Great vacations in Australia
Apr 11 - Apr 22, 2023
We purchased a costumed designed independent trip to Australia with Springboard Vacations, and we ended up having great vacations on April 2023. We have to thank their trip specialist, Connie, with whom we started communicating in late Dec. 2022. Connie worked with us for over three months prior and during our trip, clearly understood our priorities and wants, and ensured that our two weeks filled with activity and tours-cations in Melbourne, Uluru, Cairns and Sydney would be unforgettable. Overall, I will work with Connie again if we plan other trips to destinations covered in her portfolio. Springboard Vacations, can certainly create good travel packages to please any traveler, and at good price.
Overall experience with tours included in our itnerary per our requests and interests: Very satisfied 5/5
Also, all of our tour guides were knowledgeable and courteous. We were glad that with a customed designed trip option, we went to the specific locations and attractions that we were interested in, joining different small groups and being more independent.
• Great Ocean Road Day Trip- great full day tour with multiple stops including various National Parks)
• Adventure Philip Island & Penguin Parade Excursion - First stop was at the Moonlit Sanctuary Conservation Park where we enjoyed seeing koalas, and feeding/petting wallabies and kangaroos, and the last stop was the super amazing treat by over 1400 small penguins that got out of the sea and paraded in front of us on their way to their burrows; I really recommend this tour and an upgrade to the Penguins Plus option seating.
• Morning Lanes and Arcades Tour - 3 hour tour was very educational and enjoyable.
• Note: We had 1.5 free days in Melbourne to visit museums, gardens and other points of interest. We highly recommend some free time for these activities.
• Kata Tjuta & Sunset Over Uluru tour- a few hours tour to enjoy very pretty views of the big rock
• Sunrise Over Uluru Culture and Sightseeing tour - very enjoyable sunrise with colorful views, and a good hike that brought us close to the huge rock formations.
• Sunrise Field of Light Tour is a good exhibit with good natural backgrounds (sunset option is available)
• Full-Day Marine World Outer Great Barrier Reef – this was priceless to us, as we spent approx. 2 hours each in the morning and afternoon snorkeling in two different coral reef areas with very abundant sea life. On board, we purchased the bio-snorkeling 30 min tour that led us to about ½ dozen spots where we saw (otherwise have probably missed), and learned about clams and some fish and coral species.
• Note: On our free day we enjoyed a morning on the boardwalk area, and the afternoon was awesome too, as one of us went to the Botanical Gardens and Tanks Art Exhibit, and the other one went white water rafting.
• We wished that we would have spent a third day in Cairns to spent another outer Great Barrier Reef snorkeling.
• Sydney Opera House 1 hour tour was very informative, and at the end we bought tickets for a night performance which was worthy.
• Morning Panoramic Sydney Sights tour (informative 3 hours drive around the city and to Bondi Beach)
• Afternoon ferry ride that took us to the Taronga Zoo – excellent with a wide variety of local birds, koalas kangaroos, dingo dogs and many more interesting/exotic animals.
• Full Day Blue Mountains Deluxe Day – we first stopped at a farm for about 1.5 hrs to pet a koala, watch many kangaroos, wallabies and emus, and then we arrived at the National Park where we enjoyed the views at different stop points, a 2 mile hike, and its garden.
• Note: We had free time in Sydney to walk on the bridge across the Harbour, go for the Saturday Night fireworks on Darling Harbour, do a little shopping, and eating at various restaurants of choice. We wished that we had a free full day to visit museums and gardens around Sydney.
Transportation from/to all airports: Very satisfied
Transportation was consistently excellent: On time, top notch and vehicles, and the drivers were friendly and respectful.
Hotels: Very satisfied.
Mantra on Russell, Melbourne: Good option because location of hotel was convenient, e.g., close to free light rail, to lots of stores and good restaurants in the predominately chinese area. The room appeared to have been recently remodeled, it was well appointed, super clean and with all desired ammenities (including a kitchenette). I enjoyed the swimming pool too. Good service.
Desert Garden Hotel, Uluru: Great option
It was super close to the "town square" of the hotel, there is a small but well appointed grocery store, free laundry facilities (dryer/washer), many stores and restaurants (very good food), and opportunity for various presentations and for walking around hotel between tours to the National Parks. All tour companies covering the area have representatives in an office in the "town square", so if necessary, we could ask detailed questions about tours in our itinerary. Good service.
Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourside: Very satisfied with this hotel
Very good location with access to boardwalk and restaurants. Pretty lobby, gardens and restaurants and the large room was clean. Breakfast was good too. Good service.
Mantra, Sydney: Excellent a 6 out of 5 if possible to rate it that way.
Location is to die for, with the light rail station being in front of the hotel. Hotel is surrounded by malls, stores, grocery stores, many restaurants and within walking distance of key tourist locations as you described in our itinerary. The hotel was very clean, the suites are very well appointed, and it was great to have a washer/dryer in our suite. Very good service with friendly and helpful personnel. On two out of the three mornings during our stay in the hotel, we had to leave prior to their small restaurant being opened for breakfast at 7:00 AM; the chef prepared us to go breakfast boxes with delicious/good content on the first day with less than 30 minutes of my request when he had just arrived, and appeared to have a semi-ready to go box on the second day, as he handed them to us at his official start time of 6:30 AM.