Australia has long been synonymous with the great outdoors and any event held there is missing out on an authentically Australian experience if a day out in the sun and fresh air is not included. In this first of a two-part series, we scour sites in four regions – Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania and the Northern Territory – for water-based and land-based activities that are quite extraordinary.
Water: WILD AT HEART – Tangalooma Island Resort is located on Moreton Island, only 75 minutes from Brisbane by high-speed catamaran. The extraordinary experience of greeting the wild dolphins, which swim to the beachfront at the resort every evening at sunset, is a “must-do”, with selected guests able to hand-feed them under supervision. An overnight stay can be included or it can be just a day/evening trip. More than 80 other activities are available and include quad biking, desert safari, cooking classes, treasure hunts, snorkelling, beach bonfires, bush picnics and country dances. Day visits start from A$95 (US$99) per person and overnight packages from A$250 (US$262) per person.
Testimonial: In late 2012, Tangalooma hosted the inaugural Million Dollar Memo competition winners, the ADR Group of Companies from Indonesia, for their company incentive.
“Tangalooma is a nice resort with lots of extraordinary activities, especially the dolphin feeding and the desert tour which make it unforgettable.”
– Tjung Emylia, travel manager,Panorama, Indonesia
Makepeace Island, Queensland
Land: LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS – The Australian home of Sir Richard Branson is a heart-shaped island sanctuary of seclusion, upstream from the resort village of Noosa on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. The luxurious property accommodates up to 22 “castaways” or can be utilised for a group day or evening visit for up to 100 guests. Makepeace Island offers a fusion of luxury, nature and authentic Balinese design – features include a 500,000-litre lagoon pool, indoor and outdoor cinemas, tennis court, private launch, kayaks and catamarans, and a luxurious Long Room and Island Bar. An exclusive use charge of A$3,250 (US$3,404) per night applies to a minimum three-night stay, and an additional guest charge of A$550 (US$576) per person covers accommodation, transfers, all meals and use of facilities.
Testimonial: “We stayed at Makepeace Island in May and found it to be the perfect combination of relaxed conference facilities and activities, set within the most tranquil, stunning surroundings. Makepeace is an unspoilt, unrivalled private getaway – perfectly suited to our conference needs.”
– Yvonne Francis, Ikon Communications
NEW SOUTH WALES
Water: A SAILING CHALLENGE – Regarded as the most beautiful natural harbour in the world, the 54sq km expanse of Sydney Harbour provides ideal waters for an exclusive sailing regatta event. It combines adventure with a unique perspective of some of Sydney’s most famous sights. Eastsail, a company that offers team building through sailing regattas, has 20 yachts and two motor cruisers which cater for groups of between 10 and 250 guests. A half-day sailing event starts from A$110 (US$115) per person and crew sizes vary from eight to 18 people per boat, depending upon group size. Sailing Sydney also offers an opportunity to sail on two former America’s Cup yachts, with prices starting at A$169 (US$177) per person for a three-hour experience.
Testimonial: “EastSail has set a new benchmark for incentive experiences for the Chinese market. Our event was hailed the best ever by participants and organisers alike, and the sailing regatta was the highlight of the group’s Australian visit.”
Francis Ho, tour director, Tournet
A regatta on the Sydney Harbour
Land: COUNTRY WINE ADVENTURE – A mere two-hour drive from Sydney, an excellent day of unique activities organised by specialist DMC Hunter Valley Events awaits (see Case Study sidebar). Showcasing the best of this idyllic wine region, it includes a tutorial on the finer points of winemaking and a “hands-on” opportunity for participants to blend their own wine. Horse and carriage rides around the property or sunset hot-air balloon rides can also be arranged. Multiple wineries can be utilised, with the largest single venue catering for up to 500 and the combined venues accommodating up to 1,500.
Testimonial: “The activities prepared took our guests on a taste-tour of the wonderful customs of Australia. In the Hunter Valley, our guests were mesmerised by the fascinating games, adorable animals and delicious wines. This provided a very pleasant and unique time.”
Water: TEAM BUILDING FROM THE TOP DOWN – The world’s highest abseil experience at the Gordon Dam in Tasmania is regarded as one of the Top 10 adrenaline activities in the world today and is available through Tasmania-based adventure specialists Aardvark Adventures. At 134 metres, the dam is several metres higher than the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Abseil points are set at 30 and 50 metres plus a very challenging 140 metres. The company offers a much milder 18-metre alternative over “The Blowhole” cliff at Blackmans Bay, not far from Hobart. Corporate rafting and kayaking adventures are also available. As a single group, 30 to 40 people can be taken rafting or, alternatively, a rotation of abseiling, rafting and bushwalking adventures can
Testimonial: “Huge thanks to the team at Aardvark Adventures, we had such an awesome time and will cherish the fantastic memories from the Amazing Race and all the other excellent activities.”
– Stephen Frater, TSA Telco Group
Abseiling at the Blowhole cliff
Land: PORT ARTHUR INVESTIGATIONS – The Unesco World Heritage Port Arthur Historic Site, a former penal colony 95 kilometres southeast of Hobart, is believed to be one of the most haunted places in Australia. Groups can take an escorted lantern-lit evening Ghost Tour through the reputedly haunted buildings, accompanied by a professional guide who delivers fascinating tales about the site’s history. An alternative “Paranormal Investigation Experience” enables groups to conduct their own investigations with the latest ghost-hunting equipment. Participants take readings and measurements and judge first-hand whether the ghost stories are true. This programme can commence with a twilight cruise followed by an exclusive dinner in the historic Visiting Magistrates House. The exclusive group tour is limited to just
Water: DREAMING BY THE STARS – World Heritage-listed Kakadu is Australia’s largest national park, covering nearly 22,000 square kilometres. It offers extraordinary nature and culture-based adventures with an emphasis on local indigenous culture. Gagudju Dreaming’s “Yellow Water Night Experience” takes place on the Yellow Water Billabong, Kakadu’s most famous wetland. Floating under the night sky, passengers hear nocturnal birds and wildlife, and listen to local indigenous guides who share their knowledge and stories. Optimum night sky visibility is from May to August. Boats seat up to 60 people and the experience costs from A$165 (US$173) per person, which includes the 1.5-hour cruise and a three-course dinner. Kakadu is approximately three hours by road (or a 45-minute flight) from Darwin. An overnight stay at the nearby Gagudju Lodge Cooinda or in the unique crocodile-shaped Gagudju Crocodile Holiday Inn can also
Testimonial: “We cruised Yellow Water Billabong, and we couldn’t believe how much wildlife you got to see, like crocodiles, jabirus and all sorts of other birds. Thank you to all the tour guides and the team at Gagudju Dreaming for making our Kakadu trip fantastic.”
– Steven Wang, New Asia Pacific Travel
Camel riding at Uluru
Land: TAKE A CAMEL TO DINNER – A relaxed camel ride along a dune trail brings you to an exclusive dinner in the central Australian desert, providing a spectacular front-row view of Australia’s most recognisable icon, Uluru (Ayers Rock). Arrival drinks and canapés are served as guests watch a fabulous sunset with a 360-degree landscape view. Dinner under the stars is a barbecue buffet of Australian delicacies and wines. A performance by the indigenous Wakagetti Dance Group can be added on. The evening is available for a maximum of 50 participants; for a group of 50, the camel ride costs A$4,900 (US$5,133) plus dinner at A$185 (US$194) per person.
Brisbane Marketing Convention Bureau
Business Events Sunshine Coast
Business Events Sydney
Business Events Tasmania
Hunter Valley Events
Northern Territory Convention Bureau
Port Arthur Historic Site
Tangalooma Island Resort
Voyages Ayers Rock Resort
CASE STUDY: A TASTE OF HUNTER CULTURE
A group of 8,500 incentive participants from a direct-selling company in China undertook a relaxed afternoon in the Hunter Valley, Australia’s oldest wine region.
The brief: This group wanted to experience Australian regional country life while having fun, bonding as a team and learning about wine. A tailor-made programme was created for them by Hunter Valley Events, a specialist DMC.
The execution: Due to the large group, this experience was broken down into a series of afternoon events over eight separate days, with 1,000 people participating each day. A fleet of 25 coaches provided the two-hour transfers, with top-level high achievers enjoying exciting helicopter transfers.
Each day, identical events were staged at four separate wineries. Four activities were offered at each venue, including fun team-building activities such as picking grapes, grape stomping, grape throwing and the fine art of wine “spitting”. Grapes picked were used in an exclusive hand-crafted wine which featured company branding, and which was sent to delegates upon their return to China. A themed Chill Out Café Lounge was the place to relax and enjoy the Aussie lifestyle and afternoon refreshments, and a wine class was also on offer.
Special touches: Koalas and other Australian wildlife were brought to each site, and Aboriginal artists and dancers plus lively country bands provided plenty of scope for interaction with the locals. Dinner showcased seasonal Hunter Valley produce complemented by fine Hunter wines.
Challenges: A major challenge was to ensure that the company’s organising team was familiar with all venues and activities, so two full days of onsite training were provided in advance of the event. Directional signs in Mandarin were placed throughout venues and all delegates were given translated activity programmes.
Verdict: This event was rated by participants as one of the most successful and highly enjoyable ever staged.
“Hunter Valley Events was grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of this massive programme. We were able to showcase a taste of NSW regional products that many Chinese visitors would not typically experience. The ‘wow’ was definitely achieved.”
– Gus Maher, Director, Hunter Valley Events
ACCESS: Sydney, Brisbane and the Northern Territory operate international and domestic airports which provide access to Sydney Harbour and the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, Noosa and Moreton Island in Queensland, and Kakadu and Uluru in the Northern Territory. Makepeace Island can also be accessed via the Sunshine Coast’s own domestic airport. Aardvark Adventures and the Port Arthur Historic Site are accessible via Hobart’s domestic airport, with international connections via other major Australian cities.
CLIMATE: Australia enjoys a generally enviable climate. Even in winter, blue skies and warm, bright days are the norm, although climatic zones vary – Kakadu lies in the northern tropical zone whilst Central Australia has a desert climate. Moreton Island, the Sunshine Coast, Sydney, the Hunter Valley and Tasmania are all in the temperate zone.
VISA: Business travellers require a current passport to enter Australia and it must be valid for at least six months after the return date. All visitors must have a valid visa to travel to and enter Australia (other than New Zealand passport holders who meet health and character requirements). The passport held determines whether it is possible to apply online for a visa, or if it is necessary to lodge another type of visa application. Visit www.immi.gov.au/skilled/business for further information.
LANGUAGE: English is Australia’s national language. Multilingual translation and interpreter services are available throughout Australia for international business travellers who do not speak English.
CONTACT: Business Events Australia, www.businessevents.australia.com
Here are five tips to remember when spending a day under the Australian sun:
Sun protection in Australia is a serious matter. The Slip! Slop! Slap! Seek & Slide! slogan has been one of the most successful health campaigns in Australia’s history. But what does it mean?
• Slip on a shirt (limit exposure of bare skin to the sun)
• Slop on sunscreen (broad-spectrum sunscreen, at least SPF30)
• Slap on a hat
• Seek shade (between 11am and 3pm)
• Slide on sunglasses and drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration