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Luisa’s Reef to Rainforest: A Three-Generational Family Itinerary

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BLOG | As part of our Innovative Itinerary series, this journey was created by Travel Designer Luisa Rumbelow. An incredible two-week itinerary catered for a three-generational family that featured some of the best parts of Australia.

At a Glance

This custom journey was created by one of our Travel Designers, Luisa Rumbelow, for a multi-generational family seeking an active, Australia-wide itinerary to celebrate the matriarch’s 80th birthday. It highlighted wildlife, adventure, and off-the-beaten-track experiences, with a focus on the outdoors and maintaining an active lifestyle, threaded with Luisa’s passion for crafting unique experiences for the family to discover together.

Requiring in-depth knowledge of Australia and the various activities, experiences and terrains that travellers could experience, Luisa’s brief requested that the journey contain at least 7.5 miles (12 kilometres) of walking a day and that time outdoors was maximised. High-energy, action-packed activities with authentic experiences and plenty of opportunity to engage with and view wildlife was also on the agenda, needing to be presented and crafted in such a way that each day would equally excite the youngest of the family, aged 8, and the oldest, aged 80.

“Venturing from the metropolitan oasis of Sydney to the canopies of the Daintree Rainforest and the private island vistas of Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef, this itinerary showcases the adventure to be found in Australia and will delight families of varying ages.”

Destination 1:

New South Wales, Sydney

Sydney Harbour Bridge - City Skyline at night

Travellers from far and wide are drawn to Sydney for its laidback beach lifestyle, coupled with world-class cuisine and internationally recognised icons. Touch down from your flight and transfer straight to your accommodation in a private luxury vehicle.

Your home for the next few nights will be the Langham, voted one of the top 100 hotels in the world and a five-star sanctuary overlooking the famed Sydney Harbour. Here, you will have the rest of the day to relax and rejuvenate, with spa treatments in the afternoon. The following morning, you and your family will head into the city and partake in a bike tour around Sydney with Bonza bike Tours, taking in all the sights of Sydney at your own pace.

The next day, you will be met by the guides from Local Eyes and embark on a Full Day Harbour and City tour, cruising along Sydney Harbour and exploring the surrounding beaches, hidden coves and coastal walks. Viewing the highlights from a private yacht on the harbour, you get to fully immerse yourself in the sun and grandeur of Australia’s largest metropolis.

Destination 1: Sydney has accommodation for three nights at the Langham, Sydney.

Destination 2:

New South Wales, Southern Highlands

Scenic country views surrounding Centennial Vineyards, Bowral in the Southern Highlands region.

Checking out of your accommodation, meet with your knowledgeable guide from Experience Nature, ready for your multi-day Southern Highlands tour. A haven of rolling hills, sweeping bushland and lush gardens, the Southern Highlands is a lesser-known country region located south-west of Sydney. Boasting spectacular waterfalls, quaint country towns known for great antique shopping and picturesque bushwalks, the region is the perfect place to escape to the Australian countryside.  

On the first day, enjoy a tranquil day of canoes, cool climate wines and canapes in this nature meets food safari, combining all things beautiful and delicious. You’ll first take a scenic drive through Kangaroo Valley, a pocket of wildlife-rich rainforests and waterfalls between the Southern Highlands and the coast. From here, your guide will take you to the mouth of Yarrunga Creek where you’ll board canoes and explore the sunken forest, feasting on locally sourced canapes and sipping award-winning wine.  

The next day, explore the local terrain with a hike to the surrounding waterfalls or experience the work of a blacksmith in the nearby village, hammering ore over flames to create a memorable memento. Spend the rest of the day immersing yourself in Australian wildlife, getting up close to some of Australia’s most iconic critters.  

Destination 2: The Southern highlands has accommodation for three nights with Experience Nature in a private house.

Destination 3:

New South Wales, Byron Bay

Elements of Byron

Leave the Southern Highlands behind as you fly from Sydney to the bohemian-chic beachside town of Byron Bay for a stay at Elements of Byron. An award-winning beachfront resort, Elements provides guests with a dose of barefoot luxury and world-class facilities with white sand on its doorstep. Facing the secluded Belongil Beach, Elements also offers a range of on-site facilities and experiences fit for the discerning traveller. Indulge in a day of relaxation at in-house spa, discover the Byron Bay coastline and hinterland on horseback with their horse ranch or stroll through the resort’s 20 acres of native forest and wetlands along 1.2 miles (2 kilometres) of walking trails.  

Met by Localing the next morning for a day of sea kayaking and dolphin spotting, followed by a coastal walk along the scenic, white-sand beaches and swimming in pristine waterfalls that dot the region. The second day begins with a trip to the local Farmer’s Market, exploring stalls of fresh, colourful produce and engaging with locals to learn about the region’s local agriculture. Following a short drive, rejuvenate at Tea Tree Lake – a local freshwater lake located in Lennox Head that is infused with the natural oils of surrounding tea trees. The natural healing properties of this oil result in a fresher, cleaner swim that does wonders for your pique. Finish up with a coastal walk to stretch your legs and take in the natural beauty of the region as the sun sets. 

Destination 3: Byron Bay has accommodation for three nights at Elements of Byron.

Destination 4:

Queensland, Tropical North

Deck of a Billabong Suite with hammock and outdoor seating with fire pit

Easing into tropical time with an afternoon flight into Cairns, drive through the picturesque, UNESCO World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest and discover the hidden tranquillity of Silky Oaks Lodge. Delivering a five-star luxury lodge experience in the world’s oldest living rainforest, Silky Oaks offers forty treehouse-styled suites overlooking the Mossman River or lush rainforest, designed to evoke a strong sense of place.   

Your first full day in the Daintree will encompass touring alongside Cathy from Northwest Safaris who will take you out for a tour of the rainforest, exploring some of the many trails through the ancient trees, the forest itself estimated to be around 135 million years old, and spotting an array of kangaroos, reptiles, and insects that call the Daintree home. You’ll float down the Mossman River, enjoying the calming effect of its crystal-clear waters and snorkelling amongst the reeds before a spot of lunch under the canopy. Finish the day with a wildlife cruise along the Daintree River to spot crocodiles, fish and birdlife.  

The next day is spent at your leisure in Silky Oaks Lodge. The lodge offers an array of complimentary activities to elevate your stay including yoga classes in the airy pavilion, guided walks and bike rides throughout the rainforest, and a daily shuttle to the nearby town of Port Douglas, which offers palm-fringed, white sand beaches, boutique shopping, wining and dining, and more. 

You are also able to relax and rejuvenate at the on-site Healing Waters Spa or access a range of water sports equipment to enjoy on the Mossman River such as canoeing and snorkelling. 

Boat anchored on blue water out the front of Lizard Island’s accommodation option The Pavilion

The next morning will see you checking in to your private charter and flying to Lizard Island. A private island haven surrounded by the Coral Sea, Lizard Island is the northernmost luxury lodge on the Great Barrier Reef. Nestled within sprawling National Park enriched with diverse Australian fauna and flora, the island offers direct ocean access across 24 powdery private beaches.  

After landing on the island, be treated to a relaxing massage at Essentia Spa to reawaken the senses for an evening of resort exploration 

The next morning, embark on a private snorkelling experience with a local guide to take-in firsthand the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef. A true bucket list experience, observe the colourful marine life and explore the connecting reefs that decorate the waters around the Island. After a day spent in the water, indulge in a well-deserved seven-course degustation at the resort to unwind. 

Your final day in Queensland is bookended by a private ocean kayak and Blue Lagoon Walk. Explore the reef from the comfort of glass-bottomed kayaks and get your blood pumping as you paddle under the golden sun till late afternoon. Finally, explore the clear waters of Blue Lagoon, a pocket of turquoise bliss fringed by coastal shrubland.  

Destination 4: Queensland has accommodation for three nights at Silky Oaks Lodge in the Daintree Rainforest and three nights at Lizard Island.

Why do you love this itinerary?

“It was challenging to make sure that everyone loved everything and everyone could do everything. But the fact that they walked away with the most amazing memories and everyone was so happy and seemed in their element and tried so many new things. That was the most rewarding part. The grandmother showed us a list, at the end of the journey, of everything new that she did on her travels and that was just incredible to see”

Where to next?

Travelling with your family can be one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of a journey. This hand-crafted itinerary showcase some of the best experiences to do around Australia no matter the age of those you’re travelling with. It is a fresh new perspective on travelling through the country, embracing the authenticity and adventure of each destination.

Where would you like to go with your family this year? What adventures would you like to embark on? Be sure to let us know.

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Aerial view of the Daintree River in Tropical North Queensland
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