Girls Weekends

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5 things to do near McLaren Vale, South Australia

By Australia / South Australia /

McLaren Vale and the surrounding area is easily one of the most charming regions in all of South Australia. This wine region is located approximately 35km south of Adelaide, and is home to many gorgeous wineries, beaches and towns.

Here are five things to visit near McLaren Vale.

Primo Estate (pictured)
This family owned winery is the home of JOSEPH wine and olive oil. Primo Estate produces a unique range of wines, which the owners say reflect their Italian heritage. Decades upon decades of family members have been creating these exquisite wines since Primo Grilli arrived in Australia and planted the family’s first vineyard in 1973. It’s since expanded, with visitors to McLaren Vale now being treated to ‘la dolce vita, Australian style’.

Off road 4wd tour
Journey through the magnificent Fleurieu Peninsula with Off Piste 4WD Tours. It’s a 40-minute drive, which leaves from central Adelaide and takes you to hard-to-reach and mostly unknown places along the peninsula. Tour itineraries take you on an adventure through the McLaren Vale wine region, the mouth of the Murray River and National Parks.

Shiraz Trail
The Shiraz Trail runs from McLaren Vale to Willunga, and is part of a 35km trail which begins at Marino Rocks and continues south along an old railway corridor. The 8km Shiraz Trail is flat and very scenic, treating walkers and cyclists to a landscape of wineries and vineyards. All you need to do is go to a visitor information centre to get your hands on a map and put on your walking shoes, or alternatively hire a bike.

Aldinga Beach
Aldinga Beach offers sights of fabulous cliff scenery and a long stretch of sandy coast. People travel from all over Australia to fish, surf and swim at this beautiful beach. Walk along the boardwalk to admire the landscape at sunrise or sunset. You can also go horseriding along the beach, or drive onto certain sections of the sand and relax with the family.

Port Willunga
Port Willunga is home to trendy seaside restaurants and a beautiful beach. It also contains one of South Australia’s most famous shipwrecks, Star of Greece. A fierce storm caused the ship to run aground in 1888, which led to the incident becoming known as one of the state’s worst maritime disasters. Scuba divers and snorkelers now frequent the site, and at low tide you can spot the shipwreck from the jetty.



Byron Bay on the fly

By Australia / New South Wales /

Stopping over in Byron Bay, New South Wales? There’s plenty to do around Australia’s most easterly point.

Here are six things to do/visit while in the hood.

Cape Byron Lighthouse
The lighthouse that sits on Byron Bay’s magnificent coastline is an iconic attraction, which is worth a visit from any traveller to the region. Construction for this monument began in 1899, and years later the dramatic views from this structure are just as marvellous. From here you can’t help but admire the stunning views over the bay to the Border Ranges.

Whale watching
A popular activity for Byron Bay’s visitors is whale watching. At certain times of the year, Cape Byron is one of the best vantage points for whale watching on Australia’s east coast. From late June to August, these mammals migrate north to give birth in the warm northern waters. In September and October, they return down south, passing through the area with their new babies.

Byron Shire boasts more than 30km of beaches and you’ll any type of beach suitable for your needs. There are the bustling, patrolled swimming beaches near town. Or drive a few minutes away and you’ll find isolated coves worthy of a photograph, dog friendly beaches and peaceful rock pools. Keen surfers can head to Lennox Head, which has been declared a National Surfing Reserve.

Stand Up Paddle boarding
Stand Up Paddle has been labelled one of the world’s fastest growing sports. Give it a go at Byron Bay and you’ll probably understand why. It’s a fun and easy family activity, best enjoyed on beautiful waters around Byron Bay. There are a few amazing locations where you can try Stand Up Paddle, including Pelican Island, Tunnel of Trees and the Sting Ray Sanctuary.

Sea turtle snorkel tour
It’s a different world underneath the clear waters off the coast of Byron Bay. Swim with gorgeous turtles in the Julian Rocks Marine Reserve. While you’re at it, you’re likely to come across manta rays and many other tropical species. A tour guide will show you the techniques of snorkelling and also educate you about the different species you’ll encounter. Snorkelling tours run three times a day.

Stone and Wood Brewery
Stone and Wood Brewing Company was established in Byron Bay in 2008. Its owners’ proudly state that their philosophy is about making the most of the ingredients available today. As a result, they’ve formed a simply but remarkable beer list, which comprises of Pacific Ale, Green Coast, Jasper Ale along with many limited releases. Stone and Wood Brewery is definitely worth a stopover for a relaxing afternoon.



5 Adventure activities on the North Island

By New Zealand / North Island /

From climbing bridges to trekking through alpine wilderness, New Zealand’s North Island is home to many exciting activities, which are often overlooked by travellers in favour of the South Island’s outdoor adventures.

Here are five adventure activities you must try up north.

Auckland Bridge Climb
New Zealand’s only bridge climb is based in Auckland. Your tour guide leads you up the bridge, highlighting some of the bridge’s architectural features. The one and a half hour tour also allows you to spot the city’s iconic landmarks before you reach the summit, where incredible 360 degree views await.

Rafting on the Kaituna River (pictured)
White water rafting at its best awaits on the Kaituna River. You’ll be bumped around as your guide takes you across the river at high speed and launches over waterfalls, which are several metres high. This thrilling but safe activity keeps you on the edge of your toes but is also loads of fun.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Tongariro is New Zealand’s oldest national park, which is famous for its dramatic scenery. It’s volcanic peaks and the amazing views make the Tongariro Alpine Crossing one of the world’s best one-day treks. The 19km journey is steep in some parts, but the scenic views are rewarding.

Waitomo Caving
Exploring the underground Waitomo caves is like entering another world. Waitomo Adventures’ Lost World 7 Hour Epic tour takes you river caving, swimming, climbing and also abseiling through the caves. Other tours take you to see beautiful glowworms, or you can even go black water rafting in the caves.

Snorkel the Poor Knights Islands
More than 20km off New Zealand’s Tutukaka Coast you’ll find the Poor Knights Islands. The islands are 11 million years old with volcanic origins, treating travellers to spectacular arches, tunnels and drop offs. There are impressive underwater caves and unique, tropical fish that have made the rocky reefs below the surface their home.



Five unmissable chocolate factories in Melbourne and surrounds

By Australia / Melbourne / Victoria /

THEY say woman rated chocolate higher than sex in a recent survey (Women’s Health Mag) giving a whole new meaning to the saying “I’ll have what she’s having”.  The humble cocoa bean clearly isn’t just a pretty face!

So where best to experience this love affair with the converted cocoa bean? A chocolate factory, of course, and there are plenty around Melbourne that must be on your hit-list. Try these.

Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery

35 Old Healesville Road, Yarra Glen

Head out Old Healesville Road in the Yarra Valley and you’ll stumble across this gem at which free tastings are in abundance. Best of all it’s only an hour from Melbourne’s CBD and set amidst one of the state’s premier wine regions. The bonus? Ice creamery as well! Skilled European chocolatiers craft more than 200 varieties of chocolates, there’s a cool cafe inside and the kids can run off all that extra energy on the games area and expansive lawn.

Pink Lady Chocolates

13 Hume Street, Huntingdale

Since 1938 this icon of the chocolate world has been hand blending “exceptional ingredients” to perfect their “superfine chocolates”. Pink Lady chocolates are renowned for going hand in hand with a night out at the theatre way back in the day and their reputation for premium products still stands strong today. From handmade cream truffles to twist selections to their famous tablets and hearts, a drive to Huntingdale is well worth it to snap up some bargains.

Phillip Island Chocolate Factory

930 Phillip Island Road, Newhaven

It’s a cruisy 90-minute drive from the Melbourne CBD, but one well worth it. Phillip Island Chocolate Factory is one like no other: beautiful milk chocolates blended to perfection, a great little tour – Panny’s Amazing World of Chocolate for about $15 and loads of fun games and interactive features including a gorgeous chocolate fountain and chocolate making line where you can whip up a chocky treat in your own special way. There is more chocolate than you can imagine including other treats such as a choc dipped bananas, ginger, honey and amazing rocky road. Pannys café sells the most amazing meals, drinks and snacks, all with a chocolate theme.

The Chocolate Garden

55 Hallam Road, Hampton Park

Head east for the hills and you’ll stumble upon beautiful Dandenong Chocolate Factory now known as The Chocolate Garden. The family owned business has been servicing Melbourne clients with scrumptious chocolate treats for the past 30 years. They have a large range of personalised gifts including chocolate bouquets, hampers, and wedding, baby, birthday and occasion bonbonnieres.


11 Strathalbyn Street, Kew East

A shop rather than a choc factory, pronounced sho-KO-la-tl, this is the Aztec word for chocolate and for more than 10 years Christos Partsiogloui and family have served up Belgium-style chocolate truffles filled with beautiful combinations including balsamic strawberry at their chocolate cafes. Bon Bons, blocks, bars and even healthy options are all the rage here and keep locals and visitors coming back for more.


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Country retreats in Queensland for a romantic getaway

By Australia / Queensland /

Sometimes amid the hustle and bustle of daily life, couples forget to take some time out for themselves. Sometimes you just need to retreat for a relaxing and romantic getaway. Where else better than country Queensland?

The Stonehouse Retreat (pictured)
The Stonehouse Retreat is a unique, hand-built lodge made of stone and recycled materials. It’s located in Esk and is surrounded by 175 acres of Australian bush. Daytime views stretch for hundreds of kilometres. encompassing several lakes. Night views of starry skies are just as magical, and it’s only an 80-minute drive from Brisbane.

Mt Quincan Crater Retreat
This retreat’s six private bungalows overlook Mt Quincan Crater and the Atherton Tablelands. Relax in your private spa, as you take in the peaceful sounds of the rainforest. For some physical activity, go bushwalking at one of the many nearby trails nearby or see what surrounding towns, such as Atherton, have to offer.

The Canopy Rainforest Treehouses
Sleep while perched high in the rainforest canopy in a beautifully-designed timber and glass treehouse. Each treehouse features a double spa, wood fireplace and a balcony with a hammock and barbeque. You’ll be right up there with all the wildlife and if you feel like getting back on the ground to explore, the beautiful Malanda Falls is only 12km away.

R on the Downs Retreat
The ‘R’ in R on the Downs Retreat stands for many things – romance, relaxation, rest and reconnect. At this retreat in Yangan, you can do it all while enjoying a rustic fireplace and double spa. Step onto your private veranda, which offers amazing views of Swandels Valley.

Thala Beach Lodge
Set on the beautiful Thala Beach Nature Reserve, this lodge sits on a secluded beachfront of untouched coastline near Port Douglas. One of the main draws of Thala Beach Lodge is that it sits between two World Heritage Sites – the magnificent Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. You can opt for a private bungalow by the coral sear or one that’s nestled inland amongst the trees.


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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 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

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 for more info.



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Five natural attractions in Victoria that can’t be missed

By Australia / Victoria /

The best time to get out and experience nature in Victoria is undoubtedly during the springtime, when wildflowers begin to blanket the landscapes in colour and rivers and lakes swell thanks to the melting alpine regions. Here are five of the best attractions in Victoria for enjoying all that nature has to offer this season.

1. Tower Hill Reserve at sunset

Nestled in a dormant volcano, the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve offers nature lovers five differently themed self-guided walks through wetlands, islands and grassy, wildflower dotted plains. The large lake in the middle of the reserve was originally a crater, formed after a large eruption 30,000 years ago. A haven for an abundance of wildlife including koalas, emus, sugar gliders, kangaroos and a variety of water birds, the reserve also treats visitors to cultural displays of ancient aboriginal artefacts at the Worn Gundidj Visitor Centre. Be sure to stay until sunset to take in the awe inspiring view of the purple and pink bathed clouds reflected in the stillness of the great lake.

Visit for more information.

 2. Venus Baths, Halls Gap

A picturesque waterway running though the gorgeous Grampians mountain range, the Venus Baths area boasts a naturally formed water park complete with waterslides created by crystal clear water flowing over smooth and unusual rock formations. Accessible only by foot, the 2.3km family friendly Venus Baths loop begins at the Halls Gap shops and the shady track leads visitors a alongside a creek to the beautiful rock pools. As well as swimming, sliding and diving, explorers can enjoy a number of scenic trails through lakeside areas as well as tougher hikes up the mountain peaks.

 3. Buchan Caves (pictured)

Created around 400 million years ago, this ancient system of underground tunnels are now lit up to display spectacular limestone stalactites, stalagmites and calcite-rimmed pools. For the more adventurous, guided tours to wild unlit caves are also available to smaller groups and the adjoining Buchan Caves Reserve offers an ideal bushland base for those wanting to explore the surrounding Snowy River National Park which is home to wombats, wallabies, kangaroos and over 60 species of native birds.

Visit Parks Victoria for tour schedules and prices.

 4. Wilson’s Promontory

For nature lovers, nowhere in Victoria offers such a diverse display of natural colour and beauty than Wilson’s Prom. Famous for its many labyrinths of bushwalking trails, land dwelling creatures and spirited flock of rosellas, the Prom is perhaps lesser known for its incredible aquatic wonderland, which was recently compared to the Barrier Reef. A diver’s paradise, the marine park is home to brilliantly coloured fish, sea dragons, rays, anemones and sea stars that live among the deep, sponge covered reefs. Book well in advance if you plan on visiting during in the warmer months or over the school holidays.

5. Beehive Falls Trail

A short but rewarding walk, this 1.5 hour trail is best visited in spring when water levels are at their peak and the display of pink and white wildflowers add a bright splash of colour to the scenery. A gentle track that meanders upstream along the Mud Hut Creek, the highlight of the forest walk is the waterfall that cascades into a rocky valley. The 25 metre drop flows over huge boulders and delicate ferns and mosses that cling to the steep rock walls. At the base of the falls, large stones provide a perfectly peaceful picnic spot.



Five Australian resorts for a girls weekend away

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

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

Smiths Beach Resort, Margaret River, WA

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

The Mineral Spa, Daylesford, VIC

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

Crystal Creek Meadows, Kangaroo Valley, NSW

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

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

Sticky Rice Cooking School and Villas, Adelaide Hills

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



Winter wonders: 5 cosy Aussie B&Bs that must be experienced

By Australia /

One of the most enjoyable winter experiences is a stay in a cosy B&B in the countryside. Here are five of Australia’s best B&Bs that you must visit.

Lakeside B&B, New South Wales (pictured)

Nothing says ‘relaxing getaway’ quite like this cosy B&B located on the edge of a stunning lake in the Blue Mountains. This Wentworth Falls property is ideally located for a romantic hideaway, surrounded by lush bushland and tranquil water views. This bed and breakfast is also a bird watchers’ paradise. There are many walking trails nearby, and the Three Sisters lookout is only a short drive away.

Seas the Day, Victoria

This gorgeous bed and breakfast is one of the closest to Phillip Island’s world-famous fairy penguins. This romantic, boutique guesthouse is also located along one of the island’s most stunning stretches of coastal scenery. At certain times of the year, guests can spot whales and other native wildlife in the distance. A stay at Seas the Day will bring you a lovely, peaceful weekend, full of beautiful scenery.

Bed in the Treetops B&B, Tasmania

This luxurious B&B hideaway, constructed using whole Celery Top pine logs, is perched high on 32 hectares of bushland. Two private, luxury spa suites are available. One of its major attractions is that it overlooks the stunning Bay of Fires and Georges Bay. These incredible views will draw you in and make you never want to leave this incredible part of Tasmania’s North East coast.

Whistler Farm B&B, South Australia

Located in the heart of the Barossa Valley wine region, this gorgeous bed and breakfast makes you feel right at home. You’re surrounded by rolling green hills and grand eucalyptus trees as you make your way down Whistler Farm’s magnificent driveway. Relax on the farm, visit nearby wineries, start a cooking class, go for a bike ride or spend time with the horses and other animals that live on the farm. The options for activities in this lovely part of the world are endless.

Bli Bli House B&B, Queensland

Advertised as “one of the Sunshine Coast’s finest experiences”, this luxurious and elegant riverside retreat will make you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. The multi award winning bed and breakfast is situated in the heart of the Sunshine Coast, and replicates the Victorian era. A beautiful house with amazing water views and great weather… you can’t go wrong.


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Escape to the best wineries in South Australia’s Clare Valley

By Australia / South Australia /

The Clare Valley has some of South Australia’s most beautiful scenery. It’s also one of Australia’s oldest wine regions.

Make the most of your time in the Clare Valley by tasting the region’s delicious produce and drinking the unique and exquisite wines that are born here. 

Annie’s Lane

In the south of the Clare Valley is the heritage listed Quelltaler Estate, which dates back to 1865. It’s the home of Annie’s Lane, where traditional winemaking techniques come together to create fine, flavoursome wines. There’s a versatile choice of fresh white wines and fruity reds. There are on-site picnic grounds where you can enjoy the range. Be sure to indulge in the iconic Copper Trail Shiraz.


This boutique family-owned and operated winery offers hand-crafted, world-class wines. It was established in 1970 and soon after, the winery’s dry Riesling was taking out key awards at state and national wine shows. Skillogalee has since grown to become one of the Clare Valley’s ‘must-visit’ wineries, offering crisp, dry whites and rich, full-bodied reds. It’d be a crime to pass through the region without sampling the intense flavours and aromas, which Skillogalee is so famous for. 


Sevenhill proudly takes the title of the Clare Valley’s first winery. It was settled by the Society of Jesuits in 1851 to produce sacramental wine and it’s the only remaining Jesuit-owned winery in Australia. While the tradition of producing sacramental wines continues, Sevenhill also produces premium table wines, right from its superb, estate-grown fruit.


Knappstein’s Reisling ranks among Australia’s best. The small producer also creates premium Bavarian-style larger, with the cellar door located in a nineteenth century brewery. Glenn Barry leads Knappstein’s winemaking team, after having honed his craft across the Clare Valley and overseas in places such as Sicily and Napa.

Atlas Wines

The crew at Atlas Wines claim their creations are “heart-felt expressions of the vineyards in which they are grown”. Another small producer, which chooses small batches of high quality grapes over large-scale production. As a result, the wines are exquisite. The winery’s Atlas Riesling and 2009 Shiraz Mataro are some of the high-ranking favourites.



Four great things to do in South Australia

By Adelaide / Australia / South Australia /

From dives with Great White sharks, cave and opal mine explorations to some of the most exquisite and beautiful wine regions on the planet. Hands up who wants to visit South Australia?

Swim with the Great Whites

(Port Lincoln, 340km south west of Port Augusta)

IT’S often said that Great White sharks are the most misunderstood creatures of the ocean – yet that still doesn’t change the fact that you wouldn’t want to be stranded in open water with one nearby!

In Port Lincoln, however, you can safely get close to these apex predators in their natural habitat.

From the security of a cage, hold on tight as Great White Sharks swimming around the waters off South Australia interact with other members of their species and search for food. And take a good look at the human zoo in the cage.

Port Lincoln also one of the few places in the world – and the only location in Australia – where these one-day shark cage diving charters are run.

They grow to an average of 4.6 metres in length and you’ll definitely catch more than a quick glimpse of the 300 serrated teeth that line these creatures’ mouths. The great thing about this once-in-a-lifetime experience is that you don’t need a diver qualification or previous experience.

Explore caves and fossils

(Naracoorte Caves National Park, 100km north of Mt Gambier)

BELOW the surface of South Australia’s only world heritage site lays an ancient environment of stalagmites and stalactites.

These natural ornaments formed as water and minerals slowly seeped down from the earth above the caves more than half a million years ago.

The unique site continues to fascinate palaeontologists across Australia, finding itself at the centre of research.

The Naracoorte Caves contain Australia’s largest and most diverse collection of fossils and mega fauna and tour guides will eagerly point to fossils of extinct species dating back to 60,000 years ago.

Take your camera on a guided tour through the stunning Alexandra Cave, a beautifully decorated area with helictites that twist and defy gravity. Watch endangered Southern Bent-Winged Bats leave Blanche Cave at dusk in summer while in winter you’ll spot them hibernating and hanging from the ceiling of the cave.

Meanwhile, those seeking a challenge will find one crawling and squeezing through rocky tunnels with adventure cave tours.

Cycle the Riesling Trail

(140km north of Adelaide)

FAMOUS for its vineyards, mining history, cafes and galleries, Clare Valley also has some of the best tourist trails in the world, which take in vineyards and farmland views and historic stop-off points along the way.

Damian Cerini from cycling tour company Tour de Vines says the Clare Valley’s flat landscape makes it the “perfect region” for visiting cellar doors on a bike. With more than 40 wineries within just a few kilometres, the Riesling Trail (25-30km) is built on the old rail line.

Highlights include historical stops such as Horrocks’ Tree, Sevenhill Cellars, the Little Red Grape complex, Annie’s Lane, and after some gentle pedalling, a tasty share plate and wine tasting experience awaits at O’Leary Walker Wines. “Combine that with some gentle exercise while you breathe in some fresh country air and it’s a terrific way to explore a wonderful part of the Clare Valley,” Damian says. “It’s all about having fun and enjoying Clare – better still, there’s no Lycra required!”

A food market that rules them all

(Adelaide CBD)

THE Adelaide Central Market is considered the food centre of South Australia, the very heartland of the supply chain from the farm gate to consumer.

Stallholders proudly say it’s the only market of its kind in the country. Its colourful and aromatic atmosphere draws 8 million visitors a year, tempting them with food from a range of cultures, including Italian, Greek, Russian, Asian and Middle Eastern.



The hills are alive – five great ways to holiday in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia

By Adelaide / Australia / South Australia /

LOOKING for somewhere to sweep your loved one of his or her feet? Then head for the Hills. Adelaide Hills, to be precise, just a 20-minute drive from Adelaide’s CBD in South Australia.

It’s a land of the long lunch, with nature’s eye candy at every turn, delicious locally grown food and wine, and accommodation to match the country’s best when it comes to small luxury.

Here are five ways to enjoy your time in this little gem of a region tucked away in South Australia.

No.1: Sticky Rice Villas and Cooking School.

Now here’s a place you can get really messy … in the kitchen! The Sticky Rice Cooking School is where some of the best chefs on the planet, including Ty Bellingham, Mark McNamara, David Thompson and Katrina Ryan take a small class and guide them through creating a culinary feast fit for kings and queens.

The dining room setting is beautifully oriental with warm, soft colours, chunky cook books from around the globe lining shelves, a world of spices on tables and cooking tid-bits in nooks and crannies, and an adjoining industrial kitchen where all the action takes place for small groups from Friday to Sunday.

Ours was The Asian Adventure, as Japanese masterchef Yukiko “Yuki” Anschutz assembled her team of loyal helpers (us) and set about not only creating sumptuous goodies like Malay-beef stays with peanut sauce, Thai Red curry of chicken, lemongrass pork, and Cambodian char grilled calamari, but also little pearls of cookery wisdom along the way. After plenty of peeling, chopping, stir-frying, baking, laughing, learning and the occasional near miss, we celebrated our gastronomical achievements and new-found cooking skills over a four course dinner and wine (two sittings throughout the evening).

The accommodation opened in March this year with three architectural gems tucked away privately out the back. Each is inspired by the best villas from Thailand, Japan and Bali and offer plenty of space in two-roomed 70m2 of indoor living area, a private walled outdoor courtyard with beautiful gardens. Floor to ceiling glass surrounds in each villa allows plenty of light and views, and there’s the added bonus of under floor heating, designer furnishings and Jag kitchens with an array of magazines for superiors. So far so good!

No.2: Hahndorf Hill Winery (pictured) and Shaw & Smith

A little trip to the Hills can’t go without a little tipple or two. For something completely different, head to Hahndorf Hill Winery, not just a boutique vineyard where its Germanic and Austrian varieties take centre stage (Gruner Veltliner is dubbed the world’s most food friendly wine), but you can also keep your sweetheart sweet with the unusual yet sublime ChocVino experience. Some of the finest drops unearthed from the vineyard are matched with chocolates from throughout the world.

It’s subtle, elegant and brings a whole new sweet dynamic to food and wine pairing.

Up the road is Shaw & Smith for a contrast in winery experiences. Cousins Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith realized a dream and produce some of the world’s best with their SB’s, chards, cool climate Shiraz and Pinot. It’s a great opportunity to taste some quality vino in a comprehensive winery operation in elegant surrounds. and

No.3: Bridgewater Mill Restaurant

With an historic giant waterwheel in full swing in a converted flour mill in the Petaluma winery, you’ll be making your own splash with your partner while whispering sweet nothings and feasting on sweet somethings at Bridgewater Mill Restaurant. It’s a quintessential statement in fine food created from mostly local produce, a winner wine list matched with the dishes, and five star service in a lovely setting.

The tasting menu option is outstanding for lovebirds: think venison chorizo, seared scallops, poached chicken with cucumber, woodear mushroom and sesame, squid balls with radish, peas and wasabi, a melt-in-your-mouth Wagyu beef number before finishing it off with a braised pineapple, coconut caramel and black sesame ice cream. Now that’s superior bliss! We didn’t just call a taxi to be taken back to our hotel – we called one to carry us out of there.

No.4: Go for a walk or drive and explore the hamlets.

You probably would have noticed by now all this  indulgence surely requires a bit of physical activity at some point to burn it all off. Hit the hills and either enjoy a bike ride or walk in the freshest of air, or go for a drive exploring some of nature’s finest countryside with sweeping valley views, rustic and well maintained rolling vineyards, and spend the best part of a day in a hamlet like Hahndorf which retains its strong German heritage. It’s a village like no other with Fachwerk buildings, old world ice creamery and lolly shops, chic cafes and restaurants such as The White House, Menz FruChocks Shop, the highly addictive Udder Delights Cheese Cellar, arts, crafts and pubs aplenty.

No.5: Mount Lofty House

Save the best for last and check in at one of the finest luxury accommodation venues in Australia. This gloriously restored 1850s country estate is set among English style gardens – great for a stroll – and is overflowing with antiques and fine art throughout, but, really, it’s all about the views while relaxing. Piccadilly Restaurant is a must and take time kicking back in the Chesterfields in the library or have a play in the billiards room. It’s posh, but that’s what makes it special.