Brisbane is your starting point, and Queensland’s capital is the ideal place to recharge your batteries after the flight. Find a hotel in the heart of things: the city has a great range of restaurants and world-class shopping. After a couple of days, drive to Gold Coast (90 minutes away) for beach and fun and to experience themeparks of Movieworld, Seaworld, Dreamworld, Wet and Wild and Whitewater World.
It’s just a short flight from Brisbane or Gold Coast to the Whitsunday Islands, great for snorkellers, scuba divers and yachting enthusiasts – and there’s even a golf course on one of the islands. Fly to Hamilton Island or Proserpine, and hop on a boat to the Great Barrier Reef. Better still, if the budget allows, book a seaplane to take you there – and snorkel on the world’s largest coral reef. Accommodation options include villas, guesthouses and resorts: Hayman Island is highly recommended.
Your next stop is Sydney. The Harbour City is less than three hours away from the Whitsundays by plane. Life in Sydney also revolves around the water. How about a twilight sail on the harbour or a surfing lesson at Manly? Do drag yourself away from Sydney’s hedonistic charms for a couple of days in the Hunter Valley wine region, a two-hour drive from the city: its countryside is almost as delicious as the wine. There should be enough time to swim with dolphins farther along the coast at Port Stephens before driving back to Sydney.