Stuart Rigg and Debbie Bollen arranged a 14-day trip for 5 of us to Australia. We were 2 couples and a single unrelated adult friend. We did offer a bit of complexity to deal with in that we had somewhat differing (though largely overlapping) interests. We felt that Stuart/Debbie did a good job of listening and interpreting our wishes and adjusting the proposed itinerary accordingly.
The end result was a trip where we split into 2 groups for a few days in the middle of the trip, while spending the beginning and end together. That worked very well and everyone was happy with the trip. Stuart/Debbie clearly know their territory and are connected with a good set of local providers. Our guides were uniformly good – our wine guide in the Barossa, in particular, made our day with him really special. As first-timers Down Under, we were happy to merely scratch the surface with some of the must-sees. It would have been difficult to choose sights we wouldn’t have liked, but we still felt that the choices made on our behalf were excellent. The accommodations were well chosen to suit our mix of some travelers wanting 5-star luxury and some wanting more economical lodging. We did create some of our own tension by having some of the group who wanted to be very active and others who preferred a more leisurely pace. A note to fellow travelers who might be in the same position – be sure to discuss this in advance, as we found that some of our guides were unwilling (or unable for liability reasons) to allow the group to split during tours. We did have a couple of miscommunications with Debbie before the trip and a couple of airport transfers that had not been properly scheduled.
However, since Debbie did fully document what she had booked for us, we were able to correct everything before it became a problem. All in all, we were quite happy with the experience and will be happy to go back to Stuart and his team if we head that way again.
We travelled to Australia in January, 2019, using Stuart Rigg and Tanya Knobel as our planners. From the time Stuart first talked to us by telephone and throughout the planning stages, we knew we were in good hands. Their suggestions were helpful and they listened carefully to our likes and wishes. They always answered our email queries promptly and continued to be in touch during the trip. At each location we visited, they chose excellent tour companies and guides to show us what is special about the various locales. We had a great time and wonderful experiences. We would highly recommend them.
My wife Cathy and I had the great pleasure of travelling from our home in Toronto, Canada to Australia for a three week visit from December 27th through January 17th, 2019.
Knowing that the time would fly by it was extremely important for us to get professional help in putting together our itinerary. Enter Stuart Rigg and his team, most notably Debbie Bollen, In short, they were terrific, not only in terms of suggesting and ultimately securing the various arrangements such as accommodation and tours, but also in dealing with the “changing parts” that occurred as the days unfolded. Plans change, and Debbie was able to keep pace with our litany of requests and keep things in order.
We began by spending five days at the Adina Apartment Hotel in Bondi where we rendezvoused with our daughter Christie who had moved to Sydney this past July. The accommodation proved to be just right for that stage of our visit. Bondi has a vibe to it…lots of people, lots of things happening – by no means peaceful and relaxing – and that was a good thing at this early stage! A highlight was the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk, and another was a half day bicycle tour that proved to be an excellent way to get oriented to Sydney’s downtown and waterfront area.
From there the three of us traveled to Melbourne for a few days. We stayed at the Hotel Lindrum which was conveniently located and very well appointed. A highlight was definitely a foodie tour with the very knowledgeable and passionate guide, Cam Smith. We also traveled to the Mornington Peninsula to visit a sustainable farm and restaurant, Green Olives at Red Hill, which was well worth doing. The following day we went to the Yarra Valley for some wine tasting. Beautiful scenery along the way.
From there we traveled to Tasmania for six days, including a visit to Freycinet National Park where we stayed at Freycinet Lodge in a pavilion. These rooms are beautifully appointed – a lovely combination of rugged nature meshing with all the comforts of modern living that one could possibly imagine – although we did find the operation of the new-age light system to be a bit of a challenge at first! A highlight of this portion of our journey was watching a glorious sunset at Honeymoon Bay. A “low-light” was the park itself. It appeared to be lovely but it was very busy – so much so that we couldn’t fine a parking spot for our car which was a bit disappointing. Peak season was definitely in full bloom!
From there a three hour drive back to Hobart, the quaint capital city, where we stayed at MACq01, a beautiful, modern-style hotel perfectly located right in the heart of the CBU and waterfront area. We experienced the outdoor market scene – a must do if you’re there on a Saturday. Also, if ever you do find yourself in Hobart be sure to explore the north part to get a sense of the non-touristy area. It’s reachable within a 30 minute walk or a short drive. Of course if you’re a lover of art then the MONA is a must-do – it’s the Museum of Old & New Art, one of the world’s most unique and controversial museums which houses one of the largest private art collections on the globe.
We then returned to Sydney for our final four days, this time staying at Spicers in the eclectic neighborhood of Potts Point. This boutique hotel is a gem – in a great location, we had a spacious and very comfortable room with a lovely terrace that overlooked the bustling street below. They served delicious breakfasts, and the staff were courteous, friendly and very welcoming. Absolutely top-notch.
A final highlight was a day trip to the South Coast through the Royal National Park to the Grand Pacific Drive and over the incredibly scenic Sea Cliff Bridge. It was a long day of travel, but worth it.
All in all we enjoyed this trip immensely and certainly appreciate the positive impact that Stuart and his team brought to our experience. We’d most certainly recommend Stuart and Debbie to those seeking to optimize the value of their travel down unda!
Our family of five just returned from our first visit to Australia and simply cannot say enough good about the services Stuart and Tanya provided. From the bridge climb, private tour of the opera house, surf lessons on Bondi Beach, bike tour of Sydney, personal tour of the zoo, etc. we were thrilled with the level of service we received. The guides were prompt, knowledgeable and a total pleasure to spend time with. They tailored each activity to meet the needs of my husband and I as well as our three children even going so far as to make a stop at a local grocery store to share with us some authentic Australian candies, “biscuits” and drinks which was a highlight of the trip for our children. We wholeheartedly recommend Stuart’s team and hope to have the opportunity to travel with them again in the future.
Stuart Rigg and his colleague Tanya booked every aspect of our Australia trip, and we were pleased across the board. They were very patient working with us to pack in everything we wanted to do, from Sydney, to Uluru, to diving the Great Barrier Reef, and they clearly worked with top shelf properties and special individuals throughout.
The best parts of our time are the things we would not have thought of — the private sailing tour of Sydney harbour seeing the city and properties from the water side and hearing about the history, or an afternoon spent walking the tidal flats with a native descendant, discussing both ancient ways and modern challenges.
We knew we had a non-stop agenda to see as much as we wanted to, but Stuart and his crew managed to fit it all in while leaving us just enough leisure and spontaneity.
We worked with Stuart and Danielle for our trip to Australia in October, 2018. We were celebrating my birthday. Stuart and I had an initial conversation to understand our travel preferences, interests and priorities. After the initial consultation, we were sent an itinerary which reflected everything we discussed! Stuart was very thoughtful as to what would work best for us. The trip went flawlessly! Everything was so well organized and on time. All the vendors were fantastic and some went out of their way to accommodate us. And, many left me birthday wishes and champagne along the way.
Wow! What can I say? I don’t even know where to begin. This was an amazing trip for my family! My two daughters, husband, and I had an awesome time in Australia– many thanks to Stuart for such great planning, execution, and many memorable touches! First, we loved all the activities– from biking in Sydney, the Sydney Harbor Bridge twilight climb, to the magnificent Uluru and Field of Lights dinner/walk, to snorkeling with green turtles on the inspiring Lady Elliots Island! Each accommodation was fantastic– our favorite was the Ovolo Inchcolm in Brisbane! And the Lady Elliots Island eco-resort was magical and the perfect finishing touch to an already incredible and wonderful trip! My daughters loved the sunset over the Harbor Bridge and the chance to embrace a koala. We were celebrating my husbands 50th birthday and he could not have asked for a more memorable holiday. For him, stargazing in the clear night sky was an added delight! We truly recommend Stuart and thank him for the incredible trip! And bonus points for the fruit basket waiting for us on our last night.
New Zealand— the Land of the Long White Cloud— such a magical place! My family and I absolutely loved how beautiful and how eco-conscious this incredible place is! It was a wonderful way to begin our journey. Thanks to Stuart and Tom, we had plenty of time to wander and enjoy New Zealand at our own pace while still having pre-arrangements to hit all the highlights we wanted. Auckland was charming and a great start point. We really enjoyed the Waitomo Caves around Rotorua to Hobbiton in Matamata and the Weta Workshop in Wellington. And the drive along the green and lush hills were breathtaking. And of course, we were utterly taken by the breathtaking magnificence of Queenstown, the Remarkables, Milford Sound, and Skippers’ Canyon. We had the good fortune of comfortable dry and sunny weather throughout our time and we must give a shoutout for the beautiful Rees Hotel and the wonderful 2-bedroom suite with fireplace and private balcony overlooking the Lake Wakatipu. The people were so friendly and we were pleasantly surprised and very impressed that Maori is the 2nd official language in New Zealand. And while Queenstown and New Zealand are places of high adventure (don’t forget to do the Shotover Jetboat), we were particularly charmed by the Kiwi Wildlife Park where you learn about how New Zealand’s efforts around conservation are some of the most aggressive and yet sensible we had ever heard. Thank you to Stuart for arranging a most magical trip for us in the Land of Kiwis.
Thank you to Wendy Perrin for connecting us to Stuart and his team. We had a wonderful trip to Australia at the end of June/early July 2018. Thank you to Stuart and Pam for all of their planning. Everything was outstanding – the hotels, tour guides, drivers, experiences, and meals. Throughout the planning process, we especially appreciated their responsiveness and thoughtfulness to each question we raised. They also expertly addressed all of our concerns regarding our daughter’s food allergy. We could not be more pleased with their services and will recommend them to anyone we know considering a visit to Australia.
Stuart and his team did two things that are very important to me – they listened to what my travel partner and I wanted out of this trip, AND they were great at communicating expediently and thoroughly. We had less than two months to pull together a two-week trip Australia and New Zealand coming from the US. They asked our budget, we requested a luxury experience, and our expectations were surpassed. We had one lodging experience that was booked to our specifications, but upon arrival did not meet our expectations. It was late evening and Pam on Stuart’s team answered our call right away and arranged new lodging within minutes without questioning our reason for wanting to change lodging. If/when I return down under I will absolutely use Stuart and his team to create another amazing itinerary.
We were in Australia 10 years ago and were excited to return to Sidney & Kangaroo Island two of our favorites. In addition to exploring for the first time Tasmania, Great Ocean Road region and Adelaide. Stuart and his staff coordinated all of our requests perfectly with lovely properties.
One day we were scheduled for an expensive full day tour and had to cancel at the last minute because of illness. The tour was nonrefundable, but he negotiated a partial refund. All our tour guides were very knowledgeable and professional. Stuart and his staff were available 24/7 and checked in with us several times. It was a wonderful stress-free vacation thanks to him and his staff’s expertise.
New Years Eve in Sydney. A bucket list item! Despite us being late In being able to make arrangements Stuart and his colleague Jane helped guide us to the perfect choice -on the water, in the middle of the action. And we had the best table right at the bow of the boat.
What a night to remember. The fireworks were everything I hoped for and more. A huge tick on that bucket list!
Stuart Rigg and his colleague, Tanya Knobel, planned an absolutely perfect trip for me. I wanted something a little different from the typical “first time to Australia” trip, as I wanted to spend most of my time enjoying the natural beauty of Tasmania. Stuart and Tanya spent the time truly working to understand what I wanted and then delivered beautifully. I could not have planned it better myself – from the boutique hotels I love (and the complimentary upgrades I received!) to the local guides (all of whom were fantastic) to the help while on the trip to advise about a minor glitch (which was not their doing), these two are consummate professionals and the “real deal.” Thank you for the superb recommendation, Wendy!!
My husband and I spent 5 weeks in Australia in September-October 2017 on a spectacular trip planned and executed by Stuart and Debbie. We had long wanted to visit our seventh continent but quickly realized that even with 5 weeks we couldn’t see the entire country. My top priority was to see The Kimberley, a very remote area in northwestern Australia that even many Australians never get to. After phone conversations and emails, we ended up dividing our interests into two trips. For the first one, we chose to do what we called our Australia Bush Safari and we are intensely grateful we did so. Next time, we’ll do the southeast coast — what we call — “where the people live.” This trip, we went mostly to where few of the people live. If we’d done it the other (Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, Tasmania) — I doubt we’d ever have gone back to do what we did this time.
There is no way we could have planned this trip ourselves. The trip encompassed 18 flights and 14 places to stay. The first week we drove ourselves south from Perth to Albany and then back to the Margaret River region. Then we flew north for stays at three different places in The Kimberley (Cable Beach Club in Broome, El Questro and Berkeley River Lodge.) Then across the top end to Darwin and a safari lodge on a cattle station (Bamurru Plains), then three places in Queensland (Cairns, Lizard Island and Silky Oats Lodge), finishing with a stay in Uluru (Longitude 131). The logistics were complicated, entailing many tiny charter planes, helicopters and lots of transfers. Once Stuart figured out what kind of trip we wanted and the kinds of places we were interested in staying in, he put together an itinerary and made all the arrangements for a trip that exceeded my expectations. All the places he chose for us were excellent. Many were among the country’s most unique and/or luxurious (Como The Treasury in Perth, El Questro’s The Homestead, Longitude 131 in Uluru); one was a B&Bs with an owner who made some of the best omelettes we’ve had and did laundry for free after I slipped off a log and got coated in mud (The Beach House at Bayside in Albany). Others while more rustic had their own charm — at Karri Valley Resort, Lincoln race Ringnecked Parrots hung over the roof edge of our lakeview terrace. The full-day birding guide Stuart arranged for us in the area of Daintree National Park — Del Richards of Fine Feathers Tours — was terrific. Even the place about which I had reservations after our arrival (Berkeley River Lodge, which has the most uncomfortable dining room chairs ever and outdoor toilets — albeit private — I could have done without) became a place I have fond memories of because of the excursions we took and the fellow guests we met. And our transfer to and from Cairns and Silky Oats Lodge was via a stretch white limo that was superbly comfortable for my extra tall husband (and had a great driver).
We could not have had a better trip. That it was topped by one of Wendy’s WOW moments (a not-to-be-missed helicopter ride over Uluru and Kata Tjuta) is just one more reason why Wendy Perrin’s trip experts are the best. The attention to detail Stuart and Debbie gave to our trip, the flawless execution of everything from hotels to lodges, private charters, drivers, airport transfers, private guides and reams of useful information ahead of time was something I was aware of before the trip — but could not fully appreciate until we were on it.
Wendy’s experts all share two essential traits — attention to detail in planning and careful execution of arrangements. I know I can trust that if I use one of her experts (and we’ve used a lot of them), their advice and planning will be excellent. But where they — and Stuart Rigg — are unmatched is in their ability to intuit what their clients want, need and most important, will delight in. Kudos.
My husband and I traveled throughout Australia for the first time, for one month in September – October 2017. We covered a great deal of distance, and although we are very experienced travelers, we felt we needed help planning this particular trip. Stuart Rigg and his staff, especially Jane Reynolds, were extremely helpful in advising us and planning a complicated itinerary, keeping in mind our very specific interests and wishes. We had one long four-way telephone call and many, many emails so that communication was easy, despite the difference in time zones. Stuart and Jane planned our air travel (a total of 10 flights within the country), our hotels, our drivers (we decided not to drive ourselves), individual guides who would be well versed in our particular interests, as well as some group tours, and some meals.
All the transfers went flawlessly, and what a difference that made in decreasing our travel fatigue! We were pleased with all of the choices that had been made for hotels. Even though we had said that we preferred to spend our money on experiences rather than on 5-star hotels, we were often given a complimentary upgrade to a better room and/or given special attention, which was clearly the result of the relationship with Stuart. We also received check-in calls from his team at the beginning, during, and at the end of our trip.
And the experiences we had requested in terms of places and guides were fantastic. For our trip to Pemberton and the visit to the areas south of Pemberton, Jane found a couple who have a small eco-tour company in Pemberton. They came and picked us up in Perth (3+ hours away without stops), drove us to a B&B in Pemberton, and then took us on an amazing group eco-tour the next day and a private tour the following day even further south to see the amazing karri, marri, and tingle eucalyptus trees, amongst other sights. They also drove us back to Perth. This couple had never before taken on such an intensive and unusual private tour, so we are very grateful to Jane and Stuart for coming up with a creative solution that allowed us to explore a part of southwest Australia without a car.
Were there any glitches? Yes, within the month, there were a few, but they were relatively minor. An example: one meal for an accompanying relative was supposed to be vegetarian, and the information had not been relayed in time. There was more than sufficient food, however, for it not to pose much of a problem.
Would we use Stuart again? Absolutely. And we are even considering a return trip to Australia, although it was supposed to be a once in a lifetime trip.
Places visited: Port Douglas – Ayres Rock – Kangaroo Island – Tasmania – Sydney – Perth – Pemberton
Queensland, Australia in October 2017.
When my wife and I decided to return to Australia after visiting Sydney and Melbourne on an earlier trip, we wanted to focus on Queensland, with a special emphasis on the Great Barrier Reef. Although we could have laid out an itinerary and made the arrangements ourselves, the logistics in this part of the country can be a bit complicated, so we decided to contact Stuart. We are very happy that we did.
After providing Stuart lengthy descriptions of our desires, likes, and dislikes, he developed a plan specifically tailored to our interests, which included snorkeling, exposure to wildlife, cultural pursuits, and Australian cooking, all fit into a 3 week package. Stuart decided on using Brisbane as our home base for several multi-day excursions, and that worked well. We enjoyed multi-day stays in each of Brisbane, the bush country, the rainforest, and of course the Great Barrier Reef.
We had two distinctly different experiences on the Great Barrier Reef. One was land-based, on Lady Elliot Island, which lies near the southern end of the GBR and can be reached only by air. The other was a 4 night live-aboard cruise that covered the north end of the GBR. If I had planned this on my own, I would not have thought of dividing our stay into two locations. Stuart’s approach gave us a superior experience.
Our itinerary provided three full days in Brisbane, two at the beginning of the trip and one at the end. I harbored an unvoiced concern that three days would be too much, but I was wrong. Brisbane is an underappreciated city with many ways to delight a visitor. Stuart understood this. He arranged a full day tour of Brisbane on our first day there, giving us an opportunity to visit some of the areas that are a little out of the way and allowing us to decide where to spend our time on the two days we had on our own. That worked very well. Later in the trip, we had a full day tour of the Daintree Rainforest/Cape Tribulation area. On both occasions, we had excellent guides that were willing to make last minute adjustments to their plans to accommodate our evolving interests.
Stuart was also careful to give us unplanned time at each location to explore whatever caught our interest upon arrival. Stuart provided a list of suggestions for each stop but left the decisions on what to do up to us. That suited us perfectly. For example, in Brisbane, we were able to spend all the time we wanted at the excellent Gallery of Modern Art and Brisbane City Hall. And up north we had the chance to spend the better part of a day getting acquainted with the colorful town of Port Douglas.
Stuart’s active involvement in making trip arrangements was evident throughout our trip. We found ourselves getting VIP treatment wherever we went. At Spicer’s Hidden Vale one of the top chefs gave us a personal tour of the Market Garden, the source of many of the ingredients for their superb cuisine. The general manager at Elliot Island greeted us immediately upon our arrival, checked in with us several times, and then gave us a personal tour of his favorite spots on the island. Our cabin on the Coral Expeditions II was the best on the entire ship. We had the most desirable treehouse(cottage) at Silky Oaks and we were able to reserve the best view table for dinner each night of our stay. Taken together, these thoughtful touches took what would have been simply a delightful trip and turned it into something quite memorable.
Our advice for anyone considering Stuart? Give him a full data dump on what you want out of your trip. Stuart and his staff can handle lots of information. Be sure to let him know both your likes and dislikes. When he comes back with suggestions, give them careful thought. We did things we would not have considered if we had planned this trip ourselves, and it all turned out beautifully.
I just returned from Australia/New Zealand and to be honest I couldn’t have been more satisfied with not only Stuart and his associate Debbie’s assistance but also with the result of our collaboration. When I arrived in Melbourne, a packet with all of the details was in my room. Catherine picked me up for my tour to see the Koalas, have dinner at Harry’s and then on to see the Penguin Parade….where I was charmed by these small creatures. She was knowledgeable and we stopped at a few places along the way that she thought I might like. All in all, she was a delight.
My Helicopter tour to see the Great Ocean Road and the 12 Apostles was divine. It was my first helicopter and I loved it! The views were spectacular and my pilot was great fun to spend time with. Every detail was well coordinated and we finished up with a sweep around the city.
Paul, my tour guide to see the Blue Mountains outside Sydney, kept apologizing because the fog interfered with the views, but I assured him that in some ways it enhanced the experience. The botanical gardens were beautiful, the Waradah Aboriginal Center was very interesting and as Paul knows some of the folks there I was able to speak with them and gain more insight into their ways. He introduced me to the gentleman who had taught all of the participants in the program to play the didgeridoo and he played for me….what sublime sounds he creates from such a seemingly simple design. I stopped into the gallery there and was provided more information about the aboriginal art. Lunch at Echo was lovely and later when I mentioned to Paul that I had not seen a kangaroo in the wild, he promptly detoured to find some for me. When we returned to Sydney, Paul did a mini-tour of the city and along some of the back streets, I never would have found on my own.
All of my tour guides promptly found out what was of most interest to me and adapted the tour based on our conversation and didn’t hesitate to alter the plan as we talked.
I have loved my time in Australia and New Zealand, and my experience has been made all the better with the help of Stuart and Debbie.
I only have wonderful things to say about Stuart Rigg and his team. All of their staff were most helpful and accommodating with any of our questions and concerns. What was also fantastic was that we were able to change our itinerary as we needed, which worked out very well. Cate in the New Zealand office & Pam in the Sydney office were both excellent to work with. The accommodations, drivers and tour guides were all excellent. We have spoken highly of your company to friends here in Canada and have suggested that they use your services, should they want to travel to this part of the world.
We would use Stuart again – our trip was outstanding and everything went off without a hitch. Great properties, people, and experiences!!
Guides were well suited for the area and wonderful to spend the day with while driving or sightseeing. They accommodated our requests and provided schedule changes as needed. A special recognition to Carly in Sydney…she made our visit extra special with her amazing knowledge and flexibility.
We enjoyed the prepaid meal structure which we had not experienced before…a nice way to do it!
To conclude, we had our first Wendy Perrin WOW Experience which happened to be a seaplane ride over the Sydney Harbor and Opera House. This is something that we would not have thought to do ourselves and would have missed out big time! An amazing and fun experience…we even happen to get to travel up the coast a bit because the seaplane company needed to drop some passengers at a small resort destination. The views were stunning and provided a perspective we would not have had without Wendys WOW. Thank you Wendy for such a magnificent addition to an already outstanding adventure.
We have never been on a more wonderful trip. It was magical. Stuart and Tanya made sure that everything was absolutely perfect and we just cannot say enough good things about their work for us. (August, 2017 trip to Hamilton Island, Daintree, Kangaroo Island, and Sydney).
Stuart and Pam on his team really got to know what kind of things interested us. Also when the resort we were going to at the barrier reef got hit by a cyclone, they reached out to us with options that were great just 6 weeks or so before we were going. They actually crafted probably the highlight to the trip by suggesting the Barrosa Valley. Also, everything they booked was really well done. There were no cutting corners.
I truly have nothing but great things to say about Stuart and Pam. I called them as we were planning several times. Always able to help. Explained things clearly. We had only good surprises on our trip. There dining choices in Barrosa were out of this world. Tour guides. Rich and Lingering in Barrosa was perfect. Richard for the hunter valley truly world class. Also, the walking tour guide really took up to parts of Sydney I would have never seen.
My wife and I had a great trip that was planned by Stuart Rigg and his team. Their impeccable planning was a key component to helping us navigate and enjoy two countries, AU and NZ, with which we had no prior experience. The hotels were great (we often got corner rooms with views for the normal price), the route was trouble free and the tours and suggestions never failed. The best item, for me, was the Abel Tasman National Park cruise. The operator was superb and we would have had to be extremely lucky to have found this small company on our own. Most people were on large, crowded boats. Ours had 4 people, and the captain was also an ecologist. I could go on… I highly recommend Stuart and his team.
My wife and I have used Stuart Rigg and his team on two occasions. On both trips, everything proceeded without a hitch—resort and car reservations all equaled or exceeded our expectations, our adventure activities guides were top-notch, and our various transfer drivers always arrived a bit early. But what really distinguished Stuart in our mind was the way he handled the “unexpected emergency” when we found ourselves stranded in Lamington National Park with the only exit road closed because of rock/mud slides and fallen trees caused by Cyclone Debbie that battered Queensland during the first days of March 2017. The resort we were staying at could do nothing more than keep us up-to-date on efforts to reopen the road. Fortunately, one call to Stuart’s cell phone late on a Friday night (i.e. it was after normal office hours) ended with him arranging for a helicopter to pick us up the next day to fly us back to Brisbane. His ability to do this was especially impressive because almost all helicopters in the greater Brisbane area had been diverted to rescue work.
We’ve traveled extensively. Most travel agents are good at doing the easy stuff. But exceptional agents like Stuart Rigg have the contacts and ability to get the traveler out of unforeseen jams.
March 2017 / Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and surrounding areas
For our first trip to Australia in February 2017, Stuart carefully considered our interests and ideas and turned this into a well-organized itinerary that was truly custom-fit. We spent 9 days in Sydney with side trips to the Blue Mountains, the Hunter Valley and Uluru. The companies he worked with for tours and activities where clearly top-notch, as were the accommodations. All the transfers and hand-offs worked seamlessly. During our trip we noticed that Stuart and his team kept in touch with the hotels and tour operators continuously to assure that we had their full attention to our needs.
I decided to look for a travel agent when planning a last minute extended trip to Australia during the holiday season. Because of the timing, I was having problems both narrowing down what I wanted to do and finding openings for hotels. After using Wendy’s site, I was contacted by Stuart who asked a number of questions that helped me focus on what I really wanted out of my trip. The itinerary he and his assistant Sophie came up with perfectly incorporated my preferences to see all I could in Sydney and have time at the spa and the beach. Given the short time frame, we only had time to exchange comments on the first draft itinerary before I arrived in Australia, so I was very impressed and grateful when Sophie called me at my hotel to talk through final changes. I had never done formal tours when traveling before and was incredibly impressed with their chosen guides/vendors. Every tour went above and beyond my expectations, whether one-on-one or in a small group. For example, instead of the usual wine tasting tour of a few varieties at several vineyards, our guide gave an instructive lesson in how to properly conduct wine tasting and the opportunity to taste almost all of the wines at a high-quality vineyard. The hotels they booked were also excellent, and I greatly appreciated Stuart reaching out to ensure things were going well during the trip. Thank you so much for the service you provide!
Stuart Rigg booked us a wonderful trip over the 2016 Christmas holidays. We took our 14 year old grandson with us and requested that the plans include events that would be enjoyable to him. We were booked at Hayman Island resort where we went open ocean snorkeling; at the Wolgan Valley resort where we enjoyed a wide variety of native animals (kangaroos by the score; wombats, etc.); and in Sydney (at Park Hyatt) where we visited the zoo and had surf lessons at Manley and Bondi beaches. We finished with New Years Eve at the Sydney Opera House where we enjoyed the amazing fireworks over the harbor. All in all a wonderful experience.
Stuart Rigg provided us with an amazing Australian experience. I would – and have – refer them to anyone, including my family and close friends. Not only were the hotels we stayed at well located, the rooms we requested for views etc were exactly what we asked for. The guides they provided were probably the best thing about our trip. They were beyond friendly and extremely knowledgeable. I would highly recommend the walking tour in Melbourne. You got a feel for the City and saw outstanding street art.
We highly recommend Stuart Rigg and his team for an Australia tour. We had a great planning experience prior to being in country for 2 weeks and good contact once we were there. We had requested boutique hotels or 4-5 star city hotels and were very pleased with the selections and treatment. Everything was planned thoroughly and every guide and driver was on time and organized.
Because of illness, we had to dial back a bit on a couple of the scheduled activities. Stuart and his assistant Debbie were great. They arranged to modify one tour to add on what we had missed a prior day. They touched base along the way. Each guide and driver said Stuart and his team were great to work with, very detailed and very thorough from their perspective, too. The private guides were exceptional. We had requested tours that omitted forts and churches and museums, preferring to get a feel for neighborhoods and culture, and aboriginal sites, and were very satisfied. We also used the Stuart’s office in Auckland to organize our week in New Zealand, also with excellent results.
Stuart Rigg and Debbie, on his team, organized an absolutely amazing trip for us! We contacted them in July 2016 to help us with our anniversary trip to Australia for October 2016. We had started doing research and planning out where we wanted to go but were having issues with the logistics of the trip. We also didn’t really have any idea for the transfers, the order of travel and how long we should stay in each place. We were a bit late in the game planning the whole thing and were worried we wouldn’t be able to stay at all the places on our list, many of which were small and in high demand.
Our initial contact with Stuart was via email, but they quickly organized a time that we could all talk on the phone to get the ball rolling, which was very helpful. We spoke for about 45 minutes, we told them what we liked and disliked when we traveled, the places we thought we wanted to go, hotels we had researched, and type of travelers we were, and they provided information about each of the places, feedback on hotel options, and answered our questions. We had round trip tickets to Sydney, Michelle definitely wanted to go to Uluru, and I wanted to make sure we went to Tasmania, and both of us wanted to go to Great Barrier Reef. The exact places, the sequencing, what we did, and how long we stayed was up in the air. The rest of the planning took place via email; despite the time difference the communication always seemed quick. We asked lots of questions and waffled on some things but the emails were always friendly and never felt short or like we were being too demanding. Based on our previous travel experiences they made recommendations for hotels and activities to quickly finalize an itinerary that ended up being spot on. We imagine putting the itinerary together to be a bit like a puzzle to accommodate openings at the various hotels and for specific activities. We had to crisscross the eastern part of the country a bit, but they fit in every single place and activity we wanted.
Execution of the trip was virtually flawless from the second our driver George met us in the airport on October 2nd to when he dropped us back off October 16th. During all of our transfers our drivers were always there before the allotted pick up time, never rushing us, but silently waiting for us to either arrive in airport or come down to lobby. We never had to wait on anyone or try and figure out when we needed to be somewhere because they had let us know ahead of time. Not having to worry about all the transfers for our 5 flights really took some of the stress of travel off of us and made the whole trip more enjoyable. And other than a weather issue in Hobart we didn’t have any issues the whole trip with activities, hotels, checkins, checkouts, or anything really. We fit a lot into a two week trip but it was the perfect amount, we honestly don’t think we could have or would have wanted to do more and it didn’t feel like we were too rushed either. Every place we stayed was spot on for us, it was a good mix of perfect locations, luxury, and privacy. Each place we stayed was aware it was our anniversary trip, and most places went out of their way to do or provide something special for us. We also had a welcome card and champagne from Stuart and his team to start our trip and a nice bottle of wine and a cheese plate for our final night.
We had communication with Stuart and Debbie throughout the trip, they helped finalize some dinner reservations and spa appointments as we went along, just as during planning they were easy to contact and quick to respond. We also had a phone call from Debbie to check in and make sure we enjoyed ourselves and we discovered they’d been checking in with hotel staff the whole trip to make sure everything was going perfectly.
We would definitely recommend Stuart and his team to anyone looking to go to Australia and hope to use them again on a return trip!
Wendy Perrin, you recommended Stuart Rigg to us and he got us the most amazing small boat cruise to see the NYE fireworks on Sidney Harbor the year before last – it had been my husband’s dream to do this! His expertise was priceless – there were many to choose from online but you don’t really know what you are getting for sure, so having an expert from the area was imperative. He got us a great one and at a better price than we could have gotten booking on our own. He also helped to book the rest of our trip – we knew a lot if what we wanted to do and he got it done and often found better choices for us on places to stay – like an amazing apartment style hotel in Sydney. Thank you!!! We recommend him highly!!! And NYE/Winter Break was the most amazing time to go to Australia! We went with our 4 teenaged kids and had a blast!
We used Stuart Rigg with Southern Crossings for our August 2016 trip to Australia. We spent time in Sydney, The Kimberly and North Queensland. From the outset, dealing with Southern Crossings was simple and efficient. Their guidance was invaluable and they handled all of the bookings for our hotels, transfers and day trips (both private and group tours). Everything up until we arrived in Australia was handled via email (much easier when there’s a 14 hour time difference between you and your travel agent), and when we arrived in Sydney, they had a representative from the company greet us at the airport and ride into the city with us. Every hotel we stayed at was lovely and in a fabulous location. Every tour they recommended was excellent. Above all, I liked knowing that I had a resource in Australia to help should any problems arise. HIGHLY recommend! They made me look like a hero to my family and we all enjoyed the trip of a lifetime.
Totally smooth and perfectly arranged.
We used Stuart Rigg based on Wendy Perrin’s recommendation. From the planning to the execution, Stuart’s team was very informative, helpful, and did their best to accommodate whatever we wanted. They gave us the restaurants we requested, and even recommended to try certain restaurants in some cities, which turned out to be really good restaurants.
Our trip was flawless and hassle free, the arrangement was perfect, and they appointed the best vendors in every city we visited. From limousine transfers to the different city tours, all the selected vendors performed their best.
Stuart gave us a call during the trip to make sure everything went well.
It was definitely one of our most memorable journies. We surely will contact them again for our next visit, and definitely recommend to our friends and families.
My wife and I traveled with two friends on a return trip to Australia arranged completely by Stuart Riggs. We started in Hobart staying at the very unique and comfortable Henry Jones Art Hotel and then traveled to Freycinet and were treated like royalty at Saffire, a 20 room lodge overlooking Wine Glass Bay. Our stay at Saffire was exquisite– excellent food and impeccable service. Great hiking and delicious oyster harvesting. From there we traveled to Melbourne to visit some friends and we stayed at the Park Hyatt which was very comfortable. Our traveling companions went on to Bali and we traveled to Daintree and stayed at Silky Oaks, again a very comfortable accommodation. I do wish they had a better gym, but everything else was great. Rick, our guide in the Daintree Forest was excellent. From Daintree, we flew to Lizard Island and again the accommodations, food and extremely personal service were exceptional. The diving and snorkeling was quite good but there were unfortunate evidences of coral bleaching that really did not interfere with the array of fish. One dive site which is a must is Cod Hole where you are greeted by the most incredibly docile and huge potato cod. Finally we returned to Sydney, a beautiful city which we had visited 10 years before and it had all the grace and beauty and sophistication which we had remembered. One of the highlights was staying in another Park Hyatt Hotel, overlooking the harbor and the Opera House and each night we were totally entertained and fascinated by the Vivid artistic lighting display on the Opera House structure. Stuart did an exemplary job for us. We loved our trip.
My husband and I just completed a trip, March 2016, to Australia and New Zealand with the help of Stuart Riggs at Southern Crossing in Australia. Everything went very smoothly, he gave us great options to choice from, arranged all hotel, air, transfers, most importantly he listened to what we wanted. We had speciality guides for custom private tours that were arranged specifically for us.
Our guide in the Blue Mountains, Tim Tranter took us on a 5 hour walk in the mountains and pointed out the different biospheres that we walked though and discussed the landscape. Who knew the trees didn’t lose their leaves in the fall..they lose their bark.
Lord Howe Island was just what we needed for a few days after the long flight. We snorkeled and saw so many beautiful fish and we swam with a four foot turtle!
New Zealand was equally as beautiful. Milford Sound is not to be missed and Queenstown was a delight. Darryl Gunn, our guide from Black, was a fifth generation New Zealander who was very enthusiastic about showing us the back county where you could only go with four wheel drive. That was an awesome trip, we really enjoyed Darryl’s stories regarding the area when he was growing up in Queenstown and his sharing stories from the region during his grandfathers time.
Everything was just as we wanted and Stuart’s team called us several times while we were in Australia/NZ just to check-in and let us know they were there to help if we needed anything.
I would definitely recommend using them if you are traveling to that part of the world.
All the places we stayed in were fantastic and fitted the criteria we discussed with Stuart in advance. All arrangements went smoothly as planned. The only improvement would be that normally on self drive holidays I expect a map, some driving directions and suggestions of where to stop off. None of this was in the arrival package. Some of the drives were long and I am not sure whether this could have been mitigated by using more regional airlines. However, I would not have wanted to miss any of the destinations, apart from Penola.
Stuart Rigg from Southern Crossings is The Best for planning your trip to Australia. I had a complicated trip with 14 plane flights, multiple destinations, half by myself, half with others. Stuart did the Australia portion and handled my specific requests beautifully. He kept it within budget, found me the perfect hotel and guide in Hobart, Tasmania who took care of me perfectly for 4 days, and ensured that the rest of the trip to the Great Barrier Reef with drivers and flights in between all went smoothly. Thank you, Wendy and Stuart. My trip exceeded my expectations because of you!
Stuart Rigg and Jane Reynolds with Southern Crossings helped prepare an absolutely amazing trip for my wife and I. Southern Crossings helped us experience as much of Australia as we could fit into a two week holiday, and patiently worked with us through several iterations of our itinerary as we finalized our ultimate plans. The suggested tour companies were as advertised, and the organized transfers helped us enjoy seamless travel throughout the country – from enjoying everything Sydney has to offer, to shark cage diving in Port Lincoln, diving the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns, and sailing the Whitsundays. Would recommend Southern Crossings to anyone interested in traveling to Australia.
Stuart and his team were a pleasure to work with. They organized a thoughtful itinerary that was responsive to our multiple and sometimes conflicting desires and filled with creative and luxurious elements. Logistics were handled seamlessly, as if Stuart was at our side throughout. Where problems arose (as they inevitably do), Stuart helped to address and resolve them quickly. We would gladly work with the Southern Crossings team again, and in fact already intend to.
The land travel was smooth. The day trips were well thought out and fun. The recommended hotels were perfect. The welcoming gifts were wonderful. We were delighted with our experience.
We knew we wanted to go to Australia and that’s about it. Both Stuart and Debbie were very knowledgeable and helpful when it came to suggestions of where to go and what to see; even what restaurants were worth a visit. When I had a health issue and had to cancel my trip, then turned around days later and wanted to re-book, they were understanding and quick to recapture my itinerary. We had ABSOLUTELY NO PROBLEMS with Southern Crossings’ plans for us. Everything went off as planned. Every time we needed a driver, one was there. Even when our flights were late, someone was there to meet us. We had wonderful tours with the best of tour directors. As far as the planning and travel advice were concerned, our trip was perfection. WHEN we take our next trip down-under I will call Stuart and Debbie and no other.
Stuart Rigg of Southern Crossings put together a fabulous trip to Australia for our family. My husband and I took our sons, ages sixteen and thirteen, and there was something for each of us on this trip. We stayed at beautiful properties and had magnificent experiences. We will cherish our memories forever. We felt like we really experienced Australia. Stuart and his staff were so friendly and easy to work with, and they took our preferences into account. I would highly recommend Stuart to anyone thinking of going to Australia.
Stuart and his team did an incredible job planning our dream honeymoon. After a long wedding planning process, the last thing we wanted to do was deal with the stress and uncertainty of planning a trip to the other side of the world. After describing our travel style and preferences to Stuart, he immediately provided us with an impeccable itinerary that incorporated all of our must-sees along with other great suggestions that we hadn’t known about. It also balanced the level of luxury we were seeking with our budget as newlyweds. Not only did we have an incredible time exploring Australia and Fiji, but every detail was accounted for along the way—all of our connections, reservations, pickups and tours were executed perfectly and promptly. We can’t say enough good things about the level of professionalism and care that was provided by Stuart and everyone at Southern Crossings. Thank you!
Worked with southern crossings for a trip to Australia over the holidays. In retrospect, we are very happy that we worked with them. They did an excellent job of listening to what we were looking for and provided constructive and candid feedback. The tour guides they used were excellent. They were constantly available during our trip for restaurant reservations and the like (despite the holiday). Also were able to come up with contingency options when flight schedules changed or when resorts were shut down due to weather (Lizard Island).
Spent Thanksgiving week in Sydney on a trip planned by Stuart Rigg and his team at Southern Crossings. Marvelous from start to finish. The specialists asked us great questions (not too many, and fun questions like “what is a favorite memory from another first time trip to an international city?”). We replied and they offered us really great suggestions, so many that we had trouble picking. They gave some helpful feedback, then booked everything, from someone meeting the plane on arrival to departure. We loved every minute of the trip they arranged, some of our favorites were a seaplane tour, which landed for a divine lunch at a quaint cottage; a day with Suzanne Ackerman of Walkabout Tours seeing beach towns, art galleries and neighborhoods; a sail around Sydney harbor; and a hike with an Aboriginal expert talking about plants and wildlife. When a small problem with a vendor for a planned fishing trip arose, Stuart and the team handled it without a fuss so we could zip on to our next activity. We were particularly pleased that our travel specialists paid careful attention to our group’s needs and abilities (ranging from a 60 year old to two energetic college kids) so that everyone enjoyed every activity. The documentation Stuart’s team provided was detailed so we had contact names, phone numbers, drivers waiting, etc. every step of the way. And a 24 hour a day hot linking us to Stuart’s team was also appreciated.
Wanted to formally thank you and your staff (especially Jane) for the wonderful trip. Everything was as promised and we had “the trip of a lifetime” which will provide many pleasant memories for years to come. All properties were wonderful. Great locations, outstanding rooms and excellent service. The Park Hyatt and Southern Ocean properties were quite special. Our guides were terrific and ensured we saw and experienced as much as possible. All airport transfers and flight arrangements went well too and helped to ease the city transitions. The Sydney Bridge Climb was actually easier than we imagined and the pictures will serve to prove to friends and family members that we actually did it. Thanks for your encouragement. The flight along the Great Ocean Road coast was another special moment that will long be remembered. Of course, we have many shots of the Remarkable Rocks and our Flinders Chase adventures and that day is burned into our memory.
The country is vast and we feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to see so much of it in just under 3 weeks. We certainly hope to return one day and experience a bit more. Again, many thanks for orchestrating our fabulous adventure.
We recently returned (October/November 2014) from a fabulous three-week visit to Australia organized by Stuart Rigg at Southern Crossings. We outlined our interests (animals, nature, and history), travel preferences (including some hotels), and general guidelines on timing and budget, and Stuart came back with a thoughtful, well-paced itinerary that met our criteria. We started with three days in Sydney, moving on to Orpheus Island for three days of recovery time (Stuart’s suggested substitute when Lizard Island was damaged by the cyclone), then to the Daintree Rainforest and Kuranda, four days on Kangaroo Island, four days in Tasmania, and finally two days in Melbourne. The private tours he organized were all outstanding, led by very experienced guides. I would strongly recommend using Southern Crossings for a trip to Australia.
Our family group of six adults have just returned from two weeks in Australia on a tour orchestrated by Stuart Rigg and his staff. It was very well planned and executed and gave us a good mix of experiences to savor. All of us are raving to all we encounter about what a fabulous trip we had. We got to know and enjoy the cosmopolitan and vibrant nature of both Sydney and Melbourne while taking in the best of both cities and their environs, hiking in the Blue Mountains, traversing the Great Ocean Road and watching the penguin parade on Phillip Island were all wonderful and memorable adventures. For all of us getting to know Sydney and Melbourne through various touring experiences, enjoying our own explorations or partaking in the food and nightlife of each city were all highlights.
The snorkeling we did with the small group operator that Stuart arranged for us at the Great Barrier Reef was spectacular. Four Mile Beach is breathtaking and the rainforest excursion was so informative and enjoyable. Stuart recommended that we make Port Douglas our base for our visit to this area and it was a marvelous suggestion. Uluru was fascinating, and seeing the Rock at sunrise and sunset was breathtaking. Learning about the Aboriginal people—their history, customs and religion—was very interesting.
All in all this was a very well balanced trip that made the most of our time. Stuart put together an itinerary that was reflective of our stated interests and budget. We can all wholeheartedly recommend Southern Crossings to help you with your travel experiences in Australia.
We worked with Stuart and Debbie to create a custom tour with some difficult requirements: We needed to be in Brisbane, Sydney, Brisbane on successive weekends; we wanted a few off-the beaten-path locations; and we needed to eat in places that are accommodating to people with food sensitivities.
Stuart was wonderful. We had the smoothest vacation ever. Australia itself is terrific—friendly people, stunning vistas and a real range of options from the Outback to the Sydney Symphony, from a private cruise in Sydney Harbour to a self-driving experience fighting for a share of the road with triple road trains in the Outback. It is a magnificent country to visit, and Stuart is the perfect travel planner for whatever type of experience you want it to be.
I called on Stuart this past winter to help me arrange a trip to Melbourne, for the Australian Open tennis tourney, and then for a two-week business trip to Sydney, with a short pit stop somewhere-anywhere-in-the-country in between. He and his team did a flawless job. I’m a big DIY kind of traveler, haven’t worked with agents much, and won’t ever plan a big trip without one going forward. In Melbourne he booked me at The Olsen in Melbourne, where my next door neighbor was tennis player Serena Williams (Venus was right down the hall and I believe Lleyton Hewitt was also on the same floor—so heady location). He got me terrific tickets to the tennis, as well. Then it was on to Daylesford, which was lovely, and in Sydney he had found me a flat to rent in the neighborhood I requested. It was all perfect… (Oh, and Stuart, looks like I’m coming back…).
The bonus I didn’t expect was that Stuart’s team was so thorough and so responsive that I felt like I had friends on tap should I need them in a place so very far from home.