Oct
11
2017

Seven incredible spots to go surfing in Australia

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

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

1. Sheringa, SA

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

2. Ningaloo Coast, WA

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

3. Bells Beach, VIC

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

4. Lord Howe Island, NSW

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

5. Gold Coast’s Superbank, QLD

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

6. Yallingup, WA

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

7. Lighthouse Beach, TAS

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

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

RUTH BIRCH & SCOTT PODMORE

Nov
09
2016

5 of the best Perth food experiences

By Australia / Perth /

You may not realise it, but Perth boasts some of Australia’s most exciting food experiences. Whether you want to visit a fresh farmers’ market, dine in elegance or join in an educational foodie tour, Perth is the ultimate destination for food lovers.

Hire a car from Perth Airport and add these Perth food experiences to the top of your to do list!

Friends Restaurant (pictured)

This CBD venue is a multi award winning restaurant. It has also been voted number 1 on Tripadvisor. Head chef Frederic Verschoore serves up Modern Australian cuisine. He combines the world’s finest culinary techniques with Australia’s wide variety of fresh produce. Friends Restaurant also offers stunning views of Perth’s skyline and the Swan River.

Subi Farmers Market

The Subi Farmers Market has been operating every Saturday since 2009. Organisers say they aim to encourage a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Here, you’ll find everything you need to make that possible. Shop around for fresh produce, gourmet foods, breads, and organic foods. You’ll also enjoy live entertainment. All of the market’s profits go to the Subiaco Primary School.

High tea at COMO The Treasury

Indulge with high tea at this iconic Perth venue. Set among the beautiful surrounds of the Treasury Lounge, this venue is fit for a king! Think freshly baked cakes, scones along with tea, coffee or champagne. Scrumptious afternoon tea is served every Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 5pm. Make sure you book to avoid the disappointment of being turned away!

Food Night Safari

Discover the famous flavours of Perth with an educational tour. This experience takes you to several locations, where you can explore Perth’s rich food culture. Dress comfortably so you can walk around the city and sample a variety of foods at each restaurant or café. Your guide gives you a local perspective and shares each venue’s story with you to boost your appreciation for these creations.

Sandalford Wines

Travel just outside Perth to the Swan Valley, where you’ll find the world-famous Sandalford Wines. The establishment of this winery in the beautiful valley in 1840 coincides with European settlement in Perth. It’s also synonymous with the birth of Western Australia’s wine industry. A visit to the winery will be the highlight of your trip. You won’t want to stop yourself from sampling several award winning drops.

BRIANNA PIAZZA

Sep
29
2016

Perth and 4 awesome road trips north and south

By Australia / Perth /

Aussies are increasingly choosing Perth as their next holiday destination. Is it any wonder why? It has everything you want including gorgeous surf beaches, wineries, eateries and national parks right on the city’s doorstep.

Hire a vehicle from Perth airport and choose one of these four awesome road trips.

Perth to Exmouth

This 13-hour drive north of Pert takes you past Western Australia’s most stunning beaches.. If you’re driving up this way during wildflower season you’ll also witness the landscape come alive with wildflowers. It’s a scenic drive and you can stop at several locations along the way. When you finally arrive at your destination, you won’t want to leave. Located on the tip of the North West Cape, Exmouth is the perfect place to explore the colourful coral and fish at Ningaloo Marine Park.

Monkey Mia

About 9 hours north of Perth is Monkey Mia. Bottlenose dolphins have been visiting this beach for more than 40 years. Fishermen returning from the seas used to share their catch with the local dolphins, and ever since then their trust of humans grew. It’s led to one of Australia’s most unique wildlife encounters. If you want to view these beautiful animals up close, make sure you visit the beach between 7.45am and midday, but it’s best to arrive early.

Margaret River

Travel three hours south of Perth and you’ll encounter the famous Margaret River. There are many reasons to fall in love with this region. Not only is it close to pristine surf beaches and home to many outdoor activities, but the region is most famous for its breweries and wineries. This is the place you come to sit back, relax and sample some of the best Australian products on offer. Take a winery tour – you can either drive or walk through scenic vineyards to each winery.

Albany

Albany has one of Australia’s most breathtaking coastlines. You can get there by travelling five hours along the Albany Highway from Perth. If you’re feeling adventurous, try walking part of the famous Bibbulmun Track that runs from Perth to Albany. In the city, you can also learn about the area’s convict history. After all, it’s the first place that European settlers set foot in Western Australia. Much of their legacy remains, with dozens of colonial buildings throughout the city. It’s also worth going on a whale watching cruise while you’re here.

BRIANNA PIAZZA

Oct
22
2015

Five of Perth’s finest foodie haunts for road trippers

By Australia / Perth / Western Australia /

With fresh caught seafood straight from the ocean, abundant world- class wineries and a climate fit for growing the freshest produce throughout the year, it is no wonder Perth is known as a foodie mecca, with more restaurants per capita than any other capital city in the country. Here are five of our favourites.

The Old Crow
Located in the heart of the city, Perth’s answer to southern style American soul food serves up a mouthwatering menu including slow cooked pork shoulder, chipotle braised lamb shoulder, pumpkin pie with honey cream and buttermilk pannacotta. Pair them all with the Old Crow’s range of cocktail pitchers, beers, ciders and wines and you have the perfect ingredients for one incredibly satisfying food coma. A crowd favourite for locals and tourists alike.
Check out theoldcrow.com.au for more info.

Bread in Common

To Fremantle’s Esplanade, where rising star Bread in Common has made a name for itself in an old warehouse space designed with communal dining in mind. The kitchen philosophy is focused on fresh, locally sourced produce and handmade food that is in season. The ever-changing lunch and dinner menu showcases amongst other things a large selection of local and international cheeses, and an extensive wine list also complements the menu. Combine both with the freshly baked ranges of breads and you have a foodie match made in heaven.
To get your fill, check out breadincommon.com.au

Carilley Estate
Located in the historic Swan Valley wine region just 20 minutes from the CBD, at Carilley Estate visitors are treated to a seasonal menu whilst taking in sweeping views of the enchanting gardens, picturesque vineyards and the garden-party style manicured lawn. Amongst the ancient gums, diners feast al-freso on a range of locally sourced produce, supporting nearby small businesses such as the local butcher, family owned seafood market and local cheese and honey producers. It doesn’t get much fresher than that.
To book a table check out carilleyestate.com.au.

The Margaret River Chocolate Company and Providore (pictured)
Just a ten minute drive from Carilley, why not skip dessert and head to the Margaret River Chocolate Company to enjoy some free tastings of their chocolate treats? A spot on the covered sun-deck overlooking the gardens and vines is the perfect place to indulge in their range of cakes and desserts for afternoon tea. The adjoining Providore store provides a huge range of take-home preserves, chutneys and olive oils as well as their award winning wines and famous chocolate liqueur.
To get your mouth watering visit chocolatefactory.com.au.

Il Lido Italian canteen
In true Perth style, why not end the day with dinner by the sea? The view of Cottesloe Beach and the expansive Indian Ocean combined with the old Italian charm inside the restaurant walls make for a great lazy afternoon grazing session. Il Lido offers an extensive menu including an antipasti selection of house-cured meats and freshly shucked oysters to munch on throughout the day. From noon, the full menu of house made pastas and desserts as well as fish of the day and specially cut meats are available and to end the meal, quality Italian farm house cheeses are available in share platters. Top this off with one of the wines from the floor to ceiling wall and Il Lido becomes the perfect dining experience.
For more details see illido.com.au.

RUTH BIRCH

Oct
06
2015
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Five reasons to fall in love with Margaret River

By Australia / Perth / Western Australia /

From acclaimed wineries to breathtaking beaches and even a giant hedge maze, Margaret River has plenty to offer every type of traveller. For those on a budget there are hundreds of free natural attractions such as hiking the Cape to Cape walking track, wildflower spotting in Boranup Forest and plenty of surfing spots on the west coast. Those enjoying a romantic weekend away might like to instead head to one of the many markets before an afternoon of whale watching and later a degustation dinner at one of the area’s many fine dining restaurants.

Cave ‘n’ Canoe Bushtucker Tour (pictured)
Combining an active day of swimming, canoeing and caving while learning the history of our first native inhabitants, the Bushtucker tour also includes a special lunch of exotic tastes from all over Western Australia, as well as locally made pestos, chutneys, dips and baked breads. For a truly Australian experience, it also includes bushtucker meats like emu, kangaroo, crocodile and wild turkey, however if these don’t get your mouthwatering there is a well catered vegetarian menu. All up, the lunch includes 20 unique tastings.
Visit bushtuckertours.com to book.

Amaze’n Hedge Maze
Lose yourself inside the winding challenge that is Amaze’n. As well as the giant ½ hectare hedge maze, the grounds also boast an 18 hole mini golf course and a café set in the botanical gardens. Having just undergone an impressive makeover, the gardens offer the perfect place to rest for an afternoon picnic and BBQs are also available to use on site.

Margaret River Cellar Door and Tasting Room at Berry Farm
Not just a berry farm, the gorgeous venue offers a kids playground and a cottage café serving many delicious treats including the classic Devonshire tea. The cellar door is brimming with mouthwatering seasonal preserves, with jams, sauces, syrups and vinegars all produced on the farm and tastings of the 40 gourmet products are held every day. The restaurant also serves finely crafted wines to complement all of the meals on their menu, and what better way to wait for the food settle than by relaxing amongst the lavenders and roses in the cottage garden. More info at theberryfarm.com.au

Busselton Jetty
About a 40 minute drive north of Margaret River center is the longest timer-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. Stretching 1.8kms, construction started in 1865 and it has since survived fires, cyclones, storms and demolition plans. A ‘jetty train’ takes you on the journey across Geographe Bay, where you can visit the eight metre deep underwater observatory, rated No.1 top aquarium in the South Pacific on Trip Advisor. There you can view over 300 individual marine species. You may even get lucky and glimpse a pod of dolphins playing in the bay.
Tour bookings are essential.

Wardan Aboriginal Culture Centre
About half an hour north of the centre of Margaret River, visitors can experience a range of cultural tours at the Wardan Aboriginal Culture Centre. Boomerang and spear throwing classes, bush story trails, stone toolmaking workshops, artefacts and the Six Season interactive display all offer visitors a greater understanding of the historical, social and environmental issues affecting Indigenous Australians. Bookings are essential and visitors are urged to call in advance.
Visit wardan.com.au for more info.

RUTH BIRCH

 

Sep
15
2015

Five great things to do in Perth and surrounds this summer

By Australia / Perth /

If you’re heading out west this spring/summer, then there are many exciting festivals and events waiting for you.

Here are five great events in Perth and surrounds to add to your calendar.

Kings Park Festival

For the month of September

This beautiful inner city park is home to the Western Australian Botanic Garden, which has more than 3000 species of the state’s unique flora. For the first month of spring each year, Kings Park hosts an annual festival, which is ideal for wildflower lovers and gardening enthusiasts. For the entire month, you can sign up to guided walks and tours, visit outdoor exhibitions and enjoy live entertainment in the park.

Rottofest Music and Comedy Festival

September 19

Get ready for a jam-packed weekend of comedy and music on Rottnest Island. Since 2009, the annual festival has attracted comedy legends, such as Fiona O’Loughlin, and music talent from across Australia, including electronic dance trio Art vs Science and rock band Tame Impala. If that’s not enough to draw you to Rottnest Island, then surely its gorgeous, white, sandy beaches and relaxed atmosphere will be.

Cape to Cape MTB

22-25 October

This four-day mountain bike race through the beautiful Margaret Rive region, draws elite mountain bike riders from across the world. The riding trail takes you past iconic surf beaches, wineries, beautiful forest and farmlands. Set yourself up in the location of your choice and relax, as you watch the race take place!

Margaret River Gourmet Escape

20-22 November

With an incredible line up of Australian and international food and wine experts and personalities, the Margaret River Gourmet Escape is an amazing event that foodies definitely won’t want to miss! The festival is set in one of Western Australia’s most beautiful regions, and it offers a good excuse to dine on some of the best food and wine in Western Australia.

Perth International Arts Festival

February 2016 – March 2016

The Perth International Arts Festival is the oldest annual international multi-arts festival in the southern hemisphere. The three-week long event attracts more than 700,000 patrons to the city. The festival showcases some of the best theatre, music, film, visual arts, street arts and literature in the world.

BRIANNA PIAZZA

Jul
31
2015
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Six Australian food festivals you simply cannot miss

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

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

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

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

Barossa Gourmet Weekend, SA, 14-16 August

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RUTH BIRCH & SCOTT PODMORE

Jul
27
2015
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Seven incredible spots to go surfing in Australia

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

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

1. Sheringa, SA

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

2. Ningaloo Coast, WA

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

3. Bells Beach, VIC

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

4. Lord Howe Island, NSW

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

5. Gold Coast’s Superbank, QLD

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

6. Yallingup, WA

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

7. Lighthouse Beach, TAS

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

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

RUTH BIRCH & SCOTT PODMORE

Jul
15
2015

5 amazing things to do within two hours of Perth

By Australia / Perth / Western Australia /

Perth is one of Australia’s most laid-back capital cities, but best of all a charming countryside escape is just a short drive away.

Here are five amazing things to do within two hours of Perth.

Rottnest Island

This beautiful island is located just 19km off the coast of Perth. There’s stunning scenery, an array of marine life and pristine, sandy beaches. It’s perfect for a day trip from Perth, with several activities. Favourites include snorkeling or swimming at one of the island’s 80 beaches or bays. At Little Salmon Bay and Parker Point, you’ll discover more than 135 species of colourful, tropical fish and 20 species of coral. Just beyond the coral are a dozen shipwrecks waiting to be explored.

Swan Valley

Swan Valley, situated only 25 minutes from Perth’s CBD, is Western Australia’s oldest wine growing region. It’s ideal for wine and food enthusiasts. In this scenic part of the state, you’ll come across world-class wineries, cafes, restaurants, breweries and distilleries.  You can take a tour and focus on the highlights or explore them individually.

Fremantle (pictured)

Fremantle is famous for its old-fashioned charm. The port city is a vibrant tourist precinct, located about 20 minutes from Perth’s CBD. It has several beautiful colonial buildings, which date back to the 1830s. One of the best ways to see this magnificent city is to simply walk through it. Take a guided tour, or look up self-guided walks on the Visit Fremantle website. Here, you’ll find several walks to choose from, including the award winning Hotels and Breweries Walk, which takes you through the city’s historic west end. 

York

York’s pretty rolling hills are located less than an hour and a half east of Perth, in the Avon Valley. Few Western Australian towns hold the ‘Historic Town’ status, with York being the first inland settlement for Western Australia’s colonists. To this day, it retains its charm with its Victorian-era and Federation style churches, tea rooms and restaurants. Visit the area for a burst of history, arts and crafts, and outdoor activities, such as horse riding.

Bibbulmun Track Day Walk 

This is one part of the eight day walk on the famous Bubbulmun Track, which stretches 100 km from Kalamunda to the historic seaside city of Albany. Begin your day walk about an hour and half’s drive south of Perth at Sullivan Rock. The 19 km return walk leads you to Mount Cooke’s summit, where epic views await. It’s an enjoyable walk, with April to mid-October being the best time to walk the track.

BRIANNA PIAZZA

Jun
13
2015

West is best for adventure – try these four ideas for your next road trip in Western Australia

By Australia / Broome / Perth / Western Australia /

Comprising an entire third of Australia, there’s plenty to do out West when it comes to travel adventures. Try these experiences for size …

Photograph the pinnacles

Where: Nambung National Park, 250km north of Perth

THOSE with a burning desire to capture the world through their camera lens will relish the chance to photograph the Pinnacles at sunset.

These dramatic limestone formations are up to five metres tall, having formed 25,000 to 30,000 years ago.

Wind, rain, sun and vegetation have sculptured these dramatic structures over time. Top photographer Ilya Genkin advises using polarising filter and a low level shooting point to achieve brilliant shots at any time of day, but avoid shooting on dark, moonless nights or extremely rainy or cloudy days.

“The Pinnacle formations are best photographed in the early morning or late afternoon as the play of light brings out the colours and the extended shadows of the formations delivers a contrast that brings out their features.”

It’s even worthwhile taking the scenic drive a few times to get a feel for the best morning, evening and night shots. August to October is the best time to visit, as the days are mild and the area’s gorgeous wildflowers blossom.

Visit the Bungle Bungle Range

Where: Purnululu National Park, east of Broome

EXPLORING the black and orange striped domes of the Bungle Bungle Range in the Pernululu National Park is one of nature’s gifts.

Check out the endless number of beehive-shaped rock formations, hidden valleys, rock pools, and gorges lined with palm trees. The domes stand between 200 and 300 metres above the woodland and grass covered plains, making it one of the Australian Outback’s great wonders.

The scenery is mesmerizing, yet perhaps the most mind-blowing thing is that Indigenous people have inhabited this area for generations and the rest of Australia and the world didn’t even know it existed until about 30 years ago.

Margaret River Discovery Tour

Where: 270km south of Perth

FOR the adventurous at heart there’s everything from caving and mountain biking to horse riding and cultural tours, but one can’t visit Margaret River and put aside a day for the Margaret River Discovery Tour.

The tour includes a 4WD journey through the bush, a stroll out to the Willyabrup Cliffs on the Cape To Cape Track, a paddle on a canoe down the beautiful Margaret River and a gourmet lunch at a magnificent winery.

The company’s Sean Blocksidge says it’s all about going off the beaten path and linking the area’s great outdoors with why the wines in the country’s south west are so special. Not only do visitors enjoy a unique wine and scenic touring experience but they uncover locations that most locals don’t even know exist.

Treetop Walk

Where: Walpole, 250km south east of Bunbury

BEING amongst the tree top canopy of some of the tallest timber giants in Australia truly is a breath of fresh air.

The Valley of the Giants treetop walk enchants visitors, taking them to the top of 400-year-old giant red tingle trees, which are only found within a 15km radius of Walpole.

The 600-metre walk leads over a deep gully, educating and allowing its visitors to explore the area’s most ancient, intriguing and majestic trees. The views that await once you’re 40 metres off the ground and watching over the forest as these giants have done for centuries are simply breathtaking. It’s no wonder why it’s the most visited place on the Rainbow Coast.

This tour offers the best of both worlds as afterwards the Ancient Empires Walk takes you beneath the canopy and you pass some giants which are over 15 metres round at the base. The path gradually ascends into the treetops, making it suitable for people and children of all ages, including those with wheelchairs and parents with strollers.

SCOTT PODMORE & BRIANNA PIAZZA

Apr
29
2015

Swimming with whales sharks and dolphins in Western Australia

By Australia / Perth / Western Australia /

Western Australia is an Aussie holiday destination with thousands of great outdoor activities to explore, including two fantastic ocean adventures.

Swimming with whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef

Where: Off the coast of Exmouth, roughly 1200km north of Perth, WA

Ningaloo Reef is home to an abundance of fascinating sea life and colourful coral, with plenty of snorkel and dive tours to choose from. Between April and July thousands of whale sharks descend upon these tropical waters, enabling visitors to come face to face with these fascinating creatures. They are the world’s largest living fish with mouths are up to one metres wide and lined with up to 350 rows of teeth but don’t let that scare you – these gentle ocean giants feed mainly on plankton, not snorkelers. Ningaloo Reef is one of the few unique spots in the world where large numbers of whale sharks regular appear. It’s also the only place in Australia where it’s possible to swim with these fascinating creatures – all the more reason to add this experience of a lifetime to your must-do list.

Visit www.whalesharkdive.com

Swimming with wild dolphins

Where: Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, 48km south of Perth

IT is often said there’s a deep connection between humans and dolphins. These self aware, compassionate creatures have even been known to defend people from shark attacks. Multi-award winning marine wildlife cruise company, Rockingham Wild Encounters, allows visitors the incredible and unique experience of swimming within a metre of wild dolphins in a natural environment. You simply link up with everybody in your tour group and jump straight into the water and dolphins emerge from the distance to join in for a play and a splash. For between 75 to 90 minutes you can witness dolphins catching their dinner, mothers nursing their calves or even showing off right in front of your eyes in what is said to be “the ultimate wildlife encounter”. Founder Terry Howson says this fascinating wildlife encounter is open to anybody. “It’s an unforgettable type of experience. The youngest I’ve put in the water is about 3 and the oldest was a 91-year-old Japanese lady.”

Visit dolphins.com.au

SCOTT PODMORE

Mar
31
2015

5 great Aussie caravan parks in wine regions

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

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

1. BIG4 Port Willunga Tourist Park, SA

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

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

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

More port-willunga-tourist-park.sa.big4.com.au

2. Beachlands Holiday Park, WA

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

More beachlandsresort.com.au

3. BIG4 Valley Vineyard Tourist Park, NSW

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

More valleyvineyard.com.au

4. Badger Creek Holiday Park, Victoria

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

More badgercreekholidays.com.au

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

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

More kelso-sands-holiday-park.tas.big4.com.au

SCOTT PODMORE