Featuring some of the planet’s most remarkable wildlife, natural wonders, soaring mountains, remote islands, pristine rainforests and fantastic food and wine, a holiday that combines Queensland and New South Wales provides the very best of Australia.sydney-harbour

Thanks to regular flights from London Heathrow with Malaysia Airlines, you can begin your trip in either Sydney or Brisbane — both youthful, vibrant and cosmopolitan cities.
Where you choose as your starting point will be determined by your wish list. Is your priority getting close to nature in the great outdoors? Chilling out on the beach for a few days? Or soaking up the country’s urban culture? The possibilities are endless.

Both cities encapsulate the energy and optimism that the world now associates with Australia. Whether it’s climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge or kayaking on the Brisbane River, the essence of a holiday Down Under is to get involved, to step outside your comfort zone and “take
the plunge”.

Both are also ideal starting points for exploring famous wilderness areas such as the Blue Mountains National Park or Great Barrier Reef; and there are also plenty of other diverse regions. From Sydney your options include the wine-rich Hunter Valley and the sparkling waters of Jervis Bay. Brisbane is the gateway to the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, much loved by surfers and sun-worshippers.

Brisbane and Sydney also excel in the sports, shopping, bar and restaurant departments. Celebrated for high-end restaurants such as Quay, Rockpool Bar and Grill and Tetsuya, Sydney is now embracing an edgier experience. Almost every back street and alleyway sports a quirky bar or hole-in-the-wall restaurant and many serve hard-to-find wines by the glass. The accent is funky and multi-cultural – from Asia to South America via Spain, Italy, Greece and the Middle East.

The city’s passion for great food is reflected in the plethora of farmers’ markets, food festivals and other gastronomic events; don’t miss the Good Food Month Sydney festival held every October.
While Sydney and Brisbane are key destinations in their own right – the Sydney Opera House is a global icon whereas “BrisVegas” has an irresistible energy – both cities are perfect starting points for exploring the eastern seaboard.
In New South Wales, the traveller will find plenty of adventure options – from learning to surf on Bondi Beach, sailing a yacht on Sydney Harbour or, just 90 minutes from the city, mountain biking and hiking in the Blue Mountains National Park. This huge and scenic wilderness boasts more than 86 miles of trails and walking tracks and there are wonderful places to go camping.

As you’ll soon discover, most Australians are energetic, adventurous and unstoppable. They warmly embrace others who adopt this enthusiastic approach to life. You’ll find the locals relaxed, welcoming and always willing to help. Like the Brits, they also like to have a joke.

Those who begin their holiday in Sydney have the option of driving to Brisbane rather than hopping on a domestic flight. Taking in Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour and Byron Bay, the Legendary Pacific Coast drive is one of Australia’s great road journeys. Stop at one of the charming coastal towns along the way and spend a night at a lighthouse keeper’s cottage.

Just two-and-a-half hours north of Sydney is Port Stephens with its glorious golden beaches and clear water. Here you can take a boat trip to see bottlenose dolphins frolicking in the sea, go four-wheel driving or sandboarding on one of the largest sand dunes in the southern hemisphere and, from late May to early November, you can spot
migrating whales.

There are a number of side trips you might add to your self-drive experience. For wine-lovers, a trip inland to the Hunter Valley, famous for its semillon and shiraz, is an absolute necessity. Alternatively, explore the scenic wonders of the Unesco World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforest with its ancient volcanic plugs, lush rainforests and rare Antarctic beech trees.

Cross the state border between New South Wales and its northern counterpart Queensland and you enter a semi-tropical zone. The air is languid, the countryside green and you get your first sight of banana and sugar cane plantations.
Whether you fly into Brisbane directly or drive here along the coast from Sydney, it’s impossible to ignore the subtle difference between the two places. Northwards of Brisbane, winters are non-existent, men wear shorts (even to work) and there are roadside stalls selling pineapples, mangos, lychees and other luscious tropical fruits.
If the glory of Sydney is its harbour, bridge and opera house then Queensland’s undisputed superstar is the Great Barrier Reef. The world’s largest structure made by living organisms, this enormous collection of coral reefs, cays and islands stretches 1,430 miles along the coast.

The northern cities of Cairns and Townsville both offer easy access to the reef – with Port Douglas a less frenetic option if you want to book a guided scuba dive, an overnight sailing trip or one of the many other
aquatic adventures.

Despite its iconic status the Great Barrier Reef is far from being Queensland’s only draw. The Whitsundays, Fraser Island, the Daintree Rainforest and the Atherton Tablelands (inland from Cairns) all tempt the visitor with a host of outdoor activities, abundant native wildlife and a wide variety of untouched natural landscapes.
Whether you want to hug a koala, challenge yourself by snorkelling on a remote coral reef with clownfish, manta rays and turtles or perhaps witness the astonishing birdlife on the Mareeba Wetlands, you’ll find it right here in Queensland — a place that seems to unlock the adventurous spirit of just about everyone who visits.

And who could be unmoved by the sight of a giant humpback whale in the wild? Queensland’s Hervey Bay is the whale-watching capital of Australia. From July to early November humpbacks travel along the Queensland coast en route to their breeding grounds in Antarctica – Hervey Bay is one of their resting grounds and an ideal place to watch them at play, sometimes with their calves. It is an experience that will stay with you for ever. For a different type of whale-watching adventure travel north to Cairns, where the Ribbon Reefs play host to smaller, friendlier minke whales between May and August. Specialist operators now offer the chance to snorkel with pods of these inquisitive creatures; some whales have been known to stay with a boat for up to 10 hours.

While Queensland retains a sense of the Australian Frontier, moving around couldn’t be simpler. You can easily fly from Brisbane to any part of the state – with fast connections to the remotest island. Those who want to self-drive will find well-maintained roads and freeways, affordable car rental and plenty of fuel stops along the way.
New South Wales and Queensland work brilliantly in combination, whatever your interests or length of stay. Imagine watching a show at the Sydney Opera House and jetting off to a remote tropical island the next morning. Anything is possible…

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