The Chair’s Where? Coolum Beach, Queensland

By Brisbane / Queensland /

The state of Queensland is a high profile tourist destination visited by locals, domestic and international visitors alike and Coolum Beach is no exception. Queensland is a truly great destination with an array of tourist attractions often based on natural drawcards such as ‘the reef’, the rainforest and the Outback. A truly common theme for Queensland is an emphasis on ‘sun, sand and surf’. Where better to enjoy this trifecta than the Sunshine Coast.

Sunshine Coast

The ‘Sunny Coast’, as it is called by the locals, is a favourite of many.  A wonderful tourist mecca, flanked by rolling green hills, the eerie shapes of the Glasshouse mountains, long stretches of golden beach all giving way to the deep blue sea. An hour’s drive from Brisbane via the motorway from Brisbane airport, or by flight direct to the airport at the Sunny Coast where you can hire a car or campervan, this magnificent location is readily accessible to all.

Coolum Beach

When it comes to the magnificence of the Sunshine Coast, it is hard to pass up the beauty of Coolum Beach.  Midway along the Sunshine Coast, with ease of parking, surf patrols, gentle sloping beach, and even an off leash dog area, there is a lot to love about this beach getaway. But any beach getaway is only as good as the place you choose to stay, its proximity to the beach, its facilities and its value.  So now let us go to the Coolum Beach Holiday Park…

Coolum Beach Holiday Park

As the name implies, this holiday park is directly adjacent Coolum beach. Several direct access routes lead from the park to different areas along the sandy expanse of foreshore. The venue has excellent manager/owners who keep themselves directly involved in all aspects of park life.  This ‘hands on’ approach ensures a venue focused on good maintenance, cleanliness, amenity, staff rapport, tourist advice and efficiency – all designed to provide the best of customer service. This focus is all about a super positive ‘experience’ for you, the customer. The venue is proudly a member of the Family Parks Chain. Like so many other Family Parks this venue is in fact pet friendly on sites. No need to leave the four legged friend behind – just bring a walking leash, and enjoy the time together. Better still, parts of Coolum beach are also ‘off leash’ friendly for your pets.

After the beach

A great day at the beach is enhanced by the capacity for some fantastic alternative activities. Coolum Beach Holiday Park can certainly help. Directly opposite the venue is a long expanse of specialty shops.  Everything from takeaway outlets, salons, souvenir shops, bakeries, surf retailers, clothing and a myriad other options for your browsing pleasure. Restaurants compete with some excellent clubs to challenge your culinary tastes.  Better still they are all within walking distance so risk a fine wine or two as well. Feel like a drive – head up the hills for organic foods, unique experiences at the ‘ginger factory’, pick up a treasure at Eumundi markets, listen to blues music at Tewantin – and the list goes on.

Coolum Beach Holiday Park – where great guest experiences meet the beach.

Remember to slip, slop and slap!


Also check out Great Ways To Play On The Sunshine Coast At Easter


The Chair’s Where? Conway Beach, Queensland

By Queensland /

Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour are well identified tourist destinations along the central Queensland coast.  Alive with resorts, upmarket shopping, scenic attractions and the like, these centres are a busy and cosmopolitan part of the broader tourism of Queensland. But the central Queensland, Whitsunday region has some terrific hidden gems that will tempt even the most discerning of traveller. One such gem is the beautiful Conway Beach.


Situated only 39km from Airlie Beach, this small township is truly a hidden gem. Largely populated by retirees, the settlement is nestled in a large bay as beautiful as anything else the Whitsundays has to offer. A sweeping tranquil bay, with a golden sand beach, water the colour of aquamarine and flanked by green coloured hills… the view is amazing. Easy access is gained along a bitumen, two lane road that runs through rain forest and gently hilled areas making for great photo opportunities. There is birdlife in abundance.

The Hub

Without doubt, the hub of the Conway Beach community is the Conway Beach Tourist Park. The venue started life decades ago as a ‘rough’ camp for intrepid fisher folk determined to make angling a real success. The area remained a ‘secret’ for many years but progressively morphed into a camp ground area visited by people other than just fisherman. As time moved forward the decades saw an increase in camp facilities, the arrival of caravans and motor homes and the birth of a more modern managed camp ground.

Beware toothy neighbours on your porch!

Conway Beach Tourist Park

The venue is now an accomplished tourist park venue with an appeal to all manner of customers.  Management has a wealth of experience and this is clearly reflected in the positive customer ‘experience’ available. As a result, well appointed cabins and significant shaded sites (both powered and unpowered) combine with wonderful guest facilities. Facilities come in all shapes and sizes from a fish cleaning area complete with pots to cook your crabs, a water park, a large pool, sandpits and play areas, pizza making and the list goes on.  The peel of laughter from both young and old is loud and clear, as guests are taken by ‘train’, on the Beach Express, the short distance to and from the beach.


Plenty of good reasons to attend Conway Beach already, but what about the Diner! (pictured top) George’s Diner is named after the owner and it is a scene straight out of an episode of Happy Days!  An absolute ‘must see’ when attending the Whitsundays, the diner is exactly what you would expect and feels like it has been transported forward in time from the 1950s.  Formica table tops, lots of chrome, neon lights and signage all compete with a full size jukebox for your listening pleasure. Don’t forget the menu – sodas, burgers, fries, coke, ice cream, this place has it all. To top it all off, like any good diner, the Banana Split is simply brilliant. This is a must-see and a must-experience venue.

Happy Days and Happy Travels.


(DriveNow has teamed up with “The Chair”, none other than Dennis Werthenbach, the enigmatic and super popular chairman of the board for Family Parks Holiday Parks & Campgrounds – for more than 26 years, Family Parks has represented independent caravan parks and camping grounds, promoting fantastic holiday destinations for travellers young and old. With so many great caravan and camping parks throughout Australia and New Zealand, Family Parks is more than just a holiday, it’s a unique holiday experience.)


Get a taste for this year’s Noosa Food & Wine Festival

By Brisbane / Queensland /
Tipis on Noosa Beach

The Noosa Food & Wine Festival continues to boom and this year’s event on May 17-20 will have over 30 great events so there’s every reason to get your holiday accommodation sorted and your Brisbane car rental booked in and prepare to cruise up the highway for a feast for the senses.

The Festival Committee says one of the hottest places to be is under the Noosa Tipis on Noosa Main Beach: “This stunning venue opens on Friday night as it hosts the Festival Opening Party, celebrating Noosa’s amazing collection of restaurants coupled with some of Australia’s leading wines and continues to party across the weekend with great events presented by some of Noosa’s finest restaurants.

Check out the festival’s five great reasons to book your tickets now…


Ground your feet in the sand, take in the fresh air and immerse yourself in yoga and a nourishing breakfast under the Beach Tipis. Beyond Experiences will present a unique fusion of health and wellness offerings, showcasing talented and passionate souls.

Zenko Yoga will lead a 60-minute beach practice that will awaken the senses through breath and movement, while taking in the best view in Noosa. This feel-good flow will energise, stretch, centre and focus you in preparation for a fulfilled day.

Nutritionist and founder of Changing Habits, Cyndi O’Meara, will share her inspiring story along with insights into her sustainable farm located in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.

A nutritious Cyndi O’Meara-inspired breakfast will be served on the beach, showcasing local produce from Noosa’s own Shambhala Farm. A healthy breakfast wouldn’t be complete without a fresh Noosa Cleanse juice and a splash of champagne!  (Stand-up event.) Saturday 19 May 6.30-9am $80.


Watch the sun set from the Beach Tipis?as you join Bistro C, Boardwalk Bistro and Rococo for a sublime night of food, wine and entertainment to remember. (Stand-up event.) Saturday 19 May 5-9pm $195. (Please note this is an 18+ only event).


There’s no better way to start a Sunday?than with a Champagne breakfast. Take in stunning sea views with Laurent-Perrier in hand, delicious canapés by Rickys Head Chef Josh Smallwood and chilled Sunday sounds by DJ Mike. (Stand-up event)

Ticket includes one Champagne Fizz served on arrival, one glass of Laurent Perrier Champagne, plus six canapés (four small canapes and two substantial canapes). Sunday 20 May 9.30-11am $75. (Please note this is an 18+ only event).


Experience four of Noosa’s finest restaurants – aromas Noosa, Rickys, Locale Noosa?and Wood Fire Grill at a four-course lunch showcasing produce from Maravista Farm and matching wines by Pizzini Wines together with a welcome drink on arrival. (Sit-down event.) Sunday 20 May 12-2.30pm $165. (Please note this is an 18+ only event).  


What is Aperitivo? To the Italians, Aperitivo refers to a refreshing alcoholic beverage or cocktail shared with friends at sunset. It is meant as an appetizer or opener to your night with the intention of stimulating your appetite for a night of food and fun!

For the finale of Noosa Food & Wine 2018, Noosa Boathouse and Dal Zotto Wines are presenting just that! Join them for the Official Closing Party and enjoy the sunset on Noosa Main Beach, slip off your shoes and feel the sand between your toes.

Grab a Dal Zotto Prosecco cocktail while you decide what you’d like to nibble on. With Noosa Boathouse Chef Shane Bailey and Chef Matt Golinski at the helm, there will be some fantastic local food on offer, so be prepared to try some amazing produce from the Noosa region.

The music kicks in, as does a night under the stars full of fun, food and festivities….Welcome to Tipi Aperitivo. Tickets include: Beach Tipi entry, 2 hours of Dal Zotto Prosecco cocktails and wine (5-7pm), generous amounts of food by Matt Golinski and Shane Bailey, plus live music by Honey! Cash bar available 7-9pm. Sunday 20 May 5-9pm $149. (Please note this is an 18+ only event).  

Also see Great Ways To Play on the Sunshine Coast at Easter


Love is in air for Sydney and surrounds this Valentine’s Day

By New South Wales / Sydney /

With Valentine’s Day less than three weeks away, now’s a great time to book your Sydney car rental and treat your loved one to a special escape. AccorHotels have some fantastic options for lovebirds.

Harbour Rocks Hotel, MGallery by Sofitel

This Valentine’s Day guests at Harbour Rocks Hotel’s Scarlett Restaurant (pictured) are invited to enjoy a four course degustation dinner, plus a glass of bubbles on arrival and a red rose. Priced from $160.00 per person, or $130 per person for AccorPlus members. The meal must be fully prepaid and is non-refundable, subject to availability and conditions apply.

To book, visit www.harbourrocks.com.au

Novotel Lake Crackenback

Guests are invited to rekindle their romance in the picturesque Snowy Mountains with the High Country Romance Package at Novotel Lake Crackenback. The package includes two nights accommodation, buffet breakfast daily, a two course dinner at Alpine Larder, a relaxing 45 minute massage for each guest, late check-out and complimentary resort activities including tennis courts and archery. Priced from $479 per person, the package is subject to availability and conditions apply. To book, visit www.lakecrackenback.com.au

Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

This Valentine’s Day Sofitel Sydney Wentworth presents High Tea au Chocolat. The hotel’s renowned pastry team has partnered with the chocolatiers of Weiss chocolate to create a sinfully sweet surprise for guests to share with their amour. Priced from $69 per person, $79 per person including a glass of sparkling wine and $89 per person including a glass of Vevue Clicquot. For more information and to book, visit www.sofitelsydney.com.au

Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour

The Ultimate Romance Package is presented by Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour this Valentine’s Day. Guests will enjoy an indulgent three course dinner and bottle of Champagne for two, served by a butler from their very own private balcony of one of the hotel’s luxurious suites. The suites offer one the world’s most romantic views of Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Priced from $1,199, the package also includes overnight accommodation, early check in, late check out and breakfast for two at Q Dining. Subject to availability and conditions apply. To book, visit www.pullmanquaygrandsydneyharbour.com


Five great reasons for a summer escape to Queenscliff

By Melbourne / Victoria /

Steeped in history, Queenscliff’s modern, cosmopolitan touch is driving everyone south in Victoria to discover its charms in accommodation, dining, train rides and seaside appeal among dozens of other reasons. From its early beginnings in the 1850s when it became a strategic defence post close to the entrance of Port Phillip which in turn provided shipping access to Geelong and Melbourne, it’s become a hot-ticket item for “great escape” destinations in Australia.

Only a 90-minute drive to the Bellarine Peninsula in your Melbourne airport, Queenscliff has dozens of reasons for a weekend – or week-long – escape, but here five standouts.

360Q – a waterfront feast for the senses

Great ocean views, superb service, incredible food and live entertainment. There’s 10 words or less that should be enough to suggest you’d be crazy to avoid spectacular 360Q waterfront restaurant (pictured) at Queenscliff Marina. The venue was closed in 2014 but was reborn over 12 months ago under the management of charismatic Mornington Peninsula celebrity caterer and restaurateur, Barry Iddles, who has breathed new life into its two venues – the Hooked on Fish Cafe Bar and Restaurant downstairs and the spectacular 360Q function space on the first floor.

Upstairs you can soak up views across Queenscliff’s $38 million marina, with the city of Melbourne in the distance, Port Phillip Heads and the town of Queenscliff from its enclosed viewing deck which guests access via a spiral staircase. The food itself is adventurous and memorable. Think entrees like sweet corn and jalapeno fritters with lime and chilli glaze or Idamaes summer duck salad with peach salsa. Mains hit the spot with popular menu items such as Sri Lankan rubbed lamb rack with cardamom pilaf rice, green beans and raita or Dendeng balado beef short rib with coriander rice & fried basil. Of course, the location requires some choice seafood and it certainly delivers by capitalising on local produce – try Portarlington mussels with lemongrass & chilli, coconut broth, or the simple but sensational Furphy battered whiting fillets, crunchy chips, lemon and tartare. Desserts are must, namely the Chocolate molten pudding w vanilla ice cream and a compote of raspberries, or Coconut creme brulee with papaya & lime.

“This was an incredible opportunity to relaunch a venue that locals and Melburnians alike know and love,” Iddles told DriveNow. “It’s the perfect spot for residents to come for a casual lunch or breakfast, for tourists off the ferry to stop and relax during their day trip and its magnificent views will mean we’ll soon be the most talked-about function space on the Bellarine coastline.”

Sleep easy at beautiful Benamda B&B

This historic cottage is one of the oldest buildings in Queenscliff still in use and has an old-fashioned irresistible vibe with hosts Geoff and Anne at the helm.

Benambra Boutique Bed & Breakfast offers a relaxing escape in the heart of town where you can experience an ambience of the 1870s with modern day comforts and homely food. Lovingly restored and in immaculate condition, it provides seven rooms with ensuites; two with spas. Everything is nearby including the beach, restaurants (360Q only 10 minutes by foot), shops and the ferry to Sorrento.

Homemade cake with tea or coffee is served on arrival and every morning begins in the dining room with a hearty breakfast like grandma used to make. Plus you can tap into the hosts’ wealth of local knowledge and top tips.

Eco Boat Tours

After you wander the historic streets to work off a big breakfast, book in with the South Bay Eco Adventures crew for any number of tour types at Queenscliff Harbour.

Take your pick from Bay & Bass Strait tours, Bird Watching & Photography, South Channel Fort Tours, Mud Island Tours, Dolphins, whales, seals and penguins, private charters and more. These guys offer an up close nature based adventure you won’t forget highlighting the unique history, wildlife and coastal landscape of the area.

Rock out on the Blues Train

They say nothing quite captures the essence of the blues like a steam train in full swing, and this Blues Train is always rockin’.

The Blues Train leaves Queenscliff Railway Station after guests enjoy a buffet style dinner with local wines, beers and spirits. Then the real party begins. It’s a full meal and show, four blues artists and the full train ride to Drysdale return over five hours.

A tipple or two at Scotchmans Hill

From a broad selection of wineries in the region, Scotchmans Hill is a must with lots going on as new owners work on some renovations. Established in 1982, Scotchmans Hill is a producer of premium cool maritime climate wines and is rated among James Halliday’s Top 100 Australian Wineries. Immaculately maintained vineyards overlook Port Phillip Bay, and the wines are to die for, which can be sampled in the cellar door. Must include the wickedly delicious freshly made platters out in the courtyard.



How to Spend a Family Easter Weekend in Sydney 2018

By New South Wales / Sydney /
Sydney Opera House

Sydney is a fantastic place to spend Easter 2018 with your loved ones. Photo by Frances Gunn on Unsplash


Still not locked in your Sydney Easter plans with the family? You’re not alone. Every year thousands of families find themselves with the same conundrum.

The great news is there are plenty of options for how you want to spend the long weekend in Sydney for Easter 2018, without having to leave the city.

The annual Easter Markets

The Grounds of Alexandria made headlines for featuring Australia’s largest chocolate egg, which gets smashed up and shared on Easter Sunday. The 3 m high, 300 kg chocolate Easter egg is why so many families come back year after year. But the venue also attracts people from all walks of life with its magical Easter Markets over the long weekend. See storybook characters roam around and browse different pop up stalls, many which feature delicious food.

The Great Centennial Park Egg Hunt

Easter Activities Sydney

Give the kids a treat with an Easter Egg hunt in Sydney this year!

Make the journey to central Sydney to see the city’s largest Easter egg hunt in action! More than 1,000 children jumped on board the adventure last year, and plenty more are expected to return. The egg hunt is full of surprises and challenges, all of which are rewarded with chocolate! The hunt takes just over half an hour to complete, making it an easy and enjoyable time out with the family. You just need a map to help navigate the route, which costs $17.50.

The Australian Museum Egg Hunt

For some Sydney Easter family fun, take the gang to the galleries of the Australian Museum to begin the search for Aussie animals and their eggs. All you need is a trail map and a love for adventure. Along the way, the kids will learn about the different animals, such as snakes, dinosaurs and even insects, that lay eggs. Not only will you get to eat your very own chocolate bilby, but you’ll get to witness real ones too! The hunt runs every half hour on Easter Saturday and Sunday, at a cost of $15 each.

Sydney Royal Easter Show

From late March to early April, thousands of people flock to the famous Sydney Royal Easter Show. It’s a perfect fit for people of all ages. You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to showbags, scoffing delicious food and cuddling farm animals. Expect highly competitive agricultural and art and craft competitions, which attract a large and enthusiastic audience. You can’t miss this milestone event in the Sydney Easter calendar.

If you feel like escaping the city for a bit of an adventure, make sure you snap up one of DriveNow’s cheap car hire deals from Sydney Airport. Then you’re in a great spot to explore all of what the glorious NSW countryside has to offer.



Places to visit this summer in Victoria

By Victoria /

Victoria in the summertime is magnificent. It’s glorious and there’s no place you’d rather be than enjoying the sunshine while hiking through pristine forest or swimming at one of Melbourne’s iconic beaches. Or perhaps your idea of summer means staying indoors to escape the unbearable heat.

Whatever you want to do this summer, Victoria is a place that has endless opportunities for anyone. You can easily pick up a cheap car hire deal from Melbourne Airport with a DriveNow bargain. Once you’re all set, hit the road to explore one of these destinations for the day.

Melbourne bayside

On a hot summer’s day, southeastern beaches are a godsend with their cool waters. They don’t seem to heat up no matter how high the mercury rises. Do you fancy roller skating along St Kilda’s famous shoreline? Relax at Brighton Beach or there’s Mentone Beach, which is a great spot to take a picnic for the family and have a dip.

Escape the heat via an ice rink

In the heart of Docklands, the O’Brien Group Arena is a major drawcard for professional ice skaters and anyone who’s daring enough to give it a try! Ice skating is fun, no matter how much experience you have. Have a laugh with your friends as you listen to some pumping beats and cruise around the rink where it’s always cool.

Hike to Masons Falls, Kinglake National Park

Drive just over an hour north east of Melbourne City to Kinglake National Park. Pack your lunch in a backpack and some drinking water and begin the full day 13km walk. It’ll treat you to scenic views of the spectacular falls. You’ll spot incredible wildlife and discover how the area has regrown since the devastating Black Saturday fires of 2009. You can also do the easy Masons Falls Walk, a 700m one-way walk to Masons Falls lookout.

Take a road trip to Lake Daylesford

The beautiful Lake Daylesford is a magical spot to take a dip in the summertime. Daylesford is one of the most beautiful, historic towns in all of Victoria. It’s full of gold rush history and charm. Walk around the lake, go kayaking or just enjoy an iced coffee at one of the nearby cafes with stunning views. Best of all, it’s only an hour and a half drive northwest of Melbourne.



Things to do at Port Fairy Folk Festival

By Great Ocean Road /

Port Fairy in southwest Victoria is a quiet seaside town and a popular stopover for couples travelling the Great Ocean Road. This beautiful and charming place is also home to Australia’s premier folk music festival. It’s held every year in March and showcases national and international acts. The streets of Port Fairy come alive with buskers and people who love and appreciate everything to do with folk music.

This March grab a bargain car hire deal at Melbourne Airport and drive three and a half hours west of Melbourne. Here are some of the best things to do when you get there.

Enjoy the music

Of course, the Port Fairy Folk Festival is all about the music! The festival includes dozens of acts acts performing folk, acoustic roots, bluegrass, blues, jazz and country roots. Admire to some of your favourite folk artists live on stage while also discovering new talent you haven’t heard of before. There’s the award winning Western Australian artist Gina Williams, and groups like The Teskey Brothers (pictured), Tex, Don and Charlie and All Our Exes Live In Texas. You’ll also get to see international legends like Andy Irvine and Violons Barbares in action.

Explore the art and craft stalls

The festival also boasts some top notch craft and market stalls. The Port Fairy Folk Festival has a reputation for its vibrant craft scene. Its stalls sell unique, handmade itesms. There are sites available across the town. There are also workshops for children, where they can learn to make some of these amazing gifts.

Hike Tower Hill

Drive to Tower Hill so you can walk across what was once an active volcano, about 4 km wide. In decades past it was full of fields to grow crops, it became a motorbike racing site, and eventually a rubbish dump. But since the area started to be reforested with more than 300,000 trees over the past 40 years, native animals have flocked to the area. It’s now a beautiful area of state park with five scenic self-guided walks. You’ll uncover old lava flow, stunning wetlands and a variety of birdlife.



Your travel guide to Coffs Harbour and surrounds

By New South Wales /

Coffs Harbour is a beautiful town on the North Coast of New South Wales. It’s a great summer getaway favourite for many travellers, thanks to its stunning beaches and iconic attractions like the Big Banana. But it’s also known for its many natural wonders. To do the region properly, you need a car to explore the region. You’ll easily find a cheap car hire deal with DriveNow. Drive six hours north to Coffs Harbour, where you can get started with some of these must-do activities.

Explore Bindarri National Park

This pristine park has many walking, bike and 4WD trails that are just waiting to be explored. It also has plenty of scenic spots that are great for a picnic or birdwatching. The clear, cascading Bangalore Falls should be at the top of your list. It’s a 500m walk from the carpark, but you’ll feel like you’re in your own private oasis.

Take a Segway tour

Go off-road with an eco-friendly Segway. Your guide teaches you how to operate the Segway before taking you on a tour of the coastal city. Enjoy fresh air as you breeze past attractions and stunning scenery, while getting a little history lesson along the way. Choose from a morning or afternoon your.

Visit Coffs Harbour Butterfly House

Enter the home of more than 400 Australia butterflies in a tropical rainforest setting. Every colour you can possibly imagine flashes before you at the award-winning attraction The best time to see them is between 10 and 2pm, when the butterflies are generally more active.

Do the Mobong Walking Track

Pack a picnic and begin a leisurely walking track, that initially follows a historic tramway once used for timber logging. Follow a tranquil creek, with beautiful pools, waterfalls and lush forest of the way. Listen out for birds and rare frogs while keeping an eye out for ancient trees along the way.

Relax at Diggers Beach

This is a great place to spend the afternoon if you want some R&R. It’s a popular sport for surfers and tourists who love the summer weather. But if you’re one to hide from the sun’s harsh rays, then the wide beach also has a lot of shade. Diggers Beach is also right across the road from the iconic Big Banana.



Christmas spirit sweeps over Melbourne

By Melbourne / Victoria /

Melbourne comes alive for some serious Christmas spirit every year as shopping hotspots dress up for the occasion. The Visit Victoria team shared the news with Melbourne car rental specialists DriveNow on just where to go to find the Spirit of Christmas, along with what’s open and when.

From markets to the Myer windows, selfies with Santa and a merry activation in Federation Square, there’s something for locals and visitors alike as Victoria celebrates. Try these:

Federation Square (until 25 December)

Federation Square will be transformed into a Christmas wonderland offering festive fun for the whole family. The jolly man in red is in residence, found beneath a 16-metre-tall tree and waiting to make his list of naughty and nice children. A light show takes over at 9:00pm every night, with a six-metre bauble glittering in the Square.

State Library of Victoria Christmas Projections (until 25 December)

The iconic State Library of Victoria will light up across December, with its stunning architecture featuring a bright and swirling projection show that tells the story of the North Pole’s preparation for the big day. The show begins at 9pm every night.

Myer Christmas Windows (until early 2018)

As iconic as Santa Claus himself, the Myer Christmas Windows in the Bourke Street Mall are a Melbourne institution. Celebrating ‘The Completely and Utterly Perfect Christmas’ by HC Floren, it’s best to get there early and avoid the queues. The Giftorium on the sixth floor provides plenty of inspiration for those on the hunt for presents that surprise a loved one.

Christmas Laneways (until early 2018)

Degraves Street, Alfred Place, Howie Place, Meyers Place and Manchester Lane are some of Melbourne’s most iconic laneways and in 2017 they’ll be decked out with boughs of holly, fairy lights, baubles and in some cases, a reindeer too. Did someone say Instagram?

The Gingerbread Village (until 24 December)

The Gingerbread Village by EPICURE returns to the Melbourne Town Hall in 2017, brought to life by award-winning pastry chef Deniz Karaca and his talented team in an effort to raise money for the Royal Children’s Hospital. This year they will craft the F1 Grand Prix circuit, adding to the existing village comprising 500 kilograms of gingerbread, 360 kilograms of royal icing, 150 kilograms of marzipan and around 800 miniature Christmas trees for the festive backdrop.

Christmas with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (16 Deccember)

Feet will be tapping as the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra perform favourite festive orchestral works, such as ‘The Nutcracker’ by Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Christmas Eve’ at the Arts Centre’s Hamer Hall, where a recent renovation and the very latest sound technology has cemented the venue as one of the world’s great music halls.

Carols by Candlelight Sidney Myer Music Bowl (Christmas Eve)

Those attending will join in the chorus at Carols by Candelight, a now 80-year long celebration of music that donates 100% of profits to the efforts of Vision Australia. For locals and visitors alike, this is an unforgettable evening of music, laughter and memories. Spectators can enjoy a BYO picnic on the grass, watching and listening to your favourite carols by artists like Marina Prior, Denis Walter and Silvie Paladino.

Skate with Santa (every weekend in December)

Budding Winter Olympians can take to the ice alongside Santa at O’Brien Group Arena, with skating for the whole family a fantastic way to begin the build-up to Christmas Day. It’s on every Saturday and Sunday across December, from 11am – 3pm.

Queen Victoria Market (until 25 December)

The North Pole comes to Melbourne’s most iconic market this December, as thousands of Melburnians stock up on the trimmings required for a feast to remember. More than 250,000 people are expected to pass through in the days leading up to Christmas, with entertainment from carollers to feature alongside Santa Claus and cooking demonstrations by celebrity chef Lynton Tapp.

South Melbourne Market (until 25 December)

An Australian Christmas abounds for Melburnians on the hunt for seafood, and the South Melbourne Market, Coventry and Cecil streets, is the place to be for prawns, crayfish, crabs and oysters this festive season. There will be extended trading from 20 December and Santa and his elves will be on site to support with any final gift ideas.


As Christmas Day fast approaches, it’s time to plan ahead. Below is an update on Christmas trading hours for the major centres across the city.

Chadstone, the Fashion Capital
11 December – 17 December, 9:00am – 9:00pm
18 December – 22 December, 9:00am – 12:00am (midnight)
36 hours of trading: 8:00am, Saturday 23 December – 6:00pm, Sunday 24 December

Melbourne Central
11 December – 23 December, 9:00am – 9:00pm
24 December, 9:00am – 6:00pm

11 December – 13 December, 9:00am – 7:00pm
14 December – 17 December, 9:00am – 9:00pm
18 December – 22 December, 9:00am – 11:59pm
34 hours of trading: 9:00am, Saturday 23 December – 5:00pm, Sunday 24 December

11 December – 23 December, 9:00am – 9:00pm
24 December, 9:00am – 6:00pm

Westfield Doncaster
11 December – 13 December, 9:00am – 7:00pm
14 December – 15 December, 9:00am – 10:00pm
16 December – 17 December, 9:00am – 7:00pm
18 December – 20 December, 9:00am – 10:00pm
21 December – 22 December, 9:00am – 11:59pm
23 December, 9:00am – 9:00pm
24 December, 8:00am – 5:00pm

The District, Docklands
16 December – 20 December, 9:00am – 6:00pm
21 December, 9:00am – 8:00pm
22 December, 9:00am – 9:00pm
23 December, 9:00am – 7:00pm
24 December, 10:00am – 6:00pm


Wet and wild is the Northern Territory summer

By Darwin / Northern Territory /

The NT is stunning all year round, yet when the wet season rolls in like clockwork every November, it adds a certain vibrancy to the landscape as floodplains fill and spill into surrounding waterways and the green foliage thickens and deepens in colour. Touring the Top End in your Darwin car rental in the green season also means you’ll be visiting out of peak, so your Territory trip-of-a-lifetime won’t break the budget as hotels and tour operators offer generous discounts.

If you’re ready for a cool change this summer, here are Tourism NT’s picks to whet your appetite for travel in the green season.


The tropical capital is treated to vivid sunsets, spectacular light shows and refreshing rains, which bring a cool change during the summer months. Darwin’s famous Sailing Club at Fannie Bay or the Darwin Waterfront are the perfect places to watch the show unfold.

A visit to modern-day Darwin is also a journey back through Australia’s war time history. East Point Reserve, just 10 minutes’ drive from the city centre, is home to a cool collection of artillery that’s housed in the original concrete bunker used by the army to plan the strategy for the wartime defense of Australia’s northern shores.

The Territory’s famous ‘build up’ and run-off from monsoonal rains also make for great fishing from January to mid–March and the Territory’s famous Million Dollar Fish competition provides a million extra incentives for anglers to stay, play and fish in and around the Top End.  For those that prefer to feed their fish rather than catch them, Aquascene offers a daily fish feeding experience in the heart of Darwin that’s perfect for families. Expect to see inquisitive mullet, milkfish, catfish, bream, batfish and barramundi coming in to feed. For more visit www.milliondollarfish.com.au


The swell of wet-season waterfalls, like popular Wangi Falls, makes for epic Instagram-worthy images when taken from the lower viewing platforms at Litchfield National Park, just a short 90-minute drive from Darwin’s CBD.

While the 4WD tracks and some walking tracks close during the green season, most of the park remains open year-round as do the popular gin-coloured Florence Falls and Buley Rockhole.

If you’re heading to these parts, then a trip to the Tolmer plunge waterfall really showcases the power of Mother Nature and it’s easily accessible in green season.  A quick dip in the infinity pool at Greenant Creek offers unbelievable views from the escarpment and, if you are lucky, you’ll have the place to yourself during the wet. In fact, this spot is so good, that Litchfield Park Rangers rate it as one of small must-do experiences in life.
More: northernterritory.com/darwin-and-surrounds/litchfield-national-park

For those that love their camping, it’s also much easier to nab a great camping spot at this time of year and soak up the quiet.  Outdoor types can roll up your swags and join Territory Expeditions’ Three day Kakadu/Litchfield small group camping expedition every November to April.


Uluru aside, a visit to World Heritage-listed Kakadu is one of the most spiritual experiences a traveller can experience on home soil.

In the green season, a scenic flight is one of the best ways to fully appreciate this ancient and rugged landscape as water buffalo roam with free abandon, green spear trees reach their full height, billabongs swell and fill and waterfalls are in full-flow. Operators like Kakadu Air take in the park show-stoppers – Jim Jim and Twin Falls – the sight of which guarantees to make your cameras whir as fast as the helicopter’s rotors as the drama unfolds below.

On the ground, sealed roads make exploring a breeze and Nourlangie Rock (or Burrunggui as it is known to the Gun-djeihmi speakers) is one of the most impressive ancient galleries in Kakadu. This open-air gallery was the wet season home for generations of Aboriginal people and Park Rangers stress it’s important to look and not touch to preserve the site for future generations.

A cruise on Yellow Water – a lush, tropical billabong that’s home to wild buffalo, crocs, 120 species of reptiles and flocks of native birds (some 300 species in total) and all manner of flora – is a must-do on any Kakadu trip.  Kakadu Tourism offers a 90-minute trip through the wetlands – complete with expert commentary from super-enthusiastic guides and the occasional trumpeting of brolgas (which can be heard up to 2km away) – which brings visitors nose to snout with the region’s famous salties.

A range of discounted cruise options and accommodation packages are available during the green season including a Sunset and Sunrise cruise package, with overnight stay at Cooinda Lodge, or slip into safari life or embrace the emblem of the NT and stay in the park’s famous croc-shaped hotel, Mercure Crocodile Hotel.

For a touch of understated bush luxury, treat yourself to a night or two at Bamurru Plains lodge, perfectly plonked on a privately-owned buffalo station right on the fringes of Kakadu National Park. Surrounded by savannah woodland, you’ll wake to birdsong, feast on bush-inspired gourmet meals and fall asleep to the sounds of nature. The property is closed during the early months of the wet season (Nov to Feb), operates as an exclusive fishing lodge from February to April and reopens in May.


Stretching from Queensland to Western Australia, the Katherine Region is where the outback meets the tropics in a region that’s filled to the brim with dramatic gorges, river ways, thermal springs and waterfalls.

In country as beautiful as this, it’s always a good idea to take to the skies and soar over the Z-shaped lands to really appreciate the diversity, so make sure your camera is fully charged. No less than thirteen dramatic gorges dot the landscape and names like Biddlecombe Cascades, Crystal Falls and 17 Mile Falls roll off the tongue as you fly low along the escarpment towards Arnhem Land.

More: www.helispirit.com.au/all-tours/katherine-gorge-helicopter-tours/

A little closer to terra firma, Nitmiluk Tours run their Nit Nit Dreaming Two Gorge Cultural Cruise through the lands of the Jawoyn people and continue during the green season until the water levels rise too high. For water babies, Mataranka Hot Springs and its neighbour, beautiful Bitter Springs, are located just a 50 minute drive south.

Immerse yourself in nature with a hike through the Nitmiluk National Park to the Southern Rockhole – one of the few places where you can swim in park during the wet season. The walk is more hike than stroll as you clamber over the rocky escarpment so BYO good walking shoes. And, at day’s end, retire to your Safari Tent in the National Park campground, complete with resident wallabies and a side of fresh NT air.

Some call it the green season; we just call it a summer well spent in the NT.

SCOTT PODMORE (with Tourism NT)


Sydney New Year’s Eve party hot spots to bring in 2018

By New South Wales / Sydney /

With Sydney set to throw the world’s most exciting New Year’s Eve party party featuring outstanding fireworks displays, we’ve asked the Destination NSW team to reveal some of the city’s best vantage points and parties for revellers to ring in 2018.

As NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall says: “Every year Sydney erupts into a kaleidoscope of colour as the nation’s biggest-ever fireworks display welcomes in the New Year. With many locations across the harbour foreshore to view the fireworks, as well as festivities and parties to experience, celebrating New Year’s Eve in Sydney is another great reason to book a holiday to NSW.”

Here are some great options to watch all the action

Sydney - New Years Eve

The Rocks

Campbell’s Cove is on Hickson Road north of the Overseas Passenger Terminal, offers front row views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. Revellers are advised to arrive early as the area usually reaches capacity at around 4pm. Admission is free; Opening times: 9.30am 31 December to 1am 1 January.

Circular Quay

To nab a spot on the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House it’s best to arrive as early as possible as this iconic spot reaches capacity early in the day. Food and drinks are available for purchase onsite. Admission is free; Opening times: 7.30am 31 December to 1.30am 1 January.

The Royal Botanic Gardens

Mrs Macquarie’s Poinnt is one of the most popular viewing spots for New Year’s Eve due to the location’s fantastic views. This vantage point also offers food and drinks available for purchase onsite. Admission is free; Opening times: 10am 31 December to 12.15am1 January.

Barangaroo Reserve

This year, celebrate New Year’s Eve at Sydney’s Barangaroo Reserve. The Reserve is one of the best-value ticketed New Year’s Eve venues on Sydney Harbour. The spectacular harbourside location, superb views of the sunset and the western façade of the Sydney Harbour Bridge make Barangaroo Reserve the ultimate spot to enjoy the 9pm and midnight fireworks. The site will feature light entertainment, picnic spaces, food and beverage hampers available for purchase and family-friendly alcohol-free zones, as well as licensed areas. Tickets start at $40 for adults and from $5 for children. Juniors under two are free. Tickets are available for purchase from ticketek.com.au. Admission is ticketed; Opening times: 6pm 31 December to 12.45am 1 January.

Darling Harbour

Viewing spots around Cockle Bay are prized locations and this year will be no exception. With a free program of live music and light shows from 7pm, as well as the famous 9pm and midnight fireworks, Cockle Bay is set to be one of the most exciting, free family-friendly locations to celebrate the end of 2017. Admission is free; Opening times: 11am 31 December to 1.30am 1 January.

Sydney Harbour Islands

Shark Island will be transformed into an island paradise this New Year’s Eve. Guests will be treated to a live DJ and some of the best views of Sydney Harbour. Dance to the tunes of DJ Adi Toohey and Sydney’s own Recess DJs. Sliders, fries and desserts will be available for purchase from Slippin’ Sliders. Tickets start from $232 for adults and from $165 for children. Children aged under four are free. Tickets include ferry transfers to and from Rose Bay.

Sydney’s other islands including Cockatoo Island, Goat Island and Clark Island offer a range of exciting New Year’s Eve events. For a lively celebration book a ticket to enjoy a three-course meal and Garden Party on Clark Island with tickets priced from $395 for adults and $242 for children. Children aged under four are free.

On the water

For a ‘ferry good view’ of the fireworks, jump aboard an iconic Sydney Harbour Ferry from Manly or Rose Bay Wharf for a front row seat of the fireworks. Exclusive tickets are now available for the Harbour of Lights Parade which gives visitors a tour of the Harbour and the closest views of the 9pm and midnight fireworks. Guests can pack a picnic to enjoy on-board with tickets starting from $150 for adults and $125 for concessions.

Sydney CBD

Sitting 47 floors above the city and offering 360 degree views from the deck of a revolving restaurant, O Bar and Dining is one of the most exclusive places in Sydney to see in the New Year. Choose to have an eight-course degustation dinner or rolling chef’s tapas taking in Sydney from all angles in the unique circular dining room. The cuisine is based on chef and owner Michael Moore’s healthy eating philosophy and complements an extensive wine list and innovative cocktail menu of modern, classic and vintage drinks. Tickets start from $475 for adults (18 years+ only).

Portside Sydney will host an exquisite ‘La Riviera’ themed party this New Year’s Eve with open-air dining and uninterrupted views of the world-famous 9pm and midnight fireworks on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Guests can enjoy free-flowing French Champagne, cocktails, live food stations and canapes by Lauren Murdoch all night as they enjoy the live music beneath the stars, under the sails of the Sydney Opera House. Tickets are priced from $695 for adults (18 years+ only).

While demand is high, revellers can still book a hotel room in the city to ring in the New Year. Travellers are advised to book fast as hotels will be at capacity on 31 December.

For a full list of Sydney New Year’s Eve vantage points visit www.sydneynewyearseve.com and find your Sydney car rental here.