We made it back and we had an amazing time.
Here are the highlights:
We started with a great driver taking us to the Shangri-La, and with your upgrades, we had $130 US money to have dinner and the room views were great. Our first “Story of Sydney “ was really nice, the tour guy was very knowledgeable and took us all over Sydney. The absolute best part of the entire trip had to be the Sydney Harbour bridge tour. It just so happened to be “Remembrance Day” on 11/11 at 11am, we were at the top of the bridge for the moment of silence and they lowered the flag, it was unreal. The scary part of the trip was they were having catastrophic bush fires and the winds were so powerful that on our last night, you could actually see and smell the smoke in our hotel room, we were worried about our flight out the next morning, but no issues.
Great, funny driver took us to the hotel and it was definitely a 5 star hotel in a great location. The weather didn’t cooperate, it was cold, windy and a bit of rain, but we managed. We had 2 tours in Melbourne and we were somewhat disappointed in our escorted tour guide, of which we had for both days. George is originally from Mexico and we felt there was a drop off in knowledge about the area. Nice guy and very friendly, but he wasn’t from Australia, so we didn’t get the full Aussie experience. We saw lots of kangaroos and koalas and the long drive along the great ocean road was beautiful. The 12 Apostles were a thrill to see especially since they are slowly but surely disappearing.
Driver to the hotel was great, but the hotel itself wasn’t the greatest (totally due to the area, because there aren’t that many around, but we were right on the water and views were stunning, also, it was more like an apartment and had a washer/dryer, so that was a bonus. We only had one full day here, which was plenty and our tour guide, Tim, was our best of the trip, so far, since we were the only ones on the tour, he took us all over the Island and we got to see so much more because of the small group. We saw koalas and kangaroo everywhere and my favorite part was the cookout, right in the middle of the bush, they had a giant tent and grill and we had an amazing fish, potatoes, salad, all kinds of drinks, Tim was an awesome host.
In order for our flights to work out, without rushing, we had to spend a night in Adelaide and it was a great hotel, but we were there on a Sunday and nothing was open, so we had a wasted day, just walking around the city.
Cairns/ Port Douglas
We had to fly into Cairns and it was a little over an hour drive to Port Douglas, our driver was great, as he pointed out things along the drive. The hotel was just amazing, Peninsula Boutique hotel, I would highly recommend this to anyone, the presentation of our room was amazing. They walk us down the hall into our room, that had all the doors open to the ocean view with the breeze coming in, just amazing. The Great Barrier Reef snorkeling trip was the icing on the cake, it was an all day excursion and it was excellent. The last day was just a relaxing, beautiful day.
This was the most exclusive, luxurious part of our trip, the service of the Hamilton Island staff was top notch, they picked us up at the airport and the porter waits for our luggage and brings it to the room later, and the hotel itself was amazing. Everyone moves around the Island on golf carts, but we had private shuttle service from the hotel to anywhere we wanted to go, but the whole town is walkable, no need for shuttle service, but we took full advantage of the shuttle. The Whitsundays were everything we were hoping for and more. We took a small group tour by boat out to the Whitsundays Island beaches, white as snow sand, amazing views and we had a whole day excursion on the beach, complete with cookout and private tents to keep us out of the sun and birds. We also took a bush walk to the top of the hill with breathtaking views. The last day on the Island was just a relaxing day and it was just the perfect end to the best trip of our lives.
I give you and Swain and the Shangri-La all five stars.
Thank you Derek for making a trip of a lifetime incredible!
Russ & Marlene R.