Five great reasons to escape to The Star Gold Coast

By Australia / Gold Coast / Queensland /

The hype is building as the countdown begins for the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast next year. The good news for travellers looking for a bit of sun and sand on our most famous beach strip is all the action taking place with hotels upgrading or being built – none more impressive than mighty The Star Gold Coast, formerly known as Jupiters. Best of all, once collecting your Gold Coast car rental there’s only a quick 15 minute drive north and The Star Gold Coast will have you checked in within a flash.

What’s all the fuss about? Plenty. The Star Gold Coast is in the midst of an $850 million remake. Since 2014 this star of the show in beautiful Broadbeach has already undergone some serious make over work, including the snazzy refurb of more than 590 rooms refreshed Lobby area and much more. Try these five great reasons to escape to The Star Gold Coast – no matter where you’re from.

One… The rooms are dreamy

Any hotel refurbishment generally means rooms are going to hit a certain standard with a beautiful fresh look and new feel, but The Star Gold Coast has put a lot of consideration into this. Ours was a King Superior Deluxe Room, spacious and super functional. Think blinds that automatically open upon entry, strategic bedside-placed switches and buttons for lighting, aircon and other functions, all complemented by beautifully inviting interiors. But the winning move is a specially designed pillow menu and ‘The Cloud’ mattress topper exclusive to The Star and bathing amenities by L’Occitane.

Two… The food!

The locals tell me food has always been top quality at the venue, but the reinvention of The Star has introduced some world-class stunners in restaurant terms. Elegant and oozing a dimly-lit atmosphere is incredible Kiyomi, a multi-award winning hatted Japanese restaurant infusing a tapas-style approach to small dishes with intense flavours and immaculate presentation. The menu is packed with sashimi (raw), izakaya (small plates), tempura (fried), binchotan (grill), other sushi, salad, soup and desserts as well as degustation and set menu alternatives. Other newbies include scrumptious new Chinese restaurant Imperial (brand new, in fact), the earthy and spectacular Garden Kitchen & Bar, complete with huge outdoor dining and party area with a giant big screen, more Asian influence with Mei Dumplings restaurant, Cucina Vivo, and Food Fantasy, one of the best buffet experiences you’ll ever have for either breakfast or dinner. The smorgasbord offers more than 80 dishes from around the world, including an irresistible hot and cold buffet selection, roast meats and salads.

Three… Entertainment

Yes, there’s still a casino and all the fun one can have with top bars, roulette wheels and card tables, but there’s a lot more these days including a bold and bright theatre being the perfect platform to showcase some of the world’s best performers, stage shows and exclusive film premieres. Its modern architecture and cutting-edge technology make it a leading entertainment venue.

Four… Broadbeach

Literally 5 minutes walk over the bridge is Broadbeach central with loads of bars, food options, shopping and a beautiful beach to soak up the sun, sand and surf or catch a friendly game of beach volleyball in full swing. Surfers Paradise is only a 15-20 minute walk away, too, so everything’s quite close.

Five… Day trips

Take your pick. Want to head for the hinterland and more alternative charms of Byron Bay in the south? Or how about heading north for some theme park action at all the worlds including Wet ‘N’ Wild, Movieworld, Seaworld, Dreamworld and more? Head even further north and you’ll be in Brisbane. It’s a beaut location with lots to do nearby with a comfy and exciting hotel to come back to for dinner and snooze in sublime comfort.


Looking for the best Gold Coast restaurants? Read on

By Australia / Gold Coast /

The Gold Coast is most famous for its sunshine, sandy beaches and busy nightlife. But you may not know that Gold Coast restaurants are some of the best going around.

There are so many places where you can grab a scrumptious bite to eat, a quick coffee or sit down for some fine dining.

Here are five of the best Gold Coast restaurants for the hit-list. Make sure you grab a hire car from Surfers Paradise then head to these amazing eateries.

Hellenika Restaurant (pictured)

Hellenika is one of the best Gold Coast restaurants. Treat yourself to “simple authentic home-style food, designed to be placed in the middle of the table to share.” This philosophy is at the heart of everything Hellinika serves up. Treat yourself to traditional Greek dishes, such as smoky meats and seafoods. The salads are also divine and presented beautifully.

Etsu Izakaya

This gorgeous Japanese bar/restaurant is a great place to spend an afternoon with friends. Red paper lanterns, traditional tatami booths and trees that are “growing” from the tables are some of the unique features of this eatery. Those who dine here enjoy the busy, fun and loud environment. Silken tofu, tsukune dunked in egg yolk and wagyu beef are some of the incredible dishes to choose from.

Justin Lane

This popular pizzeria and pasta bar is a loud and lively place to spend the evening. There’s also the added option of rooftop dining, which sets a relaxing vibe at sunset or night. Admire views of Burleigh Beach and the iconic high rise buildings as you enjoy an antipasto place with company. Rustic pasta dishes and crusty wood-fired pizza are some of the most popular dishes on the menu.

Elk Espresso

Elk Espresso has a fantastic reputation among the locals. It’s always buzzing with excitement, no matter what time of day you visit. Fantastic coffee draws diners in, but the scrumptious Australian food keeps them coming back for more. For breakfast, indulge in some pork belly and corn with chilli. Or perhaps the Persian feta and poached eggs on sourdough is more to your liking. There’s plenty of healthy salads and burgers to choose from during the day.

The Fish House

This beachside dining room is elegant and charming. Feel at ease when you’re handed the menu, only to spot the day’s date, which proves just how fresh the produce here really is. Not to mention the fine wines that accompany the dishes. The restaurant is inspired by Southern Europe cuisine. Managers also proudly declare it “the finest Seafood Restaurant on the Gold Coast”.



6 adventure activities in Byron Bay you can’t ignore

By Australia / Gold Coast / Queensland /

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

Check out these six activities.

Sea Kayaking with Dolphins

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

Gyrocopter Lighthouse Flight

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


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

Night Vision Walk

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

Kite surfing

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

Rainforest Mountain Biking

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








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 reasons to head for the hills on the Gold Coast

By Australia / Gold Coast /

The Gold Coast is one of Queensland’s premier destinations. With sun, sand and surf waiting for you all year round.

Ignore the beaches, hire a car from Brisbane Airport and head for the hills on your next trip to the Gold Coast. Drive thirty minutes inland from the beaches and you’ll find the Hinterland, which is full of rainforests, farms and vineyards.

Here are five things to do when you’re there.

Sip some wine
The Gold Coast Hinterland is a fantastic destination for wine-lovers. It’s one of Queensland’s fastest growing wine regions, thanks to the range of micro-climates creating perfect growing conditions for a variety of grapes. Mount Tamborine (pictured), Mount Nathan, Lamington and Canungra are full of top-notch wineries. Some wineries that we recommend include Albert River Wines and O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards.

Hiking in Springbrook National Park
Hiking is a popular pastime in Springbrook National Park. The track to Natural Bridge, which has formed over millions of years from water pounding onto the roof of a basalt cave, is one of the most popular. It’s the perfect place for a picnic. At night in summer, the cave is equally enchanting. Take a guided tour to see amazing glow-worm colonies, fireflies and even luminous fungi.

Visit the Cheese Shop and Factory
Just an hour from Brisbane and in the heart of Mount Tamborine is The Cheese Shop and Factory. Deliciously soft and hand-made cheeses are waiting to be sampled and bought. The factory proudly produces small batches of high quality cheeses and other dairy products, such as ice cream. This amazing destination could keep you tied up all day!

Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk
Walk 30 metres above the ground through the rainforest canopy. Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk is an exciting eco-adventure that’s suitable for all ages. The 1.5km long path at Skywalk treats you to views of lush rainforest leads you to the crystal clear rock pools of Cedar Creek. During the trip, you’ll encounter rare butterflies and other rainforest animals.

Get up close with Alpacas
The Mountview Alpaca Farm is an exciting destination for people of all ages, especially kids. Not only is the beautiful view of Tamborine Mountain and the Gold Coast likely to inspire you, but you can cuddle and pat alpacas! For just a few dollars you can buy a large bag of food and feed these friendly animals. There’s also a gift shop, where you’ll find unique alpaca-themed goods from Australia and South America.

Also check out Romantic drives … Coffs Harbour to Crystal Castle, Byron Bay


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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 noosafoodwinefestival.com.au



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!



5 Great Ways To Discover Byron Bay in NSW

By Australia / Gold Coast / New South Wales / Queensland / Sydney /

A beautiful beachside town famous with backpackers for its laid-back vibe and enviable year-round weather, Byron is also a crackerjack holiday spot for everyone from families to grey nomads and friends on the loose. At mainland Australia’s furthest point, visitors do more than admire the Cape Byron Lighthouse that sits atop the headland, dividing the uncrowded beaches stretching miles north and south of the township.

No.1 Whale Watching

The perfect place for whale watching, Byron Bay is arguably unmatched as the east coast’s premier spot to sight a pod of humpbacks. While you can join one of the intimate tours, the likelihood of catching a glimpse of them from the headland on their annual migration from May to November is high. There can’t be many better places to wait for the whales than in the breathtaking surrounds of the point.

No.2 Byron Bay Brewery

For those who love to finish of a long day’s exploration with a cold one, there is plenty of choice at the local brewery. With six beers brewed on site, why not grab a tasting board and sample them all? The food is sure to satisfy the hunger worked up throughout the day and if you are lucky enough to be here on a lazy Tuesday or Thursday arvo, a brewery tour will take you behind the scenes, explaining what goes into the beer that you are about to sample. More www.byronbaybrewery.com.au

No. 3 Cape Byron Walking Track

For incredible views of the golden sandy beaches, glistening ocean and tropical vegetation that make Byron Bay the ultimate escape, the Cape Byron Walking Track is sure to mellow even the most stressed of visitors. Why else would you come to Byron, if not to unwind and take it all in? Setting off from the Captain Cook Picnic Area, the two hour walk winds through Palm Valley, past Watego’s Beach and to the heritage-listed lighthouse and Keeper’s Cottages, which have been converted into rustic accommodation and which boast stunning coastal views. More www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/Walking-tracks/Cape-Byron-walking-track

No 4. Circus Arts Byron Bay

For those who need something a little more interactive than walking to keep them entertained, Circus Arts is a kid’s play space where littlies can get physical and learn the basics of flying trapeze, indoor climbing, yoga and circus. Circus Arts is open year-round but hosts dedicated school holiday program events.  More www.circusarts.com.au

No 5. Main Beach

We know what you’re thinking. The beach? Hardly rare in Australia, no doubt. But what makes this one so special? It’s quite possible that this is the most family-friendly beach in the country. For starters, Main Beach is sheltered from wind by the headland and patrolled from October to Easter by surf lifesavers. Parents’ lives are made easier with a baby change room in the surf club and a playground nestled in the shade of the soaring pine trees, as well as plenty of food and drink options nearby. For a bit of adventure with the older ones, a popular activity is to snorkel out from to the Tassie II, a ship off the coast. If you’re lucky you may even spot some passing whales and dolphins from the shoreline, proving that this is NOT just any beach.


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Three ways to enjoy adventure travel in Australia

By Australia / Gold Coast / Melbourne / New South Wales / Queensland / Sydney / Victoria /

Skydive in the best ‘drop zones’

Where: Toogoolawah, 120km north west of Brisbane

THE blue skies in Toogoolawah aren’t just “famous for fun”, but are also skydiving central. People travel to this small town from all corners of the globe to take a leap of faith up to 14,000 feet in the air. There are about 5000 people taking their first tandem jump with Ramblers (pictured, courtesy of www.ramblers.com.au) each year. “People have been known to come for a day and stay for months, or years … some have never left since 15 years ago,” sky dive instructor Susie McEvoy says. The company offers adrenalin-pumping jumps for everyone from beginners to those more experienced. Night jumps are also held staged every month around the full moon, treating thrill-seekers to spectacular views of the city lights spanning Toowoomba, the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane.  Susie says the most unique experience is the Skydive Safari 4 Jump Day Trip around southeast Queensland. “People tandem jump like rock stars into each of Ramblers’ drop zones throughout the course of the day, taking off from one location in their private plane and jumping into the next location. It’s the most incredible day ever and there are no other day trips like this in the world.”

Suggested stays: Esk Caravan Park, Lake Somerset Holiday Park (40mins away) or

The ultimate ‘zoofari’

Where: Dubbo, 400km north west of Sydney

A day surrounded by wildlife in wide, open plains at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo is a magical experience the whole family will never forget. The Zoo is home to more than 700 animals, including the gentle elephants, giraffes, rhinos, cheeky monkeys and the famous big cats. With the birth of cheetah cubs, if you head to the Dubbo Zoo soon you’ll spot them playing together and practicing their wrestling, pouncing and biting. There’s also the magnificent bird shows and fascinating keeper talks which tell you all about these amazing animals. Best of all you get up close and personal with some of the animals! For those looking for the ultimate ‘zoofari’ experience, stay the night at Billabong camp, where you camp in tents around a picturesque billabong. Not only do you stay under the stars, but you’ll have access to special behind-the-scenes tours and get to stick around and hear and see the animals when everybody else has gone home.

Suggested stays: Billabong Camp or Big4 Dubbo Parklands

Family skiing at Falls Creek  

Where: Falls Creek, 100km north east of Melbourne

Winter may be the time of the year where most people prefer to stay indoors, curled up in a blanket in front of a fire, but at Victoria’s alpine resorts it’s a completely different story. From the very first second snowflakes start to fall on the trees at Falls Creek, snowboarders and skiers throw on their gear and come out to play. With 65 kilometres of downhill skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing and free cross-country trails, Falls Creek holds a thrilling adventure for every member of the family that visits during snow season. There’s a wide range of different routes ranging from beginner’s level to experienced, with plenty of twists and turns which are sure to get the adrenaline pumping through your veins before meeting at the bottom of the hill. Group or private lessons also run on the mountain, where you can spend a few days mastering your skiing. Then when the snow season is over, the kids will wait in excitement for the next ski season!

Suggested stays: Big4 Bright Holiday Park or Tawonga Caravan Park


5 bizzare events Down Under for wacky road-trippers

By Australia / Darwin / Gold Coast / Northern Territory / Queensland /

AUSSIES are know to do some bizarre things, so much so that we have events that rival the most wacky and weird all around the planet. Surely that’s good enough reason to jump in an Australian car rental and hit the road for some crazy fun. We choose five to ponder.

1. Australia Day Dunny Race

We Aussies love a bit of toilet humour, so why not hold an event based on the humble Aussie dunny on Australia Day! This fun-filled occasion sees the road out front of the Sunshine Coast’s Ettamogah Pub turn into a thunderbox drag strip as contestants attempt to drag their dunny the fastest in a bid to claim the title of Dunny Race Champion of the World.

More http://www.aussieworld.com.au/events/australia-day-dunny-races

2. Parkes Elvis Festival

There is no shortage of these kind of events that pay homage to the King, but the one in Parkes come January every year is hard to top. From street parades to edible Elvis art and even a Miss Priscilla dinner, this event is definitely one to pack your blue suede shoes for and enjoy some talented tribute acts from January 7-11 2015.

More http://www.parkeselvisfestival.com.au

3. Henley-On-Todd Regatta

One of the Northern Territory’s weirdest but most wonderful, essentially it’s all about a boat race, where teams of rowers run down a dry, sandy riverbed carrying a pretend boat. Ironically, the event is about 1500km away from any major body of water!

More http://www.henleyontodd.com.au

4. Tunarama

This fishy event celebrates the mighty tuna fish and Port Lincoln in South Australia hosts the Tuna Toss World Championships. It’s another one that is held on the Australia Day long weekend and is a hat tip to the tuna fishing industry, the mainstay of the town’s economy. The event held on January 23-26 2015 and also features fireworks, food and wine, and music.

More http://www.tunarama.net

5. Camel Cup (pictured)

With a reputation reaching “far beyond Northern Territory’s soil”, the Lasseters Camel Cup is a quirky event held on the second Saturday every July at its own arena at Blatherskite Park, a section of the Central Australian Show Society grounds. The family and fundraiser event is well known for its unpredictable and very entertaining camels as well as the crazy riders

More http://www.camelcup.com.au



Park in profile – Lake Ainsworth Holiday Park, NSW

By Australia / Gold Coast / New South Wales / Queensland /

PARK IN PROFILE: Lake Ainsworth Holiday Park, NSW

Where: Corner of Ross St and Pacific Parade, Lennox Head.

Website: http://lake-ainsworth-holiday-park.nsw.big4.com.au

10 words or less: Great surf, quiet, quaint, great views, perfect for R&R

The lowdown:  Pick up your Gold Coast campervan rental and head south for a leisurely one hour cruise to the peaceful coastal village of Lake Ainsworth, between Ballina and Byron Bay. This venue is home to some awesome scenery and great surf. The award-winning BIG4 Lake Ainsworth Holiday Park is set among the tea-trees alongside the lake and the nearby surfing opportunities are world-class and known for its right-hand point break. The point break is beautiful, but powerful and dotted with local surfers competing for a wave. Although it’s not a break for those starting out, the beach is a hotspot for spectators. Set up base at BIG4 Lake Ainsworth Holiday Park in options ranging from deluxe villas to unpowered campsites. If surfing isn’t your thing, grab some friends or friendly neighbours for a game of beach cricket, 10-pin bowling or enjoy a lazy day with a fishing line at the lake just metres away from the park. For your camper there’s a range of options for both powered and unpowered slab and grass sites. Weather permitting you can enjoy an outdoor movie in the park, there are barbecue facilities, laundry, camp kitchen and TV and video room.


Park in profile: Big4 Gold Coast Holiday Park

By Australia / Gold Coast / Queensland /

Where: Big4 Gold Coast Holiday Park, 66-86 Siganto Drive, Helensvale, Queensland, set on 32 acres right in the heart of Queensland’s famous theme park world.
Website: gold-coast-holiday-park.qld.big4.com.au
10 words or less: Theme parks! Beautiful villas. Awesome resort pool, waterslide and café.
The lowdown: Big4 Gold Coast Holiday Park is close to all the action with beautiful villas, ample grassy sites for vans and tents, and is pet friendly. With such wide open spaces, it’s the perfect place to park your Brisbane campervan rental.
Though there’s much to explore outside including Wet N Wild, Movie World, The Outback Spectacular, White Water World and Dreamworld, as well as the heart of Surfer’s Paradise not to far away by car, the park offers plenty of reasons to stay inside: including one of the best resort style pools you’ll find in Queensland with a 1.5 storey waterslide, poolside cabanas, an inflatable screen for movies under the stars, a cool BMX track, tennis court and buggies.
“We’re the only holiday park on the Gold Coast where you can bring your dog, walk to the theme parks, camp by the riverside and see native wildlife including koalas and kangaroos right outside your tent or cabin,” owner Theo Whitmont was quoted as saying in Escape magazine.
Accommodation options range from spacious ensuite and powered riverfront sites, to luxury villas and cabins. The park has a valet parking service for all visitors, including a golf buggy ride to your cabin or van site.