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Review / Australia

Katie McLeavy

On arrival into Sydney Airport we were met by our chauffer and driven in a private car to the very contemporary Park Hyatt hotel. Located at Circular Quay, the Park Hyatt offers spectacular views overlooking the Harbour and Sydney Opera House.

The following day we strolled down to the waterfront and climbed aboard a magnificent yacht and set sail for Rose Bay, Watsons Bay, Double Bay and the world-famous Bondi Beach. On board the yacht we enjoyed afternoon tea and cakes and later in the evening, we had a delicious meal at the Yacht Club.

Next we travelled to Wolgan Valley, surrounded by the stunning Blue Mountains. The views completely took my breath away and from the moment we arrived I felt completely relaxed.

During our time here we embarked on an exciting wildlife safari in a luxury four-wheel drive jeep, driving over grassland and across creeks. We saw plenty of wildlife, including kangaroos, wallabies, wallaroos, birdlife and even an albino wallaby which was unforgettable. After the safari we arrived back at the main homestead and were greeted with a glass of Champagne and canapés whilst watching the sunset from the Valley Bar. Wolgan Valley is a calming, romantic setting and I would recommend it to honeymooners or couples looking to spend some quality time together in beautiful surroundings.

At Whitsunday Islands we spent one night at Qualia which is simply out of this world. We were lucky enough to be staying in their finest villa, villa number 6, from which the views were unbelievable.

The next day we took a boat transfer from Qualia over to Hayman Island, once on board we enjoyed a glass of Champagne and light snacks. The yacht was particularly luxurious, with both an upper and lower deck. The upper deck was completely open so we could see out to the vast ocean without our view being obstructed and I caught my first glimpse of a humpback whale and its young migrating south; as well as a dolphin pod and a bale of turtles. It was incredible, I couldn't believe the size of the whales and to see them jumping
out of the water is a sight I will never forget.

Along the Gold Coast we had the pleasure of staying at the Palazzo Versace which is absolutely 'the' place to be seen. Every night we were left a different Versace gift, including incense, chocolates and perfume. The longer we stayed at the hotel the more extravagant the gifts became; I felt incredibly spoilt, like every day was my birthday.

Whilst staying at the Palazzo we took a helicopter ride over the Gold Coast, the view from being so high provides a unique experience, each hotel below is shaped like a different marine animal and the canals and waterways carve beautiful patterns across the land. I even caught sight of a shark swimming around near the beach.

At Port Fairy we spent the night at Oscars Waterfront, located on the edge of the water, this beautiful building, French provincial in style, has the appearance of an old manor house yet was only constructed 25 years ago. It has an enchanting and welcoming reception area and an impressive staircase leading up to the first floor. The verandah overlooks the boardwalk and is the perfect place to sit and enjoy breakfast whilst watching the river yachts. In the evening we dined at Ramella's in Port Fairy town, they serve the most exquisite Turkish cuisine which they prepare fresh in front of you.

In Melbourne we took a private city tour and experienced Melbourne's culture at its best, passing through the bustling shopping arcades, the vibrant Queen Victoria Market and finishing in China Town for lunch. In the afternoon we experienced the thrill of being driving around Melbourne's Formula 1 racing track at Albert Park.

We were also lucky enough to take a drive along the Great Ocean Road which was incredible, seeing the 12 apostles en route was the highlight of the day for me and there were plenty of stopping bays along the way to capture some extraordinary photographs.

Our last stop in the unique village of Daylesford took us to the Lake House, a tranquil retreat with rooms available either with a waterfront or lodge setting. The house is surrounded by astonishing gardens inhabited by a number of different species of bird and wild frog. The gardens extend down to the waters of Lake Daylesford and provide immediate access to the lake shore and Wombat State Forest. Whilst dining at the Lake House restaurant, we learned about how all the ingredients are locally sourced and how the dishes are all made from scratch.

All in all my trip to Australia was truly a once in a life time adventure I will never forget.