. Guide to Meeting & Event Planning in Australia | Northstar Meetings Group

Guide to Meeting & Event Planning in

Guide to Meeting & Event Planning in Australia

Learn why 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. 

Travel Essentials

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

Convention Centers

Australia has nine convention centers in total; 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, supports bids for new incentive, association and exhibition events via an array of marketing initiatives.

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 the International Convention Centre Sydney:

...of the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre:

Meeting & Event Venues

New & Coming Soon to Australia

Sydney

Melbourne

  • The 294-room W Melbourne, slated to open in 2020, is part of a luxury mixed-use development called Collins Arch. The property will have 9,160 square feet of meeting and event space.
  • Two Hilton properties are coming to Melbourne: the 244-room Hilton Little Queen Street, to debut in 2020, and the 600-room Melbourne Square, which is set to open in 2023 in the Southbank precinct.
  • The 263-room Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne, is on target to open in July 2021 near Marvel Stadium. Among 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 2023 at Melbourne & Olympic Parks, the host venue of the Australian Open. The facility's new event and media center 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.
  • The recently opened live music venue at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, located in the exhibition bays, is available for buyouts of up to 3,000 people. The new space is furnished with staging, lighting and audio equipment.
  • Element by Westin made its debut in Australia this year with the opening of the Element Melbourne Richmond in June. Located in the new Botanicca Corporate Park, the 163-room hotel has more than 2,700 square feet of meeting space.

Brisbane

  • Following an investment of more than $75 million, the Howard Smith Wharves, a lifestyle and entertainment complex on Brisbane's waterfront, has upgraded its group offerings with nine new event spaces and a new hotel, The Fantauzzo. The 166-room property, which has three meeting rooms, is part of Accor's Art Series Hotels, which showcase the works of local artists. The entire Howard Smith Wharves complex can host buyouts for up to 2,500 attendees.
  • Queensland will welcome its first dedicated mega-cruise terminal in 2020, when the Brisbane International Cruise Terminal completes an upgrade worth more than $107 million.
  • There's a flavorful new way for groups to visit Story Bridge, the landmark cantilever span that crosses the Brisbane River. Story Bridge Adventure Climb, a tour operator that specializes in climbing tours, has added a "climb and dine" experience for up to 30 participants that includes a walk up the supporting scaffolds to the top of the bridge's towers, followed by canapés and drinks; As an alternative, groups of up to 400 can partake in hors d'oeuvres and refreshments in the bridge's courtyard as 14 participants at a time make the climb.
  • The Fortitude Music Hall, a new venue just outside of the city, offers a 1,200-seat theater billed as the largest grand ballroom/theater-style venue in Australia. It can accommodate up to 3,000 attendees for receptions.
  • The 299-room Westin Brisbane, located in the city center, recently debuted with 10,333 square feet of meeting space, a spa and multiple dining venues.
  • The 312-room W Hotel Brisbane, with 10,000 square feet of meeting space, a spa and fitness center, has opened in the city's center.
  • In the Brisbane's cultural district, the 143-room Emporium Hotel Southpoint at South Bank has debuted. The hotel has a ballroom that accommodates 250 attendees for seated events, as well as a champagne bar and three boardrooms.
  • The recently opened 175-room Calile Hotel offers a flexible grand ballroom and meeting space for up to 500 attendees, as well as a poolside restaurant and a rooftop terrace.

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, is adding the 138-room Adelaide Oval Hotel. Also set to open in 2020 in Adelaide are a 257-room Sofitel and 326-room Crowne Plaza property. The Westin Adelaide, a 15-story, 285-room luxury hotel in the city's center, is scheduled for a March 2022 debut. The Adelaide Casino, located in Adelaide's historic train station, is undergoing a redevelopment that will include the addition of a 123-room hotel with meeting space.

Cairns

  • The Cairns Convention Centre will undergo a US$119 million upgrade beginning in 2020. The project includes improvements to the existing structure, due to wrap up by November 2020, and the addition of more than 32,000 square feet of new meeting and exhibition space, slated for completion by 2022. 
  • The city of Queensland welcomed the first of three new five-star resorts last year: the 311-room Riley with six meeting space options and the city's highest rooftop bar and restaurant. The property is part of the Crystalbrook Collection, which will unveil the 220-room Bailey hotel in late 2019 and the 311-room Flynn hotel in 2020.

Gold Coast

  • A major mixed-use development, The Jewel, will open in 2020 and will include a five-star hotel, conference facilities, a business center and assorted dining venues. 
  • The Dorsett, a 316-room hotel, will debut in 2022 at the hotel/casino complex Star Gold Coast.

Hobart/Tasmania

Perth

  • The Adnate, the ninth Art Series hotel in Australia, is set to open this year. The 250-room property will have a restaurant with a terrace, a bar and lounge, a swimming pool and a function room, as well as a 27-story mural. 
  • Also expected to open in late 2019 is the Ritz-Carlton, Perth, a riverfront hotel set on Elizabeth Quay. The 205-room property has an outdoor heated infinity pool, a spa and more than 21,500 square feet of meeting space. 
  • The 368-room Westin Perth recently debuted with nearly 15,000 square feet of meeting and event space, as well as two restaurants and a spa. 
  • Another recent entrant into Perth's hotel scene is the 184-room QT Perth. The property offers a restaurant, a rooftop bar and café, and seven conference rooms.

Whitsundays/Great Barrier Reef

  • The 160-room InterContinental Hayman Island Resort, on the northernmost island of the Whitsunday Islands, has completed a US$135 million revamp. Five restaurants and bars as well as a three-bedroom beach house have been added.
  • The Daydream Island Resort on the Great Barrier Reef has reopened 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. 
  • The first dedicated floating events venue has opened on the reef: Sunlover Funlover, a pontoon situated 90 minutes from Cairns, has its own catamaran and event services on-site. The venue accommodates up to 300 guests.

Sydney Meeting Hotels

Things to Do in Australia

Sydney

  • Climb to the summit of the Sydney Harbour Bridge for unforgettable panoramic views. 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. 
  • For a bird's-eye view of Sydney, book a jaunt with Sydney Seaplanes, a company that offers sightseeing flights. Groups can enjoy magnificent views of the famed Sydney Opera House and harbor, and perhaps stop for lunch along the Hawkesbury River at Cottage Point Inn, a waterfront restaurant with scenic views.
  • 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.

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 new visitor center has 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.
  • Each January, the city hosts the Australian Open, the annual event that serves as the first Grand Slam tournament of the year. Groups maximize the excitement with a Green Room VIP backstage pass, which provides an up-close view of players.

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

  • 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 buffet, a didgeridoo performance and a presentation by a star tracker.

Whitsundays/Great Barrier Reef

  • 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.