Australia – The Local Way

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  • Australia
  • February 5–13, 2023
  • 9 Days/8 Nights
  • 8 – 10 Guests

Overview

Sydney – The brazen middle sister … she’s got it all … the Bridge, the Opera House, the fine weather, the fabulous beaches … and it’s the first stop on our Australian adventure. Sydney’s an inviting blend of the exhilarating and easy going. You can find excitement in the city, but with a short drive you’ll hit the golden beaches of Bondi and Manly. She’ll be serving up plenty of summer, fresh air, unique flavors and many local Sydneysiders, who know a thing or two about living life to the fullest. There are two things Sydneysiders love above all else: a superb meal and a stunning view. We’re in for many a fine treat!

Melbourne – The older sister … she’s well educated, well rounded, with many fine accolades, heaps of wisdom and culture to her name. Melbourne is a blend of bustling laneways, world-class restaurants and captivating museums. The locals love their coffee, and serve it up in abundance at cozy cafes. There’s always a sense of excitement here – whether it’s in the city’s fascinating flavors or fierce sporting rivalries. The lazy, windy Yarra River winds lazily – no time for laziness on our trip though. We’ll triple through the city of Melbourne, and have also included a visit to the countryside, and wild kangaroo spotting! There’s plenty of great shopping in this Capital, always, and good wines.

Gold Coast – Queensland – Well, she’s the youngest of the sisters … she’s brash, loud, and crude sometimes, and downright rude other times. The Gold Coast’s star attraction is her beaches, including the world-renowned stretch of sand at Surfers Paradise. And of course the amazing Barrier Reef. They don’t call it the Gold Coast for nothing. Here you’ll find more than 70 kilometers (44 miles) of golden sand with waves to catch, sun to soak up and seaside pubs to enjoy.

Highlights:

  • Superb 5 star Hotels – across Australia, Sydney, Melbourne and Gold Coast.
  • Become a Sydneysider
  • Art gallery visits
  • Coastal walk – Bondi to Tamarama and Waverley
  • Four hour cruise with drinks on Sydney Harbour
  • Iceberg’s famous restaurant for iconic lunch time treat.
  • Discover Melbourne on the famous Yarra River
  • Walking tour of Melbourne famous arcades and laneways
  • Street art and alleys
  • Architecture of Melbourne tour
  • Countryside Melbourne
  • See some of Australia’s wildlife and birds
  • Walk the magnificent stretches of golden beaches of Gold Coast
  • Flight to experience Barrier Reef day optional extra excursion.
  • Wine Tasting tour Qld – optional extra tour
  • Amazing lunches and dinners and drinks, included – read on!

Your Hosts:

This trip will be led by Doni Belau, founder of Girls’ Guide to Paris & Beyond & Jean Wethmar, founder Glam Girls Lux Travels

Born in South Africa, immigrated to Australia in 2002, Jean a dinkum (honest) Aussie now. She truly adores her adopted country. Jean prides herself on a marvelous ‘can do’ attitude in life and is partial to Australian Shiraz. She’s been leading women-only luxury tours for many years now.

 

Itinerary

Day 0: Saturday, February 4, 2023

Given the lengthy flight to Australia for most people, we suggest that you arrive to Sydney a day (or more) before the trip starts. You can book extra nights at the Shangri-La Hotel, or we can assist. It has lovely views and a spa, so you can relax and unwind.

Day 1: Sunday, February 5, 2023 – Sydney

Arrive and get settled into your accommodation in Sydney – The Shangri-La Sydney is located in the historic Rocks area, where Europeans first settled in Australia back in 1788. This enviable location is just a 5-minute walk from both the Sydney Opera House and the MCA. (Museum of Modern Art).

Tonight, we’ll enjoy our welcome drinks at the Blu Bar on the top floor of Shangri La. Your welcome dinner at Café Sydney is included with the first round on Jean, our Aussie guide.

Cafe Sydney captures the essence of Sydney from its amazing location on the rooftop of Customs House with spectacular harbor views, innovative food, and an outdoor terrace, a very memorable spot to start our tour off.

Overnight: Shangri-La Hotel

Day 2: Monday, February 6 – Sydney

Today we’ll visit Art Gallery SNW as well as the Parliament House before being transported to Bondi Beach. Today’s lunch will be at the iconic Icebergs Bistro. If there were an award for Sydney’s sexiest dining room, Icebergs would win hands down. Settle in at your table and let yourself be mesmerized by the endless rows of waves rolling into the beach and the seafront pool.

After a scrumptious seafood platter luncheon, we’ll do the Bondi Beach to Tamarama and Clovelly walk. This is perhaps the most famous coastal walk in the country complete with rest stops and superb views along the coast. We’ll likely meet many Sydneysiders out with their dogs, or mums with babies in prams. Along the way, you’ll follow a series of coastal paths which pass dramatic cliffs, scenic parks, swimming baths, and epic viewpoints.

Our next stop is Queens Street – Woollahra – the best boutique shopping in Sydney! Dinner is not included tonight, but there’s plenty of splendid options around our hotel (or at our hotel). A complete list will be provided.

Overnight: Shangri-La Hotel

Day 3:  Tuesday, February 7 – Sydney

This morning we’ll tour Sydney’s famous Opera House: The building fuses ancient and modernist influences and was built on a site sacred to the local Gadigal people for thousands of years. The sculptural elegance of the Sydney Opera House has made it one of the most recognizable buildings of the twentieth century, synonymous with inspiration and imagination.

Lunch today is at Buckley’s for Fish & Chips and includes a yummy dessert.

This afternoon from 3-7pm we’ll board a floating lounge, a luxurious and comfortable way to cruise Sydney harbor and disembark on beautiful beaches. View waterfront mansions from the boat of Sydney’s most affluent suburbs. Drinks on board are included. Sydney Harbor is one of the most idyllic harbors in the world.

Dinner tonight is at a well-regarded chef-driven restaurant Luke Nguyen’s Red Lantern. Chef Nguyen is the author of four bestselling cookbooks and countless TV shows about his native Vietnamese cuisine. Luke was recently inducted into the Sydney Morning Herald’s Food Hall of Fame for his cooking and travel programs. The first round of drinks is on Jean.

Overnight: Shangri-La Hotel

Day 4: Wednesday, February 8 – Melbourne

Today we’re headed to Melbourne via a short 1.20 min flight. Upon arrival we’ll check into The Langham (well located on Southbank near the Yarra River).

If you’re feeling peckish, you can have lunch at the hotel, or a nearby restaurant. (Lunch not included).

This afternoon, we’ll appreciate a private tour exploring Melbourne’s arcades and laneways which are creative, quirky and super-Instagrammable. It has been said that it can take a lifetime to explore all 200+ lanes each holding a piece of Melbourne’s valuable heritage. Here’s just a few that we will explore.

  • The Block Arcade – A showcase of Victorian-era architecture, The Block Arcade houses stylish, eclectic shops.
  • Scott Alley – One of Melbourne’s smallest laneways, Scott Alley is dotted with intriguing little shops.
  • Cathedral Arcade – Waltz down Cathedral Arcade’s narrow, L-shaped structure of graceful arches and stained glass. There’s a range of boutique shops here worth a second look.
  • Manchester Lane – Here a range of independent designers are tucked into shoebox-sized stores.
  • Royal Arcade – The historic Royal Arcade’s grand design includes signature black-and-white tiled floors.

A walking tour is the ideal way to discover and learn about the enchantment of the city. We’ll unveil local designers and specialty retailers often only found in this part of the city. We’ll be regaled with historical tales of Melbourne along the way.

After a rest back at our hotel, dinner tonight will be at the Teppanyaki Inn, Melbourne’s oldest and most successful continuously running restaurant. Chef Arakane arrived in Melbourne in 1987 from Japan’s fish markets eventually opening his own Teppanyaki restaurant. First round of drinks is on Doni.

Accommodation – The Langham Melbourne

Day 5: Thursday, February 9 – Melbourne

Today we’ll head out on a history and architecture tour along Collins Street stopping for a sneak peek inside the elegant Gothic interiors of the ANZ bank, the plush European-style hotels and into the austere but commanding inner recesses of Melbourne Town Hall and the Athenaeum.

Lunch today is on your own or with your new friends, suggestions given.

This afternoon we’ll make a visit to the Lume digital art gallery, described as an epic adventure into art. Then we’ll visit the Heide Museum which combines art, architecture, and landscape design.

After a visually stimulating day, dinner tonight (not included) can be quiet and restful room service back at our hotel.

Optional: Glam it up and head over to the The Conservatory – Crown Casino. (not included). At the Conservatory you’ll find Melbourne’s finest and most indulgent buffet complete with stunning Yarra River views and lavish décor. Then there’s the temptation of trying your hand at Craps at the Casino after dinner!

Day 6: Friday, February 10 – Melbourne – Daylesford

 We’ll depart Melbourne today to explore the coutryside. We head off to Daylesford (1.5 hour drive) known as the land of the Dja Dja Wurrung people who first inhabited this region thousands of years ago. Later the Swiss-Italian migrants from the gold rush took hold, and more recently for the last hundred years, it’s been popular with Melbourne holiday-makers. Daylesford has long been considered a special place of healing.

We’ll visit a family-owned business, Alpaca Passion, started in Daylesford over 10 years ago. With a vast range of stylish alpaca garments and cozy homewares selected from the best alpaca fashion suppliers in the world, Alpaca Passion is a shopping destination.

After, we’ll check into our superb country accommodation to simply unwind and relax. Perhaps it’s time for a massage today or a lovely wander around magnificent grounds of our hotel.

Our accommodation tonight … deep breathe out…is the Lake House which lies on the shores of beautiful Lake Daylesford. Walking lanes lead from the property, around the lake and into the Wombat State Forest, complete with local fauna and abundant mineral springs which the area is known for. The nearest one bubbles right on the Lake House’s doorstep.

Given the opportunity to explore the gardens you’ll come upon significant trees, a myriad of sculptures and artwork from many of the region’s top artists, extensive outdoor terraces overlooking the lake shore and established country gardens with everything from koala-loved stringy barks to lilac, Daphne, quince, plum and apple trees. The property attracts a large number of native birds including rosella, squawking parrots, kingfisher & loud, laughing kookaburra.

Find balance and invigorate your body and mind in Daylesford’s famous mineral waters. Enjoy the region’s natural mineral springs with a rejuvenating spa experience at Daylesford Day Spa or The Spa at Lake House or book in for relaxing massages and silky, skin-renewing rituals at Daylesford Healing Massage. (not included – pre booking is essential)

The dining room holds 2 chefs hats from the national Good Food Guide and multiple awards for its cellar and service. It’s a splendid four-course true farm to table dinner tonight with the first round of drinks on Doni.

Overnight at the Lakehouse, dinner and breakfast included.

Day 7: Saturday, February 11 – Melbourne – Gold Coast Qld.

Today we’ll transfer back to Melbourne to catch our flight to Coolangatta (the Gold Coast airport) with 2 hours+ of flying time. From here we’ll drive to Byron Bay (about 1 hour) and enjoy lunch at the famous Pass Café (included) which is directly above the beach. Pack your swimsuits because a swim at Byron is not to be missed.

There will be time for shopping and a stroll through town – Byron is a coastal town known for its spectacular beaches, unique shopping and dining experiences, world-class festivals, and vibrant community spirit.

After our exploration we’ll transfer to the Sheraton Mirage Hotel the only ocean front property on the Gold Coast. Here we will relax and enjoy the Marina Mirage facilities. If time, we’ll take a nice long walk along this beautiful beach, before dinner.

Farewell dinner tonight is included, at the Vanitas, Palazzo Versace. We’ll relish our 6-course degustation dinner. Put your glad rags on tonight girls, this promises to be a very memorable evening. First round is on Doni.

Overnight: The Grand Mirage

Day 8: Sunday, February 12th

Today, you have a choice of itineraries: a visit to the Great Barrier Reef or remain on the mainland.

Option 1: The Great Barrier Reef 

The Great Barrier Reef, stretching from South Queensland to Lady Elliot, is one of the very few inhabited Coral Islands. It actually host more turtles than human beings and offers absolute pristine waters, home to 1200 species of marine life.

We’ll fly (early) along the Gold Coast Skyscrapers, the beaches, Fraser Island before heading straight for the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. The destination is a family run business dedicated to sustainable initiatives.

Your day includes scenic flights to/from the Island, orientation tour, a glass bottom boat/guided snorkelling tour, snorkel equipment (mask, snorkel & fins), full use of day guest facilities, a hot and cold buffet lunch and an afternoon of snorkelling, leisure or joining our experienced guides for a guided activity.

The Great Barrier Reef itinerary is an additional A$625.

Option 2: Mainland

For those remaining on the mainland, you can relax at the hotel, or there’s an optional wine tasting tour of the Gold Coast Hinterland and/or some good shopping.

This evening, we’ll meet for farewell wine and cheese tonight (included). Afterwards those wanting dinner can enjoy the restaurant at our hotel, or there’s a few other great options close by (not included). Alas, time to pack our suitcases, and swap contact addresses.

We’ll be sure to keep our travel stories close to our hearts.

Overnight: The Grand Mirage

Day 9: Wednesday, February 13

Transfer to Gold Coast airport for your flight back to Sydney

Meet & Greet in Sydney for International departure assistance

Tour concludes in Sydney at airport.

 

Trip Notes:

  • GG2P reserves the right to alter the itinerary based on weather or availability, as well as exciting opportunities that might crop up!
  • Vegetarians & Vegans - Not to worry – you will be well fed in all restaurants as well as those allergic to seafood or gluten. Options are plentiful.

 

Trip Cost

Trip Cost: 15,895 Australian Dollars*

  • * All our trips are organized and priced based on single occupancy at all the places we stay. Everyone gets their own fabulous room! If you’re traveling with a friend/relative, or would prefer to save some money by sharing a room, we can usually organize double occupancy at a reduction in cost. Please inquire.
  • * Unless specified otherwise, all our trips are priced in the home currency of the trip’s location. However, we will invoice you in the equivalent USD calculated at the exchange rate at the time of invoice.
  • Interest-free payment plans are available. Please inquire.

What’s included?

  • Everything stated in itinerary above including all meals (except where otherwise noted) plus beer or wine with dinner
  • Private transport
  • All entry fees for visits and attractions listed in the program
  • 5 star properties
    • 3 nights in Sydney – Shangri La
    • 2 nights in Melbourne – Langham
    • 1 night Victoria Country – Lakehouse
    • 2 nights Gold Coast Qld – Sheraton Mirage Gold Coast
  • Full breakfast each morning
  • All guides, museums, tastings, classes & market visits
  • All in-country transport including airport transfers
  • Domestic Economy flightsSydney/Melbourne, Melbourne/Gold Coast Coolangatta Airport, Gold Coast Coolangatta Airport/Sydney).

What’s not Included?

  • Roundtrip international airfare to Sydney
  • Spa Treatments
  • Additional wine, beer, or spirits beyond what is offered at meals.
  • All personal souvenir purchases
  • Travel and Medical Insurance (required)

I’m interested, so what do I do next?

If you have questions, complete the form below. We’ll get back to you ASAP!

If you’d like to come, press the Reserve Now button above. You'll be prompted to complete a form with your pertinent details, put down a refundable $250 placeholder deposit, and schedule a time to speak with a GG2P representative. We like to speak with everyone before they embark on their first trip with Girls’ Guide to Paris & Beyond. This allows you to ask any questions or voice any concerns you may have. These are intimate, small group trips; a quick yet personal conversation allows you to get to know how our trips work and make sure it’s right for you. If it’s not, we’ll immediately refund your $250 deposit.

If it’s a Go! after your call, we’ll bill you for a non-refundable deposit, usually 35% of the trip’s cost (less the $250 place-holder deposit, if you already paid it) and your place is reserved. At this point, you’re committed to the trip, so we recommend that you purchase Travel Insurance to protect you in case your plans change unexpectedly. The balance will be due approximately 2 months before the trip.

Our cancellation policy is here.

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