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November 2022

By Steve Orens, President, Plaza Travel

How far away is Australia? If you live on the West Coast, it’s about the same as Europe. If you live anywhere else in the United States, it’s closer than Africa! I know many of you have Australia on your bucket list – have you planned your trip yet? Well, there’s no time like the present.

Late last year I had the joy of spending 17 days in Australia, and I can’t wait to go back. This was my third trip “Down Under!” A common misconception is that Australia is a one trip destination. How many times have you been to Europe? Australia is about the same size as the United States, but only has about 25 million people, compared to the US at about 330 million or California with about 40 million people.

Sydney Harbor Bridge, Australia
Steve taking a selfie on a beach in Australia

I haven’t yet visited Central or West Australia, but I very much enjoyed many places on the East side of Australia. On this trip I explored the following places:

The Australian Outback

  • Took a 40-minute helicopter flight from Cairns
  • Stayed at Mt. Mulligan Lodge, an outback luxury resort in Queensland
  • We hiked, explored a coal mine and gold mine, watched amazing sunrises, and kayaked
  • Amazing food, great accommodations, and a great engaging staff

Mt. Mulligan Lodge

Steve kayaking in Australia
Exploring the Australian Outback
Mt. Mulligan Lodge

South Australia

  • Of course I got to hold a Koala in Adelaide
  • Took a private plane to the Flinders Ranges
    • Here we explored Aboriginal culture
    • We stayed at the Prairie Hotel which felt like the middle of nowhere, yet we explored mountains and fossils and enjoyed more amazing people, food, and service
  • Flew back to Adelaide by private plane
    • We dined at the best restaurant in Australia
    • Exceptional 4-hour wine-paired meal in a private setting
  • South Australia has it all

Steve holding a Koala

Steve smiling before boarding the private plane
Prairie Hotel, Australia
Dining in a private setting


  • We enjoyed the Melbourne Cup horse race
    • It's a national holiday (yes, on a Tuesday!)
  • Melbourne has some great restaurants, art galleries, and a few streets dedicated to graffiti art

Melbourne Cup

Graffiti in Melbourne

The Great Ocean Road

  • While you can divide the Great Ocean Road into a few days, we did it round-trip form Melbourne in a day. While a 10+ hour day, it was amazing and beautiful.
  • We enjoyed a helicopter over the Twelve Apostles, a natural formation of limestone stacks on the coast
Great Ocean Road in Australia
Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road
Great Ocean Road, Australia
Steve in a helicopter over The Great Ocean Road


  • We finished our weeks away in Sydney
    • Of course we had to enjoy a boat ride around Sydney Harbor
    • Another "must do" is the Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb
    • There are numerous beaches all around the area. I enjoyed a great Sunday brunch at Manly Beach, just a short ferry ride from downtown Sydney

Steve on a Sydney Harbor boat ride

Steve at the top of Sydney Harbor Bridge

I felt I really had time to enjoy so many wonderful places in Australia. While I did move around a lot and live out of a suitcase, Australia is a great destination. The people I met throughout my trip were among the nicest I’ve ever met abroad.

I hope the outline format has shown how much you can do. And remember, Australia is not as far away as you think, and it’s a destination that should be visited more than once.

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