JEALOUS? you bet they are. But anyone who lives beyond Australia’s coastline is more than welcome to head down to the Southern Hemisphere and experience the places that make we Aussies spoilt for choice.
We live in a big, bold land, an entire continent in fact, and relish the fact we have different worlds of discovery around every corner, inland and along our vast coastline of Oz. To pick up a campervan or rental car in Australia and hit the road is magical, especially when you have no plans and open your eyes to real exploration and stop off at a random place knowing you’re about to discover something new.
Road trips in Australia are in. It’s the buzz style of travel Down Under especially given the large amount of caravan holiday parks at just about every city, town or hamlet you drive through.
So what are five recommendations from the bunch of fantastic experiences in every state of our great southern land we’ve written about? Try these for size:
1. Go nude on the Granite Belt in Queensland
NUDE food is just as nature intended it to be – fresh food that’s in season and food that belongs to the region. The Granite Belt Nude Food Trail has food at every corner along this scenic stretch of the Great Dividing Range.
The Granite Belt is also home to some of Australia’s (and the world’s) best wine growing regions. Winery tours and traditional concerts in the vineyard are held at Granite Belt and Stanthorpe throughout the year and include everything from Jazz and Opera to Bollywood.
Find out more at www.southernqueenslandcountry.com.au
2. Fairytale wonderland for the kids in New South Wales
COME Springtime when the sun starts making its and the Hunter Valley Gardens in NSW come to life.
Set in the historic district of Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley, it’s truly like stepping into another world. In the rose garden meander past up to Italian Grotto enchanting you with stunning views of red Bougainvillea, pink wisterias and cascading geraniums that line the Mediterranean Garden.
But perhaps the biggest drawcard, and indeed the most unique, is the Storybook Gardens. The enchantment begins with topiary animals such as teddy bears and horses. The kids will love having their photo taken next to giant sized world-famous nursery rhyme characters such as Humpty Dumpty on his wall, the characters around the table at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party with Alice in Wonderland, or laying about on the hill next to Jack and Jill as they prepare to tumble down.
More info at www.tourismhunter.com.au
3. Get on your bike along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria
TUCKED away in the Otways rainforest not far from the beach is a mountain biker’s paradise.
The sleepy town of Forrest, 45 minutes from Apollo Bay, has some of the best mountain bike trails in the southern hemisphere.
There’s more than 60km of single track surrounding this charming township, with trails for riders of all skill levels. Whether you want to take the gentle 3km Forrest Town Loop or brace yourself for the more breathtaking valley views are just reward.
Towering trees and the beautiful Lake Elizabeth captivate visitors every time. An abundance of native wildlife including king parrots, crimson rosellas, koalas and even grey swamp wallabies, can be seen and heard along every trail. Riders can hire Giant Anthem and Trance model bikes on these world-class trails. There’s also a handful of riding events throughout the year, such as the Forrest Festival and Otway Odyssey.
OUR world-famous platypus is widely considered to be one of the world’s most unusual creatures. Believe it or not, it’s also one of the few venomous mammals in existence.
A visit to the Platypus Interpretation Centre at the Australian Axeman’s Hall of Fame is a chance to see a platypus in its natural environment and learn so much more about them. With a bit of luck, he or she won’t be sleeping – they’re said to snooze for 14 hours on average each day.
5. Discover a German village in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia
HAHNDORF, described as “the jewel of the Adelaide Hills”, is Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement. Few villages in Australia ooze such charm and elegance, with elm and plane trees more than a 100-years-old lining the streets.
Hahndorf is home to many German bakeries, pubs and cafes – not to mention the craft stores, galleries and souvenir shops. Its buildings, which are beautifully maintained, give Hahndorf a charming village feel. It’s also the perfect place to spend a day with the family.
Find out more at www.southaustralia.com
– SCOTT PODMORE