Dive into Australia

When we asked Betty Jo Currie of Currie & Co. to create an itinerary to Australia, she picked some of the most iconic destinations in the country: Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef. From the underwater attractions of the reef to the soaring heights of the Sydney Harbour Bridge—and beyond, with a flight over the harbor—Betty Jo’s itinerary covers some of Australia’s favorite destinations from every angle. For more details on her itinerary and other trips to Australia, visit AFAR Journeys.

Bennelong Point, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, the Sydney Opera House was inspired by its dramatic setting on Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour, a location that’s long been sacred to the native Gadigal people. While construction took 16 years, including four years to figure out the spherical solution to the icon’s soaring sails, any controversies melted away when the masterpiece was completed in 1973. The same outside-the-box thinking that built the shell-shaped sculpture seeps through its walls today in the form of boundary-pushing opera, theater, and dance as well as contemporary music and mind-opening lectures. The landmark is also home to the beloved Opera Bar and Bennelong Restaurant upstairs, where diners can eat pavlova shaped like the landmark in which they sit.
Sydney, Australia
Australia’s most famous beach has played many roles throughout history. In 1907, a group of local swimmers became the world’s first lifeguards; during World War II, it was fortified by barbed wire and iron stakes; and over the last few decades, it has become a play land for international backpackers. More recently, the bohemian surf hood has morphed into a lively dining and shopping hub, with restaurants ranging from standbys like Sean’s Panaroma to the friendly burger joint Bonditony’s to Italian favorite Da Orazio Pizza and Porchetta, opened by Icebergs Dining Room owner Maurice Terzino. (Don’t miss the pool and sauna at Icebergs either.) Once fed, check in at the QT Hotel, shop along Gould Street, and walk the stunning Bondi to Coogee coastal path.

Anyone can swim in this glorious pool for a mere $5.50. Mon-Fri: 6:00-6:30pm Sat, Sun: 6:30-6:30pm Closed Thursdays.
20 Whitsunday Boulevard
Islands trace the Great Barrier Reef up the northeastern coast of Australia, clustering in the clear blue waters known as the Whitsundays. There, nestled on Hamilton Island, Qualia has set a new standard for Australian tourism—and resorts worldwide. What is magical about Qualia, however, is not just the champagne on arrival, or the fact that some rooms have their own plunge pools. The winning feature here is how perfectly the resort fits into the natural beauty of the island, almost disappearing into the eucalyptus trees of the surrounding rain forest. Understated and sophisticated, Qualia fosters a sensitive connection to the environment, allowing guests to experience Australia without all the usual tourist fanfare.

Rooms look through natural bushland out to the water and surrounding islands, where dolphins are frequently spotted. They also come with their own electric golf carts, which guests can use to tour the entire island. In the epic Long Pavilion, floor-to-ceiling windows on the seaward side open to an infinity pool, while glass windows at the other end offer views of the resort’s bright tropical landscaping.
Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays QLD 4802, Australia
Does this setting look familiar? Picturesque Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island has stood in more than once for the perfect island paradise. The sand here is dazzlingly white, thanks to a high percentage of silica crystals. Explore the region on one of many possibly day excursions arranged through qualia. Walk along the more than four miles of stunning beach, snorkel in the pristine waters directly off the beach or enjoy a scenic helicopter flight soaring high above the islands. Escape to the beach with Betty Jo Currie’s Water Views from Sydney to the Great Barrier Reef itinerary or check out the other trips to Australia on AFAR Journeys.
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