Beyond Paradise: A Journey Around Tahiti

InterContinental Tahiti Resort and Spa
InterContinental Tahiti Resort and Spa

French Polynesia is famed for its idyllic resort islands, but journey beyond these highly celebrated destinations and you’ll find a rich history and spirited culture, writes Caroline Riches

The boules clash with a metallic clunk on the patchy grass amid jovial French chatter. In the distance, waves break gently on the busy shore. With my eyes closed, I might be on the Cote d’Azur, not deep in the heart of French Polynesia. 

Casuarina trees provide shade, but the harsh Tahitian sun has already lost its bite for the day. I wander from the park onto Point Venus, the black sandy spit that nudges into the calm, cyan South Pacific.

For the British sailors who arrived at this spot 250 years ago, Tahiti was a foreign world. If they could see it today, with skimpy bathers nattering in French, I doubt they’d be impressed. They’d also be in the minority – the beach is packed.

The French eventually claimed French Polynesia in 1880. Today, the country retains significant autonomy and its Polynesian culture is deep-rooted, but French influence is everywhere, from the road signs to the school system and food. Propped up financially by France, it also enjoys a high standard of living, with clean drinking water, solid infrastructure and one of the highest GDPs per capita in the Pacific.

The capital Pape’ete is the entry point for most visitors to French Polynesia and often the only place they see on Tahiti before they head to other islands such as Bora Bora.

But to do so would rob them of French Polynesia’s history and spirited culture. Tahiti, which contains around two thirds of the nation’s population, offers a chance to experience local life and cuisine without compromising on luxury.

On a Sunday morning in Pape’ete, locals queue outside sweet smelling bakeries selling baguettes and brioche. At the Municipal Market, tables of bright fish and neat piles of fruits and vegetables vie for the title of most colourful. I imagine myself in Paris, but as the market prattle fades, the tradewinds carry polyphonic Tahitian hymns from the windows of packed-out churches.

I take a walk past the town’s famous black pearl boutiques to Pape’ete’s bustling waterfront. Along a promenade lined with ornate lamps, the French and Tahitian flags fly side by side. Behind me, food carts, or roulottes, serve raw fish marinated in lime juice and coconut milk alongside pomme frites and Chinese noodles.

Beyond the capital, jagged volcanic peaks of Tahiti’s interiors slope down into luscious green rainforest and powder-soft beaches lapped by crystal-clear lagoons. I imagine it was a similar view for the Austronesians who first arrived on double-hulled voyaging canoes around 2000 years ago.

Since then the people’s identity has been defined by waves of colonisers, but their mana (spiritual energy) remains strong, expressed through music, tattoos, sports, crafts and cooking.

The best place to experience the rhythmic drumming and hip-wriggling of traditional Polynesian dance is at the InterContinental Tahiti Resort and Spa, just 20 minutes from Pape’ete. The hotel is on a stunning 13 hectares of tropical gardens encompassing serene pools and a snorkelling lagoon teeming with tropical fish. We tuck into a sumptuous breakfast of island fruit and homemade pineapple and mango jam on French pastries while admiring the red raffia skirts, proud smiles and joyous movements of large, rounded bodies.

From here we drive around Tahiti Nui, a loop of 114 kilometres where lush forests, caves and waterfalls are natural traffic stoppers. The cool blue waters of Mara’a Grotto once provided privacy to the royal family and inspiration to French artist Paul Gauguin. At the stunning Vaipahi Falls, water spills from tall hanging vines into a little cove.

On this Sunday afternoon, local families are cooling off. We join them in the Vaima river, where they smile warmly but – like the occasional eel who flicks our legs – they leave us be. They just want to know we appreciate their paradise. “Tahiti, c’est jolie eh?”

“As I step off the ferry, I see why they choose to live here. With one quiet road circling the lush mountainous interior, Mo’orea is the perfect place to while away some days swimming, surfing or kayaking.”

Our resting place for the next two nights is Tahiti Pearl Beach Resort, just 10 minutes outside Pape’ete but a world away with its infinity pool, tropical gardens and beautiful black volcanic sand beach of Lafayette. All rooms enjoy a sweeping view of Matavai Bay where European explorers once came ashore, and where tropical fish, eagle rays and turtles glide around us as we snorkel through the warm water.

In the distance, the neighbouring island of Mo’orea beckons. French Polynesia is 118 islands strung across the Pacific like pearls, many of which are days apart. Mo’orea is just 30 minutes from Tahiti by ferry, a trip that’s surely one of the world’s most beautiful commutes for those who work in Pape’ete.

As I step off the ferry, I see why they choose to live here. With one quiet road circling the lush mountainous interior, Mo’orea is the perfect place to while away some days swimming, surfing or kayaking.

Fishing is a local pastime; huge fresh-caught tunas, mahi-mahi and swordfish hang on hooks by the roadside. Cooking and tasting is another. Everything grows in this fertile soil, with pineapples and vanilla particularly prized.

Wonderful places to stay are the tranquil Mo’orea Beach Lodge, where you can cook your own food, or for an overwater bungalow, Sofitel Mo’orea la Ora Beach Resort offers some of the most spacious on the island.

Out in the lagoon, Tahitian kids paddle past in their canoes, navigating the waves and reefs with a skill passed down over generations. With small tiare flowers tucked behind their ears, they flash big Polynesian smiles as they call out to us in French, “bonne journee!” And ‘have a nice day’ we did.

The Details

Air Tahiti Nui offers three weekly services from Auckland to Pape’ete, connecting with Qantas codeshares from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

airtahitinui.com

Information on the islands of French Polynesia:

tahititourisme.com.au

Rooms at InterContinental Tahiti Resort and Spa start at $590 per night.

tahiti.intercontinental.com

Rooms at Tahiti Pearl Beach Resort and Spa start at $459 per night.

tahitipearlbeach.pf

Rooms at Mo’orea Beach Lodge start at $550 per night.

mooreabeachlodge.com

Rooms at Sofitel Mo’orea la Ora Beach start at $750 per night.

accorhotels.com

Falling for North America Aboard Silver Whisper

Bass Harbor, Tremont, Maine, United States
Bass Harbor, Tremont, Maine, United States

A mesmerising autumnal palette provides the perfect backdrop for an already colourful North American cruise

Bottomless bubbles in the fridge of our elegant suite on board Silversea’s Silver Whisper: it’s a great start, and then it just gets better. Sliding out of Boston harbour on a golden autumn evening, ahead lies a route that will include luxury, lobster, Alexander Graham Bell, multiple lighthouses, a man on fire, and a shipwreck.

Not of Whisper, of course. This luxury ship, where 382 cossetted guests are looked after by 292 solicitous staff, has all the expertise and equipment necessary to deal with anything the sea might throw at her.

Being on second-name terms with Whisper is, incidentally, the great giveaway on board, marking out those who are Silversea regulars; and there are plenty. Almost half of the passengers have sailed with the line before, one of them aboard Whisper for the second time this year, another clocking up an incredible — and enviable — 749 Silversea days altogether.

What brings them back? Service that’s friendly and unstuffy but includes a butler for every suite, superb surroundings, 10 great restaurants, a small but talented entertainment team, and virtually everything, from WiFi to tips, already included. Plus, like all Silversea ships, Whisper is small enough to be able to visit ports inaccessible to larger vessels, discovering places that are both quirky and uncrowded.

‘Leaf-peeping’, as it’s officially known, is the prime attraction of this route. In September and October, from Boston, all along the New England coast, on the islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and along the banks of the great St. Lawrence River itself right into Montreal, there is a mind-blowingly vivid and beautiful backdrop of red, orange, yellow and gold leaves — entire hillsides, for mile after mile, glowing in the sun. It’s a simple but intense pleasure that is the crowning glory to what would anyway be a fascinating and picturesque journey.

In just 10 days, book-ended by the historic cities of Boston, Quebec and Montreal, with all their varied attractions, the cruise takes us to colourful fishing villages perched on craggy rocks, past irresistibly photogenic lighthouses, to harbours bobbing with little fishing boats. At each stop there are excursions offered and activities suggested.

In Bar Harbor I swap into a lobster boat for an introduction to the area’s prime industry from Captain John, resplendent in orange dungarees and a Santa beard. Back in town, I lunch on the seafood in question before taking the chance for a walk along the edge of Arcadia National Park, where a silver sea breaks on round boulders, skeins of geese head south for the winter, squirrels are busy collecting acorns — and a local fishing boat beached on the rocky shore is causing much tutting amongst the locals.

Overnight we enter Canadian waters and in Halifax unexpectedly encounter men in kilts: Nova Scotia means ‘New Scotland’, and they are proud of their heritage here. The Maritime Museum has some fascinating stories to tell: a riveting account of the catastrophic explosion of a munitions ship in the harbour in 1917 and the subsequent fire, but most notably about the town’s role after the nearby sinking of the Titanic, in what started as rescue and sadly became body recovery. Some people visit the Fairview Cemetery to find the grave marked ‘J. Dawson’ — not actually of the character Jack in the movie, but still regularly marked by flowers left by fans.

I, though, head out of town, seduced by pictures of Peggy’s Cove. It’s every bit as pretty as I was hoping: colourfully-painted wooden houses along a rocky inlet, piles of lobster pots, a welcoming cafe serving hot gingerbread, and a dramatic lighthouse on a headland swirled about with low cloud.

“I, though, head out of town, seduced by pictures of Peggy’s Cove. It’s every bit as pretty as I was hoping: colourfully-painted wooden houses along a rocky inlet, piles of lobster pots, a welcoming cafe serving hot gingerbread, and a dramatic lighthouse on a headland swirled about with low cloud.”

On Cape Breton Island, Sydney shines brightly in the autumn sunshine — but not as brightly as the leaves in the woods we drive through to Baddeck, where I discover that Alexander Graham Bell lived most of his life and, besides inventing the telephone, did valuable work with the deaf and with hydrofoils, amongst other interests.

Cape Breton raises the bar even higher with its vivid autumn foliage on the way to Cape Percé which, against stiff competition, is the most spectacular sight of the cruise: a massive 500-tonne block of sandstone just off the coast of the Gaspé Peninsula. Here a boat trip finds us minke whales, seals and gannets, and afterwards we spot a red fox, trotting calmly across someone’s lawn.

The place names are just one indication that we are now deep into French Canada, as are the baguettes tucked under elbows as people go home to lunch, the arret (stop) signs on the road, and the familiar redstriped KFC bucket instead labelled PFK, for ‘Poulet Frit Kentucky’.

From here we follow the St. Lawrence River to Montreal, stopping to enjoy not only the picturesque charms of old Quebec, but also quaint little towns along the shore, isolated in Canada’s vastness but linked by the river, and full of both character and characters. None of them, though, is so memorable as Saguenay.

Tucked away at the end of a fiord, far beyond the reach of the big ships, it’s a typically charming town of attractive French-style houses. Back from the harbour in an ordinary suburb, though, is an extraordinary thing: a huge purpose-built theatre where, for 30 years, around 200 versatile locals have performed an eye-popping show. It tells the lively history of the town, and no special effect is spared. Across the stage comes a procession that includes Indians, French aristocrats and colonists, a tank, two cars and a Jeep, cantering horses, a pig, a flock of geese, a cow and a goat, cannon fire, bombs, abseiling soldiers, a boat, flames, a man on fire, and a flood. The show is called La Fabuleuse.

Fabulous: it’s the perfect description of this cruise.

The Details

All-inclusive fares for a nine-day voyage from Boston, Massachusetts to Montreal, departing 20 October 2019 on board Silver Wind, start from $5900 per person based on double occupancy in a Vista Suite. All-inclusive fares for a 10-day voyage from Montreal to New York, departing 27 October 2020 on board Silver Whisper start from $5661 per person based on double occupancy in a Vista Suite and including an early booking discount of 10 per cent.

A Scottish Adventure from Edinburgh to the Highlands

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Overflowing with charm, Scotland is a fairytale destination where scenic landscapes capture the imagination

At just over 80,000 square kilometres, Scotland isn’t much bigger than Tasmania, yet the relatively small country packs a remarkable amount of personality. Crammed with mysterious lochs, dramatic coastline, rugged highlands and meandering glens, Scotland offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a history buff, golf enthusiast, nature lover or connoisseur of whisky, you’ll be charmed by this bonnie land.

This is my maiden trip to Scotland, home to my grandfather’s family, and I’ve only got nine days to see it. That being the case, I have decided to let the experts at Abercrombie & Kent handle the details for me. Having travelled with A&K in the past, I am confident everything will be seamless and that my excursions and accommodations will be top notch. This feeling is validated when we are met at Edinburgh’s airport by Margaret, our wonderful Abercrombie ‘Guardian Angel’ and Gordon, our knowledgeable driver and tour guide.

It’s a short drive from the airport to the very impressive Balmoral Hotel, the hallmark of Princes Street, and certainly the most prestigious hotel in Edinburgh. Now owned by Rocco Forte Hotel Group, the grand castle-like hotel, complete with turrets, was built above the Waverley Railway Station in 1902. It has since hosted many celebrity visitors including Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, and Paul and Linda McCartney. The Queen Mother, meanwhile, regularly dines at the Balmoral when in town and is apparently a keen admirer of the lamb. We are in good company.

Our Castle View Suite has a generous lounge with working fireplace, cosy nooks created by the turrets and stunning views of the Old Town and, of course, Edinburgh Castle. Talented designer Olga Polizzi, sister to Sir Rocco Forte, has used soft wool tartans of blues, greens, greys and purples in the furnishings and the walls are covered in the most beautiful wallpaper. The oversized marble bathroom has a deep tub and separate shower.

After helping us check in, Margaret gives us some tips on where to get a bite to eat and we spend the afternoon exploring the Old Town, which is less than a 10-minute walk from our hotel.

The next morning, after an amazing – and high protein! – Scottish breakfast of smoked kippers, local cured salmon, black pudding and a side of haggis, we are met in the lobby by Gordon for our full-day journey towards the Highlands and west coast. We revel in the next three days as Gordon delights us with Scottish history while we stare out the window, eyes fixed on beautiful wooded glens, braes and lochs.

Gordon also makes time to stop off at picturesque villages such as Luss and Comrie when we feel like exploring further. When hunger strikes, Gordon always has several options for us from a fancy seafood lunch with white tablecloths to cosy local pubs for a pint and a pie – always homemade and always delicious.

The High Road
From Edinburgh through the Highlands to Inverness, this is the ultimate castle-hopping road trip through Scotland
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“…we drive through the Great Trossachs Forest with the sun shining on the quiet lochs. We spot pheasants, wild turkeys, black grouse and red deer, and we get a roadside view of Stirling Castle before we are back in the Old Town of Edinburgh…”

We enter the Highlands up the mountain pass known as ‘Rest and Be Thankful’, appropriately named as that is exactly what travellers would do in times past when they finally reached the top. From the summit, the views of Glen Croe valley with a bright blue sky are incredible. Yes, I said blue sky. This is not what I expected. Where is all the rain and wind everyone cautioned me about? It’s a stunning 23 degrees and there is not a cloud to be seen.

A private tour of Inveraray Castle, home to the Duke of Argyll (chief of clan Campbell) is a great stopover, and the first of several that we explore. The castles in Scotland are a highlight of the trip and seem to pop up around every bend. I never tire of the history and hearing about the battles between clans.

We spend two nights on the west coast at the Isle of Eriska Hotel, a 121-hectare Relais & Chateaux property set on a private island estate accessible by a narrow bridge. The 19th-century mansion overlooks Loch Linnhe and the glorious west-highland scenery. Fittingly, there are several large fireplaces to cosy up next to with a glass of wine or a whisky – you can choose the deep comfy sofas with oak wood panelling in the hall or the sun-filled piano room surrounded by windows.

The hotel is a perfect jumping-off point for exploring the Hebridean Islands. A 45-minute ferry takes us to the Isle of Mull and from there the Isle of Iona. Sheep roam freely around both islands and Iona has a beautifully restored medieval abbey. In the sixth century, Saint Columba and his followers arrived from Ireland to spread the word of Christianity, and Iona was the first spot they landed. There are about 130 residents on the island as well as green pastures, sandy beaches and a handful of quaint shops selling locally produced crafts.

Our journey back to Edinburgh is just as delightful as we drive through the Great Trossachs Forest with the sun shining on the quiet lochs. We spot pheasants, wild turkeys, black grouse and red deer, and we get a roadside view of Stirling Castle before we are back in the Old Town of Edinburgh for a half-day private tour of the area including the Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Met by our enthusiastic tour guide, Sandra, we are given an abbreviated history lesson of all of the Georges and Jameses that ruled Scotland as we walk the Royal Mile from the palace to the castle. We explore both fortresses with Sandra and I take in more history in a few hours than I think I did right throughout high school.

So far, our trip has been sensational in every way, and the locals can’t stop talking about how spectacular the weather is – they keep thanking us for bringing the Australian sun with us. But I have to say I’m truly excited about the next part as we will be boarding the Belmond Royal Scotsman train for four days of beautiful countryside, delicious meals, local entertainment and more than a few ‘wee drams’ both at the whisky distilleries and on board.

We meet downstairs in a private lounge at the Balmoral Hotel to drop off our luggage and I happily tuck into some of the best shortbread I have ever tasted. Meanwhile, we ‘meet and greet’ our fellow passengers and our train host, Jerry. We are 32 guests in all, from all corners of the world.

After the formalities, we make our way to the train platform, where I hear the faint sound of pipes. Being a huge fan of bagpipes – I get choked up whenever I hear them – I quickly make my way to the front of the group so I can follow right behind the piper. He leads us all the way down the platform and onto the train where we are handed a glass of champagne from a silver tray. With tears rolling down my cheeks and a grin from ear to ear, I know this moment will always be one of my best travel memories.

The four days that follow truly surpass my expectations. The handsome burgundy and gold exterior of the train and the lovingly restored vintage carriages with polished brass and decorative woodwork create a nostalgic feeling. It’s easy to remain riveted by the scenery as it’s a bit of an undulating meditation watching the countryside hurtle along. The bright yellow fields of canola alongside the green pastures and purple heather are mesmerising and I come to realise that to truly appreciate the variety of the terrain you need to experience it on the ground.

A luxury train journey is an intimate hotel on wheels where you get to know your fellow travellers as time passes with good wines and thought-provoking conversation. The food is unanimously excellent and the service outstanding. The crew knew our names from day one and by day two, also knew our preferred beverage whether it was a flat white at breakfast or an 18-year-old single malt whisky at cocktail hour.

You would have to look very hard to find fault with this train. I did hear a few comments about the size of the cabins, but this is a train after all; there is only so much width to play with. My advice is to pack light, though they did store our suitcases for us, and ther eis also storage space under the beds. My husband and I found the cabins very comfortable, and he is two meters tall. The ensuite was thoughtfully laid out with high-quality organic toiletries and the shower’s water pressure was excellent.

The daytime excursions run the gamut from private castle tours, often times chatting with the duke or duchess of the castle, to whisky tasting and clay pigeon shooting (so much fun and easier than I expected). In the evenings after dinner we gathered in the observation car for entertainment, which ranged from lively folk music to a highlander regaling us with dramatic tales of the past. On our final night, we celebrated with live music and Scottish dancing on the train platform, a perfect ending to a perfect trip.

While in days gone by it may have been the budget traveller who rode the train while the well-heeled chose to fly, the golden age of rail travel is back. This is a wonderful way to slow down and enjoy the journey. A true luxury.

The Details

For a private journey through Scotland with Abercrombie & Kent, consider A Scottish Sojourn, priced from $10,355 per person. The nine-day tour includes hotel accommodation, services of A&K Guardian Angel, breakfast daily, private transfers and transport by luxury vehicle, daily sightseeing with expert private guides, and entrance fees.

A&K ’s nine-day small-group journey Scotland: Edinburgh & the Highlands is priced from $10,285 per person, twin share, with a maximum group size of 18. Rates for the Belmond Royal Scotsman five-day Classic Splendours journey start at $9630 per person. For more information, contact Abercrombie & Kent on 1300 590 317 or visit abercrombiekent.com.au

Bookable Itinerary: An 8-Day Safari Through Kenya

Tap into the essence of East Africa on an eight-day safari in Kenya

Take daily wildlife drives in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro, discover the Maasai way of life and learn about elephant conservation from a representative of the Kenya Wildlife Service. With endless plains teeming with wildlife and dotted with acacia trees, you own’t want to blink, let along put down the camera.

$3799 per person

Day 1 – Nairobi

Arrive at any time. A driver will be at the airport to pick you up and take you to the hotel. Feel free to explore before your welcome meeting in the evening, a chance to meet your fellow travellers and your Chief Experience Officer (CEO).

Day 2 – Nairobi to Masai Mara

After breakfast, we depart for the world famous Masai Mara National Reserve. With its vast open plains and flat-topped acacia trees, no visit to Kenya would  be complete without a visit here. In the afternoon, we will arrive in the area and get settled at our safari camp. Then we’ll make our way into the reserve for an afternoon wildlife safari drive, with an excellent chance of seeing the Big Five: buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion, and rhino.

Day 3 – Masai Mara

Set off on an early morning safari with our driver/guide and keep your eyes and ears peeled for movement and memories. Watch elephants and giraffe grazing, photograph zebras and wildebeest, and with a little luck, you’ll even spot animals feasting on a recent kill. The day continues with more wildlife viewing as you cross the rolling hills of the African savannah. Also enjoy a late afternoon/evening safari. Opt to fly over the Mara River, plains, and forests of the Masai Mara in a hot air balloon. Toast your return to earth with a Champagne breakfast, cooked wherever you land.

Day 4 – Masai Mara to Lake Nakuru National Park 

Depart early on a long but beautiful drive to Lake Nakuru. En route, stop in at a G Adventures for Good-supported project, Ubuntu Cafe an initiative that trains and creates more than 400 sustainable local jobs for mothers of children with disabilities, and supports paediatric health and education programs in the region. Visit the craft centre, meet some of the ‘Mamas’ in the program, learn how their lives have been impacted and, in turn, their communities empowered through this initiative, then sit down to a delicious farm-to-table lunch. Continue to our safari lodge inside the Lake Nakuru National Park. Enjoy a late afternoon wildlife safari drive, keep an eye out for the resident black and white rhino, buffalo, impala, and the elusive leopard.

Day 5 –Lake Nakuru National Park to Amboseli National Park

Enjoy a morning wildlife safari drive, heading to the shores of Lake Nakuru to see pelicans and cormorants. The park is also rich in other bird life, including grebes, white-winged black terns, stilts, avocets, and ducks. In the afternoon, venture south to famed Amboseli National Park, located at the foot of Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro. The snow-capped peak of the mountain dominates every aspect of the park, providing the ultimate photo backdrop.

Day 6 – Amboseli National Park

Enjoy morning and afternoon wildlife safari drives. Visit with some of the 1500 African elephants that roam the park. Look  for  other  wildlife  and meet the resident Maasai along the journey. Marvel in the beauty of Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s highest free-standing mountain, as it reigns over the landscape of this uniquely African location. During your down time, relax at camp, enjoying views of Mount Kilimanjaro and the wildlife visiting the camp’s watering holes. Gain a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding poaching and elephant conservation during a lecture by an accredited   speaker from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), an exclusive activity to the National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures itineraries. The KWS strives  to sustainably conserve and develop Kenya’s wildlife and its habitats, as well   as create programs to enable communities living in wildlife areas to benefit  from wildlife revenue.

Day 7 –Amboseli National Park to Nairobi / Depart

Rise early for a final morning wildlife safari drive, enjoying the African sun as  it rises over the savannah of the Amboseli plain. Return to Nairobi in the late afternoon and opt to join the CEO in a farewell dinner.

Inclusions

  • Hotels (two nights), safari lodge (one night), comfortable tented camps (four nights)

  • Seven breakfasts, six lunches, five dinners (allow US$100-130 for other meals)

  • Transportation: seven-seat 4WD safari vehicle

  • A maximum group size of six travellers in addition to a Chief Experience Officer (CEO/tour leader) and a driver, both trained safari guides.

  • A guaranteed window seat on safari 

Book This Tour:

Contact G Adventures here, call 1300 180 969 or email experience@gadventures.com

Tasting Tasmania: A Seven-Day Gourmet Itinerary

Tasmanian Gourmet Getaway | A&K
Tasmanian Gourmet Getaway | A&K

In partnership with

Abercrombie & Kent Logo

This seven-day private journey allows guests to immerse themselves in local food and wine, world class lodgings and signature Tassie experiences

This celebration of Tasmanian food, wine and culture reveals the very best of the Apple Isle. Take a self-drive journey from Launceston to Hobart, indulging in the flavours of Freycinet, the Huon Valley and Bruny Island along the way. A day at MONA challenges your perceptions in many ways and is sure to amaze. Highlights of the experience include indulging at Tasmania’s luxury coastal sanctuary Saffire Freycinet, discovering the bizarre and brilliant works at MONA, getting a behind-the-scenes experience at a raptor refuge, and touring the gourmet havens of Bruny Island and the Huon Valley.

Day 1

Arrive Launceston

Collect your rental car and drive to your waterfront accommodation. Spend an afternoon at leisure wandering the heritage-listed streets of Australia’s third-oldest city.

 

Day 2

Freycinet National Park

Journey to the East Coast, home to the majestic mountains, azure bays and white beaches of Freycinet National Park. Settle in to luxury boutique lodge, Saffire Freycinet, and soak up the landscape and views of the Hazards mountain range across Great Oyster Bay. Tonight, dine at Palate, possibly Tasmania’s most exclusive restaurant.

 

Days 3-4

Freycinet National Park

Relax, indulge and enjoy the beautiful coastal reserve with your choice of activities. Take a guided walk to stunning Wineglass Bay or enjoy private tastings at Freycinet Vineyard. Pull on waders and discover the workings of a local oyster farm before gathering around for a feast, or take time out for a complimentary spa treatment. Visit Saffire’s open-range Tasmanian devil enclosure and assist with saving this endangered species from extinction.

  • Stay at Saffire Freycinet
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 5

Hobart

Head south to Hobart and MONA, the breathtaking and utterly brilliant museum. Lose yourself in the contemporary collection of art and antiquities that never fails to inspire, challenge and confront. Enjoy a three-course degustation lunch at The Source with wines from Moorilla Winery. Later, make your way to Hobart newcomer MACq 01, Australia’s first story-telling hotel situated on the waterfront.

 

Day 6

Huon Valley

Take a private tour to Kettering, first stopping at an inspirational raptor refuge where you are invited behind-the-scenes to observe how precious, and endangered, birds of prey are being rehabilitated and returned to the wild. Next, board the ferry to Bruny Island where you’ll discover a gourmand’s paradise first at the Bruny Island Cheese Company followed by Adventure Bay. Embrace the tranquillity of the Huon Valley and the vineyards as you laze over a locally-sourced lunch before meandering back to Hobart.

  • Stay at MACq 01
  • Breakfast and lunch

 

Day 7

Hobart

Drive to Hobart airport and return your vehicle before onward flight arrangements

  • Breakfast

The Details

Travel Dates 2018

As this Private Journey can be personalised to your specific requirements, it is not available for online booking.

Depending on your preferred dates and arrangements, final pricing will vary from low season to peak season travel.

Please call A&K on 1300 851 800 or send a booking enquiry to book this journey.

Prices

Per Person Twin Share: From AU$5,370

For more information and to enquire about this offer, please visit abercrombiekent.com.au

Itinerary: From the Flinders Ranges to the Fleurieu Peninsula

Arkaba Homestead Flinders Ranges | A&K
Arkaba Homestead Flinders Ranges | A&K

In partnership with

Abercrombie & Kent Logo

Combine a professionally-guided outback hiking adventure with the natural beauty of Fleurieu Peninsula through this six-day experience in South Australia

Explore the spirit of Outback Australia on a guided hike unveiling layers of history hidden within the Flinders Ranges. Traverse ancient landscapes and experience deluxe swag camping and gracious hospitality. Then, fly onto the Fleurieu Peninsula and explore the culinary playground which is McLaren Vale.

Journey highlights include exploring the rugged Flinders Ranges on a guided three-day hike, camping under the stars in luxury swag tents, sharing stories over dinner and South Australian wines in your homestead oasis and enjoying a behind-the-scenes tour of the d’Arenberg Cube, a must for wine connoisseurs.

Day 1

Arrive Adelaide – Flinders Ranges

Drive to South Australia’s Flinders Ranges, where the rugged Outback comes to life. Set off from Wilpena Pound, hiking to the rim of this natural amphitheatre, before descending into the Arkaba Wilderness and walking into camp in the late afternoon. Savour a three-course alfresco camp dinner and settle into your deluxe swag tent for a night under a canopy of stars (Walking approx 13km, 5-6 hours).

  • Stay at Black’s Gap Camp
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner

 

Day 2

Flinders Ranges

Today is arguably the most scenic, as you move out from Black’s Gap through meandering riverbeds into the rolling hills. Follow the famous Heysen Trail for a while through Black’s Gap. Red and grey kangaroos and emus are regularly sighted. The last leg takes you into the hills, culminating in a sharp climb to the summit of the Red Range for panoramic views. Descend to the foot of the Elder Range and arrive at camp in the early evening (Walking approx 14-15km, 6–7 hours).

  • Stay at Elder Camp
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner

 

Day 3

Flinders Ranges

Plenty of time today to stop for photographs, bird watching, botanising and discussion. Move southeast through mallee and native pine forests before crossing Slaty Creek. Ascend the Red Range ridge and down to the banks of Arkaba Creek, home to hundreds of magnificent river red gums. Arrive at Arkaba Homestead for a quintessential Outback experience, enjoying a beautifully-prepared meal and some excellent South Australian wines (Walking approx 14-15km, 6–7 hours).

Day 4

Fleurieu Peninsula

This morning, depart your homestead and fly to Adelaide before being collected for your discovery of world-renowned wine region, McLaren Vale. Start your exploration with a leisurely walk to view spectacular Onkaparinga Gorge and learn about the ancient geology of the area. Reward yourself with an exclusive masterclass at Wirra Wirra’s Old Barrel Hall, followed by a delicious lunch from local producers as you continue to explore this beautiful area.

 

Day 5

Fleurieu Peninsula

Today, enjoy your own exclusive experience of the d’Arenberg Cube, a unique cube-shaped complex built to excite the senses with its wine sensory room, Alternate Realities Museum, virtual fermenter and tasting room. Have a behind-the-scenes tour followed by a wine masterclass and a superb 11-course degustation lunch. Finish your day dozing as you drive along the tranquil Silver Sands Beach back to your accommodation.

  • Stay at Coastal Lodge
  • Breakfast and lunch

 

Day 6

Depart Fleurieu Peninsula

Farewell this stunning wine region as you transfer to Adelaide for your departing flight.

  • Breakfast

The Details

Travel Dates 2018

As this Private Journey can be personalised to your specific requirements, it is not available for online booking.

Depending on your preferred dates and arrangements, final pricing will vary from low season to peak season travel.

Please call A&K on 1300 851 800 or send us a booking enquiry to book this journey.

Prices

Per Person Twin Share: AU$8,385

For more information and to enquire about this reader offer please visit abercrombiekent.com.au

Itinerary: A Self-Drive Adventure Through the North Island

Connoisseur's North Island | A&K
Connoisseur's North Island | A&K

In partnership with

Abercrombie & Kent Logo

Fishing, food, golf and two of New Zealand’s most prestigious lodges – it’s all on offer during this exclusive private journey through the North Island

This exclusive self-drive journey through New Zealand’s North Island has it all. Discover firsthand why the Tongariro River is the country’s fly-fishing capital, and view the world’s biggest mainland colony of gannets at Cape Kidnappers. Seek adventures on foot, bicycle or horseback for the ultimate New Zealand Experience. Journey highlights include roaming along black sand beaches on Auckland’s wild west coast, relaxing with food and wine at Huka Lodge, discovering a fly-fishing paradise on the world-famous Tongariro River and seeking cliff-top adventures at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers.

Day 1

Arrive Auckland – Waiheke Island

Collect your rental vehicle and explore this harbour city at your leisure. Make your way to your accommodation on Waiheke Island, a two-hour drive away.

 

Day 2

Waiheke Island

Enjoy a gourmet food and wine tour of Waiheke Island, tasting fresh oysters, locally produced specialities and wine from the island’s top vineyards.

  • Stay at The Boatshed
  • Breakfast and lunch

 

Day 3

Taupo

Journey south to Huka Lodge on the Waikato River. Nestled in manicured grounds on the door step of the World Heritage-listed Tongariro National Park, this luxury lodge is your perfect base. Soak up the surrounds over pre-dinner drinks.

  • Stay at Huka Lodge
  • Breakfast and dinner

Days 4-5

Taupo

Two full days’ fly-fishing on the Tongariro River. Let experienced guides introduce you to the most diverse range of rainbow and brown trout fly-fishing in the country. Later, feast on a tasting menu of sustainably sourced ingredients, such as spanner crab and John Dory, matched with the region’s finest wines.

  • Stayt at Huka Lodge
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner

 

Day 6

Hawke’s Bay

Journey upstream to the thunderous Huka Falls for a thrilling jet-boat ride. Continue to Hawke’s Bay and The Farm at Cape Kidnappers. This magnificent property sits atop rolling hills and rugged cliffs with infinite ocean views.

 

Day 7

Hawke’s Bay

Join your guide on a discovery of the 6,000-acre working sheep and cattle farm on which your 5-star retreat is located. Witness the highly-trained farm dogs muster sheep. Trek across hidden trails to see the largest, most accessible mainland colony of gannets in the world. If you are feeling adventurous, take a picnic and venture to the colony by mountain bike.

  • Stay at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers
  • Breakfast and dinner

 

Day 8

Hawke’s Bay – Depart Napier

Drive to Napier Airport for your onward flight.

  • Breakfast

The Details

Travel Dates 2018

As this Private Journey can be personalised to your specific requirements, it is not available for online booking.

Depending on your preferred dates and arrangements, final pricing will vary from low season to peak season travel.

Please call A&K on 1300 851 800 or send a booking enquiry to book this journey.

Prices

Per Person: From AU$10,995

For more information and to enquire about this offer, please visit abercrombiekent.com.au

Itinerary: Traversing New Zealand’s South Island

South Island Traverse | A&K
South Island Traverse | A&K

In partnership with

Abercrombie & Kent Logo

Spectacular snow-capped Alps, glacial lakes and waterfalls make this the ultimate New Zealand journey, featuring Queenstown, Milford Sound and Dunedin

Traverse New Zealand’s South Island from coast to coast and unlock a hidden world of sweeping landscapes, extraordinary wildlife and world famous wine. Marvel at Milford Sound from the skies, witness wild fur seal colonies, linger in cellars of world-class wineries, visit magnificent castles in Dunedin and get up close to the wildlife of the Otago Peninsula. Highlights of this itinerary include witnessing majestic Milford Sound from above on a private helicopter tour, landing amongst the ancient ice floes of the Fiordland glaciers, savouring world-class wines in Gibbston Valley, and soaking up the quirky city vibe in historic Dunedin and admiring its Edwardian architecture.

Day 1

Arrive Queenstown

Welcome to beautiful Queenstown and transfer to Azur Lodge with its magnificent view over the Remarkables mountain range and Lake Wakatipu. Evening at leisure.

 

Day 2

Milford Sound

Journey into the heart of Fiordland to Milford Sound for a two-hour private helicopter flight along the Southern Alps into the Sound. Sweep the full length of the fiord to a remote west coast beach to see the wild fur seal colonies. Land on top of the world amongst the ancient ice floes.

  • Stay at Azur Lodge
  • Breakfast and lunch

 

Day 3

Queenstown

Enjoy a full day tour of Queenstown including a visit to Gibbston Valley Winery. Tour the remarkable Wine Cave, enjoy tastings and lunch. Spend time with a renowned local artist inside their studio before settling back into your private villa.

  • Stay at Azur Lodge
  • Breakfast and lunch

Day 4

Dunedin

Today drive through to Dunedin, known as the Edinburgh of New Zealand, surrounded by rolling hills. Spend the afternoon acquainting yourself with the picturesque harbour and Edwardian buildings.

 

Day 5

Dunedin

Explore magical Dunedin with a visit to two of the city’s most iconic buildings: Jacobean styled Olveston House, set on an acre of inner-city land and reflecting the life of a wealthy early 20th century merchant family, and lovingly restored Larnach Castle with its extensive grounds. Enjoy a private tour of the gardens.

  • Stay at Distinction Dunedin
  • Breakfast

 

Day 6

Dunedin

Enjoy a full day touring the beautiful Otago Peninsula and get up close to the yellow-eyed penguin, Hooker’s sea lion, fur seals and the royal albatross. Cruise aboard the ‘Monarch’ to an albatross colony and spot other seabirds.

  • Stay at Distinction Dunedin
  • Breakfast and lunch

 

Day 7

Depart Dunedin

Bid farewell to Dunedin and transfer to the airport for your departing flight.

  • Breakfast

The Details

Travel Dates 2018

As this Private Journey can be personalised to your specific requirements, it is not available for online booking.

Depending on your preferred dates and arrangements, final pricing will vary from low season to peak season travel.

Please call A&K on 1300 851 800 or send a booking enquiry to book this journey.

Prices

Per Person: From AU$9,775

For more information and to enquire about this offer, please visit abercrombiekent.com.au

Itinerary: An Epicurean Adventure in New Zealand’s South Island

Kiwi Epicurean Adventure | A&K
Kiwi Epicurean Adventure | A&K

In partnership with

Abercrombie & Kent Logo

Ramble through acres of vines in the world-renowned Marlborough wine region, meet local foodies and sample artisan produce in Wellington

If you’ve ever wanted to explore New Zealand’s gastronomy scene, this new adventure by A&K is the perfect place to start, taking you from cool and cultured Wellington to the famous wine region of Marlborough. Cosmopolitan and energetic, Wellington has an edgy creative vibe fuelled by great food, wine and craft beer. See museum highlights, indulge in a private gourmet immersion and take a fascinating behind the scenes film studio tour. A short ferry ride to the west reveals the Marlborough wine region where there’s ample opportunity for cellar door visits and tastings. Highlights of the journey include meeting local foodies and sampling artisan produce, taking a behind the scenes look at New Zealand filmmaking, blasting off behind the scenes of Thunderbirds Are Go and rambling through acres of vines in the world-renowned Marlborough wine region.

Day 1

Arrive Wellington

Arrive into the New Zealand capital where you have the day to settle in.

Stay at Sofitel Wellington

 

Day 2

Wellington

Immerse yourself in Kiwi cuisine today on a private gourmet tour of Wellington. Meet some of the country’s top artisan food producers and savour local specialities in hand-picked providores. Sample regional cheeses, native honeys, artisan chocolates and much more before a delicious lunch expertly matched with New Zealand wines or local craft beer at one of the city’s leading restaurants. This afternoon, accept your invitation to tea in a local home and experience Kiwi hospitality at its warmest.

  • Stay at Sofitel Wellington
  • Breakfast and lunch

 

Day 3

Wellington

For a succinct overview of what makes New Zealand unique, venture to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa to admire select highlights of the collection which showcase the country’s diverse natural environment, the Maori culture and treasures, its art and colonial history. This afternoon, movie buffs will be spellbound on a behind the scenes workshop tour of Weta Studios learning about the effects created for The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, the record-breaking Gallipoli: The Scale of our War, and more. Later, visit the Thunderbirds Are Go shooting stage and be amazed by the props, models and miniatures built for the popular television series, including Tracy Island, the Thunderbird hangars and Lady Penelope’s mansion.

  • Stay at Sofitel Wellington
  • Breakfast

Day 4

Blenheim

Board the morning Interislander ferry for the Cook Strait crossing to Picton in the South Island where you collect your rental car and self-drive south to Blenheim. Explore a little before arriving at your luxury lodgings on a wine estate in the heart of the Marlborough wine-growing region.

 

Day 5

Blenheim

Get a taste of Marlborough on a private tour of the region. With over 100 wineries in the area, a host of primary food producers, cafés and restaurants galore, Marlborough really is a gourmet province. You’ll visit world renowned wineries such as Cloudy Bay, Allan Scott, Wither Hills and Brancott Estate,as well as more boutique favourites such as Framingham, Saint Clair and Wairau river. Taste your way through various vintages of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and learn about the unique characteristics of each.

 

Day 6

Blenheim

Spend the day relaxing at the lodge, rambling through the gardens and vineyard, visiting the wine shack or biking through the idyllic countryside. Alternatively, travel further afield to vineyards, gourmet restaurants, golf courses or the breathtaking Marlborough Sounds.

  • Stay at The Marlborough Lodge
  • Breakfast and dinner

 

Day 7

Depart Blenheim

Return your rental car to Blenheim airport and depart.

  • Breakfast

The Details

Travel Dates 2019

As this Private Journey can be personalised to your specific requirements, it is not available for online booking.

Depending on your preferred dates and arrangements, final pricing will vary from low season to peak season travel.

Please call A&K on 1300 851 800 or send a booking enquiry to book this journey.

 

Prices

Per Person Twin Share: From AU$5,370

For more information and to enquire about this offer, please visit abercrombiekent.com.au

A Luxury Guide to Melbourne’s CBD

Collins Street, Melbourne
Collins Street, Melbourne

For quintessential cosmopolitan Melbourne, there’s no looking past the Collins Street Precinct

For a number of years during my 20s, my girlfriends and I would spend two weekends a year in Melbourne, choosing to spend our hard-earned cash from our casual university jobs on experiencing the Victorian capital. These were always fun-filled, exciting weekends. We loved the change of scenery, we loved the novelty of the trams, we loved the change of climate, and we loved that we could experience a major Australian city that felt nothing at all like Sydney, where we lived, with only a 50-minute flight.

Those trips were of the sort you can easily imagine a group of mid-20s women taking – we stayed in Prahran, went dancing at Electric Ladyland, shopped on Chapel Street and checked out St Kilda… briefly, until we remembered no Sydneysider goes to Melbourne for the beach. These days, my trips to Melbourne take a different tone, and a few months ago I found myself back in the city for an entirely different sort of weekender: a luxurious girls’ weekend with my mum. This time, we weren’t going to leave the CBD – more specifically, we weren’t going to leave the Collins Street precinct. We were going to walk everywhere, taking in the area’s historic architecture and visiting the precinct’s best dining, spa and retail offerings – in other words, the kind of holiday I can definitely get down with.

The Collins Street Precinct stretches from Parliament House in the east to Docklands in the west. It’s considered Melbourne’s most desirable neighbourhood and its most prestigious business address, and this is something I felt as soon as I arrived. Taking an observation-paced amble, I admired beautiful old buildings juxtaposed against a slew of shiny and new designer shops, five star hotels and the city’s famous arcades. I felt like I was in a European city… without the 30 hours of flying and the jetlag.

If that doesn’t already constitute a successful weekend away, I don’t know what does, so here’s how I recommend spending 48 hours in Melbourne’s CBD. Don’t forget your walking shoes.

St. Collins Lane

Ah, St. Collins Lane, where have you been all my life? Located at the former Australia on Collins site, which undertook a $30 million redevelopment in 2014, this gorgeous retail destination now houses 9000sqm of retail space with an exclusive offering of just 30 boutiques, along with a casual dining space that elegantly reinterprets the bad-taste food courts of yesterday.

Meandering through this stunning arcade was one of my favourite parts of the weekend. Until I set foot inside this gorgeous, gleaming building I had no idea that some of my favourite French fashion brands – Maje and Sandro – or English department store, Debenhams, even had stores in Australia. St. Collins Lane is also home to UK womenswear brand Reiss along with Zadig & Zoltaire, Furla, Cerrone, Claudie Pierlot, Coach, Leica Store & Gallery, Adolfo Dominguez and Lacoste, among others.

But aside from the gorgeous retail offering, it’s the design that really wins me over. Shall I begin by mentioning the spectacular, green sculptural, geometric lightscape? This design marvel runs the entire length of the second-floor canopy, elegantly falling through voids at alternating heights to create a breathtaking centrepiece and focal point for the whole arcade. It features thousands of freestanding LED glass bulbs hanging from the ceiling mimicking leaves falling from trees, and the twinkling emerald cylinders are truly beautiful. If I was into selfies, I would definitely take one here…

Overall, the space is contemporary while still being warm and inviting. ARM Architects has seamlessly integrated the sophistication of Collins Street with the gritty vibe of Little Collins Street, while creating a unique retail experience. Each level of the centre also has its own ‘design language’, as the architects put it, so moving from one floor to the next is a journey in itself.

 

St. Collins Lane
260 Collins Street
Melbourne

stcollinslane.com.au

Royal St. Collins

St. Collins Lane

If you need another reason to visit St Collins Lane, this one should do the job nicely. The incredibly posh, European-style tea house that is Royal St Collins is located on the Ground floor of St. Collins Lane and is the perfect spot for a champagne brunch, high tea or even lunch. You can choose from an all-day menu of eggs, salads, quiches, sandwiches and soups, but of course we opted for the signature Royal St. Collins High Tea. The tiered beauty comes with a set selection of high tea sweets including macaroons and point sandwiches along with scones served with jam and cream and a choice of coffee or Harney & Sons tea. For an extra $20, add a glass of Veuve Clicquot… you know you want to (and yes, we did).

 

Royal St. Collins
Ground Floor
St. Collins Lane
260 Collins Street

royalstcollins.com

 

Essensorie

Block Arcade

I cannot sing the praises of this new store enough. As if its gorgeous location in the historic – and forever beautiful – Block Arcade wasn’t enough, crossing over the store’s threshold is like being transported to a day spa in your own home. The interior is warm, cosy and inviting, but let’s not harp on about the design because the real reason you go to Essensorie is for the divine face, body and home products that smell even better than they could ever look.

Founded by French-trained botanical perfumer Nicole Thomas, who runs the shop with her charming son, Essensorie is pure comfort, and not in an impulsive, short-lived retail splurge kind of way. The small but charming shop is a lullaby for the senses, and seems to combine all the best bits of every skin/face/body store you’ve ever been into.

The exclusive range of aromatic products, each conceived at Nicole’s country Victorian farm and perfumery, celebrate the artistry of natural perfumery and focus on natural ingredients and essential oils. The products are all 100% pure plant essence fragrances and contain a complex alchemy of scents masterfully formulated with a base, heart and top note – just like a perfume.

Essensorie also focuses on sourcing products that are produced sustainably and certified organic where possible. All body and home products are sulphate-, paraben-, mineral oil-, artificial colour and fragrance-, SLS- and petrochemical-free and no aromas are synthetically derived, so you know that each fragrance you smell is the pure essence of nature, in a bottle.

My pick for weary travellers? The Geranium Bergamot Travel Roll-On Remedy has been designed to alleviate the stress and anxiety of long-haul flights and draining commutes and emanates floral, citrus and leafy notes. It might not emulate the feeling of Business Class but it will certainly calm you down, and the aroma is divine. Believe me when I say it’s scent-sational – it’s so good I’m not even sorry about the bad pun.

Essensorie
Shop 3,
The Block Arcade
282-284 Collins Street

essensorie.com

Liminal

Liminal is located at the prestigious Paris end of Collins Street on the ground floor of the T&G Building, which is essentially the office building to end all office buildings (think: cafés, shared working spaces, designer furniture-clad meeting areas, bespoke club-style concierge services… you get the idea). Similarly, Liminal is not your usual office building café.

The eatery is a cafe, wine store and event space all in one, and the food focuses on seasonal produce sourced from local, small-scale growers and producers. It’s farm to table in the urban jungle; food that will make you forget that you’re in the heart of the city. My pick for breakfast is the prawn and cauliflower scrambled eggs on toast with paprika oil. If this doesn’t banish Mondayitis for T&G workers, I don’t know what will… except for maybe some retail therapy at the nearby designer stores dotting the Paris end of Town.

Liminal
Ground Floor
T&G Building
161 Collins Street

liminalmelbourne.com

 

Garçon Paris Steakhouse

Staying with the French theme in Melbourne’s le petit Paris, French brasserie Garçon Paris Steakhouse is a must-visit for a sensational steak-frites affair in a traditional brasserie straight out of the City of Love. Located off Collins Street at Alfred Place, the restaurant opened in July 2018 with a menu inspired by Paris’ famous steakhouses, and after digging into the ginormous, signature steak-frites as well as a fresh garden salad and the best French onion soup I’ve ever had, it’s fair to say this joint is the real deal for French bistro fare.

And the food isn’t even the whole picture. The interior is cozy and inviting with a style inspired by tongue-in-cheek 1980s Paris, and if you’re lucky enough to be served by the restaurant’s manager, Clive, you’ll also be giggling your way through the meal – mouth full of fries, no less. He’s the kind of character a Parisian steakhouse would have had in the 80s, and he really knows his way around a wine list, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself trying wines you’ve never even heard of – it’s all in the name of joie de vivre.

Garcon Paris Steakhouse
6 Alfred Place

garconparissteakhouse.com.au

Botanica Day Spa

When it’s time to get your pamper on, it’s time to head to an oldie but a goodie: InterContinental Melbourne at the Rialto, where you’ll find Botanica Day Spa. Lovely soft and elegant interiors ensure you’ll exhale the moment you arrive, as exactly as I did. I opted for a 60-minute massage, and my therapist was evidently experienced and skilled, targeting the various knots in my shoulders while still ensuring I stayed relaxed – I’m not here for a workout, after all – this is spa time, not boot camp.

My mother chose a Dynamic Resurfacing Precision Peel – the ultimate in beauty-meets-science skincare, targeting the signs of ageing and uneven skin tone through powerful exfoliation and renewal. Needless to say, when her treatment was complete, and I emerged with massage face, I wouldn’t have been surprised if there was some confusion around who in fact was the mother and who was the daughter in the relationship…

 

collinsstreet.com.au

 

Want more Melbourne CBD Recommendations? The below are some other excellent eateries to try:

 

Trinket Flinders Lane

This pizza and cocktail bar is always a good option for an after-work aperitif or a late-night tipple. Not to mention, there’s a hidden cellar bar located through a wardrobe… straight out of a C.S. Lewis novel.

 

Oli & Levi

A top-notch coffee shop with a chilled-out and relaxing ambiance, Oli & Levi is an ideal spot for breakfast and lunch. Be sure to try their delicious egg puff pastry, available in a variety of flavours like ham and chilli jam, and jalapeño and cheddar.

 

Lucy Liu Kitchen & Bar

One of Melbourne’s trendiest Asian restaurants, Lucy Liu offers a variety of share plates and a bespoke drinks list. Don’t leave without trying the barramundi and scampi dumplings.

 

Lello Pasta Bar

The place for pasta aficionados, Lello’s pastas are all made by hand every day. Go here for delicious Italian comfort food in a cosy and romantic environment.

 

Harley House

With expertly-plated Peruvian dishes, the word on the street is only in-the-know locals know about this joint, so you’re welcome. Expect impressive wine and cocktails and good moods all round.

 

The Sherlock Holmes

A casual, English-themed bar with a rustic-chic interior serving craft beer, share plates and classic pub grub.

 

Madelin Tomelty was a guest of Collins Street Precinct.