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Australia’s top travel bloggers of 2015

This article originally appeared on www.hotelclub.com/blog. which is now part of hotels.com

For the third year in a row HotelClub celebrates the work of Australia’s best travel bloggers. From every corner of the world they share with you their adventures, hacks, destinations and their passion for travel.

Travel blogging is not just sandy beaches and piña coladas. Behind those inspiring stories and breathtaking photographs there is huge effort, long hours and enormous storytelling skill. We’ve combed the web for the best of the best to present to you Australia’s top travel bloggers of 2015 as well as some of the best up-and-coming bloggers to watch for in 2016.

So check these guys out, sign up for their social media and read our interviews with each to discover the hottest destinations, latest trends, their predictions for 2016 and start planning your next holiday.

Here are Australia’s best travel bloggers of 2015

Sophee Southall -Sophee SmilesSophee Southall of Sophee Smiles

From luxury accommodation and award-wining tours to epic physical challenges and unique cultural experiences, Sophee’s uncovering them all, one country at a time.

What’s the most underrated destination in Australia in 2015?

Tasmania is one of Australia’s more humble treasures. It offers many unique and world-class experiences, which relatively few travellers prioritise (international and domestic). On the plus side, this means Tasmania is a place where you can really “escape” and enjoy authentic local experiences, which haven’t been tarnished by commercial tourism. From the epic natural landscapes, generously peppered with organic farms, to the quaint towns boasting significant historical sights and mind-blowing galleries, it’s a place where people can revitalise their bodies, sooth their souls and ignite their imaginations. Tasmania should definitely be on more travellers’ radars.

In your opinion, what is the best hotel in Australia in 2015 and why?

I’m not sure if I’ve enjoyed the best of the best, but, as a Queensland girl, it’s hard for me to go past Qualia. While every touch point is impeccable and the experience is an absolute dream, the staff are down-to-earth and authentic in their approach to customer service. I adore luxury hotels, which manage to create a sense of warmth and intimacy alongside their grandeur. I think Qualia’s contemporary marketing initiatives also help the resort maintain a stella reputation. It’s embraced the world of social media, and continues to leverage the power of digital celebrities to enhance the resort’s desirability. Qualia knows how to stay relevant and “sexy”.

What’s the most exciting trend in travel at the moment and why?

The influence of the Internet on travel is really thrilling. Practically every traveller posts their “holiday porn” online, enticing loved ones and complete strangers to experience the same blissful moments for themselves. Consumers have access to an ever-growing library of travel inspo, and they’re being influenced by the “Average Joe” (as opposed to rather traditional advertising) more than ever before. Travel bloggers and social media enthusiasts are helping smaller tourism operations find a voice and enjoy time in the limelight. As a result, aspiring travellers and holiday-markers are more open to off-the-beaten track destinations. In 2015, tourism is no longer all about popular and predictable bucket list experiences. Travellers love the idea of original adventures, which will provide unique photo opportunities and increase their social status online.

What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in Australia in 2016?

Based on my conversations with foreign travellers, Melbourne is the buzz destination on their lips. This eclectic city has well and truly put itself on the international map, capturing the curiosity and interest of people from all corners of the globe. The world is very familiar with Sydney, which seems to be losing a bit of its aspirational glow. Melbourne offers a sense of mystery, diversity, creativity and grit, which is really “on trend”. It’s also constantly evolving and jam-packed with opportunities, making it a destination many foreigners would love to call home.

Anything you would like to add?

Having spent the past seven months travelling through Asia, I’ve witnessed how many countries (even those with challenging pasts) embrace their history and leverage it for tourism purposes. Most travellers relish the idea of stepping into the past and experiencing a country’s original culture. Australia’s pre-colonial Indigenous heritage is a source of wild fascination for many foreigners, and I think we need to offer more opportunities for them to discover how rich and beautiful it really is. Australia is more than a land of beautiful beaches, big cities and outback cattle stations.

 

Stephen and Jess - Flying the NestStephen and Jess of Flying the Nest Flying the Nest is a travel blog run by Stephen & Jess, a young Australian couple with a passion for travelling, photography and film making.

What’s the most underrated destination in Australia in 2015?

We feel the most underrated destination in Australia would have to be our hometown Western Australia. From riding camels along Cable Beach and diving with Whale Sharks at Ningaloo Reef to walking above the trees in the South West and drinking amazing wine in Margret River – we feel WA has it all!

In your opinion, what is the best hotel in Australia in 2015 and why?

We don’t stay in hotels often, rather we like to feel more like a local and stay in homes. Our favourite place we have stayed would be The Birches Denmark, a very luxurious self contained house located on Mt Shadforth just outside of Denmark in Western Australia. We slept in some of the biggest bedrooms we have ever been in, alongside picturesque farmland views with kangaroos hopping right outside our window.

What’s the most exciting trend in travel at the moment and why?

We feel a trend that is happening at the moment is the “self-travel agent”, where we have so many incredible websites and apps out there it is so easy to find the best deals out there to travel further and longer.

What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in Australia in 2016?

We feel like Tasmania will be the hottest travel destination in Australia in 2016. It has beautiful rainforests, white sandy beaches, amazing mountains for skiing – just such a range of things to see and do.

 

Juno Kim - Runaway JunoJuno Kim of Runaway Juno Juno is a prolific travel blogger, social media expert, an award-winning visual storyteller: writer, and photographer at Runaway Juno Media.

What’s the most underrated destination in Australia in 2015?

I’m a lover of the outback. I’ve been there twice over the last two years, and I’m already planning to go back someday soon. The rural outback is where all the good things are hidden. Outback has been highlighted as tourism destination due to attraction like Ayers rock, but I think the real charm is in the towns and outback towners. The characters you meet out here is like straight out of a magazine, sharing amazing stories. I was lucky enough to travel in rural Outback Queensland for a week earlier this year, and it was a trip of a lifetime.

In your opinion, what is the best hotel in Australia in 2015 and why?

I like independent local inn, like Quilpie Heritage Inn, or Hotel Corones in Charleville. They have such an interesting history, deep in the outback’s culture. It’s much more interesting than staying at a international chain hotels. On the other spectrum, Peppers in Gold Coast is an amazing hotel. They filled the room with items that would make you feel like home. The view of the city from the top of the building is just spectacular.

What’s the most exciting trend in travel at the moment and why?

Women-focused, independent (or solo) trips. I’m glad more people are traveling on their own, regardless of their race, nationality, age, and gender. Travel is what taught me to be a grown up, and I hope more people have the opportunity.

What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in Australia in 2016?

I’m seeing more attraction to Queensland and especially to the outback. At least I hope! As we are searching for something more unique and more off the beaten path, the outback is rising as the stop for those of who are seeking for something different.

Anything you would like to add?

Australia is a big country, and each state has its own charm. Don’t try to absorbe all at once. We can always go back.

 

Brook Saward - World of WanderlustBrooke Saward of World of Wanderlust Brooke has been travel blogging full time for nearly 3 years, travelled to 6 continents, 60-something countries, and doesn’t plan to stop any time soon!

What’s the most underrated destination in Australia in 2015? Tasmania!

Of course I am biased being from Tasmania, but I think it has really started to surface as one of the “must see” destinations in Australia in the past year or so. It has won a lot of internationally recognised awards with the like of Travel + Leisure and Lonely Planet in the past couple of years so I think in 2015 it is really starting to cement itself as a must visit destination in Australia.

In your opinion, what is the best hotel in Australia in 2015 and why?

I would have to say Saffire in Freycinet as I stayed here for the first time this year and it was undoubtedly one of my favourite hotel stays worldwide. It has been recognised as the world’s best boutique luxury hotel and with good reason!

What’s the most exciting trend in travel at the moment and why?

I’m very excited by the amount of young people who are travelling and saving their hard earned money to buy experiences instead of things. This has been a core focus for me in my travel blog to encourage young people to get out there and see the world, so it is exciting to see such high growth rates and a cultural change towards travel in recent years.

What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in Australia in 2016?

I think the Outback will always be one of the “hottest” (pun intended) destination in Australia and I’m really looking forward to visiting for the first time at the end of 2015. Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island are also getting a lot of press and are a great option for Aussies with a higher budget who are seeking uber luxe experiences without leaving the country.

 

Phoebe Lee - Little Grey BoxPhoebe Lee of Little Grey Box Phoebe Lee is a writer, award-winning blogger and travel lover, sharing helpful travel tips, reviews and honest insight for regular people.

What’s the most underrated destination in Australia in 2015?

Rainbow Beach, which is 3 hours drive north of Brisbane, nestled just underneath Fraser Island on Queensland’s coastline. This sleepy little town has some of the most beautiful beaches imaginable and is home to the Carlo Sand Blow, my favourite place in the world to watch the sun rise and set. It’s a place that captures your heart and stays with you forever.

In your opinion, what is the best hotel in Australia in 2015 and why?

Spicers Peak Lodge, perched on a mountain top in Queensland’s Scenic Rim, is my pick. Waking up here means waking up in the heart of Australia’s bushland, surrounded by natural flora and fauna, with views that will take your breath away. Peak Lodge is incredibly luxurious, the rooms are gorgeous, the food is amazing and the staff are genuinely the most kind, attentive people you could hope to meet. It’s definitely a favourite of mine.

What’s the most exciting trend in travel at the moment and why?

For me, it’s being able to access first-hand information thanks to bloggers, Instagrammers and travel lovers. Before I visit a destination I jump on Instagram and check out the hashtag to see what’s happening, what the weather’s like, what people are doing or find a hidden spot to eat at, visit or photograph. It’s making travel easier to plan and giving people access to a wider range of things to do, specific to their interests.

What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in Australia in 2016?

I really hope it’s somewhere in Queensland because I’m a Queensland girl born and bred and I’m so proud of how beautiful my home state is. I’d love to see a few of Queensland’s smaller towns get recognised, like Agnes Water in the Gladstone Region. There are so many hard working, passionate people in these smaller regions, working hard to promote their beautiful piece of the world.

Anything you would like to add?

It’s so wonderful to be included in this list of inspiring bloggers and I hope anyone who reads this feels inspired to follow their dreams too. I’m sure none of us on this list imagined we could be successful bloggers, so I hope it inspires others to see that anything in life is possible. Listen to your heart, follow your itchy travel feet and let your desires guide you.

 

Lara and Terence - GrantourismoLara Dunston and Terence Carter of Grantourismo Grantourismo is the blog of Australian travel and food writing and photography duo, Lara and Terence, who see life as one big grand tour of the world.

What’s the most underrated destination in Australia in 2015?

Adelaide may be known as a food and wine destination within Australia, yet despite being included on a number of global travel lists it remains relatively unknown overseas, with most foreigners still making a beeline for Sydney and Melbourne. Yet as far as food and wine goes it’s one of Australia’s alluring cities with a handful of world class wine regions on its doorstep and outstanding restaurants like Orana, Hill of Grace, and Magil Estate. Then there’s the rich indigenous culture and art, the handsome heritage architecture, the gorgeous beaches, and the laid-back people.

In your opinion, what is the best hotel in Australia in 2015 and why?

Australia does small and boutique best. We love small boutique retreats and luxury lodges, but it’s impossible to pick one! When it comes to hotels, we’re big fans of the Art Series properties, like The Watson in Adelaide, named after the great Australian Aboriginal artist Jimmy Watson, and their original Melbourne properties are superb. Southern Ocean Lodge, which we’ve been lucky to experience twice, is without doubt Australia’s most luxurious lodge – and we just stayed at Injidup Spa Retreat in the Margaret River, which has a similar feel and is also a stunner.

What’s the most exciting trend in travel at the moment and why?

As travellers we’ve long focused on slow, local and experiential travel, and they’re the forms of travel we concentrate on at Grantourismo. They’re been the big trends of recent years and we still find them the most exciting. I don’t think they’re going anywhere. It’s unfortunate that a lot of marketing people have jumped on the local travel bandwagon claiming to offer a ‘home away from home’, which is impossible for a thousand room resort to do and nor should they try. However, for us the idea of traveling to a place to learn to live like locals, get an insight into how locals live their lives, and connect with local people is still our main motivation for going somewhere, and those interactions are what makes travel meaningful and memorable for us.

What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in Australia in 2016?

Adelaide and Canberra. The Aussie capital is doing very well to shake its image of being dull and boring. It’s always been home to some of Australia’s finest art and provided a space for some of the best touring exhibitions of art, however, like Adelaide, it’s food and wine scene is what will draw people to the city in 2016. A lot of people still don’t realise the city has some remarkable wineries in its backyard and its restaurants and bars are dishing up fantastic food and cocktails.

Anything you would like to add?

I’m hearing reports that Australians are travelling less and having second thoughts about travelling overseas, both due to the low Aussie dollar and fears of terrorism and violence — the recent incident in Egypt has frightened many travellers — however, the chances of dying in a road accident are still far higher. Our message to people is travel more in your own backyard, see more of Australia, but don’t stop travelling.

 

Caz and Craig Makepeace - YtravelCaz and Craig Makepeace of y travel blog Caz and Craig Makepeace have just finished an 18 month road trip around Australia with their two daughters. Next stop USA. What’s the most underrated destination in Australia in 2015? Adelaide.

It has the best food and wine in the country, with incredible places to visit only 30 minutes drive in every direction. Adelaide is still small enough as a city to not feel so overwhelmed and have a more connected experience. It has a friendly spirit and the festivals adds a real buzz to the air.

In your opinion, what is the best hotel in Australia in 2015 and why?

I think it’s hard to beat the One&Only Hayman Island resort at the moment. It’s just had a huge refurb, you can arrive by luxury boat or helicopter and you have an island in the Whitsundays all to yourself. It’s a pretty special place.

What’s the most exciting trend in travel at the moment and why?

Going local! I love how travellers are keen to discover where the locals go and have more authentic experiences and unique stories to share.

What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in Australia in 2016?

I’m noticing a lot more people taking an interest in heading West – Perth, Broome and Margaret River. If we can see better flight options in terms of price, I think WA will be hot! Anything you would like to add With the Aussie dollar so low, Australians will be way more content to explore more of their own backyard. Road trips will be adventure travellers are looking for.

 

LisaMicheleLisa Michele Burns of The Wandering Lens Australian travel and underwater photographer, founder of The Wandering Lens, a guide to photographing the world aimed at inspiring travellers to creatively capture their adventures.

What’s the most underrated destination in Australia in 2015? Coolum, Queensland. It is Noosa’s chilled neighbour that a lot of people bypass in order to see the other Sunshine Coast hot spots like Mooloolaba or Australia Zoo. Coolum’s beaches are crowd free, waves are rolling in ready to surf and there are beautiful coastal walks along the headlands. Actually maybe I shouldn’t share this so I can still find somewhere to put my beach towel…

In your opinion, what is the best hotel in Australia in 2015 and why?

For six years I lived in paradise on Hayman Island so my answer will have to be a little biased because I can’t go past the One&Only Hayman Island. Having personally seen every inch of the landscape above and below the water surrounding the hotel and experiencing their luxe suites it’s seriously dreamy. The Great Barrier Reef is at the front door and a rainforest filled with wildlife and lush flora is out the back.

What’s the most exciting trend in travel at the moment and why? I’ve seen a big change towards more rugged adventures. Getting away from cities and exploring destinations a little further afield to really escape everything and be surrounded by the natural environment. I’m all for this trend and think nothing beats a good dose of sea salt or mountain air.

What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in Australia in 2016? The Kimberley and northern coastal regions of WA. In staying with the theme of rugged adventures, the landscapes and remote countryside of the region allows for nights under the stars and days hiking to waterfalls or experiencing Australia in its truest form with hardly another sole in sight.

 

Monique van Tulder - The Urban MumMonique van Tulder of The Urban Mum Monique began Luxury Escapes for The Urban Mum as a travel and Lifestyle resource for people that like to travel in style – GO. EAT. STAY. DO.

What’s the most underrated destination in Australia in 2015?

Mainland Whitsundays. Travellers know well the iconic beaches and resorts of The Whitsunday islands – however the mainland region is a destination in it’s own right. The bustling seaside town of Airlie Beach – gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the 74 islands in The Whitsunday group – offers a holiday with a relaxed vibe; from wildlife, private beaches, adventure, boating, kilometres of National Parks, and a developing foodie scene. The Whitsunday Coast airport is serviced by Virgin, Tiger and Jetstar – at just 2 hours flying time ex Sydney (1.5 hrs ex Brisbane) – you can be at home for breakfast and sitting at your resort pool in time for lunch.

In your opinion, what is the best hotel in Australia in 2015 and why?

Still on theme with The Whitsundays, I nominate Qualia on Hamilton Island. For time poor ‘luxury seekers’, this resort hotel offers short break glamour in spades. A ‘child-free’ property providing a distinctly, understated Australian holiday experience. Service is king and the facilities match. Lounging in a private Pavilion, surrounded by bushland and overlooking azure waters, there cannot be a more tranquil place on earth.

What’s the most exciting trend in travel at the moment and why?

The notion that luxury comes in so many guises; the shift away from simply plonking in a resort to seeking out holiday experiences. Travellers are looking to tailor holidays – as we work harder and life moves faster – uncomplicated, relaxing and experiential holiday options are sort. Retro stye holidays of old will resurface – with a difference. The majoirty of families do not want to simply swap one home for another, they actually need a break – seeking the opportunity to decompress and take absolute time out, for most not totally disconnecting (how else will we Instagram…). However the luxury of time spent outdoors, in naturally stunning locations, enjoying locally sourced cuisine, sitting and reading, star gazing, eating ice creams (or vanilla slices from local bakeries), playing board games and taking walks – in accommodation where someone else has made the bed and provided the groceries – boutique properties that offer full service will be the winners.

What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in Australia in 2016?

Regional Australia, from coastal towns to country locations. The current state of the Australian dollar is going to encourage more of us to holiday domestically and boy do we have a lot to keep us busy – anywhere that provides the ‘retro-style’ luxury break mentioned above.

Anything you would like to add?

Australian’s are known for being excellent long haul travellers, however in our rush to see the rest of the world we might be guilty (myself included) of overlooking what the rest of the world already knows – we have it all on our doorstep. Our multi-culturally diverse population offers a truly international experience – at home.

Congratulations to the top travel bloggers of 2015! Now it’s time to hear from the best up and coming travel bloggers to watch in 2016.

 

Jaharn Giles - Mister WeekenderJaharn Giles of Mister Weekender Jaharn is a writer and photographer who loves adventure, interiors and cabins. Mister Weekender travels the globe in search of the best destinations to inspire regular travel and adventure.

What’s the most underrated destination in Australia in 2015? Tasmania!

Not enough Australian’s think to visit our island State. In fact, everyone needs to go, and soon. Lonely Planet recently named Tasmania as one of the world’s top regions to visit and no doubt it will be a very popular destination next year.

In your opinion, what is the best hotel in Australia in 2015 and why?

I must have Tasmania on my mind… I think the best hotel in Australia is Pumphouse Point at Lake St Clair.

What’s the most exciting trend in travel at the moment and why?

Wilderness travel. Everyone wants to go hiking and explore untouched, lesser known wilderness spots on their holidays.

What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in Australia in 2016?

Lord Howe Island!

 

Erin Bender -Travel with BenderErin Bender of Travel with Bender Erin has been travelling with her husband and two children since May 2012. It’s an open-ended, unplanned, round-the-world trip discovering amazing places for families.

What’s the most underrated destination in Australia in 2015?

Loch Ard Gorge. Many flock to see the 12 apostles missing this natural beauty right around the corner and with an amazing heroic story to boot, it needs to be added to the must-visit destinations.

In your opinion, what is the best hotel in Australia in 2015 and why?

Impossible choice, however the Somerset in Melbourne is fabulous location and very family friendly.

What’s the most exciting trend in travel at the moment and why?

There has been a great move towards travel with a purpose. People have been more mindful of their environment and the impact of their travel from tourism to nature and wildlife.

What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in Australia in 2016?

I think Western Australia is really stepping up for tourism and will be the spot to go in the very near future for its beaches, it’s wineries, it’s surfing and it’s food.

 

Ejmont Family - Wanderlust StorytellersJolene and Andrzej Ejmont of Wanderlust Storytellers We are just a normal little Australian family, chasing a life that is focused on our passion to travel! We promise that if we can do this, so can you! Stories to inspire that wanderlust soul of yours!

What’s the most underrated destination in Australia in 2015?

There are truly amazing places in Australia and plenty of which deserve a bit more attention. However, to us, Fraser Island has got to be one destination that is the most underrated in 2015. This destination which is one of the largest sandy islands of Australia, is a relaxation haven, both for local and international tourists alike. 4 Wheel drive fantasy playground, fishing and camping, luxurious beach house chillaxing and swimming in pristine blue coloured lakes are just a few wonders of this place.

In your opinion, what is the best hotel in Australia in 2015 and why?

As a family we absolutely love Sea World Resort, which is a great base for exploring Gold Coast, together with family fun at Sea World and Movie World Theme Park. Here our kids are thoroughly entertained for days, with various rides, playgrounds and spectacular dolphin and seal shows. As for parent-only getaways, Treetops Seaview at Montville is the most romantic tucked away on the side of a mountain gorgeous hut. Total relaxation sitting in a jacuzzi, glass of bubbly in hand, wood fire crackling whilst overlooking the panoramic views that stretches all the way from the Hinterland to the ocean.

What’s the most exciting trend in travel at the moment and why?

Truly the most exciting trend in travel is to take a journey to discover the authentic cultures around the world. To really see and immerse yourself in the food, the lifestyle and the culture of the country is the most authentic and exhilarating experience that one can have. To go beyond the TV screen and a magazine article and to learn, feel, smell and taste is the key.

What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in Australia in 2016?

The big red rock in the centre of Australia, the mighty Uluru or Ayers Rock. We think that our technology driven society is more and more in search of remote locations that take them ‘off the grid’, all in an aid of some time for peacefulness and rediscovery of themselves. And what better way than to rediscover the roots of it all, go to the heart of Australia and be absorbed into the red lands of Aboriginal culture.

Anything you would like to add?

Travelling to us is the greatest way to learn about the world that we live in and we believe it to be the best educational adventure for our children. It gives you so many gifts, gifts that simply cannot be wrapped up in a box. Gifts of experiences and appreciation and memories that will last you a lifetime.

 

Jean Carmela Lim - Holy SmithereensJean Carmela Lim of Holy Smithereens Following 10 years’ experience in the travel industry, Jean Carmela Lim creates freelance travel content and on her travel blog, Holy Smithereens. Always in pursuit of the perfect resort, she is a luxurious adventurer, artfully juggling luxury and adventure in her travels.

What’s the most underrated destination in Australia in 2015?

Cape Tribulation / Port Douglas – it’s not the most underrated destination but it’s often overlooked as people head to the more popular neighbour, Cairns, to see the Great Barrier Reef. Australia has a comparatively young history compared to say, Europe. But the trees of Daintree Rainforest go back hundreds of millions of years ago! Tropical North Queensland really has such lush rainforests and such a diverse wildlife that is well kept.

In your opinion, what is the best hotel in Australia in 2015 and why?

The Jamala Wildlife Lodge in Canberra has really been a game changer this year. I believe it’s the first of its kind in Australia. African-inspired luxury lodges where you literally sleep with lions, giraffes, cheetahs and bears. Perfect mix of luxury and adventure!

What’s the most exciting trend in travel at the moment and why?

Luxury travellers are focusing more on experiential travel nowadays so it’s exciting to see hotel brands incorporate local and unique experiences to provide a seamless service to guests. Gone are the days when all that mattered to luxury travellers are thread count and butler service. This is really something I look forward to as my travel style is combining luxury with adventure / experience. In the Airline industry, it’s a great time to witness the ‘battle of first classes’. Flying apartments, spas, personal butlers and chefs, the golden age of flying is well and truly back with a bang..with a capital Bling!

What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in Australia in 2016?

I predict Tasmania will receive a surge of more than its usual number of tourists in 2016. A number of luxury and wilderness retreat-type accommodations have opened up in the last 2 years which complements the state’s amazing natural surroundings (Cradle Mountain, Freycinet National Park, etc). This is great news as it means Tasmania won’t be quite as isolated from the rest of mainland Australia and will be visited by people who’ve only heard about how wonderful it is down there, myself included!

 

Kirralee Baker - Escape with KidsKirralee Baker of Escape With Kids Kirralee is a mum of two, squeezing her love of travel in between making lunch boxes and picking up Lego. She dreams of holidays where everyone has fun, nothing goes wrong and her suitcase is filled with fabulous outfits and tacky souvenirs.

What’s the most underrated destination in Australia in 2015?

Highly underrated are those beautiful local treasures where we may have holidayed as children. They’re often only a few hours’ drive away, yet as adults we tend to head further afield. We are loving introducing our kids to such gorgeous spots as Warrnambool and Bright in Victoria and Jervis Bay and Kiama in NSW.

In your opinion, what is the best hotel in Australia in 2015 and why?

Quay West Suites Sydney is perfection for families – harbour views; amazing indoor swimming pool that the kids adore; high-rise recreation deck perfect for soaking up said views; spacious apartments (with kitchen and laundry facilities), and The Rocks, my favourite part of Sydney, on your doorstep. Get on the harbour with a ferry trip to Watsons Bay, up your culture quota with a wander around the Museum of Contemporary Art, play tea parties at The Tea Cosy and grab a burger at the historic yet vibrant Harts Pub.

What’s the most exciting trend in travel at the moment and why?

Japan is massively popular with Australian families right now! They’re going for the snow, the culture, the natural beauty and the food. As well as for Tokyo Disney Resort and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It is so close to Australia and in the same time zone (no jet lag!), safe and clean, yet with a completely different language and culture. We can’t wait to go!

What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in Australia in 2016?

With the current weak Australian dollar, many families will be keen to travel domestically, yet explore somewhere new. These families won’t be sitting around a resort, they will be sailing the Whitsundays, pottering around Tasmania or soaking up some of South Australia’s highlights, like the Barossa, Flinders Ranges and dreamy Kangaroo Island.

 

Nicola - Polkadot PassportNicola Easterby of Polkadot Passport Nicola Easterby is an avid photographer, blogger and world-traveller. Seldom found in one place for too long, Nicola circles the globe to take photos for travel brochures, sharing all of her adventures on Polkadot Passport

What’s the most underrated destination in Australia in 2015?

Currumbin at the Gold Coast is one of the most beautiful places on earth. People flock to the over-crowded beaches and built-up tourist trap of Surfers Paradise when just down the road there are magical swimming holes, expansive forests and pristine beaches in explore.

In your opinion, what is the best hotel in Australia in 2015 and why?

Spicers Sangoma Retreat in the Blue Mountains strikes the perfect balance of cosy charm and sleek elegance. Surrounded by natural beauty as far as the eye can see, this upcoming hotel is ideal for a getaway at any time of the year.

What’s the most exciting trend in travel at the moment and why?

I think people are starting to seek out more genuine cultural experiences when they travel rather than just looking for creature comforts. This means that places reflecting local culture in their decor, food, activities and overall atmosphere are becoming more popular than generic, modern hotels.

What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in Australia in 2016?

Tasmania has been on the rise for awhile and I think 2016 is going to be the year to visit. Slowly people are discovering just how beautiful and naturally diverse this island is and it’s starting to attract more and more tourism as a result.

 

Jess Harding - Back to BuckleyJess Harding of Back to Buckley A professional wordsmith with wanderlust, Jess is the frequent flying freelance writer, blogger and pilates addict who spills the beans on all things travel & lifestyle on the blog Back to Buckley.

What’s the most underrated destination in Australia in 2015? Tasmania.

Hands down. It may be the worst kept secret in the world after making this year’s Lonely Planet Top 10 list but the apple isle still doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. You don’t have to wait until retirement age to enjoy the fruits Tassie has to offer! The scenery is spectacular, it’s heaven for foodies and a goldmine for grape lovers. Need more inspiration? How about Hobart’s spectacular Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Cradle Mountain, the Bay of Fires or in fact the entire east coast of the state… Explore Tasmania. Full stop.

In your opinion, what is the best hotel in Australia in 2015 and why?

Looking out to the Whitsunday Islands from its perch on Hamilton Island, it’s hard to go past Qualia. There may have been a battle royale brewing off Queensland’s coast when One&Only Hayman Island reopened nearby but as far as I’m concerned, Qualia still takes the cake. A secluded sanctuary on the Great Barrier Reef, it feels just like you’re floating on your very own tropical island! That said if you’re planning a city break in my hometown, Melbourne’s Crown Towers Hotel is pretty exceptional as well.

What’s the most exciting trend in travel at the moment and why?

The digital revolution has completely changed how people plan, research, book and experience travel; with that in mind, we’ve jumped into an exciting era where online influencers like travel or fashion bloggers are really starting to dominate. Packing their bags and ferrying them away to far away places, the best bloggers give their readers a glimpse into another world and we can’t seem to get enough of it. Whether they’re posting snaps of their Tuscan villa on Instagram or dishing up destination guides on their website, today’s bloggers are knowledgable, relevant and realistically inspiring others to travel with their personal flair and joie de vivre.

What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in Australia in 2016?

Go west. South of Perth, in the South West corner of the country there’s a treasure trove of beaches, wineries, trendy eateries, surf spots and secluded sanctuaries that don’t get the accolades they deserve.

To Margaret River and beyond I say. Maybe it’s just me but we’ve all been sticking to the east coast of the country for far too long.

 

Andy Tope - Travelling TypeAndy Tope of Travelling Type Travel writer, photographer and English teacher who loves culture, history and a good wander in the hills.

What’s the most underrated destination in Australia in 2015?

I’m not exactly sure about just 2015, but the Pilbara region in north Western Australia has always been underrated in my opinion. The stunning gorges, bright colours and miles of quiet make for an incredible excursion into a relatively undiscovered and ancient part of the world.

In your opinion, what is the best hotel in Australia in 2015 and why?

I’m not sure if the Castle on the Hill exactly qualifies as a hotel, as it’s a novel getaway with only two rooms. However, it’s one of the more enjoyable places I’ve stayed in in recent memory, due to the wonderful hosts, locally built Renaissance architecture and mystery that buzzes within. Well worth checking out in Uki in the Northern Rivers, NSW.

What’s the most exciting trend in travel at the moment and why?

Since this is not my forte, I’ll say travel blogs, selfie sticks and the short back and sides haircut accompanied by a reasonably unkempt beard.

What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in Australia in 2016?

While Tasmania was a popular spot in 2015, I think we’ll continue to see this wonderful little island gain more visitors well into 2016. With a superb food culture and jaw-dropping scenery, Tassie is becoming more and more targeted in the travel scene (and for good reason). In fact, as soon as I get back from my current trip in Spain, I plan to spend quite a bit of time there.