Fleeta's Queensland

by Fleeta Kilczycki on 28 May 2012, 13:05PM Fleeta's Queensland

I was lucky enough to be selected to attend a familiarisation trip to Queensland, Australia and at the end of April I set off with three other travel agents on this trip of a lifetime, hosted by the Queensland Tourist Board.

We flew with Etihad Airlines from London Heathrow, a fantastic airline which made our long journey comfortable and enjoyable, with free-flowing drinks and great food and entertainment. After landing in Brisbane at 9am, it was a quick freshen up in the airport and straight into our itinerary- no rest for the wicked but I certainly wasn’t complaining as I’d been studying the itinerary on the journey and couldn’t wait to experience all that was planned.

Our first stop was Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, which is the world’s first and largest of its kind and home to a huge range of Australian wildlife including kangaroos, wild lorikeets, wombats, dingoes, Tasmanian devils, snakes, birds of prey and of course, koalas. We had a great tour of the sanctuary which ended with the wonderful experience of a koala cuddle!

After a lunch at the sanctuary we set off our hotel – the Mantra Southbank. We had a speedy check in and then had a few hours to relax and explore the hotel and its facilities. The hotel is a 13 storey development with 161 rooms divided into 78 studio apartments, 75 one-bedroom apartments and eight two-bedroom apartments. The rooms are very comfortable and spacious and the attached 'Stone' restaurant serves excellent food, you should certainly make use of the happy hour at the bar before heading out for dinner. Another selling point of this hotel is the heated lap pool, unique in that it is part of a street overhang. Its transparent side allows those at street level to view swimmers in action.

Our pre-dinner activity that evening was a ride on the Wheel of Brisbane, which allowed us to enjoy 360 degree views of the city- and seeing it from a height of 60 metres.

Dinner was back at the hotel, just a 10 minute walk from the Wheel of Brisbane, after a good feed I collapsed into bed, happy but exhausted!

Day 2
No chance to unpack as it was up early and checking out of the hotel and a drive to our next destination- Springbrook Farm, a four hour drive from Brisbane. Springbrook is a two thousand five hundred acre cattle property comprising open grazing land and blue gum ridges.

The Farm has an old Queenslander home with wide verandahs and wonderful countryside views. It is a peaceful place with a saltwater pool and time can be spent either relaxing or taking part in the farm activities.

After a few hours here we were back in the bus and on to our next base- Oceans in the town of Moolooaba on the Sunshine Coast. The property offers luxurious one/two/three bedroom apartments with full kitchen and living area. Beautifully ornate and in a superb location facing the ocean. Great for couples and groups of friends/family, not so ideal for very young children as lots of glass/doors/mirrors.

While in Mooloolaba be sure to dine at 'Bella Venezia', a restaurant and bar serving delicious Italian food just a few steps from 'Oceans'.

Day 3
We said goodbye to Mooloolaba Beach and set off to Noosa where we were staying at Breakfree French Quarter- apartment style property, clean and comfortable with old style units mixed with modern furniture. The nearby restaurant and bar 'Cafe Le Monde' serves up a great and varied menu.

While in Noosa set a day aside for taking a boat trip out to the beautiful Everglades for a chance to view wildlife, step ashore for some short walks and dine on a yummy Aussie BBQ cooked for you while you take in the scenery or take a dip in the tranquil waters. This is a great family friendly place.

Our Noosa Everglades cruise took us along the pristine Noosa River, lakes and into the dark, tranquil, mirrored waterways of the Everglades. The Noose River is the only river system in Australia that has its entire upper catchment protected in National Park. The cruise provided a great opportunity to observe and photograph the abundance of wildlife in their natural habitat.

Day 4
It was back to Brisbane airport to board a flight to Gladstone, just over an hours flight away and the gateway to Heron Island.

Heron Island really is a special place and is particularly great for wildlife, snorkel and dive enthusiasts. It’s a natural coral cay 72kms off the coast of Queensland and being right on the reef means that you can snorkel off the beach.

Accommodation here is rustic on the outside but bright, modern, clean and comfortable inside , no TV's . Be sure to keep the patio doors closed as you may be inviting some local wildlife into your room! As night falls make sure you turn off your room lights when leaving or draw the curtains as the turtle hatchlings will be confused, they use the moonlight to head towards the ocean. The room rate includes full meals, some nights buffet style others a la carte.

I would suggest a minimum of three nights to give you time to partake in certain activities such as snorkelling, glass bottom boat tour, diving and an island walk to name a few. There are two modes of transport to get to Heron, either by a 2.5 hr speedboat or 45 minute helicopter which is definitely worth the extra cost for the spectacular views. If you can afford it take a helicopter both ways as depending on the seas the boat ride can be a little rough, otherwise stay on deck and you shouldn't be seasick, I wish I had taken this advise myself!. The property is child friendly.

Day 5
This morning we experienced the reef without getting our feet wet- on board a semi submersible boat! Definitely recommended for families as it’s a great chance to learn more about the reef.

After a spectacular buffet lunch at Shearwater Restaurant we had the afternoon at leisure. There are more than 20 different dive sites to explore on Heron Island, more than half of which are just 15 minutes from the beach. Acres of living, unspoiled coral are literally teeming with fish, its easy to see why serious divers keep coming back to Heron Island time and time again. One of the dive sites ‘The Heron Bommie’ have been described by Jacques Cousteau as being one of his top ten favourite dive sites.

Day 6
After breakfast and check out our group left Heron Island in style- by helicopter! We transferred to Gladstone Airport and flew from there with Qantas Airlines to Brisbane and from there it was on to O’Reillys Rainforest Retreat in Lamington National Park.

A true nature paradise, two hours south of Brisbane or one and a half hours south-west of the Gold Coast. Lamington National Park is World Heritage Listed and is the largest sub-tropical rainforest in Australia. It is home to over 200 bird varieties, 500 waterfalls and has 160 kilometres of walking tracks. O'Reilly's is famous for its Tree Top Walk which offers visitors a close up view of the rainforest canopy and its wildlife. You can explore on your own or take advantage of the guided Discovery Program. The Discovery Program includes guided walks, four wheel drive bus trips, nocturnal walks and glow worm walks, flying fox rides, slide shows and much more. Walk through lush rainforests, past waterfalls, under tree gardens of ferns and orchids, and into the unspoilt world that is yours to explore.

At the end of a busy day exploring, you can pamper yourself at O'Reilly's new Lost World Spa, a haven for rejuvenation and relaxation. The rooms are spacious, clean and comfortable. The restaurant offers a gorgeous menu and the entire staff from the front desk to guides to waiters are a delight. I would suggest a minimum of two nights, three for a more leisurely time, but be warned there are no tv's in the room! The property is child friendly. 

During our stay at Reilly’s we experienced a guided walk, the evening Glow Warm Tour and a Bird Walk the next morning.

Day 7
Our whistle stop visit to Reilly’s came to an end and this morning we were Dreamworld- Australia’s largest theme park with the tallest to the fastest thrill rides, to interactive shows and unique animal attractions, Dreamworld is home to Tiger Island, The Australian Wildlife Experience, Wiggles World, Alien v. Predator (AVPX), V8 Supercars RedLine, FlowRider and the Big 7 Thrill Rides, including the new BuzzSaw, Tower of Terror II, the Giant Crop and ‘The Claw’.

And it was from an action packed morning that we moved on to an even more exterem afternoon- with a ride on a jet boat. – the ultimate mix of adrenalin packaed adventure with high speed spins, turns, twists and slides, it was lucky I hadn’t eaten a big lunch that’s for sure! As well as the thrills of the ride you also get to enjoy the beautiful scenery, along the Gold Coast Broadwater, where pods of dolphins or wallabies feeding on Sovereign Island’s foreshore.

After such an action packed day we headed off to our hotel for the night- the Palazzo Versace, which has been voted Australia’s most luxurious hotel. With 205 classically elegant rooms, 72 condominiums, three restaurants, two bars, Salus per Aquum spa and a Gianni Versace boutique providing the ultimate Versace experience. The furniture in each room is unmistakenly Versace – whether part of the signature Versace Homeware Collection, or created specifically for the hotel. Italian architecture and craftmanship have created a new experience in design and living.

True luxury and opulence best describes this hotel. Excellent non stuffy service. It is child friendly but I am not sure I would want my toddler charging around the lobby or bumping his head on the glass doors in the bathroom. The restaurants serve up a great lunch and dinner menu and a glorious buffet breakfast.
Unfortunately it was only an overnight stay here as the next morning we set off for the journey back home, all exhausted but having had a thoroughly enjoyable time.

Queensland really is a wonderful holiday destination, with so many different experiences to be had, there is something there for everyone.

To speak to Fleeta about your next holiday to Queensland, you can call her on 020 3139 7482

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