Australia is a culturally diverse destination, made up of indigenous people that have been there for thousands of years, and settlers from all over the world. Delta offers a non-stop flight from LAX into Sydney, and non-stop flights from Delta's codeshare partners can be found into Melbourne and Brisbane.
For your clients looking to do a Fly & Drive vacation in Australia, here are a few tips to keep in mind. Australia is roughly the same size as the continental United States, so a drive vacation must be carefully planned. A drive from Sydney to Melbourne is 10 hours and covers 545 miles. From Sydney to Brisbane it is 12 hours and 575 miles. Brisbane to Cairns is 20 hours and 1,066 miles, and Sydney to Perth is 42 hours, covering 2,445 miles.
Cairns is a three-hour flight from Sydney and sits on the northern coast of the country, facing the Coral Sea. Peak travel time is June to August, which is winter in Australia, but Cairns is warmest in winter. From Cairns travelers have easy access to the Great Barrier Reef, as well as numerous options for sailing, snorkeling, diving and exploring aboriginal culture.
A great tour to sell to your clients is the Cape Tribulation, Daintree, Mossman Gorge tour. This is a full day exploration of rainforest and national parks. Clients can cruise down the Daintree River looking for plants, birds, tree snacks and crocodiles. Guests will also enjoy a tropical lunch at a private rainforest property and then head on to Cape Tribulation Rainforest Beach. Then, the tour will finish the day at Mossman Gorge for a walk with an indigenous guide.
The Quicksilver Outer Great Barrier Reef Cruise is another option for your clients visiting Cairns. The Great Barrier Reef is the largest organic construction in the world and can be seen from space. It is also one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The tour begins on a 400-person catamaran that takes travelers to a platform over the reef. Activities on the platform include snorkeling, diving, semi-submersibles and an underwater viewing platform.
Where to Stay in Cairns
The Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas Resort is a 4.5-star resort with an 18-hole golf course and large rooms with views of the gardens, golf course or lagoon.
Thala Beach Lodge is a 4.5-star resort made up of individual bungalows on stilts. The bungalows have views of the water or rainforest. Some of the onsite activities include stargazing, aboriginal storytelling and bird watching. There are also walking paths and a private beach.
For something truly luxurious, check your clients into the Shangri-La, the Marina, Cairns, which is a 5-star property on the marina. The rooms are modern and upscale in decor. There is also a restaurant/bar with live music playing.
Melbourne is another great city to visit in Australia. It is the country’s capital and is a hub for culture and style. Melbourne is also near wine country for those who want to get out of the city for a while.
Optional activities for your clients visiting Melbourne include a hot-air balloon flight over Melbourne, which is an interactive experience as guests help the experts set up and take down the balloon before and after flight. There is also the Yarra Valley Wine Experience, which includes an a la carte lunch with wine and a special tour to watch the wine-making process.
Where to Stay in Melbourne
The Crown Metropol is a 5-star hotel in a Vegas-style complex on the Yarra River, across from the Convention Center. This is the largest casino complex in the southern hemisphere and one of the largest in the world. There are more than 50 restaurants, bars, clubs, shopping and cinemas.
The Westin Melbourne is another five-star hotel in the business district. The hotel is near restaurants, designer boutiques and galleries, as well as the Regent Theatre. It is also within walking distance of Federation Square.
And how can first-timers come to Australia and not hit Sydney? Established as a penal colony, today Sydney is known as the Emerald City. It sits on the southern edge of Australia. December through February are the best times to visit.
MLT offers plenty of optional activities that are great for families, adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts. Suggest the Half-Day Panoramic Sydney Sights Tour, which includes a tour of the historic rocks area, a trip past the Harbor Bridge, Opera House, shopping district and beachfront.
The Arts Hotel Sydney is a three-star, small, family-run hotel located in the heritage conservation area of the city. It is like a small village within the city, chock full of art and fashion. There are boutique shops, art galleries, pubs and cafes.
For over-the-top luxury book your clients at qualia, a member of Relais & Chateaux, on nearby Hamilton Island. The resort is exclusive to guests 16 and older. Each of the rooms overlooks the water and is surrounded by tropical bush land. In 2012, this resort was named best in the world by Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice.