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All reviews lake mountain melbourne area highlight of our trip absolutely fantastic day private wine tour mornington peninsula visiting australia wildlife sanctuary wine tasting an unforgettable experience the great ocean road dandenong ranges great information day tour penguin parade phillips island fantastic guide
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Reviewed March 30, 2018

My wife, our children (ages 11 and 9) and I were fortunate to spend two unforgettable days with Acacia Private Tours, which were undoubtedly highlights of our recent trip to Australia. We were absolutely blown away by the company’s extraordinary level of personalized service, extensive knowledge of the area, and attention to detail in every aspect of our interactions with them. It is clear that they understand their clientele and go to great lengths to ensure fantastic customized experiences for them.

We found Acacia by googling “private tours Melbourne” and contacted them via email several weeks before our trip. We received a prompt response from Paul, who provided us with information about the company and gave us some ideas for possible itineraries. He also asked us if there were anything in particular we were hoping to accomplish during our two days in the Melbourne area. We told him my wife and I were interested in the sites along the Great Ocean Road and my kids were very keen on wildlife spotting. After several back-and-forth emails and a little tweaking, Paul sent us a detailed plan and pricing for two daylong excursions. While the cost for these trips was considerably more than a medium or large group tour would have been, they were very much customized to our family’s needs and considering we would be with a private tour guide for about 10 hours each day, it was actually quite reasonable. Payment was taken care of via credit card and we were informed that Acacia’s co-owner Stuart Dobson would be our tour guide.

On the morning of the first day, Stuart was waiting for us in our hotel’s driveway in a sparkling clean Mercedes van that was stocked with snacks, drinks, Kleenex, wipes, trash bags, towels and everything else we could possibly need for our trip. I found it reassuring when the hotel bellman, upon seeing Stuart in the driver’s seat, told us “this guy is the best tour guide there is and you are going to have a fabulous day.” Stuart greeted all four of us by first name and gave us an overview of where we were going that day. As we drove out of Melbourne, he provided us with all sorts of information about the city and surrounding area. He was extremely knowledgeable about the region’s history, architecture, industry, economy and culture. Our first stop was to check out the view of Bell’s Beach, which aside from being one of the best surfing spots in the world, I believe was made famous in the USA as the setting for the final scene in the movie “Point Break.” Next, we went to the Anglesea Golf Course which is home to a pack of at least 200 kangaroos. Stuart arranged for one of the groundskeepers to take us on a tour in a golf cart and we were able to get fantastic photos of us with the kangaroos. Afterwards, we went to a koala reserve and then into one of the towns along the Great Ocean Road for lunch. In reading other reviews of Acacia, it seems like they typically arrange for meals at interesting local restaurants in advance, but we had mentioned in our initial emails to Paul that our kids were somewhat fussy eaters and would probably prefer something less sophisticated. Knowing this, Stuart recommended a local fish-and-chips place (that also serves chicken nuggets!) which was absolutely perfect for us and exemplifies Acacia’s preparedness and attention to detail. After lunch, we continued on the Great Ocean Road to the Twelve Apostles. Stuart masterfully guided us through throngs of large tour groups to the best viewing spots and also took us to more secluded beaches in the area. Throughout the day, he took a series of family photos, which he said he would send to us at the end of the trip. On the two hour drive back to Melbourne, Stuart regaled us with stories of his experiences growing up on a dairy farm, played trivia games with the kids, and gave my daughter a crash course on the history of Uggs.

Stuart picked us up the following day at 1:30 PM to go to Phillips Island to see the world-famous penguin parade. On the way out of the city, he drove us through the Sporting District so we could see where the Australian Open is played as well as the soccer and Australian football stadiums. We stopped at a beach and another koala reserve before having an early dinner in Cowes at a small (kid-friendly) Italian restaurant (which was arguably the best meal we had in Australia!) Afterwards, we went to a scenic boardwalk along one of the beaches and then took the long way down to the penguin parade which enabled us to see dozens of wallabies and Cape Barren geese, which are white with lime-green beaks—spectacular! When we arrived at the penguin parade, Stuart again navigated us through the crowds to the entrance and he had already pre-purchased the tickets so we didn’t have to wait in line, which was pretty long. When we were planning the trip, Acacia had recommended the Guided Ranger Tour, which in addition to providing us with a semi-private guide, would allow us to sit in an area far away from the main grandstand closer to the penguins with a much better view and way fewer people. There were less expensive and more expensive viewing options, but Stuart said that he and Paul had personally done each one five times and the Guided Ranger Tour was by far the best. I can not do justice to how incredible the parade was, but suffice it to say that watching hundreds of these birds emerge from the ocean onto the beach at sunset in a coordinated manner and seeing the expression of sheer awe on the faces of my children as the penguins marched within several feet of them on their way to their nests for the night is something I will remember for the rest of my life—truly amazing and not to be missed! Afterwards, Stuart drove us back to Melbourne and dropped us off at our hotel just before midnight. Several days later, we received a personalized email from him thanking us for choosing his company, and an attachment with all of the photos he took of us.

Acacia Private Tours truly exceeded our expectations and enhanced our experience in the Melbourne area. Their professionalism and expertise was exceptional and I would recommend this company without hesitation to anyone.

Date of experience: March 2018
Thank IBG1974
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
StuartDobson, Owner at Acacia Luxury Private Tours, responded to this reviewResponded April 1, 2018

We can't thank-you enough for such a comprehensive and positive review of Acacia Luxury Private Tours. It is truly satisfying to learn that your days of touring were the highlights of your family vacation in Australia. Sharing this time was both enriching and memorable - a real pleasure. Once again, our sincere thanks for taking the time to sharing your experience.

Warm regards

Stuart

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Reviewed March 23, 2018

We loved our tour with Acacia! We highly recommend them!
Stu, our guide was full of great & interesting information, making our day really great & fun.
Yarra Valley is beautiful and the wineries & restaurant Stu recommended for lunch were all top notch.
We also had enough time to do Yarra Valley Wildlife Park. Stu even toured & educated us there too!
Our tour was perfect and a highlight of our month in OZ. We'll definitely stay longer next time in Melbourne and do another or two Acacia tours. (+ We thought it was a great deal for all we got & did.)

Date of experience: March 2018
Thank Lee S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
StuartDobson, Owner at Acacia Luxury Private Tours, responded to this reviewResponded March 30, 2018

What a pleasure it was to show you the Yarra Valley. Thank-you so much for your review Lee. I hope we have the opportunity to show you more of our state - I think you would love Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges wine region.

Best Regards

Stuart

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Reviewed March 8, 2018

I’m writing this review fresh out of a two-day tour to the Mornington Peninsula with the very lovely Stuart Dobson and I have nothing but good things to say. If you’re looking for a luxury private tour experience, this is the company to hire! Expect a professional and very knowledgeable guide offering bespoke, tailor-made itinerary or pick from the list of Acacia’s offerrings The icing on the cake was that Stuart was also an excellent conversationalist (with good knowledge on history as well as wine) which is something I always appreciate when travelling solo. Thank you for the amazing experince of the Mornington Peninsula!

Date of experience: March 2018
1  Thank Shalini Y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
StuartDobson, Owner at Acacia Luxury Private Tours, responded to this reviewResponded March 12, 2018

Thank-you for your feedback Shalini. It was a real pleasure to show you the fabulous Mornington & Bellarine Peninsulas on a loop of Port Phillip Bay. We were blessed with magnificent weather which showcased the regions to perfection. You were a very memorable guest and I hope we can meet again - there is so much more to see!

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Reviewed January 30, 2018

Our family of 3 originally tried to do the Great Ocean Road tour with another group operator, but that sold out before we could reserve our space. This turned out to be very fortunate for us. Our agent recommended a private tour by Acacia, and we stretched our budget to sign on. Stuart made this tour the highlight of our trip to Australia. He exudes professionalism, enthusiasm, and pride in showing off this region of his childhood. The scenery is beautiful and iconic. We traveled like rock stars in an premium Audi A7 with tasty snacks and beverages, ate at the best restaurants, saw what we wanted--when we wanted. Stuart was attentive to my wife's motion sickness, as some parts of the drive were quite twisty, and took breaks to make them bearable. This meant more welcomed photo-ops with the wonderful views. All smiles, 2 thumbs, 5 stars, can not recommend Stuart & Acacia enough!

Date of experience: January 2018
1  Thank sgt_ddn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
StuartDobson, Owner at Acacia Luxury Private Tours, responded to this reviewResponded January 31, 2018

Thanks sgt_ddn! So kind of you to share the feedback of your private excursion to the Great Ocean Road. Taking two days is really the smartest way take in this spectacular journey. I thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent together and consider it a privilege to be a participant in the moments that become treasured family memories.

Warm Regards

Stuart

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Reviewed January 28, 2018 via mobile

We recently (exactly a week ago) spent an entire day with Stuart in the Yarra Valley.

Stuart was a delight to have on the tour. He has a lot of knowledge about Melbourne, the Valley and wine ! He was extremely friendly and by the end of the day we felt like we’ve known him all day.

I was very impressed with the car! It was so new and I loved all the nibbles on the back seat. Much needed after all the wine.

The highlight of the day for me has to be our first stop at Domaine Chandon! I loved that cocktail that we had and I am regretting not buying that bottle that’s only available there at the winery. Need to now do another trip or bribe Stuart in stocking up for me. The vineyard was so beautiful.

Following Domaine Chandon we visited Soumah. Another beautiful and boutique like winery. I loved how they used the “old” wine names.

We had lunch at the beautiful Levantine Hill. The sliders were to die for. I’ve added traveling by helicopter to Levantine Hill to my bucket list.

Our final winery stop was at Tarrawarra. I loved the architectural design of the cellar door. As Stuart said it is “hobbit” like, being underground. Again a bit of regret that I didn’t buy the Rosè.

We also stopped at the Yarra Dairy to try some cheese and at a brewery. The pear cider really did hit the spot given it was a very warm day. The drink to try whilst at the brewery though is the Rauchbier. Speak to the team at Acacia and they’ll tell you what the fuss is all about.

The only con to the trip was their unavailable to do a Great Ocean Road trip last Wednesday. However, Stuart was extremely kind and sent us a suggested itinerary. We followed most of it and was about an hour ahead of schedule when we arrived at the 12 Apostles. We decided to venture out to the Bay of Islands and by the time we were venturing back to Melbourne we were about two hours behind the suggested schedule.

We had a lovely time and I’m currently suffering from post-holiday blues.

Hoping to be back in Melbourne for the tennis again next year and do a day trip with Stuart to Mornington Peninsula.

Thank you Stuart for a great day and also to Paul for organising this trip on such short notice. It was superb.

Date of experience: January 2018
1  Thank Lauren T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
StuartDobson, Owner at Acacia Luxury Private Tours, responded to this reviewResponded January 31, 2018

What a wonderful review Lauren. Thank-you very much for taking the time to share your experience. There were many highlights of the day as described in your review - your reaction to tasting the Rauchbier was certainly one of mine! It would be our pleasure to show you the Mornington Peninsula on your next family tour to Melbourne.

Kind Regards

Stuart

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