Australian Wildlife Collection : Part II

In the initial phase of this series [Read our previous blog  AUSTRALIAN WILDLIFE COLLECTION : PHASE I], we discussed some of the wildlife tourism experiences of Australia. 

Here are some more great Aussie destinations, more great wildlife tourism experiences ... and more great operators.

Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, Queensland

Lady Elliot Island is a true coral cay located on the southern tip of Australia's iconic Great Barrier Reef, situated within a highly protected ‘Green Zone’ of the Marine National Park. It is regarded as one of the best diving and snorkeling sites, with its offshore and southern location resulting in outstanding water clarity, perfect to admire year round Manta Rays, reef sharks, hard and soft corals and tropical fish.

Lady Elliot Island has the highest seabird diversity of any island along the reef, with a number of species migrating to the island between October and April to nest including noddies, terns, Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and Red-tailed Tropic Birds. The beaches are also sanctuaries for nesting Green and Loggerhead Turtles over the summer months whilst Humpback Whales migrate past the island from June to October.

Lady Elliot Island Eco-Resort is a low-key resort that accommodates up to 150 overnight guests and is world acclaimed for the range of environmental best-practice measures implemented, including an extensive citizen science reef monitoring program in which guests participate.

Lords Kakadu and Arnhemland Safaris, Northern Territory

Lords Kakadu and Arnhemland Safaris has been connecting guests to the Northern Territory’s ‘Top End’ for over 25 years. Located just over 100 miles (170km) southeast of Darwin, Kakadu National Park is one of the world’s most magnificent natural reserves, boasting 280 bird species, 77 mammals, 50 species of freshwater fish, 132 reptiles and more than 50,000 years of Indigenous history and culture.

The wetlands of Kakadu are a birdwatcher’s paradise, given the immense concentration of waterbirds, especially in the dry season, including Magpie Geese, Whistling Ducks, Great Egrets, Royal Spoonbills, Black-winged Stilts, Great-billed Herons, Brolgas, Comb-crested Jacanas and Black-necked Storks (Jabirus). The combination of floodplains and wetlands, savanna woodlands, sand-stone cliffs and escarpments provide sanctuary for Agile and Wilkin’s Rock Wallabies, Northern Bandicoots, Black and Antilopine Wallaroos, Northern Quolls, Dingoes, flying-foxes, Ghost Bats, goannas, frogs, pythons, and cathedral termite mounds. But it's the massive populations of the world’s largest reptile, the Saltwater Crocodile, that has made this area so famous.

Oz Whale Watching, New South Wales

The sparkling waters and stunning skyline of Sydney Harbor has long been recognized as one of the most beautiful urban settings in the world, but what is surprising is the diverse wildlife viewing opportunities at Sydney’s doorstep. Sydney has more marine species than any other harbour in the world and is a superb location to observe the incredible Humpback Whale migration from May to November each year. Further out to sea where the continental shelf drops off, the region is one of Australia’s best pelagic birding sites, with an abundance of albatross species across winter months, shearwaters in summer months, with petrels, gannets, skuas, terns, gannets and gulls also present.

Image Credit : Trevor Scouten

Image Credit : Trevor Scouten

Oz Whale Watching is part of the Sydney Princess Group, with the company dedicated to showcasing the remarkable nature and cultural based offerings of the area. Aside from whale watching and pelagic birding trips, the company offers guided tours around Sydney National Harbour, with snorkelling at Shelley Beach providing the opportunity to spot Blue Groper, Gunthers and Dusky Butterflyfish, Black Rock Cod, Wobbegongs, Cuttlefish, Potbelly Seahorses and the ethereal Weedy Sea Dragon.

Premier Travel Tasmania

Australia’s largest island is the beautiful state of Tasmania, where around forty per cent of land is protected via national parks and reserves. Premier Travel Tasmania has been sharing this pristine region’s abundant wildlife, diverse flora, pristine wilderness, rich heritage, gourmet food & wine and local characters for over 20 years.

Renowned as a prime area for marsupial spotting, Tasmania is a crucial habitat for many lesser known species, including Eastern and Spotted Quolls, Eastern Barred and Southern Brown Bandicoots, Tasmanian Bettongs and Long-nosed Potoroos. This is in addition to Platypus, Echidnas, Forester Kangaroos, Bennett’s Wallabies, Common Wombats and the most famous resident, the Tasmanian Devil.

Numerous World Heritage Listed areas are scattered across the state, comprised of rugged mountains, temperate rainforests, wetlands, white sandy beaches and massive dolerite cliffs. This provides sanctuary for an abundance of birdlife, including the twelve Tasmanian endemic species such as the Forty-spotted Pardalote, Green Rosellas, Black Currawongs, Yellow Wattlebirds, Tasmanian Scrubwrens and Strong-billed Honeyeaters. The marine offerings are also spectacular with touring covering colonies of Australian Fur Seals, Common and Bottlenose Dolphins and the adorable Little Penguin.

SEIT Outback Australia, Northern Territory

Australia’s ‘Red Centre’ is considered the spiritual heart of Australia, due to its incredible desert landscapes, rich indigenous history and iconic rock formations such as Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon and Mt Conner. The Anangu people of Uluru have been the traditional custodians of this ancient land for many generations, balancing the intricate relationship between people, plants, animals and landscapes.

SEIT Outback Australia has been sharing insights into this balance for many years, showcasing the remarkable wildlife that thrive in these semi-arid environments. This is a prime region for spotting reptiles including the iconic Thorny Devil, Shingleback & Blue-tongued Lizard, Bearded and Central-netted Dragon, Sand Goanna and occasionally the largest lizard in Australia, the Perentie. It’s also a hotspot for birds of prey such as Whistling Kites, Nankeen Kestrels, Black-breasted Buzzards, Brown Falcons, Australian Hobby Falcons and Wedge-tailed Eagles. Nomadic Zebra Finches, Budgerigars and Painted Finches are also prize sightings after rainfall has occurred.

The Maria Island Walk, Tasmania

World Heritage Listed Maria Island is located just off Tasmania’s east coast and is known for its historic ruins, picturesque bays, rugged cliffs and mountains and amazing fossils. But for many visitors, it's the island’s remarkable collection of rare birds and animals, largely unaffected by human presence, that is the highlight.

The Maria Island Walk is a four-day walk that brings these remarkable wildlife stories to life through expert interpretative guides, with guests able to enjoy gentle walks by day and elegant accommodation and gourmet dining by night. As a vital location for numerous threatened and endangered species, Maria provides the opportunity to spot Common Wombats, Cape Barren Geese, Forester Kangaroos, Bennett’s Wallabies, Tasmanian Devils and 125 species of birds; including all of Tasmania’s endemics such as Tasmanian Native Hens, Green Rosellas, Yellow Wattlebirds, Black-headed & Yellow-throated Honeyeaters, Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagled and the endangered Forty-spotted Pardalote. In the warmer months, the island’s Blue Gums are a key habitat for the critically endangered Swift Parrot.

Wildlife Coast Cruises, Victoria

The Phillip Island and Wilson’s Promontory area provides a blend of spectacular coastal scenery, abundant marine wildlife, beautiful coastal heathlands and important seabird rookeries. The team at Wildlife Coast Cruises has been educating guests about the region’s marine diversity for almost 25 years, with an onboard marine biologist providing fascinating insights into the interaction of species across this unique ecosystem.

Highlights include close observation of Australia’s largest population of Australian Fur Seals (7,000+) off the aptly named Seal Rocks, spotting Common and Bottlenose Dolphins and tracking seabirds including Pied and Black-faced Cormorants, Australasian Gannets, Shy Albatross, Crested Terns and Pacific Gulls. This is also the area to witness parades of Little Penguins as they come ashore in the evening time. Phillip Island plays host to majestic whales during their annual migration every winter from June to August, with Humpback Whales most commonly spotted, but Southern Right Whales and Orcas also opportunistic sightings.

Australian Wildlife Collection : Part I

The Australian Wildlife Collection is a new group of Australia’s leading, independently-owned wildlife tourism experiences, showcasing authentic wildlife encounters within natural habitats, combined with premium hospitality. A high level of guiding expertise and focus on interpretation that connects with guests, encourages self-reflection and aligns with local community values underpins the group.

Australia boasts a truly remarkable wildlife story, being home to the world’s most bio-diverse waters, the highest number of endemic bird species, the highest number of reptile species and a vast collection of mammals that can’t be seen anywhere else on earth. The Australian Wildlife Collection is passionate about enhancing the profile of Australia as a world-class wildlife destination and increasing wildlife observation across natural environments.

All members of the Australian Wildlife Collection are united by the vision to bridge the gap between the conservation and tourism sectors. The group has started assembling a portfolio of programs, that allow guests to actively contribute to the re-generation of local ecosystems and assist in preserving Australia’s incredible natural assets.

A wide array of Australia’s iconic marine and terrestrial landscapes are represented across the group, from coral reefs, coastal and alpine eucalypt woodlands, wet and dry rainforests, wetlands to desert sandplains.

The twelve founding members include Arkaba Conservancy (SA); Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours (VIC); Exceptional Kangaroo Island (SA); Exmouth Diving Centre (WA); Goin’ Off Safaris (SA); Lady Elliot Island (QLD); Lords Kakadu and Arnhemland Safaris (NT); The Maria Island Walk (TAS); Oz Whale Watching (NSW); Premier Travel Tasmania (TAS); SEIT Outback Australia (NT) and Wildlife Coast Cruises (VIC).

Arkaba, South Australia

Arkaba is nestled amongst the ancient outback landscapes of the Flinders Ranges, famed for its beautifully sculpted ridges, spectacular deep gorges, and striking river red gum creek lines. The former sheep station was developed into a 60,000 acre wildlife conservancy in 2013, to assist in the re-establishment of endangered endemic reptiles, birds and marsupials including the Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby, Western Quoll and Common Brushtail Possum. Arkaba boasts a luxurious 1850’s Homestead with just five guest rooms and offers a four-day immersive walk and safari drives with expert guides to showcase the various habitats across the conservancy.

Australian Ringneck Parrots - Flinders Ranges (Arkaba).jpg

It is one of the best locations in Australia to see Macropods, with the largest living marsupial, the Red Kangaroo, in very healthy populations, as are Western Grey Kangaroos and Common Wallaroos. Bearded Dragons, Painted Dragons, Barking Geckos, Shinglebacks and numerous skinks are noted reptile residents, with the birdlife also varied. The area offers year round sightings for Emus, Ringneck, Mulga, Red-rumped and Elegant Parrots, Wedge-tailed Eagles, Brown Goshawks, Black Kites, Rufous Whistlers, with migratory Rainbow Bee-eaters, Budgerigars and Zebra Finches delightful summer visitors.

Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours, Victoria

Connecting travelers with the diverse wildlife across the You Yangs, Great Ocean Road and East Gippsland has been the passion of Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours for over twenty years. A blend of magnificent lush rainforests, coastal heathlands, dramatic sea cliffs, giant alpine Eucalypt groves, pristine rivers, estuaries and vast grassy plains provides the opportunity to see a truly remarkable number of Australia’s iconic species.

In the You Yangs, guests will venture out with a Koala researcher to learn about the history and behaviour of individuals within the colony, with the opportunity to pull out invasive weeds to save this precious population. A rich array of marsupials including Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Swamp and Red-necked Wallabies, Short-beaked Echidnas and Common Wombats is in offer, with East Gippsland particularly attractive to travellers interested in shier forest dwellers, including Yellow-bellied and Greater Gliders, Lace Monitors, King Parrots, Eastern Whipbirds, Satin Bowerbirds, numerous honeyeaters the most famous songbird in Australia, the Superb Lyrebird.

Exceptional Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third largest island, with over one third of land declared as National or Conservation Park. Exceptional Kangaroo Island has been providing expert interpretation of the natural environment and numerous endemic species and local sub-species that inhabit this incredible sanctuary for over 25 years. Over 90% of the terrestrial wildlife habitat is mallee and woodland, dominated largely by Eucalyptus, with the balance shrubland, fernland and forest.

This provides opportunity to spot a vast range of animals including Kangaroo Island Kangaroos, Tammar Wallabies, Short-beaked Echidnas, Koalas, Rosenberg’s Goanna and 260 species of birds, with endangered Glossy Black Cockatoos, Hooded Plovers, Cape Barren Geese, Scarlet Robins, Southern Emu Wrens, Crimson Rosellas and Caspian Terns prime species for enthusiasts. The marine environment is equally diverse, with highlights including walking on a pristine beach with Australian Sea Lions at Seal Bay and spotting Long-nosed Fur Seals across the spectacular landscapes of Admiral’s Arch and Remarkable Rocks.

Exmouth Diving Centre, Western Australia

As the region’s original eco-tourism operation, Exmouth Diving Centre is synonymous with experiencing the aquatic treasures of the World Heritage Listed Ningaloo Reef Marine Park. Flanking the North West Cape coastline, Ningaloo Reef is one of the world’s largest and most magnificent fringing coral reefs. This intricate reef system stretches over 260 km (160 miles) and is renowned for its bio-diversity, with 250 species of corals, an assortment of uniquely colored nudibranchs and over 450 different species of fish.

The region is home to a myriad of marine megafauna, including the world’s largest fish, the Whale Shark, with visitors able to swim with these graceful creatures from March to August. Humpback Whales are also in abundance when the world’s largest migration occurs between May and November, with the recent addition of Humpback swims a highlight from August to November. Manta Rays, Dugongs and Turtles can be seen year round, with three species of turtle nesting over the summer months.

Goin’ Off Safaris, South Australia

The Eyre Peninsula is considered as Australia’s ultimate temperate aquatic playground, featuring striking coastlines, vast sand dunes, rugged offshore islands, secluded coves and picturesque coastal heathlands. Goin’ Off Safaris has been showcasing the region’s unique aquatic activities since 2005, including famed encounters with Australian Sea-lions, Bottlenose Dolphins and the oceans most formidable predator, the Great White Shark.

Experiences are not limited to the vast shoreline, with the region home to distinctive rock formations, a rich geological history and a variety of flora and fauna. The Southern Eyre Peninsula is home to 270 species of birds and 1900 native plant species, providing abundant opportunities to spot Western Grey Kangaroos, Emus, threatened Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats, Port Lincoln Parrots, Rock Parrots, Golden Whistlers, White-Browed Babblers, various waterfowl at Big Swamp and an array of seabirds including cormorants, terns oystercatchers, Black Winged Stilts, Osprey and White-bellied Sea Eagles.

 

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Final Phase in next Blog.... 

Luxury Lodges Of Australia : South Australia

If an indulgent 'down-under' vacation is on any of your lists, then you’ll probably wish to include South Australia in your itinerary. 

In our last few blogs we’ve spoken about fabulous lodges in natural Australian settings, boasting majestic views and exclusive hospitality ... and as promised, this blog focuses on three such luxury lodges in South Australia. 

Arkaba

Luxury experiences can be truly delivered in the Australian outback!

Arkaba is a 60,000 acre South Australian outback property, that can truly deliver.

Located in the colorful landscapes of the Flinders Ranges and flanked by the awe-inspiring Chase Ranges and Rawnsley Bluff, Arkaba is probably one of the most splendid outback properties in Australia.

Just ten guests at a time have a unique opportunity to be immersed in guided wildlife safaris, and to enjoy relaxation in one of the finest Australian outback landscapes.

We recommend dining outdoors on the terrace at the end of the day ... enjoying the ever-changing colors and sounds of the bush ... and then indulging an after-dinner drink in front of the fire-pit just watching stars appear in the ancient outback 'big sky'.

Getting There: By Air: Private charters can take you from Adelaide to the closest airstrip, Hawker, in just over an hour.

You can also fly from Adelaide to Port Augusta and then take a 75 minute drive north to Arkaba.

By Car: You can take a splendid 4.5 hours drive from Adelaide. Stop at Quorn and the Pichi Richi Railway on your way north.

Things to Remember: The adventure-minded can also enjoy a memorable four day walking safari (along with camping-swags-under-the-stars) ex Arkaba.

The Louise

Located in the heart of an idyllic vineyard, with an acclaimed restaurant on-site, and breath-taking vistas of the world-renowned Barossa Valley is The Louise.

Inspired design, fabulous artwork, and luxurious suites (each with its own private terrace) cater to a maximum of just 15 guests.

With more than one hundred Barossa wineries to choose from, The Louise offers wine tastings beyond compare. Quite apart from fabulous wine experiences, you can enjoy hot air ballooning, cycling and hiking, and/or relaxing massages in the spa ... and, we recommend enjoying a Barossa Farmers’ Market Breakfast with the Kangaroos while staying at The Louise.

Make your very own blend at iconic Penfolds winery, or accompany 'Appelation' chefs on their farmer’s market visit and watch them securing the very best regional produce for the restaurant kitchen.

The Louise is all about enjoying simply outstanding food, spectacular wine, and fabulous accommodation in the very heart of one of Australia’s most respected wine regions.

Getting There: By Air : The Louise can arrange for helicopter transfers from Adelaide ... or to/from Southern Ocean Lodge.

By Car : The Barossa Valley is just over a one hour drive north of Adelaide.

Things to Remember: Leave your scales at home.

Southern Ocean Lodge

There's a very good reason that Kangaroo Island has been referred to as 'Australia's-zoo-without-fences'.

Set atop a secluded cliff on a rugged stretch of Kangaroo Island's south coast, commanding spectacular ocean views, and with nothing but open ocean for 2,000+ miles to the south, is Southern Ocean Lodge - a sensitively designed luxury lodge, recognized for its unique fusion of luxury and nature.

[Read Our Previous Blog On Luxury Lodges Of Australia : New South Wales ]

Southern Ocean Lodge offers just twenty one glass-walled suites each featuring bespoke furnishings, lavish sleeping areas, and a sunken outdoor lounge with spectacular Southern Ocean views.

This is certainly the place to fine dine on fabulous local produce, and enjoy spectacular guided touring of Australia's very own Galapagos.

Getting There: By Air: Kangaroo Island is just a 35 minute flight from Adelaide International Airport.

By Car/Ferry: It’s 90 minute drive from Adelaide to Port Jervis and then a 50-minute ferry across to Kangaroo Island.

Things to Remember: Take a camera!

Luxury Lodges Of Australia : New South Wales

When it comes to luxury, Australia, has numerous options to pamper. In our last few blogs we’ve been talking about hideaways within natural settings, boasting majestic views and exclusive hospitality. Our previous blog focused on luxury lodges located in Queensland.

This blog will discuss three luxury lodges in the state of New South Wales.

Capella Lodge

Located on world heritage listed Lord Howe Island is a pinnacle of luxury, Capella Lodge.  Overlooking romantic Lovers Bay and at the foot of dramatically rising twin mountains, Capella Lodge represents luxury at its best. A short flight will take you to this real deal ‘treasure island’, a sub-tropical paradise perfectly preserved in time. A feeling of relaxed sophistication flows throughout ... alluring guests to enjoy a civilized island escape.

Capella Lodge offers just nine contemporary island-style suites that compliment Lord Howe Island’s pristine natural environment. The design is inspired by an authentic Australian beach house ... and apart from the stunning view, the suites offer chic furnishings and generous decks.

You can take mountain walks, relax on white-sandy beaches, or explore a riot of colors in the southernmost part of the coral reef. Whatever you do, Capella Lodge makes sure that you can enjoy it lavishly ... but, on a first-name basis.

Experience fine dining showcasing a bounty of local seafood and fresh farm produce to help make your stay an unforgettable experience.

Getting There: By Air: Being a secluded gateway, Lord Howe Island has limited flights - with Qantaslink being the exclusive carrier to the island. Most flights operate from Sydney, with weekend flights out of Brisbane, and a seasonal flight ex Port Macquarie.

Things to Remember: All flights to Lord Howe Island only allow 30 lbs luggage per person ... mind you, that's all you'll need.

Pretty Beach House

If you're looking for an epitome of relaxed luxury that combines fabulous food, a perfect balance of intimacy, privacy and personalized service in the heart of NSW's Bouddi National Park, then it’s got to be Pretty Beach House. Experience effortless and unforgettable sanctuary in this stunning coastal luxury lodge limited to just eight guests at a time in four exclusive pavilions.

Surrounded by glorious golden beaches and picturesque bays, Pretty Beach House offers hiking expeditions and complimentary mountain bikes, an open bar, unlimited wi-fi throughout the property and a special indigenous smoking ceremony. All dining during your stay is included as part of the hospitality.

De-stress in the day spa, dine on a luxurious private boat with authentic seasonal menus and enjoy the quintessentially Australian coastal views. 

Getting There: By Air: From Sydney, Pretty Beach House can arrange helicopter transfers on request ... or you can take a stunning 30-minute seaplane transfer from Sydney's Rose Bay. Either way, take a camera!

By Ferry: Wagstaffe ferry service to Palm Beach is a favorite option to get to Pretty Beach House. If driving north from Sydney you can park at Palm Beach Wharf.

By Car: You can also reach there by car following the Pacific Highway less than two-hours north of Sydney.

Things to Remember: If traveling by ferry, car parking at Palm Beach Wharf can be a little difficult at peak times. 

Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley

With a number of accolades and awards Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley offers an ultimate experience of luxury and solace in its 7,000 acres property. The resort occupies just one percent of the property, featuring 40 individual suites, each with its own swimming pool. Its main homestead offers distinctive dining with fresh local produce and a Timeless Spa to re-energize.

[Our Previous Blog on Luxury Lodges Of Australia : Queensland]

Wolgan Valley is a carbon-neutral resort that has been recognized as an honoree of the Travel+Leisure Global Vision Awards for Sustainability and Conservation. It has also been awarded a coveted Banksia Award for heralding conservation based luxury in Australia. That’s not all. It's been named one of the 10 Best Luxury Hotels in the World, and recognized as one of the world’s most unique and stylish hotels and resorts by Mr & Mrs Smith. In fact, it’s the only Australian resort to make it to many top 10 lists. TripAdvisor’s 2016 Traveller’s Choice Awards named this ultra-luxury conservation resort as the #1 Hotel in Australia.

The seclusion of this place creates natural sanctuary where guests can experience breathtaking natural beauty and a haven of wildlife while soaking up the rich heritage of the region. You can spend your day enjoying a range of nature-based activities that include horse riding, wildlife spotting, four-wheel drives, nature walks, and interpretive tours.

Getting There: By Air: Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley offers a dramatic 45 minutes helicopter transfer from Sydney offering superb views of the Blue Mountains en route.

By Car: There are several recommended scenic drives from Sydney to Wolgan Valley that take approximately three hours.

Things to Remember: The resort’s daily tariff includes gourmet breakfast, lunch and dinner ... and all non-alcoholic beverages.

In our next blog we’ll highlight luxury lodges in South Australia.

Luxury Lodges of Australia : Queensland

In our previous blog, we discussed 16 luxury lodges of Australia offering the opportunity to splash out on luxurious hospitality and sink your soul in complete otiosity. With more than 300 days of sunshine each year, it’s easy to see why Queensland is known as the ‘Sunshine State’. Discover endless golden beaches, exquisite coral reefs, tropical rain forests, palm fringed islands and hidden mountain retreats. As you can already guess, in this blog we will discuss the five luxury lodges of Queensland.

Crystalbrook Lodge

Crystalbrook Lodge is an unparalleled luxury destination where you can explore, indulge and relax in a setting unlike any other. Crystalbrook Lodge offers an exclusive, fully hosted experience for a maximum of 10 guests at a time in 5 courtyard suites.

Wake up to a gorgeous sunrise and a gourmet breakfast, and then spend your days fishing for iconic barramundi, kayaking, or exploring the property trails on foot or bike. In the afternoon, indulge yourself in the magna pool with craft beer in hand, and end your night by the campfire, sipping cocktails overlooking the serene manicured gardens.

Remember to Bring: Light casual clothing and suitable footwear for bush walking, and hats and sunscreen, and warm tops for cool winter evenings.

Getting There: By Air: You can reach there on charter flight or helicopter landing on Crystalbrook’s own airstrip or helipad.

By Car: Experience true outback living and lifestyle as you journey across unsealed roads. We recommend travelling with a 4WD vehicle 3 hours drive from Cairns or Port Douglas, and 2 hours from Mareeba.

By Train: The Savannahlander, departing every Wednesday 6.30am from Cairns, offers travelers a memorable way to explore Outback Far North Queensland.

Lizard Island

With 24 powdery white beaches and over 1000 hectares of national park, Lizard Island Beach Resort is truly secluded from the rest of the world. Uniquely located right on the Great Barrier Reef, this island resort offers some exclusive reef and water activities including snorkeling, in the coral gardens and secluded picnics on private beaches.

Important parts of the resort are The Essential Day Spa, The Pavilion, Salt Water Restaurant and Driftwood Bar & Wine Cellar. Indulge yourself in mouth-watering gourmet meals, non-motorised water sports and motorised dinghies, unlimited non-alcoholic beverages, in room mini-bar, picnic hampers, selected range of wines, beer and champagne and soul refreshing spa treatments.

Getting There: By Air: Regular flights are available from all major Australian cities with Qantas and Virgin. Private charters can also be arranged.

By Train: Two Tilt Trains and Three Sunlander departures from Brisbane to Cairns. From Cairns, you have to take a short 60 minutes flight to transfer to the main island.

Important to Remember: Lizard Island comes under world’s first Ecotourism Certification Program launched in 1996. Therefore, tourists are responsible for maintaining the island’s purity during their stay.

Qualia

World-class luxury and an outstanding example of design is known as Qualia. Located on the northern-most tip of Hamilton Island and encircled by the splendid beauty of the Great Barrier Reef Qualia relaxes your mind and spoils your senses. Unwind at the stunning Spa Qualia that offers authentic Australian spa menu. There’s two serene pools, fitness center, library and private dining rooms exclusive for in-house guests. Guests also enjoy priority access to Australia’s only island championship golf course, the Hamilton Island Golf Club. It has a gorgeous 360-degree view of the Whitsunday Islands, Whitehaven Beach and the Great Barrier Reef. With choices of sixty private individual pavilions with plunge pools and outdoor showers, Qualia welcomes you to divine relaxation.

Getting There: By Air: Qualia is easily accessible with daily flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Cairns. Private helicopter transfers are also available.

By Ferry: You can also enjoy regular ferry transfers to Hamilton Island from Airlie Beach.

Special Mention: If you visit Qualia during August, you can participate in the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week. It’s a perfect week-long yachting event for friends and family.

Silky Oaks Lodge

Silky Oaks Lodge offers luxury boutique accommodation nestled in Kuku Yalangi country, sitting high above the crystal-clear waters of the Mossman River and enveloped by the lush Daintree Rainforest veiling the steep mountain sides from the riverbanks.

You’ll be spoiled for options to explore the surrounding region with extensive hiking trails, canoeing, river snorkelling, goanna spotting or early morning yoga classes followed by a swim in the river. Its awarded spa offers 7 treatment rooms including Vichy showers and Sodashi massages. You can also journey to the remote Cape Tribulation in guided safaris and learn about the ancient refugial rainforest marvelling at the diverse flora and birdlife.

Getting There: By Air: 20 minutes helicopter transfer from Cairns Airport to the Silky Oaks Helipad is available for your convenience.

By Car: You can hire third party shuttles or drive yourself to the lodge from Cairns airport. Silky Oaks also offers private limousine transfer from Cairns Airport.

Special Mention: At Silky Oaks, you can enjoy sightings of saltwater crocodiles and extraordinary bird-life under the guidance of local representative of Birds of Australia, Del Richards.

Spicers Peak Lodge

Experience the height of luxury in this eclectic mix of contemporary and classic designed Luxury Lodge Spicers Peak. It’s Australia’s highest non-alpine lodge retreat, just 2 hours from Brisbane. With ten luxurious suites and two private lodges, Spicers Peak Lodge offers divine relaxation amidst stunning natural environment.

[Read Our Previous Blog :

Wollongong Tour - A Weekend In Wollongong 

by Guest blogger: Olivia Bourke]

You can enjoy range of tailored experiences that showcase the strikingly pristine landscapes with guided nature walks, mountain bike adventures, 4WD discovery tours, yoga, nocturnal walks and local history presentation. Spicers Peak also offers a 4-day guided trek from March to October. The property is renowned for bird watching that includes rare glossy black cockatoo, bushy tail rock wallaby along with kangaroos, dingo and koala. Perched atop a mountain on 9,000 acres, enveloped by the World Heritage listed Main Range National Park and the Great Dividing Range, Spicers Peak Lodge offers luxurious wilderness experience like no other.

Getting There: By Air: Daily flights are available from all major cities of Australia. The lodge operates a helicopter transfer which should be requested at the time of booking.

By Car: Spicers Peak Lodge is 2 hours driving from Brisbane Airport and two and half hours from Gold Coast Airport.

Things to Remember: All visits to Spicers Peak Lodge are by appointment and reservation only. Even if you want a helicopter transfer from airport to the lodge, it should be requested at the time of reservation. However, the helipad is certified for daylight operation only. Also, have the pilot call the reception desk five minutes before arrival for luggage assistance.

These are the five Luxury Lodges serving successfully in Queensland region. In our next blog, we’ll discuss about the luxury lodges located in New South Wales region.

A Weekend at Wollongong

Guest blogger: Olivia Bourke(http://greatlost.com/)

The South Coast of New South Wales is considerably underrated when it comes to weekend getaways. Great beaches, extraordinary national parks and lots of wildlife, this makes for the perfect way to escape the city lifestyle.

Also known as the gateway to the South Coast located just south of Sydney, Wollongong is the perfect place for a weekend away.

Saturday | 9 am

If you are traveling to Wollongong from Sydney you absolutely must go via the Grand Pacific Drive, a spectacular route following the coastline through the Royal National Park.

Once you arrive in Wollongong it’s the perfect time to grab some breakfast. We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so you want to make sure you grab something delicious ahead of your big day exploring all that Wollongong has to offer.

Head down to The Green Room City Beach cafe for a delicious beach side breakfast. Located along South Beach, you’ll be able to sip your coffee whilst listening to the waves crash on the shore.

There are plenty of options in terms of breakfast, a little something for everyone but I highly recommend getting your lips around their famous bacon and egg roll. This breakfast delight is made up of two eggs, bacon, tomato, chili jam, cheese and rouquette - a must for all burger lovers.

Saturday  |  11 am

After you’ve indulged in breakfast with a view, head to the Wollongong Art Gallery for a culture fix. The leading regional art gallery has many different exhibits, and a constantly changing events calendar for plenty to see and do.

Spend an hour or two admiring the permanent art collection of Aboriginal, Asian, colonial and Contemporary artworks and learning about the history of the area.

Saturday  | 1 pm

Next up you’re heading to the largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere, Nan Tien Temple. You can just simply visit for a couple of hours, or you can choose to stay here for the duration of your trip at Pilgrim Lodge.

At Nan Tien Temple there is plenty to see and do, so make sure you plan your time here. I would recommend staying for at least two or three hours. Your afternoon will be filled with grand architecture, culture, art and many different exhibits that explore Buddhist festivals, vegetarian and vegan food options, health and lifestyle retreats and educational classes.

Check out the Dew Drop Inn for lunch and grab one of the delicious vegan options. There’s lots to taste, but apparently one of the most popular dishes is the veggie mince and ham noodle soup. Perfect to warm you up during the winter months.

Saturday | 7 pm

You’ve worked up an appetite after a big day of playing tourist, so it’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy some great food. It’s a Saturday night so there’s a lot happening in and around Wollongong.

If you are after some fine dining then look no further than Caveau. The Sydney Morning Herald Food Guide has awarded this popular South Coast restaurant with a ‘hat’ and has continued to do so every year since 2005.

Mixing French culinary techniques with local produce, the staff at Caveau aim to provide quality fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere at reasonable prices. It’s highly recommended that you try the seven-course degustation menu, that way you can sample multiple dishes in one sitting.

Sunday | 9 am

This morning you are heading just out of the city in order to devour yet another great meal on your weekend away at The Shack Cafe Thirroul. Whether you're interested in a green smoothie or a black coffee, The Shack Cafe has something to fulfill everyone’s morning routine.

If you decide to bring the kids along, there is a little something to satisfy their sweet tooth. Grab them the waffles with homemade berry coulis and cream or a milkshake to get them on board.

It is Sunday, so you might have spent the morning rugged up under the covers and that's okay! Luckily for you, you can grab a muesli and yoghurt to go with your take away coffee from The Shack Cafe!

Sunday | 11 am

If you’re feeling a little sluggish after all that food then perhaps a little physical activity will get you going. Make your way to the Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures to have a fun and exciting morning at one of Australia’s best treetop walk and zipline experiences.

You’ll need a little over 2 hours here to completely immerse yourself in all it has to offer. With great views, a visitors centre, a cafe and guided tours, this could be perfect for the whole family.

Experience the 1.5 km return walk that includes a steel walkway, swaying cantilevered arms and a central tower, all 50 metres above the ground. From here you’ll able to see the most spectacular views.

Sunday |  3 pm

All that ziplining and adventuring amongst the trees must have got you a little thirsty. Not to worry the next stop is the Illawarra Brewery, a bar and grill opposite Wollongong’s City Beach perfect for winding down after a big weekend.

As the name suggests, the brewery offers a large selection of hand crafted beers, most of them brewed locally. So take a seat outside or inside depending on the weather, relax and get taste testing.

After a couple of local beers, grab a bite to eat from the grill. This family friendly venue has plenty to choose from, specializing in modern Australian cuisine. There is a menu full of all time favorites, you’ll find the perfect meal to sit and enjoy the last few moments of your weekend.

 

About The Author

I'm Olivia, an adventurous traveler who just wants to explore all the world has to offer. I'm an American who has slowly made my way to the beautiful land down under, Australia and I'm loving every minute of exploring this ever so scenic country, one state at a time. With my feet moving and my fingers typing, I love sharing all the gems that I discover with the world (http://greatlost.com/), so they can enjoy them as well!

Luxury Lodges of Australia : An Introduction

Travel to Australia is about more than just the natural beauty of the country. It’s not just the cosmopolitan cities, white beaches, mountains, ancient rainforests and ochre-red outback, but as an integral part of the trip, Australia also excels in the quality of hospitality.

Traveling down under can create an intense connection with the surroundings ... and with your soul.

If it’s about relaxation in high-end accommodations with exquisite food and wine you're all over, then Luxury Lodges of Australia, can fulfill ALL of your expectations as here the priority is always you. 

The portfolio comprises a collection of nineteen top-tier lodges as diverse as the country itself. Located in premium locations, these environmentally-sensitive lodges with spectacular backdrops can be found throughout the length and breadth of the Aussie map, and all come with a commitment to five-star experience.

Most of the lodges are easily reached from major Australian cities, making them a 'must consider' inclusion into a wider holiday itinerary. 

New South Wales alone possess three exciting options. Less than three hours by road from Sydney is the Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, sitting beneath soaring cliffs and two national parks.

Even closer to Sydney is the serene Pretty Beach House, a spa retreat with sublime food and offering just four exclusive pavilions – best reached by seaplane. Even more dramatically situated is Capella Lodge, on Lord Howe Island.

For visitors to Victoria, there’s the prospect of spending time at the secluded Lake House - a multi-award-winning property on the shores of Lake Daylesford.

The choices continue in South Australia with Southern Ocean Lodge that combines a show-stopping location on Kangaroo Island with twenty one ocean-view luxury suites and guided wildlife touring options – not to mention a first-rate selection of wines.

Moving back to the mainland is The Louise, a gorgeous design-hotel and spectacular restaurant in the heart of the world-famous Barossa Valley wine region, and an outback resort, the ultra-exclusive Arkaba with 10,000 hectares of land in the Flinders Ranges. However, it welcomes only ten guests at one time.

Queensland has no less than five lodges in the portfolio. The Sunshine State is home to tropical island retreats Qualia and Lizard Island, both set right on the Great Barrier Reef.

Meanwhile, the mainland offers Silky Oaks Lodge, with high-end tree-house accommodation right in the Daintree Rainforest, the lavish Crystalbrook Lodge, perched over a lake, and Spicers Peak Lodge, a mountain getaway set in 8,000 acres of private conservation land in Main Range National Park.

[Read Our Previous Blog on The Great Alpine Road Drive : Leg 2]

Equally jaw-dropping are the lodge options in Western Australia. Closest to Perth is Cape Lodge, a country estate in the Margaret River region, while further north, close to the Ningaloo Reef, Sal Salis is a deluxe ecotourism bush camp with nine wilderness tents.

Make your way further north to the Kimberley Region, and set in untamed wilderness is a five-star clifftop homestead, El Questro, while a unique 18-cabin adventure cruise ship True North will take you to sail the rivers and gorges of the NW coastline in serious style.

With any of Luxury Lodges of Australia's properties, you’re certainly guaranteed an Aussie experience to be cherished for the rest of your life. We’ll be discussing all details about how you can take full advantage of these sixteen Luxury Lodges of Australia in subsequent blogs.

Stay tuned !!

The Great Alpine Road Trip - A Few Things to Do: Leg 2

We talked about the first leg (The Great Alpine Road Drive : Leg 1) of this great road trip in our previous blog. In this blog, you’ll discover more of the Great Alpine Road, waiting to surprise you in the most pleasant way.

The name of this spectacular road trip actually comes from this second leg that travels from leafy Bright straight towards the alpine area and the historic town of Omeo.

Leg Two :- The Great Alpine Road

Bright to Omeo

Time to go upwards

Pull yourself from colors of Bright and ascend along the Great Alpine Road that’ll take you to the charming Harrietville and Mount Hotham. As you head upward the landscape changes from alpine ash to snow gum forest and heathland.

Mount Hotham is Victoria's highest alpine village offering 500 acres of ski area. It offers a wide selection of downhill and cross-country trails perfect for beginners as well as experienced skiers and snowboarders.

On Mount Hotham, you can trek along fields of wildflowers, or go horse riding, or fishing. Take in the spectacular views of Mount Feathertop, (the second-highest mountain in the state), over the Alpine National Park. On a clear day you can see as far as Falls Creek and Mount Buffalo. Follow the Razorback Trail, to take you along the exposed ridges that leads to the summit of Mount Feathertop.

Less than 10-miles south of Mount Hotham is the Dinner Plain which is a popular center for horseback trail rides in summer, and cross-country skiing in winter.

What goes up must come down.

As the landscape changes from alpine ash to lush grazing fields, you know it’s time to descend to the old gold town of Omeo. Once the site of one of Victoria's richest goldfields, Omeo will quickly win you over with vistas of snowy mountains over green fields.

Omeo to Metung

Travel temptations

Go further south following the Great Alpine Road to small towns of Swifts Creek and Ensay, with a contemporary passion for freshly baked goods, just-picked fruit, and local wines, and then onto Bairnsdale.

Now it’s time to explore the spectacular Gippsland Lakes.

Past Bairsnsdale drive towards Metung, a starting point for exploring the Gippsland Lakes.

Next is Bruthen, a small rustic village overlooking the Tambo River with its very own brewery ... be sure to get refreshed by an energizing ale before you leave to explore any further. Departing from Bruthen, drive towards NowaNowa and Lakes Entrance and watch the daily catch being unloaded ... or cast a line yourself.

Lively Bairnsdale

Bairnsdale would be your last stop before Metung. It has everything that you need to sustain you for some time. On the banks of the Mitchell River, Bairnsdale was originally settled as an inland port.

In Bairnsdale you can attend a musical and sporting event, or enhance your hunger for further exploration of the impressive Gippsland Lakes network by roving the Mitchell River silt jetties that extend five miles into nearby Lake King.

Explore the Majestic Lakes

The Gippsland Lakes system happens to be the biggest expanse of inland waterways in the southern hemisphere. With five main lakes, fed by the waters of four major rivers, and with over 400 square kilometres of lakesand lagoons have made this region an ideal location for all forms of water based fun and sport, and an exceptional fishing spot.

With that you're off to Metung, a picturesque village on the shores of Bancroft Bay and Lake King. The Great Alpine Road trip ends in Metung. Check out the harborside restaurants that serve fabulous local seafood and wine, spend a day in a relaxed pace by floating around in a boat or take a stroll along the water's edge admiring the sunset.

Side trips

Alternate route from Bright

An alternative route turns off at Bright and continues to the Tawonga Gap, Mt Beauty, Bogong, Falls Creek and across the Bogong High Plains, then joins to Anglers Rest and Omeo. This road remains closed in winter. This road will amaze you with breath-taking views of historic cattleman’s huts, before connecting with the Omeo Highway to descend into Omeo.

[Read Our Previous Blog on The Great Alpine Road Drive : Leg 1]

Bogong Alpine Way

Bogong High Plains Road loops through Bright, Mount Beauty, Bogong, Falls Creek, Dinner Plain and Mount Hotham and back to Bright. This loop drive can amaze you with scenery like nothing else. We can bet that you’ll spend the rest of your life admiring every single sight from this loop drive.

Buchan Caves Reserve worth a stop

From Bruthen a scenic 20-minute drive takes you to Buchan, the gateway to the Buchan Caves Reserve that offers camping, bushwalking and wildlife spotting. Inside the caves you’ll find spectacular limestone formations. Guided tours take you for an easy walk through these ancient caverns, exploring beautiful calcite-rimmed pools. On a hot summer take a plunge in the underground, spring fed Buchan Caves Reserve pool, with the purest water you can imagine.

Take a Detour to Cassillis

An alternative route from Omeo to Bairnsdale is through Cassillis, a small town that was once a thriving mining community. Explore the picturesque valley on foot and see relics of the gold-mining era, including the unmissable Oriental Claims walking trails, the Cassilis Cemetery and the old goldmine.

The Great Alpine Road Drive : Leg 1

The Great Alpine Road has been described as one of the most scenic drives in the world. The 200 mile adventure along Australia's highest year-round accessible sealed road takes you close to Victoria's diverse landscapes. Drive through lofty mountain ranges, down plunging valleys, into lush forests, and past rolling vineyards along the way to the sparkling waterways on Gippsland's coast. Dine on fresh local produce and award winning cool climate wines, or catch your own lunch in a mountain stream or lake as you go.

Whatever the season, you can be sure of breath-taking views, outstanding scenery and warm welcomes along the way.

We’ll discuss the possibilities of this road trip in two legs so that you can make the most of it.

Leg one:- The Great Alpine Road

Wangaratta to Bright (76 km/47 miles, about 1 hour)

Start your trip in friendly Wangaratta, with its beautiful gardens, period homes and love of music. If you're a music lover, then time your visit for the annual November jazz festival, when the city really kicks up.

Time to Make Mouth-watering Memories

Without wasting time getting acquainted with the fine wine and local produce in the valleys of the northern side of the Great Alpine Road, consider the spectacular scenery with crisp mountain air.

At Milawa, stop over at the celebrated Brown Brothers Epicurean Centre and Cellar Door, and sample your way through Milawa Cheese Factory. The historic Rutherglen, famous for its muscats and fortifieds, has been revamped with new life as bold young winemakers pour new life into it.

Take a detour to Beechworth, a village built on the wealth of the gold rush of the 1800s, exploring the historic honey granite buildings. To get a taste of Beechworth's booming food and wine scene, try for a reservation at the much-admired Provenance. Otherwise, you can also munch on fabulous pizza and sip on beer at famous Bridge Road Brewers.

Adventuring in the Alpine

Travel onwards to Mount Buffalo National Park and get stunned by its unique rock formations. A gentle walk takes in waterfalls, granite formations and lookouts with great views of the Australian Alps. You can be more extreme by heading out on horseback or by hiring a bicycle. Rock climbers will be in their element at the summit of Mount Buffalo. This is also popular for cross-country or downhill skiing in winter.

Ending the Leg

This leg ends at Bright, a beautiful town on the Ovens River, filled with grand deciduous trees that are breathtaking in autumn. Mark the first stage of your drive with a memorable meal at Simone's, one of Victoria's most celebrated restaurants.

[Read Our Previous Blog on Driving The Great Ocean Road ]

Side trips along Great Alpine Road

Golden Heritage Drive

From Wangaratta to Tarrawingee, you'll take in Tarrawingee's historic buildings, including St Peter's church, the Plough Inn and Carinya House. Then turn to Beechworth and Wooragee to see the 30-plus beautifully preserved National Trust-classified buildings and places of significance to the legend of bushranger Ned Kelly. On your way towards Yackandandah and Myrtleford, walk the tree lined streets of Yackandandah with its stately Victorian architecture.

Gourmet Food and Wine Drive

From Wangaratta drive towards Milawa via Oxley, at the heart of the famed Milawa Gourmet Region. Here you can taste fine wines at cellar doors, including the renowned Mediterranean styles of the nearby King Valley. Sample outstanding local produce, experience the hospitality of award-winning country hotels and fine dining restaurants. Don’t forget to pull over at farm gates to stock up on seasonal bounty. From here you can loop back to Wangaratta or move on to Myrtleford and beyond.

Mount Buffalo Drive

From Myrtleford, drive 24 km along B500 towards Porepunkah. Break your journey with a tasty pub meal at the Ovens Hotel, serving tourists since 1854. Then move to C535 to Mount Buffalo for the top of Mount Buffalo Gorge to take in fantastic views of the High Country and the Alps. You can also follow numerous walking tracks for even more majestic panoramas. In winter, get the adrenaline pumping by hiring cross country or downhill skis. The summers are for indulging in adventure activities.

Tips for Saving $ 'Down-Under' : Part 2

In the previous blog we suggested 5 ways to save money while travelling in Australia. Here we've jotted down five more ways to make the most of your dollars.

[Read our previous blog : Tips for Saving $ 'Down-Under' : Part 1]

6. Consider sharing a ride on a long road trip :

From Alice Springs to Darwin, a 3-day journey of 1,000 miles can cost you only $60 per head if you share your ride using Gumtree or Coseats. Many tourists and locals share their ride to save on fuel costs ... and for fun conversation on the way.

BTW, if you're getting your own transport try to plan ahead and get the tanks full on Wednesday, as the price of fuel seems lowest mid-week. On weekends fuel prices creep up due to demand.

7. Look for free internet :

Budget-conscious travelers may find fast internet painfully expensive in Australia, and the network frustratingly slow. If you don't mind 'getting-what-you-pay-for', head towards the nearest library or McDonalds for free Wi-Fi . Telstra also offers public hotspots in many town centres across the country ... now including both Darwin and Noosa. Be aware that public WiFi is not secure, and 'free' networks often come with time or download restrictions. 

Telstra customers can get this Wi-Fi access for 'free' by purchasing a pre-paid SIM. Packages start from $30 AUD per month.

8. Try drinking Goon :

The infamous Goon or box wine is the best way to get a cheap buzz. A 'box' of goon typically costs $13 AUD.

If you're going to a restaurant, check if they allow outside drink. In many restaurants, you can bring your own drink.

9. Book your tours as a package :

Booking trip activities as a part of a package may get you discounts. While booking activities individually may make them private ... it may cost you more.

10. Refill your water bottle :

Tap water is clean and safe to drink in Australia. So instead of spending 2-3 AUD for each bottle, refill the existing one from nearby public taps. You'll also 'do-your-bit' for the environment.

Tips for Saving $ 'Down-Under' : Part 1

It's an undeniable fact that Australia can be an expensive place in which to travel. Locals will tell you that it’s an expensive country to live too - even if you're a full-time employee. However, despite its posh culture, around 6 million tourists visit Australia every year - a large number considering the Australian population is only 23 million.

While Australia maybe different in terms of number of regulations, high cost-of-living, first world status, and levels of development, the land 'down-under' is still a wild and incredible place to make your vacation a memorable one.

In this article, we’ve listed a few ways to save money while travelling in Australia. With these easy ways at your fingertips, you can be rest assured that you can make the most of your time and money - esp. if you're on an 'extended' trip.

1. Cook your own food:

Food is something that you can’t avoid at least 3 times a day. Food prices here might seem extortionate compared to other countries, still there are ways you can save a few bucks. The easiest way is to buy groceries and cook at your convenience. Usually dinner is costlier than lunch.

Try restaurants that are located 'off-the-beaten-track' as restaurants in prime tourist locations can be pricey.

BTW, if you really want to splash, plan ahead, as on Tuesdays many restaurants, and cafes have special deals. You’ll get set meals for as little as $10 AUD. So, plan your evenings out on Tuesday to save money without missing out much.

2. Sign-up for a Gumtree account:

Everything from where to stay, giving or taking a lift, buying or selling items from surfboards to cars, you’ll need a Gumtree account. It really helps. As soon as you get to Australia, get an account and use it as a duct tape.

3. Try to shop at farmers-markets and save the receipts of supermarkets:

Due to lack of competition, supermarkets can be a bit expensive, but at farmers markets you can bag yourself a cheaper load of veggies. Almost all towns have markets full of independent traders who sell local harvest at least once a week. For example, Noosa Farmer’s Market, held every Sunday is a favorite and firm hit with residents and tourists alike. So, go on and bag a bargain helping the local community at the same time.

Moreover, if you shop at supermarkets like Woolworths and Coles, don't throw away the receipts. You’ll get a discount voucher for their requisite fuel or liquor supplier with every $30 spent. So, its worth holding onto the receipts to grab a deal.

4. Try to explore the national parks as much as possible:

Australia has hundreds of national parks and state forests across the country that offer an array of free activities like hiking, fishing, picnicking. Many national parks have basic and cheap camping facilities ranging from free to $20 per night. The camp sites can be booked through the state park authority by phone or online.

Our favorites include Cape Range National Park, Whitsundays National Park, Kakudu National Park, Carnarvon Gorge National Park, and Boodjamulla National Park. All you need is your own transport and a good number of provisions. Most of the campsites have cheap but top notch facilities like picnic areas, BBQ spots, drinking water and even showers.

[Our previous blog : Top 10 Marine Encounters 'Down-Under' : Part 2]

5. Use Travelcard for transportation:

In city transportation, cost can be saved by using travelcards. Travelcards are the cheapest way to travel in the city using public transport. In Sydney you can use tap-on/tap-off OpalCards, in Melbourne  it's called Myki, in Perth it’s the Smart Rider and in Brisbane its Translink, whatever city you visit, using these pre-paid travelcards can give you discounted rides.

5 more tips on saving money are coming on the next blog (PART 2) ... Visit Us again.

Top 10 Marine Encounters 'Down-Under' : Part 2

In our previous blog, we listed five thrilling marine encounters you can experience while holidaying in Australia. Here are five more: 

You'll be mesmerized by the intensity of the adventures and, unlike safaris where the action may be going on at a distance, here you’ll certainly be part of it.

1.  Cage-diving with great white sharks: Neptune Islands, South Australia

Apparently, being in the water while two 4.5-meter sharks buffet the metal cage in which you stand, can be the most adrenaline-flooded fifteen minutes of your life. You’ll emerge with nothing but admiration for this key-stone predator's power ... and returning divers to the Neptune Islands, are encouraged by the increasingly healthy population of great whites.

There are many great operators that run cage-diving expeditions from Port Lincoln, with 2-night trips from $1,395.

2.  Swimming with dwarf minke whales: Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

This expedition is only possible during a very narrow window in June and July each year. Only one operator, Eye to Eye Marine Encounters, operates 4-6 day expeditions that include swimming with dwarf minke whales.  During this trip, you’ll also have time to explore the northern Great Barrier Reef, Cooktown and Lizard Island, diving and snorkeling some of the least spoiled parts of the reef. 

However, the star attractions are obviously the inquisitive dwarf minke whales that tend to gather in groups of up to 15 around swimmers holding onto a "Minke Line" at the back of the boat. Interacting with these giant creatures up-close is a once-in-lifetime opportunity.

Eye to Eye Marine Encounters offers four dwarf minke whales trips in June/July that cost from $2,950.

3. Diving with manta rays: Stradbroke Island, Queensland

There is no more graceful sight than that of manta rays gliding through the ocean ... and diving off Stradbroke Island is like being in the midst of a manta ballet.  During their November to March migration, just a 10-minute boat ride from Straddie, is a 'manta ray cleaning station'. As the rays hover in clear 35' water, small fish rid them of parasites, and divers and snorkelers can get a great, close-up vision of the giants. Kneeling in the shadow of a manta and looking up at its 10' wingspan can certainly form an engrained memory.

Double dives start at $131 and snorkelling from $35.

[Read the Previous Blog : Top 10 Big Marine Creature Encounter Down-Under Part 1]

4. Diving with leafy sea-dragons: Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Appearing like something out of medieval legend, yet as tiny and fragile as tissue wafting in the swell, the leafy sea dragon is a touching sight.  An encounter with one, on Kangaroo Island, will remain etched in memory, in spite of the sea dragon’s leafy camouflage making it hard to find among the seaweed.

Single guided dives start from $140.

5. Swimming with blue-fin tuna: Port Lincoln, South Australia

Swimming with 60-odd tuna inside a 40' deep show pen anchored in Boston Bay has become one of South Australia's must-do experiences.  If it's not a big enough thrill to swim among juvenile bluefin tuna reaching speeds of 40 mph, for an even more heart pounding experience, apparently you can hand-feed them sardines ... trusting of course that the 30-kilo fish don't clatter into you.

This tuna encounter will cost you around $90 for adults and for $60 for kids.

Top 10 Marine Encounters 'Down-Under' : Part 1

snorkelingwithwhalesharks

Personally, I'd pay you a lot of money NOT to swim with anything larger than me ... but there are many travelers who do not share my view.

Whether it be discovering a secret food and wine trail, taking a memorable road trip, enjoying a music tour ... or meeting some of the planet’s largest creatures, being surrounded by oceans, Australia offers some of the best opportunities to encounter stunning marine life.

In any up-close meeting with marine life, using a tour operator capable of delivering memorable (and safe) experiences is very important. 

In this two part blog, we’ll be talking about the 'where' and 'when' of marine creature encounters that you can experience 'down under'.

1. Snorkelling with Whale Sharks: Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia

Your first encounter with whale sharks on Ningaloo Reef is a heart-jolting moment.  If you wish to be dropped into the path of an open mouthed whale shark, all you need to do is travel to Ningaloo Reef ... oh, and have a strong and healthy heart.

Ningaloo's whale shark season runs from April to July, and Exmouth-based tour operators use spotter planes to ensure success.

King's Ningaloo Reef day-tours cost $385 for adults, and $270 for children.

2. Swimming with Humpback Whales: Hervey Bay, Queensland

Hervey Bay is a resting place for mothers and calves on their migration south. Only one operator has permission from National Parks to offer a 'swim-with- humpbacks' experience. It's available for an additional $75 on whale watching trips and relies on a combination of curious humpbacks circling the boat and suitable sea conditions.

Even if you're unable to get into the water it's very difficult to be disappointed when you get within touching distance of huge humpbacks as they pass under the boat.

Quick Cat II whale watching tours run daily from Hervey Bay and Kingfisher Bay resort, between August and late October, from $110 for adults and $70 for children.

3. Swimming with Sea Lions: Baird Bay, Eyre Peninsula, South Australia

It's difficult to beat the sheer joy of swimming with the ocean's cutest combination of a puppy and a kitten. It’s hard not to giggle when you are in the water with a dark-eyed, whiskery snouted juvenile performing aquatic acrobatics. Moreover, it’s privilege to swim with these endangered species with a population of only fifteen thousand.

The tour often also includes a swim with bottlenose dolphins and plenty of time in the shallow, protected waters inside Jones Island playing with sea lions.

The tours cost around $150 for adults, $75 for children. 

[Read Our Previous Blog : Great Barrier Reef Drive]

4. Diving with Grey Nurse Sharks: Seal Rocks, New South Wales

While fierce-looking with a stack-full of gnarly, twisted teeth, the grey nurse sharks are harmless. They aggregate at a few locations along the eastern shores, including Seal Rocks, near Forster on the NSW mid-north coast. It's not uncommon to see around 50-60 grey nurse sharks in one underwater trench beside submerged boulders.  The tour in double boat dives at Seal Rocks will cost $120-$180. 

5. Swimming with Bottlenose Dolphins: Nelson Bay, NSW

With all other heart-boggling possibilities around the shores, one can easily underestimate the exhilaration of swimming with wild dolphins.  But we bet that you’ll always remember your first swim with bottlenose dolphins in Nelson Bay.

We'd call them the most amusing marine creature ... and they'll leave you astounded by their amazing friendly interaction. You're bound to feel part of their pod as they zip through the ocean, riding the waves and emitting loud, joyful squeaks and clicks underwater.

Tours run between September and May, in Port Stephens Marine Park, from $289.                                                                  

... to be continued

Great Barrier Reef Drive

Embracing two World Heritage areas, the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef Drive is an envious rival of the Great Ocean Road drive. The drive is just 80 miles long that you can take a full-day exploring ... or stop over in a few places to make it a week-long drive. The choice is yours. But make sure that you don’t run out of time, as Cape Tribulation is the crown of this majestic drive and you need 3-4 days just to explore all it has to offer.

Here’s route map that you can follow however long you choose;

Cairns to Cape Tribulation

Distance 140 km Time 2 h 38 min

Start from Cairns heading north across the Barron River to the stunning beaches of Trinity Beach, Palm Cove and Ellis Beach. Then drive along the edge of the Coral Sea to Port Douglas, an ideal place for cruising to the Great Barrier Reef.

Port Douglas is also the gateway to the world’s oldest tropical rainforest, the Daintree. Cross the Daintree River on the cable ferry for a leisurely drive through ancient rainforest, as you wind your way past pretty beaches to Cape Tribulation where the rainforest meets the reef. Head north to the beautiful Mossman Gorge to discover the Kuku Yalanji people. Take a crocodile spotting tour, fish for barramundi, follow a food trail, or marvel at the incredible birdlife. Turn your journey into a rainforest adventure.

Palm Cove to Port Douglas

Distance 43 km Time 42 min

To the north of Cairns, Palm Cove and Port Douglas are cosmopolitan beachside villages linked by a spectacular section of the Great Barrier Reef Drive. With its long sandy beach lapped by the Coral Sea and a backdrop of rainforest-clad mountains, Palm Cove has the perfect setting for an intimate getaway. Everything is within walking distance in this friendly village.

Driving north pass through pretty Ellis Beach. Stop at a deserted beach along the Rex Lookout for an incredible 180-degree view of the Coral Sea that just begs a photograph.

Port Douglas is known as the place where A-list celebrities escape. This village has an eclectic range of restaurants, great boutiques and the iconic Four Mile Beach.

Port Douglas to Daintree village

Distance 55 km Time 47 min

The Port Douglas and Daintree region is the traditional country of the Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people who call the Wet Tropical Rainforest their home for a thousand years.

To the south is the Mossman Gorge with steep mountains, thick with rainforest where the Mossman River is dipping over the Gorge’s gigantic granite boulders that makes clear freshwater swimming holes. 

[Our Previous Blog : What Are 5 Common Characteristics Of Travelers To Australia?]

Daintree village to Cape Tribulation

Distance 48 km Time 1 h 15 min

The picturesque township of Daintree Village is famous for the resident saltwater crocodiles that live on Daintree river-banks. You can try to find Scarface, Fat Albert or Gummy on cruises that depart regularly. If you are inclined to eat croc-meat, try a croc burger or croc san choy bow at one of the cafes.

Further, venture over the river on the cable ferry exploring the Daintree region. On this journey through the world’s oldest tropical rainforest see an endangered cassowary, be dwarfed by an ancient king fern or swim in a clear freshwater creek.

It's an awesome experience to march straight to the beach from the rainforest, at Cape Tribulation. Explore the coastal reef by kayak spotting turtles and dugongs, enjoy a night tour watching nocturnal animals by flying through the rainforest awning on a flying fox.

Things you’ll see on The Great Barrier Reef Drive:

·         The Great Barrier Reef

·         The Daintree Rainforest

·         The endangered cassowary

·         Lots of stunning beaches

·         huge salt water crocodiles

[More on GBR : 10 Ways To Indulge And Explore The Great Barrier Reef]

What are 5 common characteristics of travelers to Australia?

Without any doubt, potential travelers first develop a bond with the country to which they will travel.

That said, every traveler is unique ... and then very particular about their travel experiences in Australia.

Admittedly, based on anecdotal experience with our North American clients, five common characteristics applying to leisure travelers to Australia (... beyond carrying a passport):

1. They’re generally experienced international travelers. i.e. Australia tends NOT to be their first travel foray.

2. What makes client itineraries so similar is that all travelers are so different. While climbing Sydney’s Harbor Bridge, marveling at the Opera House, shopping and dining in Melbourne, diving the Great Barrier Reef, enjoying an Uluru Sounds of Silence outback dinner, savoring South Australia, indulging Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, and Western Australia get plenty of well-deserved play, what makes all itineraries so similar, is that they’re all so different!  

Specific requests as diverse as ‘… can we abseil in the Blue Mountains? …’ to ‘… can I experience the Great Barrier Reef without getting my hair wet? …’ attest to the differences. (BTW, the answers to both questions are YES, and YES).

3. Most clients are very well informed, and know what they want. However, a common complaint is that while online information maybe very plentiful, accessing seemingly unbiased info is now akin to ‘drinking-from-a-fire-hose’.

4. Most travelers are open to experiences we may suggest. Many look for unique itineraries and won’t hesitate to plan 'outside-the-box'.

5. Primary motivations are unique. Some travelers wish to relax at the beach, some come for a musical tour, some to indulge in food and wine, some to experience adventure and wildlife ...

[Also Read : Should I Include New Zealand In My 'Down-Under' Itinerary ? ]

Self-drive Tasmania

Tasmania or "Tassie" as it’s fondly known, is an inverted leafy triangle just a few hundred miles tall and not much wider across the top on the Australian map. But for those planning a road trip of Tasmania, appearances can be deceiving. Down amidst the greenery, there are very few straight roads, most are two lanes wide – untameable wilderness, and mysterious beauty.

A self-drive road trip takes longer than you may think, but, with a bit of planning, you can experience the very best of the island state on a tight schedule. Here’s our version of a classic Tasmania road trip guide to encourage you to this premier Australian tourism destination.

Some facts about Tasmania:

·         Tasmania is the most mountainous state of Australia.

·         Over 45% of Tasmania is considered National Park.

·         Tasmania is comparable to Ireland in size.

·         Tasmania proves true the saying “Four seasons in a day”.

·         Tasmania has the cleanest air in world.

·         Most of population of Tasmania resides in the South East and North coasts

Getting around Tassie:

There are no passenger trains on the island, and internal flights can make a-hole-in-your-pocket. While buses link the main centers, a self-drive road trip is a great way to go.

Don’t miss:

·         Bay of Fires on the NE coast

·         Bridestowe Lavender Estate

·         Cataract Gorge

·         Cradle Mountain

·         Freycinet Peninsula

·         Wineglass Bay

·         Gordon River

·         Hastings Caves

·         Mole Creek Karst

·         MONA

·         Salamanca Place (Market on Saturdays only)

·         Stanley Nut

·         Tahune Forest Airwalk

·         Mt Wellington

Hobart

Hobart, the Tasmanian capital, is the best place to begin this self-driving tour - we'll head counter-clockwise.

Before heading off, don’t miss checking out Hobart's waterfront and Salamanca Market, and enjoy a beer at the iconic Knopwood’s Retreat. Go to the Cascade Brewery, drive to the top of Mt Wellington, and visit MONA (Museum of Old & New Art), a world-class art institution that’ll leave you spellbound.

The peninsula is a beautiful place, with excellent walks by sheer sea cliffs, wild surf beaches -  and potential encounters with the native Tasmanian Devils!

Hobart to Port Arthur – During the drive to Port Arthur's historic convict colony via Dover, stop at the Colonial and Convict Exhibition at Copping, the superb beaches at Pirates Bay and Crescent Bay, don’t miss the Tahune air walk, and the Hastings caves.

Port Arthur to Freycinet – On your way towards Freycinet enjoy Coles Bay with its picturesque scenery and beaches. Don’t miss the Freycinet National Park, or Wineglass Bay ... have a camera with you!

Freycinet to Launceston– Toward Launceston, stop at Fingal Valley and Elephant Pass. Also, visit the beautifully restored 19th century Clarendon House in the historic town of Evandale. BTW, its Sunday morning market is very popular.

The second largest city in Tasmania is a deservedly major tourist attraction. Check out the longest single span chairlift at Cataract Gorge. Take a trip to the nearby Tasmania Zoo.

Launceston to Cradle Mountain – Drive to Cradle Mountain – deservedly one of Tasmania’s principal tourist sites. Find the historic township of Deloraine and the sprawling and scenic Woolmers Estate, on your way. Lake St Claire National Park is the gateway to the panoramic Cradle Mountain. A hike through the different trails of Cradle Mountain would certainly be worthwhile.

Cradle Mountain to Stanley – You can now head back to Hobart via Stanley, stopping by at Derwent Bridge, Strahan and Russell Falls. Don’t forget to catch a cruise on the Gordon River in Strahan. The Tasmanian wilderness is simply spectacular.

[For more driving pleasure : Driving The Great Ocean Road]

Top 10 Activities around Tasmania:

·         The Overland Track

·         Wild Life Watching

·         Bicycle Touring

·         Vineyard Hopping

·         Hang Gliding

·         Flying Fox at Hollybank Treetops Adventures

·         Kayaking

·         Scuba Diving

·         Surfing

·         Trout Fishing

5 Foods you Must Try in Tasmania:

·         Dairy – cheeses, milk and yogurt

·         Fruit & Vegetables

·         Christmas Hills Raspberries

·         Seafood – oysters, abalone and ocean trout

·         Anvers Chocolates & Fudge

How to spend a weekend In Byron Bay

Byron Bay has the magical combination of natural beauty and a creative, free-spirited local population. No visit to Byron Bay is complete without numerous swims – from the protected shores of Belongil beach at the town’s northern edge, to the 8km wild stretch of ocean of Tallows beach.

Aesthetically, Byron has one of the highest concentration of creative professionals, with an abundance of designers, film-makers, musicians, and writers calling the town home. Byron hosts two of Australia’s most popular music festivals – Byron Blues Fest and Splendour in the Grass – and one of Australia’s most celebrated literary events – the Byron Bay writers’ festival.

Weekends outside school holidays are the best time to enjoy 48 hours in Byron Bay. Here’s how you can make the most of Byron’s treasures.

FRIDAY Afternoon:

The Pass

Byron is considered an east coast’s surfers’ pilgrimage, and even if you’re not catching a wave, the best spot to enjoy the scent of surf wax is at the Pass ... its world-famous, long, and caters to pro surfers and beginners alike.

Also enjoy a great sunset walk to Main beach to witness a splendid dusk sky behind the outstanding peak of Wollumbin and the surrounding hinterland that edges the region.

FRIDAY Evening:

Bay Lane and Beach Hotel

Enjoy an end-of-day drink in the beer garden of the landmark Beach Hotel at the end of Jonson Street. You can also head to the vibrant Bay Lane for a casual meal at any one of the restaurants for Thai, Italian, fish and chips and falafels.

If you can resist the excitement of Bay Lane and Beach Hotel, head home for an early night because you really don’t want to miss Byron’s sparkling sunrise morning.

SATURDAY Morning:

Walk the lighthouse loop

Try to make it to the lighthouse walk, as early in the morning as you can. With the first rays of sun, you could spot pods of dolphins at play. Wategos is a great beach for a swim after you’ve finished the loop, and it also gives the short-cut option of walking up the steep lighthouse track back.

Cafe stop

Byron has a caffeine addiction just as many other early morning towns. There’s plenty of places to kick start your day with coffee. Local favorites are Top Shop, with a lawn to sprawl in the sunshine, Bay Leaf where the beans are roasted next door and the Roadhouse, just out of town, known for its organic spread and home-brewed kombucha.

Julian Rocks

Julian Rocks is the jewel of Byron’s crown. Take a boat ride through the break at the Pass to spot the flocks of marine life like leopard sharks, manta rays, and giant turtles. If you’re less adventurous then simply admire the rocks over a long lunch at Byron Beach Cafe, with its panoramic view of the ocean.

SATURDAY Evening:

Live music

Some of the world’s biggest bands do only three shows in Australia; in Sydney, Melbourne ... and Byron Bay. This tiny town is spoiled for live music choice. Catch a live gig at the most popular venues – the Great Northern Hotel and the Railway Hotel. Check out the bursting local gig guide for what’s on.

Top grubs

When it comes to food, Byron can go head-to-head with the standards of the most sophisticated names of Melbourne and Sydney. Choose from the wide range like Rae’s on Wategos for seafood, musician Pete Murray’s Frankie Brown, Italian at the Pacific that's pitched at a cocktail-drinking clientele, for a contemporary Japanese meal, try O-Sushi, and the newest addition to Byron’s fine dining scene, Cicchetti.

SUNDAY Morning:

Yoga

Byron is overflowing with yogis and there’s no better than doing yoga to give your day a healthy start. While Byron Bay Yoga Centre, Ananta Yoga and Shiva Shakti offer drop-in classes, the Beachside Yoga and Massage, in the surf club facing the Main beach, is a picturesque spot to start your day with a salute to the sun.

[Also Read Top Things To See And Do In The Whitsunday Islands]

Byron markets and support local artists

In Byron’s markets you can buy local produce like fresh macadamia nuts and sugar cane juice, as well as arts and crafts by local artists. The market runs on the first Sunday of the month year-round or the first and third Sunday of December and January. Byron Bay has plenty of good independent retailers and local fashion stores like Goddess of Babylon, Amilita, Pooch and Samba, Arnhem, and Muther of All Things. Bookworms can head to the bookshops for something written by a local author like Rusty Miller or Bob McTavish for surf legend stories or for fiction, there’s Maggie Groff, Lisa Walker or Jessie Cole.

SUNDAY Afternoon:

Go organic for lunch

Byron takes pride for its organic food culture. You mustn’t miss out indulging in a liquid superfood smoothie lunch at Naked Treaties. Also try the Heart and Halo with its selection of prepared vegetarian and vegan hot and cold food. Santos offers some treats to take home, with its cafe and grocery store that celebrate ethical produce.

Belongil beach

Don’t leave Byron without a final dip in the ocean at Belongil beach. The Treehouse on Belongil has casual indoor-outdoor decor that makes you feel like hanging out in an old friend’s living room. With wood-fired pizzas, beer and cocktails flowing, there are DJs playing throughout the afternoon. For a more peaceful pace, Belongil Bistro next door has a fantastic menu and wine list. Let the afternoon sun rays sink into your skin with your final Byron Bay tonic.

Best Of The Secret Trails Of Australia : Part 2

We’ve previously rattled off five well-kept secret Aussie trails in part one of this series, so take a look here to see what we’ve already mentioned.

[Best Of The Secret Trails Of Australia : Part 1]

Too lazy? Here’s a brief summary (in no particular order);

10. Newcastle, NSW

9. Canberra, ACT

8. Northern Rivers, NSW

7. Darwin, NT

6. Flinders Ranges and Outback, SA

#5 – OUTBACK, New South Wales

While it’s true that 18% of Australia is desert, and 40% is semi-arid, the NSW Outback is labeled ‘the accessible outback’ by the technicians at the tourism department. While it’s over a 600 mile drive from Sydney to Broken Hill (the unofficial capital of the Outback), you can always fly ... or take the Outback Explorer train from Sydney, to get you there in just over twelve hours.

There’s so much to explore once you get out west. Broken Hill is a wonderfully quaint mining town that vaunts a dynamic blend of art and stereotypical ‘Aussie-ocker’ culture. It’s also a good staging point for a visit to the iconic Darling River,  Menindee, a real Aussie ghost town, and Silverton. Opal hunters can also get a chance to sleep in a wonderful underground hotel in White Cliffs.

Into the upper Darling region to the north await the outback towns of Walgett and Bourke, the opal mecca of Lightning Ridge, Nyngan and Cobar. Head further north for the haunting ruins of Milparinka, and isolated Tibooburra. In Cameron’s Corner you can stand in Queensland, New South Wales, and South Australia at the same time.

You don't need to be a photographer or artist to enjoy this outback, we recommend the wealth of Australian fauna, beautiful sunsets, and sprawling red dunes ... oh, and the night sky out here.

#4 –MARGARET RIVER REGION, WA

While Western Australia is deservedly on the radar for stunning beaches,  renowned diving on the Coral Coast, or exploring the haunting beauty of the Kimberleys – Western Australia’s south west also has much to offer.

The Margaret River region, perhaps best known for its fabulous wines, has a well deserved draw. When not imbibing in a bit of the local grape, a wealth of other sights and sounds are waiting for you in this region.

The landscape fairly blossoms with wildflowers every spring. WA takes pride in showcasing the world’s largest variety of wildflowers with over 12,000 species on display. There’s windswept clifftops with cape-to-cape walk between Leeuwin Ridge and Naturalist Ridge offering a life changing 5-6-day trek.

Hamelin Bay offers bird watchers, fisherman, scuba divers, snorkelers, and beach enthusiasts an idyllic playground to keep all well occupied.

BTW, Esperance deserves special mention as one of the best beaches in Australia.

#3 – LORD HOWE ISLAND, NSW

Lord Howe Island is one of the few island chains in the world renowned as a UNESCO World Heritage site ... and it doesn’t take long to figure out why. Just two hours’ flight from Sydney or Brisbane, bordered by the southernmost reefs, Lord Howe Island is home to some truly stunning national parkland, unspoiled playgrounds for hikers, animal enthusiasts, divers, nature-lovers, and virtually anybody who wishes to appreciate the world’s few remaining paradises.

Even though the entire place is recognized as national park, you're not completely isolated from civilization. There are many properties on the island that provide great accommodation and dining options, and all of the usual amenities are available. While, you will not have any mobile network coverage, Lord Howe Island really is one of the last frontiers of Aussie tourism worth a look.

#2 – VICTORIA

Without mentioning a single Victorian site, this list would certainly be incomplete. Whether it’s Melbourne for great dining, or a drive along the Great Ocean Road, there doesn’t seem to be much about Victoria that tourists aren’t already in love with.

Soaking in the beauty of seas from cliff-top mansions and villas, wine-tasting, water sports, or simply cafe hopping, the Mornington Peninsula offers a splendid expanse of beaches and cafes all within an hour’s drive from Melbourne.

On the other side of the Bay, take a break in Aireys Inlet, enjoy a burger at 'Bottle of Milk' in Lorne, pamper yourself in luxurious spas and wellness retreats in Hepburn Springs.

There’s no shortage of options in Victoria for time away from the hustle and bustle of Melbourne.

#1 – TASMANIA

This one is going to be argumentative. Not because Tasmania’s immense beauty is in any doubt, but because a lot of tourists are already well aware of Tasmania, and include it on any Australian itinerary as a 'must visit' spot.

Then how come it’s listed here - since ‘Tassie’ isn't often referred to in the same breath as Sydney, the Barrier Reef, Uluru, Perth and Melbourne.

This popular island of Australia’s south eastern coast offers a wealth of options for holidaying. Apart from the stunning World Heritage listed Franklin River in the west, it also has its very own history in the form of the five heritage listed former prison sites, including Port Arthur – since also infamous for Australia’s worst peace time massacre. There are vineyards in the north, stunning scenery on the pristine east coast, and ancient rainforests in the west. The cosmopolitan capital city of Hobart, in the south-east boasts a charming blend of modern convenience and country living. What sets Tasmania apart from any other destinations is raw, natural beauty. The forests and beaches of this Oregon-sized island are among the most beautiful in the world and it’s a paradise for hikers, nature-lovers, and photographers ... oh, and food loving, 'self-drivers'.

Best of the secret trails of Australia : Part 1

While climbing Sydney's Harbor Bridge, marveling at the Opera House, shopping in Melbourne, diving the Great Barrier Reef , enjoying an Uluru 'Sounds of Silence' outback dinner, savoring South Australia, indulging in Queensland's Sunshine Coast, and Western Australia get plenty of well deserved play with travelers, there are even more undiscovered gems out there in Australia’s treasure box.

From the memorials and museums of Canberra to the outback towns of western New South Wales – we’ve listed some of the perhaps lesser known Australian tourist spots and why they’d be a worthy addition to your next Australia holidays.

#10 – NEWCASTLE, NSW

Only an hour and a half north of Sydney, Newcastle is Australia’s second oldest city and claims some of the country’s best beaches and heritage listed architecture. The popular Hunter Valley wine region is in close proximity. 

Whether you’re heading north of the city to swim with dolphins at Nelson’s Bay, spending an idyllic Sunday walking the Bathers Way, cuddling up to a koala at Blackbutt Reserve, or even catching a Newcastle Knights game at the recently revamped AusGrid Stadium – you’ll find plenty to love about the place.

#9 – CANBERRA, AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY

Australia’s capital Canberra is undoubtedly one of the best places to learn more about Australian history and culture ... not to mention enjoying fabulous food and wine. A slew of museums and galleries will keep even the most curious explorer occupied for days, with the National Museum and Questacon being highlights.

A walk through Anzac Parade, a visit to the Royal Australian Mint, exploring Parliament House and a visit to the Australian War Memorial are well worth considering. You can also visit the Reconciliation Place in nearby Parks, a tribute to Australia’s original inhabitants, or spend a day exploring the Australian National Library.

Though, it’s not all about the culture and history with the Australian National Botanical Gardens playing a beautiful interlude, the miniature world landmarks of Cockington Green Gardens, hikers can find numerous trails in nearby Black Mountain, and/or you can catch some great Australian sport in GIO Stadium playing host to the famous Canberra Raiders or Brumbies.

It’s a simply beautiful region that offers something you won’t find elsewhere in Australia.

#8 – THE NORTHERN RIVERS REGION, NSW

As tourists begin to discover the charms of Byron Bay, the Northern Rivers has grown in popularity. Boasting great beaches and a laid-back charm, Byron Bay is an ideal resting point on any road trip between Sydney and the Gold Coast.

Byron Bay is an authentic concourse for beach lovers. It also offers a very tempting menu when it comes to scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, surfing, whale watching, fishing, and dolphin swims. Byron Bay also offers sustenance for your mind and soul with numerous yoga retreats and spas in the region.

If you're lucky, a real display of distinct local flavor can be found at the monthly Byron Bay markets on the first Sunday of each month.

A few hours inland lies Grafton, an excellent gateway to the numerous national parks of the NSW Northern Tablelands such as the Fortis Creek National Park, Nymboida national parks, Gibraltar Range, and Washpool.

To the north, Evans Head plays host to excellent fishing and surfing, and surrounded by some beautiful sub-tropical rainforest is Lismore. 

A special mention goes to Yamba. Even having been voted the ‘Best Town in Australia’ by Australian Traveler Magazine in 2009, many travelers seem unaware of Yamba. A charming beach town, Yamba has all of the regular beach appeal with the bonus of being close to the amazing Yuraygir National Park with its dense sub-tropical forest, sea cliffs, and isolated beaches.

[Also Read : Five Reasons To Visit Broken Hill]

#7 – DARWIN, NORTHERN TERRITORY

Although, the Northern Territory gets plenty of tourists through Uluru and Kakadu, the territory’s capital seems unfairly ignored by tourists.

Darwin is a rapidly growing tropical city where Aboriginal and European culture meet in a way you won’t see elsewhere in Australia. Interact with some of Australia’s predators at Casuarina Coastal Reserve, explore historic Fannie Bay Gaol, or spend a day picnicking in Charles Darwin National Park.

Just ninety minutes’ drive from Darwin, Litchfield National Park, is also well worthy of a visit. Picturesque waterfalls, secluded swimming holes, and the crumbling remains of long abandoned mines are all on offer within the 1500 square kilometer national park.

Darwin considers itself Australia's gateway to South East Asia. The city showcases Aboriginal culture and has overcome great obstacles on its way ... be it the infamous Japanese bombing of WW2, or Cyclone Tracy of 1974.

#6 – FLINDERS RANGES AND LAKE EYRE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Whilst much of South Australian tourism is directed towards the Barossa Valley wine region, Kangaroo Island, and Adelaide, the South Australian outback is also certainly well worth experiencing.

The Flinders Ranges are a great way to experience the true beauty of the Australian outback. The magic of colors, glowing sunsets and deep blue skies, are truly breathtaking. 

Check out this link for a great taste of the Flinders Ranges;  http://southaustralia.us.traveller.com.au/article/pioneering-women-flinders-ranges/

North of Adelaide is Lake Eyre, Australia’s lowest point and largest lake. The lake remains beautiful year round as it is transformed into a vast salt plane in drier times. You can camp, drive or fly overhead to enjoy this vast outback lake.

The Pichi Pichi Railway‘s steam locomotives will get you to back to civilization in Port Augusta from where you can head west to Perth, or south to Adelaide.

 

Best Beach Towns of Australia : Part 2

In the first part we discovered five beach towns to explore. In this second installment, we’ll highlight another five ...  

Best for : the young at heart

Sorrento, Victoria

Vibe: Don't let the heritage buildings fool you as Sorrento offers some of the best beach holidays with a buzz.

Attractions: If you're feeling sporty, you can swim with seals and dolphins out in the bay at Chinamans Hat. If you feeling shorter on energy, go gallery hopping or cruise the shops along Ocean Beach Road, or stroll the Sorrento-Portsea Artists Trail. You can also catch a live band at the Sorrento Pub, after dinner.

Dining: The local wineries own some notable restaurants, including Ten Minutes by Tractor. For something casual, try a family-friendly Italian restaurant Smokehouse.

Don't miss: Drinks in the Portsea Pub's sunny beer garden is an afternoon ritual.

Best for : couples

Killcare, NSW

Vibe: Away from the city hustle and bustle, this forest-fringed beach haven is a great place to indulge in fine food, a spot of shopping, and to spend some quality time with your partner.

Attractions: Take it slow on the walking trails through the Bouddi Peninsula national park, laze on the seven pretty beaches (which also include Pretty Beach), or browse the fashion, art and homewares on display in Moochinside.

Dining: For Middle Eastern food lovers, L'Anxaneta, a cafe and tapas bar in the heritage-listed Old Killcare Store, offers excellent Mediterranean cuisine.

Don't miss: Acclaimed chef Stefano Manfredi's delicious Italian food at Manfredi at Bells – or you can learn to do-it-yourself at one of their cooking classes.

Best for : action fans

Phillip Island, Victoria

Vibe: Looking for a more accelerated holiday? In addition to the iconic penguin parade, Phillip Island also offers a plethora of action activities.

Attractions: Be a speed demon and let a professional take you from zero to 100km/h in just 3.8 seconds, on a go-kart race track. Check out the penguin parade, or a kayaking adventure exploring hidden caves around Cape Woolamai.

Dining: You can catch your own lunch at Rhyll Trout and Bush Tucker Farm, or go with tradition at White Salt Fish and Chippery.

Don't miss: A succulent brew at the Rusty Water Brewery Restaurant and Bar.

Best for : party people

Airlie Beach, Queensland

Vibe: This nostalgic backpacker haven is growing up with fine food and sophisticated accommodation. However, with a party seemingly every night, it's a great place to make new friends.

Attractions: The Whitsundays, all about the water, is like heaven on earth. If diving and snorkeling is not your thing, then charter a yacht and go island hopping, or take a seaplane to the stunning Heart Reef.

Dining: Treat yourself to the degustation menu at Peppers' Tides Restaurant, showcasing the very best local produce.

Don't miss: The Singapore chilli crab at Fish D'vine.

Best for : fashionistas

Noosa, Queensland

Vibe: Lined with designer boutiques and upmarket restaurants, Hastings Street is the ultimate beach-chic destination.

Attractions: Yes, there is more to do in Noosa than shopping. Pick up some local produce at the farmers' markets, revitalize yourself with a horse ride along the shore, then pacify those muscles with a massage at one of Noosa's many famous spas.

Dining: Most of the Noosa's best restaurants serve up their meals with a side of marvelous views. Leave the dining choices up to the chef at one of the best Japanese restaurants in Queensland, Wasabi, or go to Ricky's River Bar & Restaurant for a Mediterranean treat.

Don't miss: A moonlit dinner cruise on the river.

[Don't miss Part 1 : Best Beach Towns Of Australia :]

Best for : Marine Life Lovers

Victor Harbour, South Australia

Vibe: A formerly throbbing port with whalers and sealers, Victor Harbour is a beautiful beach town with stunning beach views.

Attraction: Educate yourself about whales and dolphins at the South Australian Whale Centre. Take a ride on the Cockle train to Goolwa, or learn about whaling history at Granite Island Recreation Park.

Dining: Famous for its chargrilled steaks and seafood, Anchorage Café Restaurant Wine Bar is sure to blow your tastebuds. Try their rib-eye steak with Shiraz and thyme glaze, or crispy spatchcock with sticky soy. You can also eat at Whalers Inn that offers scrumptious seafood on an outdoor deck overlooking Wright Island and Encounter Bay.

Don’t Miss: Helicopter joy flights over Victor Harbour, Granite Island, local vineyards and the mouth of the Murray River.

Best for : Relaxed couples

Port Elliot, South Australia

Vibe: This charming historic town set on scenic Horseshoe Bay is gaining popularity as a holiday destination for its fabulous beaches and relaxed coastal atmosphere.

Attraction: Collect a brochure from the railway station and join the heritage walk with National Trust Historical Display, The Strand, and the Maritime Heritage Trail. You can also enjoy popular spots like Freeman Nob, Encounter Bikeway, Horseshoe Beach and Boomer Beach.

Dining: For seafood lovers the Flying Fish Café is a great option here. With dreamy ocean views this place serves superb oysters, rich fish stews, and beer battered fish and chips.

Don’t Miss: A dive on Fleurieu Peninsula, with leafy sea dragons, shipwrecks, dolphins and myriad fish species

That’s all for now. Pack up and decide upon which type of tourist you are and hit the beach town of your choice, and we're sure that you’ll definitely have a memorable beach holiday.