The best getaway islands around Queensland

If you’re looking forward to a personalised Australia holiday, it’s highly likely that you have plans for adrenaline-fuelled activities and once in a lifetime experiences, but everyone needs a bit of downtime when they’re on holiday. If you’re keen to combine rest and relaxation with action-packed adventures, Queensland’s tropical islands offer the perfect base for sun-drenched days in paradise.

 

The best getaway islands

After a busy sightseeing itinerary and activities that leave you breathless, it’s understandable to want to escape it all and enjoy a bit of peace and quiet. The beauty of Queensland is that it really does have it all. One day, you can be swinging through the canopies of the lush rainforests, the next you can be soaking up the sun on a secluded beach on your own desert island getaway. If you’re thinking of heading out to the islands while you’re in Queensland, here are some of the best spots:

Hamilton Island

Hamilton Island is the most popular of Queensland’s islands, and it’s easy to see why people flock here to chill out and take in the views. Think picture-postcard golden beaches, clear water and incredible snorkelling and diving opportunities afforded by the wonder that is the Great Barrier Reef. There are several resorts on the island, offering a range of options for all budgets. During the day, you can try your hand at an array of water sports and there are also beach bars and cafes to grab a bite to eat with a view. It’s also possible to access Whitehaven Beach, a glimmering silica sand beach, from Hamilton Island.

Green Island

Green Island is an exotic gem, which boasts some beautiful luxury hotels for those searching for an exclusive break. The snorkelling and diving are second to none and there’s also a marine park. You can arrange a number of excursions and participate in activities from helicopter rides over the expansive coral to glass-bottom boat tours and sea walking. Alternatively, you can put a towel down, pop your shades on, and zone out.

Daydream Island

There are few places on Earth that sound as idyllic as Daydream Island and the good news is that this location definitely lives up to its name. You won’t be disappointed when you land on the pristine sands and take a look around you. This is a wonderful base for families and couples. There’s plenty going on if you want to be active, but if you’re keen to take inspiration from the name, there’s no better place to while away the hours daydreaming.

Chris Hemsworth praises Australia’s natural beauty

The actor Chris Hemsworth has described his excitement at exploring the desert outback and sandy beaches of Australia with his family and spreading the word about Oz’s attractions to the rest of the world.

The Aussie actor from Byron Bay, who has starred in Thor and Star Trek, was speaking at the G’Day USA event in his role as a Tourism Australia Ambassador.

Guests who attended the event were treated to some of the country’s best food, prepared by chef Neil Perry, and wine supplied by Wine Australia.

The evening was also a celebration of the record-breaking coastal campaign, which brought unprecedented numbers of visitors to the country to enjoy the beautiful beaches: arrivals from the US reached 705,000 in the last 12 months, an 18.3% increase.

Chris explained how much he had enjoyed his first 12 months as an ambassador for his country of birth.

“It’s a great honour to play a role in promoting my country to the rest of the world. My first year as an ambassador for Australia has been incredible, from experiencing the outback of Uluru and The Kimberley with my family, diving the Great Barrier Reef and exploring the islands and beaches of the Whitsundays. I am looking forward to another year seeing Australia and sharing its natural beauty with the rest of the world,” he said.

John O’Sullivan, Tourism Australia Managing Director, said he is glad that the rest of the world is getting the chance to experience the unique atmosphere Down Under.

“It’s great to return to New York, almost exactly a year after Chris Hemsworth helped us launch our latest global tourism campaign. Travel by Americans to Australia is growing at levels we haven’t enjoyed since the 2000 Sydney Olympics. As Chris has so eloquently told the world, Australia is a place you feel and I’m delighted that a record-breaking 705,000 Americans have been able to do just that over the past 12 months,” he said.

Top 3 zoos for the kids Down Under

Picture Australia and one of the first things that might pop into your mind is the iconic yellow diamond-shaped road signs along a red outback track with the outline – absolutely unmistakable – of a kangaroo. There is perhaps no other country with as many instantly recognisable native animals, and there’s nowhere better to see them than on their home territory.

The zoos in Australia are some of the best in the world, and they make a great day out with the family. Take the kids on a stroll amongst the weird and wonderful creatures found here and they’ll walk wide-eyed, not believing their luck at witnessing the animals they’ve only previously seen in books and on television in real life.

Take a look below for two fantastic options in the tourist hubs of Sydney and Melbourne, as well as the legendary Australia Zoo brought to fame by Steve Irwin.

 

Taronga Zoo

This Sydney wildlife centre cares for 4000 animals and even the names of the attractions will be enough to get the kids super excited for the day ahead: Bear Canyon, Chimpanzee Park, Gorilla Forest, Wild Australia…all evoke fascinating worlds to discover and are just as good as they sound. What’s more, the zoo has views to match its exhibits: a giraffe poking its neck above the tree line and silhouetted against the skyscrapers across the bay is a spectacular sight. In fact, Taronga is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘beautiful view’. The zoo does fantastic work in conservation of endangered animals and is well worth a visit.

 

Melbourne Zoo

Australia’s oldest zoo, Melbourne’s animal conservation centre first opened its doors in 1862 and was voted the country’s best in 2014. Only minutes from the city centre, this is your chance to see one of the world’s most bizarre animals in real life – the duckbilled platypus – as well as tigers, orangutans, crocodiles, lions and more. Particularly exciting for young ones is the Growing Wild exhibit, which lets children between three and eight years old climb inside giant tortoise shells and look out for danger alongside the meerkats. Don’t miss the Australian Bush section, where you can spot koalas snoozing in the trees and the mischievous marsupials that are Tasmanian devils, as well as watching kangaroos bouncing around in the open bushland area.

 

Australia Zoo

Known as the ‘Home of the Crocodile Hunter’, the ongoing success of this Queensland zoo on the Sunshine Coast is a poignant testament to the late Steve Irwin, whose work along with his wife Terri brought renown to the zoo and led to it being named one of Queensland’s Q150 Icons as part of the state’s anniversary celebrations. Perhaps the main attraction is the Crocoseum, the world’s first animal stadium featuring snake, bird and crocodile shows. Visitors can watch crocodiles being fed and participate in elephant feedings themselves. For the true wildlife enthusiasts, you can book onto a Platinum Zoo Adventure that treats you to a full day of VIP indulgence and exclusive behind-the-scenes animal encounters.

 

So pack your camera and head to an Aussie zoo for animal encounters you’ll never forget, views and a slice of history!

 

The best family trips in Sydney

Sydney has all the ingredients to keep your kids occupied having fun out in the sun: beaches, animal life, thrills and outside space galore. Even the architecture of buildings such as the Opera House is whimsical and dramatic enough to delight the kids. Taking youngsters on holiday can often be a bit of a trial, but in Sydney you’ll find that the days fly by.

What better place to start than the ocean. The Sydney and NSW coastline has a range of beautiful beaches, including the iconic Bondi Beach and the laid-back vibe of Byron Bay. Along the coastline here you can learn how to surf, go kayaking (depending on the swell) or have a family picnic on the pristine sand.

Sydney is known for its outside space. Besides the beach, there are also plenty of parks, playgrounds and museums for kids to run around in. One of the best is the Royal Botanic Garden: you can learn about the aboriginal heritage, partake in free family guided walks or enjoy the new garden-related theme in Dandy Lions, a morning of events for children under the age of five which includes gardening, crafts, singing and playtime.

Why not discover some of Australia’s sharks, which glide through Shark Valley at Sea Life Sydney. This Aquarium takes you on an underwater journey through the country’s unique freshwater and marine environments, putting you up close and personal with aquatic life such as dugongs and sawfish that will make your kids’ imaginations sing. If you’re looking to discover Australia’s land animals, head to Taronga Zoo for once-in-a-lifetime encounters with koalas. Also to be found in the city next to Hyde Park is the Australia Museum, which is home to life size animal models, dinosaur skeletons and a special mini-museum for younger kids.

For a breathtaking bird’s-eye view of Sydney from above, visit Tower Eye’s outdoor skywalk, which gives children over the age of eight the thrill of 360-degree views. Other viewing prospects include a climb over Sydney Bridge – one of the most exhilarating activities in the city.

If you’ve hired a car and are willing to take a trip out into the countryside, a short two-hour drive takes you to Jamberoo Action water park, an excellent activity for the whole family – and for the whole day.

Such are the many joys of Sydney, though, that even if you decide to just see the sights and enjoy an afternoon at the beach, you’ll have plenty to keep the kids happy!

 

The MCG: one of the world’s greatest venues prepares for Ashes showdown

There are few better things in life than being part of a 96,000-strong group of fans enjoying all the tension, excitement and carnival atmosphere of a Melbourne Cricket Ground Test Match. The iconic sports venue is one of the world’s most legendary arenas, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, and this Christmas time it will play host to an eagerly-anticipated leg of the 2017/18 Ashes Series.

Journalist Greg Baum has described the MCG as “a shrine, a citadel, a landmark, a totem” that “symbolises Melbourne to the world”, and it’s true that this giant bowl has all the hallmarks of a pilgrimage site for sports fans. Known fondly as the ’G, the Melbourne Cricket Ground hosted the world’s first Test Match in 1877 and was the primary stadium of the 1956 Olympics, 2006 Commonwealth Games and two different Cricket World Cups, not to mention its alter ego as the spiritual home of Aussie Rules Football.

Boxing Day is going to be a special occasion at the ground this year: England are coming to town for the fourth of the five Ashes Tests. Already a venue famous for its great atmosphere, the noise levels are set to raise for the latest installment of the series, which is being talked about as one of the most exciting in years.

If you’re heading to Melbourne early ahead of the Test and want to soak up all the tradition and heritage of the ground, you can have a look around in advance: it’s open every day for visitors. The guided tour is a magical experience for fans, taking you into the changing rooms, out onto the hallowed turf and up to the top of the stadium for a stunning view of the Melbourne skyline from the City Terrace.

A further attraction worth a visit in itself is the National Sports Museum, which is housed at the ground. Home to the country’s largest collection of sporting memorabilia from a nation that has produced its fair share of iconic moments – the Aussies really do have sport in the blood – the museum’s interactive exhibits let you try out your goal-kicking skills against Aussie Rules players, test your reaction times versus elite athletes and more.

You can feel the history as you walk around the MCG, and there may well be more history made come Boxing Day when the Test gets underway.

If you would like to book tickets, contact us on 0333 234 2673 or click here to find out more about our flexible Test packages.