I have never been to Australia. Bypassing the opportunity to do a 6-month academic exchange in Melbourne during business school is one of my biggest regrets. But when I do get to go with our family someday (hopefully sooner than later), I will be looking to David Wickers for tips. I had the opportunity to speak recently with David, the co-founder of luxury tour operator Bridge & Wickers who were recently voted ‘Runner-up’ in the Specialist Tour Operator category of the Conde Nast Traveller Reader Awards. Travel has always been a big part of David’s life and for 17 years, he was Chief Travel Correspondent of The Sunday Times (and also voted Travel Writer of the Year on three occasions).
David shares some of his wisdom to our Inviato readers, giving us an insight into Australia. From where to visit for breath-taking views to where to stay for a luxurious experience, David Wickers reveals the best places to go.
Do you have a favorite spot of beauty in Australia?
Sydney Harbour has to be one of my favourite places in Australia. There is a walk you must follow to see incredible spots of beauty. You take the ferry across the harbour to Manly and do the four-hour walk along the Manly to Spit Bridge Scenic Walkway. Even though you’re in the middle of a city, this takes you into National Park territory. The journey takes you through native bush, beautiful beaches and fabulous surrounding views. You can go for a swim and there are lots of lovely places to stop and eat. Every time I’m in Sydney I make sure I fit that walk in. It is so beautiful and it totally makes you think: ‘this is why I love Australia’.
Are there any hidden gems in Australia you can personally recommend?
Kangaroo Island is lovely. It is a very natural island with lots of Australian wildlife. I also particularly like the Margaret River area, which is south of Perth. It is about a four hour drive to the south and has a great combination of fantastic beaches and great wines. It is one of the really good wine growing districts and there are nice civil communities around there as well.
Are there any trips on your wish list you haven’t managed to do yet?
What I really want to do, which I’ve never done, is a cruise along Kimberly in the north-west on a ship called the Orion – I know it’s going to be great! I haven’t done it, I want to do it. It’s an expedition ship and it’s just a complete coastal wilderness up there. So that’s on my hit list.
What has your experience been of accommodation in Australia?
I think the amount of luxury accommodation in Australia surprises people. This is not just in the obvious places like the cities. You can find wonderful places to stay in the most wild, remote places. Impeccable luxury and service can be found at some of the barrier reef islands and even cattle stations in the middle of nowhere.
The top three luxury accommodations which are particularly memorable to me are:
This super contemporary hotel is the ultimate meeting between the great outdoors and the great indoors. The views from its cliff top location overlooking a rugged stretch of coast are staggering. The spa, the restaurant, the art works are equally memorable.
It’s glamping at its most luxurious, inspired by the best of Africa’s game lodges and set in the heart of the Red Centre with Uluru (Ayers Rock) poised majestically on the horizon. The luxury tents are all air conditioned and have proper windows while the communal areas include a library and there’s a resident astronomer to help you read the starry heavens.
It’s a brilliant demonstration of the benefits of ‘location, location, location’. The hotel sits in the historic Rocks neighbourhood, in between two of Australia’s icons. You are just a short stroll to the Opera House to one side and the Harbour Bridge to the other. What’s more you can be lulled to sleep by the gentle sloshing of water just outside your window.
These are incredible places to stay.
Worldwide – what has been your best experience of luxury?
When I worked for The Sunday Times I got a call from a lady saying ‘I’ve got what I think is a very good idea for a travel piece’. I thought oh, here we go – that’s what they all say. Then she continued ‘What if I was to offer you the finest villa in Barbados – do you think that would make a good piece?’ I replied ‘Oh yeah, it would make a very good piece.’ It was the most unbelievable house; when we arrived there was a whole staff lined up to greet us. The house was called Crystal Springs and it was super luxury.
Another memory which stands out is from an experience in New York. I took my then 8-year-old daughter to a fantastic hotel. When she walked into our Penthouse suite she said ‘are we millionaires now?’. I said no, just travel writing!
For more information about David and expert tips for Australia, visit the Bridge & Wickers website here.