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5 unmissable features at this year’s Noosa Food & Wine Festival

By Australia / Brisbane / Gold Coast / Queensland /

The Noosa Food & Wine 2016 is on again with more than 30 fantastic events showcasing some of Australia’s best chefs in beautiful locations throughout Noosa from May 20 to 22.

With almost 50 chefs from around Australia and Noosa’s own restaurants featured in the program, along with more than 20 wineries, events will take place under the Noosa Tipi on Main Beach, in Hastings Street for a long lunch, by the Noosa River in Noosaville and in signature restaurants throughout Noosa. Guest chefs include Pete Evans, Ben O’Donoghue, Luke Mangan and Matt Golinski and more from some of Australia’s best restaurants including Nu Nu, Fish House, Gerard’s Bistro,  European, Stokehouse and Harrison’s.

So what are the highlights of an action-packed program? It’s a tough call, but here are 5 to mark down as tasty treats.

Friday 20 May, 5-7pm, $45
Noosa Main Beach sets the scene for a wonderful weekend of food, wine and lifestyle. Join acclaimed chefs Pete Evans, Peter Kuruvita, Shane Bailey, Ben Bertei and Sammy and Bella from MKR and others under the Noosa Tipi, right on the beach, for a cocktail party with light canapés and drinks.

Saturday 21 May, 12.15-2.30pm, $85
Dig in to the long lunch on Noosa’s famous Hastings Street with some of Noosa’s favourite restaurants taking part in the Noosa Street Feast. The 2-course lunch will be accompanied by wines and beer by Asahi. Choose your favourite restaurants from: aromas, Boardwalk Bistro on Hastings, Bistro C, Gaston, Locale, Miss Moneypenny’s, Noosa Beach House, Rococo or Season.

Saturday 21 May, 12.00-5.00pm, free entry
Enjoy wine tastings from 22 of Australia’s best wineries at the Wine Tasting Quarter. Purchase a token for $3 for 3 tastings or $6 token for 6 tastings or a glass.

Sunday 22 May, 11.30am-4.30pm, $15.00 entry
The Noosa River shores will come to life when Noosa Boathouse presents a celebration of Australian beef and live music from Sunshine Coast music legend Carl Wockner and powerhouse band Honey. Renowned chefs Matt Golinski, Alastair McLeod, Sunny Gilbert and Shane Bailey with Sammy and Bella from MKR will serve up their favourite sirloin dishes along with Stone & Wood craft beers and selected great Australian wines. Come and enjoy a fantastic day of food, beer and wine on the Noosa River at Lions Park in Noosaville.

Sunday 22 May, 5.00-8.30pm, $65.00
You’re invited to dine under a full moon on the beach for the finale of Noosa Food & Wine 2016 with an Asian Hawker style feast presented by Ben Bertei, Hajime Horiguchi and Hamish Ingham, with local culinary talent from Embassy XO, Spirit House and Junk. Featuring modern Asian influences, move between tasting stations full of flavour. Wines by Treasury Estate Wines and beers by Asahi.

For the full program, and to purchase event tickets see noosafoodwinefestival.com.au



5 great foodie events to look forward to around Sydney

By Australia / Sydney /

Sydney has a great reputation for its food and wine festivals, with many people travelling from across the country just to experience these top food events every year.

Here are five Sydney foodie festivals to look forward to.

Merivale Food and Wine Festival
Merivale Food and Wine Festival is a month-long extravaganza of food and drink events – could you ask for anything better? Throughout March, you can attend exquisite lunches, dinners, wine tastings, food markets and cooking classes. There are also chef competitions to entertain, with each event offering a quirky theme.

Thailand Grand Festival
This incredible event started off as a small, simple food fair 20 years ago. It’s since morphed into a Grand Festival, held for a couple of days every March, to give Sydney residents a taste of Thailand. You’ll get to discover all of the delicious flavours used in Thai cuisine and attend cooking demos, while admiring traditional Thai performances. You’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve travelled to Thailand for the day!

Taste of Sydney
Taste of Sydney is the main event on Sydney’s dining calendar. This year’s festival returns at Centennial Park between March 10 and 13. Choose from more than 60 tasting dishes created by Sydney’s best restaurants and mingle with award-winning chefs (see if you can figure out some of their secret tricks!) You can also attend masterclasses and enjoy some live entertainment in the beautiful park.

Taste of Orange Food and Wine Festival
This wonderful festival merges the country with the coast to showcase the high quality wine and produce coming out of the Orange and Cabbone regions. It’s part of the Watsons Bay Food and Wine Festival in Robertson Park, which is held in May. There’s no doubt you’ll discover unforgettable flavours of wine and food at this festival.

Bankstown Bites
With its reputation as one of Sydney’s most loved food festivals, Bankstown Bites should be marked on every foodies calendar. Its guided food tours, cooking demos and diverse food stalls attract more than 10,000 people each year. Aromas of spices fill the air and dishes come from all corners of the globe, including Africa, Asia and the Middle East.



5 great foodie events to look forward to in Melbourne

By Australia / Melbourne /

Melbourne is arguable one of the best cities in the world for foodies! With a bustling restaurant and café culture with chefs cooking up delights from all over the world, it’s not surprising at all to learn that the city hosts dozens of exciting food festivals each year.

Here are five great Melbourne foodie events to look forward to.

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
One of Melbourne’s biggest events of the year is the Food and Wine Festival, attracting thousands of people to the Australia’s culinary capital. The 2016 festival runs for 10 days in March, when people will gather at various venues to sample provincial flavours. There are also cooking masterclasses, wine tastings at some of the state’s best vineyards and free entertainment.

Night Noodle Market
The Night Noodle Market, held in November, is just getting bigger and better (and tastier!) each year! Pop up food stalls light up the banks of the Yarra River at Birrarung Marr, as thousands gather to sample noodle and dumpling dishes from all over the world. The flavours on offer are interesting and unique – make sure you get in early to avoid queues if you want to try them all!

International Street Food Festival
Between March 19-20 at the Catani Gardens on the St Kilda Foreshore is one of Australia’s most exciting international food festivals. This joyful and multicultural celebration has 45 different world cuisines to sample, meaning you’ll be able to pick up everything from pasta, to churros to stir-fry and anything else you can imagine!

The Natural and Organic Supershow
This event is all about natural, pure and healthy ingredients. It’s Australia’s only natural and organic supershow, and is held over the Labour Day long weekend each year. Sample and take home products that are full of goodness, taste and are often environmentally friendly. It’s the ultimate food event for any vegan or vegetarian.

Johnston Street Festival
Head to Fitzroy in November to witness Melbourne’s Hispanic community take over Johnston Street. The two-day festival celebrates one-thousand years of Spanish food and culture. Roads are blocked off to make way for food stalls selling jugs of sangria, sizzling pans of paella and hot churros. The festival is brought to life with Spanish dancing and entertainment all afternoon and into the night.


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5 ways to discover our capital

By Australia / Canberra /

Visit Canberra and discover the amazing treasures in and around Australia’s capital city.

Here are five of the best places to visit during your stay in Canberra.

Gibraltar Falls
At the edge of Gibraltar Creek Pine Forest is the secluded and beautiful Gibraltar Falls. They’re located about 45 minutes south west of Canberra, and these gorgeous falls are definitely worth the drive. They have a 50m drop, creating the perfect backdrop for a swim after a short walk from the car park.

Canberra Reptile Zoo
Australia’s biggest and deadliest reptiles are all found at the Canberra Reptile Zoo. Come face to face with colourful snakes and pythons, and you’ll see that some are indeed quite friendly. It’s also an educational experience, with a walk through the ‘Reptiles in Space and Time’ exhibition portraying fossils and the evolution of reptiles.

Rock climbing and abseiling the Snowy Mountains
If you’re feeling like a day out in the mountains, then rock climbing and abseiling around the Snowy Mountains is just the adventure for you. There are plenty of great sites to choose from and tour companies take you to them all. Climbing and abseiling Signature Rocks is fairly easy and popular with family groups. Or you may decide to abseil the overhang at Jindabyne Rock, which is a bit more technical.

Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex
For anyone interested in astronomy, the Canberra Space Centre is most likely to be one of the most exciting places you’ll ever visit. It’s a 45 minute drive from Canberra’s CBD and set amongst a backdrop of rolling hills in the Tidbinbilla Valley. Learn about historic and current space exploration projects, while also learning about the universe. You’ll also get to see the largest antenna in the Southern Hemisphere.

Australian War Memorial
The Memorial commemorates the sacrifice of Australian soldiers who have died at war. A visit to the Australian War Memorial is a sombre experience, but one that also opens up your eyes to the country’s history, and the men and women who helped shape it. You’ll also come to understand how war has shaped our society, while seeing many historically significant documents and artefacts.


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Unmissable Autumn adventures in NSW

By Australia / New South Wales / Sydney /

With the Easter long weekend and school holiday break approaching, now is the time to take advantage of the changing season and plan an autum adventure in regional New South Wales, according to the Desination NSW gang.

From gourmet escapes to fossicking and heritage trails, the Destination NSW team gives us three getaways that will make you fall in love with regional NSW this Autumn:

50 shades of Orange and Bathurst
Autumn is a fantastic time to visit Central NSW, with the region guaranteeing vibrant Autumn foliage, delicious seasonal produce and a stellar line up of local festivals and events.  If you’re a foodie then the Orange F.O.O.D Week is an iconic experience for gourmands, with the 10 day festival in April a testament to the region’s great reputation for food and wine, and beautiful colours (see picture, courtesy of Destination NSW). Indulge your senses as local chefs and restaurants showcase their skill with farm gate tours, cooking demonstrations and the famous 100-Mile Dinner. Continue your Central NSW love affair with a side-trip to Bathurst, just a 45-minute drive away.  One of Australia’s oldest inland settlements, Bathurst’s historic town centre is fascinating, with a blend of old and new including revitalised laneway bars, cafes and restaurants. Be sure to check out the Autumn Colours program of events and the Bathurst Motor Festival at Mount Panorama from 25-27 March.

New love in New England
There is so much to love in the New England region, the changing leaves of trees in towns like Glen Innes, Inverell, Tenterfield and Emmaville are spectacular, as is the fossicking for gemstones. Armidale, the hub of the New England High Country shines in Autumn, with numerous parks, tree-lined streets and gardens displaying a spectrum of reds and oranges. With the city housing many heritage buildings, grand cathedrals and churches, Armidale is the perfect destination for an autumn break, and its annual Armidale Autumn Festival in March a stand out event on the local calendar. A visit to nearby Uralla is a must to admire the famous Gostwyck Chapel covered in Virginia Creeper.

The laidback country charm of Tamworth and the wider region is ideal for a short break, with national parks, trout fishing, horse riding and great local produce aplenty. Another must see is the historic gold mining village of Nundle, just a 50-minute drive from Tamworth. With great local cafes, antique stores and delicious baked goods at the Nundle Craft Inc. weekly farmers market, you’ll find plenty to do in town. The scenic Fossickers Way touring route begins in Nundle and takes in key fossicking areas. It’s especially pretty in Autumn with its wooded hills, open green pastures and fertile valleys. A little further afield, Boggabri promises a weekend of family fun at the Boggabri Drovers Campfire from 20-25 April with events including a big campfire, camp oven cooking, shearing demonstrations, tours of the district, bush poets, craft stalls, whip cracking, antique machinery display, a bush band and much more.

Beautiful Bellingen
Pack up the car and escape on a road trip to the North Coast destination, Bellingen. With lush valleys, a rich architectural heritage, rural charm, delicious local produce and natural beauty, Bellingen is also known for Australia’s largest regional market offering an amazing selection of handmade arts and crafts, regional produce and live entertainment.  Neighbouring Dorrigo National Park is a must see, offering stunning scenery that has been millions of years in the making. The World-Heritage listed rainforest offers a variety of rare flora and fauna, swimming at Crystal Shower Falls, a Skywalk lookout which takes in Bellinger Valley and scenic barbecue and picnic spots.

For more information on Autumn escapes in NSW visit http://www.visitnsw.com

For car rentals visit www.drivenow.com.au

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Five great apps for life on the road

By Australia /

Life on the road can be stressful and difficult at times, especially if you find it difficult to plan ahead and organise what you’re doing. But this can all be fixed. Download these five great apps to turn your road trip into the easiest and most enjoyable holiday yet!

Petrol Spy Australia
Search for petrol prices across Australia’s capital cities. Other app users report petrol prices using this app, so you can compare prices at each fuel station in any postcode. It’s always nice if you return the favour and update fuel prices to help the next traveller. Doing so could also score you some freebies –  there’s a chance to win a $25 fuel voucher every second day!

WorldMate makes your holiday smoother and a lot easier to track where you’re meant to be next. Whenever you receive email confirmation for flights, hotels, restaurant bookings, hire cars, etc. simply forward the emails to trips@worldmate.com. The app then instantly generates your itinerary, which you can access easily at any time.

Have you ever been on holiday, planned an awesome day out and then arrived to find that you have to cancel plans because of bad weather? Well, WeatherPro will stop this from happening again. It offers weather reports for more than two million geographical locations, and even includes wind speed and humidity. This app is particularly helpful for outdoor and adventurous activities, which are weather-dependent.

Restaurant Finder
Australia, the USA, Canada, Europe and Malaysia are just some of the countries where users can access Restaurant Finder. The app uses your current location to suggest restaurants nearby. It also features extensive reviews for each restaurant. It will even alert you to nearby grocery stores if there aren’t any bars or restaurants nearby.

Kayak compares hundreds of travel sites to find the best deals on hotels, flights and hire cars. The app also has an itinerary management feature and a flight tracker. Kayak also has a feature that allows you to look up airport information, baggage fees and airline numbers. However, perhaps the best and most cost-saving feature is the price alert feature, which alerts you when the flights to your destination suddenly drop in price.


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5 things to do near McLaren Vale, South Australia

By Australia / South Australia /

McLaren Vale and the surrounding area is easily one of the most charming regions in all of South Australia. This wine region is located approximately 35km south of Adelaide, and is home to many gorgeous wineries, beaches and towns.

Here are five things to visit near McLaren Vale.

Primo Estate (pictured)
This family owned winery is the home of JOSEPH wine and olive oil. Primo Estate produces a unique range of wines, which the owners say reflect their Italian heritage. Decades upon decades of family members have been creating these exquisite wines since Primo Grilli arrived in Australia and planted the family’s first vineyard in 1973. It’s since expanded, with visitors to McLaren Vale now being treated to ‘la dolce vita, Australian style’.

Off road 4wd tour
Journey through the magnificent Fleurieu Peninsula with Off Piste 4WD Tours. It’s a 40-minute drive, which leaves from central Adelaide and takes you to hard-to-reach and mostly unknown places along the peninsula. Tour itineraries take you on an adventure through the McLaren Vale wine region, the mouth of the Murray River and National Parks.

Shiraz Trail
The Shiraz Trail runs from McLaren Vale to Willunga, and is part of a 35km trail which begins at Marino Rocks and continues south along an old railway corridor. The 8km Shiraz Trail is flat and very scenic, treating walkers and cyclists to a landscape of wineries and vineyards. All you need to do is go to a visitor information centre to get your hands on a map and put on your walking shoes, or alternatively hire a bike.

Aldinga Beach
Aldinga Beach offers sights of fabulous cliff scenery and a long stretch of sandy coast. People travel from all over Australia to fish, surf and swim at this beautiful beach. Walk along the boardwalk to admire the landscape at sunrise or sunset. You can also go horseriding along the beach, or drive onto certain sections of the sand and relax with the family.

Port Willunga
Port Willunga is home to trendy seaside restaurants and a beautiful beach. It also contains one of South Australia’s most famous shipwrecks, Star of Greece. A fierce storm caused the ship to run aground in 1888, which led to the incident becoming known as one of the state’s worst maritime disasters. Scuba divers and snorkelers now frequent the site, and at low tide you can spot the shipwreck from the jetty.


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5 holiday parks to make a splash


A family holiday isn’t the same without a fun water park nearby, and it’s even better when the splash park is located only metres from your accommodation!

Here are five Big4 holiday parks where you can make a splash.

BIG4 Tweed Billabong Holiday Park, NSW (pictured)
Located on the Far North coast of New South Wales, the Big4 Tweed Billabong Holiday Park is touted as the country’s premier holiday park with a water playground. It promises more than just endless entertainment with its tipping bucket and slides. The splash park design even reflects the magnificent surrounding Wollumbin-Mount Warning landscape.

BIG4 Inverloch Holiday Park, Vic
This surf themed indoor water park, Surfari Splash Zone, operates all year round. The splash park not only provides a cool relief in the summer months, but it’ll warm you up in winter, when it transforms into a heated water park. Some of its special features include a giant shark tipping bucket, cannon guns and fountains.

BIG4 Swan Hill, Vic
This zero-depth multi-level play area has interactive features for kids of all ages. The aquatic park boasts three water slides, spray cannons and a giant, 8.5m super splash tipping bucket. It’s bound to keep the kids entertained for hours on end. There’s also a toddlers’ area away from the spray cannons with a soft fall surface.

NRMA Treasure Island Holiday Park, Qld
Located just 10 minutes north of Surfers Paradise, the NRMA Treasure Island Holiday Park has an exciting Shipwreck Shores Pirate Themed water park. There are three swimming pools, along with a waterslide, waterfall and wading area surrounded by landscaped gardens. Best yet, Treasure Island Holiday Park is centrally located between all of the major theme parks!

Marion Holiday Park, SA
Beautiful Marion Holiday Park is nestled amongst wetlands and 200 year old red river gum trees, providing an intimate and cosy backdrop for a memorable holiday with the family. It has a lagoon pool and a fun water park with playground facilities, including a water slide. The best part is its central location, just a few minutes south of Adelaide’s CBD.



Byron Bay on the fly

By Australia / New South Wales /

Stopping over in Byron Bay, New South Wales? There’s plenty to do around Australia’s most easterly point.

Here are six things to do/visit while in the hood.

Cape Byron Lighthouse
The lighthouse that sits on Byron Bay’s magnificent coastline is an iconic attraction, which is worth a visit from any traveller to the region. Construction for this monument began in 1899, and years later the dramatic views from this structure are just as marvellous. From here you can’t help but admire the stunning views over the bay to the Border Ranges.

Whale watching
A popular activity for Byron Bay’s visitors is whale watching. At certain times of the year, Cape Byron is one of the best vantage points for whale watching on Australia’s east coast. From late June to August, these mammals migrate north to give birth in the warm northern waters. In September and October, they return down south, passing through the area with their new babies.

Byron Shire boasts more than 30km of beaches and you’ll any type of beach suitable for your needs. There are the bustling, patrolled swimming beaches near town. Or drive a few minutes away and you’ll find isolated coves worthy of a photograph, dog friendly beaches and peaceful rock pools. Keen surfers can head to Lennox Head, which has been declared a National Surfing Reserve.

Stand Up Paddle boarding
Stand Up Paddle has been labelled one of the world’s fastest growing sports. Give it a go at Byron Bay and you’ll probably understand why. It’s a fun and easy family activity, best enjoyed on beautiful waters around Byron Bay. There are a few amazing locations where you can try Stand Up Paddle, including Pelican Island, Tunnel of Trees and the Sting Ray Sanctuary.

Sea turtle snorkel tour
It’s a different world underneath the clear waters off the coast of Byron Bay. Swim with gorgeous turtles in the Julian Rocks Marine Reserve. While you’re at it, you’re likely to come across manta rays and many other tropical species. A tour guide will show you the techniques of snorkelling and also educate you about the different species you’ll encounter. Snorkelling tours run three times a day.

Stone and Wood Brewery
Stone and Wood Brewing Company was established in Byron Bay in 2008. Its owners’ proudly state that their philosophy is about making the most of the ingredients available today. As a result, they’ve formed a simply but remarkable beer list, which comprises of Pacific Ale, Green Coast, Jasper Ale along with many limited releases. Stone and Wood Brewery is definitely worth a stopover for a relaxing afternoon.