Wedding planning is all about compromise, but the honeymoon doesn’t
have to be. If you and your fiancé can’t decide between a lie-on-the-beach retreat or an urban walkabout that’s heavy on sightseeing and shopping, pick Oz. You can have it all when you voyage up the east coast of the continent and hop from urbane Melbourne to sophisticated Sydney to the tropical climate of Northern Queensland.
BY DAY: Philadelphians will feel a kinship with scrappy Melbourne, a so-called second city whose charming alleyways, independent boutiques, hole-in-the-wall cafés and eclectic restaurants make for a European feel. In Sydney, do the BridgeClimb over the iconic
Harbor Bridge, for both the climb leader’s chatty discourse on bridge and city history, and the bird’s-eye view of the city’s gorgeous harbors. Ferry to the Taronga Zoo, and don’t miss the Saturday craft market in hip suburb Paddington. In Queensland, lounging on the beach on Hamilton Island is a honeymoon requirement — as is snorkeling the never-ending Great Barrier Reef or chartering a helicopter to secluded Whitehaven Beach to feel its famously fine white sand under your feet. While in Cairns, book an all-day four-wheel-drive tour of the Daintree Rainforest, part of Queensland’s World Heritage-listed wetland tropics region.
BY NIGHT: Hunt for one of Melbourne’s many famously hard-to-find bars that are tucked away in the city’s network of small lanes. Madame Brussels, named for a 19th-century brothel owner, has a funky Astroturf floor and serves country-club cocktails by the jug. In Sydney, have drinks and enjoy the panoramic harbor views at the swanky Blu Horizon Bar on the top floor of the Shangri-La Hotel. Be sure to buy tickets for a performance at Sydney’s famous Opera House well in advance of your trip, as they can sell out early. Evenings on Hamilton Island are all about beach sunsets and quiet nights in.
WHAT TO EAT: In Melbourne, splurge on dinner at Pearl, a modern eatery with luxe, pared-down Aussie fare. Also try Gingerboy, whose slick decor and Southeast Asian small plates draw a hip crowd. In Sydney, the most romantic spot is a window-side table at Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, overlooking Bondi Beach. Book it for a long lunch that culminates in a fiery sunset. Rub elbows with hip locals at a communal table at Thai-Chinese eatery Longrain. On Hamilton Island, many of the hotels have restaurants that capitalize on water views. A few less expensive options line the tiny street along the harbor. Make an effort to eat “Breakfast with the Koalas” at the on-island wildlife center — after the meal, you actually get to cuddle a koala.