Maddie’s Field Notes from Australia

Maddie shares the highlights from her trip to Sydney

Having recently returned from two weeks in Australia, Maddie – from our London team – shares some highlights and photographs from her travels.

The first of the team to head down under since the country reopened, Maddie found time for some all-important field research – quality assuring a couple of our properties and experiences along the way (a very major perk of working for a luxury travel company). And by the sound of things, they didn’t disappoint.

A vacation three years in the making

My reason for my trip this summer was twofold: to see all the sights in and around Sydney, but also to visit and spend time with my partner’s family. Almost three years in the making, it felt surreal to finally, actually be there. To experience places I’d only ever seen in photographs and meet people I’d only ever spoken to over FaceTime calls. And of course (it goes without saying) I arrived with a bucket list longer than my arm. Literally.

Australia travel
Australia travel

The best vacation spots in Australia: from Bondi to Bronte

Even in Australian winter (which, as it turns out, is delightfully sunny), time spent at the beach is a cornerstone of the laid-back Aussie lifestyle. Every inch the turquoise water and soft sand cliché, I was almost surprised that so many completely beautiful beaches could exist in the centre of a big city – but I guess that’s the perk. It’s a sleep-on-the-sand-in-your-lunchbreak, just-popping-for-a-swim kind of place. You don’t get that ten-thousand miles across the world in London.

First things first, it wouldn’t be a trip to Sydney without a visit to Bondi. After a pause to watch the surfers, we followed the path around the cliffs towards Bronte Beach. This was a nice gentle walk – a perfect opportunity to soak up some sunshine and take in some sweeping coastal sights. This was also a highlight because of the mango smoothie and cheesy garlic portobello mushroom toastie I had at Heart Café afterwards. So good.

But of all the beaches I scouted out, Redleaf Beach in the Eastern Suburbs was my favourite place to relax – especially whilst I was adjusting to a new time zone (I took at least three naps there). Think good coffee with a soundtrack of gently crashing waves. A secluded shore, Redleaf also has a jetty that extends out and along to create a pool border – so even if you’re not up for a dip, you can walk out over clear waters for some serious harbour views. Perhaps the locals won’t thank me for giving away their hidden gem (sorry Sydneysiders), but we’re all about sharing discoveries from our own journeys with our travellers. So now you know.

Australia travel
Australia travel

Hitting up the icons

A music and theatre lover through and through, seeing a performance at the iconic Sydney Opera House was high up on my bucket list – and an Australian original musical seemed like a good place to start. ‘Fangirls’ in the drama theatre was brilliant. Unforgettable. One of those where you walk in not knowing what you’re going to get – and walk out having roared with laughter and then cried all within the space of a scene.

I’d recommend sitting outside for a drink at Opera Bar afterwards, too. At night, all the big city lights reflect off the waters of the harbour – it’s a very lovely sight. Sandwiched between the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, I think this was the first moment where I felt “wow I’m really in Sydney, Australia, halfway across the world”. That was cool.

luxury travel
luxury holidays in Australia

Somewhere I could stay forever. And ever.

When I told our team of luxury Travel Experts that I was headed to New South Wales, they told me that if I stayed in one property, it absolutely had to be Pretty Beach House. I trust them implicitly, so we drove north towards the Central Coast to do just that. And what a stay it was. Being greeted with a glass of champagne is never a bad start to a trip. But from the moment we arrived, we knew we were somewhere incredibly special.

Our home for the night, the property’s ‘Bayview Pavilion’, was nothing short of a dream. Woodburning stove, private plunge pool, balcony with a view, heated bathroom flooring, the comfiest bed complete with massage mattress. You get the idea.

And stepping out for a four-course dinner with wine pairings, things only got better and better. Butternut pumpkin soup with crispy kale and crab; Orange roughy fillet with samphire, olives and almonds; perfectly cooked Wagyu sirloin; an Eton mess with lemon curd and white chocolate. Yes, it was the best meal of my life to date. No, we did not want to leave.

Ready to plot your route?

A country that has inspired everything we do. From soaring over the Great Barrier Reef in your own private plane to dining under the stars whilst listening to thousand-year-old Indigenous fables. Australia is at your fingertips.

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On The Rocks

Back in Sydney, we were lucky to spend a night at Crown Towers – one of the newer hotels in the very heart of the city. Polished and modern; sleek and new. The views from our suite on the twenty-fourth floor were quite spectacular. All those classic shots of Sydney Harbour from above were suddenly just what we saw when we looked out of the window. As you do.

Crown Towers sits within easy walking distance of The Rocks (a very trendy neighbourhood packed with lovely shops, bars, restaurants and a market). Naturally, we went for a stroll around. Coming out from a pint at the Lord Nelson, Sydney’s oldest pub brewery, the sun had set – and we caught an impromptu (and very impressive) display of fireworks being set off from a boat.

Back at the hotel, our view had changed again – from brilliantly blue to brilliantly bright. I loved seeing the city all lit up by night. After all, it’s not every evening you take a bubble bath with a view over Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Australia travel
Best vacation spots in Australia

My own question, answered

One day, I made the trip west to investigate whether the Blue Mountains are really as blue as they say. Despite some initial scepticism, I wasn’t disappointed. Having grown up hiking through them all the time, my partner very patiently waited for me to stop staring at the view. Huge, vast sandstone ridges, cloaked in native bushland. The landscape really seemed to extend for miles, shrouded in shades of blue. Once I’d taken it all in (and taken enough photographs) we set out on one of many hiking trails.

It actually started pouring down with heavy rain in the middle of our otherwise lovely walk – a factor which you’d think would have firmly exiled this day from my trip highlights. But this created the most incredible cloud formations which hung over the mountains, and I loved seeing the landscape transform as it took on this misty, moody, brooding character. Every cloud has a silver lining etc.

Blue Mountains, Australia
Blue Mountains, Australia

A Sydney summary

I could keep writing for ages and ages, paragraph after paragraph. But that would undoubtedly bore anyone still reading, and I have lots of other things to be getting on with. The bottom line is this: Australia is back with a bang. And you should go.

When you’re ready to start planning, we’ll set you up with one of our Australia luxury Travel Experts – Alys, Jihane, Ant, Ettanya or Ian. In the meantime, they look forward to hearing from you.

Take me there