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7 CITY-BASED NATURAL ATTRACTIONS IN AUSTRALIA
Australia’s cities are brimming with natural attractions that are easily accessible to groups. From islands to mountains, waterfalls to gardens, we’ve rounded up some of the top attractions to add a dash of nature to your next city-based incentive program.
Off the coastline of Queensland’s capital city of Brisbane lies one of the region’s most renowned natural attractions – Moreton Island. The third-largest sand island in the world, Moreton Island is a popular destination for incentive groups. Getting there is easy – transfer options include boat, helicopter, light aircraft or seaplane – and it’s close enough to the city for a day trip. On arrival guests will be greeted by the extraordinary sight of the Tangalooma Wrecks, which were sunk deliberately to create a safe anchorage and are now a haven for marine life. Tangalooma Island Resort offers an array of exhilarating activities for groups ranging from a guided snorkelling tour of the wrecks to wild dolphin feeding, clear-bottomed kayaking and sand tobogganing.
A stone’s throw from two World Heritage-listed sites – the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef – the tropical city of Cairns is not shy of spectacular natural attractions. One of the closest to the city is the magnificent Barron Falls, which sits within the Barron Gorge National Park that forms part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Groups visiting Cairns can glide above the rainforest canopy and witness the thundering Barron Falls from Skyrail Cairns – a rainforest cableway suspended more than 500 metres (1,640 ft) above sea level, with stations along the way offering optional short walks and lookouts. The falls are in full flow from December to March, and groups can combine a one-way Skyrail experience with the charming vintage Kuranda Scenic Railway in the alternate direction, which can be booked exclusively for groups of up to 550 guests.
The picturesque city of Sydney is famous for built attractions like the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, but its natural assets game is strong, too. Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve is a protected marine reserve located at Shelly Beach, at the far end of the famous Manly Beach. The reserve offers some of the best snorkelling and diving in the heart of Sydney; snorkellers can spot giant cuttlefish in winter, tropical fish in summer and blue gropers all year round. Local experts Eco Treasures can host experiences for groups of up to 100 guests, rotating between guided snorkelling (max 24 guests in the water), a nature walk or beach clean-up, or even surfing lessons with Manly Surf School. Following a morning’s activities, planners can arrange lunch at the iconic waterfront restaurant Boat House Shelly Beach, the upper level of which can be booked exclusively for 60 guests seated, or 120 cocktail-style.
There’s more to Melbourne than great restaurants and coffee culture. Nature is right on its doorstep, in the form of an incredible array of parks and gardens dotted throughout the city. Perhaps the most impressive is the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens, which spans 38 hectares (94 acres) and boasts more than 8,500 species of plants. Groups can explore the gardens on foot, on an open-air minibus, or can experience an Aboriginal Heritage Walk to gain a deeper understanding of the Gardens, which are a significant cultural site for the local Kulin Nation. For something different, planners can arrange to cruise around the islands of the Gardens’ picturesque Ornamental Lake in an elegant wooden punt, with a professional guide from Punting on the Lake. Groups can culminate for an event after their tour at one of the Gardens’ onsite venues including The Terrace which accommodates up to 160 guests seated or 300 standing, or the elegant Gardens House which was built in 1854 and offers a range of spaces with varying capacities.
Overlooking the city of Hobart, kunanyi /Mt Wellington is arguably the Tasmanian capital’s most famous natural attraction. A short drive from the city centre, this majestic mountain rises 1,271 metres (4,170 ft) above sea level, providing panoramic views over the city and the River Derwent. Groups visiting Hobart are best to head to kunanyi’s summit for sunrise or sunset, which are the optimal times of day for photos from the sheltered observatory or lookouts. Business Events Tasmania can arrange bespoke experiences on the mountain, such as working with local Yorta Yorta Aboriginal song woman and storyteller Ruth Langford for a cultural wellness and yoga session. For the more adventurous business events group, Under Down Under operates the ultimate downhill bicycle ride where guests start at the summit and whizz through the sub-alpine and mountain rainforests to the vibrant Hobart waterfront.
For groups heading to the west coast of Australia, the sunny city of Perth is packed with natural attractions. One option that’s sure to be a hit with incentive groups is a trip to Rottnest Island, which is accessible by a 30-minute boat trip from Fremantle. Known in local Noongar language as Wadjemup, which means ‘place across the water where the spirits are’, this small island off the coast of Perth is a haven of natural beauty. Boasting 63 beaches, 20 bays, more than 400 species of fish, a resident fur seal colony and a healthy population of the happiest animals on earth – quokkas – this little slice of paradise is perfect for a day trip or overnight program. For a mid-sized charter option, up to 38 guests can be whisked to Rottnest on Charter 1’s luxury sailing catamaran, allowing them to explore secluded parts of the island only accessible by boat. The day's activities include swimming, snorkelling, paddle boarding and wildlife spotting, before enjoying a freshly prepared barbecue lunch with a side of ocean views.
The city of Darwin in the Northern Territory is surrounded by natural beauty, with Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks making easy day trips from the city. For groups looking to experience nature within the city’s perimeter, the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens are a lush oasis spanning 42 hectares (104 acres) and boasting an extraordinary collection of plants from northern Australia and various tropical areas around the world. Groups of up to 40 guests can take a private guided walking tour of the Gardens with Walk Darwin, or to cover more ground, Segway Tours NT will be recommencing segway tours in mid-2022 for groups of up to 20 guests at a time. After exploring the Gardens, groups can enjoy a soirée on the grassy expanse of Coconut Grove which can accommodate up to 1,000 guests seated or standing, or the Heritage Lawn which suits groups of up to 800 guests for a cocktail or banquet style function.