High Flyer's Top 5 Destinations
Trust me when I say that everyone needs to experience this little piece of heaven on Earth in their lifetime.
He has sand-boarded down giant sand dunes in Port Stephens, sipped wine in the Barossa Valley, ran on field at the MCG for the AFL Grand Final, and celebrated New Year’s Eve on Sydney Harbour.
As Cameron’s journey of discovery wraps up, we asked him to list his top five must-visit Australian destinations.
Ayers Rock (Uluru)
My introduction to Oz through the hustle and bustle of Sydney was eye-opening, but I longed to see the iconic Australian outback. I’ll never forget flying from Sydney to Ayers Rock and looking down over the massive landmass of Uluru. It’s quintessential of Australia, and experiencing it firsthand was completely unique and fulfilling.
I not only got up close to the region’s landmarks and culturally-significant areas, I also hiked to breathtaking lookouts. One of my favourite hikes was the Valley of the Winds, where I saw my first kangaroo in the wild and took in a jaw-dropping view. I have never seen starry nights like I did in the Northern Territory. Sleeping in swag under the Milky Way, listening to dingos sing off in the distance, was the icing on the cake of my outback adventure.
The Whitsunday Islands
I’m a sucker for beautiful beaches. Put me in front of sand and ocean, and there’s no holding me back. I knew Australia had great beaches, but I hadn’t heard of the Whitsunday Islands. Trust me when I say that everyone needs to experience this little piece of heaven on Earth in their lifetime.
White Haven Beach is paradise. Imagine the whitest sand and most turquoise water you've ever seen… just thinking about it makes my toes tingle. I’m so thankful I got to sit on the beach and take in its beauty. I also took an overnight sail around the Whitsundays, which allowed me to get up close to local wildlife while snorkelling and relaxing on the most picturesque beaches I have ever seen. There’s nothing quite like watching a sunset from aboard a sailboat in the Whitsundays. It’s a moment that I will never forget.
I have experienced a lot of Western Australia, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every region I have visited, but there was something about Broome that stuck out. Initially I thought that gorgeous Cable Beach with its vibrant red-orange rock, bright blue ocean and iconic camel rides had wooed me; however I soon realised what made Broome truly memorable was its small-town feel and friendly locals.
I enjoyed flying over the Kimberley and sipping ginger beer at Matso's Brewery, but it was the generous and hospitable people I encountered during my time in Broome that made it feel like home. I spent Thanksgiving in Broome – on the other side of the world from my family and friends – but I was thankful for a new journey on which I had discovered somewhere that warmed my soul.
Boasting an average of 245 bright and sunny days a year, the Gold Coast is another of my favourite spots. My time on the Gold Coast was fun-filled. I visited Dreamworld (one of the many theme parks in the area) and jet boated around glimmering beaches. I was so glad to have found time to fit in Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, where I cuddled with a koala for the first time and made friends with kangaroos.
I went to new heights on the Gold Coast, challenging myself to take on adventure unlike I had ever experienced. I climbed the Q1 building and completely leant out over its edge; I zip-lined through rainforest; and I let myself be engulfed by a flock of tropical birds as I held out food for them. I also discovered some exquisite dining in popular buffets like at the QT Hotel and the Marriott. Imagine gourmet food galore and desserts to die for! I loved the Gold Coast so much that I made sure to take my family there when they visited. We all will forever associate an unforgettable holiday in Australia with the Gold Coast.
I thought I had seen it all… then I travelled to Tasmania. Just a short flight away from Sydney or Melbourne, the island has almost everything the mainland has to offer and plus interesting points of difference. My Tasmanian visit was magical and surprisingly exciting. I enjoyed its differing landscape and its abundant wildlife (including the one and only Tasmanian Devil).
I embraced one of the biggest Australian adventures when I went canyoning near Cradle Mountain. I hiked through golden grasslands and down into Dove Canyon, where I jumped off waterfalls to slide down rushing chutes and finally float out onto a river. It was intensely thrilling and sparked a fire in me to experience more extreme interactions with nature – something that Tasmania offers aplenty.
You can follow Cameron Ernst’s jaunts online, by visiting his blog or liking his Facebook page.
Find out more about the Virgin Australia High Flyer ambassador role.
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