Shelley, I had a WONDERFUL time, and you did a great job helping me have such a terrific trip! In case you're interested in specific comments for future clients, here are my thoughts: The hotel in Melbourne (on Batman's Hill) was just what I asked for. It was clean and comfortable and perfectly located. It was small and definitely not luxury, but fit our needs very well.
Phillip Island was one of the highlights of our trip. The tour company was good, though we did a fair amount of rushing from place to place. Seeing the penguins was fantastic!!!! We watched them for a long time and enjoyed every second of it. Doing the Skybox was a true luxury that we very much enjoyed, as it gave us a private talk with a ranger and very close access to the penguins. However, if your next travelers are watching their budgets, Penguins Plus got people equally close to the penguins even though they didn't get the personal touch from the ranger. Exemplar in and around Cairns and Port Douglas was excellent--friendly and extremely competent. They did a great job taking our luggage from one location to the other, and the hotel had it waiting in our room, which was very convenient.
The Hibiscus Resort was fantastic. I would stay there forever if I could! We got upgraded because someone else cancelled, so we ended up in a huge suite with 2 bedrooms and two baths. But even if we hadn't, each small suite was delightful, the place was gorgeous, and the breakfast was fantastic. Friendly people, nice pool--a definite thumbs up.
Quicksilver snorkeling trip was terrific, too. Because of the supermoon, the tides were off and we had to spend an extra hour and a half on the water, which meant we got to snorkel for a long, long time---perfect! Even without that, though, the tour was efficient and beautiful, with a nice lunch and tea. We saw incredible fish of every color and description, unusual coral, and even a shark. I couldn't believe I was actually snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef!
The 1-day Daintree Dreaming tour with Adventure North was the other true highlight of the trip. Our guide, Cavel, was fantastic, and the day was action packed from beginning to end. It may be the best tour I have ever taken, anywhere in the world! We walked through Mossman Gorge with our Aboriginal guide giving us lots of info, then went to an artist's studio where we actually made some dot art, then went to the coast where we walked through the mud flats at low tide, looking for crabs that later became an afternoon snack, then went into mangrove swamps to look for mussels, then went to another person's house where his wife cooked up the seafood (plus homemade bread and muffins) and he showed us various artifacts. Finally, the guide took us back out to the mud flats and showed anyone who wanted to learn how to throw a spear. Amazing day. One note: it required a fair amount of walking, not to mention picking our way through huge roots in the mangrove swamp. So if you have travelers with limited mobility, this is the wrong tour. Nancy NY - June 2013