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Flying into the sophisticated city of Brisbane, you will be transferred by private car to your hotel in the leafy suburb of New Farm within three kilometres of the city centre. As well as its gorgeous weather, Brisbane draws visitors with its subtropical beaches, trendy restaurants, welcoming atmosphere and exciting cultural scene. Go cycling along the river, explore nearby galleries and museums or spend an afternoon at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.
Those feeling adventurous and want to see Brisbane in all its glory can climb the Story Bridge at Kangaroo Point – 80 metres above the Brisbane River – for a breathtaking view. Alternatively, you can take a more leisurely approach by kayaking along the river and admiring local landmarks like the CBD, Botanical Gardens and Cliffs.
Stay: Two nights at Spicer Balfour – room only
Today you begin your self-drive. Collect your SUV from Brisbane city depot and drive to your hotel in Maryvale, a town in the Southern Downs Region of Queensland. Here you will find yourself surrounded by the World Heritage-listed Main Range National Park, a place known for its rugged mountains, beautiful viewpoints, unusual wildlife and rich subtropical rainforest. Explore the park and its countless hiking trails or take some time to relax at the lodge which boasts an array of facilities including a superb restaurant, infinity pool and spa.
Stay: Two nights at Spicers Peak Lodge – full board
Byron Bay, about two hours south of Brisbane, is your next port of call. Nestled on the northern coast of New South Wales, Byron Bay enjoys a tropical climate year-round – perfect for making the most of its sandy beaches and rainforest hiking trails.
Browse the town’s art and crafts shops, dine at award-winning restaurants or explore the Cape Byron walking track which winds through rainforest, beach and grassland to reach the famous Cape Byron lighthouse. Alternatively, you can head down to the water to surf or watch for dolphins and migrating whales.
Stay: Two nights at The Byron at Byron – bed & breakfast
From Byron Bay you drive to one of Queensland’s most popular holiday destinations – Port Douglas. A favoured getaway among the rich and famous, the town retains a laidback, retiring atmosphere and is the perfect place to base yourself for excursions into the rainforest or Great Barrier Reef. The town is made up of boutique shops, numerous cafes, alfresco restaurants and buildings that don’t rise higher than the palm trees. Your hotel is within walking distance of the beautiful Four Mile Beach, perfect for sunset strolls along the golden sands.
Stay: One night at Ramada Resort by Wyndham – room only
Day nine brings you to Port Stephens, otherwise known as the dolphin capital of Australia. Beach lovers will also be delighted to find a total of 26 sun-kissed beaches, as well as numerous pretty inlets and an extensive bay area. Dolphin cruises and whale watching trips are a must, but you’ll find plenty of other activities to keep you busy including quad biking, sand-boarding, hiking, horse riding and fishing. When you’ve worked up an appetite you can dine on tasty, freshly caught seafood prepared by award-winning chefs at one of the local cafes.
Stay: Two nights at Anchorage Port Stephens – room only
The Hunter Valley is one of the most renowned wine regions in Australia, home to over 120 wineries and celebrated for its award-winning vintages – particularly its Semillon and Shiraz varieties. During your stay you can tour the cellars of wineries that have been around for centuries – such as McGuigan and Drayton – as well as make visits to nearby galleries and antique shops. For something truly spectacular, take a hot air balloon flight for a birds-eye-view of the landscape. You’ll be staying on a private vineyard within easy reach of the region’s most renowned wineries, restaurants and golf courses.
Stay: Two nights at Spicers Vineyard Estate – room only
With its vibrant restaurants, golden beaches, outstanding architecture and cosmopolitan flair, it’s no wonder Sydney is regarded as one of the world’s most captivating cities. Dropping off your hire car, you’ll head to your hotel on the eastern foreshore of Circular Quay, perfectly positioned for exploring attractions like Sydney Harbour, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Opera House. Why not spend an afternoon sailing around the harbour on a luxury yacht, take a guided city tour or climb Sydney Harbour Bridge for an exquisite view.
Stay: Three Nights Pullman Quay Grand Suites – room only
Today you will be transferred to the airport to board a flight to Lord Howe Island. Upon arrival you will be met and taken to your hotel perched above Lover’s Bay with gorgeous views stretching across the ocean and mountains.
The finale to your east coast extravaganza, you’ll have three nights to totally unwind amidst pristine surroundings. You’ll be one of just hundreds of visitors on this tiny, unspoilt island where there’s no phone service and people get around on bikes instead of cars. A World Heritage site, Lord Howe is surrounded by the world’s southernmost coral reef and a dip beneath the waves will reveal a dazzling display of marine life, all protected as part of the Lord Howe Marine park.
Stay: Three nights at Capella Lodge – full board
Transfer to the airport to fly back to Sydney. From Sydney, you’ll board your international flight to London.
We have just returned from what was a holiday of a lifetime. I can't thank you enough. The organisation was meticulous and made our lives so much easier. When we plan another holiday we'll be sure to speak with Ultimate Travel first.- HPB, Italy