Jan
30
2018

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.

Location

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.

Unique

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.

THE CHAIR

(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.)

Jan
25
2018

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.

SCOTT PODMORE