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active 8 hours ago

Ruth Grau

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. "

Whitehaven Beach
Sydney, Uluru, Whitsundays & Cairns - 15 Days

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.

Melbourne
Melbourne, Uluru, Cairns & Sydney - 15 Days

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.

See sleeping sea lions through Admirals Arch lookout on Kangaroo Island
Sydney, Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, Uluru & Cairns - 13 Days

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.

See the iconic marsupial on Australia's Kangaroo Island
Sydney, Great Barrier Reef, Adelaide & Kangaroo Island - 12 Days

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.

Southern lights over Hobart
Off-the-Beaten Path Australia: Melbourne & Tasmania Road Trip - 11 Days

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.

Views across Sydney's Bondi Beach
Highlights of Sydney, Port Douglas & Brisbane - 13 Days

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
Australia | Oct 31 - Nov 6, 2022

K
Katharine W.
Pomona, CA | Reviewed on Nov 07, 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

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 restaurants in Potts Point. Highly recommend wandering through the Royal Botanic Garden in spring! We also enjoyed our tours through Southern Highlands, Northern Beaches and Blue Mountains and recommend planning ahead to keep kids happy on the long drives, though the time in the mountains on beaches made it worthwhile.
Recommend the Aussie Gold Tour at the Taronga Zoo, as the behind the scenes and up front look at the Aussie animals, with tour guide, really made the visit. We also loved the Sharks exhibit at the Australia Museum, short-time only.

Ruth worked with us to bring down the overall cost of our trip, and it really was helpful to have all of the arrangements made for us and put into a single trip plan. It was good to know that we could swap things in and out to meet our needs.

Activity Reviews
Full Day Blue Mountains Hike the World Heritage
Sydney

Loved the short and longer hikes in the Blue Mountains, including some really diverse geography and flora. We had a very friendly and knowledgeable tour guide and enjoyed the Botanic Garden and apple pie stops towards the end of the trip.

Quality of Experience
variety, hiking
Food
apple pie stop
Guides, Drivers and Staff
friendly, knowledgeable
Transport
comfortable van
Taronga Zoo - Afternoon Aussie Gold Tour
Sydney

It was great to have a private guided tour of some of the Aussie animals, including up close visit with the koalas. Zoos can be crowded and overwhelming, so this quiet tour was a great way to start our visit.

Quality of Experience
the animals
Guides, Drivers and Staff
friendly, knowledgeable
Ocean Cliffs & Blowhole, Waterfalls, Wineries & Rural Delights Southern Highlands Tours and South Coast
Sydney

This tour has a lot to offer, and it's mostly enjoyable when you let the tour guide and KimKim know up front what you'd like to do. For example, we loved the Illawarra Fly Park and found out that we needed to reserve the zipline tour ahead of time. Unfortunately for us, the zipline was not available, as it was too windy that day anyway. We enjoyed the stop for lunch and shops in Kiawa and enjoyed spending some leisurely time at Illawarra. We even saw a wombat in the wild on the way there and some local birds at the Park.

Quality of Experience
variety, pretty landscape, loved the rainforest at Illawarra
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Go Beyond was friendly, accommodating
Transport
Local specialist: Ruth Grau
Ruth
Ruth Grau
Local specialist in Adelaide, Australia, & Palm Springs, USA | Reviewed on Nov 22, 2022

Kathy,
I really enjoyed working with you on your trip and am so pleased that you really enjoyed your trip! I love to customize trips to suit each set of travelers and share things I think they will particularly enjoy.

Hopefully you will get back soon to see other parts of Australia or New Zealand!

Ruth

Very good itinerary and very enjoyable activi...
New Zealand | Jul 5 - Jul 9, 2022

M
Mayen M.
Singapore | Reviewed on Jul 20, 2022

Very good itinerary and very enjoyable activities. Just very expensive.

Local specialist: Ruth Grau
Ruth
Ruth Grau
Local specialist in Adelaide, Australia, & Palm Springs, USA | Reviewed on Jul 20, 2022

I am so pleased you enjoyed your trip. Being last minute and with New Zealand borders just opened, we had less options than pre-COVID but by using some creative and outside the box thinking we were able to find a way to include all your must do activities! I'm pleased that you were happy with everything! (And yes prices have increased post COVID sadly).

Not so much
Australia | Jun 21 - Jun 26, 2022

A
Andria G.
Terrace Heights, NY | Reviewed on Jul 05, 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

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 bad situation, which I will admit was made worse by our being last minute, but having to go thru so many channels and the time zone differences every time you ask a question created major communication delays. In the end, they were unable to find availability for the Uluru package, although I was able to book it directly on my own. We were scheduled to go on a day trip to Freemantle & Rottnest Island. Our itinerary instructed us to be ready to be picked up at 8:45 am at the hotel. Turns out this was TOTALLY WRONG. The boat leaves at 8:45, and you're supposed to be there earlier. According to the doorman & concierge no pickup came for us at 8:15 either. Ruth also suggested and then arranged an overnight side trip to Cervantes for us. The hotel up there was pretty bad. If the problem was hotel availability she shouldn't have sent us up there. (As a side note, we did a walking tour with a local guide in Perth. This local guide was mortified that it was suggested/arranged we take this trip to Cervantes and she did her best to scare us into not going!). After this Cervantes trip was arranged, there was drama over the car rental closing early the day we would be coming back, and we were forced to decide between paying a surcharge to drop at an alternate location or come back early. There was really no good option but we were already locked in to the Cervantes hotel. If this was going to be an issue Ruth could have arranged the days in a different order. After the side trip we went back for one last night in Perth. We had to leave so early for our flight that we could not have breakfast (and Ruth knew about our early flight as there was a lot of back & forth about whether we would return the rental car the night before and taxi to the airport or return the rental on the way to the flight), the hotel did could no accommodate us with any food to go so that was another unnecessary expense paying for a breakfast included room.

Hotel Review
QT Perth
Perth

This hotel was very nice, great staff service

Local specialist: Ruth Grau
Ruth
Ruth Grau
Local specialist in Adelaide, Australia, & Palm Springs, USA | Reviewed on Jul 20, 2022

This was a very last minute booking shortly after borders opened post COVID and during school holidays and so Perth was very full.

Andria had some more unusual request such as a friend who had recommended that they visit the Pinnacles near Cerventes (not a place we normally send Americans) but which she asked for this to be included. We had initially suggested going south to the Margaret River region but after she cut her stay shorter we had to look at other options for her.

She was... read more

This was a very last minute booking shortly after borders opened post COVID and during school holidays and so Perth was very full.

Andria had some more unusual request such as a friend who had recommended that they visit the Pinnacles near Cerventes (not a place we normally send Americans) but which she asked for this to be included. We had initially suggested going south to the Margaret River region but after she cut her stay shorter we had to look at other options for her.

She was looking for nature and scenery so even though there was no tour available to the Pinnacles, she wanted to do a scenic drive so we decided to do this as the drive instead. We included detailed information on stunning unique beaches, sandboarding locations, a saline lake, Stromatolites, star gazing, fun places to eat in various towns, where to find the incredible wildflowers in the area at the time of her visit, various National Parks, walking trails and so much more that she could stop and see on her way to and from the Pinnacles so that she got plenty of the nature she was seeking.

In Uluru we suggested a small group and large group option for her and were in the process of booking the small group option. But Andria booked the Uluru part of the trip and her flights herself so we did not have the opportunity to do that for her.

Since COVID not all car rental depots are open 24 hours a day as they are still short staffed so we offered several options for the car drop off both in the city and at the airport.

The flight she booked herself was at 6am and hotels don't generally offer breakfast until 8am. The breakfast was included for free so she did not have to pay for that on any day.

The Rottnest Island folks did confirm to us a pick up at the hotel which we included in our documentation but they did not turn up as booked so as a consequence of there error we were able to negotiate a refund on her behalf for the trip.

When confirming services at hotels and tour operators we do need to work within their local time zones as this is when they were open so we did this on Andria's behalf.

We are so glad she liked the hotel and great staff service at the property we booked for her in Perth for her.