SELECT PHOTOS BY ANDREW FREIRICH
Each year, the office of tourism in the Australian government invites 12 -15 Journalists and Producers to visit. It’s a journey of about 22 days. Three regions of the vast country are selected to visit. I was fortunate to go to Tasmania, Queensland (home of the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rain Forest) and New South Wales (Sydney).
It was such a compliment and a true honor to be invited. The budget allocated for each person is between $75,000 and $100,000. It was absolutely first class all the way. And they made every moment count!
Australia is a dream location. I find it to be very similar to California, actually. Geographically, it’s an incredible place to visit and location scout. The culture is absolutely fanscinating, from reefs to outback to rain forest and unique animals. A true treasure of the world.
I had the opportunity to meet with one of Australia’s most famous Celebrity Chefs: Bill Granger. I first saw Bill on a few episodes on the Food Network, and knew I had to set up a meeting and explore collaborating with him while in Australia. We met at his internationally known “Bills Cafe” in Sydney.
Bill has a great passion for life! This is evident in the food he creates and the environment he surounds himself with in his restaurants, TV shows and with his family.
My tour guide for almost the entire trip was a fantastic asset.
This was the first place we visited. And it was the most raw in nature. Most mainlanders from Australia haven’t even been there. The geography was incredibly diverse — from ancient rain forests to Caribbean style beaches. Tasmania is also known for it’s incredibly fertile land, for wines, cheeses, and other other delicacies. The seafood options abundant. Hobart the capital of Tazmania, and offers history combined with modern amenities, great restaurants, and boutique hotels. I stayed at the St. James Hotel, one of the oldest properties in all of Australia that had been renovated into a 5 star location. One of the incredible experiences I had was when I came face to face with a Tasmanian devil. That was the first moment I arrived at my cabin at Cradle Mountain Lodge, and it was sitting on top of a woodpile. What a gift! My guide Anna mentioned that she had not seen a Tazmanian Devil in the wild in all of the twelve years she had lived on the island.
My cabin nestled in the rainforest, provided great opportunities to watch wallabees and echidnas in their habitat, and the lake even had a platypus in residence. My focus was to take in the entire experience, see the country as a Producer, Director and Journalist, and take away experiences to be motivated and inspired.
This is the home of the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rain Forest. Dain Tree is one of the oldest Rain Forests in existance. One of the highlights of the trip was a walkabout with some of the indigenous Aboriginals. My instructions were to bring only shorts and sneakers . A walk about is an ancient old ritual of cleansing the mind, body and spirit. To be at one with nature, and to simplify life to it’s core.
They painted my body and face with the river rocks as part of their cultural ceremonies. I brought some of them back with me as mementos, symbols of my experience. It was phsycially, spiritually and emotionally unique and fulfilling. Overall, an experience of a lifetime.
Then there was the Great Barrier Reef. Words can hardly describe it. I flew in a helicoptor out to a pontoon, we were then shuttled to Catamaran where we prepared for our dive. Five hours of diving in one of the best reefs in the world. Nothing less then extraordinary!
New South Wales
In my office, I have a world map with pins of places I’ve been, places I still want to go and my favorites destinations so far. Australia is absolutely my favorite so far!
A sixty page itinerary, three regions and three weeks of extraordinary experiences! Exploring Tasmania, Diving in the Great Barrier reef, Hiking in the Dane Tree Rain forest, going on a Walk about with an Aboriginal tribe, Sydney Opera House, Bridge Climb, incredible variety of food, geography, and people plus hundreds more activities!