Australia

  • Sydney’s Gem – The Strand Arcade

    One of my favorite places to return to when I am back in Sydney is The Strand Arcade. I recommend this beautiful old, Victorian-style building reminiscent of similar arcades in London to any overseas visitors as well. The Strand was built in 1891 and joins two busy Sydney streets, George and Pitt in the central shopping district. The arcade is an easy walk from the harbour where many of the leading Sydney hotels are located.

    Entrance | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    Entrance | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    The Strand Arcade | Photo Credit: Anne Pace

    The Strand Arcade | Photo Credit: Anne Pace

    Shopping at The Strand

    There are a number of unique Australian shops here, which makes it fun to visit if you are looking for a local gift. Dinosaur Designs has brilliantly colored resin homewares and jewelry. Also within The Strand is Aesop Skin care line where all of the items are made from naturally sourced ingredients. A must-visit is Haighs, Australia’s oldest family-owned chocolate maker for delicious samples or a gift. On the higher floors, you’ll find top local Australian fashion and jewelry designers, which make The Strand a great place to browse as well as shop.

    Shopping | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    Shopping | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    View of the Shops | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    View of the Shops | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    If you get hungry…

    While shopping, stop for some lunch at La Rosa wine bar on Level Two; their pizza is amazing! Enjoy a coffee in one of the coffee shops on the lower level for a flat white or just to people watch. Visiting The Strand is a special experience. It’s so different from the modern shopping malls which we are all familiar with, yet you’ll find a variety of stores here. The Strand has everything from bespoke services offering made-to-measure shirts, custom gowns, and antiques or contemporary jewelry to more practical offerings such as a shoe repair establishment and The Nut Shop. The Nut Shop has been a Sydney icon since 1940!

    Outside View | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    Outside View | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    Make sure to include time to wander The Strand Arcade when you are in Sydney, New South Wales.

    September 25, 2017 • Anne Pace, Australia, Travels • Views: 5115

  • BridgeClimb Sydney

    It’s been said that Sydney Harbour is the most beautiful natural harbour in the world, and it’s hard to disagree. From scenic walks to ferry trips, there are many ways to enjoy it, but you won’t get a better view than from the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

    Sydney Harbour | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Sydney Harbour | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    This engineering masterpiece spans the sparkling harbour and dominates the city skyline. With uninterrupted 360 degree views, there is no better way to see Sydney from a new perspective than climbing to the summit of the bridge.

    So, which climb should you do? What’s the best time of day to do it? We asked BridgeClimb to answer some of these questions so that planning your climb is fun.

    What’s the best time of day to enjoy Sydney Harbour?

    Whether you choose dawn, day, twilight or night, you will experience 360 degrees of unforgettable scenery on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

    At dawn, you depart under a blanket of darkness. These climbs begin before the city has even started to stir. As you reach the summit, you’ll be in a position to take in the dawning of the new day. The day climb provides the classic view that has won hearts all around the world! From the daily hum and buzz of Sydneysiders going about their day to cruise ships passing below, or local birdlife stopping by to beat you to the summit – there’s plenty to experience when you climb during the day. Twilight climbs need no introduction – experiencing the day transition to night is a really special time to be 134 meters high above the harbour. Sydney really sparkles at night as the city illuminates after dark. Your climb leader will guide you along the great steel arches as you witness the city of Sydney wind down for the day.

    Dawn | Photo Credit: BridgeClimb Sydney

    Dawn | Photo Credit: BridgeClimb Sydney

    Day | Photo Credit: BridgeClimb Sydney

    Day | Photo Credit: BridgeClimb Sydney

    Twilight | Photo Credit: BridgeClimb Sydney

    Twilight | Photo Credit: BridgeClimb Sydney

    What’s the best climb type to see the best views of Sydney?

    BridgeClimb

    Absorb panoramic views of Sydney as you journey to the summit on the original climb experience. Like an exposed spine, the outer rim delivers you to the peak, as the sky remains just beyond your outstretched fingertips.

    BridgeClimb Express

    Accelerate your ascent to the summit. This energetic experience is the fastest trip to the top of the bridge. Ascend through the heart of the bridge, a cathedral of steel, and burst through to the summit from below.

    Sampler

    Get a taste of the world famous BridgeClimb! In just one and a half hours, ascend the inner arch of the iconic bridge to a spectacular vantage point halfway to the top. Ideal for you if you have height concerns and don’t want to go all the way up!

    Aerial | Photo Credit: BridgeClimb Sydney

    Aerial | Photo Credit: BridgeClimb Sydney

    Climb | Photo Credit: BridgeClimb Sydney

    Climb | Photo Credit: BridgeClimb Sydney

    The climb of my life is over, where should I go to celebrate?

    Are you still on a high after your climb? BridgeClimb is located in one of Sydney’s historic suburbs, “The Rocks.” As the strip of land where European settlers chose to step ashore in 1788, The Rocks is essentially the birthplace of modern Sydney. It is full of cobbled laneways, cozy cafes and some of the oldest pubs in the country! Perfect for a little treat after your climb.

    The Rocks | Photo Credit: Mount N Beach Safaris

    The Rocks | Photo Credit: Mount N Beach Safaris

    September 11, 2017 • Australia, Bloggers, Travels • Views: 4509

  • Lizard Island: An Idyllic Paradise

    Located 17 miles off the Queensland coast, Lizard Island Luxury Resort is the premier accommodation for experiencing the Great Barrier Reef. Being a resort on one of the world’s natural wonders, it’s the only accommodation promising coveted reef encounters and seclusion. Lizard Island offers direct access to the fringing reef, with vibrant snorkeling and scuba diving just a short boat ride away. The complimentary activities, crisp Scandinavian décor, and top-notch cuisine make Lizard Island an idyllic paradise and a must for those seeking beauty, relaxation, and luxury.

    Beach | Photo Credit: Lizard Island: Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort

    Beach | Photo Credit: Lizard Island – Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort

    Getting There

    A 60-minute flight from Cairns transports you to heaven on earth. Meanwhile, guests have a prime view of the turquoise waters and sprawling reef formations below. The runway is so close that it only takes a few minutes to reach the check-in desk. Within a half hour of landing, you can hop into the water and snorkel with giant clams and colorful fish.

    Diving | Photo Credit: Lizard Island: Tourism Queensland

    Diving | Photo Credit: Tourism Queensland

    The untouched nature surrounding the property creates an instantly relaxing environment. You’ll see the spider lilies that line the wooden walkways, and watch blissful butterflies and birds drift by. Then, approach the understated elegance of the 40 suites and villas, decorated with homey furniture, and a palette based on whites and creams, soft browns, and muted blues. The large glass sliding doors allow the natural environment outside to extend inside. Actually quite literally…I stumbled upon a lizard in my suite!

    With direct beach access, a spacious deck, and a cozy King-size day bed, the Beachfront Suite is my personal favorite room category. Finally, end the evening relaxing on the day bed with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in hand, watching the sunset over Anchor Bay.

    Beachfront Suite | Photo Credit: Lizard Island: Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort

    Beachfront Suite | Photo Credit: Lizard Island – Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort

    Living Room | Photo Credit: Lizard Island: Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort

    Living Room | Photo Credit: Lizard Island – Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort

    Bathroom | Photo Credit: Lizard Island: Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort

    Bathroom | Photo Credit: Lizard Island – Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort

    Patio | Photo Credit: Lizard Island: Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort

    Patio | Photo Credit: Lizard Island – Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort

    Lizard Island Cuisine

    Salt Water is the only restaurant on site, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The laid back eatery has views of the Coral Sea and the palm trees. All meals are incredibly fresh and focus on the island’s local resources. First, start with a plentiful breakfast including tropical fruits like dragon fruit and star fruit, as well as staple items such as eggs, bread, and house-made honey yogurt. Then, finish off with dinner that varies daily. The menu highlights the catch of the day, with a modern Australian flare and Asian fusion.

    Seafood Dinner | Photo Credit: Kathryn Fischer

    Seafood Dinner | Photo Credit: Kathryn Fischer

    Breakfast | Photo Credit: Kathryn Fischer

    Breakfast | Photo Credit: Kathryn Fischer

    Also included in the nightly rate is a “create your own” picnic basket. Lunch choices vary from sushi and king prawns, to cheeses and meats, and champagne, of course! After lunch, take advantage of the complimentary boat transfer to one of the island’s 24 beaches. You could also use a motorized dinghy to discover a sandy cove on your own. Lastly, end the day snorkeling with turtles and enjoying the solitude of an empty shore.

    Beach Picnic | Photo Credit: Kathryn Fischer

    Beach Picnic | Photo Credit: Kathryn Fischer

    Activities on Lizard Island

    Other activities include scuba diving, fishing, paddle boarding, and glass-bottom kayaking. Other than that, you may stay on land and visit the Lizard Island Research Centre, go on a scenic hike, play a round of tennis, have a dip in the freshwater pool, indulge in a spa treatment, or practice yoga on the beach. Lizard Island Resort is perfect for those seeking an exclusive experience in paradise.

    Dinghy | Photo Credit: Lizard Island - Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort

    Dinghy | Photo Credit: Lizard Island – Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort

    Beach View | Photo Credit: Kathryn Fischer

    Beach View | Photo Credit: Kathryn Fischer

    Essentia Day Spa | Photo Credit: Lizard Island - Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort

    Essentia Day Spa | Photo Credit: Lizard Island – Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort

    Pool | Photo Credit: Lizard Island - Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort

    Pool | Photo Credit: Lizard Island – Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort

    Lodge Features:

    • 40 suites and villas located directly on the Great Barrier Reef
    • Restaurant highlighting fresh seafood and produce, unlimited non-alcoholic beverages
    • A selection of fine Australian and New Zealand wines, beers, and spirits
    • In-room mini bar, restocked daily with snacks, and beverages
    • Day spa, freshwater pool, gym, and tennis court
    • 24 private beaches with complimentary drop-off
    • Activities on land such as hiking, tennis, and nature presentations
    • Water activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling, and motorized dinghies
    • Books and games library
    • Guest lounge with internet access
  • Rustic Elegance – Wolgan Valley Resort

    Located in New South Wales, home to the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains, sits Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley. This lodge offers the rare opportunity to experience true luxury in a spectacular Australian bush setting. Surrounding by a beautiful backdrop, Wolgan Valley is the true epitome of luxury.

    Blue Mountains | Photo Credit: Destination NSW

    Blue Mountains | Photo Credit: Destination NSW

    Getting There

    About a 3 hour drive Northwest of Sydney, you’ll find the stunning luxury lodge of Wolgan Valley.  The drive is easy highway driving at first, before weaving into the mountains and past Katoomba.  The last part of the drive can be intimidating, as you’re winding on narrow roads down into the Valley.  We drove there in the dark, which I wouldn’t recommend for the faint of heart!

    Pathway | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Pathway | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Pool | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    Pool | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    Wolgan Valley Exterior | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Wolgan Valley Exterior | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Rustic Elegance – Wolgan Valley

    Once we arrived, my partner and I were collected at the car park and taken in one of the lodges 4WD vehicles up to the main lodge of the property.  Due to our late arrival, we immediately sat for dinner and were not disappointed to say the least.  The cuisine was absolutely world-class.  They have a tasting menu if your table is keen to commit, or an a-la-carte menu.  The first night we stuck to a-la-carte and then the second evening, went for the tasting menu.  Each dish was exceptionally plated and delicious.  After dinner, we were taken to our private villa.  Our villa had an open concept sitting room and bedroom, divided by a double sided fireplace; large bathroom, walk-in closet, and our own private heated plunge pool.  The feel was luxurious, but comfortable; we could have stayed there forever!

    Picnic | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    Picnic | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    Private Dining Room | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    Private Dining Room | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    Living Area | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    Living Area | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    Suite | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    Suite | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    Activities Outside the Lodge

    In the morning, we awoke to a gorgeous view that had evaded us the previous day due to arriving after dark.  We were surrounded by stunning cliffs in the middle of a valley.  Outside of our villa was a beautiful rainbow, and a few kangaroos.  Breakfast boasted an array of buffet options such as granola, fruit, cereals, pastries, juices and breads.  There was a hot menu for order as well.  Then, we headed off to horseback ride on the property.

    Rainbow | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Rainbow | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Kangaroos | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Kangaroos | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Horses | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    Horses | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    A staff member drove us to the stables, discussed the basics of riding for those who were new to horseback riding, and paired us with a horse.  We embarked on a 90 minute trail ride through the property, and it was breathtaking.  Along the way, we spotted kangaroos, wallabies, and lots of bird life.  After our ride, we decided to tackle one of the properties numerous hiking and biking trails, spotting more wildlife along the way.

    After another exceptional dinner, we spent the evening relaxing and looking at the unhindered stars.

    Lodge Features:

    • 40 villas that accommodate travelers from single guests to family
    • Private pool with a deck surrounded by a garden of native plants and shrubs
    • Spa featuring many different treatments
    • In-room dining
    • Wifi throughout the resort
    • Access to onsite archery range
    • Access to onsite tennis courts

    August 14, 2017 • Australia, Luxury Lodges, Property Highlights, Sarah Herman, Travels • Views: 3344

  • Southern Ocean Lodge – Kangaroo Island

    Kangaroo Island in South Australia is brimming with native wildlife and natural beauty. While being Australia’s third largest island, roughly the size of Long Island, it only has a population of 4,000 people. Tucked in a corner of the island, on a rugged cliff facing the wild Southern Ocean, lies Southern Ocean Lodge.

    Kangaroos | Photo Credit: Exceptional Kangaroo Island

    Kangaroos | Photo Credit: Exceptional Kangaroo Island

    Getting There

    The drive from the airport to the lodge is about an hour long. Look out for wallabies, kangaroos, and koalas along the way because there are over 800,000 combined, so wildlife encounters are guaranteed. Then, out of nowhere, the polished iron gates of Southern Ocean Lodge appear. The whole property alludes a sense of exclusivity.  After passing through the secured gateway, it’s another 10 minutes up a bumpy road until you reach the lodge. It all feels very remote. The property is completely off the grid; it relies on solar power and rainwater. It doesn’t even have an exact address!

    With panoramic views of the bush and aqua sea, the great room at Southern Ocean Lodge invites the landscape inside. Coastal colors and recycled woods create a comfortable and relaxed environment. The young, international staff are friendly and welcoming.

    SOL Great Room | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    SOL Great Room | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    SOL Balcony | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    SOL Balcony | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    Exceptional Food & Wine

    The food and beverages at Southern Ocean Lodge are exceptional because the chef is proud to focus fully on South Australian cuisine. First, start the day with either a hot or cold breakfast, whether a warm bircher muesli to avocado toast with tomatoes. Then for dinner, enjoy the catch of the day, ranging from king fish, abalone, and octopus. Finally, there’s many desserts which utilizes native herbs and sweeteners, like local blue gum honey. The lodge also has a classic menu for picky eaters, which is nice if you’re not as adventurous. In addition, you can whip up a cocktail of your choice from the stocked open bar, or pour a refreshing glass of South Australian wine at any time of day.

    South Australian Cuisine | Photo Credit: Exceptional Kangaroo Island

    South Australian Cuisine | Photo Credit: Exceptional Kangaroo Island

    Cuisine from SOL | Photo Credit: Exceptional Kangaroo Island

    Cuisine from SOL | Photo Credit: Exceptional Kangaroo Island

    SOL Cuisine | Photo Credit: Exceptional Kangaroo Island

    SOL Cuisine | Photo Credit: Exceptional Kangaroo Island

    The Interior

    21 glass-fronted suites curve along the coastline. The wall-to-wall windows allow an unobstructed view of the dreamlike scenery. The bathrooms are spotless, and the view from the shower is particularly memorable. Aligned with the lodge’s local focus, the artwork in all suites is commissioned from Kangaroo Island artisans. Each suite is sophisticated, yet comfortable.

    Exterior | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    Exterior | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    Suite | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    Suite | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    Bathroom | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    Bathroom | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    SOL Exterior | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    SOL Exterior | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    Activities Outside the Lodge

    As for the experience outside of the lodge, there’s many opportunities to get immersed in the island’s natural attractions. Small group guided excursions are offered daily. Ranging from coastal walks to barbeques, the tours allow guests to encounter the wildlife with exclusive access and a touch of luxury.

    Lodge Features:

    • 21 luxurious suites with wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows
    • Restaurant with local fare, indoor and outdoor seating, and ocean views
    • Spa incorporating local traditions
    • Wine cellar featuring South Australian vintages
    • Plunge pool
    • Lounge with fireplace and panoramic views
    • Boutique with unique gifts and island mementos
    • Reference library stocked with books, DVDs, and CDs
    • Wifi throughout the lodge
  • Silky Oaks Lodge in Daintree Rainforest

    Queensland, also known as Australia’s “sunshine state,” is home to a 110-million-year-old rainforest—Daintree National Park. The park is a World Heritage-listed site and nestled on the edge is Silky Oaks Lodge. This lodge blends casual and contemporary design, amongst the most tranquil surrounds.

    Silky Oaks Suite | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Silky Oaks Suite | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Getting There

    Located 90 minutes north of Cairns and just 20 minutes from Port Douglas, Silky Oaks Lodge is in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest.  The drive is easy and beautiful, as Captain Cook highway leads the way up the coast.  Set on the Mossman River, this lodge provides an immersive rainforest experience while still pampering you with the finest luxury amenities.  Upon arrival, my partner and I were greeted with welcome cocktails at a table for two. While overlooking the Mossman River, we went over our itinerary for the next two days.  We enjoyed our welcome cocktails while our treehouse was being prepared.  Chilled wine, a handwritten note, lit candles, and soft music greeted us as we walked in, and a sense of peace immediately flooded us.  Each treehouse has a large outdoor porch with a hammock, and all the amenities you could wish for.

    Silky Oaks Lodge | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Silky Oaks Lodge | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Suite | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Suite | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Jungle Perch | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Jungle Perch | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Activities Outside the Lodge

    We spent nearly all of our time outside, taking advantage of every recreational activity the lodge had to offer.  First, we got a picnic backpack from the kitchens and hiked a gorgeous trail that ended at a huge flat rock with a rope swing into the river. Then we kayaked and swam in the natural-looking outdoor heated stone pool. We also went on a sunset bike ride through the corn fields outside of the rainforest.  You name it, Silky Oaks has it.  After the end of an active day, we made our way back to the main lodge for dinner.

    Billabong | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Billabong | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Pool | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Pool | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Unforgettable Dining Experience

    The Treehouse Restaurant – one of Northern Queensland’s premier dining experiences, is a unique open-sided restaurant that features unobstructed rainforest and river views set above the trees.  The food was exceptional, focusing on seafood given its close proximity to the ocean.  The menu showcases the freshest local produce and Australian wines.  There are a-la-carte options, or you can pre-book your dinner for a two or three course option.  I highly recommend booking at least the two course option, as you’ll want to take advantage of the world-class food the lodge has to offer.  After dinner, it was time to turn-in for the night, falling asleep to the sounds of the rainforest and flowing river.

    Treehouse Lobby | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Treehouse Lobby | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Jungle Perch Dining | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Jungle Perch Dining | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Treehouse Restaurant | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Treehouse Restaurant | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Lodge Features:

    • 50 treehouses and riverhouses with a balcony and hammock, outdoor table and chairs
    • Restaurant with sensational rainforest and river views
    • Spa offering rejuvenation through healing waters
    • Outdoor, natural-looking, heated stone pool
    • Jungle Perch positioned over the Mossman River, providing views of the Daintree Rainforest
    • Air conditioning, ceiling fans, fully stocked mini bar and a turn-down service every night