Looking for the perfect mix of sun and sand? Our Travel Consultant Mark Novak shares why Australia is the place to find the perfect vacation, no matter what you’re looking for, and why he enjoyed his time travelling with Topdeck.
There are many reasons to go to Australia. For a lot of North Americans and Europeans, the trip may only come once in a lifetime. For me, to get to go for a second time (a little older and wiser) and this time on an organized Topdeck tour made for a completely different appreciation of what Australia has to offer. The ‘Reef Suntanner’ Tour is an 11-day tour travelling from Cairns to the Gold Coast (or reversed) that includes adventures that will please every type of traveller!
If The Great Barrier Reef is what you want to see, Topdeck has connections with Cairns’ most awarded small tour operator – Passions of Paradise Catamaran and crew. If you want to roam around the reef like the fish, the team will give you a quick scuba lesson and then take you out into the Reef off of Michaelmas Cay once you’re more comfortable. If scuba diving isn’t your thing, then the special beach access permit offered by Passions of Paradise will allow you to walk through the warm waters and snorkel in the shallower depths. The vibrant colours and teeming life in the waters will satisfy in every way. Our lead-hand, Simon, even performed a magic show on the trip home which was unexpected, and quite frankly, unexpectedly good.
If Aboriginals, The Rainforest, Crocodiles and Koalas are what you are looking for, Topdeck takes you to both the Kuranda and Daintree Rainforests. Expect Cassowary crossings that WILL stop traffic. Expect enormous Crocodiles basking in the sun on the banks of the Daintree River, your boat a comfortable, but photo acceptable distance away.
Expect to be startled more than a few times by the Orb Spiders that are as big as your head. The Koalas and Kangaroos at Kuranda are well taken care of and the photo opportunities are endless. The Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park evening of entertainment and dinner, although a little cheesy, was worth the learning experience. It is the place to learn how to play the didgeridoo, and take the leap of buying that most beautiful piece of musical art.
If pure adrenaline and thrills are what gets your vacation going, then Topdeck can make this happen with AJ Hacketts Bungee Jumping out of Cairns. They have been throwing people off of things since 1986! They believe and live that every day you should do something that scares you to remind you that you are alive. If these terms mean nothing to you, then you will learn! If they do, then get jumping: Level 1 – Swan Dive, Titanic, Water Touch, and Pendulum; Level 2 – Backward Elevator, Blindfold, Roof Jump, and Back Dive; Level 3 – Handstand, Forward Flip, Fruit Bat and my favourite, the BMX…
AJ Hackett was the originator of Bungee and with prices at $139 for 1 jump, a T-shirt and certificate, or $274 for unlimited jumps and a Minjin Swing, you will need the next day off to recover from the Adrenaline overload!
If setting sail out of Airlie Beach on an 83′ Whitbread Around the World Race Yacht by name of British Defender gets you going, 3 days of your Tour are dedicated to sailing the Whitsunday Islands. You will have every opportunity to hoist the mainsail up its huge 115′ main mast, and feel the burn on one of its three grinding towers. Your trip takes you through Hook Passage to a safe anchor point where you and the crew let your hair down and party the night away. The next day you sail on to Tongue Bay and the Hill Inlet Lookout and to the World Famous Whitehaven Beach for its powdery white sands. The very same sand that was used to polish the Hubble Space telescope! Stingrays float about, and cricketers play ad-hoc games on the beach in Stinger Suits. The last evening aboard ship provided a stunning sunset that set the clouds ablaze. Be sure to spend one night sleeping on deck, the skies out there are riddled with stars. As you sail back into Airlie, the yacht is at a 45 degree pitch and sail taut. You can sit with your legs hanging over the high-side, which is completely exhilarating and gives you every reason to understand the romance of sailing the open seas.
If Dingoes and the crystal clear water of Lake Mackenzie are in your dreams, then the Fraser Island portion of your Topdeck Tour is waiting for you. The Kingfisher Bay Resort accommodations range from reasonable to luxurious. At night, party night at the Dingoe Bar with tour groups from all around Australia and make fast friends. Or, if you prefer, the Seabelle Restaurant has a menu including adventurous choices like Crocodile, Kangaroo and Emu, or Barramundi in Paper Bark and wine of impeccable quality to match. You can see 700,000 years of evolution in the wildflowers and centuries of climatic change in the Hammerstone Sandblow. The Pine Valley rainforest in the middle of the island with its 600 year old trees and tens of millions of years old Angiopteris or King Ferns will excite any amateur or professional Botanist. You can 4-wheel drive around the island, capturing shots of Dingoes, the Maheno Shipwreck, and the Pinnacles. You can jump into Lake Mackenzie’s waters and walk on the expansive 75 mile beach highway, or into the Air Fraser Island Cessna for a Top-Down look at the world’s largest sand island.
The final portion of the Reef Suntanner tour brings you through the Rockhampton Rodeo Ranches, to Brisbane and its high-rises, bridges and parks. Heading into Brisbane is like coming home, and after almost two weeks of rainforests, sailing, snorkelling and hiking – it is a welcome sight. The day was ours to shop in the Central Business District, visit a local pub or kick back and relax. A short ride south to Surfers Paradise brought to a conclusion, in spectacular fashion at the Vibe Hotel, an amazing Tour. Sin City nightclub provided the pounding beats and laser lights that Surfers is famous for, and to hit the beach that in the wee hours of your last morning to capture the rising sun will be a memory that lasts a lifetime.
My thanks to our Topdeck Tour Leader Erin Welgus and driver Leigh Kennett who made the Tour wicked fun. There really was no better way to get to see everything that Australia truly has to offer.
Want to find what you’re looking for in Australia? Mark Novak is an International Travel Consultant at our Flight Centre TD Centre location in Toronto, Ontario and can be reached online or by calling 1-866-788-5108.