Guide to Meeting & Event Planning in

Australia

Learn why you should host your next meeting, event, conference or incentive in this ever-surprising country.

Why Australia for Your Next Meeting or Event?

With its dramatically diverse natural beauty, sophisticated culture, unique flora and fauna, and vast wealth of accommodations and meetings facilities, the land down under is a dream destination for groups and planners alike.

Only in Australia

Composed of six states and two territories, Australia offers singular landscapes — including the stunning outback and the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system — as well as unique wildlife, such as kangaroos, platypuses, wombats and koalas. 

PARTNER CONTENT

Travel Essentials

Coronavirus Information for Business Events Australia
See Business Events Australia’s Coronavirus information for business events page to access facts and resources for planners as travel, meeting and event restrictions ease across the country.

Taxes: sales tax, 10 percent; total tax on hotel rooms, 10 percent

Convention Centers

Australia has nine major convention centers; following are details for centers in the three largest cities:

Contacts

Good to Know
The Tourism Australia Business Events Bid Fund Program, launched in 2018, offers financial support to new international incentive, association and exhibition events during the bidding stage. Financial support received through the Bid Fund can be used to offset event costs in Australia, such as accommodations and venue hire.

Local Currency: Australian dollar (AUD$1 is equal to US$0.69)

Power: 230 volt

Time Zones

  • Australian Eastern Standard Time (14 hours ahead of EST)
  • Australian Central Standard Time (13.5 hours ahead of EST)
  • Australian Western Standard Time (12 hours ahead of EST)

Transportation

  • Sydney: Sydney Airport, about 6 miles
    from the city center. Transfer cost by taxi, about US$31-$38, by AirportLink train,
    about $10.25
  • Melbourne: Melbourne Airport, about 14
    miles from the city center. Transfer cost by taxi, about $38-$45
  • Brisbane: Brisbane Airport, about 9 miles from the
    city center. Transfer cost by taxi about $31-$38; by Airtrain, about $13

In Walking Distance...


...of  International Convention Centre Sydney:

...of  Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre:

 
...of the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre:

Meeting and Event Venues

New & Coming Soon to Australia

Sydney

Melbourne

  • The newly opened Next Hotel Melbourne is within the bourgeoning 80 Collins retail and dining precinct. The hotel offers 255 guest rooms featuring premium textiles inspired by Melbourne’s fashion industry and privately commissioned artworks from renowned Australian artists. With two acclaimed local chefs heading up the property’s culinary offering, there’s also an entire floor dedicated to dining and drinking. The hotel also features Australia’s first in-hotel spirit-aging program, where delegates can experience an intimate private tasting of barrel-aged spirits and cocktails.
  • Australia's first surf park, Urbnsurf, opened in early 2020, minutes from Melbourne Airport and a half-hour drive from the city center. Featuring next-generation wave technology, the nearly 5-acre inland lagoon is the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. With four different zones catering to varying experience levels, private lessons are available for groups to learn to surf in under two hours. Australian culinary institution Three Blue Ducks— born in Sydney from a love of surfing and ethical local produce — has launched its latest outpost on-site and can cater events of up to 300 seated. Larger events for up to 700 can be hosted elsewhere in Urbnsurf.
  • The 294-room W Melbourne, which opened in February 2021, is part of the luxury mixed-use and architecturally spectacular new development called Collins Arch. The property will have 9,930 square feet of meeting and event space.
  • The Lume, an immersive digital art gallery, will open within the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre by the middle of 2021. The experience will transport guests into the world of the artist, bringing to life large-scale masterpieces woven together with musical soundscapes, evocative aromas and themed food-and-beverage offerings. The gallery will be available as an event venue.
  • A rooftop venue with sustainability at its core is opening in the city’s center in November 2021. Melbourne Skyfarm brings the vision of Brendan Condon, a Melbourne-based champion of the environment, to life and will feature an innovative urban farm, an education center, an orchard, beehives, a café and a bar. The entire rooftop will be available for up to 500 people to gather among the greenery while enjoying views of the surrounding city.
  • Two Hilton properties are coming to Melbourne: the 244-room Hilton Little Queen Street set to debut in early 2021, and the 600-room Hilton Melbourne Square, which will open in 2023 in the Southbank district.
  • The 263-room Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne is expected to open in July 2021 near Marvel Stadium. Along the property’s offerings will be a 500-person grand ballroom and a garden terrace. 
  • A 235-room Le Méridien hotel is scheduled to debut in 2022 on the site of the former Palace Theatre.
  • Planners will find a variety of fresh event options beginning in 2021 at Melbourne & Olympic Parks, host venue of the Australian Open Grand Slam. The facility’s new event and media center, Centrepiece will have a 21,527-square-foot pillarless ballroom as well as an 8,611-square-foot prefunction space, a 250-seat auditorium, 15 breakout rooms and a variety of outdoor terraces.

 

Brisbane

  • City Winery Brisbane is the first inner-city winery to open in Brisbane in over 150 years, sourcing grapes from Australia’s key growing areas. Located in a converted warehouse, the venue offers corporate experiences ranging from wine-blending to a cooking class and wine-making dinner, along with event spaces that include private dining in the wine cellar and events for up to 110 standing in the barrel room. 
  • In the city’s trendy arts and entertainment district, the latest entry from InterContinental Hotels Group is the Hotel X, opening in early 2021. The 146-room boutique luxury property has 2,045 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space for up to 160 people. The hotel is near the recently opened Fortitude Music Hall which offers a 1,200-seat theater also considered the largest grand ballroom/theater-style venue in Australia, accommodating up to 3,000 people for receptions. 
  • Adding to an already impressive collection of high-end hotels that have opened over the last few years in Brisbane (including the W Brisbane, the Westin Brisbane, The Calile and the Emporium Hotel Southpoint at South Bank) will be the five luxury properties scheduled to debut in 2022 with the opening of the more than US$4.3 billion Queen’s Wharf development. This new project will add 1,000 rooms to the city’s inventory and include the city’s first six-star hotel; some 50 restaurants, cafés and bars; a 1,000-seat ballroom, and a 328-foot-high sky deck.

More Australia Meeting & Event Venues

Adelaide

  • The city is boosting its hotel inventory with several new projects. Adelaide Oval, a sports stadium that hosts cricket and Australian-rules football games as well as private group functions across 23 event spaces, has just added the 138-room Oval Hotel. Also recently opened are a 326-room Crowne Plaza with 4,843 square feet of event space and EOS by SkyCity, a new 120-room luxury property that is part of the more than US$234 million Adelaide Casino redevelopment. The Westin Adelaide, a 15-story, 285-room luxury hotel in the city’s center, is set for a March 2022 debut.

Cairns

  • The luxury treetop escape, Silky Oakes Lodge, is undergoing a significant facelift to reopen on Oct, 1, 2021, with a refreshed vibe under the Baillie Lodge brand. Influenced by its Daintree Rainforest surroundings, the refurbed lodge, which features 40 luxury treehouses, will integrate indigenous artworks and custom furnishings by Australian designers across six luxury villa styles, including the new ultra-premium Daintree Pavilion.
  • The Cairns Convention Centre is undergoing a US$119 million upgrade. The project includes improvements to the existing structure and the addition of more than 32,000 square feet of meeting and exhibition space slated for completion by early 2022.
  • The third of a trio of five-star North Queensland resorts from the Crystalbrook Collection has opened in Cairns. Dubbed Flynn (its predecessors are the 311-room Riley and 255-room Bailey), the property has 311 guest rooms and suites, with several featuring views of the Coral Sea; dining options such as Boardwalk Social, a market-style food and beverage hub with live music, and the signature Flynn’s Italian; three meeting spaces; two glass pools; an Eléme Day Spa, and a 24-hour gym.

    Gold Coast

  • A brand-new US$46.5 million gallery has opened at HOTA (Home of the Arts). The largest public space outside a capital city in Australia, HOTA Gallery is a multi-floor venue that has more than 21,500 square feet for exhibitions. The colorful building, inspired by William Robinson’s painting, "The Rainforest," features a rooftop bar with views across the Gold Coast to the Hinterland. Groups can enjoy a guided tour with an expert curatorial team followed by sunset cocktails on the roof, topped off by a degustation dining experience at the on-site Palette, which seats 120 guests. The gallery can accommodate up to 1,000 people, and the rooftop bar has capacity for 124 standing.
  • A major mixed-use, three-tower development, The Jewel, will open in 2021 and include a 169-room luxury hotel from The Langham, conference facilities, a business center and assorted dining venues.
  • The Dorsett, a 316-room hotel, will debut in 2022 at hotel/casino complex The Star Gold Coast.
    .

Hobart/Tasmania

Perth

  • Overlooking the dining and entertainment precinct of Elizabeth Quay, the new four-star, 18-story Doubletree by Hilton Perth Waterfront opened in December 2020 with 229 guest rooms and sweeping views of the Swan River. Suitable for medium-sized groups, there are five event spaces including three water-facing venues, an outdoor infinity pool on Level 5 and a rooftop bar perfect for sunset drinks.
  • The luxury 80-room Samphire Rottnest opened in October 2020 and has a beachfront location within walking distance of boat-charter drop-offs on Rottnest Island, just off the coast of Perth. The hotel has six beachside venue options for events, with capacity for 80 to 200 people.
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Perth, debuted in late 2019. Located near the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre in the heart of the Elizabeth Quay precinct, the 205‐room propert has more than 21,500 square feet of meeting space, including a grand ballroom that accommodates 380 guests for seated events or 500 for cocktails.
  • The Adnate, the ninth of Accor’s Art Series hotels in Australia, opened in November 2019. The 250-room property has a restaurant with a terrace, a bar and lounge, a swimming pool and a function room, as well as a 27-story-high mural.
  • The Art Gallery of Western Australia will open a gallery and event space with an open-air sculpture walk on its rooftop in 2021, creating the largest commercially available rooftop space in the city.
  • The Raft, Perth’s first floating event space with capacity for up to 250 people, opened in September 2020, drawing inspiration from western Australia’s stunning coast landscape. 
  • A new activity for thrill-seekers will launch in early 2021 just outside the city center, the Matagarup Bridge Climb and Zip Line. The experience will let participants ascend to the summit of the bridge’s main arch and take a 1,312-foot zip line to the opposite riverbank. 

Sydney

  • For a unique stay in Sydney, the 194-unit A By Adina combines spacious apartment living with hotel services and facilities. All apartments are beautifully designed — whether studio, one or two-bedrooms. An in-house restaurant, Dean & Nancy on 22, allows guests to sip on cocktails and dine from a select menu while looking out at the Sydney skyline. The restaurant is available for buyouts for up to 100 people.

 Whitsundays/Great Barrier Reef   

  • The 168-room InterContinental Hayman Island Resort, on the northernmost of the Whitsunday Islands, completed a US$135 million revamp and reopened in 2019. Five restaurants and bars as well as a three-bedroom beach house have been added.
  • The Daydream Island Resort on the Great Barrier Reef also reopened in 2019 following an extensive renovation of its 277 guest rooms and pool area and an expansion of its food and beverage facilities. The private island features an underwater observatory, two meeting rooms and a 250-seat open-air cinema. 
  • Hamilton Island opened a new all-purpose event space on Catseye Beach in December 2019. The venue can host events of up to 280 people, banquet-style.

  • Cruise Whitsundays has added the first underwater accommodation on the Great Barrier Reef to its Reefworld pontoon offering, launching two Reefsuites 13 feet below the surface. The pontoon also has 12 Reefsleep luxury Australian bedrolls or “swags” on deck for a night under the stars.

Things to Do in Australia

Sydney

  • The Australian Museum has undergone an extensive US$44.5 million renovation that saw its entire central Sydney block close for 15 months. Attendees can experience an after-hours arrival into a sparkling new grand entrance and proceed past some of the venue’s 21.9 million specimens and objects as they make their way to one of the museum spaces that can be transformed for an event, such as the Wild Planet exhibition that can accommodate up to 200 people for a cocktail function.
  • For those looking for a shorter climb than the new BridgeClimb Ultimate (see above), BridgeClimb Sydney arranges two-hour guided climbs to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, where participants are served morning tea as they take in the panoramic vista. 
  • Get a bird's-eye view of Sydney by booking a jaunt with Sydney Seaplanes, a company that offers sightseeing flights. Groups can enjoy magnificent views of the famed Sydney Opera House and harbor, stop for lunch along the Hawkesbury River at Cottage Point Inn (a waterfront restaurant with scenic views) or harvest their own pearls from the water where the oysters grow at Broken Bay Pearl Farm.
  • The Wild Life Sydney Zoo offers a behind-the-scenes experience called the Australian Wildlife Tour. Up to 10 guests can join the 90-minute outing, led by two zookeepers, with the option to schedule departures five minutes apart for larger groups. Or, for an overnight wildlife experience, book a night at Wildlife Retreat at Taronga, a new luxury eco-retreat at Taronga Zoo, a 15-minute scenic boat ride from the center of Sydney. The retreat’s 62 rooms are spread across five environmentally sensitive lodges with the native wildlife habitat called The Sanctuary at its core, offering up-close encounters with Australia’s unique wildlife.

Melbourne

  • Corporate social responsibility initiatives are increasingly popular around the world, and Australia is no exception. In Melbourne, planners can arrange a private dining experience for up to 100 at Charcoal Lane, a restaurant operated by Mission Australia, which helps young Aboriginal people to launch careers in hospitality.
  • Penguin power: A  visitor center recently opened at the Phillip Island Penguin Parade, an attraction that brings visitors up close and personal with the delightful birds. Located about 87 miles from Melbourne, the new venue has interactive exhibits and activities, a theater, and dining and retail outlets. Groups of up to 4,000 can join a local restoration program to help build artificial penguin burrows.

Brisbane

  • Of all the animal species that are unique to Australia, the koala is among the cutest. For a face-to-precious-face meeting, groups can head to Lone Pine, a koala sanctuary about 30 minutes from downtown Brisbane. Koala Encounter lets participants pose for a photo with one of the more than 130 furry creatures that reside here, and they can also cavort with kangaroos and wallabies.

Australia Meeting Event Planner Guide 4
Uluru, or Ayers Rock, is a massive sandstone formation in central Australia

More Things to Do in Australia

Adelaide

  • Wine lovers will savor a trip to d'Arenberg, a family-owned winery located 45 minutes from Adelaide. The venue's newest attraction is a five-floor cube structure that serves as an event space in the heart of the vineyard, with an all-glass tasting room, a small museum, a video presentation room and what's billed as the only restaurant in Australia that creates desserts with a 3-D printer.

Cairns

  • • A five-minute drive from the Cairns Convention Centre and at the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, the Cairns Aquarium is hosting a new offering for lovers of sea creatures: Aquarium at Twilight enables groups of up to 100 to experience the facility in the evening and learn about the movements of the region’s nocturnal creatures on a private tour before indulging in a three-course dinner.
  • The plight of sea turtles has garnered lots of press in recent years, and in Australia, groups can join in local initiatives amid an especially beautiful setting at the Great Barrier Reef, with a visit to the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. Groups of up to 20 can help with the rehabilitation and release of injured turtles at the facility.
  • No first-time visit to Australia is complete without a visit to the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral-reef system. Groups can enjoy a guided introduction to this famed attraction with Quicksilver Cruises, which has a fleet of boats that accommodate up to 400 passengers for excursions to a private pontoon at Agincourt Reef, at the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef.

Uluru

  • Groups can learn about Australia's legendary outback with a trip to Uluru, a stunning sandstone rock formation in the Northern Territory. SEIT Outback Australia offers excursions with an Aboriginal guide, who shares the secrets of traditional bush cuisine; guests have the opportunity to grind native seeds and take part in food preparation.
  • The rise of glamping — glamorous camping — means that groups don't have to forgo comfort when they explore the rugged landscapes of the Outback. Group-friendly options include Longitude 131, an upscale camp with 16 luxury tents near Uluru. Guests can relax at the camp's Spa Kinara, savor contemporary Australian cuisine at the Dune House restaurant and explore the region with excursions that include Harley-Davidson tours, hot air balloon rides and hikes around the base of the giant rocks.
  • Art and nature meet with spectacular results at Field of Light, a display of some 50,000 illuminated globes by English artist Bruce Munro. Dramatically arrayed in the desert that surrounds Uluru, Field of Light offers a variety of opportunities for meeting planners to wow attendees. Groups can arrive by camel at the viewing platform, and up to 300 can attend a Sounds of Silence dinner that includes a didgeridoo performance and a presentation by a star tracker.

Whitsundays/Great Barrier Reef

  • As the world’s largest coral reef system, the Great Barrier Reef is a spectacularly beautiful destination. The region’s Whitsunday Islands, a collection of 74 postcard-perfect islands off the central coast of Queensland, are where groups go to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the reef. The isles are perfect for sailing, swimming, snorkeling and diving; other incentive-worthy experiences include breathtaking helicopter or seaplane rides to Whitehaven Beach, an exquisite and world-famous stretch of exceptionally white sand, golfing at the Hamilton Island Golf Club, an 18-hole championship course on scenic Dent Island or meeting kangaroos and cuddling a koala at Hamilton Island Wildlife.
  • Among the newest adventures for groups is Heart Island, a development at Hamilton Island that promises a "James Bond experience" via exciting activities like helicopter rides over the Whitsunday Islands and Whitehaven Beach, as well as glass-bottom boat tours, swimming and snorkeling.

 

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