Inspired by ‘fresh fish simply cooked,’ English chef Rick Stein is the talent behind the Seafood Restaurant in Padstow, Cornwall, where he co-owns three other eateries. Respected for his cookbooks and inspiring global food documentaries, he recently released his memoir Under a Mackerel Sky. A longtime fan of Australia, Rick loves spending time at his restaurant, Rick Stein at Bannisters, south of Sydney…
What’s your image of an unforgettable Australian holiday – gorgeous surf-lapped beaches in Byron Bay? Jaw-dropping outback landscapes at Uluru? Or wacky wildlife from koalas to kangaroos? You can enjoy all that and more on an escape down under, as well as welcoming locals, sunny weather, superb food and wine, and a host of extraordinary cultural must-sees. So, don’t wait – make Australia your next trip with a little help from our inspiring connoisseurs.
We’ve partnered with Tourism Australia and award-winning airline Emirates to bring you insider tips from six experts in their field, all united by their passion for Australia’s good life. Chef Rick Stein gives you the lowdown on his favourite gourmet getaways, world champion surfer Layne Beachley divulges her dream beaches and explorer Charley Boorman brings his unique perspective on back-to-nature adventures. We’ve also got wonderful wildlife secrets from Nick Baker, the expert view on culture from the Royal Academy curator, Kathleen Soriano, and savvy suggestions for Melbourne and Victoria from property guru Phil Spencer.
What’s more, we’ve compiled matching itineraries to whet your wanderlust and ensure you make the most of a fortnight away. For a longer stay, just combine a couple of our specially curated journeys, blending city, coast and country thrills. Emirates has you covered when it comes to flying out in style, with seamless services from the UK via Dubai to five Australian cities (Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney). Emirates’ partnership with Qantas means you can then connect to over 50 Australian destinations with a single reservation.
For more information about flights or details of Mr & Mrs Smith’s hand-picked hotels, speak to the expert in-house Smith24 team on 0845 034 0700. Whether it’s your first time or a return visit, remember there’s nothing like Australia…
Rick Stein: Food and Wine
Australia is special for visitors from the UK because it's a country with a much warmer climate than ours, but with a similar cultural heritage. Going there gives a sense of what it might be like if we lived in a Mediterranean-style environment, where basil grows like a weed and avocados, wine grapes and olives are local. The sea is warm, the sun is hot and sitting outside by a barbecue chatting late into the balmy night is normal.
Mollymook, as it's home to Bannisters, the restaurant my wife, Sarah, and I run… but I was a fan of this holiday spot on the New South Wales South Coast for some years before we opened up there. It has the same sort of appeal as my own part of the south west of England – great local seafood, beautiful surfing beaches and green dairy farms. Families go there for summer breaks year after year and the atmosphere is relaxed and happy.
With it multicultural background, combining Greek, Italian, Vietnamese and Chinese influences, Melbourne is the city for food lovers. Sydney may have great restaurants and a very lively food culture, but Melbourne has great restaurants, similar enthusiasm for food and some very good produce markets. It also has the sort of dynamic neighbourhood restaurants that seem to have been there forever. I love the side streets off the main avenues, little more than alleyways with exciting hole-in-the-wall places to eat. I think the hotels there are the most comfortable in the world. It feels like a smart European city where everything is easy – the streets wider, taxis cleaner, traffic calmer and buildings slicker. It's also home to possibly my favourite restaurant anywhere, Flower Drum, at 17 Market Lane, which serves delicious Cantonese food.
Margaret River is the perfect place to visit vineyards: the cabernet sauvignons from wineries such as Moss Wood, Cullen Wines and Cape Mentelle and the chardonnays from Pierro and Leeuwin Estate are among the world’s best. The town is also a lovely spot, set in farming country next to some of Western Australia’s amazing surf beaches. Smith stay Empire Retreat and Spa makes an ideal base.
My wife, Sarah, organised a surprise 60th birthday party at a friend’s farm overlooking the sea near Mollymook. One of my sons, Jack, turned up from the UK and Mark, a chef from our restaurant Bannisters, did the food, unbeknown to me. It was a lovely mix of barbecued beef and lamb chops, snapper with harissa, warm potatoes with chives and mayo, and a fabulous salad of tomato, prosciutto, pear and creamy goat’s cheese. We followed it up with passion fruit pavlovas and vintage champagne, Ten Minutes by Tractor chardonnay and even some old red Burgundy.
Go to the Barossa Valley outside Adelaide. You’ll be charmed by the Silesian German villages, particularly the town of Tanunda, and you must visit the Rockford Winery to experience the very best Barossa shiraz, Basket Press. Crossing over a tiny little creek called ‘Jacobs’ gave me a thrill, too.
…having dinner at Sydney restaurant Sea Treasure at 46 Willoughby Road in Crows Nest on the Lower North Shore. Go for pipis (clams) in XO sauce, Peking duck with pancakes, san choy bow made from the rest of that duck, then salt-and-pepper mud crab or steamed coral trout with soy and ginger. They have a good wine list that’s great value for money, too.
If Rick Stein’s tasty take on Australia has whetted your appetite, then follow his trail with our Smith-approved two-week itinerary to sample some of the country’s best gourmet hot spots…
Fly Emirates via Dubai to Sydney. Bed down at gourmet getaway Establishment Hotel, which boasts Peter Doyle’s modern Australian fine-diner Est and award-winning contemporary Cantonese Mr Wong. Food fiends will love the Sydney Fish Market and classes at its Sydney Seafood School; chow down afterwards at waterside Doyles.
Hire a car – Rick’s recommended company is No Birds – and drive down the New South Wales South Coast. With surf-lapped beaches, niche vineyards (shoalhavencoastwine.com.au) and foodie town Berry en route, the two-and-a-half-hour journey to Jervis Bay is easy on the eye and stomach. Paperbark Camp offers safari-chic tents just a skip from white-sand shores. Spend your days there swimming, kayaking or whale-watching, then dine on Chilean-accented Australian fare. For local dining, Rick rates Wharf Rd for seafood at 10 Wharf Road in Nowra or book a table at Rick Stein at Bannisters in Mollymook, a 45-minute drive south. His former chef Alex Delly runs St Isidore, just outside Milton at 89 Croobyar Road, serving seasonal produce.
From Paperbark Camp, continue along the picturesque coastal road to Melbourne, breaking up the 10-hour drive with two nights en route. Batemans Bay is fun for watersports; Montague Island Reserve, off Narooma, is home to seals and penguins; Mimosa Rocks National Park offers sea caves and lagoons; beachy Merimbula serves fresh seafood; and Eden is good for spying whales in season. Over the Victorian border, Mallacoota and Lakes Entrance are chilled out stops in lake-dotted Gippsland, where you can take a dip at dreamy Ninety Mile Beach. Be sure to sample the region’s acclaimed cheese, fish and free-range meats. If you’ve got more time, detour to Wilsons Promontory for dramatic coastal parkland and Phillip Island to see penguins and fur seals.
Stay at super-central Ovolo Hotel Melbourne to explore the city’s atmospheric laneway restaurants. Longrain, at 44 Little Bourke Street, is a favourite of Rick’s for delicious Thai-influenced food. Rick also suggests MoVida at graffiti-strewn 1 Hosier Lane. ‘I filmed with MoVida’s Frank Camorra in Seville – his tapas bar serves fabulous, simple, authentic tapas with great chorizo’. Hot newer venues include Tonka, Chin Chin and Mamasita. Don’t miss Queen Victoria Market for seasonal snacking.
Spend a day touring the iconic Yarra Valley wine region, just an hour’s drive from Melbourne. Rick loves De Bortoli Wines: ‘We started selling their Noble One botrytis sémillon 20 years ago, and list both their excellent chardonnay and pinot noir.’ Australian Wine Tour Co offers vineyard-hopping trips. If you’re driving, call in at Tarrawarra Museum of Art, which has a restaurant and wine tastings. Swing by Healesville Sanctuary to see koalas, kangaroos and platypuses, then lunch at chic Innocent Bystander. Once you’ve supped and sipped to your heart’s content, catch your Emirates flight home from Melbourne.
Emirates offers 16 daily flights to Australia, from a choice of six UK airports. In Economy Class, expect multi-course gourmet cuisine – how does smoked tuna, lamb marinated in Arabic spices and sticky date pudding sound? – with free drinks from spirits to beer and wine. In Business Class, you’ll also get cocktails, champagne and vintage wines, with healthy meal options and expanded menus; First Class features on-demand dining, too.
Layne Beachley: Coast
When it comes to riding waves, they don’t come better than Layne Beachley, seven-time world surfing champion and pioneer for women in the sport. Growing up on Sydney’s Manly Beach, Layne loved ‘calling the ocean my office.’ In 2008, she retired from pro surfing to focus on business and charity work, including her Aim For the Stars Foundation. Layne is married to rockstar Kirk Pengilly from INXS and still calls Sydney home.
I’m still wowed by its beauty. Having travelled the world for 20 years as a professional surfer, I’ve no doubt that Australia’s coastline is the most distinctive, stunning and affable. The water is clean, the ocean is teeming with marine life and our beaches are magnificent. As well as the country’s natural beauty, our laid-back nature and welcoming, friendly people make Australia extremely inviting. There’s also an abundance of exciting activities and our love of the coast is infectious.
Noosa, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, is a must-see destination with its mild temperatures in and out of the water – even in Australia’s winter – and its crystal-clear ocean. There is loads to do, too, from surfing the waves to stand-up paddle boarding on the river, and hikes and running trails through the National Park.
I also love Cable Beach in Broome – you can witness a spectacular sunset over the ocean while riding on a camel along the sand. It’s a wonderful experience and truly unique to Western Australia. Mr & Mrs Smith favourite Pinctada Cable Beach has a spa and smart dining just a stroll from the sea; for camel treks, try Ships of the Desert. While in Broome, visit Matso’s brewery and sample their desert lime and wild ginger cider.
One of my favourites is Moreton Island, just off the east coast of Brisbane in Queensland. With limited access via passenger and car ferry and no sealed roads – you can drive on some beaches and bush tracks, but only with a 4WD – this sand island is a pocket of adventure. There are incredible uncrowded waves to surf and exceptional fishing and diving, and you just might have the beach to yourself. You can even hand-feed dolphins at the only hotel, Tangalooma Island Resort.
When you come to Sydney you must take the Manly Ferry across the harbour and admire the city’s dazzling sights, including the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. For an insider secret, follow the coastal track at the southern end of Manly beach to Shelly Beach, part of a protected marine reserve popular with snorkellers and divers. You should also spend an afternoon at Bondi Beach and enjoy a sundowner at Icebergs.
Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef is a fantastic place to dive and snorkel. Your surfing ability will determine the best location to sample our wide variety of waves. Longboarding is well suited to Noosa, and Byron Bay and Crescent Head in New South Wales, but if you’re looking for a more challenging experience check out Margaret River in Western Australia (also an amazing wine region) and Burleigh Heads on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Drive Victoria’s scenic Great Ocean Road where infamous Bells Beach suits serious surfers and Torquay, Anglesea, Lorne and Fairhaven will appeal to beginners. Keep going to spot wild koalas near Kennett River, kayak with seals at Apollo Bay and see the awe-inspiring Twelve Apostles sea stacks and Loch Ard Gorge near Port Campbell.
Fly into Queensland’s tropical capital Brisbane from the UK with Emirates. Elegant Spicers Balfour Hotel serves tasty breakfasts on its terrace, just a stroll from arts centre Brisbane Powerhouse and Fortitude Valley’s stylish shops and bars. Take a day trip to Moreton Island, which teams beaches with lagoons and National Park land. Sandboard on the dunes or snorkel or dive among the spooky boat wrecks at Tangalooma. At nearby North Stradbroke Island, savour a freshwater dip in the tea tree-stained Brown Lake, or walk to pretty Blue Lake. Look out for dolphins, dugongs, turtles, seabirds and whales in season, and try a Moreton Bay bug (a flathead lobster). In town, check out man-made Streets Beach on the South Bank, get an art kick at the GOMA, then sip prosecco at Stokehouse overlooking Brisbane River.
Pick up a hire-car and head north to the Sunshine Coast, where chic Noosa (one hour 45 minutes’ drive) boasts blissful beaches, bijou boutiques and stylish restaurants. Kayak Noosa offers dolphin-spotting adventures, Learn to Surf Noosa will teach you wave skills and Noosa Stand Up Paddles will get you boarding. Experienced divers can hook up with Scuba World to discover the wreck of HMAS Brisbane, off the coast of Maroochydore. Stay at French-influenced Spicers Clovelly Estate, 50 minutes south, which will pamper you with a spa and gourmet feasts in the lush hinterland. Enjoy rainforest bushwalks, the famous Eumundi Markets, nearby vineyards and the arty towns of Montville and Maleny. It’s an 80-minutes drive back to Brisbane past the scenic Glass House Mountains.
Drive from Brisbane to Sydney, breaking for two nights at romantic Victoria’s at Wategos in bohemian Byron Bay (two hours to the south). Swim or surf at curvy Wategos or Little Wategos beaches, where you’ll compete with dolphins for the breaks. Enjoy ocean and bush views on the four-kilometre circuit walk around the Cape Byron Lighthouse, stopping off for coffee at Byron Beach Café on Clarkes Beach. Byron’s Julian Rocks Marine Reserve is great for snorkelling or diving with turtles and manta rays. Just over eight hours of driving brings you to New South Wales’ Central Coast, where boutique hotel Bells at Killcare combines delicious Italian dining, care of chef Stefano Manfredi, with serene seaside strolls. From there, it’s just an hour and a half on to Sydney.
Glittering Sydney is all about laid-back coastal life, and QT Sydney hotel – with its quirky bar and day spa – is ideal for unwinding. Take the Manly Ferry from Circular Quay out to Layne’s pine-fringed home beach Manly for swims or surf classes. Order delicious pizza on the Wharf at Hugos Manly, followed by Adriano Zumbo’s famous macaroons (Shop 1a, 40 East Esplanade). Merivale is launching a hot new Latin American restaurant on the wharf this November, too. Iconic Bondi Beach boasts sociable sunbathing and surf. Refuel on seasonal produce at Sean’s Panaroma (270 Campbell Parade) or swing by Pompei’s (126 Roscoe Street) for artisan gelato. The Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk is jaw-dropping, and you can take dips at Clovelly or Bronte along the way; look out for artworks during spring’s Sculpture by the Sea. Finally, fly home from Sydney to the UK with Emirates.
Charley Boorman: Adventure
British adventurer and motorbike fanatic Charley Boorman has travelled the world by bike, boat, train, elephant and everything in between. His adrenaline-fuelled travel documentaries – including Long Way Round and Long Way Down with actor pal Ewan McGregor, Race to Dakar and By Any Means – have proved a huge hit. A veteran of Australia’s outback and adventure thrills, Charley shares his travel tips…
The Outback – one of the few true wildernesses left in the world. As human beings we are drawn to the wild – even if it’s just to taste it, to experience the remoteness and feel a little of the challenges it can throw up. I don’t think there is any other country where it is such a key part of the character make-up as Australia. You just have to go there to understand the value of it.
You should definitely visit Uluru in the Red Centre to savour proper camping, see jaw-dropping night skies and discover ancient Aboriginal cultures rich in mystery and folklore.
Earlier this year I took a bunch of guys on bikes over on the ferry from Melbourne to Tasmania and fell in love with the place. We rode from Devonport to the Freycinet Peninsula and south to Hobart, where we visited the brilliant MONA art gallery, and then rode one of the best biker routes ever – north-west to the scenic village of Strahan. We all felt like we’d done a Grand Prix as the roads just twist forever – biker heaven! I’ll be hosting another 10-day motorbike adventure to Tasmania and Victoria’s High Country next March with Compass Expeditions, on which travellers can join me, as well as a Sydney-to-the-Outback tour in February.
I travelled to the Top End in the Northern Territory a few years ago on a small boat – the trip should have been three days, but took six and a half with three days of 10- to 15-metre swells. I really thought it was my final voyage so was delighted to arrive in Darwin! I now understand why people who go on long boat trips end up in the pub when they reach land. I had a great time in Kakadu National Park, camping out in swag beds and admiring the bird life.
In By Any Means we had a fabulous Outback encounter with an old character called Dingo Dave. He was a great raconteur and fun to be around. He took us out into the bush beyond Uluru in the middle of absolutely nowhere – telling tales around the campfire.
I’ve seen many extraordinary wonders, but I was still bowled over by just how big the Outback is! It’s when you’re lying in your swag looking up that it hits you – the most amazing night sky ever and there you are, just a speck surrounded by this magical environment. I was reading a fascinating book about little known Australian adventurer Frank Birtles, who cycled alone across Australia in the 1900s. It made me feel so humble thinking about the challenges he must have faced on his many Outback forays, as I perused his story in comfort on my iPad…
An obvious box to tick is the lively metropolis of Sydney, with its fantastic food, nightlife and exciting mix of people. For an insider’s tip, Cape Tribulation, in Far North Queensland, was wonderful, with beautiful jungle and beaches. Thanks to its offshore reefs poor old British explorer James Cook ran aground near here in the 18th century and gave it its negative name… unlike him, my family and I had an amazing time on holiday in a private farm in the rainforest. Just fly into Cairns and drive north, calling in at Port Douglas, or check out the Great Barrier Reef.
Well, I’ve never been to Western Australia’s coast, but I’ll be appearing at the Perth Motorcycle & Scooter Show from 1 to 3 November and travelling up the West Coast with my theatre chat show – ‘An Evening with Charley Boorman’. I’ll be doing a show at the Sydney Motorcycle & Scooter Show from 15 to 17 November, too.
In the spirit of Charley Boorman, harness planes, trains and automobiles – and motorbikes, too – for a truly Australian adventure. Our two-week trail takes in Outback desertscapes, wetlands and aerial thrills with culture and cool food on the side…
Fly Emirates to Adelaide, South Australia’s elegant capital, known for its culture-toting festivals. Boutique Clarion Hotel Solo is home to rated Decant restaurant, and you can pick up edible souvenirs at Adelaide Central Market, swing by the Art Gallery of South Australia or take a tram to Glenelg Beach. Adventure Kayaking SA can take you kayaking with dolphins in nearby wetlands and mangrove creeks, where you’ll also spot birds, marine life and a graveyard of over 20 wrecked ships. Head out of town to sample the Barossa Valley’s world-famous wines with Barossa Valley Tours. For cycling action, January heralds the Tour Down Under. Charley’s a fan of the month-long Adelaide Fringe Festival, held from mid-February: ‘Comedians from all corners of the globe play and the atmosphere is just incredible.’
Treat yourself to an adventure on Great Southern Rail’s legendary Ghan train, which plies the route between Adelaide and Darwin (two nights, three days). Boasting three classes of luxurious carriages, this classic train traverses the Adelaide Plains and majestic Flinders Ranges before hitting the Red Centre. Take Charley’s tip and disembark mid-way to discover Uluru. The journey from Adelaide to Alice Springs takes one night and two days. From Alice it’s a 55-minute flight to Ayers Rock Airport near Yulara, or a four-and-a-half hour drive – book a 4WD hire-car or take an AAT Kings coach.
Uluru is the Red Centre’s awe-inspiring monolith. Formerly Ayers Rock, it exceeds the hype, rising magnificently from the epic desert. Scope it from your bed at safari-chic Longitude 131°, where all 15 stylish tented cabins are named after Australian explorers. Walk around Uluru at dawn (three to four hours), marvelling at rock carvings and flora, or channel Charley and view it from a Harley Davidson at sunset as a passenger with Uluru Motorcycle Tours; scenic flights, camel trips and helicopter rides can also be yours. Local highlights include Kata Tjuta’s domed rocks, the Culture Centre for Aboriginal art workshops and dramatic Kings Canyon further afield. Longitude offers free adventure tours and dreamy dinners under the stars.
Take advantage of the Emirates and Qantas partnership and fly from Ayers Rock Airport south to Victoria’s capital Melbourne (three hours 50 minutes, via Alice Springs). The Prince hotel is a stroll from St Kilda Beach and offers sleek contemporary rooms, the award-winning Circa restaurant and pampering Aurora Spa Retreat. Get active swimming, cycling the esplanade or kitesurfing with Go Kite. Music fans can catch local bands at February’s outdoor St Kilda Festival; petrolheads will love the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, which roars around Albert Park in March. For tempting dining, make for Mexican-inspired Newmarket Hotel at 34 Inkerman Street or Golden Fields at 2/157 Fitzroy Street for Asian small plates. Bar Di Stasio at 31 Fitzroy Street is a top spot for seductive sips. Come nightfall, spy little penguins off the end of the pier.
Hire a car and explore the Macedon Ranges, an hour north of Melbourne – or go the whole Charley hog and cruise the region by motorbike. You can pick up a bike from Compass Expeditions. The hilly, gumtree-dotted land is beautiful, with the chance of bird, possum and kangaroo sightings. You’ll also find niche, cold-climate wineries and foodie pit stops along the way. Former goldrush supply town Kyneton has become a gourmet destination, so base yourself here at Mollisons, a stylish boutique hotel set in an old bank. Nearby Piper Street boasts note-worthy Annie Smithers’ Bistro and paddock-to-plate dining at the Royal George Hotel. Enjoy a half-day hike up Hanging Rock, the location for spooky novel and film Picnic at Hanging Rock; you can also catch a horse race at the country course below or visit Hanging Rock Winery. Kyneton’s Adventure Flights Unlimited can get you airborne in an ex-Russian Air Force Yak52 – choose a flight from Mild to Wild! For something more slow-paced, saddle up for a horseriding tour with Hepburn Lagoon Trail Rides, near spa-toting Daylesford.
Got an extra week? Tack on Charley’s road trip to Tasmania – car ferry the Spirit of Tasmania departs from Melbourne harbour.
Kathleen Soriano: Culture
As director of exhibitions at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, Kathleen Soriano curated the RA’s ground-breaking ‘Australia’ art exhibition, which runs until 8 December. A devotee of both Australia’s culture-rich cities and its indigenous art, she shares her cultural must-sees…
Definitely visit Heide Museum of Modern Art, a private estate turned public museum in Melbourne, to get a window into the artistic life of the city in the 1940s and 50s. The philanthropy of the Reed family, mixed with lots of romance and intrigue in the lives of Australia’s most famous artists – including Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd and Albert Tucker – is fascinating. Nolan painted his famous Ned Kelly series of 26 paintings in the dining room at Heide.
I’d also recommend Melbourne for its brilliant museums, art galleries and thriving commercial gallery scene. Highlights include the twin sites of the National Gallery of Victoria, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Australian photography at Monash Gallery of Art and the Ian Potter Museum of Art.
In Sydney, spend a morning cruising the Danks Street galleries, shops and restaurants, including fabulous Utopia Art Sydney, which concentrates on indigenous art. It’s a lively cultural hub with plenty to see, buy and taste. Order a great cup of coffee and sit outside a streetside café in the sun or grab a glass of wine and tapas at Mojo by Luke Mangan.
I love the Museum of Contemporary Art. It’s got an amazing location in Sydney’s historic Rocks quarter, unrivalled views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, a gorgeous rooftop café, and dynamic exhibitions alongside a world-class collection of modern art. The MCA will be one of the major venues for next year’s Biennale of Sydney, alongside the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Cockatoo Island.
Its energy and enthusiasm – plus the framework, both physical and philosophical, within which it is experienced. The combination makes art and culture something that all walks of life can take pleasure in every day.
A visit to the home of the great Federation artist Hans Heysen in Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills, where you’ll get a sense not only of how the artist lived and worked in the early 1900s but also of the influence of the beautiful rolling landscape and his German-heritage town.
Take a short seaplane ride from Sydney to Cottage Point on the Hawkesbury River in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park to get a real feel for Australia’s ancient, primeval land. You can enjoy a delicious meal either at smart restaurant Cottage Point Inn or the delightful Kiosk café, where you can also rent a ‘tinny’ boat or kayak to discover Aboriginal rock paintings on hidden underhangs, or the waterfall at Refuge Bay.
Board the ferry to Parramatta, just outside Sydney, to visit the historic home of John Macarthur, known as the father of the wool industry. Elizabeth Farm gives a sense of life in the early 1800s for the white European settler.
It’s also worth making a trip to Western Australia’s north coast and hinterland to see unique rock carvings in situ. You’ll find Bradshaws, as some of the paintings are known, in the Kimberley region – where respected Aboriginal artist Rover Thomas was from – and there are also rock art clusters on the Burrup Peninsula south of Broome.
The experience of the outdoors is cultural in itself and informs Australia’s art and way of life, from the Blue Mountains to the Red Centre, from the Twelve Apostles to the Bungle Bungles, from Sydney’s harbour and beaches to the Daintree Rainforest and Kakadu National Park, and from Queensland’s Atherton Tablelands to the Great Barrier Reef.
Spurred on by curator Kathleen Soriano’s passion for Australia’s creativity, our two-week itinerary for culture vultures takes in art, theatre and festival highs…
Fly Emirates to Melbourne, Victoria’s culture-loving capital, where the Cullen hotel in Prahran is adorned with edgy paintings by late Aussie artist Adam Cullen. You can also stay in Street Art Suites and get tips on local exhibitions; hire a Cullen bicycle or Smart Car and explore. Alongside Kathleen’s favourite art venues, you’ll find independent galleries on Flinders Lane, Guildford Lane and in the Nicholas Building, as well as in inner-east Fitzroy and Collingwood (Gertrude and Brunswick streets are hives of stylish cafés and restaurants, or try hot new Chinese Lee Ho Fook at 92 Smith Street). For contemporary Australian theatre and dance make for the Malthouse Theatre. Movie fans can catch open-air flicks in summer at Rooftop Cinema. Fab arts festivals are held year-round.
Combine culture and coast on the Mornington Peninsula, which offers mellow beaches, boutique wineries and inspiring art just 45 minutes drive from Melbourne. With three romantic rooms – African, Beach and Bush – and to-die-for breakfasts, Big Blue Backyard is blissful for shoreside strolls, swimming with dolphins or wallowing in hot springs. Pop to Montalto Vineyard & Olive Grove for delicious dining, cellar-door tastings and outdoor sculpture. Arty distractions await at Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery and McClelland Sculpture Park & Gallery, too. For alfresco culture, wander the seaside Sorrento Portsea Artists Trail, where reproductions of artworks are displayed where they were painted.
Swap seascapes for countryside touring in Victoria’s Goldfields, where you can team gallery-hopping with grazing in pretty goldrush towns within two hours’ drive of Melbourne. The impressive Art Gallery of Ballarat and Bendigo Art Gallery both sport tempting cafés and shops. Book ahead for the Lake House hotel in boho Daylesford, famous for spa and gourmet treats, or visit Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa. Castlemaine’s Theatre Royal hosts gigs, Kyneton is a great foodie stop, or picnic at iconic Hanging Rock.
Take advantage of the Emirates and Qantas partnership and fly from Melbourne to Broome (four hours 23 minutes direct). Whether you’re riding camels on Cable Beach, marvelling at dinosaur footprints at Gantheaume Point or discovering its multicultural Asian past, Broome on Western Australia’s balmy coast is a true tropical escape. Pearl Luggers museum explains the town’s pearling heritage or enjoy a sunset cruise on an old pearl lugger boat with Intombi . Pinctada Cable Beach hotel can arrange trips to a pearl farm and boasts a pampering spa. Check out indigenous art at galleries Dacou , Short Street and the Old Broome Lockup. Broome Visitor Centre can hook you up with indigenous tours, including learning to fish, foraging for bush tucker or visits to remote art centres. Seasonal festivals span opera, pearls and mangoes.
For a touch of the extraordinary explore the Kimberley, a land of epic gorges, secret waterholes and ages-old Aboriginal rock art sites. El Questro Homestead offers a design-sleek retreat in a million acres of Outback wilderness, with expert guides to whisk you away on walks, swims in thermal springs and picnics by waterfalls (closed 1 November to 31 March during the hot, wet season). From Broome, fly to Kununurra (one hour 20 minutes), then it’s a two-and-a-half hours’ drive from El Questro (transfers available). Alternatively, for the intrepid, it’s either an 11-hour or 23-hour drive east to the hotel, depending on your route. Barramundi fishing, horse-riding and helicopter flights over the hive-like Bungle Bungles await, plus indigenous art galleries in Kununurra. If you’ve got more time, Willis’s Walkabouts offers treks in the remoter areas of the Kimberley, including Drysdale River National Park to see large numbers of Bradshaws, or Aboriginal rock paintings.
Nick Baker: Wildlife
Devon-based naturalist Nick Baker is a wildlife presenter, author and self-confessed bug fan, with hit TV programmes including The Really Wild Show, Weird Creatures and Nick Baker’s Beautiful Freaks. His stint filming Nick Baker Down Under makes him our go-to man for Aussie animal adventures…
Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland beyond Port Douglas – it’s wild up there. The lush forests and spectacular creatures, from palm cockatoos to green tree pythons and tree kangaroos, make it feel like a completely different country. Geographically, it kind of is, as it’s composed of fragments off the end of the land bridge that once linked Australia to Papua New Guinea.
Narawntapu National Park, near Devonport, in Tasmania – I sat in wonder looking out over what seemed like a well manicured park, perfect lawns stretching for miles between neatly trimmed shrubs. It was only as the sun set that the gardeners became apparent, and none brandished shears or secateurs. They simply bounced and shuffled from cover. The darker it got, the more kangaroos, wallabies, potoroos and wombats appeared, almost magically, and started their night’s work, nibbling and chewing the landscape into shape. I’ve never seen so many large wild mammals outside of the African plains, so it’s no surprise they call this place Tasmania’s Serengeti.
The Red Centre is hot, dusty and iconic. I love the harshness of the landscape and the contrasting areas with water, rivers or springs. If you like birds and reptiles as much as me then it doesn’t get much better or more Australian than this. My best memories of the Outback were my first meeting with a thorny devil (an Australian lizard), the huge flocks of wild parrots and cockatoos, and night drives looking for the more secretive creatures as they came out to play.
I spent quite some time diving the Great Barrier Reef, working off a liveaboard boat. Cod Hole, near Lizard Island, was an amazing dive with shoals of giant potato cod, and Lady Elliot Island was good for manta rays – to name but a few. I was bamboozled by the reef’s scale and colours, and the amount of creatures having love-ins with my scuba mask.
My experience with Tasmanian devils was my most bizarre. Having baited the lawn outside my lodge in Narawntapu with a road-killed roo, I waited silently in the bushes in the dark. The sound of the approaching devils, crashing through the undergrowth and growling and squabbling, was terrifying. I could see where they were by the way the foliage thrashed about. When they finally bundled out onto the lawn and started tucking in, I was both thrilled and relieved!
A close second was diving with leafy sea dragons – nothing will beat that first encounter in the water off South Australia. No fish is so bizarrely beautiful and we found them in water only a few metres deep near Normanville on the Fleurieu Peninsula.
It’s always a thrill to see wild kangaroos, whether you’re in the Grampians or Daylesford in Victoria, the Hunter Valley in New South Wales or even Australia’s ‘bush capital’ Canberra, all destinations where you’ll get regular sightings of this curious creature. They usually come out at dawn and dusk and are often drawn to golf courses!
It’s a secret that’s about as hidden as they get, but as you stand and gaze at Uluru (Ayers Rock) you may not realize that beneath your feet, burrowing away, is a creature rarely seen by any human eye. The Itjaritjari, or marsupial mole, is a species revered by the local Aboriginal people. Looking like a bad bottle-blonde mole, this creature is more closely related to a wallaby and spends its entire life scraping its way through the sand dunes of the central desert. You just have to content yourself with knowing it’s there!
I would love to mount an expedition looking for the night parrot. This small and secretive bird is ground-dwelling and nocturnal, and was thought to be extinct until a handful of confirmed recent sightings. It’s the definition of enigmatic and even if we didn’t find it, all that time searching in the dead of the night in the bush would be bound to reveal plenty of other amazing species. On a more practical note, I’d love to see and swim with the gentle whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia, home to shoreside, safari-style stay Sal Salis.
For animal magic, follow in wildlife expert Nick Baker’s tracks with our two-week, nature-lover’s itinerary around Australia…
Serviced by Emirates from the UK, Sydney makes a breathtaking first stop, surrounded by sparkling water, beaches and natural wonders. You can see native Australian animals at harbour-hugging Taronga Zoo, a scenic ferry ride from Circular Quay. Leave half a day to spy kangaroos, koalas and echidnas; more if you’re besotted. To encounter sharks and rays, head to Sydney Aquarium. Design-led 1888 Hotel is a stroll away in Pyrmont. For wild creature sightings, check out flying foxes (fruitbats) and ibis in the Royal Botanic Gardens or snorkel at sealife-rich Clovelly Beach.
To discover native wild animals, escape to the Blue Mountains. Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley offers 4,000 acres of Jurassic Park-worthy wilderness less than three hours’ away by car (transfers are available). Charles Darwin spent time in the valley, and villas feature a tome celebrating his adventures. There’s a pool, spa and fine dining, plus expert field guides and wildlife-spotting safaris, including nocturnal forays. Look out for kangaroos, wombats, wallabies and rare albino wallaroos, plus shy platypuses. ‘Any moment watching the peculiar duck-billed platypus in the wild is to be treasured,’ says Nick. ‘It’s an Australian signature species and never gives you more than a short glimpse before ducking for cover.’ There’s also great horse-riding and mountain-biking. En route back, swing by the Three Sisters rock stacks at Katoomba.
For marine marvels, get thee to the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef. Take advantage of the Emirates and Qantas partnership and fly from Sydney to Cairns on the Far North Queensland coast (three hours 10 minutes), then catch a 60-minute flight to Lizard Island. This luxe resort boasts 24 white-sand beaches, mind-blowing snorkelling and diving to startling sites, including Nick’s top tip Cod Hole where you can hand-feed colossal potato cod. Take out a motorised dingy, picnic à deux on the sand, enjoy a massage at Azure Spa or sip cocktails at Osprey’s restaurant. Team three nights here with two back at quirky mainland hotel QT Port Douglas, in tropical Port Douglas, where the reef meets the Daintree rainforest.
‘Kangaroo Island, Australia’s Galapagos, was incredible, too,’ enthuses Nick. ‘I didn’t see kangaroos until twilight, but I had some nice moments with an echidna and sea lions, too.’ To reach Australia’s third biggest island, fly from Cairns to Adelaide (three hours 15 minutes), then fly to KI’s Kingscote Airport (35 minutes) or drive (two hours) to Cape Jervis and take the 45-minute SeaLink car-ferry. Hire a car in Adelaide or on the island. Southern Ocean Lodge makes a spectacular sanctuary, with coastal-cool interiors, delicious dining (starring local fish, meat, Ligurian honey, cheese and wine), a Dreamtime-inspired spa and ‘Kangas & Kanapés’ at sunset. Surf-lashed beaches, the orange-hued Remarkable Rocks and wildlife beckons, from sea lions to penguins (tick off pink pelicans, fur seals, goannas, sleepy koalas and black cockatoos, too). You can even spot southern right whales from your bath or catch your own fish for dinner.
Wrap up in Adelaide, South Australia’s arty, wine-quaffing capital. For natural highs, Temptation Sailing at Glenelg Beach can take you swimming with dolphins. Adelaide Zoo is home to Australia’s only giant pandas Wang Wang and Funi, as well as native mammals and reptiles. Clarion Hotel Soho makes a slick base; Emirates will fly you home to the UK.
Phil Spencer: Melbourne and beyond
For your chance to win an amazing two-week trip exploring Australia's coast, country and coastline, just pick your favourite connoisseur itinerary (including Phil Spencer's, below) and enter now.
Phil Spencer is one of British TV’s best-known faces, thanks to his co-presenting roles on Channel 4 property series Location, Location, Location and Relocation, Relocation. When not house-hunting, Phil writes columns for The Sunday Times and Country Life, and hosts a Classic FM radio show. Phil’s connection with Australia is both professional and personal – as well as helping UK couples find homes Down Under, his wife hails from Victoria.
Australians love to share their country’s amazing natural beauty and hidden secrets. My wife is from Victoria, so we have been visiting for the last 16 years or so. We were married in Melbourne – my favourite city by far – and standard procedure is to spend a month there every other Christmas. We have explored the state on each holiday, including camping around Warrnambool and Phillip Island, stunning four-wheel drive adventures in the Victorian Alps, fishing on the Hopkins and Murray Rivers, fun houseboat trips from Echuca up to Mildura, surfing off the Great Ocean Road, golf at the wonderful Cape Schanck on the Mornington Peninsula and hitting the wine regions.
Phillip Island, where you can see the daily Penguin Parade, when little penguins march up the beach at sunset – it’s a great one for the family. You can also spy fur seals and koalas on the island.
I also recommend the Mornington Peninsula wine region near Melbourne. It’s just 45 minutes from the city, but you’ll find world-class wineries and restaurants in stunning settings. There are so many vineyards to choose from but I love Red Hill Estate and T’Gallant.
Driving the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne to the 12 Apostles, giant limestone towers rising from the ocean, is another must – take a few days to wind along this jaw-dropping route from start to finish. Stay a night in Lorne or Port Campbell, stop for a swim or surf at Kennett River, do the Otway Fly Treetop Walk near Apollo Bay and then take a helicopter ride over the 12 Apostles.
Albert Park in south Melbourne is always going to be a favourite as that’s where my wife Fiona and I got married. I played nine holes of golf there on my wedding day and remember hitting the drive of my life! It has lovely tree-lined streets, an amazing café culture, hip restaurants and a relaxed local lifestyle by the beach but you’re only 10 minutes from the CBD (Central Business District). Perfect.
Claypots in St Kilda, at 213 Barkly Street, for fresh uncomplicated seafood, and in or outdoor dining. It’s BYO wine, with a no bookings policy, and always full of locals. Donovans, set in a 1920s bathing house in St Kilda, has an incredible shoreside location, great service, chic style and delicious Modern Australian-meets-Italian food. Go for the terrace on a hot night. Attica, at nearby Ripponlea, was recently voted Victoria’s best restaurant (and number 21 in the world) under chef Ben Shewry, and serves delicious tasting menus. Vue de Monde – on Level 55 of the iconic Rialto tower – is sophisticated and cool with a view to rival the Shard!
I love the way Victorians combine great wine, food and music – Rochford Wines in the Yarra Valley, under an hour’s drive east of Melbourne, hosts some fantastic local and international acts – everyone from Joe Cocker to Jamie Cullum. It’s a brilliant day and evening out.
My wife and I did a week’s sailing course at the Royal Brighton Yacht Club in Melbourne and loved it. You get a totally different perspective of the city from out on the water and I liked the way the bayside Melburnians are all out running, cycling, swimming, paddle boarding, windsurfing, fishing and, of course, sailing around the bay. You can also hire a bike and head for Beach Road – it’s a superb ride from Port Melbourne all the way along the coast to Brighton, with an off-road trail if you’d rather avoid the cars. If you’re a keen road cyclist join the locals riding the 45 kilometres from Brighton to Frankston early on Sunday mornings.
It’s got to be the Great Ocean Road every time, but I also rate the coast route from Melbourne to Sydney along the south-east of the state's border. Head towards Ninety Mile Beach in Gippsland, or swing by Wilsons Promontory. The drive really showcases the diversity of Victoria’s landscapes.
Inspired by Phil Spencer’s hand-picked Melbourne and Victoria locations? Then kickstart your great escape in vibrant capital Melbourne, followed by a two-week road trip taking in the state’s most startling sights…
Fly Emirates via Dubai to Melbourne. The Prince boutique hotel in St Kilda promises a stylish stay by the bay, and is home to renowned restaurant Circa, Acland St Cantina and Aurora Spa Retreat. Swim, stroll or cycle along the bay, or try sailing or kite surfing. Enjoy cocktails at Bar Di Stasio, upscale Californian-meets-Mexican at Newmarket or fish and burgers at shoreside West Beach Bathers Pavilion.
Catch a tram to Melbourne’s city centre, where Flinders Lane is lined with quirky fashion and design stores, independent galleries and buzzy restaurants. Café-strewn Degraves Street and Centre Place are atmospheric for refuelling. Hidden Secrets Tours’ three-hour Lanes and Arcades walk unearths secret spots. Wander north through Carlton Gardens to Fitzroy and Collingwood, home to creative quadrangle Gertrude, Smith, Johnston and Brunswick Streets.
On day three, explore celebrated wine region the Yarra Valley, an hour’s drive east. Melbourne Private Tours offers tailor-made, chauffeured trips for top-notch tastings. Innocent Bystander’s restaurant serves a mean moscato, refreshing after ogling native wildlife at Healesville Sanctuary. TarraWarra Museum of Art is a cool culture hit.
You can visit Phillip Island as a day trip (it’s 90 minutes’ drive south-east of Melbourne), but ideally stay overnight as the Penguin Parade starts at dusk. Ultra-cute little penguins wobble out of the sea and up the shore at sunset, proving a huge hit with kids. You can also see koalas at the Koala Conservation Centre or spot fur seals from the Nobbies out on Seal Rocks. Historic Glen Isla House, set in heritage gardens, is an elegant B&B stay near a lovely beach.
With mellow vineyards and beaches, the Mornington Peninsula is the ultimate escape an hour’s drive from Phillip Island. With its Bush, Beach and African boudoirs, Big Blue Backyard makes a boho base, dishing up delicious breakfasts and candlelit dinners. Savour a soak at Peninsula Hot Springs, unwind on nearby St Andrews Beach or check out bayside villages Portsea or Sorrento. For alfresco sculpture and tasty winery meals, head to Montalto Vineyard & Olive Grove. Merricks General Store bistro has an inviting Hamptons-esque vibe.
Board the Searoad car ferry at Sorrento Pier on the Mornington Peninsula for the 40-minute voyage across Port Phillip Bay to Queenscliff. Once there, Phil Spencer recommends ‘checking out the surfing Meccas of Torquay and Bells Beach.’ Bells is home to Easter’s iconic Rip Curl Pro competition, but you can watch surfers here any day. ‘From Bells, the drive to Lorne is simply breathtaking, as around every bend there are amazing views of pristine beaches and stunning cliffs,’ says Phil. Turn in at Grey River Road, in Kennett River, to see koalas snoozing in the gum trees; to enjoy aerial views yourself, hightail it to Otway Fly Treetop Adventures, which boasts ‘uplifting’ canopy walks and zip line thrills.
Driving the Great Ocean Road takes about five hours, but rather than rushing it stop off along the way. Cape Otway’s Great Ocean Ecolodge offers guided walks at twilight to spy wild kangaroos and koalas, and whips up hearty meals with homegrown produce. Fancy self-catering? Rustic Allenvale at Lorne is a good bet for night one; for a second night, Smith recommends designer den Moonlight Escape near surf-lashed Johanna Beach or Anchors’ contemporary cabins at Port Campbell, ideal for viewing the jaw-dropping 12 Apostles offshore rock stacks at sunrise or sunset and dramatic Loch Ard Gorge. Handy pit stops include the Bottle of Milk at Lorne, the Wye General Store at Wye River and Wickens Provedore at Apollo Bay. ‘Port Fairy is a charming fishing village just past Warrnambool,’ adds Phil. ‘It has a great little beach, café culture and laid-back vibe, as well as a fantastic folk festival in March. Call in at Basalt Wines in Killarney en route.’
Fancy swopping waves for peaks? It’s just over an hour from Port Fairy to country town Dunkeld in the Southern Grampians, backdropped by majestic mountains. Bed down at the Royal Mail Hotel & Mt Sturgeon. After hiking up view-blessed Mt Sturgeon or Mt Abrupt, retreat to the hotel’s renowned restaurant. Chef Robin Wickens helms this mod Australian eatery – reserve in advance, or dine at the relaxed Bistro.
Treat yourself to downtime at Victoria’s sybaritic spa town Daylesford, where gourmet getaway the Lake House hotel beckons. It’s two hours 20 minutes drive from Dunkeld (stop off at goldrush town Ballarat). Co-owner Alla Wolf-Tasker has long championed Victorian produce, so book ahead for her award-winning restaurant. You can also sample her food at casual café Wombat Hill House in the Botanic Gardens. In-house Salus Spa features treehouse-style treatment rooms, or indulge at Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa’s hydrotherapy Sanctuary.
Spend your last day chilling at Mansion Hotel & Spa, west of Melbourne in Werribee (one hour 17 minutes from Daylesford). This trad-modern Italianate haven combines luxe rooms, fine dining, a top spa and gorgeous grounds. Families will love Werribee Open Range Zoo; parents can order sophisticated sips at Shadowfax Winery. If you’d rather be in the heart of the action, Ovolo Laneways in Melbourne plugs you into the CBD’s laneways, with rooftop bars, restaurants and shops a skip away. To end your trip on a high, why not join Global Ballooning for a dawn flight, followed by a champagne breakfast?
Fly with Emirates
Enjoy one of 16 daily flights to Dubai from a choice of six UK airports — Heathrow, London Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle or Glasgow — and seamlessly connect to Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth or Sydney. Combine this with the Emirates Walkabout Pass to explore the length and breadth of Australia and plan the perfect holiday on a single ticket.
Enjoy the journey as much as the destination in Emirates Economy Class. As standard, enjoy a generous 30kg baggage allowance, complimentary seat selection, multi-course gourmet cuisine and up to 1,600 channels of the latest entertainment – plus phone, SMS and email connectivity from every seat - all complemented by world-class inflight service.
Lose yourself in up to 1,600 channels of the latest in-flight entertainment or stay connected to the world below with phone, SMS and email connectivity from every seat. Let Emirates' in-flight entertainment take you to places you won’t find on a map.
Both laid back and upbeat, you’ll be inspired by Emirates Business Class. Dine on gourmet cuisine, laugh through the latest comedies or socialise in the Emirates A380 Onboard Lounge. Fly Emirates Business Class and get in tune with the business of living.
Retreat to a quiet space with personalised service tailored to your needs, delivered right to the door of your very own Private Suite. Each suite comes equipped with a fully flat bed, sliding door, personal minibar, adjustable ambient lighting, and its own vanity table, mirror and wardrobe. Savour five-star delicacies with a seven-course dine-on-demand menu and enjoy a 50kg baggage allowance too.
With Private Suites and Shower Spas in First Class, flat-bed massage seats in Business Class, a spacious on-board Lounge in First Class and Business Class and room to relax in Economy Class, the Emirates A380 offers the finest in luxury air travel. This can be experienced from Heathrow, London Gatwick and Manchester to Dubai, onwards to Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
Win a Connoisseur's itinerary
Smith in Australia: the connoisseur’s choice
Feeling a wee bit envious of the Antipodean adventures of Smith’s connoisseurs? Well one lucky person, and friend, can win an amazing two-week break, travelling from city to coast to countryside in Australia. Included within this prize are two return flights with Emirates and the best boutique accommodation. Simply choose your favourite connoisseur itinerary below and enter by 31 January 2014 for your chance to win.
Go on, take your pick and enter now.
Melbourne, Phillip Island, Mornington Peninsula, Great Ocean Road, The Grampians, Daylesford
Location-whizz Phil’s Victoria itinerary kicks off at Melbourne’s bayside beauty The Prince and continues with coastal thrills on Phillip Island, the Mornington Peninsula (staying at Big Blue Backyard) and the Great Ocean Road. Enjoy a Grampians gourmet getaway at Royal Mail Hotel or Mt Sturgeon, and a spa sojourn at the Lake House, Daylesford. Wrap up at Ovolo Hotel Melbourne or Mansion Hotel & Spa.
Sydney, New South Wales and Melbourne, Victoria
Explore the gastronomic delights of town, country and coast, with three nights in beach-bountiful Sydney at Establishment hotel, a three-night stay in a tree-fringed tent at Paperbark Camp on the South Coast, then a leisurely three-day coastal drive to casual yet cosmopolitan Melbourne to stay at Ovolo Hotel.
Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, Queensland and Sydney, New South Wales
Start in chic coastal city Brisbane for a three-night stay at Spicers Balfour Hotel, then head to the lush hinterland on the Sunshine Coast where you’ll stay at Spicers Clovelly Estate for three nights. Cruise along the east coast Sydney, taking two pit stops: two nights at Victoria's at Wategos in Byron Bay and two nights at Bells at Killcare on the Central Coast. On reaching the hip harbour city put your feet up at quirky QT Sydney, where you’ll stay for four nights.
Adelaide, South Australia; Alice Springs, Northern territory; Uluru, Red Centre; and Melbourne, Victoria
Charley’s trip kicks off with a three-night stay in Clarion Hotel Soho in elegant capital city Adelaide. A two-day ride on the Ghan Train to Alice Springs follows, where you’ll spy sunset-lit Uluru from your bed at Longitude 131°. After four nights, fly to multicultural marvel Melbourne for a three-night stay at the Prince Hotel, and finish up with a two-night stay at Mollisons in 19th-century town Kyneton near the Macedon Ranges.
Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula and Goldfields in Victoria and Broome, the Kimberley and Perth in Western Australia
Go gallery hunting in cool cultural centre Melbourne, staying for three nights at the Cullen hotel; next up, the dramatic mountains, cliffs and secluded coves of the Mornington Peninsula, staying beachside for two nights at Big Blue Backyard. Graze and gallery hop in goldrush town Goldfields (staying in luxe rural retreat, the Lake House), before being whisked to Broome for a three-night stay in Pinctada Cable Beach, followed by three nights at El Questro Homestead, before a brief stop in coast-perched Perth.
Sydney and the Blue Mountains, New South Wales; Great Barrier Reef, Queensland; and Kangaroo Island and Adelaide, South Australia
Seek out Australia’s natural wonders at the zoo and aquarium in laid back yet lively Sydney, staying at Medusa Hotel for two nights; then head to Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa to spend three nights gazing up at the beautiful Blue Mountains. Follow mountain trekking with snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef, where you’ll spend five nights at QT Port Douglas, then spotting the titular residents of Kangaroo Island for three nights (staying at Southern Ocean Lodge). One night at the Clarion Hotel Soho in Adelaide allows enough time to visit Australia’s only giant pandas in the zoo before flying home.