The Ghan Train
When you think of a train journey, you don’t normally think luxury, right? Well, forget the cramped and smelly trains of the CBD and indulge yourself on the classiest most sought-after train expedition in Australia, the Ghan Train. It’s an all-inclusive trip with booze and a tasty dining menu with flexible times for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The Ghan travels between Adelaide and Darwin and allows you to see the traditional Red Centre, Flinders Ranges and the tropics of the Top End. In Alice Springs and The Katherine, there are also tour stops ‘Off Train’. Ride a camel, meet a saltwater croc, see the birds soar at the Desert Park and learn about Aboriginal culture and rich Australian history.
For those wanting to broaden their food horizons, there is also the choice of cooking up some Kangaroo tail and damper.
Price From $952 (Gold Service Discount price until July 31)
Value for money Considering flying, accommodation, food and normal tours are quite expensive when you add them up, this works out cheaper and you get to relax and take in the sights as you go. Having a personal cabin steward to take care of your needs is also much more convenient than fighting for a flight attendants’ attention while listening to screaming babies. RM
Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb
Live in Sydney or perhaps briefly visiting? One thing you can’t go past is having the sky at your fingertips. Sydney Harbour BridgeClimb gives you not only the remarkable views of Sydney Harbour in 360 degrees, but an experience to share for many years to come.
There are four different climbing options, ranging from the quick 2.5 hr to 3.5 hr guided tours. Max group numbers are 12-14, so you will have full attention of your guide, and make some friends on the way up. The whole city will be at your fingertips, and at the end you are provided with a group photograph with option to take your own private shots on top of the arch. Departures are dawn, daytime, twilight and night meaning you choose the experience and memories made.
Price From $198
Value for money: Take in the whole of Sydney on one trip, and get a birdseye view! If you don’t wish to do everything on ground level, this is a tour of a different nature that is worth the expense. Plus, if you’re hooked up, it makes a great lovey dovey twilight shot to keep for a lifetime. RM
Mornington Peninsula Custom Tours
See as much or as little of this beautiful region as you like, with a private tour guide/driver and flexibility to create a full day of fun suited to your own needs. It’s only an hour out of the Melbourne CBD, so why not? Feel like a little wine tasting?
Choose from over 50 small-scale wineries producing the best of the best. Some of the vineyard options are Red Hill Estate, Willow Creek, Crittenden Wines, Main Ridge Estate, T’Gallant Winemakers and Foxeys Hangout. Take in the dazzling beaches, villages, national parks and potentially visit a natural hot springs spa.
Consider a visit to the Ashcombe Maze or perhaps a trip to the Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm. And the iconic bathing boxes on the beach are a must-stop for a photo.Price From $222 Value for money An à la carte lunch and entrance fees are included, with a free hotel pick up/drop off and drinks too!
It’s definitely worth it, especially if you’ve had too much wine, there’s no need to worry about getting back home on a bus or taxi, as your guide will look after you like a VIP. In a private Chrysler Grand Voyager, no less. RM
Imagine peace and quiet, marine life interaction, and nobody else around. Once everybody departs at 3pm, you will get to stay overnight on the only permanent pontoon on the entire Great Barrier Reef.Experience the underwater viewing chamber, scenic deck and watch as the reef comes alive without any interference.
Reefsleep guests have their own reef decorated air conditioned rooms with private ensuites. Inclusions are phenomenal, with an al fresco dinner, wine, full breakfast, two buffet lunches, sunset cocktails and use of all Reefworld facilities including waterslide, snorkelling equipment and return coach transfers.
Guests have the option to also upgrade their packages to include an Introductory or Certified Dive, a relaxing massage or perhaps a guided snorkelling tour.
Price Great Barrier Reef King room: $570
Value for money You’ll get your own personalised service by a Reefsleep host, while having an exclusive experience without the busyness of the daytime guests. It costs you pretty much the same to stay on the mainland or islands and just do a day tour, so why not submerge yourself into complete private tranquillity. Return coach transfers are included for mainland accommodation. RM
Guided Overland Track Walking Tour
Want to explore a World Heritage Area with two private guides? This world famous walking track in the breathtaking Cradle Mountain region in Tasmania takes you away from reality and really in to nature.
Explore all day, and then at night relax with a three course dinner, prepared by your lovely guides. This tour offers the only private hut accommodation along the entire trail, so you can always feel comfortable to know you are looked after. After a buffet breakfast, pack a lunch from the included selections and set out for a day to remember. For those more adventurous, you can include a mountain climb or waterfall visit on top of the set itinerary.
National Park and Overland Track passes are included, normally worth around $200. Return transfers between Launceston and walk base are also a part of the price.
Price 6 days from $2850
Value for money Considering other Overland tours tell you to bring a back-up tent because you can’t book a hut, this tour itself ensures you will have a roof over your head in the cold of the night. With all meals and a Tassie wine selection included, you aren’t restricted to cooking for yourself/eating basics after a long day either. They provide all the sleeping bags, pillows and a comfy mattress at each hut too, less luggage for you and more space for essentials! RM
Top 5 flashpackers and why they are are flashy
Bounce Hotel Sydney – From $34 Rooftop sitting area with views of the city, lockers with power-points inside and bright, eye pleasing and modern art. Voted best hostel in Australia 2013, Bounce is at the top of the flashpacking list with spotless clean rooms and cool rooftop BBQ area.
YHA Sydney Harbour – From $42 In the heart of the cultural area of Sydney, this flashy hostel also has a spectacular rooftop view and a BBQ. Rooms are air-conditioned with internet and television access available.
Flashpackers Noosa – From $27 Free free free! Flashpackers Noosa includes a free breakfast daily, internet, and a shuttle bus around town. Rooms are decked out with air-con and there is also a swimming pool for those hot summer days!
Space Hotel Melbourne – From $29 Modern designer rooms with iPod dock stations, flat screen TVs and plenty of space to chill out or work out! There’s a rooftop spa and sun lounges overlooking Melbourne CBD, so it’s the perfect place to relax before making dinner at one of the eight cooking stations. Space-aged flash!
Flashpackers Hervey Bay – From $24 Free Friday Aussie sausage sizzle and cinema with free movies! Flashpackers will feel right at home with this family run business, including indulging in the swimming pool with sandy beach, comfortably sleeping on hotel-grade orthopaedic mattresses with ‘bug lock’ and full length mirrors in room to get dolled up for a night out on the town. Flashy!
Photos: Tourism NSW/Tourism Queensland, Justin Steinlauf