the The Salt Water Restaurant for a lovely meal, with Sarah, as the sunset over Osprey Island in front of the restaurant.

Friday 7 October - Another Day in Paradise
After an early breakfast in the restaurant overlooking the bay, we join fellow guests on the Inner Reef Cruise. After 25 minutes we reach todays site and guests have a choice of snorkelling with Activities Manager Liam, Paul and their team supporting guests or for those qualified the chance to dive over the reef.
An amazing experience for everyone a a must do when visiting the island.
Returning to the hotel there is a choice of using the Spa, swimming pool of gym.
We must have taken a wrong turn and missed the gym, ending up in the restaurant with time for a drink before lunch.
After a break, it was time for a glassed bottom kyak tour with instructor/guide Paul. A first for both of us. Our total lack of co-ordination with the oars slowed us down but we saw three turtles, a stingray, coral and various fish on the tour.
We then headed to the The Salt Water Restaurant for a lovely meal, with John.
After the meal we joined the Star Gazing tour. With the day skys around Lizard Island we were treated to a fascinating display and presentation.

Saturday 8 October Sad to leave Paradise and onto Thala Beach Lodge
So sad to be leaving paradise today
There are so many activities available that we have not had time to visit the
Australian Museum Lizard Island Research Station
The Australian Museum owns and operates Lizard Island Research Station to facilitate coral reef research and education on the Great Barrier Reef.
or the Essentia Day Spa
Sarah and John come to say Good Bye and all the the staff we have met have become friends in such a short space of time. Such a wonderful team.
We get the golf buggy to the airport (2 minutes away) where we wait in the departure lounge. Best describes as an open plan shelter with seats.
The eight departing guests board the small plane and as we board we realise that Ken has been given the co-pilots seat.
Cries of "sit still" and "don't touch anything" ring up from seven passengers.
Our pilot Jim takes us on the scenic flight, passing the Blue Lagoon behind Lizard Island and part of The Great Barrier Reef. on our one hour flight back to the East Air terminal in Cairns.
Our Exemplar transfer is waiting for us. We have used this company for over twenty years and are so reliable.
Our driver Henry takes us the 45 minutes to Thala Beach Nature Reserve.
Thala Beach Nature Reserve is located on a private headland between Cairns and Port Douglas, Australia. Deluxe eco accommodation options are sensitively positioned amongst the resort’s 145 acre property. Complimentary experiences are provided for our guests including nature/wildlife walks, star gazing nights, Coconut Odyssey tour and specialist talks from local experts.
This evening we dine in Osprey's Restaurant. Osprey’s Restaurant is perfectly situated overlooking the coastline amongst the rain forest.
At 9pm we join the Star Gazing Tour
The Thala night sky is free from light pollution and filled with millions of stars. Surrounded by sounds of the rainforest & ocean – we enjoyed an introduction to the beautiful Southern Constellations from an experienced & passionate guide. The Thala night sky is world recognised for its quality of star gazing

Sunday 9 October Daintree Rainforest
Breakfast is again in the amazing Osprey's Restaurant, with the local birds in the trees as we eat.
Today we join Billy Tea Safaris on their Daintree, Cape Tribulation and Bloomfield Day Trip.
We board the tailor made four wheel drive vehicle which collects us at our accommodation.
First stop is Daintree Rainforest River Cruise Cente for a River Cruise on the Daintree River where we spot crocodiles amongst the mangrove forests.
We make our way up over the Alexandra Range and pause for a panoramic view of World Heritage, Wet Tropics, and Tropical Rainforest merging with the azure colours of the Coral Sea, at the Alexandra Range Lookout
Next stop is a Guided Boardwalk Daintree Rainforest Tour - the chance to experience the rainforest on a guided elevated Boardwalk. Our experienced guide took us through this ancient rainforest. After about twenty minutes we found a Southern Cassowary. We are so lucky to have found such an endangered animal in the wild
Next stop is Emmagen Creek. where it is time for a refreshing rainforest stream swim, in crystal clear fresh waters.
Next is Cape Tribulation Beach where we stroll along the beach and boardwalk to where the 'Rainforest meets the Reef.'
As it is Graeme' birthday, we decide to leave the tour, on the return, at Port Douglas, for a look aound this beautiful town.

Monday 10 October Palm Cove and onto Cairns
After breakfast in the amazing Osprey's Restaurant, there is time to explore on one of the Breakfast is again in the amazing complimentary tours , for guests.
Thala’s Nature Reserve supports many interesting and rare habitats with a constantly changing kaleidoscope of
natural wonders, making the experience very rewarding for naturalists and wildlife photographers.
Soon it is time to pack and board our Exemplar transfer to Cairns.
Our driver takes us via Palm Cove.
Palm Cove is a unique and relaxing village by the Coral Sea, where centuries-old “paperbark” Melaleuca trees line the casual esplanade, Palm Cove offers a relaxed and sophisticated atmosphere making it the ideal beachside holiday.
Our destination is the Shangri-La Cairns.
Prominently situated on the marina, with the chance to Laze by the pool, surrounded by lush tropical gardens or adventure out to Cairns’ favourite attractions.

Tuesday 11 October Up Up and Away in My Beautiful Balloon
A very early start as we join the transfer from Hot Air Balloon Cairns. which takes us to Mareeba in the Atherton Tablelands.
A hot air balloon ride is in the Top Three Things to Do in Cairns, alongside The Great Barrier Reef, and Kuranda.
An amazing experience, watching for wallabies and seeing the sunrise.

Wednesday 12th October -back to Sydney
We board our Qantas flight for the two and a half hour flight to Sydney and take advantage of the free onboard wi-fi and laptop with the latest movies.
After another fast exit from Sydney Domestic Airport, we board the local Airport Link train to Wynyard Station. Cost AUS $18/19 each.
It is less than two minutes walk to our hotel Radisson Blu Sydney.
The hotel is perfectly located on Pitt Steet, ten minutes walk from both Circular Quay and Darling Harbour.
We spend the evening checking for Sydney's oldest pub/hotel with numerous venues claiming the title. We settle on the Fortune of War.

Thursday 13 October -last look around and time to pack.
After a morning coffee with good friend Nadine Stewart, we take a Captain Cook Cruise to get another look at Sydney Harbour. Later in the day we jump on a ferry to Manly for a farewell fish and chips dinner.

Friday 14th October -homeward bound
Its time to head to the Airport - 20 minutes on the Airport Link train. Much easier, cheaper and better for the environment than a taxi.
Really quick check in and time for a look around before boarding our Qantas flight. A brief 90 minute stop in Singapore and we head to Heathrow

Saturday 15th October
Landed bang on time at Heathrow at the end of an amazing trip

General Tips
1. Use an Aussie Specialist Travel Agent
2.Check Australian school holidays before planning your trip. Hotels can be busier and more expensive when schools are on holiday. Each state has seperate school holidays.
3 Like the rest of the World, some smaller towns still have staff shortages in hospitality businesses. As a result bakeries may close by 2pm and restaurants as early as 8pm. Don't assume everywhere will be open late. Some hotels will offer vouchers for food/drink if you do not have your room serviced every day.
4. If you are cruising into Sydney, check if your cruise ship will dock at Circular Quay or White Bay.
5. Allow at least nine days for the Sydney to Melbourne Touring Route
6 The cheapest way to see Sydney Harbour is to catch the Ferry to Manly from Circular Quays
7. In many places in Australia there is a surcharge on meals on Sundays and Bank Holidays as hospitality wages are higher on these days.
8. Try at least once a week, to book accomodation that had washing and drying facilities
9.There is something special about seeing Australian animals in the wild rather than a zoo or wildlife park
10. Use as many forms of transport as possible eg, trains, boats, off road tours,
11. Get out of the big cities and explore the real Australia.
12.Speak to local people and ask what events are on in the area.
13. Many products only accept credit/debit card, particularly public transport.
14. Unlike the UK it is typical to be charged to pay by credit/debit card (typically 1-2%)
15. For cheap food try the local Returned Service League Australia (RSL) Club. You can obtain temporary membership and take advantage of the reasonably priced food.
16. Check if you phone provider includes coverage for Australia
17.Inform your bank and credit card providers that you will be using your cards in Australia (and enroute).
18. In major cities you will pay extra at restaurants that have prime views.
19. Snacks and soft drinks are expensive outside of the major cities. If possible stock up at a supermarket..
20. Wherever possible stay a minimum of two nights at a hotel to give time to explore and enjoy the local area.
21. Hotels in Canberra are very busy when both Houses of Parliament are sitting. Check in advance and try to avoid those dates.
22. Don't set the Fire Alarm off at your hotel, or you could face a big bill for the Fire Brigade
23. Keep up to date with the different time zones across Australia

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