As more and more corporate incentive groups head south to explore the wonders Down Under, we highlight the ten best ‘off the beaten path’ experiences across Australia.
Two-and-half hours north of Sydney, Moonshadow-TQC Cruise offers trips along the gorgeous central New South Wales waterways, with the chance to encounter bottlenose dolphins and the majestic humpback whale while sampling local seafood and Hunter Valley wines. It has a fleet of vessels, meaning it can handle sizeable numbers — earlier this year it welcomed a 6,000-strong incentives group from China and Taiwan.
With an investment of AU$750 million (US$538.9 million) in 10 years, Hamilton Island is keeping its facilities au courant. Among the range of accommodations on the isle, the jewel is Qualia, with beach houses and pavilions. Groups here can kayak among the pristine waters of the Whitsunday Islands, have a barbecue on the sugary sands of Whitehaven Beach, or take a seaplane or helicopter ride over the Great Barrier Reef.
Incentive groups can also revel in the natural environment along the Sunshine Coast. Best suited for group of up to 60 people, signature experiences include long lunches in a macadamia grove, or dining in a hay shed on a functioning local farm — a true paddock-to-plate meal.
A winery that has been in its family for more than a century, D’Arenberg sits south of Adelaide and made headlines last year when it opened a new multi-purpose centre called the Cube. Shaped like a Rubik’s cube, with a bold green-glass and white exterior, the Cube is set among the vineyards and has surreal, almost hallucinatory interiors. Options include degustation meals and a class at the blending bar, where participants can create their own personal Shiraz to take home in a 750ml bottle.
A great way to reward the team is by showing them the importance of recharging. Groups at Peninsula Hot Springs on Mornington Peninsula, 90 minutes from Melbourne, can begin the day with a bathing session among the ti trees, followed by tea or lunch served in a Moroccan Royal Tent. At the social Bath House, visitors can discover more than 20 globally inspired bathing experiences, such as a cave pool, massaging thermal mineral showers, and a Turkish hammam.
At the Royal Mail Hotel, in a mountainous region west of Melbourne, visitors can explore the largest collection of Bordeaux and Burgundy wines in the Southern Hemisphere. The impressive wine list here has the distinction of being the only Australian Grand Award winner from US Wine Spectator. Incentive groups can experience blind tastings.
Striking beaches, forests, caves, and food and wine are some of the lures to Australia’s Southwest, with other nature options such as spotting migrant humpback whales, or walking among 8,000 species of wildflowers. Perhaps the most unique diversion is the hunt for Perigord truffles near the town of Manjimup during the June-August season with Labradors at the Truffle & Wine Co. Surrounded by vineyards, orchards, and rolling hills, the estate is the largest single producer of black truffles in the Southern Hemisphere.
Just 45 minutes south of Perth, Rockingham Wild Encounters takes adventurers out to swim with wild dolphins. Cruises last between 3-6 hours aboard a custom-built boat, come with all gear and snorkelling lessons for novices, and a guarantee to spot wild dolphins. The experience — watching mothers nursing calves, seeing how bottlenose dolphins use stingrays to catch their dinner, and more — is truly exhilarating.
The Coral Coast, stretching north from Perth to Exmouth, has no shortage of diversions, from national parks to cattle ranches, to swimming with seals. On the full-day excursion with Adams Pinnacles Tours, groups will get close to wildlife at Caversham National Park, tour a lobster factory (followed by a seafood lunch), wander through the eerie desert landscape of the Pinnacles, drive down and sand board on the biggest dunes in the state, and see fields of wildflowers blooming.
Glamp in style in the striking, elemental region of the Kimberley at the Oongkalkada or Kooljaman wilderness retreats. These camps with fixed tents, wooden decking, and hotel-style furnishings offer visitors the chance to experience the bush while maintaining creature comforts. Stay at places where indigenous people have gathered for millennia to celebrate and heal their spirit, and enjoy the opportunity to explore the land and the sea.