I grew up in small outback towns in South Australia before starting in the travel industry in Adelaide. After working many years in Sales & Marketing with tour companies, wholesalers and airlines, I headed off to the United States in 1994 for a ‘brief stint’. I started the US operation of an Australian tour company, and was Vice President of a South Pacific wholesaler for 7 years. I am married to and working with co-owner Warren Grau, a mother of 2 and am both a US and Australian citizen. We started Springboard Vacations in 2001.
What places and activities do you specialize in?
"I specialize in creating customized itineraries throughout the South Pacific for singles, couples, families and small groups. I like to find unique and interesting ways for travelers to get to know our destinations. So instead of a coach city sights tour, I like to offer a guided bike riding tour, or a walk with an indigenous guide, a pub crawl through historic pubs, a progressive dinner to the hottest new restaurants or a surfing lesson with a local. We like to include romantic moments, family bonding experiences, a chance to meet locals in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tahiti, Samoa, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia. "
How did you get involved in travel?
"I was an exchange student in Germany when I was 15 years old. It changed my life and set me on a path to travel the world. When I started working as a professional photographer, I traveled as often as I could. By age 22 I had moved into the travel industry and started exploring the globe seriously. As the song says... no matter how far I roam, I still call Australia home! I am passionate and excited about discovering new and interesting experiences within the South Pacific and creating unique and authentic experiences for my clients."
Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.
"I was in New Zealand traveling through the north east of the country. It had been a long day and I had not eaten much so I was hungry and in a pretty bad mood. I just wanted to eat and go to bed but I had committed to doing a night kayaking trip. As I get kitted out and organized with my co-kayaker I was not in a good place and the thought of paddling upstream in the growing dark was not improving my mood. We struggled to coordinate our paddling and wound up in frustrating circles. Eventually we got it together and headed up stream. It has hard work and the night grew dark. Then it came time to paddle into a cave grotto. It was pitch dark and you could not see your hand in front of your face. Our group of kayakers were all silently entered the small cave and sat in the pitch dark. The guide then turned on a red right which caused thousands and thousands of glow worms to... well glow! It was magical! It felt like we were inside Christmas! It was truly awesome to sit in the blackness and be surrounded by the sparkle of these tiny creatures. Mother Nature is so awesome and unpredictable. It was so incredibly captivating and unexpected. No-one uttered a sound but it was an emotional and spiritual experience. As we left the cave some time later to head back, the moon had risen and cast an ethereal silver light across the water as we floated downstream and back home. In the silence we absorbed the display that nature had provided. It was truly an amazing and humbling experience, in a little known area of New Zealand that almost no-one visits. I will never forget it.
Its these life changing moments that I love to find for my clients. "
Featured trips & expertise
This 15-day itinerary celebrates Australia's most famous city, its mystical outback deserts, and the unspoiled beauty of its tropical northeast. It begins in Sydney, where you'll tour the highlights by foot and bicycle, plus take a trip to the rugged Blue Mountains. After immersing yourself in the First Nations culture of the northern red deserts, finish the journey in tropical Queensland, where you'll enjoy island living, sail to the Great Barrier Reef, and trek in ancient rainforests.
To really experience the best of Australia requires at least a couple of weeks, which is fine because, on this Aussie adventure, you'll get those 14 days—plus one for good measure. During that time, you'll sample the cuisine and see the sights in Melbourne and Sydney, plus take day trips to hike rugged mountains and visit penguin colonies. Then jet off to the northern outback for tours in and around iconic Uluru (Ayers Rock), followed by a trip to the Great Barrier Reef and some time exploring ancient rainforests.
From discovering history and culture in the city to snorkeling among elusive marine life, you'll find it all in Australia. Start in Sydney and see the most famous sites in the country. Head to Adelaide, where you'll taste and learn about Australia's finest wines. Jet off to Kangaroo Island to mingle with the kangaroos, then venture into the outback to watch the sun set over Uluru. Finally, snorkel to your heart's content along the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree National Park.
Experience some of Australia's best wildlife tours and incredible natural wonders on this 12-day outdoor adventure. It begins with city fun on a bicycle tour of Sydney's highlights, but you'll also take a day trip to the rugged mountains and vast gorges of the Blue Mountains. Then fly to tropical Queensland to snorkel the outer limits of the Great Barrier Reef and embark on rainforest hikes before heading south to spend time with kangaroos and enjoy the world-famous gastronomy of Adelaide.
Explore the rich history of Melbourne and Tasmania on this itinerary, which includes guided tours and a self-guided road trip across Tasmania. Spend two days in Melbourne and travel down the epic Great Ocean Road. Fly to Tasmania's capital, Hobart, and drive north to historical convict towns like Longford and Oatlands. Take in Tasmania's lake country and a glimpse of the southern lights along the way.
In 13 days, this action-packed itinerary introduces you to Australia's eastern coast highlights using three cities as jumping-off points. Climb the Harbour Bridge and cycle through the waterfront neighborhoods of Sydney before flying north to Port Douglas, where the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef and the ancient rainforests of Daintree await. Turn south to end in Brisbane, touring the famous Australia Zoo and adventuring through the waterfalls of Springbrook National Park.
Recent trip reviews for Ruth
Family fun (10 and 14) in Sydney
Oct 31 - Nov 6, 2022
Our family (two kids, 10 and 14) had a great time in Sydney and really appreciate the opportunity to set it up in advance. Ruth was very accommodating in building and changing our trip plans and made sure we were well prepared before leaving.
We really enjoyed touring the city by foot, boat and bike, including the Bonza bike tour. We stayed in a short-stay apartment in Nesuto Woolloomoolloo, which was a great quiet launching point for the Royal Botanic Garden, Harris Farm Market and... read more
Very good itinerary and very enjoyable activi...
Jul 5 - Jul 9, 2022
Very good itinerary and very enjoyable activities. Just very expensive.
Not so much
Jun 21 - Jun 26, 2022
I first contacted kimkim re a preset 3 day itinerary they advertised for Uluru. When I mentioned we were also going to Perth/WA she offered to book that part of the trip as well. Ruth turned out to be in California at the time. I thought that would work out as I am east coast US and doing these things at night EST can pair well working with someone in an earlier timezone. However, she was working with her Sydney office, who was in turn working with people in Perth. This ended up being a... read more