4 of the hottest new hotels and resorts in Queensland

By Queensland /

AUSTRALIA has an endless feed of new hotels and resorts, but it shouldn’t come as any surprise Queensland often leads the pack with the most interesting and alluring. Looking for somewhere new to explore in the sunshine state after jumping in a Brisbane car rental and hitting the road? The Queensland Tourism & Events team serve up six of the finest…

Breeze (pictured) – Mooloolaba, Sunshine Coast

Breeze is a new boutique coastal property located in Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast, and is the newest luxury resort to open in the seaside suburb in over a decade. Breeze occupies prime position on the beachfront esplanade and is within walking distance of award-winning dining including the area’s renowned Spice Bar. With its fluid, exterior architecture that mirrors the ocean’s gentle waves, the property features 57, style-forward apartments designed in neutral colors and beachside décor. Breeze also offers a pool and spa, and guests have access to the beach as well as bicycles for exploring Mooloolaba and the surrounding coastal community.

More: www.breezemooloolaba.com.au.

Paradise Country – Oxenford, Gold Coast

Paradise Country, the Gold Coast’s rustic farm-world theme park, where families discover a cuddly collection of Aussie wildlife and farmyard friends, now offers overnight stay experiences. Families can turn a day out at the farm into an overnight stay with the choice of accommodation in the park’s family style camp, motor home or farm stay eco-tent. Guests of Paradise Country’s overnight stay experiences enjoy full use of the theme park that includes access to the Farmhouse restaurant and bar facilities, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and are welcome to enjoy exclusive farm stay activities including campfires and games. Paradise Country is located 20 minutes from the Gold Coast’s renowned Surfer’s Paradise, and is nearby other theme park attractions including Warner Bros. Movie World, and Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast.

More: paradisecountry.com.au

The Island – Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast

Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise icon The Islander Resort has been completely redesigned and renamed The Island. Located in the heart of Surfers Paradise, The Island hotel offers 150 newly renovated, spacious rooms that are designed incorporating both classic and functional elements, while evoking a modern sense of the classic surfer film, “Gidget”. Boasting views of the hinterland, city, beach and water, guests of The Island hotel will also have access to experience the property’s revamped tropical rooftop bar, The Island Rooftop. The Island will debut a kids’ club, and programming later this year.

More: www.theislandgoldcoast.com.au.

The Johnson, an Art Series Hotel – Spring Hill, Brisbane

Recently debuted in September 2016, The Johnson is the Art Series Hotels’ first Queensland property, and is inspired by globally renowned Australian colorist Michael Johnson. The opening marks a pivotal milestone for the hotel group in expanding their dedicated art inspired offerings across Australia. Eighty-three spacious suites and two penthouses boasting spectacular views across the city, as well as multi-functional public spaces are adorned with the Sydney-born artist’s original paintings and giclee prints. Guests of The Johnson have access to the hotel’s infamous art tours and in-room art channels and libraries. Branded Smart Cars and Lekker bicycles are available for guest use, and complement the property’s array of resort-like amenities that include: a 164 foot resort style pool and deck bar; state-of-the-art fitness facility; Tumbling Stone and the hotel’s signature restaurant.

More: artserieshotels.com.au/johnson




5 quirky accommodation options in NSW

By Australia / New South Wales / Sydney /

NEW South Wales has loads of quirky accommodation whether it’s camping out with bison or stretching out in a private treehouse, say the Destination NSW who know better than anyone where to go for .

From a selection of their recommendations, we’ve plucked out 5 accommodation hotspots that are much more than merely being a place to rest your weary bones.  Jump in your Sydney car rental and head for these quirky venues for a sleepover with a point of difference.

One… Camp Native American style with bison (pictured)

Believe it or not, but there’s an American bison farm on the NSW north coaast. Head for Aranyani Bison Adventure Park and camp in a Native American style teepee. These large teepees can fit up to a dozen. Besides the bison, the ranch has abundant native bird and animals. Enjoy spending your evenings around the campfire and your day exploring the farm.

Two… A yurt on the Murray River

Inspired by the traditional Mongolian yurt, Talo Retreat has transformed yurt accommodation into a luxurious couples-only experience on the mighty Murray River. From the canvas walls lined with Australian wood, to the domed skylight to allow stargazing from your bed and the private outdoor spa, this is a unique luxurious yurt experience.

Four… Adults-only treehouse

Shoot for the clouds in the canopy in the Blue Mountains known as Wollemi Wilderness Treehouse.With wall-to-wall windows, exposed native timber and perched on timber stilts, the Treehouse offers stunning views of Bowen’s Creek Gorge. This back-to-basics romantic escape includes a spa and wood fire.

Five… African safari in Dubbo

Dubbo might seem like an unlikely place to enjoy an African safari escape, but at Taronga Western Plains you can sleep in luxury safari tents on the edge of the African savannah. From your private deck you will see giraffe, zebra and eland as they roam.

Also try Five Great Road Trips From Sydney




5 step guide to a Melbourne city escape between Christmas and New Year

By Australia / Melbourne / Victoria /

It’s a long way off but there’s a certain time of year the rest of the human race are either snoozing or have escaped to somewhere else when it comes to Melbourne city and inner city ‘burbs. With Christmas and Boxing Day out of the way and many catching their breath before New Year’s suddenly arrives, Melbourne’s a little sleepy and there are some great hotel deals on offer if you’re looking for a quick getaway.

For a two night, three day stay and play in the big smoke, here are five suggestions for a great Melbourne short stay in 12 months time. The biggest tip of all is you have to be organised so get that calendar ready with reminders.

Flights … the gang at skyscanner recently revealed some observations about the best time to buy flights for Christmas/New Year’s. According to Skyscanner’s research, the best time to buy a Christmas flight is during the week of November 21 for an average savings of more than 6%. Get on the newsletter mailouts, too, for the sales.

Wheels …  Goes without saying you need to click through to the DriveNow Melbourne airport car rental deals at any time of the year. For a three day rental you could be looking at anywhere from $150-$200+ all up depending on your choice of car and size. Will you need a car for the quick-fire getaway? Yes, though you won’t need to be in it often, but it will definitely come in handy for those little trips a few kilometres away during the day – if you choose to venture that far.

IMG_3384Bed … Come December the deals start hatching as distressed inventory (aka rooms that need to be booked) are on offer. We chose the delightful Melbourne Parkview Hotel in Albert Park, on St Kilda Rd. Sniff out deals closer to the date, but some rippers come with breakfast for two and free parking. Better still, everything’s within walking distance, including Albert Park Lake for a morning stroll (about 5km), Commercial Road and Chapel Street buzz, restaurants along St Kilda Road and more.

R&R … Literally 15 minutes by foot along St Kilda Rd from your hotel you will discover a treat for the senses at Leelawadee Thai Massage & Skin Care. We booked a double one-hour Thai massage in the same room mid-afternoon, allowed little feet trodding along the body for a few minutes before sinking into a luxurious and relaxing massage for $130 all up! Awesome value. While a little jelly like we skipped across the road to stylish cocktail bar The Amberoom for a jug of water and a cocktail.

Feast … Say hello to Roxborough Bar and Kitchen in Acland Street, St Kilda, as recommended by good friend and Chin Chin executive chef extraordinaire Benjamin Cooper. It’s a decent 15 minute walk from the hotel or a 5 minute $10-15 taxi. This little gem is making waves on the Melbourne food scene with its spacious open vibe, cleanliness and immaculate service in such an intimate setting (yep, it’s cosy, but it works). The food is scrumptious: snacks like Bruny Island oysters, Jamon and manchego croquetas, lime cured watermelon with goats curd and basil. Entrees to share that jump off the menu include Pippies and clams with smoked pork hock, broad beans and parsely, or how about Chargrilled Queensland king prawns, with garlic and smoked paprika butter. Sumptuous mains that hit the spot are Chargrilled 400g pasture fed Gippsland Entrecote on the bone with bone marrow butter, roasted spring garlic, silver beet puree, or Twice cooked Milawa half free range chicken diavolo with a spring pea and tarragon chicken jus. This place rocks.






Relocation, relocation, relocation with a New Zealand campervan rental

By Auckland / Christchurch / New Zealand /

RELOCATION deals. Now that’s one of the most overlooked opportunities for those looking for an inexpensive and fun way to explore a destination. Right now, for example, there are dozens of cheap New Zealand campervan rental relocation deals just sitting there waiting to be clicked and most of them are for $5 a day at the time this blog hit the blogosphere.
So, how does it work? The DriveNow campervan rental relocation list is updated each day between 8.30am-9.30am (AEST) for travel in the coming two or three weeks. That’s when the list is fresh and vehicles most likely to still be available. It’s the best time to submit a relocation request as DriveNow is more than likely able to confirm your request. The relocations book quickly and therefore as the day progresses the availability becomes more limited. The number of free kilometres on each deal is the distance between the pickup and drop off location plus 550km. Any travel beyond that is charged at AU$0.55 per km.

What routes and vehicles are available as we type? Try these. And if you miss out this time don’t despair – set a reminder every month or two to see what deals are up on the NZ relocations page

relocate-deuceAUCKLAND TO CHRISTCHURCH – between December 31 to January 4

Hit the road in a Mighty Deuce. Microwave yourself some popcorn or some nachos in this super little roomy campervan that sleeps 2. Includes a handy toilet and shower so you’ve got everything you need. Includes 1350km free. $5 a day and 1350km free. Minimum 4 days and a maximum 7 days. Block out the week right now!

relocate-frontierCHRISTCHURCH TO AUCKLAND – between January 10 and January 20

Let’s flip it around and jump in a turbo diesel Britz Frontier, sleeps up to six adults, between January 10 and 20 for $5 a day! The large windows around the living area will provide you with an awesome view each morning. as you explore the sites all the way to Auckland. A total of 1350km free.

QUEENSTOWN TO AUCKLAND – between January 27 and January 31

Get ready to start cruising in a Mighty Big 6 which is ideal for two adults and up to four kids. Gas stove, shower and cool CD player to sing those favourite tunes while on the road with 2000km for free.

relocate-sunset_1CHRISTCHURCH TO QUEENSTOWN – between January 8 to January 12

The Maui Sunset sleeps six (three double beds) and is perfect for three couples wanting to explore the attractions and sights between Christchurch to Queenstown. Enjoy the spacious fixed rear bed with large windows, with comfortable dinette seating area with full kitchen and bathroom facilities. Minimum three days and maximum six, and 750km free.

Also try 5 great outdoor adventures in Auckland and Campervan adventures in Christchurch







Noosa food scene is one of the hottest on the east coast


NOOSA is renowned for its sun, surf and endless summer, but the food scene is not only one of the hottest on the Sunshine Coast, but up there with the best on the entire east coast.

There are plenty of excuses to catch a cheap flight to the sunshine state, nab a Noosa people mover rental and head north to this pearl in the east.

Try these foodie favourites when you’re not hitting the sand and surf.

Betty’s Burgers (below) – Surf rats, tourists and locals are swamping what is becoming known as the king of the burger craze Down Under and it really doesn’t disappoint amid the Hastings St hive of activity. Great relaxed vibe and hearty burgers are the force here, including crispy chicken, shroom burgers, and Betty’s Classic options among many more. Wash it down with a filling thickshake (try the peanut butter!) and that’s before you unbuckle the belt for a crack at Betty’s amazing Concrete dessert masterpieces – hot fudge doughnuts, lemon raspberry cheesecake, and peanut butter brittle choices complementing the rich and creamy custard ice-cream base. YUM! Check out Billy and Josh’s form recently during a school holiday adventure (video). More www.bettysburgers.com.au


Bordertown BBQ & Taquería –  Discover a blend of breakfast, tacos, burgers, booze, and low and slow barbecue at Bordertown with food inspired by the Southern States of the USA and across the border in Mexico.   Enjoy the Acapulco Deck at the front overlooking the Noosa river or dine inside in rib shack chic.

Moto – Custom bikes and surfing culture, craft beer, specialty coffee and a boutique menu that takes you from morning through to late awaits you at the Noosa Junction’s newest and hippest café, Moto.   Enjoy the pizza truck and live beats on a Sunday afternoon or the Friday night Taco Club.

Providore on Hastings (pictured top) – Stock up on gourmet groceries, coffee and fresh meals at Providore on Hastings.  From gourmet sandwiches, salads and everything you need for the perfect cheese platter. Showcasing local producers such as Woombye Cheese, Eumundi Meats, Hum Honey, Noosa Fish Providore, Tanglewood Bakery and many more.  They also offer a boutique licensed outdoor café space located in the Netanya Noosa lobby. www.providoreonhastings.com

The Cooking School Noosa – offers exclusive classes with chefs from Wasabi Restaurant and Bar as well as guest chefs from around the country. Classes include Contemporary Japanese, Classic French and Modern South East Asian, with workshops on topics including French Patisserie, Artisan Bread Making, Preserving and Pickling, Tea Appreciation and other specialty techniques also featuring on the class schedule.  www.thecookingschoolnoosa.com




Seven new attractions in Melbourne in 2017

By Australia / Melbourne / Victoria /

THERE’S a big problem when comes to visitors wanting to explore Melbourne, the world’s most liveable city. With so many diverse and big drawcard attractions, where the hell do you start and what do you see and do? For someone arriving in our state via the air, jumping in a Melbourne airport car rental, and setting forth for adventure and discovery, the good news is while there’s a plethora of old favourites to choose from perhaps a good idea is to look forward to what’s going to be new in 2017.

The Visit Victoria gang say food and wine will at the fore when the city plays host to the prestigious World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards; visitors will be taken to new heights with the launch of The Eagle at Arthurs Seat and the MCG’s new zipline and roof walk; existing events will be injected with new life; and there will be more ways to experience wildlife, and more reasons to hit the water than ever before – not to mention new places to eat, drink, sleep and be merry.

Here are seven beauties to pop on your to-do list next time you’re cruising around Melbourne and surrounds.

One … Arthurs Seat Eagle
Launching just now (December 2016) just in time for the busy summer season, the much-anticipated gondola ride will allow visitors to get a bird’s eye view of the Mornington Peninsula. The Arthurs Seat Eagle will have 24 gondolas and the ride will take 15 minutes each way, reaching a summit of 314 metres.

Two … Asia Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts

For the first time ever Melbourne will host the Asia Triennial of Performing Arts (TOPA) from 13 February to 6 March. The festival of Asian-focused performance and culture will present performing, visual, screen and literary arts programs, commissioned works and collaborations between Australian artists, and artists from the region. It will be hosted at and with Melbourne arts venues and companies including Arts Centre Melbourne, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Federation Square, and Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI).

Three … White Night Ballarat

For the first time ever, White Night Melbourne will be joined by a regional counterpart, with the inaugural White Night Ballarat set to take place on 4 March – two weeks after the Melbourne event. White Night Ballarat will showcase the city’s heritage streetscape in a whole new light with projections on some of the city’s most historic buildings. In another first, both events will be under the artistic direction of David Atkins OAM.

Four … Food Truck Heaven

The City of Melbourne will establish five permanent food-truck precincts in March, which will house a mix of 17 permanent and rotating trucks. The sites will be on St Kilda Road (outside the NGV and Arts Centre); Peel Street (next to the Queen Victoria Market); Les Erdi Plaza on the Yarra River (near Arbory Bar & Eatery); Batman Park (opposite Crown); and the underpass on the corner of Spencer and Flinders Streets.

Five … World’s 50 Best Restaurant awards

One of the world’s most prestigious food award ceremonies will take place at Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building on 5 April. Melbourne. The annual World’s 50 Best Restaurant ranking has become the most coveted lists for the world’s best chefs. As the official host city of the 2017 event, and only the third host city in the world (after London and New York), more than 800 of the world’s culinary elite will descend on Melbourne – cementing the city’s reputation as a global food destination and trend-setter. The annual Melbourne Food & Wine Festival will coincide with this major international awards program, positioning Victoria at the centre of a celebration of food and drink culture on a scale never before seen in Australia.

Six … Legoland

Australia’s first Legoland discovery centre will open at Chadstone Shopping Centre in autumn. Specifically designed for families with children aged three to 10 years old, it will include two Lego rides, five themed ‘build and play’ zones, build classes from the Legoland master model builder, special party rooms for birthdays and other celebrations, a 4D cinema, and an exhibit designed to reflect Melbourne’s buildings, skyline, and landmarks.

Seven … MCG Zipline & Roof Walk (pictured)

Plans are currently underway to develop a new Roof Walk at the MCG. The new attraction will allow visitors to walk on the roof of the iconic MCG, taking in spectacular views of the ground itself, as well as Melbourne’s sporting precinct more broadly and the city skyline. A zipline will also be added to transport thrill-seekers from the city-end scoreboard to a landing on the opposite side of the stadium. It is anticipated the attraction will launch in 2017.

SCOTT PODMORE (with VisitVictoria)


Five state of the art hotels opening in Australia


AUSTRALIA’S hotel industry is experiencing a building boom with 120 hotel projects in the pipeline, which will grow the accommodation stock by 30% over the next five years, according to Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA).
This year saw Australia pass the 100,000 room mark and it is forecast over 4000 rooms will be added in 2017, and 5000 rooms in 2018, transforming every capital city across the country with new properties ranging from 500+-room internationally branded luxury properties to intimate boutique hotels.
Want the lowdown on some hot new upcoming hotels in Australia’s capital cities? Get ready to park your Australian car rental wheels at the homes of these five new kids on the block.
Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour (pictured)
Opening Q4 2017
This is the hotel Sydney has been waiting for – the first new built 5-star hotel in almost twenty years that will underpin the $3.4 billion redevelopment of Darling Harbour. Located next to the new International Convention Centre, the $360 million, 590 room Sofitel, designed by Sydney architect Richard Francis-Jones, is encased in a lacework glass facade, and topped with a rooftop pool deck (and a heliport, if owner Dr Jerry Schwartz gets his way).

Four Points by Sheraton Melbourne Docklands
Opening 28 March, 2017
The Digital Harbour precinct of Docklands is set to become a new accommodation hub for Melbourne with three major hotels announced, starting with the launch in March of the Four Points by Sheraton. A striking, contemporary high-rise, the hotel will feature 273 rooms and suites with harbour and city views, a heated, outdoor swimming pool and a large function and conference centre. With Etihad Stadium just across the way, the Four Points will open just in time for the AFL season.

Aloft Hotel Perth
Opening 1 May 2017
Perth will provide the Australian debut for Starwood’s Aloft brand, which is designed to appeal to ‘next generation’ travellers, with technology to the fore, New York loft style rooms, a buzzy, Re:mix communal lobby lounge and living area, a grab and go cafe called  and Re:fuel, and their signature W XYZ bar, which will host live music from local artists. The ‘Cool Concierge’ tablets provide access to local attractions, while children receive ‘Camp Aloft’ packs and special treats.

Sage Hotel James Street, Fortitude Valley
Opening mid-2017
Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley has become the epicentre for hip and happening hotels in Brisbane, with the James Street dining and entertainment precinct transforming the once red light district. The Sage hotel is set to join the district’s eclectic collection of hotels from mid-year and will have the benefit of the revitalised Queens Arms (the QA) next to it. The Sage – part of the Silverneedle group – will offer 93 rooms, a restaurant, boutique wine cellar on the ground level, and fast and free wifi.
Holiday Inn Express Hindley Street
Opening Q3 2017
Great value in a prime CBD location is what Holiday Inn Express is all about. Light, bright and perfect for business or leisure, the 245 room hotel is located in Hindley Street, one of Adelaide’s premier thoroughfares and surrounded by the city’s best restaurants and shopping. Signature inclusions such as free wifi, express breakfast options and self-service business centre and laundry make this a perfect option for visitors who want great value accommodation to experience the buzz of the city.



Road trip Sydney and beyond – 5 great drives this summer

By Australia / Australian Capital Territory / New South Wales / Sydney /

If you are to Google Earth our beautiful country you would quickly realise we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to road trips throughout our enormous continent. Once you jump in a Sydney car rental every road leads to a great adventure. But where to start? Try these suggestions.

Sydney to Leura (pictured)

Set your sights in a westerly direction and head for Wentworth Falls via the M4 Motorway. Catch some gorgeous little towns along the way including Glenbrook, Faulconbridge, Hazelbrook and continue on to magnficient Wentworth Falls. The views over the Jamison Valley are hard to beat and there are some great opportunities for  a walk through the Blue Mountains National Park. After that take the 10 minute drive to Leura where you can take a stroll checking out the local shops, galleries and craft stores while having a bite in one of the gourmet cafes.

Grand Pacific Drive

This southerly sensation is arguably Australia’s best, a spectacular driving route that takes in ocean views, countless beaches and such hotspots as Stanwell Tops, Bald Hill Lookout and Sea Cliff Bridge, a sight to behold that swerves out from the cliffs over the sea. Heading off from Sydney, it all starts in Royal National Park before cruising through Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama (a stop off at Easts Beach Big4 Holiday Park is a must!).  Explore quaint seaside villages, drive through rainforests and enjoy a stellar coastline with an endless supply of views.

Discover the Poachers Way

It may be a three hour journey (no stops) from Sydney, but it’s both the journey and the destination that provide loads of highlights with this one. The journey south will take you through such touristy treats like Bowral and Goulburn before you reach the region surrounding Canberra. Welcome to the Poachers Way, a tourist route where you can sample the fine food, wine and art produced by local chefs, winemakers and artists. Visit the towns of Yass, Hall and gorgeous Murrumbatemen along the way and enjoy the high quality produce and discover the handcrafts and local produce of local businesses and artisans.

Hunter Valley

Wine country, yes, but you don’t necessarily need to be a big fan of the grape! Hunter Valley is a two and a half hour drive from the heart of Sydney and while it has a smorgasbord of beautiful rolling vineyards, wineries and great cellar doors, there are also such attractions as Hunter Valley Gardens (with 10 stunning storybook feature gardens), luxury retreats like the Chateau Elan at The Vintage, a splendid golf and spa resort, restaurants galore, and national parks with great walks on offer.

Port Stephens

Head north and hug the coast for a couple of hours and providing you can avoid beautiful distractions like the Central Coast, Lake Macquarie and Newcastle you will stumble upon Port Stephens. There’s a lot to do here, from enjoying “blue water paradise” with 30km of pristine coastline for a swim, fish, whale watching expedition or a dolphin cruise, otherwise hit the sand dunes at Stockton Beach on a quad bike or discover national parks and a superb marina at Nelson Bay for a shop or bite to eat.

Also try Six Summer Sensations in Sydney and Sydney To The Blue Mountains – 5 Ways To Play





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



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




5 Great Ways To Discover The Napa Valley

By California / United States /

So you’ve left your heart in San Francisco after jumping in a car rental and wondering which direction to head? The answer is obvious, especially for those who don’t mind a tipple or two – head for Napa Valley and park your wheels at these five hotspots to continue some serious Californian dreaming. And it’s not all about the wine, as you’ll discover.

One … Napa Valley Wine Train

It’s time to journey back in time as you discover the Napa Valley in the comfort of a train with all the trimmings. The Napa Valley Wine Train, echoing the days of yesteryear when train travel was the luxurious way to experience a journey, is not only a charming mode of transport but also a restaurant on the tracks. With 100-year-old railcars and a 150-year-old rail corridor, the Wine Train retains railroading traditions that are disappearing on the American landscape, all within the stunning setting of Napa Valley and its treasured wineries. More: winetrain.com

Two … Lavender Inn

Lavender, a Four Sisters Inn, is a touch of Provence in the Napa Valley and is renowned for its cosy, homely accommodation offering in a setting that blends a little bit of the old with a little bit of the new. Gorgeous guestrooms features a fireplace, a king-sized bed heaped with pillows and many feature large brilliantly painted bathrooms with double sinks and contemporary benchtops. The good news? You can leave your Napa Valley car rental at home as there are superb wineries within walking distance including Hope & Grace, Somerston, Hestan Vineyards and Cornerstone Cellars. More: lavendernapa.com

Three … The Hess Collection Winery

Not just a mere winery, this one’s a museum as well, so you get the wine-art combo treatment located on the volcanic slopes of Mt Veeder. Hess Wines are legendary in these parts, the Cab Sav a favourite for many, and while there’s opportunities to do the cheese and wine pairing experience or straight up tastings, it’s essential you visit the contemporary art museum featuring works from the private collection of proprietor Donald Hess. It’s open daily and FREE. Self-guided iPod audio tours are available, too. More: hesscollection.com/visit-us

Four … Safari West

There’s plenty of reason to go wild in the Napa Valley, just ask the resident animals at this place, a 400-acre wildlife sanctuary. Safari West offers guided, open-air jeep tours daily. It’s an attraction with a real point of difference and a great place to take the family or wander through and talk to the animals. More: safariwest.com

Five … Napa Valley Bike Tours

Leave your car behind and spin your wheels on a bike tour of the Napa Valley. Join one of the company’s Guided Bike Tours, hosted by someone in the know, or go Self-Guided or Rent Bikes with the assistance of customised route maps and expert advice from the locals. This month (September 2016) is a chance to experience the new 12km stretch of the Napa Valley Vine Trail, connecting Napa to Yountville, offering a beautiful and relaxing bike ride with all the sights. More: napavalleybiketours.com





AFL grand final fever – five places to stay in Melbourne

By Australia / Melbourne /

STAR footballers retiring, others being given the flick, a coach sacked and season over for 8 Australian Football League teams. Yep, it’s the end of the home and away season in the AFL and it all turns a little stir crazy as the other 8 teams are a chance in this year’s finals – it’s time to find some accommodation and snap up a bargain rental car at Melbourne Airport for that big day on October 1 when the MCG comes alive for a full day of entertainment and footy action.


Pullman on the Park

Upscale hotel right opposite the “G” and Fitzroy Gardens. If you want to be right on top of all the action for both the pre GF parade and the big game the next day then you probably need to get in quick for Pullman on the Park. Only 24km from the airport, the hotel is also smack bang in the middle of Melbourne’s sports precinct.

10 words or less: Swish hotel and everything is within walking distance.


Airport Tourist Village Melbourne

Let’s face it, if you’re flying into Melbourne from interstate, sometimes it’s easy to park your wheels somewhere close for when you arrive and when you depart. While ATVM is a budget option for a stay in Melbourne, it’s convenience with a capital C and “just plane handy”, as the ATVM say. It’s a mixed bag of studio units, executive apartments, deluxe or standard cabins. Simplicity, clean and tidy, and undercover BBQ facilities. modern park, centrally located just minutes from Melbourne’s domestic and international airports, and an easy trip by car or public transport from Melbourne’s CBD.

10 words or less: Super close to the airport, simple, tidy, close to CBD.


Grand Hyatt Melbourne

Another one right near the footy action. It’s also a five minute walk to Federation Square, 15 minute walk to the National Gallery of Victoria and all the other attractions Melbourne’s CBD has to offer. Throw in the fact the facilities are five star magic, stunning floor to ceiling windows, service of the highest standard and you’ll be sleeping like a king or queen when you’re not screaming support for your favourite footy club.

10 words or less: sheer luxury in the heart of the city.


The Olsen Hotel

Adorned with beautiful artworks from artist John Olsen, close proximity to trendy Chapel Street and less than 3km from the MCG – the Olsen is a special kind of place to experience unique accommodation in the heart of Melbourne.

10 words or less: Quirky, quality, trendy and THE best bed and pillow combo around.


Crown Towers

Lavishly appointed guest rooms, suites and villas in beautiful Crown Towers in Southbank. Just a kilometre from historic Flinders Street Station, it’s a hive of activity right near the Yarra River, which snakes its way with accompanying walking tracks up to the mighty MCG where the two best teams in the AFL will battle it out for the big one. An ideal hotel for those looking for all the magic of Crown casino.

10 words or less: glitz and glam by the riverside in beautiful Southbank.

Also try Spring Sensations In Melbourne or  What’s Hot on the Melbourne Food Scene