Would you like to fly private around Australia? Here’s what it’s really like.
The trend for luxury travel, minus the crowds, has never been more real, with intimate groups of friends (whether new or old) flying private, staying in exclusive lodgings and exploring parts of Australia that few others get to see.
There’s a moment, as you’re flying low over the Whitsundays, when the rest of the world fades into insignificance. The swirls of blue below give way to opaline lagoons, fringed by tufts of toothpaste-white surf that create a frost-like frame. Jungle-clad islets dot the water, yachts glide by on the breeze, powdery beaches come into perspective – you’re at an elevation where you might even be able to spot manta rays. It’s a scene so vivid you’ll think someone has taken the glasses off your nose and cleaned them for the first time.
There are goosebump-moments aplenty, and gasps from your fellow passengers. Of which there are only 34, because you’re buckled into a private jet, where many people get a window seat and business-class creature comforts are de rigueur.
We’ve all seen celebrities being chauffeured directly onto the airport tarmac, only to walk the few steps to their gleaming sky-high ride. While this way of commuting is still exclusive – there’s a forced, and intimate, limit on the number of passengers alongside you – it’s also becoming an increasingly popular way to see the world. Well, Australia for now.
At a time when crowds are discouraged and safety is a priority, this kind of travel – offering highly personalised service and the ability to visit remote regions of the country few dream of seeing – is the new luxury.
Marvel at remote Australia from your Captain’s Choice private jet
Queensland is vast – a place where the rainforest meets the reef, and the outback fades into the desert in a flurry of fiery hues. Given eight days to explore the landscape, most travellers flying commercially will see Brisbane and the Gold Coast; perhaps an island. And that’s about it.
It’s practically unheard of to do a loop of the entire state, from north to south, east to west, stopping in eight infinitely different destinations along the way. And practically impossible to do so at a leisurely pace, unless you’re flying private.
But that’s the beauty of this mode of exploration: the time you save leaving airports behind – check-ins, queues, delays, security, baggage carousels – you put toward actually travelling, seeing far-flung reaches of the country few others get to. And you get to them in style.
It’s “like a lounge room in the sky,” says Mandy Churchill, one of the Tour Directors for Australian-owned Captain’s Choice. For more than 25 years, the company has been operating private jet and plane tours around the world, with seven experiences newly launched to explore Australia. “From accommodation to drinks, travel insurance, sightseeing, luggage valet and transfers,” everything is included and taken care of. There’s even a Tour Doctor with you around the clock. Which means you can pick your itinerary, pack your bags and forget about the rest.
All-inclusive private jet luxury
The Whitsundays is your final destination on your Queensland journey, and after you touch down on Hamilton Island then cruise to Hayman across the Coral Sea, you’ll sleep in supreme comfort at the only resort on this slip of land. You can bring your golf clubs to play a round on nearby Dent Island if you like, because there are no weight restrictions when it comes to what you check in. And if you decide to pick up a case or two of wine or some indigenous art as a souvenir, it travels with you, and there’s not a whisper about excess baggage.
Speaking of wine – order a glass of bubbles and sink into your leather recliner as your captain sets your jet’s GPS for Longreach, the heart of Queensland and the gateway to the outback. This is the Australia you see in Fred Williams paintings, all scorched red earth punctuated with eucalypts piercing the brilliant blue sky. You’re not just here to see the sights – there’s an exclusive dinner in a space that holds an important piece of the country’s aviation history.
Next stops are Winton, Mount Isa and Normanton, where the legendary Gulflander train will remind you, yet again, that often the journey matters just as much as the destination.
Heading north still you’ll touch down on remote Horn and Thursday islands – this is the very tip of Australia, with not much between you and the archipelago of Indonesia. Flying private, you get to see all this in a week, then still have time to luxuriate on the Great Barrier Reef…
Exclusive sky-high sightings from your Captain’s Choice private plane
Quite possibly the most enchanting feature of private jet journeys is that you get to “fly over places and pick out highlights,” says Mandy. You get a sneak peek of your destination from just below the clouds; depending on the itinerary you choose, this may include the jaw-dropping expanse of South Australia’s Lake Eyre – when it’s full, this is the country’s largest lake, and the only way to understand its immensity is from the air, the salt crackling and crystallising into patterns that could be mistaken for artworks.
On another journey you’ll swoop in on Kangaroo Island, Hobart and Bruny Island, among other destinations, lingering over oysters and local sparkling wine, and marvelling at colonies of sea lions and fur seals.
Your itinerary could also allow you a lofty look at the russet hues of Uluru, the spiritual heart of Australia, where you’ll savour a glorious lunch before jettisoning toward Western Australia: the whale sharks of Ningaloo Reef await.
This is the Australia you see in postcards – and aside from your 34 travelling companions, it’s almost completely, and exclusively, all yours.
Australian-owned Captain’s Choice has been a pioneer in private jet and plane travel for more than 25 years. The company recently released seven immersive Australia experiences, four of them taking you to remote reaches of the country for more than a week. Learn more about private jet travel today.