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Winter’s on the way, so hit the road and head north

By Australia / Brisbane / Queensland /

With winter fast approaching, the best plan of attack to beat the chill is to head north. While Aussies down south shiver through the coldest months of the year, up north in Queensland the sun is still shining and the ocean waters constantly warm.

Pick up a camper from Brisbane airport and park it at one of these five caravan parks in Queensland for your next holiday.

Noosa Caravan Park
Just under two hours north of Brisbane is the lovely Noosa. Sandy, surf beaches and clear waters await. Park your camper at the Noosa Caravan Park, which is a two minute walk from Noosa River and a 15 minute drive from Noosa Beach. Then Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo is less than an hour away. It also has an outdoor swimming pool with BBQ facilities and a children’s playground.

Mackay Blacks Beach Holiday Park
Ideally positioned on five acres with beachfront views, Mackay Blacks Beach Holiday Park overlooks the beautiful southern islands of the Whitsundays. There are nearly 90 caravan sites available, many with ocean views, a swimming pool and entertainment areas so you can enjoy your holiday nearly 1000km north of Brisbane.

Rainbow Beach Holiday Village
Three hours north of Queensland’s capital, Rainbow Beach Holiday Village sits on the Fraser Coast, just 100m from the beach. The surf club is also located across the road, with many restaurants and cafes nearby. The village has all the conveniences you need – including two BBQ sites, washing up facilities, a convenience store and an onsite service station – but it still has a relaxing atmosphere, which draws holidaymakers back year after year.

Lake Eacham Tourist Park
Set in the heart of the famously beautiful Crater Lakes District, this quiet tourist park is just one kilometre from Lake Eacham’s pristine waters. Just over an hour’s drive from Cairns and 18 hours from Brisbane, Lake Eacham Tourist Park is well worth the distance. Jump in the water whenever you feel like a swim, while the lake’s surrounding beauty, including colourful wildlife and pristine waterfalls, are found at almost every turn.

Gold Coast Tourist Parks Main Beach
Drive an hour south of Brisbane and Surfer’s Paradise awaits! Stay at the Gold Coast Tourist Parks Main Beach, which is just across the road from one of the area’s most beautiful surfing beaches. It hosts a resort-style pool and Tedder Avenue is nearby, with its trendy cafes and restaurants. It’s everything you need for a perfect, sunny holiday away!

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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



7 unmissable Queensland food and wine events in 2016

By Australia / Brisbane / Cairns / Gold Coast / Port Douglas / Queensland /

THE Sunshine State is not just beaches, babes and sunshine, you know, it’s also home to an endless supply of delicious local produce that’s been grown, caught, baked and served by “an array of clever clogs and inspired minds”, as the Tourism Queensland crew tell us and here are five suggestions by them for Queensland food and wine events to kill for in 2016

What: Ginger Flower & Food Festival

When: January 22-24

Where: Yandina
The Ginger Factory Yandina comes alive for the weekend-long Ginger Food & Flower Festival, surrounded by Australia’s largest and most ornamental gingers and heliconias, all under one roof. This year the festival celebrates its 20th birthday with a line-up of local kitchen maestros and gardening experts.

What: Feast of the Senses

When: March 12-20

Where: Innisfail
Discover North Queensland’s premier tropical food event that engages every one of your senses! Over 10 amazing days, this region’s abundance of exotic tropical fruits, produce, seafood and meats will be on show and include farm trails, art, and photography, cooking competitions and the piece de resistance – a market day extravaganza on 20 March – with Innisfail’s art deco architecture providing a fitting backdrop.

What: Gold Coast Italian Festival

When: March 26–27

Where: Gold Coast (various locations)
Savour the tastes, sights and sounds of Italy at the first annual Gold Coast Italian Festival. From fine food, Italian wines and family entertainment, the festival will celebrate all the best about the dolce vita culture. Street vendors will be slinging wood fired pizza, pasta and gelato.

What: Felton Food Festival

When: April 10

Where: Felton
For one day, Felton throws the spotlight on the delectable produce, stunning landscape and the people that make this region so vibrant. For a taste of real country living, families, farmers and food lovers are invited to mingle through markets, take a crop tour, meet a local farmer and learn more about the paddock to plate concept. Special guests this year include Matt Golinski, Alison Alexander and for the first time Wild Canary Head Chef, Glen Barratt.
What: Relish Fraser Coast

When: June 4

Where: Fraser Coast (Multiple Locations)
A feast of culture and cuisine is served! Immerse yourself in Maryborough’s heritage streetscapes and riverside parks for the Relish Fraser Coast and their jam-packed program of celebrity chefs, gourmet tastings, cooking workshops, live music and art. True foodies will have the chance to try Hervey Bay’s famous scallops, Fraser Island prawns and macadamia nuts all paired with wines from Queensland’s premier wineries.

What: Regional Flavours

When July 15-17

Where: South Brisbane
South Bank’s signature food and lifestyle event returns in 2016 with free entertainment, celeb chefs and industry experts as well as fresh produce from more than 80 Queensland providores. Within eight unique venues, the food lover in all of us can experience al fresco dining, expand our culinary knowledge and sample some of the state’s best artisanal food and wine. Gather a group and take advantage of the South Bank views to eat and enjoy a few of life’s simplest pleasures.
What: Hervey Bay Seafood Festival

When: August 14

Where: Hervey Bay
A festival to celebrate wild-caught seafood from the pristine waters of the Fraser Coast. Escape for a warm wintery weekend and tempt your tastebuds with an ultimate seafood menu at the festival’s signature Tastes of the Bay long lunch with Chef Andrew Mirosch. If that doesn’t take your fancy, navigate a DIY feast at the array of seafood stands serving the iconic Hervey Bay scallop, prawns and fish by local restaurants. Either way, no one is going home hungry!



One hour from Brisbane: 5 amazing things to do with the family

By Australia / Brisbane /

Fancy a trip away with the family, but don’t feel like travelling more than about an hour from Brisbane? There are many amazing things to do with the family, only a short drive from the city.

Here are five of them:

Spot sea life around Bribie Island
Navigate the waters around Bribie Island with a ferry cruise, which takes you to see some of the cutest creatures in the sea. Dugongs and loveable dolphins frequent the area, with the Pumicestone Passage also providing an ideal home for turtles. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the ocean and the contrasting rolling green hills on the mainland while on board.

Picnic at Lake Wivenhoe
Who said an exciting family trip away from the city had to cost a lot? Those wanting to relax and enjoy scenic views should head to Lake Wivenhoe. Pack a picnic, and unwind on the shores of the lake, which supplies water to the region. If you want to take up a fun water activity, you can have a go at fishing, kayaking or even just splash around in the water.

Explore the theme parks (pictured)
Visit every child’s paradise – the Gold Coast. Here, the whole family can explore the theme parks and the thrilling rides they have to offer. At Movie World, kids’ favourite movie characters come to life, while adrenaline junkies can experience the trill of their lives, on the Arkham Asylum Ride. Then there’s Wet n Wild, where you can splash around and enjoy the Blackhole ride, where you’re sent into a dark spiral of darkness.

Trek to Curtis Falls
Visit Mount Tamborine to enjoy a 1.5km return hike to the stunning Curtis Falls. It’s a relatively easy walk, which leads you into lush rainforest. Just over 100 steps will lead you to the cascading falls. They can be admired from a viewing platform, which overlooks as large rock pool.

Farm Fun in Ipswich
On the second Sunday of each month, a magical farm at Rosewood opens to the public. It’s a great opportunity for kids to pat and feed the different animals and enjoy a day of outdoor farming activities. The bay hale slide, 14ft trampoline along with pony and tractor rides are sure to make for a memorable day!



Swim with whales in mooloolaba

By Australia / Brisbane / Queensland /

TO see a whale up close is one thing, but to float above them is another and certainly an Australian first that Sunreef Mooloolaba can lay claim to. It’s an experience you can’t miss while staying at beautiful Maroochydore Beach Caravan Park just up the road.

“I just love the sound of awe that comes up through people’s snorkels as a sort of muffled squeal when they spot their first whale,” Sunreef Mooloolaba’s Dan Hart says after taking our small group through our paces for whale swim protocol. “Mostly it’s just great to see everyone’s excitement before, during and after their first in-water encounter.”

He’s not wrong. The experience is mesmerising, almost dreamy, and there’s no doubt for us there’s a connection between man and whale. For the “humpies” to go out of their way and interact is a clear message they don’t mind sharing their backyard with us – though remember we’re at the “mercy of the whales” and it’s a 65 to 70 per cent strike rate when it comes to them venturing over, Hart says.

There is a 70 per cent chance whales will be curious enough to swim over and interact with humans.

“One particular encounter I remember was when a whale came and circled the boat and swam straight past all the guests before doing a headstand, with its tail out of the water just a couple of metres away before slipping gently in the water and leaving us in its slipstream,” Hart says, as if it were yesterday.

This year an estimated 20,000 humpback whales migrate up the east coast of Australia and back down to the Antarctic, with the season on the Sunshine Coast running until late October. So it’s ripe for the picking in coming months.

“The more people know about whales, the more likely they are to love them like we do and want to see them protected worldwide,” Hart says, before pointing out that Sunreef keeps two spots available on every trip for whale researchers.

The whale swim experience is a three-hour round trip with 20 people tops taken on each trip. You get a full briefing on what to expect and safety procedures as well as a wetsuit, snorkelling equipment and scrumptious little snack packs.

The process is simple. Once a whale is seen, “which can take just five minutes”, according to Hart, the boat will stop 100m or more away from the whale and if conditions are appropriate, the boat is turned off and swimmers are allowed into the water holding on to a floating line attached to the boat.

Visit: or Ph (07) 5444 5656 for the whale encounter.




Five Australian resorts for a girls weekend away

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

Looking for a girls’ weekend away? Here are five resorts, which are absolutely perfect for a some relaxing time with the ladies.

Smiths Beach Resort, Margaret River, WA

Experience the ultimate beachfront lifestyle at Smiths Beach Resort, which is nestled between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin in Western Australia. It’s heaven for beach lovers who are looking for a sunny weekend away with the girls. Spoil yourself with self-contained accommodation that boasts ocean views. In the resort you also have a cellar door, bar and restaurant at your disposal. Not to mention the many spa treatments available.

The Mineral Spa, Daylesford, VIC

This retreat is located in the heart of Victoria’s spa country. The Mineral Spa retreat offers you an indulgent spa experience, with its two warm mineral spa pools and a cool plunge pool that overlooks beautiful gardens. There are exclusive packages on offer when you have six or more friends. These include a choice of facial, massage, exfoliation, pedicure and manicure options – plus finger food and cocktails.

Crystal Creek Meadows, Kangaroo Valley, NSW

Crystal Creek Meadows boasts luxury, award winning country cottages, where you can stay overnight. Then there’s also a day spa retreat, which sets the scene for an amazing girls’ weekend away in the country. Rejuvenate and unwind with amazing massages, spa baths, aromatherapy and skin care treatments. There are also many local shops and dainty cafes to check out while you’re in Kangaroo Valley Village.

Glass on Glasshouse, 1hr north of Brisbane
If luxurious cottages with a spa bath, private patio and amazing views of the Glasshouse Mountains sounds like your idea of the perfect getaway, then Glass on Glasshouse is the place for you! The cottages feature floor-to-ceiling windows, which overlook the mountains, and in the winter months you also have a fireplace at your disposal. Relax with an on-site massage, or go sightseeing nearby.

Sticky Rice Cooking School and Villas, Adelaide Hills

This inspiring accommodation is set in the lovely town of Stirling. It features three gorgeous villas, with each luxury villa offering a different theme. Visitors can choose between Bali, Thailand and Japan style accommodation, before being immersed in the flavours of the world. Sticky Rice is also a cooking school, offering hands on cooking classes, where visitors learn from respected chefs on how to cook Asian, Spanish and Moroccan cuisine.


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Six Australian food festivals you simply cannot miss

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

Food, fabulous food. Everyone loves it – that’s why we celebrate it with food festivals.

As we gladly wave goodbye to winter and welcome springtime with open arms, both seasons offer the perfect opportunity to unwind and enjoy the incredible fresh produce and diversity in food that Australia is gifted with.

Is there anything more indulgent than sitting by an open fire, sharing a charcuterie board or an aged bottle of deep, woody Shiraz? To celebrate the country’s love affair with all things delicious, here are six upcoming food and wine festivals from around Australia.

Barossa Gourmet Weekend, SA, 14-16 August

Shed the winter blues with a weekend getaway to the world renowned Barossa Valley in South Australia, just over an hour’s drive north from Adelaide Airport. The weekend showcases everything delicious that the picturesque wine-producing region is famous for, as visitors are treated to a packed program of winery tours, masterclasses and long lunches, all accompanied by live music and entertainment. Shuttle buses will run throughout the weekend, but accommodation is limited so get in quick to book your Barossa Gourmet getaway. Visit for more information.

Newcastle Food and Wine Expo, NSW, 28-30 August

Visitors to the harbour side city of Newcastle will be able to kiss the cold goodbye in serious foodie style, with the three day exhibition of non-stop feasting, celebrity chef cooking demonstrations, culinary presentations and free samples of food and wine. About 150 gourmet exhibitors from all over the state will be tempting foodies with their incredible produce. Just some of the mouth-watering products include those from the Hunter Valley Cheese Factory, Byron Bay Chocolate Co and Coastal Garden Preserves, so make sure you head there on an empty stomach! Also on the event program are free appreciation classes to give you a better understanding of gourmet food and drink. The varied classes cover cheese, wine, beer and liqueur, so there is definitely something for everyone to indulge in. For more information, check out

Rockhampton Capricorn Food and Wine Festival, QLD, 18-20 September

Set against the backdrop of the Fitzroy River, the location of the 2015 Capricorn Food and Wine Festival couldn’t be more ideal for a weekend of grazing and wine tasting. In the springtime, the perfect view is rivalled only by the ideal weather that Queensland is famous for, and 8000 people are expected to flock to the riverbank and surrounding areas to indulge in exquisite wine and cuisine in the gorgeous sunshine state. The festival isn’t just restricted to the hub of the riverbank though, as all of Rockhampton’s finest dining establishments will have the chance to get involved in the event. Abundant regional food will be showcased, with emphasis placed on the importance of sustainable and healthy paddock-to-plate practices, and supporting Australian farmers as the country’s love affair with good food continues to evolve. For more information go to

Heathcote Wine & Food Festival, VIC, 10-11 October

City slickers need head north just 90 minutes to reach the Heathcote area, a location rich in history and nestled smack-bang in the middle of Victoria. Once a bustling mining and logging town, the owners of over 70 vineyards in the region can thank the Germans and Italians for introducing grape growing to the area as the gold rush began to stall. It goes without saying then that this year’s theme, ‘Shiraz Heaven’ couldn’t be more fitting and visitors are invited on a delicious journey discovering the region’s famous full-bodied shiraz and alternative varieties of reds, whites and sparkling. The endless wine list will be complemented by perfectly matched regional food and accompanied by and live music and entertainment. The Heathcote festival’s promise of knockout wines, specialty masterclasses and tasting sessions enjoyed in the great country atmosphere are sure to have punters welcoming spring with open arms. Visit to plan your weekend getaway.

Mildura Jazz, Food and Wine Festival, VIC, 30 October – 2 November

Run annually the weekend prior to Melbourne Cup, this established festival celebrates its 35th year combining traditional jazz, contemporary sounds and locally produced gourmet food and wine. The ambience of the festival is impossible to beat and the Murray River provides the perfect backdrop as paddle steamers chug by the riverside wineries, clubs and pubs as visitors are treated to an incredible auditory, gustatory and visual feast. Lunches and dinners aboard the paddle steamers, picnics in the parks, jazz by the river and even a Saturday night street party will no doubt ensure that visitors are treated to one heck of a party over four exciting days. For more info, check out

Geographe Crush Food and Wine Festival, WA, 7-9 November

The Geographe Crush celebrates the wine, food and attractions of the south west wine region of Geographe in Western Australia. The huge area extends from Harvey in the north, Collie, Dardanup and Donnybrook in the east and Capel and Busselton in the south, centering on the main city of Bunbury. Run over three days, an opening night function welcomes visitors on the Friday and Saturday sees the Crush Wine Exhibition showcasing the wines of the region and includes wine seminars, cooking demonstrations and entertainment. On the Sunday, visitors are treated to tours of wineries and the restaurants and cellar doors provide visitors the chance to enjoy local produce and dishes before stocking up on their favourite reds, whites and sparkling. Stay tuned to as more info is released.



5 great hotels in Brisbane for business travellers

By Brisbane / Queensland /

Brisbane is the capital of Australia’s ‘Sunshine State’, which also means there’s a constant stream of business travellers. Among several great hotels here are five to ponder.

NEXT Hotel Brisbane

This hotel (pictured) offers city views, free WiFi and is located just opposite Queen Street Mall. Add a restaurant, fitness centre and a rooftop swimming pool with a poolside bar, and what other extras could you possibly ask for? NEXT Hotel Brisbane is about a 15-minute drive from the airport. There’s a 24-hour check in for your convenience and there’s also a ‘Transit Zone’, which has sleeping areas for a power nap, along with showers and free toiletries.

Stamford Plaza

Stamford Plaza’s guest rooms are traditionally furnished with spacious sitting areas but the cherry on top after a long day at the office are the  gorgeous views of the Brisbane River from Stamford. There’s a hot tub and a poolside terrace for you to relax and unwind. Stamford Plaza is situated in the heart of Brisbane and is only 300 metres from the Botanical Gardens.

Emporium Hotel

As the winner of two categories in the 2015 Trip Advisor Travellers Choice Awards, Emporium doesn’t disappoint. This luxury boutique hotel is located in the heart of the city’s stylish Emporium precinct, which is only minutes from Brisbane’s CBD. Some of the extensive services and facilities at Emporium Hotel include a stunning cocktail bar, gymnasium, a 24-hour business centre with internet access, express laundry service and iPads available for loan.

Spicers Balfour Hotel

Staying at the Spices Balfour Hotel in New Farm puts you right in the heart of Brisbane’s business district, while you experience 5-star boutique accommodation. Apart from all the comforts you’d expect to find at a modern hotel, there’s also an extensive range of massages, body treatments and facials. Not to mention there’s express check in and check out if you’re in a rush and need to be somewhere!

The New Inchcolm Hotel

The New Inchcolm Hotel in Wickham Terrace oozes elegance, sophistication and glamour. The charming staff and luxurious rooms await behind the heritage-listed façade of the building, which is steeped in history. The 1920s styled rooms feature free-standing baths, king-size beds and sofa beds.



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Seven incredible spots to go surfing in Australia

By Australia / Brisbane / Great Ocean Road / Hobart / New South Wales / Perth / Queensland / Sydney / Tasmania / Victoria / Western Australia /

Pro surfer Mick Fanning may be contemplating getting back into the ocean, but even his dramatic brush with a hungry Great White can’t put a stop to Australia’s 100-year love affair of combining the board with the breakwater. In a tribute to surfing, here are seven incredible suggestions on where to catch an epic wave around Oz.

1. Sheringa, SA

While only accessible by 4WD or foot, a short hike is well worth it to discover these hidden gems in South Australia. On the southern side of a rocky outcrop, the mellow point break at Sheringa Beach offers up a challenge, but for those who really have a death wish, Sheringa Left to the north produces an unpredictable swell amongst a rocky, reefy, remote part of the Eyre Peninsula. Sharp rocks, dangerous rips, and even sharks make surfing at Sheringa something to write home about – if you survive.

2. Ningaloo Coast, WA

Famous for its incredible UNESCO World Heritage listed reef which is home to more than 500 species of fish, rays and turtles, many don’t realise that between July and October the fringing coral reef of the Ningaloo Coast serves up some pretty awesome swells. At the north of the cape, The Bommie, Dunes and Wobiri Access offer waves of varying difficulty while at the southern end of the reef, surfers at Gnaraloo can expect three metre waves even on an average day. The perfect combination of endless surf breaks and ecological wonders make the Ningaloo Coast a great getaway destination for those who can’t agree on one or the other. Make sure you have plenty of time to explore all of the Reef’s secrets though, as driving along the length of the 280km reef takes at least eight hours!

3. Bells Beach, VIC

Who can go past the famous Bell’s Beach in Torquay? Home to matted mops of salty, sun-kissed hair, surf brand warehouse sales and of course the world’s longest running professional surfing competition, the Rip Curl Pro, which since has continued to draw massive crowds over the Easter long weekend. I still remember visiting as a little kid in my oversized Rusty cap with ice cream in hand, jostling other spectators for a prime viewing spot atop the golden Torquay dunes.

4. Lord Howe Island, NSW

For those who strive to avoid the crowds, there are few destinations more intimate than the beautiful Lord Howe Island. With a strict cap on the number of visitors to the island at any one time, Lord Howe was once described as ‘paradise on Earth’ and ‘quite possibly the most perfect place in the world’ by globetrotter Lee Abbamonte. If anyone should know it is him, having visited every single country on the planet! There are eight designated surf spots dotted around the island, but it’s rumoured a friendly chat with the locals can sometimes reveal the very best kept secrets.

5. Gold Coast’s Superbank, QLD

For those hoping to catch a glimpse of our resident shark wrangler and other world champs Steph Gilmore and Joel Parkinson, the Superbank is your best bet, where surf breaks Snapper Rocks, Rainbow Bay and Greenmount combine. If you are lucky, you may manage to catch a wave for 2kms along the coast!

6. Yallingup, WA

Not for the faint hearted, Yallingup Reef, located 300kms south of Perth boasts consistent 10 foot waves along the Margaret River coastline. Brave surfers impress beachside spectators, while others snorkel and paddle in the lagoon, soaking up the brilliant view of the Reef’s aquatic wonderland. Surfers of all ability come from near and far to visit the famous waves of Yallingup. If you haven’t already, it’s one to add to your bucket list.

7. Lighthouse Beach, TAS

Of course, we can’t forget our cousins across the Strait, where surfers brave the chilly waters of Lighthouse Beach, a beautiful stretch of pristine coastline offering a sheltered yet powerful beach break for beginners and accomplished riders alike. Relatively deserted, this unpatrolled, isolated spot serves as the perfect oceanic escape.

And remember folks, if you do happen to be that unfortunate one in 11 million confronted by a shark, contrary to Mick’s action of ‘punching him in the back’, the best advice is to punch and claw at the eyes and gills aggressively.



5 great Aussie caravan parks in wine regions

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

Where there’s a wine there’s a way, so jot down these five holiday parks close to vineyards throughout Australia.

1. BIG4 Port Willunga Tourist Park, SA

SOME travellers say Australia’s greenest wine region is the McLaren Vale, a must-see destination when in the South where the wine regions are some of the world’s best. Only 10 minutes from the wineries, BIG4 Port Willunga Tourist Park is considered the hot ticket venue for caravanners and campers to set up camp before experiencing the delicious home grown food and wine, popular beaches and nearby art galleries.

Famous for producing great reds and chardonnays, some of the best wines in the world feature among the 75 cellar doors you can explore in the region. Try Woodstock Wine Estate, Aramis Vineyard, Angrove McLaren Vale Winery and Cellar Door, and d’Arenberg for a real taste of the area. Even create your own food and wine trail by taking a car, walking or bike riding around the region and sampling the delicious regional produce.

Don’t miss the Willunga Farmers Market and go nuts with the abundance of fresh food on offer including, cheese, olives and bread to create your own perfect picnic. BIG4 Port Willunga Tourist Park has executive spa suites to a range of caravan and motor home sites. It’s perfect for cooking up a feast on the park’s barbecues while you uncork a bottle of local wine.


2. Beachlands Holiday Park, WA

COULD there be a better place in winter than Busselton at Beachlands Holiday Park? Right beside the white sandy beaches of Geographe Bay, Busselton is widely considered the capital of the Margaret River wine region where you get the best of both worlds – gorgeous coastline and beautiful vineyards. The park provides a place to park your wheels before exploring the wineries, some landscaped gardens and nearby restaurants big on paddock-to-plate local produce. Over 150 wine producers call the Margaret River home, with many offering cellar door tastings and sales. Perhaps the best way to explore it all is with the Bushtucker River and Wine Tour which takes you to four wineries, a brewery and chocolate and cheese companies along the way. Accommodation options at Beachlands Holiday Park include chalets, spa villas, jacuzzi bungalows and camping and caravan sites. After a day of indulgence at the local wineries and restaurants, unwind in the heated swimming pool, enjoy a glass of Margaret River produced wine by the landscaped gardens or burn off all that recently consumed chocolate, cheese and wine on the NEOS equipment – the latest and greatest in fitness equipment.


3. BIG4 Valley Vineyard Tourist Park, NSW

Hunter Valley wine region is as big as it gets when it comes to Aussie wines and BIG4 Valley Vineyard Tourist Park is the ultimate spot to relax and enjoy a holiday of wining and dining. Just a short distance from the main part of town, the park is set among Merlot grapevines and operates as a holiday destination and fully functioning vineyard. Discover many other award winning wineries in the area, including Arrowfield Estate, Drayton’s Family Wines, and Gartelmann Wines to name a few. Indulge yourself on the Rovers Wine Tour that departs from BIG4 Valley Vineyard Tourist Park most mornings where you’ll tempt your tastebuds throughout the day as you enjoy wine, cheese, chocolate and fudge tastings. Sit back at the end of the day while taking in the views from the balcony of your private cabin. BIG4 Valley Vineyard Tourist Park has modern accommodation options available including two-storey apartments, villas and cottages, to powered tent and caravan sites with views of the grapevines or the resort-style pool.


4. Badger Creek Holiday Park, Victoria

THE Yarra Valley is a treat for sore eyes in any season, but the crisp weather down south can bring out the best in misty morning views and lush valleys that run deep – and then there are all the excellent cellar doors to discover. Better still, only an hour’s drive from Melbourne is a little charmer called BIG4 Badger Creek Holiday Park in Healesville. This is as down to earth as it gets and aside from a great range of cabins, a games room, basketball courts and barbecue areas, the real charm lies in the cascading gentle trickle of little Badger Creek itself where you can set up a tent and enjoy a campfire under some of the brightest stars in the southern hemisphere. Nearby are more than 40 cellar doors offering some of the country’s best wineries, including famous Domaine Chandon and De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate. While you get the opportunity to rough it a little by camping by a creek, you can spoil yourself on the region’s sensational food and wine more suited to luxury travellers. As a bonus, wine tours or more information on local wineries can be organised through reception at the park.


5. Kelso Sands Holiday & Native Wildlife Park, Tamar Valley Region

EMBRACE great Tassie wineries, and cracking scenery and attractions in the Tamar Valley Region with a stay at Kelso Sands Holiday and Native Wildlife Park. A cool climate wine region, the Tamar Valley produces outstanding quality wines that reflect its environment, which, let’s face it, is pretty damn pure. Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir are some of the best of the bunch. Dalrymple Vineyards has developed award-winning wines and is a fantastic place to bring a packed picnic to enjoy overlooking the perfect rows of grapevines. For a change of wine scenery, J Boag and Son Brewery is one for the beer lovers, where you can take a tour of the historic brewery. Your choice of stay includes the riverview cottages, holiday units and caravan and camping sites.



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5 Aussie sports events you simply cannot miss

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

Australia. It’s synonymous with sport, so strap yourself in for these five great sporting events hitting a venue near you in the coming months.

1. The start of the AFL footy season! It’s back, “thank God,” say many, and it all kicks off on Thursday night (April when Richmond and Carlton do battle at the home of sport, the mighty MCG. Will Malthouse and his Blues fail again? Will the Tigers finally realise expectations the whole football community has of them finally being a serious contender? Will Collingwood give former star Dayne Beams a welcome to Brisbane he’ll never forget at the GABBA on Saturday? Then there’s the rest who are all eager to get off to the best of possible starts in season 2015.

2. Rugby League’s showpiece event, the 2015 Holden State of Origin Series is being tipped as the best yet and the heat is on Queensland with the mighty Blues breaking one of the longest winning streaks in State of Origin history. Notably, it’s the first time in 18 years that the MCG has hosted a State of Origin match, scheduled for June 17. Other games are at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on May 27 and Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on July 8.

3. The buzz this year is about “the gods of soccer” coming to the MCG in Melbourne for the International Champions Cup in July. The competition will be hot with all three participating clubs alive in the UEFA Champions League and vying for their respective national titles. AS Roma is second in Serie A, Real Madrid CF leads La Liga and Manchester City FC is second in the EPL. Mark down July 18, July 21 and July 24 in your calendar.

4. Sydney comes alive from August 12-18 as the world’s best netballer’s converge on the NSW capital for the Netball World Cup. All the big guns will be there as Australia defends its title against New Zealand, Jamaica, England, Scotland and more.

5. Looking for something different on the horse racing front? Forget the Melbourne Cup and head north-west for the Broome Cup on August 15 with punters entertained by live music, local performers and fashion on the field finals.




Celebrity chef Brisbane restaurants for the ultimate foodie experience

By Australia / Brisbane / Queensland /

Brisbane’s food scene is seriously stepping up to become as much a drawcard as its sweet sunshine. There’s diversity and first-rate quality being dished up and suddenly Melbourne and Sydney can’t lay claim so boldly with bragging rights as the standouts on the gastronomical front in Oz. What’s the buzz in Brisbane? All sorts of things. They include big and bold pub grubbin’, burger joints galore, Asian sensations, and anything that’s raw and organic. But it’s the fine dining where Brisbane is setting tongues wagging for more reasons than one, raising the bar in the process and carving a reputation as a serious player on a global scale in food finesse. With that sort of vibe comes the big boys and girls. So just where are the big name celebrity chefs setting up shop in Brisbane …

ARIA Brisbane, Matt Moran (pictured)

It’s easy to fall in love with Mr Moran’s food whether you’re watching one of his cooking show episodes or sticky noting a page in one of his books for that next dinner party. But there’s nothing quite like a first-hand two or three-hour dining experience at ARIA Brisbane on Eagle Street Pier to appreciate the celebrity chef’s finest work – or certainly what he’s set in motion. It’s Moran’s mission and principles derived from ARIA’s big sister and more renowned Sydney restaurant of the same name that has infiltrated into Queensland and found a monumental home on the riverfront. Moran’s – and his longtime restaurateur partner Peter Sullivan’s – food is all about seasonality and local produce, while flavoursome, balance and premium quality are imperatives. For the Brisbane incarnation, a quick warm up Chilli & Passion cocktail in the exquisite entrance bar area sets the scene and builds an appetite for a feast inside where some rock star treatment on the service front awaits. Think entree choices of freshly shucked oysters served with pickled ginger, soy and lime caviar or grilled lobster with tomato, asparagus, basil and lemon oil. Mains are insanely good, especially the roasted numbers:  fillet barramundi with spanner crab, puffed rice, sweet corn and cold pressed lemongrass or duck breast with witlof, turnips and toasted buckwheat. Dessert? It’s a tough decision, but a choice of seven from which you can’t go wrong, but the hazelnut, popcorn and caramel ganache with hazelnut ice cream is deliciously wicked and alone is worth road-tripping to Brisbane for. Head chef Ben Russell and team have completely nailed it. With an insurmountable wine-list, striking views from the restaurant across the Brisbane River and wait staff who make you feel like royalty, ARIA is up there not only as a standout on Brisbane’s elite food scene, but Australia’s.

More: ARIA Brisbane

Jamie’s Italia Australia, Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver’s  fun and delish restaurant opposite Queen’s Plaza is an experience for everyone to enjoy, young and old, offering an Italian feast for the senses at a price-tag everyone’s comfortable with. The two-storey, 240-seat venue is the celeb chef’s biggest in Australia (and his fifth), and features lots of Queensland-inspired leadlight glass, leather work and “exposed walls to create a cool, urban feel, which works really well against the backdrop of the traditional space”, Oliver told the Courier Mail recently. As for the food? Magnifico. Freshly made house-produced pastas, tasty antipasti and sides, mains including fillet steaks, burgers, osso bucco style lamb, baked king salmon and more.

More: Jamie’s Italia Restaurant

Fat Noodle, Luke Nguyen

As far as tasty Asian casual dining experiences go with menu’s delivered by the best, Fat Noodle at The Treasury, Brisbane Casino, in William Street is unbeatable. Think wok-tossed charred beef, chicken with peppercorns, and generally offering a mix of offers Chinese cuisine, with a mix of Vietnamese, Thai and Malay fare.

Moda, Javier Codina

Moda Restaurant is set in the heart of Brisbane city, a gorgeous Spanish-inspired restaurant with well-known chef Javier Codina at the helm and front of house whiz François Le Savéant charming one and all. Tapping into his Spanish heritage, it’s all about rustic cuisine that includes tempura whiting and manolette chorizo for entrees before feasting on gorgeous share plates, duck breast, spanish mackeral and loads of other scrumptious options.

More: Moda