Sep
29
2016

Perth and 4 awesome road trips north and south

By Australia / Perth /

Aussies are increasingly choosing Perth as their next holiday destination. Is it any wonder why? It has everything you want including gorgeous surf beaches, wineries, eateries and national parks right on the city’s doorstep.

Hire a vehicle from Perth airport and choose one of these four awesome road trips.

Perth to Exmouth

This 13-hour drive north of Pert takes you past Western Australia’s most stunning beaches.. If you’re driving up this way during wildflower season you’ll also witness the landscape come alive with wildflowers. It’s a scenic drive and you can stop at several locations along the way. When you finally arrive at your destination, you won’t want to leave. Located on the tip of the North West Cape, Exmouth is the perfect place to explore the colourful coral and fish at Ningaloo Marine Park.

Monkey Mia

About 9 hours north of Perth is Monkey Mia. Bottlenose dolphins have been visiting this beach for more than 40 years. Fishermen returning from the seas used to share their catch with the local dolphins, and ever since then their trust of humans grew. It’s led to one of Australia’s most unique wildlife encounters. If you want to view these beautiful animals up close, make sure you visit the beach between 7.45am and midday, but it’s best to arrive early.

Margaret River

Travel three hours south of Perth and you’ll encounter the famous Margaret River. There are many reasons to fall in love with this region. Not only is it close to pristine surf beaches and home to many outdoor activities, but the region is most famous for its breweries and wineries. This is the place you come to sit back, relax and sample some of the best Australian products on offer. Take a winery tour – you can either drive or walk through scenic vineyards to each winery.

Albany

Albany has one of Australia’s most breathtaking coastlines. You can get there by travelling five hours along the Albany Highway from Perth. If you’re feeling adventurous, try walking part of the famous Bibbulmun Track that runs from Perth to Albany. In the city, you can also learn about the area’s convict history. After all, it’s the first place that European settlers set foot in Western Australia. Much of their legacy remains, with dozens of colonial buildings throughout the city. It’s also worth going on a whale watching cruise while you’re here.

BRIANNA PIAZZA

Sep
28
2016

Australian Adventure Festival heads to East Gippsland

By Australia / Victoria /

The second annual Australian Adventure Festival heads to East Gippsland over three days from Friday October 21 to Sunday October 23.
The family-friendly event, which brings together a range of adventure sports into a single, ultimate outdoor festival provides athletes with events across several disciplines in some of the most beautiful wilderness in Australia.
Nestled in Victoria’s eastern corner, East Gippsland has a mild climate and stunning natural environment with high-country grandeur, isolated beaches, rugged coastal outcrops and Australia’s largest inland water system, the Gippsland Lakes.
It is rich in natural attractions, ranging from the remote wilderness of the UNESCO-recognised Croajingolong National Park, to the rugged beauty of the Snowy River and Alpine national parks, the Lakes National Park, fringed by lakes and dunes.
Race director Steve Peterson said the festival includes 10 events; an adventure race, ultra and half marathon, trail running, mountain bike events of varying lengths, plus an adventure fun run and activities for children.
Professional race directors run the events with a team of 150 volunteers and staff.
Those not wishing to compete can enjoy the region’s other natural attractions; boating or fishing on the Gippsland Lakes, bird watching in the hides of Macleod Morass boardwalk, explore the Mitchell River silt jetties, or spot koalas on Raymond Island.
The food bowl of Victoria, East Gippsland also is renowned for its high quality local produce, including wild-caught seafood, Gippsland beef, fresh fruit and vegetables, artisanal cheeses and wine.
And with some of the best trails in the state, organisers believe they are well placed to grow the festival into a major event for Victoria.
To register log onto www.adventurefestival.com or see  www.facebook.com/australianadventurefestival
SCOTT PODMORE

 

Sep
27
2016

6 adventure activities in Byron Bay you can’t ignore

By Australia / Gold Coast / Queensland /

Byron Bay is home to some of Australia’s most gorgeous beaches. The surf, sun and sand draw a crowd of approximately one-point-seven million visitors each year. But while the coastal town is renowned for its beaches and relaxed, hippie vibe, there are also plenty of activities that will wow the senses and get the adrenaline pumping! Grab a Byron Bay car rental at Gold Coast airport, hit the road and get ready for some adventure once you arrive in Byron.

Check out these six activities.

Sea Kayaking with Dolphins

Established in 1995, Cape Byron Kayaks offers the original sea kayaking with dolphins tour. You and a partner can paddle out over the waves of Byron’s beautiful Marine Park and get up close and personal with Bottlenose dolphins. You can even spot sea turtles and humpback whales as they migrate through the ocean. Let the experienced guides tell you about the local history and wildlife. When you get hungry, pull in to one of Byron’s beaches for some morning or afternoon tea. For the perfect mix of relaxation and excitement this tour is for you! More: http://capebyronkayaks.com/page/tours

Gyrocopter Lighthouse Flight

Jump in a gyrocopter and experience the highlights of Byron Bay from a completely different perspective. Your professional flight instructor will take you to the most easterly point of the Australian continent, flying over old ship wrecks, the iconic lighthouse and of course the famous beaches. Plenty of opportunity to take in the ocean’s beauty with its dolphins, sharks, rays, turtles and whales. For a scenic adventure, give the Gyrocopter a go. More: http://www.flygyro.com.au/

Skydive

Skydive Byron Bay is not for the faint-hearted but will certainly provide an experience of a lifetime. After a scenic ascent over Byron Bay, you’ll tandem jump from a height of up to 14,000 feet and freefall at over 200km/hr for up to a minute. Let the rush sink in as you enjoy the last five to seven minutes parachuting over the beautiful coast, taking in hinterland views up to Brisbane and the Gold Coast. For adrenaline-junkies this one’s for you! More: https://www.skydive.com.au/byron-bay /

Night Vision Walk

Experience the nature and wildlife of Byron Bay in a way you’ve never seen before: with military graded night-vision goggles. Embark on a night-time nature walk where you will be taken through the habitats of nocturnal animals. Keep an eye out for the possums, pademelons, bandicoots, tawny frogmouths, frogs, koalas and owls which are most active at this time. You’ll also have the chance to see a colony of glow worms illuminated in the dark. You’ll finish the night off with a delicious hot chocolate at the top of Minyon Falls. More: https://www.experienceoz.com.au/en/byron-bay

Kite surfing

If you’re looking for a different way to surf Byron’s seas then kitesurfing could be the way to go. You’ll use a small surfboard and a parachute-type kite which uses wind power to propel you across the seas. Byron Bay Kitesurfing offers one, two and three-day courses in which you’ll perfect the art of self-launching, practise kite control and steering, one handed flying and plenty more! Byron’s beaches provide ideal conditions to make sure you get the most out of your kitesurfing adventure. More: http://byronbaykitesurfing.com/

Rainforest Mountain Biking

If you love scenery and aren’t afraid of a little sweat then a rainforest mountain bike adventure is calling your name. Ride through the ancient volcanic terrain in the Nightcap National Park of Byron Bay’s hinterland.  You’ll pedal through a range of fire trails, single tracks, downhills and complete a few log jumps. Stop at a swimming hole for photo opportunities, lunch and perhaps a dip! Once you reach the top of Minyon Falls, finish the day off with a relaxing downhill ride and a well-earned snack. More: http://www.mountainbiketours.com.au/

STEPHANIE DELLER

 

 

 

 

 

Sep
26
2016

5 Campervan holiday options from Brisbane

By Australia / Brisbane / Queensland /

Travelling around Brisbane in a campervan is one of the most convenient ways to explore this part of Queensland. Hire a campervan in Brisbane and start driving to one of these holiday parks.

Brisbane Gateway Resort (pictured)
This holiday park is in a fantastic location, just 15 minutes from the CBD. It’s also just 30 minutes from the Gold Coast and its theme parks! This means you can spend more time enjoying your holiday rather than sitting in traffic and you move from each attraction. The caravan and camping sites are spacious. They’re also set among beautifully landscaped gardens, giving you plenty of room to relax.

Maroochydore Beach Holiday Park
Wake up in the morning, walk out your door and head straight across the road to the beach. Does that sound like your perfect holiday? Then Maroochydore Beach Holiday Park is the place for you. Lifesavers patrol the beach, which offers some awesome waves. It’s a great destination for families or couples. The holiday park is also close to outdoor BBQ and picnic facilities and many eateries.

Jolly Swagman Caravan Park
Set in the heart of town, Jolly Swagman Caravan Park is the best place to base yourself when you visit Toowoomba. This caravan park has award winning gardens where you can have a picnic and relax. You’re also allowed to bring your pets into the park with you during your stay. It also boasts a famous statue of Jolly Swagman and his dog – make sure you ask the park’s owners for a rundown of the story behind the statue.

Ipswich Caravan Village
Enjoy your stay in a peaceful bushland setting at Ipswich Caravan Village. You’ll also be close to shopping centres, restaurants and tourist attractions. If you’re up for an adventure, the theme parks on the Gold Coast are just a 50-minute drive away. Powered and unpowered sites are on offer. For those wanting a little extra comfort, there are air-conditioned family cabins.

Esk Caravan Park
Esk Caravan Park is a little piece of paradise. The park is located in the heart of Brisbane Valley, between Wivenhoe and Somerset Lakes. As you enjoy your stay, you can also admire the surrounding mountains and creeks. Both are only a short drive from the caravan park and you can enjoy plenty of water activities.

BRIANNA PIAZZA

Sep
24
2016

Gold Coast escape – how to plan your next winter school holidays away from Melbourne

By Australia / Gold Coast / Queensland /

What to do when the school holidays arrive next winter has the whole family shivering in its collective boots?

You head north, hit the east coast and soak up the sun in between theme parks, that’s what. But it’s not for the faint-hearted. We may be heading into the warmer weather, but here’s a cool plan for school holidays next winter.

A Gold Coast adventure with theme parks on the agenda in a Griswald-style escape may be an oldie, but it’s certainly a goodie and the perfect way to elude the Victorian winter chill for a week or so. With five kids – aged 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 – stacked into a people mover, the good news is cabin fever only lasts in small doses, especially if you prepare, book and deliver properly, so the “are we there yets” are few and far between. This is how we did it…

First on the list is book flights and accommodation early. For a party of seven you’re crazy if you don’t, and one of the first things you should do is be registered for updates from low cost carriers Tiger, Jetstar and Virgin. Tiger was the winner for us as we got in early and managed to snag seven return airfares for under $1200. Next on the list was self-contained accommodation and the ultimate scenario was to have a venue right smack bang near all the action – in Helensvale – so a three bedroom cabin was locked and loaded at Gold Coast Holiday Park, but more about that later. For more visit Tiger Airways, Jetstar and Virgin websites to sign up to newsletters.

Book a people mover at DriveNow for the best deal. Yep, you can’t go past this website which is akin to Wotif in the world of car hire, and we bagged a big Hyundai Imax, an eight-seater, plenty of room for suitcases, aircon and auto for less than a grand for 10 days! The process is simple in that you search for people movers in desired location and eight or 10 options pop up with the best deals. We had wheels and there was a party going on in the cabin above them! A great website that’s easy to navigate, book quickly and be all sorted for transport while away.

goldcoastholidaypark-1Gold Coast Holiday Park, a big kick-arse cabin with the works. You can either shell out and get a fancy hotel on the Goldie or you can lower your sights and get a home away from home in a more down to earth location like a modern caravan park – which are like mini resorts these days. GCHP is not just any holiday park, but a Big 4 holiday park and anyone who has stayed at one knows exactly what I mean: they’re the upper echelon for raising the bar in facilities and standards. Aside from a superb spacious cabin, with kitchenette, bunk beds, great lounge area and widescreen TV was the fact Gold Coast Holiday Park is an entertainment hub in its own right with an amazing pool and waterslide adjoining Nibbles Cafe, an upmarket camp kitchen, bike track, tennis court, outdoor cinema and loads more. But the piece de resistance? It’s literally five minutes by car to Movieworld or 10-15 minutes to Dreamworld! All the kids admitted a holiday spent entirely at this great park would be worth the trip to the Gold Coast alone. More goldcoast holidaypark.com.au

Brace yourself for the rides of your life. The instructions were clear from the kids: leave your fear of heights back in Victoria and strap yourself in. The best thing about staying at Gold Coast Holiday Park is they can offer the best multiple park ticket deals going – a must if you want to save some serious dollars. So with our stomachs flipped upside down, sideways and round and round multiple times over the next few days what were the highlights? The kids voted Dreamworld and Movieworld and their accompangold-coast-kidssying water parks as the best for all the action. Here are some rides that rattled our bones and insides: The Giant Drop, Wipeout, Shockwave, Superman ride, Scooby Doo Spooky rollercoaster, Arkham Asylum, the Batwing, and the Tower of Terror. Speaking of which, see inset for how we grown-ups were processing the Superman ride while our two blonde teenagers in front of us were already looking for something more dangerous! Of course, there’s plenty more features to explore and absorb, including a tiger cub being walked around the grounds at Dreamworld which is a cute surprise. More movieworld.com.au and dream world.com.au

The NightQuarter night markets in Helensvale are unmissable. When you’re not kicking back in the great facilities at Gold Coast Holiday Park or going nuts in the theme parks, this market experience is an absolute treat for both grown-ups and the kids. A hive of activity, there are more than 120 food trucks/stalls, micro-restaurants, bars, craftspeo- ple, musicians and other quirky points of interest in a real carnival atmosphere. Otherwise known as “shipping container city”, the concept is catching on all over Australia. The food is everything from tapas, oysters, BBQ ribs and Asian choices to cronuts, chocolate fountains, amazing icecreams and more. More nightquarter.com.au

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Sep
20
2016

Sydney summer events – five reasons you have to be there!

By Australia / Sydney /

Sydney events in the summer…

It’s the best and busiest time of year to visit. 

After hiring a car from Sydney Airport make sure you start checking out what’s on the Sydney events calendar during your stay. If you need more convincing, then here are five reasons why you have to be in Sydney this summer!

Sydney NYE
Sydney is the New Year’s Eve capital of Australia. From here you can be among the first major cities in the world to welcome in the New Year. The city is famous for its midnight fireworks at Sydney Harbour. Each more than one million people come to the various vantage points around the harbour to watch the colourful show and celebrate the end of the year in style.

Mardi Gras
Coming up in early March is the most colourful LGBTIQ celebration. Held in the heart of the city, the Sydney Mardi Gras draws 70,000 people from across the world. The parade is the highlight of the event, with epic costumes, loud music and colourful floats taking up Oxford and Flinders streets. It’s like a non-stop party that celebrates everything LGBTIQ while making a political and cultural statement.

Chinese New Year
From January 28 to February 12 is New Year on the Chinese calendar. More than one million people took part in Sydney’s Chinese New Year this year, as they were treated to more than 22 hours of live performances. The festival’s highlight is Lunar Lanterns, which features giant, colourful lanterns that represent the 12 Chinese zodiac signs.

Australia Day
People from across the country come together every year on January 26 to celebrate what it means to be Australian. The national day commemorate the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet, which changed the course of the nation forever. Sydney is Australia’s oldest city, making it the ideal location for several key events across the city.

Australian Open of Surfing
Kicking off in late February, the Australian Open of Surfing is one of the most exciting sporting events on Sydney’s calendar. Manly Beach becomes the home of Australia’s largest (and best) surf, skate and music festival for 10 days. World-class athletes and artists come together to celebrate surf and skate culture at what’s considered to be the birthplace of modern surfing.

Also try Five Ways To Play – Sydney to the Blue Mountains

BRIANNA PIAZZA

Sep
15
2016

Don’t miss these Melbourne Cup Carnival events

By Australia / Melbourne /

melbourne cup

Springtime in Melbourne is one of the most exciting times of the year. Fashion, fine dining and racing all combine for an exciting season, which finishes with the Melbourne Cup.

Hire a car from Melbourne Airport and make sure you don’t miss these events this racing season.

Cox Plate
October 21 at Moonee Valley Racecourse
There’s a reason the Cox Plate is known for being ‘the race where legends are made’. The Cox Plate was first run in 1922. Since then, there have only been three horses who won the Melbourne Cup and went on to win the Cox Plate – Phar Lap, Might and Power and Makybe Diva. There’s something for every racegoer, whether you want a day of fine fining or a family picnic on the lawn and you watch hours of excitement on the track unfold.

Caulfield Cup
October 15 at Caulfield Racecourse
The Caulfield Cup has become one of the country’s richest Thoroughbred horse races. The 2400m race is considered one of the great horse races on the Australian calendar. It’s also the richest turf race for that distance in the world, with prize money worth $3m.

Oaks Day
November 3 at Flemington Racecourse
Crown Oaks Day has long been known as ‘ladies’ day’. Women flock to Flemington in their most expensive and majestic pieces to indulge in glamorous fashion, fine food and racing. It’s one of the biggest days in fashion, with the highlight of the day being the Myer Fashions on the Field. Apart from the social occasion, the racing highlight is the Group 1 Crown Oaks with $1m in prize money.

Emirates Stakes Day
November 5 at Flemington Racecourse
This is known as the ‘family day’ of the Spring Racing Carnival. There’s the Emirates Stakes Day Fashions on the Field for younger racegoers along with live entertainment. There are also free activities for children of all ages. While on the track it’s a packed day of exciting action, including the $2m Group 1 Emirates Stakes.

Melbourne Cup Day
November 1 at Flemington Racecourse
The Melbourne Cup is ‘the race that stops the nation’ well and truly. People from all over the country have their eyes glued on the screen at 3pm as up to 24 horses gallop more than 3,200m to take out the prestigious title. The race has been running since 1861 and even earned the title of a public holiday in 1877, truly making it a part of Australian culture.

BRIANNA PIAZZA

Sep
12
2016

Guide to skiing at Whistler

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Whistler is one of the world’s greatest skiing destinations. Spend a weekend in the snow and you’ll never want to leave. There’s no need to stress about all the details such as where to hire your equipment or where to stay. We have it all sorted!

Once you fly into Vancouver airport, pick up a hire car and drive 2 hours north to Whistler. Here are five things you need to know before you stay there.

Where to hire your gear
Finding the right gear is perhaps going to be the most important part of your trip. While in Vancouver or driving to Whistler you can stop off at many cities or towns where you can hire your gear. There are some good websites too, such as blacktieskis.com where someone brings the equipment straight to your hotel.

Best run
Whistler has more than 200 trails along with more than 8000 acres of terrain for skiing or snowboarding. As for the best run on Whistler, it really depends who you ask. However, Surfs Up consistently ranks as one of the best with high quality snow. It’s a trail for the experienced, as there are steep cliff drop offs which can be rather daunting. Beginners can still access parts of the mountain such as Burnt Stew Trail. It offers 360-degree views and takes you straight to the village when you’re finished.

Where to stay
The famous Fairmont Chateau Whistler sits at the foot of Blackcomb Mountain. Wake up in the morning, put on your gear, step outside and you’re right on the slopes. It’s a beautiful chateau with luxurious accommodation options. It also offers outstanding cuisine and gives you easy access to the mountainside whirlpools.

Best view
Between the towns of Whistler and Squamish is Panorama Ridge. It’s a scenic hike within Garibaldi Provincial Park, which takes you through forests and meadows full of wildflowers. The peak sits at 2133m and offers views of two stunning mountains and Garibaldi Lake. This hike can easily be accomplished in a day, but make sure you’re prepared and leave early.

Where to grab a meal
After a hard day of skiing, stop by Dusty’s Bar & BBQ for one of the best meals on the mountain! Dusty’s sits at the base of the Creekside Gondola and is open everyday from 11am until late. The BBQ is mouthwatering, the live entertainment is incredible and the story behind this venue and how it got its name is legendary.

BRIANNA PIAZZA