Prevue September-October 2016 - 62

Australia Fascinating culture, diverse landscapes and only in "Oz" moments anchor meetings and incentives [ON LOCATION] SARAH GREAVES-GABBADON T he only thing standing between my group and certain death is a hook and a foot-long coil of rope. And we've never felt more alive. We're scaling the spine of Sydney's iconic Harbour Bridge, tethered by harnesses to a metal railing. We fight the urge to look down at the shimmering water, more than 400 feet below, and focus instead on our surroundings. The Australian capital's harbor sprawls majestically in every direction. To our right is the Sydney Opera house, its multi-arched profile thrown into sharp relief by a sunny sapphire sky. Ferries, from this height appearing as small as bathtub toys, motor in and out of the harbor terminal, trailing foamy wakes. In the distance, we can see the manicured lawns of the Royal Botanic Garden; across the bay at Milson's Point, Luna Park's waterfront Ferris wheel. We forget our fears and focus on the good fortune of being here, on the other side of the world, having an experience shared by only the tiny percentage of people brave enough to tackle the world's largest steel arch bridge. It's turning out to be an adventure filled with happy surprises-just like our entire stay Down Under. "Australia is a highly desirable incentive destination that provides unique experiences in stunning natural locations that you can't find anywhere else in the world," says Jane Whitehead, Tourism Australia's regional general manager, Americas. Our itinerary has been packed with "Oz" experiences-from close encounters with koalas to dot-painting classes with Aborigines. Both ID Events Australia and Business Events 62 | prevuemeetings.com Australia are pulling out the stops when it comes to courting North American planners. A favorable exchange rate allows planner budgets to stretch further; there's no language barrier, and there are more than 100 weekly flights from North America into the continent. Flying time is comparable to destinations such as Dubai, Singapore or Johannesburg, Whitehead notes. Or, as ID Events Australia's director of sales and events Karen Livermore puts it, "just one dinner, sleep and breakfast away." ONLY IN OZ Australia's modern cosmopolitan cities, rugged and remote landscapes, and its own clutch of offshore outposts work to ensure the "world's biggest island" can deliver almost any meeting experience imaginable. After our early-morning touchdown in the bustling metropolis of Sydney, we hopped a three-hour flight to Uluru, in the Outback. By lunchtime we were deep in Australia's "Red Centre," installed at Sails In the Desert, the finest of four resorts in the shadow of the 1,100-foot-tall sandstone monolith formerly known as Ayers Rock (and since returned to its Aboriginal name and owners). A few hours later, fueled by a sumptuous buffet lunch that included kangaroo loin and Aussie wines, we were saddled up for camel trekking through the desert, witnessing the sun set on the Southern Hemisphere and over an otherworldly red-earth landscape stippled with evergreen bushes. In less than five hours we'd gone from http://www.prevuemeetings.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Prevue September-October 2016

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Prevue September-October 2016 - S1
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