Oct
04
2012

Spring into these Tasmania events

By Australia / Hobart / Tasmania /

TASMANIA is the perfect place for a driving holiday. A DriveNow rental can set you up for any situation ­­– a car, campervan or 4-wheel drive. Tassie’s wilderness, wine regions and markets are well-known tourist destinations and well worth a look. But if you have picked up your DriveNow rental from Hobart and want to see what else the island has going on at the moment, check out these suggestions.

Port Arthur for school holidays, until October 7

Sentence the kids to some fun and learning at the same time at the Education Centre at Port Arthur (in the old Accountant’s House, near the Church). The centre is offering a range of engaging and fun activities to keeps kids busy – and parents relaxed.

Distance: 93km from Hobart, allow an hour and a half drive.

Stay at: Bay Retreat, Port Arthur. Waterfront accommodation, and only three minutes from the historic Port Arthur site.

 

TasART, Burnie, until October 20

Love your art? This event is hailed as one of – if not “the” ­­– major community art exhibitions held in Tasmania, and among the major regional art exhibitions held annually throughout Australia. Worth the drive and an overnight stay.

Distance: 349km from Hobart, allow four hours’ drive.

Stay at: Beachfront Voyager Motor Inn. Central to the CBD, across the road from West Beach.

 

Queenstown Heritage and Arts Festival, October 12-14

This year’s festival marks the centenary of the North Lyell Mine Disaster. On October 1212, 1912, a fire, which began in a pumphouse, trapped many workers deep underground. Forty-two lives were lost.

The festival program this year is paying tribute to the disaster by encompassing the anniversary into its activities in a way that respects the past and recognises the present and future of the community.

Distance: 260km from Hobart, allow just under four hours’ drive.
Stay at: Queenstown Cabin and Tourist Park.

 

Bruny Island Bird Festival, October 25-27

Here’s your chance to visit an island off the coast of an island. Bruny Island (pictured) was one of the first parts of Tasmania to be explored by seafarers.

As a festival visitor, you can listen to well-known wildlife specialists, take part in walks and information tours, or take a flight excursion to the remote South West.

Distance: A half an hour’s drive from Hobart to Kettering and then a 20-minute car ferry ride to the island. Check the Bruny Island Ferry timetable to plan your schedule.

Stay at: The Bruny Island Hotel at Alonnah.

 

Bicheno Food and Wine Festival, October 17

What better way to get a taste of Tassie than this fabulous one-day festival celebrating the food and wine of the East Coast region.

Distance: 178km from Hobart, allow a two and a half hours’ drive.

Stay at: Bicheno Gaol Cottages. Take your pick of The Gaol House, Old School House or stables.

Sep
05
2012

Got the drive and the car rental deal? Here’s four road trip ideas in Australia

By Australia / Brisbane / Melbourne / New South Wales / Queensland / Sydney / Victoria /

There’s no better time for a road trip than spring. But how do you make the most of that red-hot car or campervan rental deal you just snapped up on DriveNow? Here are five destinations worth punching into your GPS.

Brisbane to Caloundra

Tune in to the sixth annual Caloundra Music Festival (right) held over the September 28-30 weekend at Kings Beach.

Just over an hour’s drive north of Brisbane in your car rental, Kings Beach fires up to some of the best names in the Australian and international music industry. This year features acts such as The Living End, John Butler Trio and The Cat Empire. There’s a street parade, roving performers, beach-side carnival, buskers and children’s entertainment as well.

Roll up to the Sunshine Holiday Park at Dicky’s Beach or the Caloundra Waterfront Holiday Park and be only a couple of kilometres away from the action.

Check out http://www.caloundramusicfestival.com/

Melbourne to Deniliquin

Give yourself a leisurely four hours to get to Deniliquin in your Melbourne car rental. Get onto the Hume Hwy and then follow the long snake of utes making their way via Echuca, to the Cobb Hwy which takes you to Deni.

The Deniliquin Ute Muster and Play on the Plains Festival runs September 28 to 29 and appeals to all ages. Don your blue singlet to be a part of a world record count, then watch The Australian National Circle Work Championships, ute driving and show ‘n shine events. Kelly Clarkson, Lee Kernaghan and The McClymonts form part of the music festival line-up.
You didn’t rent a ute? Never mind, the festival site has camping for utes, cars, caravans, tents and campervans.

Check out http://www.visitnsw.com/events/deni-play-on-the-plains-festival-and-world-record-ute-muster

Sydney to Evans Head

Soak up some sun and nostalgia at the Annual Malibu Classic, held September 29 to October 1.

See 120 long-boarders from Victoria to the Sunshine Coast take part in this prestigious event and relive glory days as the “retro” divisions go through their paces. You’ll need to allow an eight-hour drive in your Sydney car hire  via the Pacific Hwy, so, if you’re in a camper, pull up at the Silver Sands Holiday Park when you arrive at Evans Head and take advantage of its relaxing facilities.

Check out http://www.visitnsw.com/events/malibu-classic

Adelaide to Wallaroo

Love to fish and then feast on the catch? Then check out the fourth Copper Cove Marina Festival on October 6 and 7.

About a two hour drive in your Adelaide car rental, the Wallaroo event combines the best products and produce from local boating, seafood and wine suppliers, all displayed at the multi-million dollar Copper Cove Marina. Stay nearby and enjoy the beach at Wallaroo North Beach Tourist Park.

Aug
17
2012

Thirst for adventure quenched with Father’s Day weekend away

By Australia / Brisbane / Melbourne / New South Wales / Queensland / Sydney / Victoria /

Take the driver’s seat and let Dad relax on Father’s Day by picking up a DriveNow campervan rental and hitting the road for a couple of days of sight-seeing, fishing and a few quiet ales with the bloke who brought you up. It’s a great way to say “cheers Dad, have a good one.’’

QUEENSLAND

Where: Brisbane to Bundaberg. Grab your Brisbane campervan rental and jump on Bruce Highway (M1) for four hours for a cool Queensland road trip weekend escape.
What to do: Head for the Bundaberg Rum Distillery for a tour – and a tasting, of course – find out how our country’s famous rum is made, watch out for drop bears and pull up a stool at the bar to finish the day with some Bundy cocktails.
Park your wheels: At Bargara Holiday Park, only 10 minutes east of Bundy and on the beach. Close to cafes and restaurants, golf courses, fishing and surfing. Powered sites start from $32 a night.

NSW

Where: Sydney to the Hunter Valley. A couple of hours’ drive in your Sydney campervan rental on the F3 and then take the Cessnock exit.
What to do: Visit the Hunter’s only microbrewery, the Hunter Beer Co at Potters Hotel and Brewery. Join a tour, talk to the brewers or just sit back in the beer garden, have a meal and sip some award-winning beers.
Park your wheels: At BIG4 Valley Vineyard Tourist Park where you will find powered caravan and tent sites at $35 a night. For those who want to stay put, there is a BYO Thai Restaurant, resort pool and BBQ facilities.

VICTORIA

Where: Melbourne to Healesville, just an hour’s drive in your Melbourne campervan rental on the Maroondah Highway.
What to do: Think Alice in Wonderland and high-tail it to the White Rabbit Brewery, where tradition is mixed with imagination and the result is some amazing beer tasting experiences.
Park your wheels: At Big4 Badger Creek Holiday Park, five minutes away from the White Rabbit. Nestled in a bush and lake setting, the park offers great walks and fishing, and the wineries of the Yarra Valley are close at hand. Powered sites are $35 a night.

MAUREEN DOYLE

Aug
08
2012

Toast the good life with a scenic drive through classic wine country

By Adelaide / Australia / Melbourne / New South Wales / Perth / South Australia / Sydney / Victoria / Western Australia /

AUSTRALIAN wines have taken their place amongst the best in the world. Combined with a stunning landscape, wineries offer a great Australian drive-tour experience.

The first thing to do is nominate a driver – maybe take it in turns if an overnight stay is planned. The next thing is to select your DriveNow rental vehicle. A roomy sedan or four-wheel drive might be handy, or why not pick up a campervan and have your accommodation sorted as well?

Those in Western Australia have the acclaimed Margaret River to explore. Pick up your Perth car rental and head about 280km south to Margaret River, home to 20 percent of Australia’s premium wines. Take advantage of the area’s beaches and forests by staying at the Riverview Tourist Park and making it your base.  Xanadu winery is a popular and picturesque place to start, with an award-winning restaurant and sweeping views.

In NSW the Hunter Valley is considered the grand old daddy of wine regions – and it’s only two hours from Sydney.  Lindemans, McGuigan, and Wyndham Estate are just some of the famous labels to be explored.

Take in South Australia’s Barossa Valley Tourist Park, 70kms north of the state’s capital and maybe hire one of the bicycles on offer. The park is close to wineries such Wolf Blass, Penfolds, Tarac Australia, and Chateau Dorrien.

Victoria is the perfect place for winery day trips with the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Geelong winery regions all within an hour’s drive of the city.  St Huberts, Sticks, Dromana Estate, T’Gallant, Bellarine Estate and Jack Rabbit Vineyard are amongst the state’s diverse offerings.

Across the water, Tasmania’s Tamar Valley is home to some of Australia’s premium cool-climate wines and over in New Zealand, wineries are one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. Northland, Nelson, Hawkes Bay and Marlborough are some of the popular wine districts just ripe for exploration.

MAUREEN DOYLE & SCOTT PODMORE

Jul
31
2012

Road-tripping Aussies taking the home ground advantage

By

AUSTRALIAN travellers are bypassing the tough economic road and taking the caravan and camping path to good times and value-for-money holidays with the Caravan RV and Accommodation Industry of Australia reporting a jump of 14.7 percent more RV registered products in the past three years.

It’s a good sign, but not everyone wants the responsibility, or has the room – or the budget – for a caravan or campervan and that’s where companies such as DriveNow come to the rescue. With its extensive range of campervan rentals DriveNow is contributing to the scores of Australians setting out to discover their homeland. Many see it as a way to “try before you buy”.

CRVA chief executive Stuart Lamont says people see caravan and camping holidays as the “most affordable holiday” with the bonus of lifestyle and health benefits.

“It’s the freedom from daily routines that is so appealing,” he says.

“Bonding with like-minded people over happy hour, swapping recipes and travel stories and making friends for life – these priceless experiences you have on the road are what matters most.”

Mr Lamont says caravanning and camping promotes Australians holidaying at home, and offers one of the best value holiday options in Australia today, in many cases supporting regional communities due to the locations of caravan holiday parks, and the nature of caravanning and camping.’’

According to the CRVA findings, up to seven million Australians have visited a caravan holiday park in the past two years with another 9.3 million planning a holiday in the Caravanning and Holiday Parks Industry over the next two years.

For those thinking of renting a self-drive campervan, DriveNow recommends booking early to find the best price. Rental rates are lower when booking in advance and during peak periods such as Christmas, Easter and even school holidays, prices go up and vehicles are harder to come by.

MAUREEN DOYLE

Jul
26
2012

Solar leads the charge as campervanners and business travellers search for greener pastures

By

Savvy, environmentally-conscious road trippers are jumping on the solar bandwagon when it comes to charging their mobile devices on the go.

The old plug-in-the-wall charger days are disappearing fast as campervanners learn to charge their gear while they are either on the road or out and about in a holiday park.

Those who pick up a DriveNow hire car or campervan rental in Australia can have their solar-power gadgets at work while they take a road trip, stop for a bush-walk or go sightseeing.

One of the most popular tourist spots on the Australian coast is Byron Bay, home to Jack Wilde of Nomad NRG, a company dedicated to sourcing quality mobile power accessories.

Its range features UVA technology developed in low light environments, so it continues charging in cloudy weather and rain. For DriveNow travellers, Mr Wilde recommends products such as the Nova Backpack, with a battery that can refill your tablet and a mobile phone. Then there’s the Unity Tablet Case which can be held in your hand, left on the dash board or strapped to a backpack.

The Titan is the big daddy of them all. It can charge an entire laptop battery, tablets and mobile phones. Other handy devices for tourists include a camera tour bag with an inbuilt solar panel for on-going charging and the CasePower A4 Worker for iPhone 4 & 4S, with its ultra-thin rechargeable battery housed in a tough, rubberized ABS plastic case – perfect to take the knocks and drops associated with a camping trip.

MAUREEN DOYLE

Jun
28
2012

The road to fun and friendship drives a girls’ weekend away

By Australia / Cairns / Melbourne / New South Wales / Perth / Queensland / Sydney / Victoria / Western Australia /

A weekend away with the girls is a great way to take some time out to recharge the batteries. Whether you want to get away from the kids for a while, have some fun with your bridesmaids before the big day, or catch up with old school friends you haven’t seen in ages, there are some fabulous packages around that are designed to spoil you rotten.

When it comes to choosing a Australian hire car, find a vehicle that is roomy and comfortable enough for several adults. You might even decide to stay in a holiday park, so a campervan may be the way to go.

So if girls just want to have fun, where do they go?

In your Melbourne car rental head for Daylesford. This beautiful town in Spa Country in Victoria has an excellent reputation for accommodation, restaurants and relaxing spa treatments. It’s a 110km (one and a half hour) drive from Melbourne taking the Western Freeway (M8) and getting off at the Daylesford exit at Ballan. On the way home you could take the Calder Freeway and explore Hanging Rock and Mt Macedon along the way. Park the car, have a relaxing walk around Lake Daylesford and then make your way to the Lake House, where you can enjoy a one night indulgence retreat package for up to four people, which includes wining and dining with your own personal butler services and magnificent spa treatments.

Margaret River, WA is 267km (just over 3 hours drive in your Western Australia car rental) south of Perth – State Route 2 and Bussell Hwy/State Route 10. You will find Yelverton Brook Luxury spa eco-chalets nestled in the area’s wine region. The “Girls Only Pamper Retreat” for four includes two nights in a two bedroom chalet, a large private “spa under the stars”, gourmet food, spa treatments and a five-star stretch limo winery tour.

In NSW, for a beautiful coastal drive and unique experience, Paperbark Camp in Jervis Bay (197.5 km, almost three hours from Sydney – Princes Hwy/National Route 1) is on the banks of the Currambene Creek, ideal for those who love being close to nature, but appreciate life’s little luxuries – accommodation is a safari style tent and freshly prepared food is provided.

For those up North, picking up a Cairns campervan rental and taking the short, half-hour drive to Kuranda Rainforest Accomodation Park, would allow you to set up camp in an ancient rainforest, be a 20-minute walk away from the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and the famous Kuranda Scenic Railway, and get in some shopping at the renowned market precinct.

Jun
15
2012

Put the brakes on time – and your campervan rental – to enjoy historic Echuca

By Victoria /

Echuca, a beautiful destination in country Victoria’s Goulburn Valley region, is a town where you can turn back time, slow the pace a little and heighten your curiosity.

No more than a three-hour drive from Melbourne, after picking up your Melbourne campervan rental you are on the Hume Hwy (M31) in no time. Take the Kilmore exit onto the Northern Hwy (B75) and then follow the signs to make your way through Rochester and on to Echuca. It’s a great little Australian road trip with some interesting little places along the way.

The mighty Murray River is the lifeblood of Echuca’s fascinating history and modern-day tourist industry.

Take your pick of the excellent holiday parks, settle your DriveNow camper into a site and wander into the historic port.  A gigantic log on display is symbolic of how large and vital the bustling port was in its hey-day. It also hints at the rough and tough nature of the times. Horse-drawn carriages clip their way along the cobbled streets – an excellent vantage point from which to take in the old buildings and various craftspeople at work. Sharps Magic Movie House and Penny Arcade will delight the kids.

Down by the riverside, another world is at work. Paddlesteamers such as the PS Emmylou offer short day cruises, lunch or dinner … even overnight cruises.

Moving forward a little in time – and just across the road in Warren St – is the National Holden Museum, the largest one brand car museum in Australia. Celebrate the part this uniquely Australian vehicle has played in our lives by inspecting over 40 vehicles, including rare prototypes, historic film footage, and a photographic exhibition. Echuca is also home to the Great Aussie Beer Shed and the Oz maze, a wooden structure in the shape of Australia.

Want to pick up the pace a bit? If your timing is right, you can catch all the action at the Echuca races, admire the exhibits of  The Steam, Horse and Vintage Rally or get in some toe-tapping at the Echuca-Moama Celtic Festival, Riverboats Music Festival, or the Winter Blues Festival (hosted at the end of July).

MAUREEN DOYLE

Jun
05
2012

Snow adds new thrill to an Australian driving holiday

By Melbourne / Victoria /

THE snowfields are plump with the white stuff already, signalling a brilliant ski season ahead. Australia’s high country regions are as beautiful as any in the world, with their unique quality drawing visitors from all around the globe.

But a holiday on any snow-capped mountain Down Under is only half the fun – the other half comes with the road trip there, and after clicking up a DriveNow car hire deal in Sydney or Melbourne, the only thing left to do is to work out which snowfields you’ll be heading to.

After jumping in a Melbourne car rental, Victoria has magnificent snowfield options. But most importantly, make sure you choose the right  Car Rental Snow insurance options, and check out such deals as Europcar’s Early Bird Snow Package.  Hotham – 381kms from Melbourne – records large snow falls and is known as the powder capital of Australia. Falls Creek (387km) is the state’s largest ski resort and has consistent snow cover. Mt Buller (234km) has cosy lodges and luxury hotels from which you can ski straight to the slopes. Mt Baw Baw (177km) is the closest downhill ski area to Melbourne, making it a popular destination for day-trippers and Dinner Plain  (393km) is for those who prefer a less crowded, relaxed atmosphere.

For those happy just to enjoy the sight of snow, maybe some cross country skiing or tobogganing in Lake Mountain or Mt Stirling are more your thing.

The resorts all feature excellent accommodation, but if you prefer a holiday park, areas such as Bright, Mt Beauty and Wangaratta offer camping sites or cabins.

In NSW, Thredbo, which has the longest ski runs in Australia, is about 500km south of Sydney via the Alpine Way. Perisher, a five to six hour drive from Sydney, is a combination of four villages: Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Guthega and Blue Cow. Resort accommodation ranges from budget to luxury, or there are plenty of holiday parks in the towns you pass on the way to the mountains, including Jindabyne, with its stunning lake views.

MAUREEN DOYLE