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 Islands Information

Place: Australia

Today, Norm Goldman, Editor of sketchandtravel.com is pleased to have as our guest, Ruth Grau, President of Springboard Vacations Inc.

 







Ruth is an expert on
Australia and she is here to share her knowledge about this beautiful country.

 

 

Good day Ruth and thanks for agreeing to participate in our interview.

Ruth, could you tell us something about yourself and Springboard Vacations Inc.

 

Ruth:

Thanks for chatting with me!  I was born and raised in the outback of Australia and moved to the States about 12 years ago.  I worked for several wholesale and supplier companies before starting Springboard Vacations.    As a wife, mother of 2 and busy executive I understand what people are looking for when planning romantic honeymoons, family vacations and luxury escapes!

Five years ago we set out to do something different: to offer travelers to the South Pacific vacation experiences that were far from ordinary.  Vacations that are indulgent, hip, cool - even sexy.  Designing unique, personal itineraries is an art form we relish.  Along with experience & know-how it takes an artistic flare, an intriguing digression from the beaten path, and an ending with flourish. We're inspired to create unique, sophisticated escapes.   And we love kids.  We know how important traveling as a family is so we offer Cool Capers with Kids vacations.  It seems a lot of people like their vacations like this and these people have made Springboard Vacations the fastest growing US travel company specializing in travel to the South Pacific. For more information call 1.866.447.7746

Norm:

 

Could you tell our readers something about the geography of Australia and how the different areas vary?

Ruth:

Australia is approximately the same size as Continental USA.  But it only has the same population as Los Angeles.  Lots of wide open spaces.  Approx 66% of the country is desert so most of the population is located near the coast line. The east coast being the most highly populated.  The weather is the opposite of the USA.  Climate like Florida tropical and warm year round is in the northern areas like Darwin and Cairns.  The more temperate and seasonal regions like Seattle are in the south like Tasmania.  In the north east you get beautiful tropical weather, sandy beaches and perfect islands.  Sydney is your classic sophisticated city experience with such icons as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House.  Alice Springs is gateway to the desert region.  Really the great thing about Australia is that you can really get everything!

Norm:

 

If you had to choose 6 of the most romantic venues in Australia, which ones would they be and why?

 

Ruth:

Well I had my honeymoon in the wine region of the ***Barossa Valley in South Australia so I would have to vote for that!  Lots of rolling green hills, good wine and great food coupled with some really unique historic accommodation options.

***Orpheus Island on the Great Barrier Reef is the perfect romantic island escape.  Strictly limited to 42 pampered guests in 21 rooms, Orpheus is a sophisticated, relaxed retreat offering exquisite cuisine, premium service and total seclusion.

For a sophisticated city stay, you can't go past the ***Shangri-La Sydney Deluxe corner Suite.  With magnificent views over all Sydney Harbour, you don't even have to get out of bed to watch the world go past!  But the deep bath with windows that come the bath edge is a good reason to get up.

***Thala Beach Lodge is an exclusive private lodge, which sits spectacularly on a ridge hidden amongst a Eucalyptus forest, overlooking a magnificent beach, just 10 minutes south of Port Douglas.

***Palazzo Versace is the House of Versace's first Hotel.  Extraordinarily elegant and glamorous, it is the ideal hotel in a resort location to spoil yourself.  Rooms are gorgeous with signature Versace design elements embellishing the walls and furnishings.

***The Lake House is a small luxury hotel set on the shore of Lake Daylesford in Australia's Spa Country located about 90 minutes from Melbourne.  With picturesque waterfront views, one of Australia's best restaurants, a cellar of over 10,000 bottles and a state of the art spa, this is where you want to go to bliss out.

Norm:

 

When is the best time to visit Australia and how easy or difficult is it to travel to Australia from North America or Europe?

Ruth:

The great thing about Australia is that there is no best or worst time.  Because of the size and weather of the country there is always somewhere great to go.  Dec- Mar is summer so it is best to visit the southern states like Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia.  June- August is winter time and perfect for heading into the outback or the tropical north of Darwin or Cairns.  Spring and fall are great all around the country.  Air fares are highest at Christmas time Dec - Feb and lowest April - August.  It is very easy to get to Australia from North America.  Non-stop flights from Los Angeles leave daily.  Qantas fly from LA non-stop to Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.  Flights depart the US at night time so after a nice meal, a movie and a good nights sleep you will wake up in friendly Australia in time for breakfast and a day of exploration.

Norm:

 

How costly is travel within Australia and how does it compare with Europe or North America?

Ruth:

The best way to get around Australia is to fly as the distances are great.  The best deals are bought here in the US before you depart.  Air Passes that include your International flights to and from Australia also include 3 domestic flights within Australia.  This is an amazing deal starting at $999.  Hotels, meals and sightseeing are very competitively priced and much cheaper than travel within Europe.  The exchange rate is also working in your favor.  It only cost $0.78 for one Aussie dollar whereas the Euro will cost you $1.30USD.  So you are doubling your value right there.

Norm:

 

Can you tell our readers something about the Great Barrier and the resorts?

Ruth:

The Great Barrier Reef stretches 1200 miles along the northeast coast of Australia and can be seen from space!  There are many islands that you can stay on.  Some are sand islands like Fraser Island, some are coral cays like Heron Island and some are continental islands like Hayman Island. This makes every island a different experience.  If you want to dive off the beach you can, if you want to see turtles breeding, birds nesting or pure fine white sand you can find all these things easily.  Some islands are perfect for families, some for honeymooners and they are all perfect for great scenery and stunning sunsets.

 
The Whitsundays is a great place for yachting.   You can also overnight on the reef sleeping on a pontoon platform.  Most people go out on the reef from
Cairns.  You can do day trips on large boats that pull up to pontoons, smaller sail boats that take you to remote uninhabited islands or else you can do 3, 4 or 7 night cruises on small cruise vessels like the Coral Princess.

Norm:

 

Can you tell our readers something about Aboriginal experiences and camping safaris?

Ruth:

Nowadays you can find Aboriginal experiences in all cities.  Of course Ayers Rock (Uluru) is probably what everyone knows best.  Aboriginal guides will share their Dreamtime stories and culture on walking tours, night tours through song, dance and art.  In Adelaide you can visit Tandanya Aboriginal Culture Center.  In Sydney take one of the tours of the city that explains the aboriginal history of this area.  Aboriginal art is a great gift to bring home.  Unique and colorful it is very popular.  For magnificent rock art, Darwin and Kakadu National Park are hard to beat. 

Camping safaris are available in the Red Center from Ayers Rock or Alice Springs.  Another popular place for camping trips is out of Darwin.  Whether you want 2 nights or 10, you can go it alone or take a tour that features permanent tents with very comfortable bedding but still gives you the chance for campfire stories and a chance to see the skies shine with stars. 

Norm:

 

Where is the Kakadu National Park and why is it Australia's most famous park?

Ruth:

Kakadu National Park is east of Darwin in the north east corner of the Northern territory.  It is an incredible place to see estuarine crocodiles and millions of birds.  The wildlife is abundant especially at the end of the dry season when the water levels are low and everyone must live closer together.  Taking a cruise in Yellow Waters is a must do.  The park is also filled with Aboriginal Rock paintings and Aboriginal history.  Local guides explain the art and history of the region.

Norm:

 

Where is Kangaroo Island and why is it considered to be one of the most unspoiled natural wonders?

Ruth:

Kangaroo Island is off the south coast near Adelaide.  It is a short flight or a drive and ferry from Adelaide to the island.  It is one of Australia s largest islands and is mostly farm country and National Park.  Here you will find great natural wonders carved by the rugged Antarctic winds and rough seas.  These include Admirals Arch and Remarkable Rocks.  Home to a huge koala and kangaroo population you are bound to see them everywhere.  Also seals on Seal Beach and cute little fairy penguins that come ashore each night.  There is now a growing range of accommodation options from farm stays to luxurious homes, motels and hotels.   

Norm:

 

Is there anything else you wish to comment about that we have not covered?

Ruth:

Family travel is very popular to Australia.  Our Cool Capers for Kids brochure features the best accommodations and activities for families.  Whether the kids are toddlers or teenagers there really is something for everyone.  With lots of apartment style accommodation, families can have kitchen and laundry facilities to help pave the way for a smooth trip.  So plan trips to the Aquarium, behind the scenes Zoo tours, museums, surf schools, steam train rides, Ghost tours, Bridgeclimb and so much more.

There is such a diversity of products and experiences that Australia can really provide a great vacation for everyone.  Prices are not as high as people think and there is definitely value for money.  For more information call 1.866.447.7746.

Thanks once again