Flight Centre’s Monika Kosecki snorkels the reef and sails the Whitsundays while on tour with Topdeck’s Reef Suntanner in exciting Australia. But when the fun filled days are done and there’s no more sun, Monika sheds some light on where to rest your head and recharge your batteries.
I recently had the opportunity to take part in a two-week Topdeck tour to Australia’s Gold Coast in May. I couldn’t pass up this trip, as it was once in a lifetime. I could go on for days about the Qantas business class seats, the sights, the people I met from around the world that I can now call my friends, the koala bears I fell in love with and the gorgeous blue Great Barrier Reef; but I have decided to dive into detail about something that is quite important on such a busy adventure, and that is accommodation. Busy eventful days filled with sightseeing and excursions mean you’ll need a good place to lay your head at night.
My Reef Suntanner trip with Topdeck began in North Queensland and travelled south, ending at the Gold Coast (you can also travel opposite direction). Starting out in Cairns (pronounced Cannes) my first accommodation is Hides Hotel for four nights. The hotel’s number one benefit would definitely be its location in this beach town. Literally steps to bars, cafes, restaurants, shopping (including a grocery store, liquor store and pharmacy), Hides’ locality is perfect. The hotel is also walking distance to the marina and the lagoon (a must see). Breakfast is included and the hotel has laundry ($3 per load) and Internet services available. Each room at this “higher end hostel” has its own bathroom, hair dryer and mini fridge. Here I had to enjoy the amenities because I was on my way to a different type of lifestyle next…
Bringing us to the Whitsundays! For the next two nights I was living on a sailing yacht titled “British Defender”. I’ve always wanted to experience living on a yacht and this was a big one – with kitchen area, dining, four bathrooms and bunk beds for 28 passengers plus four crew members. The crew members were fantastic. Learn to sail or just sit back and relax while voyaging around the 74 islands that make up the Whitsundays. This accommodation gave us the unique opportunity to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef, something most will not experience in their lifetimes, but it doesn’t come without a price – 30-second showers once a day maximum! Barefoot on-board and swimming with fish, this experience regardless of lack of amenities definitely ended up being my highlight of the trip.
Next up I was in Airlie Beach. Easy to get to as the yacht docks at the marina and you step onto Airlie beach soil for one night. The resort is called Club Crocodile Airlie Beach Resort or Club Croc as it is commonly known as. As I entered the large property I was instantly drawn to its lagoon style pool with waterfall; something to look forward to after shopping in town. There is also a restaurant and bar on-site with live music. The hotel is a short bus ride to town ($2.60 for a 2 hour ticket), cab ride (about $8 one way) or approx. 35 min walk.
Time to experience a true rodeo – Rockhampton here we come! The stay (one night) is at Travelodge; a high-rise building with balconies with only a five minute walk to the mall. The Internet cafe in the hotel is perfect to check emails and write home. Spacious bathrooms and large rooms with a small sofa and table, an air-conditioned gym and pancake cooker at the buffet breakfast make for a great night and morning in Rockhampton.
Once I saw how riding a bull was done, I was on my way to Fraser Island and Lake McKenzie. A short 45-minute ferry ride from Hervey Bay to Fraser Island, we arrived at Kingfisher Bay Resort for two nights. The resort has 5 bedroom lodges equipped with a kitchen, dining area and two bathrooms to share. Shuttles are provided to take you between lodges, main reception, mini store and the restaurants, unless you want to try and walk up those hills like we did, but don’t say I didn’t warn you about that workout! The main reception building is where you will find large saltwater pools and a Jacuzzi to enjoy. Another great aspect to staying at Kingfisher is that the resort provides guided walks and tours on the island to take in more sights, information and nature. Once completed, enjoy a drink (or two) at the lively bar “Sandbar”.
Last stop on this amazing trip is the Gold Coast – Surfers Paradise after checking out Brisbane (where we flew home from). Surfers Paradise is true to its name. This city hosts surfing, kayaking, skydiving and other adventurous activities. Vibe Hotel is what I called home for one night and it’s in a prime spot. Located walking distance to the beach, shops, restaurants, bars and more bars. This high-rise hotel has gorgeous views of the city or ocean from your spacious room. The hotel has a pool to dive into and provides a full breakfast. Its trendy vibe (pun intended) suits the trendy scene of Surfers Paradise. I’d recommend an extra night post accommodation to take in the sights of this town; there is so much to see and do, you may not want to leave!
Looking for more information on travelling to Australia for a Gold Coast adventure? Contact Monika Kosecki, International Travel Consultant at the Pickering Town Centre Flight Centre based in Pickering, Ontario who can be reached at 1 866 704 5373.