Australia, From Top End to New South

Australia is the world's sixth-largest country, and undeniably one of its most fascinating. Because Americans perceive it as being a "far-away" destination and because there's so much to see and do, usually within a limited time, clients are frequently advised to explore the vast Land Down Under one portion at a time. Odds are that, after an inaugural visit, they'll book a second trip to experience "the rest" of Australia, which includes 10,000 beaches, 40 million kangaroos and the world's longest continuous fence.

Tourism Australia, the country's marketing engine, is a first-rate source. Here's the trip-of-a-lifetime, a two-week itinerary, suggested by the South Australian Tourism Commission, which starts in the state of South Australia

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 Premium Deluxe one-bedroom apartment at Savile Park Suites Darwin in New South Wales

Fly Qantas from the Sydney hub to Adelaide—the state capital of South Australia—and meet Ralf Hadzic of Life is a Cabernet to experience a mouth-watering food-and-wine tasting agenda in the gum-treed, kangaroo-friendly Barossa region, which is about 75 minutes away. Savor big, bold flavors at the historic Seppelt and ambitious Rockford wineries, nibble at Angas Park Fruits and the Barossa Valley Cheese Factory, then lunch at famous Chef Maggie Beer's Farm Shop. Hadzic can join you for dinner at the quaint 1918 Bistro & Grill.

You can't do better than Peppers the Louise for your Barossa accommodations. This is a luxury vineyard retreat with impeccable service and suites that feature fireplaces, private courtyards and terraces, chic furnishings and large en-suites, some with outdoor showers. The property's popular restaurant, Appellation, is known for fresh, local ingredients meticulously prepared by Chef Mark McNamara.

Upon returning to Adelaide, foodie guru Mark Gleeson will "tastefully" guide you through the Central Markets with his Chef's Market Tours (yes, sampling is encouraged). Adelaide, a center for the arts, is best seen and understood with enthusiastic local expert Gwynne Brown of Tourabout Adelaide, and is ideal for walking. Book your clients at the Hilton Adelaide, with bird's-eye views of next-door

Victoria Square
and the city beyond. Recommend dinner at Penfold's Magill Estate Restaurant at the original vineyard; Penfold's iconic Grange red wine is a must.

Bottom to Top

Next on your schedule, head to Australia's Top End, the Northern Territority, and its capital, Darwin, but not without guidance from Tourism NT: Choose spacious, mid-range Saville Park Suites for your stay, which is centrally located overlooking DarwinHarbor and the Arafura Sea. An afternoon spent with Darwin Walking Tours and Steve Noble will highlight parks, monuments and Aboriginal sites, providing a captivating window into this city's surprising history. For traditional Australian food and friendly service, book the Sunset Dinner Cruise with Darwin Cruises and Charters aboard the Alfred Nobel. Consider an optional day-long side trip with Tiwi Tours to nearby Bathurst Island and the Aboriginal community of Nguiu; hop across the water with Australasian Jet, but note: The small aircraft isn't a jet. Meet the famous Tea Ladies and purchase coveted native art. Once back in Darwin, Pee Wee's at the Point offers a memorable dinner menu and view across FannieBay.

Ready to go, again? Fly Air North to the Way Outback, stopping first in Kununurra, then transferring to an Alligator Airways charter flight for the trip to Bullo River Station. The 500,000-acre "station," or ranch, is home to wallabies, wild buffalo and pigs, 8,500 cattle and crocs. Gracious hosts Franz and Marlee Ranacher welcome your clients to an out-there experience; Franz can take them to his secret mountaintop waterfalls and pools in an open-sided helicopter.

The New South

Your clients started in Sydney, so send them back there from Darwin for extended quality time in Australia's southeast corner with suggestions from Tourism New South Wales.

View of Darling Harbour and Sydney from The Observatory Hotel in the historic Rocks district

Luxury travelers will appreciate multi-award-winning The Observatory Hotel on

Kent Street
in the historic Rocks district. With sandstone walls, antique furnishings, a Day Spa and the highly rated Galileo Restaurant, the classically designed Observatory exceeds discerning clients' service expectations.

At the opposite end of the spectrum architecturally, the renovated Hilton Sydney is in a league of its own. "Zoned" Relaxation Suites are the "it" choice here. Sydneysiders flock to Hilton's contempo glass brasserie, its hip Zeta Bar and the traditional Marble Bar.

On the town, start with a backstage Tour of the House at the famed Sydney Opera House, then catch a concerto by the Sydney Symphony. Go next door to dinner at Guilllaume at Bennelong, in the house's southern shell, for exquisite food and service. Take a surf lesson with Let's Go Surfing at Bondi beach, then have lunch next-door at Icebergs Dining Room and Bar. Hike the Bondi to Bronte Cliff Walk, or hop on a Harley and hang on for a Blue Thunder DownUnder city tour on two wheels.

Bring History Alive

Learning the history of Sydney makes your visit so much more meaningful, so call The Rocks Walking Tours. Animal lovers absolutely can't miss Sydney Aquarium and Sydney Wildlife World. For clients who feel the need to shop, recommend

Queen Street
, as well as the Paddington Markets, Oxford, Elizabeth and Paddington Streets and
Glenmore Road
in Paddington.

Less than two hours away, the Blue Mountains' phenomenally steep canyons beckon. Book the lovely, luxurious Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort & Spa in Katoomba; on the way, stop for a gourmet lunch at Solitary restaurant in charming Leura. Scenic World has cable car rides, while Tread Lightly Eco Tours runs interpretive wilderness walks in this World Heritage site.

Essential Links

Australia

Northern Territory

New South Wales

South Australia