When BMW China decided to take its popular off-road adventure to another country the motoring company chose Australia’s harshest and most beautiful landscape to do so.
Think of one country that can be both harsh and arid and lush and tropical and it would be hard to think of anywhere other than Australia. And so, when BMW China chose to take its seventh Destination X drive experience offshore for the first time, it found that Australia’s contrasting landscapes fit the bill perfectly.
BMW China Destination X is an annual competition in which 32 China-based BMW enthusiasts get to drive the latest BMW X Series over a 10-day period. This latest outing was held in early October 2012 and saw two teams of winners, a vast support crew, BMW staff, and 20 motoring writers and journalists, drive north from Adelaide in South Australia and south from Darwin in the Northern Territory along Australia’s Stuart Highway, joining at Uluru (Ayers Rock) for a gala dinner.
There were 80 participants in total who were split into two groups for the drive, both following the highway that was named after Australian explorer John McDouall Stuart who first travelled the 2834 kilometre distance from the south to the north of Australia in 1862.
Responsible for bringing the group to the Australian outback was New Asia Pacific Travel’s managing director, Steven Wang, who describes Destination X as “a journey, an adventure, and an overall experience for driving the BMW X Series in a destination which is and should be full of discoveries, explorations and of course enjoyment”.
Following two site inspections of the intended route by BMW China senior management, the full group arrived on October 6, setting out from Adelaide and Darwin.
A night at the five-star Hilton Adelaide Hotel for the southern BMW group was followed by a driver training program at the Adelaide International Raceway before the team headed to the foothills on the eastern outskirts of the city and the historic Penfolds Magill Estate – the original home of Penfolds Wines and Australia’s most prized wine, the Grange.
A fun encounter with kangaroos and koalas at Cleveland Wildlife Park preceded a visit and stay underground at Coober Pedy, the largest opal mining town in the world.
Crossing the border into the Northern Territory, the group had its first true taste of Australia’s natural beauty with a tour of stunning Kings Canyon in the Watarrka National Park.
After a good night’s sleep in the Crowne Plaza Darwin (now Hilton Darwin), the northern team hit the Hidden Valley Raceway for some pre-trip driver training before heading to the world-renowned UNESCO World Heritage Listed Kakadu National Park. During their Kakadu visit the BMW X group enjoyed an aboriginal painting and basket weaving workshop and a tailor-made river experience with Yellow Waters Cruises, staying the night at the Gagudju Crocodile Holiday Inn.
Back in their vehicles the next day they journeyed deeper into the outback, enjoying a refreshing canoe paddle tour of the stunning Katherine Gorge, located in the Nitmiluk National Park, followed by a Nabilil Dreaming Sunset Cultural Cruise in the Nitmiluk Gorge.
A photo op at the Devils Marbles, resplendent with carefully balanced rounded granite boulders, and the group travelled on down the Stuart Highway to the Northern Territory’s third largest city Alice Springs, bordered by the majestic MacDonnell Ranges.
Well watered and fed at Lasseters Hotel Casino, which sits adjacent to the purpose-built Alice Springs Convention Centre, the group then headed to Uluru to meet up with their southern counterparts for the grand finale.
Basing themselves at Ayers Rock Resort, the now joined BMW Destination X team enjoyed tours of Uluru and Kata Tjuta on foot and by helicopter, and experienced more of the local Indigenous culture with dot painting classes and a workshop on aboriginal dancing.
The culmination of such an incredible journey was the Sounds of Silence gala dinner with guests enjoying cocktails and watching the sun set over Uluru before sitting down to a sumptuous dinner under a stunning night sky full of stars.
“The vice president of BMW China said Uluru was the highlight of the entire trip, and Voyages Ayers Rock Resort did such a wonderful and professional job,” said New Asia Pacific Travel’s managing director, Steven Wang.