Blog Archives: Australia


The Wow Factor

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Solar Eclipse

Our relationships and close contacts overseas make it possible to create truly bespoke and beyond the ordinary experiences for those that travel with us. We have our own favourite travel moments, a truly out of this world place or experience. What will be your next Steppes wow moment?

Australia

Commission a piece of original Aborginal artwork and watch it being created, go mud crabbing and dine on your catch at a remote beach or lunch in a submarine under Sydney Harbour. Australia is full of fun experiences if you know the right people. See our blog on the benefits of booking Australia with Steppes.

Experience Australia

Yirrganydji Aboriginal men play Aboriginal music on didgeridoo and wooden instrument during Aboriginal culture show in Queensland, Australia

India

Sublime in both location and experience and arguably beyond the ordinary, the converted 18th century palace Raas Devigarh, stands like a mirage above the sleepy village of Delwara. Tucked away in the Aravalli hills of Rajasthan.

Devigarh landscape

For an experience to remember, let us arrange private candlelit dining in the magnificent and atmospheric Sheesh Mahal mirrored room. The cuisine here is cutting-edge contemporary using regional flavours. Taste the traditional thali’s and the delicious rose-petal ice cream.

Sheesh mahal Devigarh
Kumbh Mela 2019

Not for the faint-hearted but seriously beyond the ordinary. Experience the incredible Kumbh Mela, the largest spiritual congregation in the world. The next one is at Allahabad from 19th January – 6th March 2019.

Sadhu in Varanasi, India

Stay at the Sangam Nivas luxury camp specially curated for you to experience the festival with en-suite luxury tents, a wellness centre and Satvik vegetarian food.

Experience India

Super Luxury Deluxe Tent A int Kumbh Mela Sangam Nivas Allahabad

Madagascar

“Watching the sun rise over the lunar landscape of Andringitra is a moment I’m instantly aware that I will never forget. Standing in the shadow of the towering granite cliffs behind me, dragonflies hovering in the still air.”
– Chris Johnston our Madagascan expert.

Andringrita Massif Madagascar

“For luck,” says my guide Justin, as he bends down to pick up a pinch of earthy dust. He places it carefully in his pocket. I find out later that such is the Malagasy love of home that whenever they leave, they take a small handful of soil with them to ensure their safe return. 

Read Chris’s Blog.

Madagascar guide

Alaska

Ultima Thule Lodge Flying Safari

Located 100 miles from the nearest road, in the middle of the largest protected wilderness on earth is Ultima Thule Lodge. Set within the wild and remote Wrangell-St Elias National Preserve.

Explore the area by plane, landing amidst remote and pristine scenery where literally no-one has set foot before.

Experience the Alaskan Wilderness

Ultima Thule Lodge plane and landscape

New Zealand

Fly by helicopter through Milford Sound, land on a remote beach for some beach combing while your pilot heads off shore to haul in a crabbing cage containing a freshly caught crayfish. Hop back in the heli for a scenic flight through the mountains to a beautiful lodge for a lunch of probably the freshest crayfish you will ever experience. Sound good – that’s what our travel expert Amy did on her trip to New Zealand earlier this year. Book now for Jan/Feb.

Experience New Zealand

New Zealand heli doubtful sound

Turkey

Float high above the unique landscape of Cappadocia in a hot air balloon and sleep deep underground. In the heart of Cappadocia on the site of an ancient monastery in Old Uçhisar Village, Argos hotel has carefully restored the remains of historical dwellings, underground tunnels and caves to offer not only an unsurpassed place to stay but a unique perspective.

Experience Cappadocia 

Hot air balloon flying over rock landscape at Cappadocia, Turkey

Japan

Explore Tokyo with a resident photographer,  visit the renowned Tsukiji fish market and learn to make your own sushi. In Kyoto you can explore by bicycle, visiting the temples before dining with a geisha.

Experience Japan

Maiko geisha in Kyoto, Japan

Chile

For an out of this world moment, witness the solar eclipse in Chile on 2nd July 2019.  For this most optically awesome observation, we can book you a seat on board an innovative flight to carry you above the clouds in a Boeing 787-­9 taking off from Easter Island and chasing the eclipse for up to 9 minutes of its interstellar journey. This is about three times more than ground observers will see and close to a maximum limit for total eclipse viewing. Please call for details.

Experience Chile

Solar Eclipse and passenger airplane in the clouds

Republic of Congo

Explore the wildlife riches hidden deep within the dense forests of the Odzala National Park. Track lowland gorillas and encounter forest elephants in a jungle wilderness that hides in the far north of Congo.

Experience Republic of Congo

The Benefits of Booking Australia with Steppes

Francoise Peron, Shark Bay, Australia

We all know we can book Australia ourselves – an English speaking county, flights on the internet and a cheap Airbnb. However, there are experiences you can’t get without the advice and insider knowledge of the team at Steppes Travel. It is these elements that go to make a holiday special and memorable. We’ve collated a few of our favourites below.

1) Meeting Local Characters

Only with insider knowledge can visitors to Australia spend time with local characters who can share their own experiences. Spend a few days with Sab Lord up in Kakadu and Arnhemland to discover more about this ancient landscape and cultures. Take surf lessons in Byron Bay with former US surf champion. Rusty Miller. Spend time in the company of real life Tasmanian bushman, Craig ‘Bushie’ Williams, listen to stories over the campfire whilst searching for Tasmanian wildlife.

2) Making a Difference

Want to give something back when travelling? Steppes have a strong ethos on making a difference and can advise on how to support local conservation efforts. Visit Arkaba Station, once a cattle station and now home to an award-winning wildlife conservancy where guests can assist with tasks such as tracking feral cat and monitoring camera traps. For marine conservation visit Lady Elliot Island whose conservation efforts range from a check and assessment program of the Great Barrier Reef to replanting important island flora and fauna. Aiming to be fully sustainable by 2020, Lady Elliot Island is quite rightly proud of its conversation efforts.

3) A Different Perspective

Want to explore on foot but not sure where to start. Our experience means we can suggest one of the Great Walks of Australia, the perfect way to get outside and really experience Australia’s diverse landscape. From the UNESCO world heritage sites of Tasmania, the rocky outcrops of the West MacDonnell Ranges in the Red Centre to the Scenic Rim Trail in South East Queensland, these guided walks cover some of Australia’s most ravishing scenery.

4) Far from the madding crowd

Australia is home to some blissful and lesser visited islands. Include a few days at one or explore a number such as the uninhabited Maria Island off Tasmania, the prehistoric peaks of Lord Howe with only 400 visitors at a time, the private castaway island of Haggerstone and the sublime Lizard Island, on the Great Barrier Reef.  While away a few luxurious days exploring, mud-crabbing and dining on the catch on a remote beach.

5) Unique Experiences

Want to sleep under the stars but unsure about the local wildlife? Try swagging. Swagging is a deluxe reinvention of a bushman’s bedroll out and literally translates to travelling with one’s personal belongings in a bundle. One of the most magical ways to experience Australia’s wilderness is to spend a night sleeping in the open and there are a number of places where it is possible to experience this unique stay. Travel by helicopter to enjoy a luxury bush dinner before sleeping out under the stars.

6) Planes, Trains and Automobiles

There are many ways to get around Australia – self-drive is a great option or if time-poor you can hop on a plane. For a truly leisurely way to see more of the country, train travel is one of our favourite. What about the Ghan from Darwin to Adelaide or the Indian Pacific from Perth to Sydney. Cross this huge country in comfort while rolling countryside, sprawling outback and mountains roll past. Stop to visit remote gold mining towns and cattle stations as well as some of the most vibrant cities of Australia.

7) The Less Obvious Choice

Want to swim with whale sharks, humpback whales or snorkel with over 500 species of fish? Spend a few days at Sal Salis on Ningaloo Reef, the less visited alternative to the Great Barrier Reef. Support the work being done to conserve the three breeds of turtle found on the reef with a guided walk and a picnic on a deserted beach. Better still the tiny town of Coral Bay, bordering the reef is home to some of Australia’s best Aussie pies – surely worth a try?

8) Urban Secrets

Urban secrets – let’s not forget the eclectic cities and towns of Australia. Home to a buzzing restaurant and art scene, these cities can offer the perfect balance to an itinerary showcasing the great outdoors. From lunch in a submarine under Sydney Harbour or a day’s sailing on a private yacht, learning the art of graffiti with a lesson in Melbourne, often considered Australia’s most European city, to commissioning an artwork by an Aboriginal artist and visiting them while they create it.

Australia – north to south by any means necessary

Airboating, Mary River Floodplains, Bamurru Plains

With Australia being over 31 times the size of the UK, careful itinerary planning is an essential part of building the perfect holiday to Australia to avoid wasting time.  Certain distances have to be covered to make the most out of any visit so why not think about incorporating the travel into part of the experience…

Starting the journey in Australia’s wild north, take a three day tour from Darwin with Lords Safaris. Travel into Kakadu wetlands area, a World Heritage Listed National Park, on an iconic Yellow Water Cruise. As you glide across the pristine billabong keep your eyes peeled for a jumping saltwater crocodile, a spectacular sea eagle or the impressive sight of a Jacana walking on water. This is certainly a bird enthusiast’s dream come true with more than 280 different bird species inhabiting this region alone, many of which can also be spotted from airboat when you traverse the floodplains of the Mary River catchments. Stay at Bamurru Plains, a high comfort lodge in the middle of the Australian Bush. The nine chic and spacious bungalows are built on stilts and overlook the floodplains. The ingenious mesh screens down three sides of the bungalow provide a unique chance to feel connected with the wildlife that passes by.

Move away from the water and into the outback by boarding the Ghan Expedition with Great Southern Rail. This epic 2,979 km north-south journey leaves Darwin and four days later arrives in Adelaide. Named after the cameleers who came to Australia from Afghanistan, this deluxe train is run by a 50 strong crew who provide impressive food and drink choices and service to match top-end hotels. Cabins are well-designed and immaculately presented and the lounge and dining areas offer opportunities to socialise and share the endlessness of the extraordinary outback views.

After stopping to explore Katherine Gorge, Alice Springs appears with the next sunrise. From here depart the train and head into the sky on a 90 minute scenic flight on a fixed-wing plane over Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Each passenger is guaranteed a window seat to access the wonders of Central Australia and whilst the striking rock formation of Ayers Rocks viewed from above against a backdrop of classic outback scenery will amaze even the seasoned traveller, it may be Gosse’s Bluff that astonishes the most as the five kilometre diameter meteor crater can be viewed clearly, even from space.

 

The Ghan then rolls into the green fields of the wine-producing valleys on its way into Adelaide and the end of this luxurious rail journey. Take some time in Adelaide to feel the ground under your feet before hopping on a 34 seat Saab 340 turboprop plane to Kangaroo Island. Representatives from Exceptional Kangaroo Island will meet you on arrival and whisk you away in a four-wheel drive for a two day tour. True to its name, kangaroos are found in abundance, but the island is also the home to various pinnipeds, koalas and wallabies. The guides grant you special access to some of these endemic animals without disturbing their natural behaviours, giving you an intimate and unforgettable experience.

The vehicle transports you easily around the island stopping for scenic lunches and time to discover the incredible natural wind-carved sculptures along the coastline as well as driving through the distinctive redgum forests. Overnight in the opulent Southern Ocean Lodge with spectacular views from the secluded cliff-top location as you relax into the beauty of the retreat with some gastronomic delights.

Finish your holiday by heading back to Adelaide satisfied that you have taken full advantage of every chance to explore by any means necessary.

Ray Mears explores the Australian wilderness this autumn on ITV

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Aboriginal man, Arnhemland

Ray Mears will be back on our screens this autumn meeting the wildlife and people of the Australian wilderness. Over seven episodes he will spend time with tribes, learning ancient Aboriginal survival skills and travel from the outback to the coast, through ancient forests, mangroves and mountains.

In South Australia’s Flinders Ranges he will take to the skies to observe Australia’s largest bird of prey, the wedge-tailed eagle. Named due to its long diamond-shaped tail this magnificent bird is capable of hunting prey that is several times its own weight.  South of the Flinders, off the coast of Adelaide, is Kangaroo Island. This rugged, untouched isle is home to mobs of kangaroo, sea lions and the echidna, an egg-laying mammal with a beak like a bird which Ray sights here for the first time.

On the west coast of Australia, he will swim with whale sharks on the Ningaloo Reef, meet the charming quokka and search for fossilised teeth of the biggest shark ever to have lived, the megalodon. On the Dampier Peninsula, huge tidal currents have shaped a magical coastline.

In the Northern Territories, he spends time with tribespeople from the Murrumburrah clan, learning how they live in partnership and harmony with the land rather than exploiting it. Aboriginal culture in this part of Australia is strong and in the National Parks of Kakadu and Nitmiluk, he encounters one of the world’s fiercest predators, the saltwater crocodile and a colony of flying fox bats.

Steppes Big 5: Australian Swagging Experiences

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One of the most magical ways to experience Australia’s wilderness is to spend a night sleeping in the open, under a twinkling starry sky, in a luxury swag (a deluxe reinvention of a bushman’s bedroll!). Swagging literally means to Travel with one’s personal belongings in a bundle. There are a number of places where it is possible to experience luxury swag camping and with such a lot of sky and relatively few people Australia has some of the most stunning star studded heavens.

Bamurru Plains, Kakadu

Stay at this wonderful remote bush lodge on the edge of Kakadu National Park and after your chef prepared three course evening meal head out to The Hide, a six metre high platform with 360 degree views of the surrounding landscapes. Spend the night snuggled up in a deluxe swag listening to the nocturnal sounds of the nearby floodplains.

Longitude 131˚, Uluru

Facing the iconic monolith of Uluru, Longitude 131 is a magical retreat hidden amidst the vast outback of central Australia. Having recently added a balcony to each of the fifteen luxury guest tents, it is now possible to spend the night beneath the stars. Port, cognac and other digestifs are served by firelight before settled down in your bespoke luxury swag for two for the night.

Sal Salis, Ningaloo Reef

When shown a photo of Sal Salis the general response is a sharp intake of breath followed by an “oooooooohhh, where is that??” A remote safari camp nestled in the sand dunes just feet from the sandy beaches and turquoise, coral filled waters of the Ningaloo Reef on the west coast of Australia. This is the place to come to spend your days swinging in a hammock, snorkelling with turtles or swimming with Whale Sharks! Abandon your tent for the night and instead sleep on the beach under the stars.

Pepperbush Adventures, Tasmania

Not something offered as standard but we can arrange for a night under the stars with Craig ‘Bushie’ Williams – owner of Pepper Bush Adventures, a real life Tasmanian bushman and one of the countries most respected wildlife guides. Indulge in a bush tucker meal cooked over the fire in the middle of nowhere while spotting the local wildlife as the sunsets, before settled down for the night in your swag.

Arkaba Walk, Flinders Ranges

Experience outback walking in style on a 4 day walk through the ancient and ever changing landscapes of the Flinders Ranges and camp out under the stars. Camps are set up in spectacular locations so this is an amazing chance to experience the true scale and beauty of the outback but with a few creature comforts to make it an extra special experience. Covering 45 km’s over four days a support vehicle takes luggage between camps and a guide and all meals and drinks are included.

Start planning your Australian adventure now. Email inspire@steppestravel.com or call us on 01285 601 753.

Steppes Big 5: Reasons to Travel to Western Australia

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Kangaroo, Australia

The west coast of Australia is often overlooked for the more famous east coast but why not choose Perth instead of Sydney or the Ningaloo Reef instead of the Great Barrier Reef. Far less visited and no less spectacular here are our top five reasons why Western Australia gets our vote:

1. Perth

Following a recent mining boom, Perth and the surrounding areas are enjoying investment and restoration leading to the tagline ‘the re-birth of Perth’. International hotels are taking up residence in the city and historical buildings getting a new lease of life in the form of boutique hotels like COMO The Treasury. Elizabeth Quay will re-connect the city from the Swan River to the harbour and become home to gourmet restaurants and a buzzing atmosphere akin to that of Sydney Harbour. Annual festivals, huge city parks and the trendy port of Fremantle all combine to make Perth a destination in its own right.

2. Whale Sharks & Humpbacks

Far less visited than the Great Barrier reef and located just metres off the shore, this pristine reef stretches for 260km and is home to Manta ray, Green & Loggerhead turtles, dugongs and dolphin as well as being on the migratory route for Whale Sharks and Humpback Whales.

When to visit the Ningaloo Reef: To swim with Whale sharks visit from April to July and Humpbacks from August until October.

3. World-Class Food, Wine & Beaches

Located south of Perth, Margaret River is a hidden corner of Australia, home to world-class vineyards and wonderful beaches, equally great for surfing on as well as sunning oneself. A gastronomic destination the region is renowned for its artisan food produce. Hunt for rare black truffles with highly trained truffle dogs before sampling your treasure.

When to visit Margaret River: October through to March is a great time to visit Margaret River and the surrounding beaches.

4. Pristine Wilderness

The Kimberley’s are a vast wilderness of mangroves, rivers, ancient aboriginal rock art and tumbling waterfalls. This should definitely be on the radar for anyone who dreams of escaping the rat race and truly getting off the beaten track.

When to visit The Kimberley: It is hot and humid with monsoon rains from January to March so the best time of year to visit is from June to September.

5. Open spaces, aboriginal culture & wild flowers

Covering 2.5 million square kilometres with 12,500km of coastline and encompassing one third of Australia’s land mass, there is no shortage of wide open spaces and far reaching scenery in Western Australia. Rich in Aboriginal history, the Bradshaw cave paintings can be found here, dating back some 60,000 years they are believed to be among the earliest figurative paintings ever made. Glorious wildflowers carpet the parts of the region from June through until November.

Get in touch to learn more about our holidays to Western Australia. Email inspire@steppestravel.com or call us on 01285 601 753.

Experiencing the Australian Outback

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The long roads continue from Adelaide into the outback in South Australia and we barely pass any cars. Short, twig like bushes cling to the ground and dead kangaroos line the roads…blimey this definitely feels like the outback. We slow down as a small flock of Emus run across the road –fantastic! Slowly the landscape is changing, along this journey departing Adelaide some hours ago it has changed so much. Now steep ranges are appearing in the distance, they look like they have been squeezed out of the earth and are amazing in the evening sun.

Old chicken wire fences follow the road for miles and as we approach a white spray painted barrel the indicator flashes on. As we pull off the road I see the words ‘Arkaba’ imprinted on the barrel. We must be here. Kicking up clouds of dust and bouncing over boulders we arrive at this wonderful looking homestead. Our host Brendan is waiting to meet us and show us to our rooms. We have barely dropped our bags when he asks us if we fancy heading up the range in time for sunset. Jumping in the open backed jeep we trundle past the original homestead as kangaroos bounce by. We reach the point just in time, the sun warmly glowing on the back of the chase range some miles behind. A chilled bag is brought out from the boot and a white linen table promptly set up – emu pate canapés and a cool bottle of Riesling make this sunset even more blissful.

The days spent in the Flinders are all about the experience. I am up early…I think it’s 05:00 and I am back in the jeep again. It’s strange to think how bitterly cold it is when it was so hot yesterday. I am wearing layer upon layer, down jackets and blankets as we drive out into the bush. The morning light is misty blue and this time we are driving up onto the shoulder ridge of the Elder range. In the distance, the bluffs of the Flinders silhouette like daggers. We stop and explore dried up creeks and learn about the flora and fauna that lives in this harsh land, the leaves of the rose gums smell so fresh. Off we go as the sun starts creeping above the horizon, it’s warm rays are so welcome as fresh coffee is poured. A hot air balloon floats up from the valley bottom and rises with the sun. Back at Arkaba we have more time to explore, walking the creeks, passing the swag stations designed for starlight sleepers. I quite fancy that.

Our chef cooks up the most delicious meal that evening, delicious lamb shank, local herded of course, and crème brulee. Off we go to the library, the fire lit and glowing, a glass of port from the nearby Barossa Valley….I think I will sleep well tonight.

To hear more about Charles’ trip to Australia, or for further advice about planning your own holiday to South Australia please contact our specialistson 01285 651 010.

Breathtaking scenery and island quirks on Lord Howe

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It’s been a fun flight, my second propeller plane in as many weeks. The flight attendant mans the small plane single handily, the poor lady announces ‘Be kind, as it’s my first proper flight having just finished training’ but does a sterling job, taking great care of keeping our wine glasses topped up. Ham and cheese toasties are also being handed out like presents at Christmas…first class work in my opinion!

The peak of Balls pyramid emerges like a chard of glass, thrusting towards the heavens out of the crashing waves. Clouds of gulls circle the escapement as I crane my neck down out of the window to get a clearer look. A wave of excitement fills the cabin, we must be almost there. All I can see is the pacific. As our plane banks to the left, the two impending towers of Mt Gower and Mt Lisgard announce the arrival of Lord Howe, guarding the island from its eastern flank. We fly right over it, I catch a glimpse of a lovely looking beach; a pencil line wave being surfed by ants.
Out to sea we go again, bank once more and glide down to the airstrip.

I love it already, this is so different to the Australia I am used too. A white picket line fence is the only security on this airstrip. ‘I remember Heathrow being like this when I was a boy says the British traveller next to me. The latch on the gate opens, I am holding my passport ready for it to be checked but there’s no passport control. 10 or so plastic chairs, posters on the wall displaying cartoon pictures of pearly white smiles of people on the beach are all there is.

I am quickly intercepted by our host, bags are put in the boot and I take my seat. Off we go….at snail’s speed. We crawl out of the airport and turn onto the main road. We stop. Two cars pass by. ‘Whoa, it’s busy today! Usually we don’t see any vehicles on this part of the road.’ Off we go again…at snail’s speed. I am not quite sure what’s going on, but it’s lovely with the window down and looking up towards the mountains. ‘Oh sorry, I forgot to mention. With only 6 miles of road and around about 11 owned vehicles on the island we have a blanket speed limit – 15mph! COOL don’t ya’ think? Creeping up the slope a pristine golf course is off to the left. ‘If you’re interested in golf please help yourself. It’s unmanned but we take it in turns to mow the lawn. An honesty box sits up on the desk in the pavilion, if you need clubs you can help yourself too. $10 or so which I think is pretty good.’

Pulling into the car park at the end of the road I have arrived – Capella Lodge – is partially hidden behind the trees. Checking into my nautically theme ‘Lagoon Loft’ my balcony looks straight up to the giant peaks in front of me. There is no time to waste, with such little time I need to explore. Mountain bikes and golf buggies are included in my stay and sit waiting in the lay by opposite. I pick the bike as after weeks of fine dining (and I’m not complaining) I really could do with the exercise.

Following the road I can’t go wrong, I pass the cricket pitch and the museum – it’s got to be worth a look. Inside glass cabinets showcase eggs and crumbling skeletons, old leaves and bits and pieces that the original settlers left behind. On the wall ‘Wolf Rock’ catches my eye, telling stories of the ships that have met their fate – with it the original whaling ship ‘The Wolf’ running a ground and sinking, taking with it a valuable cargo of sperm whale oil.

After dipping my toes into the history of the island it’s time to catch that sinking sun before it disappears, back on the bike and along the road. A car passes by. ‘Haha, look at that!’ I think to myself. I have only been here a couple of hours but already the quirkiness of this place is rubbing off….

Now that is what you call a view!

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There is only one thing you’ll be doing as you walk through the entrance to Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island off the south coast of Australia; your feet continue ahead of you, eyes wide and staring straight ahead out of the sweeping floor to ceiling windows onto the turquoise waters of the Southern Ocean. ‘LOOK AT THAT VIEW’ I say loudly to my companions, ‘I mean just look at it! Now that is what you call a view! Is that not one of the best views you have seen?’

I take control again a few seconds later and turn to take in the rest of the lobby; a tear dropped fire place revolves from the ceiling, its gentle glow seems so welcoming. It’s not even cold outside. Waiters and waitresses come and go with wonderfully fresh looking fish serving diners with their heads, you guessed it, looking out to sea. A hot tub bubbles on the balcony, glasses of drinks are being poured by the open bar and in the distance I see a trickle of guests walking down to the beach.

As I am shown to my room, I look left at the endless scrubland that sweeps to the horizon. There are no roads, no buildings, telegraph wires or shops, that’s when you realise just how perfectly the lodge has been designed to blend into the environment. We reach my room – Kona – so named along with the other suites after ship wrecks that had crashed off the treacherous reefs of Kangaroo Island, I spend time taking in my new space, a sunken lounge and open plan bathroom. No need to draw blinds or curtains, undisturbed panoramas continue for that perfect view.

While I am here I take in different parts of Kangaroo Island. Headland walks along the cliffs, the water so so blue and Osprey nests dotted as you go. Walks along the beach, cycle rides and excursions to Seals Bay with its resident seals, Admirals Arch and Remarkable Rocks. Back at the Lodge there is more time to relax. Early evening Kangaroo watching with Canapés are on the agenda, this time a wildlife tour spotting Echidnas and fields brim-full with Kangaroos.

Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island provides more than a lodge experience. Captivating coastal views, exceptional food and service make it one of the best places I have ever stayed. A sanctuary of comfort, as the candles flicker and the distant rumble of the ocean – I could stay here for some time!

Driving into the Flinders Ranges

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It’s almost a job to know where to start, I’m one week into the most fabulous trip of Australia I could possibly imagine.

This isn’t my first time to the country, in fact I was here 10 years ago travelling along the coast in a beat up old camper van eating peanut butter sandwiches and tinned hot dogs. After all these years it’s not just me who’s changed but Australia has too.

Adelaide is not the sleepy town I was expecting as I arrive after my 28 hour flight; it is littered with colonial buildings and low rise sky scrapers. When the sun sets the streets came alive, much like a carnival and restaurants serving food from all over the world. Delicious barbecue smoke wafting along the alleys, wok fried prawns and cured cheeses plus cold beers being poured from a recently refurbished pub which happens to be the oldest building in the entire city – 1876!

Light sleep often comes with that first night away in a different country but I’d be tempted to put it down to excitement. An early breakfast and I’ve picked up the hire car. Today’s destination is the Flinders ranges in South Australia, 5 hours from Adelaide. Not a scratch on a map, this is Australia after all. The journey has been cleverly strung together to give me time to explore the Clare Valley and its fabulous vineyards. Grilled snapper and homemade bread, washed down with a glass of Reisling really has to be recommended. The view is fabulous, rolling green hills dotted with palm trees and grape vines.

The drive continues as the landscape changes with the miles. I didn’t realise just how close the outback really is to the city and soon the soil has turned a darker red and hardy looking bushes replace the green. Onwards to our outback accommodation for the night – Arkaba Station.

Ben Fogle swims with Crocodiles – 2012

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Not that I would recommend this to my clients, but I am very much looking forward to watching Ben Fogle attempt a swim with Australia’s most aggressive of all reptiles, the saltwater crocodile.

I believe he will be travelling through beautiful Kakadu National Park, accessed from Darwin and in addition to the entertainment factor a serious side will also be addressed. Ben and a pioneering science team are in Australia’s Northern Territory in an attempt to find, swim with and study a Saltwater crocodile. Unfortunately as time goes by, humans and crocodiles are sharing more and more territory and the work is more important than ever before as increased conflict is inevitable. Also during the programme, Ben uncovers the complicated relationship between crocodile and man when he meets a grief-stricken aboriginal elder whose favourite giant ‘boss’ crocodile has been shot dead.

The team find it almost impossible to find the right conditions to dive with a ‘saltie’ and, when they do, they have no idea how it will react. This is a rare opportunity to see this incredible creature up close.

Tune in on Sunday 26th February at 9pm on BBC2.

For more information about Australia or planning your own adventure to Australia, please contact our specialists on 01285 651 010.