Last week, Meghan Markle ended months of speculation by confirming that she will join Prince Harry on an official visit to Sydney, Australia in October. The royals will be there for the Invictus Games, Harry’s pet project celebrating wounded warriors.
While Harry has been to Oz before, visiting Perth in 2013 and Sydney in 2017, it will be Meghan’s first trip. Obviously, royal schedules tend to be jam packed, but with a flight from London to Sydney clocking in at 22-and-a-half (non direct) hours, we think it’s a safe bet the duo won’t make it a mere weekend jaunt. (In 2014, William and Kate took a 10-day trip.)
From bucket-list spots to under the radar gems, here’s where else the duo should go in the Land Down Under.
Great Barrier Reef
No trip to Australia is complete without seeing the Great Barrier Reef. A trip to the world’s largest coral reef system, long known as a scuba diving and snorkeling paradise, is particularly pressing now that the coral is, sadly, becoming irreparably bleached due to global warming. While in the area, the duo could check into Qualia on Hamilton Island — a pristine five-star luxury resort with scads of privacy. Oprah has stayed in the Beach House, with its own infinity pool and guest house, and the resort will arrange scuba excursions and heli trips.
Also known as Ayres Rock, the massive crimson red sandstone formation jetting out of the Northern Territory desert is sacred to the Pitjantjatjara Anangu aboriginals. Temperatures in the national park can go as high as 116 degrees, although in October it should be a relatively balmy 80 or 90 degrees. Harry and Meghan would be following in royal footsteps: Both William and Kate and Charles and Diana have visited and posed for iconic photographs.
One of the world’s most livable cities, a visit to artsy, sophisticated Melbourne is pure pleasure. With a rich cultural scene, it boasts two of the world’s 50 best restaurants (Attica and Brae), offers an unparalleled coffee culture, and is home to historic laneways dotted with a dizzying array of original street art. (A visit to AC/DC lane, where Banksy has made his mark, is a must.) It’s also close to two excellent wine regions and offers a perfect jumping off point to drive the scenic Great Southern Road — Australia’s most famous road trip.
Off the coast of South Australia, about an hour from Adelaide, sits Kangaroo Island, an aptly named wildlife paradise. Here, Harry and Meghan would find wallabies, koalas, sea lions, echidnas, New Zealand fur seals, and of course, kangaroos. While on the island, their highnesses can stay at remote Southern Ocean Lodge. It’s an uber-luxurious (but eco-friendly) five-star resort with a destination spa, renowned restaurant, wine cellar, and out-of-this-world views of the rugged, wild coastline.
About an hour outside Melbourne sits a sublime destination wine region: the Mornington Peninsula. The region’s cool climate makes it perfect for Pinot noir and several of Australia’s most prestigious wineries are based here (something wine lover Meghan will appreciate), including Yarra Yering, TarraWarra, Dominique Portat, and Yearing Station.
After a trip to feed the kangaroos at Healesville Sanctuary, Harry and Meghan will want to relax at Jackalope. It’s a quirky 46-room design-centric hotel nestled in the valley’s rolling hills, featuring its own boutique winery and sprawling vineyard, a 22-foot sculpture of a jackalope in the driveway, and a striking restaurant called Doot Doot Doot, where 10,000 amber-hued glass bottles hang from the ceiling to form a surreal chandelier.
Picture it: Under cover of darkness, 4,000 tiny penguins emerge from the black, foamy sea waters, returning from a long day’s fishing to waddle in formation before burrowing into their homes around the beach in a nightly ceremony. It’s but one of the wildlife experiences on Philip Island, which is also home to the Koala Conservation Center, prime whale watching, and Maru Koala and Animal park with dingos, wombats, kangaroos, and Tasmanian Devils.
Long under the radar because of its remoteness, Western Australia is finally getting its due, thanks to its 365 days of sunshine, lovely beaches, and incredible food and wine. Home to the gorgeous town Margaret River — known to locals as Margs — the area is home to Australia’s fastest growing micro-brewery region (something we think Harry will appreciate) as well as world-class Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Bonus for the royals: Only two weeks ago, Qantas launched an historic nonstop Perth-to-London flight, putting Australia and Europe into direct contact for the first time and making it the perfect place to end a trip.