recently returned from a Virtuoso educational in Australia. It was one of my most
rewarding trips and destination. I would definitely go again!
with Swain Tours – I departed for Sydney on Quantas Airlines. I had the opportunity
to experience the new A380 Airbus. It is amazing! My business class seat - located
in the upper level (bulkhead) was divine. So quiet, peaceful and relaxing! The
attendants were most accommodating and vigilant to ensure us all of the comforts
(lounging outfits, drinks to keep hydrated and wonderful meals for the overnight
tour in Australia was exceptional! Being a lover of safari and the outdoors, the
opportunity to visit Tasmania was an opportunity not to be missed! We took a short
flight from Sydney to Launceston, Tasmania before being picked up for a drive
across country to Freycinet (on the east coast of Tasmania). We had the opportunity
to see the beautiful countryside (vineyards, olive groves, farmland, and cattle/sheep
country) and sample the local goodies of the small towns (cheeses,
hot breads, and some of the best home cooking Aussie style). Two and a ˝ hours
later, we arrive inside Freycinet National Park on the Freycinet Peninsula - beautiful
blue waters and pink granite peaks. Our accommodations at the Freycinet Lodge
were well appointed, large, and spacious, nestled in a secluded bush setting on
the coast of the Great Oyster Bay. Though little time was spent at the lodge –
the welcome chocolates in the refrig. were awesome!!! Sightings of wallabies and
other small (unknown) animals were evening drama.
of the most memorable events at the Lodge is the food – truly a gastronomical
experience! Some of the largest shrimp, oysters, mussels, and lobsters I have
seen – this is only the appetizers. A seafood lover’s delight! The local preparations
of beef or lamb were the signature entrees! That too was a “to die-for event”.
Too much food to eat at every meal? We did! All paired with an offering of local
wines and beer.
The exciting adventures in Tasmania started with the full-day
Signature Experience – The Wineglass to Wineglass climb (steep) up- between Mt
Mayson and Mt Amos, to view the Peninsular and the Tasman Bay. Later, we rested
on the beach of Wine Glass Bay (one of the top 10 beaches in the world (Outside
magazine). We then trekked across the isthmus to Hazards Beach and finally to
our secluded haven for an outdoor dining experience to match the fantastic meals
described previously. As the day comes to an end – we wade out to our tender (in
icy cold waters) for our 30 minute coastal cruise back to the lodge. An exhilarating
experience – I know why it is called the Signature Experience. Good physical shape
is highly recommended (however, I made IT!!)
I had an opportunity to visit the new Saffire Freycinet coastal retreat (Australia’s
newest luxury lodge) scheduled to open this month. This sanctuary on the East
Coast captures the uniqueness of the region and connects it with the environment
through unique design, form, and selection of materials. The building is conceptually
organic – water, open spaces, plant life and granite are reflected through out
Our drive to Hobart afforded us the opportunity to visit the
Meadowbrook Winery for lunch and yes, wine tasting, and unique gift shopping before
going on for a private tour of the Bonorong Wildlife Park.
In addition, a personal
experience with the Tasmanian Devil (a humble, little creature), Koala and Kangaroo.
I love those guys!
Hobart, I stayed at the infamous Henry Jones Art Hotel on Hobart’s waterfront.
What a perfect location. The historical restorations, natural furnishings coupled
with the ultra modern are fascinating. My harbor view was perfect. In the evening,
we took a brisk walk across the harbor to a private Wine and Cheese reception
at the Handmark Gallery (extraordinary collection of Tasmanian artwork). Throughout
the hotel and city are excellent examples of aboriginal, as well as Tasmanian
The Salamanca Market (on Saturdays) transform the town into a local
outdoor market place with fruits, vegetables, arts and craft items, flowers, an
array of odds and ends – at great prices.
My day trip to The Lodge of Tarraleah
(Australian Travel and Tourism Hall of Fame award for the last 3 years) provided
another unique experience. Available only on an exclusive basis – one can experience
your own private chef, biking, golf, fishing, wildlife walks, rainforest or wilderness
Our adventure ended with a brunch and cooking demonstration (smoked
salmon and quail) on the banks of the river. Such a fun day!
As if the trip had not been exciting enough the next morning – our guide for the
day Leon picked us up and headed to Port Arthur (one of seven locations on the
Tasman Peninsula Convict Trail), chatting endlessly on the history and countryside
along the way. The visit in the beautiful gardens, grounds, and historical building
are most memorable. A lesson learned on Australian history.
a short briefing we transferred to the beautiful On Robert Pennicott’s award winning
three hour costal wilderness cruise – we saw the highest sea cliffs in Australia,
entered deep sea caves, saw abundant sea and costal wildlife of seals, dolphin
and birds of prey. All of this at various speeds and maneuvers that chilled the
bones with excitement and glee!
After a short flight to Melbourne we are now
back in the big city – cosmopolitan, high fashion, sports and some of the most
beautiful modern architecture. Our accommodations at the Crown Towers (Riverview)
were exquisite - in downtown Melbourne on the southern bank of the Yarra River.
Chilled wine and custom designed pajamas awaited us in our rooms.
of this whirlwind tour were many - Hot Air Ballooning at sunrise over Melbourne
– what a view, sleepy city walking, parks and gardens, the river activity (kayaking)
and joggers. Such an incredible adventure in the city - from a different angle;
the next was the visit to Phillips Island where I strolled through the Nobbles
Center to experience koalas in their natural habitat (a koala safari), nesting
seabird colonies and Australia’s most popular wildlife attraction – The Penguin
Parade. At sunset, the largest Little Penguin colony return from the sea to march
(by the thousands) across the beach to their sand dune burrows. Such a natural
phenomenon! Amazing! My final highlight was lunch on board the Colonial Tramcar
Restaurant. The tramcar offers the experience of a unique tram ride, sightseeing
tour of historical part of the city, while having a 3 or 4 course 5 star dining
experience and being serenaded by a dashing singing waiter! It doesn’t get better
than that! Oh yes, I must not forget that a part of the Swain experience was the
opportunity to visit the Parliament House, and to wine and dine in its Dining
Room – guest of Tourism Victoria!
I look forward to returning in November to travel with Swain Tours on my custom
Aboriginal Cultural Tour. Space is still available. Photos compliments of Jami!
for more information on booking this tour.