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Top 6 Romantic Retreats in Queensland, Australia

Whitehaven Beach, Australia

Looking for the perfect honeymoon spot or just a relaxing and romantic weekend getaway in sunny Queensland? Here are the top 6 romantic retreats.

Shantara Resort, Port Douglas

Port Douglas is Australia’s most preferred honeymoon spot and it’s easy to see why. Famous for its beach resorts, like the Shantara resort, it’s the perfect base for you and your significant other to visit the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree National Park. Or simply sit back and relax on the pool deck or in your own Jacuzzi in your private courtyard. If you’re not up for booking a honeymoon room at the Shantara Resort, you can still enjoy the courtyard’s two lagoon style swimming pools that encircle the apartment courtyard. They even boast a day spa so that you and your partner can truly unwind and relax.

Spicers Balfour Hotel, Brisbane

If you’re more interested in checking out the inner city than Queensland’s superb national parks, tuck yourself away at Spicers Balfour Hotel in trendy New Farm. The velvety and lux retro-fitted hotel rooms are the perfect cosy nook to relax in after a long day of city living. Unwind in the large bathtubs and then check out the cool rooftop bar to grab a before dinner cocktail, before heading to the Balfour Kitchen.

Narrows Escape Rainforest Retreat, Montville

The Hinterland is perhaps the Sunshine Coast’s most romantic spot and the Narrows Escape Rainforest Retreat was designed to up the romance even more. Six secluded stays are spread across two hectares of rainforest in Montville in the Blackall Range. Each hideaway has its own double spa bath, saltwater rock pool and log fire for those cold nights. If you and your partner are really looking to treat yourselves then you can’t go wrong with the Tarzan and Jane package which includes three days and two nights of champagne, chocolates, fine dining and massages.

Misty Mountains Tropical Rainforest Retreat, Bellenden Ker

Misty Mountains Rainforest Retreat is a luxurious eco-resort perfect for some serious romance, as it’s exclusive to one couple at a time. Hidden away on a private 200 acre tropical resort, Misty Mountains is the perfect getaway for couples wanting some serious alone time. The retreat is set among botanic gardens and an expansive natural lagoon. The resort has everything you’ll need for a luxury stay away including exclusive glass bar and lounge with pool table.

Qualia, Hamilton Island, The Whitsundays

Qualia is a first class luxury resort situated on spectacular Hamilton Island. Situated on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef the resort is sun-drenched throughout and you’ll get your pick of 60 individual pavilions with breathtaking views. The retreat boasts two bars and restaurants, a library and fitness centre as well as two swimming pools. Enjoy a full breakfast and complimentary non-alcoholic beverages.

Bedarra Island Villa, East Bedarra Island

Bedarra Island villa is the perfect secluded retreat for a romantic getaway or honeymoon. The villa is a tropical paradise situated on a white sandy beach and framed by palm trees. Located on Australia’s famous Great Barrier Reef, it’s the perfect spot to relax and get back to nature with your partner. The villa is by the water’s edge on a two acre private estate. Enjoy a swim and snorkel with your partner or go kayaking before taking an outdoor shower and heading in and putting on the fire.

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The Most Selfie-Worthy Spots in Sunshine Coast

romantic sunset

Australia’s Sunshine Coast ain’t called the Sunshine Coast for no reason. I don’t know about you, but just by hearing its name, I can already picture the golden sunshine, the glistening beaches, the luscious parks, and the picturesque surroundings. This is what makes the Sunshine Coast one of the best spots to take a selfie; and today we are discussing some of the places where you can go crazy with your camera.

The Ginger Factory

If you are a kid at heart or you just love taking pictures with mascots and rides, then you will love this one. There is no entrance fee, anyone has access to come in and take selfies and pictures. It is one of the longest running family attractions in the Sunshine Coast, and one that offers featured tours, relaxed rides, great food, fun rides, a lovely garden. Snap pictures while riding Moreton, a 100-year old cane train that will show you around the park.

UnderWater World Sea Life Aquarium

Take a selfie with sharks and different kinds of fish – without even having to get wet. Marvel at the beautiful creatures above you by walking along the sea life aquarium. The park has been around since 1989, and is a staple attraction in the Sunshine Coast for years now. Take a picture with the reef creatures and the jellyfish without having to get into the water! You can also take snaps of the otter presentation and the ever famous seal show.

Maleny Botanic Gardens

This might just be how paradise looks like, and you can now take selfies with it as your background. The Maleny Botanic Gardens is full of colourful flowers and a lush, green backdrop that is perfect for taking photos. You can even spot some bodies of water here such as waterfalls and ponds, which will look very interesting in pictures! The beauty is beyond belief, and everybody would think that you photoshopped yourself into it, but hey, as long as you have got proof, they can’t faze you!

Noosa Main Beach

Of course, we have to include this one on the list! Wait for the sun to rise or to set, and enjoy a selfie with a picturesque view behind you. The water is crystal clear and the sand is so fine, you would want to take a snap of every minute of your stay there. You can even spot some dolphins if you’re lucky, and you can take a snap with them in the background if you are even luckier! Surfers are also always present in the area, so you can either take a dip or enjoy surfing in Noosa Beach.

These are just a few of Sunshine Coast’s wonderful locations to take selfies. If you really want to enjoy the full beauty of the region, be sure rent a car in Sunshine Coast for comfort and convenience. There’s so much to do and so many places to see that driving a car is the best way to get around. See you at Sunshine Coast, have lots of fun and take tons of pictures!

Image Credit: (1) by www.storeylinetours.com; (2) by www.tianatempleman.com; (3) by www.trover.com; (4) by Trover.com

 

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Top Ten Free Things To Do In Sydney

sydney

Sydney was just voted the second most expensive city in the world – only Hong Kong is pricier! What does that mean for travelers? You will pay a lot more for accommodation than in other cities, yes. You will pay more in restaurants, yes. But sightseeing itself doesn’t have to cost a lot! And Sydney is one of hte most beautiful cities in the world, which shouldn’t be skipped on a visit to Australia. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do in Sydney that are completely free, and unless you decide to fork out A$288 for the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb, you can still visit Sydney on a shoestring.

And to get you started, here are ten free things to do in Sydney:

Sydney

1 Take a free walking tour

Free walking tours have become more popular around the globe, and of course you can also take one in Sydney. There are three tours every day, two that leave from Town Hall Square (10.30am and 2.30pm) and cover Downtown Sydney, and one that leaves at 6pm every day from Cadmans Cottage and covers The Rocks (see #2). You’ll see some of the city’s main sights and learn a lot about the history and culture of the city along the way. It’s a great way to get acquainted with the city – but don’t forget to tip your guide. You can find details for the free tours here.

2 The Rocks

Just south of the Sydney Harbour Bridge you find The Rocks, the most historic area of Sydney with many narrow cobblestone laneways, beautiful colonial buildings, sandstone churches and Australia’s oldest pubs. The Rocks comes especially to life on weekends where there are markets and street entertainment. Combine your visit to the Rocks with the

Writers Walk: which is a walk that follows the promenade of Circular Quay and lets you learn about famous Australian writers on 50 round metal plaques along the way. Each plaque has a selection of thoughts from Australian writers and literary visitors – if you are into literature, don’t miss this, but even if not, it is a great walk along Circular Quay and you can walk up to the Opera House while you’re here.Aughts Travels 172

3 A walk with views: Royal Botanic Gardens to Mrs Macquarie Chair

Another fantastic walk in that area is the walk from Circular Quay to the Royal Botanic Gardens, which are free to visit and which are, without a doubt, one of Sydney’s finest green spaces.

One of Sydney’s finest walks leaves from lively Circular Quay (where the ferries come in). Walk towards the Opera House with its telltale white sails and into the Royal Botanic Gardens, Australia’s first vegetable garden and now a treasure trove of trees, ferns, flowers and lawn. The Botanical Gardens are one of the best places in Sydney for a picnic, by the way, so if you are looking for a place to throw a birthday party or have an engagement celebration, this would be an excellent spot. You could order some finger food catering and enjoy some nibbles while enjoying the views from Macquarie’s Chair, which is a spot that offers amazing views over Sydney Harbour, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

4 Market strolls

There are several markets in Sydney that are worth a visit, for example Bondi markets (every Sunday from 10am until 4pm), where you find both vintage and designer clothes, books, hand made jewellery, arts and crafts; Paddington Markets (every Saturday 10am to 4pm) with 250 stalls of jewellery, clothes, art works, books and pottery, plus plenty of food stalls. Then there’s Paddy’s Markets in Chinatown (every Wednesday to Sunday 10am to 6pm), which has over 1,000 market stalls and is one of the oldest markets in the city, dating back to 1834, and then there’s the weekend market in The Rocks which I’ve already mentioned above (Fridays 9am to 3pm, Saturdays & Sundays 10am to 5pm)

If you are visiting Sydney during the summer, don’t miss the Friday markets in Chinatown, when from 4pm to 11pm, over 50 Asian food stalls, music, lanterns, light shows and vendors transform Chinatown into Little Eat Street.Noodle Market

5 Manly Beach

“Manly – Seven miles from Sydney and a thousand miles from care…” used to be the slogan to promote this pristine beach in the 1940s, and it still makes for a great day trip from Sydney. Manly Beach is one of Sydney’s northern beaches, reached by commuter train or by ferry from Circular Quay (the ride takes 30 minutes, but look out for the fast ferries and their $5.50 special rates during the day, which bring you there in only 20 minutes). Spend the day sunbathing and swimming, or do some beach hopping. You can walk along the oceanway to Fairy Bower and Shelly Beach. Shelly Beach has some noteworthy marine sculptures as well as a tidal pool. In Manly you’ll find plenty of bars, restaurants and shops for some window shopping.

Tip: Time your return trip to the city on the ferry so that you’re on the ferry during sunset. The views over the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House are breathtaking!

6 Walk across Sydney Harbour Bridge

I briefly mentioned the pricey Harbour Bridge climb, but there’s also a free way to experience this famous bridge: simply walk across it on foot. The views are gorgeous, and the best way is to start in Milson’s Point and walk over the bridge back towards the city. Again, late afternoon and sunset will give you the best light for pictures. The bridge itself is also worth exploring, a magnificent structure, which was built in 1932.Harbour Bridge, Sydney

7 Visit Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour is a large recreational area just west of downtown. There are plenty of attractions and activities here, like the aquarium and an IMAX, plus a whole bunch of restaurants, bars and cafes along along the waterfront at Cockle Bay, King Street Wharf and Harbourside; but simply going for a stroll and take in the views doesn’t cost a thing. This is the perfect place to get a view of the skyline, I recommend going in the late afternoon so that you get a chance to photograph it during the day and after sunset, when the skyscrapers are all lit up. If you don’t mind spending a little bit of money, check out the Chinese Garden Of Friendship (admission AU$6), a tranquil green oasis amidst the modern buildings.

8 Picnic with panoramic views: Centennial Park

For sweeping panoramic vistas over the entire city, head to Centennial Park. The parks, which were established in the late 18th century, are a wonderful place to take a break from the city, and there are plenty of things to do and see here: gardens, ponds, fountains, amphitheaters. Or you can simply bring a picnic and a book and while away the day. If you’re a nature lover, take a walk through the wetlands (free), which are one of Australia’s most important wetland ecosystem. The best way to see the entire park is to rent bicycles (can be rented inside the park).

Tip: On the last Sunday of every month, the roads are closed for cars.Centennial Park, Sydney

9 Free Museums

Most of Sydney’s are not free to visit, but have a free museum day, so you’ll have to plan accordingly. Here are the museums that are always free:

Art: The Museum Of Contemporary Art at The Rocks, the Art Gallery Of New South Wales

Museums: National Maritime Museum at Darling Harbor (including historic ships, well worth a visit), the Nicholson Museum (Australia’s oldest University museum and home to the largest collection of antiquities in the Southern Hemisphere); The Rocks Discovery Museum (tells the story of The Rocks from pre-European days to the present); Museum of Australian Currency Notes (inside the Reserve Bank of Australia); the Australian Tennis Museum; Government House (a working State House which provides a lesson in history, contemporary government and art – sometimes closed for state functions, so check if it’s open before visiting).

Other museums with free museum days include: Sydney Jewish Museum (free on the first Sunday of each month);

10 Coastal Hike from Bondi to Coogee

Manly Beach (#4) is only one of Sydney’s many beaches, and you should definitely check out a couple of them during a visit to Sydney. Another iconic beach is Bondi Beach, and the walk from Bondi to Coogee is a 4-mile (6 kilometer) coastal cliff walk with amazing views. You can find the exact details for the Bondi to Coogee walk here.

If you don’t want to walk that far, follow the Bondi to Bronte footpath which takes you to Tamarama Beach (25 minutes) and also has some fantastic views.

Tip: If you happen to visit Sydney in November, don’t miss the Sculpture By The Sea art event which features some spectacular sculptures right by the ocean near Bondi Beach.

If you love beaches as much as I do, you might want to check out even more beaches – here’s a list of the 12 absolute best beaches in Sydney.
bondi to coogee

Photo credit: All photos used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. Header photo by Lenny K Photography; (1) Sydney by Corey Leopold; (2) The Rocks by Erik Segerdell; (3) Noodle Market by Mackenzie Austin; (4) Habour Bridge by Robin Hamman; (5) Centennial Park by Deborah & Kevin; (6) Bondi to Cogee Walk by Lauren Friedman

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Top Ten Free Things To Do in Melbourne

melbourne

Melbourne is one of Australia’s most awesome cities – for many it is even the best city in the country. And they’re not the only ones to think so: Melbourne is regularly voted on the ‘World’s Most Liveable City’ lists, and has plenty of things to see and do for visitors. Luckily, most of the things that make Melbourne great are outdoors and / or can be enjoyed for free – for example, some of the city’s best museums and art galleries are free – so check out ten things to do in Melbourne that are not only awesome but also absolutely free:Melbourne

1 Take the tram

The tram is one of Melbourne’s most iconic sights and can’t be missed on a visit to the city. The City Circle Tram can be taken for free – it goes in a 30 minute circuit and you can get on and off where and how often you like. Just look out for the gold and burgundy colored tram and hop on wherever you see it.

2 Free museums and galleries

Melbourne has a great number of world-class museums and art galleries and they are all well worth a visit. If you don’t want to pay for it but still see some excellent art and educate yourself, these are the Melbourne museums you can visit for free:

  • National Gallery Of Victoria

NVG International is one of Australia’s best art museums and you will find a comprehensive collection (over 73,000 works of art!) of ancient Egyptian and Roman art, Asian exhibits and classic Renaissance and Baroque pieces. You’ll find works by Rembrandt, Cezannes and other great masters here, as well as contemporary art, for example by Picasso, and paintings include Rembrandt and Cezanne. Opening times: Wednesday to Sunday 10am to 5pm.

  • RAAF Museum

The RAAF museum has a huge display of old air crafts. Its aim is to educate about Australia’s wars and it is located in a military base, the RAAF Williams. There are also flying displays held every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 1pm.

  • Ian Potter Centre NGV Australia

The Ian Potter Centre consists of over 20 galleries with artwork that present the history of Australian art, including drawings, decorative arts, fashion and also photography. There are also some galleries that are entirely dedicated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island art. Opening times: Daily from 10am to 5pm.

  • Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)

Here you find a fantastic collection of contemporary art including video and photography, sculpture, sound, movement and electronic imaging – an excellent contemporary art museum. Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday from 11am to 6pm.

  • Australian Centre for the Moving Image

This is the first museum of its kind in the whole world, and is dedicated to the moving image. This ranges from cinema to digital media, and there are two multi-format cinemas. There are always changing exhibitions and movie and art installations – a fascinating museum not only for cinema buffs. Opening times: Daily from 10am to 5pm / 6pm on weekends.ACMI, Federation Square

3 Explore Melbourne on foot

Melbourne is a relatively walkable city and especially the narrow lanes in the business district are great to be explored on foot. There are lots of street cafes where you can sit down and watch the world go by while having a delicious cappuccino. Check out the self-guided coffee walk I recommend in this article.

You can also walk the Bay Trail, which starts at St Kilda Pier, continues through the lovely Achland street cafés, passes through Luna Park and the St Kilda Marina. The path finally ends in Brighton, and you will pass several parks, cafes and restaurants on your way. It takes about 2 hours to walk and by walking it, you get to experience the closest beach to Melbourne in St Kilda.

4 Take the free tourist shuttle bus

I get it, not everyone loves walking as much as I do. If you prefer a tour, then the Melbourne City Tourist Shuttle is perfect for you. It runs every thirty minutes between 9.30am and 4.30pm and stops at all of Melbourne’s major attractions, such as Federation Square, Queen Victoria Market and Chinatown. If you don’t want to get off but simply enjoy the sights from a window seats – the full circle takes around 90 minutes and covers sight beyond the loop of the Circle Tram which only covers the Central Business District (CBD). The on-board commentary provides interesting information about all the landmarks you pass, plus some trivia about Melbourne.so melbourne

5 Stroll through the city’s best markets

Queen Victoria Market is Melbourne’s most famous market, and you can get anything from fresh produce, fruits and vegetables to pets, plants and clothes here. There are over 1,000 market traders and the market covers seven hectares – you can easily spend a few hours strolling through the market stalls. Market days are: Tuesday and Thursday from 6am-2pm, Friday from 6am to 6pm, Saturday from 6am to 3pm and Sunday from 9am to 4pm.

Other markets that are worth a visit are South Melbourne Market (Market days: Wednesday to Sunday), Camberwell Market (flea market, every Sunday), St Andrew’s Market which takes place on Saturday mornings in St Andrews, Rose Street Artists Market in Fitzroy, and Prahran Market, which takes place on Saturdays.

6 Street Art in the Laneways

The maze of laneways are one the things that makes Melbourne special, and they’re a mecca for street art fans! The best street art can be found in Hosier Lane, but many of the other alleys have street art too.

The laneways aren’t only for street art lovers, by the way: there are plenty of coffee shops, little restaurants, some boutique shops and galleries. The best way to explore the laneways is by picking up a map of all the alleys and arcades from the Visitors Centre in Federation Square.Hosier Lane, Melbourne

7 Royal Botanic Gardens

Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens stretch over 35 hectares not far from the city center, near the Yarra’s South Bank. They are well-known far beyond Australia and even if you are not a huge fan of plants and flowers – you can still spend a relaxing afternoon there. The gardens are open from April to October from 7.30am to 6pm and from November to March from 7.30am to 7pm.

8 Free views over the city

Melbourne has a lovely skyline, and the best way to see it is, well, from above! Luckily there are several rooftop bars with splendid vistas, such as the aptly named Rooftop Bar, Naked in the Sky, or Madame Brussels. The drinks may not be free, but the views sure are (and worth paying for a drink). The Skydeck at Eureka Tower isn’t free – if you head to one of the rooftop bars instead, at least you’ll get a drink AND a view!37 an afternoon and an evening through melbourne

9 Yarra River Art

The Yarra River, which winds through Melbourne’s city center, provides the perfect backdrop for an interesting outdoor contemporary art gallery filled with paintings, sculptures and architecture. There are several impressive sculptures in the Central Business District, along the river and south of it, and I recommend saving this self-guided sculpture walk onto your phone and check out 19 stunning pieces of art along the way. The walk takes around one hour without any stops, plan in another hour to take in the art and to take photos.

10 Fitzroy Gardens

The Fitzroy Gardens are the perfect place for a picnic in the summer, and anyone who is a fan of city parks like New York’s Central Park or London’s Hyde Park will love Fitzroy Gardens. You can get lost on the trails, marvel at the colorful flowerbeds, sculptures and fountains, sun bathe on one of the vast lawns, visit the miniature village. Make sure to find the scarred tree and the Fairies’ Tree!

You can’t explore Melbourne without delving into the city’s amazing food scene! So to complete your Melbourne vacation, check out the top 26 Popular Melbourne Hotels with Restaurant listed by HotelsCombined.Scene from Fitzroy Garderns

Photo credit: All images used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. Feature Image: Melbourne by Lenny K photography; (1) Melbourne by Yasser Alghofily; (2) ACMI by wehardy; (3) Melbourne by Alan Lam; (4) Hosier Lane by LT Photography; (5) Melbourne Rooftop Bar by Fernando de Sousa; (6) Fitzroy Gardens by Moshe Reuveni

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Australia By Campervan: Five Handy Tips

New Mexico Road Trip

Australia is a paradise for camping fans – no matter if you’re doing it the old-fashioned way by pitching a tent every night or the more common way with a camper van, there’s no better way to explore Australia than by hitting the road and pitching your tent or parking your campervan in one of the National Parks, camping gives you a much greater freedom when traveling around this vast continent. There are so many incredible places in Australia, you could easily spend a year driving around the country taking in its natural beauty and vibrant cities, checking bucket list places like the Great Ocean Road, Sydney, Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef and Australia off your bucket list. The more time you have, the better, but even a few short weeks will allow you to hit up the best camping spots in Australia.Couple holidaying in Purnululu, outback AustraliaTo guarantee your camping trip goes smooth, we compiled the top five things to know before you go on a camping trip in Australia:

1 Find the right vehicle

This is especially important for those looking to buy or rent a campervan, and even more so if you are planning an extended trip and will be traveling with your vehicle for a while. Most travelers opt for a used vehicle and then sell it again at the end of their trip. If you decide to buy a vehicle, I highly recommend this detailed guide on buying a campervan in Australia by Anna of Global Gallivanting. It has all the information you need on how to find a campervan, what to consider when buying one, everything you need to know about paperwork, registration and insurance, how to sell it afterwards, and much more.The Barn at The PinnaclesOnce you’ve bought the vehicle, give yourself a few days to familiarize yourself with the vehicle before setting off on your road trip. Make sure that the car is in great shape, that things like oil and windshield cleaner water are filled up. Purchase a couple of extra bottles each in case you run out in the Outback, where gas station charge more for these items than shops in big cities.

2 Have appropriate equipment and food provisions

Depending on the nature of your trip (camper van vs car & tent) it is absolutely essential to plan your trip in detail – what kind of equipment do you need? How much food do you need to travel with? If you’re visiting remote areas such as the Outback it is necessary to pack enough food to last you for a few days, and it is best to purchase all the essential items (things like spices, tea, instant coffee, oatmeal, pasta, etc) you’ll want for your trip before you hit the road. No matter ff you decide to go camping or rent a campervan, Gearware.com is the best website to read gear reviews and find the best of everything: tents, sleeping bags and sleeping bag liners, camping chairs and stoves.20120917_18_HondaAs for camping equipment, make a list of everything you need and go on a shopping spree. If you don’t want to buy new gear, check out websites like Gumtree for used gear. Depending on if you are traveling with a tent or campervan your needs for equipment will vary, but there are a few things you’ll need either way, for example a first aid kit, bug & fly repellent, sleeping bags (or sheets), lights (solar lights are great), dishes and cookware. To save money when buying your essential equipment, head to Dollar Sense, a popular Australian discount store.

If you’re traveling with a car and a tent, do a test run and set up your tent before leaving on your trip. Even better: testing it before you buy it – go inside, lay down, see how big it really is and if it’s comfortable for you and your travel companion(s) – remember that you’ll have to spend the next few weeks or even months in it.Stockton, Australia

3 Map out your daily drives

I know that it is tempting to simply head out and hit the road, but since much of Australia is sparsely populated and distances are greater than most people anticipate, it is important to map out your route before starting your trip. Mark things like supermarkets, gas stations and camp grounds on your map – you might drive by one and then realize hours later that you should have stopped there. Not being prepared can result in some frustrating situations. Make also sure to add some extra time to GoogleMaps’ (or whatever route planner you’re using) estimated duration of the trip. It’ll definitely take you longer, since you’ll be stopping along the way for photo ops and maybe even short hikes. Plan your daily drives realistically – don’t try to fit in too much, or you’ll tire out quickly.

I’d suggest investing in a travel guide, such as Lonely Planet (which has suggested itineraries and detailed maps) or The Ultimate Australia Travel Guide By A Traveler For A Traveler: The Best Travel Tips; Where To Go, What To See And Much More or at least a good map of Australia, like National Geographic’s Australia Adventure Map. That way you can visualize your trip better and you’ll get a ton of practical information as well as details about the National Parks you’re visiting and sights you are passing.More ParadiseAlso download some useful travel apps, such as Wikicamps, the largest and most up-to-date database of campgrounds, caravan parks, backpacker hostels, day use area and points of interest. The Free Wi-fi finder app is also useful for campers to help you plan your next stops and to avoid paying for wi-fi.

4 Set a realistic budget

Traveling in Australia isn’t cheap, but there are plenty of ways to save money. Investing in a Lonely Planet will help you find out about all the costs you’ll have on your trip, from national park admission to campsites to sights. Being able to calculate your daily costs is key to make sure you don’t run out of money before the end of your trip. Traveling by camper van around Australia is actually the cheapest way to see the country!

Research ways to save money during your trip – shopping at discount grocery Aldi is a good start, for example, or using apps, as I’ve already said in #3. There are also some apps that help you save money, like The Happiest Hour app to find drink, food and cocktail specials in your current location or Fuel Map Australia, a crowd-sourced fuel station & fuel price finder, to find cheap gas.Outback selfie (Oodnadatta Track, South Australia)

5 Be flexible with your itinerary

Once you hit the road, you’ll quickly notice that it’s not easy to stick to your original itinerary. You’ll want to spend an additional day in some of the national parks, you’ll want to take a rest day, some of your activities might get rained out. It is nearly impossible to stick to your plan – but don’t stress out over it, let the road lead the way for you. And if you meet other travelers who suggest places to visit that are not on your itinerary – if they sound good to you, you should visit them. Personal recommendations are often the best ones, especially those from locals.Kata Juta Panorama

Photo credit: All images used under Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) Purnululu by Roderick Eime; (2) Campervan in The Pinnacles by Tony Spencer; (3) Camping in Australia by David Clarke; (4) Stockton, Australia by anonphotography.com; (5) Australia by Curtis Foreman; Outback by krheesy; (6) Kata Juta by Georgie Sharp.

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Five Awesome Things To Do In Melbourne Experiences This Summer

melbourne

Not only is Melbourne regularly voted one of the most livable cities in the world, but it is also famous for its edgy vibe, for its exquisite coffee scene, its sophisticated dining, and prime location in Port Philipp Bay. Add to that the fact that there are plenty of cheap hotels in Melbourne and a few days in Melbourne can easily be the highlight of your trip to Australia! If you are visiting Melbourne this summer, make sure to look beyond the typical sights, and take in some its hidden gems. To help you get started, we picked five memorable Melbourne experience for you to include into your Melbourne itinerary:

Melbourne City Australia

Venture into the drain tunnels

Did you know Melbourne had a subterranean city? There are over 900 miles (1,500 kilometers) of storm drain tunnels, constructed by ANZAC (the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) and discovered by chance by some civilian dwellers in 1986 who now call themselves ‘Cave Clan’ and hold regular meetings in the underground tunnels.

These drain tunnels are the perfect playground for urban adventurers – just be aware that not all of them are safe. If you’d like to peek inside one of the many drain tunnels, check out this article by Atlas Obscura which has a great overview over the main tunnels that can be visited. This is a fascinating side of Melbourne not many visitors get to see!

Train Tunnel at Brighton

Explore the hidden laneways

I am sure most of you have heard of Hosier Lane, Melbourne’s famous graffiti alleyway, covered in street art, but did you know there’s an entire network of hidden laneways (also known as arcade ways)? Hosier Lane is a must for anyone who loves street art, but make sure to also check out a couple of the less colorful alleyways.

A must for coffee lovers is Degraves Street (located across the road from Flinders Street Station) which is home to some of Melbourne’s best coffee shops, and cocktail lovers need to add Croft Alley to their places to visit in Melbourne, because it is here where you find The Croft Institute, a semi-hidden bar that is housed in a school science lab-themed space in Chinatown and offers some of the most innovative cocktails in the city.

Foodies will love Hardware Lane with its amazing eateries and bars in a remarkable setting (beneath the facades of 1900s warehouses) and hard rock fans must visit AC/DC Lane, which is where they filmed their classic 1976 music video ‘It’s a long way to the top (If you wanna rock’n’roll), and where you now find the famous live music venue Cherry.

No matter which laneways you decide to check out, they are all unique in their own way and boast urban art, al fresco dining and independent shops. Here’s a superb self-guided walking tour through the laneways which you can print out or save on your smartphone: Melbourne Arcadeways Walk

Melbourne laneway

Go on a self-guided coffee walk

Another fabulous self-guided walking tour is a Melbourne coffee walk. That way, you don’t only get to stroll around the city, but you also get a taste of what Melbourne knows how to make best: coffee. No matter if you’re a coffee-holic or simply enjoy a good cup of coffee every now and again, you have to stop by one of the city’s world famous coffee shops – Melbournians take pride in their sophisticated coffee culture and Melbourne baristas regularly win prizes at the big coffee making and latte art competitions around the globe. There are literally hundreds of good coffee shops in Melbourne, but some truly stand out.manila tobys estate flat white philippinesTo combine a nice walk with outstanding coffee, mark the following coffee shops on GoogleMaps and go on a self-guided coffee walk:

  • Heartattack and Vine
  • Market Lane
  • Brother Baba Buda
  • Patricia
  • Little Bean Blue
  • Ponyfish Island
  • Chez Dre

melbourne-coffee-walkThis walk takes around two hours – plan in around 3.5 hours for the entire walk including coffee stops, and maybe a little longer if you want to linger for a while at Ponyfish Island (they do not only have coffee but also great drinks).

For a shorter coffee walk, start at Brother Baba Buda instead of Heartattack and Vine – that one is just over 3 miles (5km), around 70 minutes walking time.

Enjoy a movie on a rooftop

Melbourne’s rooftop cinema is hugely popular with the locals, but not many tourists make their way up on the rooftop of Curtin House (252 Swanston Street, between Lonsdale and Little Bourke Streets) to enjoy the screening of a classic, such as Stand By Me or Casablanca, an art house or a recent blockbuster in a stunning location in the middle of the city. The setting is fabulous – deckchairs to lounge in, Melbourne’s skyline as a picturesque backdrop, and cocktails and fast food enjoy at the rooftop bar. This is a movie experience you won’t forget anytime soon – you can check out their program here.Melbourne Skyline.If you are traveling around Victoria by car, you might want to check out Melbourne’s first rooftop drive-in cinema, which just opened. It fits 65 vehicles and sits atop the atop the Harbour Town precinct (90 Waterfront Way, Docklands) and offers fantastic panorama views over Melbourne’s skyline. It is one of a very small number of drive-in cinemas in Australia, making it an especially unique experience.

See Melbourne from above

And last but not least: get a bird’s eye view of Melbourne. The tallest building in the city is the 88-floor tall Eureka Tower, which is home to the highest observation deck, Eureka Skydeck 88, the highest public vantage point in the entire Southern Hemisphere, by the way! If you’re brave enough, you can step out on ‘The Edge’, a switchable glass cube which slides out from the building, with you inside.DSC00769Another fantastic place to see Melbourne from above is the observation deck of the Rialto Towers. These adjoined skyscrapers are Melbourne’s second highest buildings, with the higher one standing 830 feet (253 meters) tall. The top floor is occupied by the fine dining restaurant Vue De Monde – a gorgeous setting for a dinner to celebrate a special occasion.

Photo credit: All images used via Flickr’s Creative Commons License. (1) Melbourne by Lenny K photography; (2) Train Tunnel by Drew Douglas, (3) Laneways by eLjeProks; (4) Melbourne Skyline by Daniel Sallai;  Eureka Tower by Jan Mark Holzer
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Seven Day Trips From Brisbane For Beach Lovers

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Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, is often called Australia’s most underrated city. With a fantastic art scene, more coffee shops and restaurants you could possibly try, vibrant nightlife and plenty of outdoorsy activities on and along the river (cycling, kayaking, running, swimming…). Brisbane deserves a few days of exploration, if not even longer. And not just the city itself is worth spending some time in, but also the area around Brisbane. There are beaches and isles, wildlife, national parks for hiking, mountains to climb and the fabulous Granite Belt Wine region. My recommendation would be basing yourself in the city, rent serviced apartments in Brisbane for example, and use it as a jump-off point to explore Southern Queensland and nearby Northern New South Wales.

There is a plethora of things to do around Brisbane, from stunning sights such as the Glow Worm Caves at Tamborine Mountain or the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary which is a must-visit for animal lovers, pristine beaches and small country towns. Thanks to its perfect location between the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, there are plenty of awesome places for beach and water fanatics just a short drive away. We have compiled the seven best day trips from Brisbane for beach lovers:

1 Coochiemudlo Island

Coochiemudlo Island is the perfect place to spend a relaxing day – a short ferry ride from Victoria Point, it brings you to a completely different world in only ten minutes! There’s not much to do on the island itself, but that’s the draw of it – it is a place to get away from it all. Pack sunscreen, a picnic and a book and enjoy the tranquil beaches of this tiny island. The return ticket for the ferry is only AU$8.

no mud at coochiemudlo

2 Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is known for its beautiful beaches and especially popular with surfers. Burleigh Heads is known to have one of the best beaches on the Gold Coast, and Mermaid Beach has several trendy cafes that are worth a visit. It only takes about an hour to get there from Brisbane, and you have plenty of beaches to choose from. If you want to get a view over the entire Gold Coast and its gorgeous beaches, head to the Q1 Tower in Surfers Paradise, the highest building in all of Queensland. The views from the Observation Deck (AU$22) are stunning!

The Gold Coast, Australia

3 Sandgate

Sandgate is a 19th century seaside village that feels like not much has changed here over the past two hundred years, and that’s exactly what makes it so charming. It’s easy to get to from Brisbane, connected to the city via the Queensland Rail City network. There are plenty of cute little cafés along the seafront promenade which invite to while away an afternoon.

Shorncliffe Jetty

4 North Stradbroke Island

North Stradbroke Island is one of the most popular   destination for Brisbanites and rightly so – home to the world’s second largest sand island (the largest one is in Fraser Island further up the coast) it has five fantastic beaches and is only a short 20-minute ferry ride from Brisbane.

North Stradbroke Island

5 Moreton Island

Speaking of sand islands – Moreton Island is another incredibly beautiful sand island (the 3rd largest in the world) and is an easy ferry ride from Pinkenba. Only 75 minutes from Brisbane, and you’ll feel like you’ve landed in a tropical paradise with picture-perfect beaches and tall sand dunes. You can feed wild dolphins here and dive among ship wrecks, and if you want to see more of the island, rent a quad to or kayak through the island’s lagoons.

tingalooma wrecks, sunset

6 Bribie Island

Bribie Island north of Brisbane belongs to the sand islands that line the coast near Brisbane (Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island are the other two). It is connected to a mainland by a bridge, making it super easy to get there by car (it takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes). Most of the island is uninhabited national park, and In addition to relaxing on the beach, you can go on a fishing trip, or tour the National Park to spot some of Australia’s amazing wildlife such as kangaroos, kookaburras and goannas.

sunset bribie island (19)

7 Sunshine Coast

A visit to the Sunshine Coast is something you can’t miss if you’re in Brisbane in the summer. Noosa is a favorite with most visitors, and a dip in the crystal clear waters of Sunshine Beach is a must. Noosa is also home to some great restaurants and cafes, but if you’re looking for a more tranquil getaway, head straight to Noosa National Park. The 37-mile stretch of beaches can feel overwhelming for a day trip because there’s so much to see and do – check out Fodor’s Sunshine Coast Travel Guide to plan your day trip in detail.

Sunshine Coast, Australia.jpg

Photo credit: All images used under Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) Coochiemudlo Island by King Tide; (2) Gold Coast by Sunland Group; (3) Sandgate by Luke Chapman; (4) North Stradbroke Island by Brieuc Saffre; (5) Moreton Island by Kasia Wallis; (6) Bribie Island by Bert Knottenbeld; (7) Sunshine Coast by Harald.

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Four Festivals You Can’t Miss In Sydney This Summer

KFOG Kaboom Fireworks

While the northern hemisphere is bundling up and enjoying the first snow of the season, Australia and the rest of the southern hemisphere is gearing up for Christmas BBQs and beach days – summer is here! And there’s no better place to visit Sydney than during the summer months – not only can you enjoy the coast, the beaches, sidewalk cafes and al fresco dining, outdoor movies and markets, but there are also a number of extraordinary summer festivals that make a visit during the summer months even more memorable.

If you are visiting Sydney this summer, here are my top four recommendations for festivals you should try to experience – and for a more comprehensive list, check out this guide to Sydney Summer Events.

Sydney Festival 010

Sydney Festival (January)

For almost the entire month, Sydney is having a massive celebration of culture, arts and entertainment, transforming the city with grand performances: free concerts, burlesque, dances and theater. For the 2017 Sydney Festival (7-29 January), there is an Australian Cirque Du Soleil, the Symphony Under The Stars, loads of art installations, a ferrython, and so much more. The best thing: many of the events during the festival are free! Check out the complete list of events for the 2017 Sydney Festival here.

Vivid

Sydney Mardi Gras

Sydney Mardi Gras is the world’s biggest Pride Celebration: hundreds of thousands of people travel to Sydney to celebrate LGBTQ culture and diversity, and visitors hail not only from Australia, but also other parts of the world. Be prepared for a colorful parade with over 100 floats and over 8,000 (!) participants, over 300,000 spectators, dancing in the streets, Bondi Beach Drag Races, the big Harbor Party and many other post-parade parties. The 2017 Mardi Gras Parade takes place on 4 March.

Sydney Mardi gras

New Year’s Eve

Sydney is among the first cities in the world to ring in the New Year, and the city makes sure to start it with a bang! The spectacular fireworks display over the Harbour Bridge is world-famous. There are a number of vantage points to watch the fireworks from, such as Robertson Park, Waverton Park or North Head, to name just a few. Of course you can also join one of the many ticketed events or a New Year’s Eve cruise, granting you incredible views right from the water, and making sure you ring in the New Year in style.

New Year's Fireworks Sydney 2012

Chinese New Year

Yes, New Year’s Eve is a big deal in Sydney, but so is the Chinese New Year a few weeks later. More than 1 million visitors enjoy the celebrations, making it one of the biggest Lunar New Year festivals outside of Asia. In 2017, the Chinese New Year Festival takes place from 27 January to 12 February, celebrating the start of the Year Of The Rooster with music and nightly entertainment, dragon boat races and performances from over 1,000 participants. Those include martial arts, traditional dance and folklore dance, and from 27 to 29 January, Sydney’s most famous landmarks will be lit in red as part of the festivities.

Chinese New Year Sydney

Photo credit: All images used under Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) Sydney Festival by Distan Bach ; (2) Sydney  slr_the_quack  (3) Sydney Mardi Gras by KMJ Photography; (4) New Year’s Eve by Sacha Fernandez ; (5) Chinese New Year by Ashley Ringrose
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Brisbane: 5 reasons why you should visit Queensland’s capital

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When people talk about Australia, you always hear them rave about Sydney and Melbourne. But what about Brisbane? Queensland’s capital is one of the most underrated cities in Australia, even though it offers a plethora of reasons to visit. Brisbane is a river town with a vibrant nightlife, a booming art scene, a gorgeous riverfront, as well as a fantastic restaurant and coffee shop scene. It is also the jumping off point to experience the Sunshine and the Gold Coast, and in driving distance of the Granite Belt wine region, extraordinary wildlife spots (including the biggest koala sanctuary in the world!), a wide array of cycling paths and hiking trails, plus cliff climbing and abseiling spots.Brisbane RiverStill not convinced include Brisbane into your Australia itinerary, book ticket to Brisbane and a Brisbane hotel?

Here are five reasons why we think Queensland’s capital deserves a visit:

Paradise for art lovers

The Gallery Of Modern Art is one of the country’s best art museums and focuses on Australian modern art (from the 1970s to today). In addition to the permanent exhibits you find a number of often changing and cutting-edge exhibits here that include video installations, photography, film, sculptures and of course paintings.

Art lovers will also enjoy the Brisbane Powerhouse, a former power station that has been turned into a contemporary arts center, including graffiti art, performing arts, art festivals and visual arts including pieces of the industrial lights and machinery from the power station’s old electrical transformers. In addition, you find a rooftop terrace here, a bar and restaurant, green spaces and a performance theater.GOMA

But there are plenty of other galleries – you can find a list of the ten best Brisbane art galleries here.

One of Australia’s best and most vibrant city life

One of the best things about Brisbane is its vibrant city life. The South Bank of the Brisbane City has been improved considerably over the past few years, and now you can take in life music here, take in the stunning river sunsets, window shop in Little Stanley Street, enjoy the free art. The Collective Markets are held on Friday evenings and weekends in Stanley Street Plaza and focus on local designers, art and jewelry – a must-do on a visit to Brisbane! On Saturday morning, the West End Markets in Davies Park are buzzing with joyous shoppers and on Sunday morning, the riverfront docks area north of the CBD (what Brisbane’s city center is referred to) turns into a craft market. Stroll along the riverfront and you’ll pass cute cafes and restaurants with fantastic river views and excellent food – and coffee, of course.
Kangaroo Point, Brisbane by night.
A wealth of wildlife and nature

If you are a fan of nature and wildlife, you will love Brisbane: there’s the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the largest koala sanctuary in the entire world, only a 15-minute drive from the city, with over 130 koalas which are just waiting to be cuddled, and kangaroos waiting to be fed. Then there’s Mount Coot-tha, the tallest mountain around Brisbane with splendid views. You also find the (free!) Botanical Gardens here. The hike to the peak is strenuous, but the vistas over Brisbane are rewarding – make sure to bring a picnic up here!

Other places for nature lovers include D’Aguilar National Park which includes a wide range of hiking trails and the East Queensland Wildlife Centre (with turtles, pythons, lizards and other animals), New Farm Park, a park that is famous for its jacaranda trees (particularly worth a visit in the spring, when they’re carrying their purple blossoms) and the vast rose gardens as well as the Roma Street Parklands, which are the biggest subtropical gardens in a city center and home to more than 1,800 plant species. And the best thing: admission is free!Mirror Image

An unrivaled music scene

If you are a music lover, you’ll love Brisbane, which was named as one of the Top 5 hot spots for music by Billboard Magazine. There are more bars, pubs and music clubs in Brisbane than anywhere else in the world and the city’s live music scene is fantastic. For some great live music events, head to Max Watts, The Triffid, The Tivoli, The Zoo, and The Underdog Pub Co.
AMC5 Pt6 Glenn Shorrock
Scenic Moreton Bay

Brisbane sits in the center of Moreton Bay, which is a paradise for wildlife lovers. Here you find beautiful sandy beaches and you have the chance for breathtaking wildlife spottings: turtles, whales and dolphins are spotted here regularly! 365 islands are scattered across the bay, which stretches from the Gold Coast to Caloundra, and the most popular ones are Moreton Island, where people head to feed dolphins, and North Stradbroke Island, which is known for its good surf and pretty beaches.moreton bay shores

Photo credit: All images used under Flickr’s Creative Commons license. 1) Brisbane River by Aristocrats-Hats; 2) GOMA by Sonia; 3) Brisbane by night by Ben; 4) Nudgee Beach by Aristocrats-Hats ; 5) Brisbane Music by PeterTea; 6) Moreton Bay by Bert Knottenbeld

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Port Douglas Carnivale: The Most Exciting Place in Cairns!

On the hunt for quinoa in South America

Considered as the signature city of Queensland and the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is certainly a treat for all tourists visiting Australia. With a vibrant culture and pleasant weather, anyone visiting the city is instantly entranced by its charm and surreal beauty.

The majority of tourists opt for a car hire in Cairns to access Port Douglas which is less than 45 miles away. People love the town for its picturesque beauty and adventure activities. However, the most attractive feature of Port Douglas is the Port Douglas Carnivale, which starts from 12th May and runs for ten days until 22nd May.Boats In Port Douglas

Highlights of the Port Douglas Carnivale

The 10-day carnival will be marked by a whole range of events and festivals for music, art, food, wine and various other entertainment shows. Families and visitors in the city will drive down to experience this one-of-a-kind event.

Beach Day

Witness the sand taking the shape of unique designs and images in the hands of trained artists on Beach Day. The Kite Festival is also conducted on the Family Beach Day with the young and old flying giant kites in the air. This one is an absolute must for those travelling with kids.Four Mile Beach Port Douglas

Macrossan Street Parade

The Macrossan Street in Port Douglas will appear in all its glory on the evening of May 20th where young artists will perform various forms of arts along the street. The theme of the Macrossan Street Parade for 2016 is “The Wonders of the Tropic”. The parade, which is a significant part of the carnivale, will attract hundreds of families with fireworks and gastronomic treats in an authentic tropic style.

Port on a Fork

The Port Douglas Carnivale is never complete without great food and outstanding wine. The Port on a Fork event will be held for the very first time this year to showcase some signature dishes of the coast. Each dish will be made from local fresh produce and will be accompanied by a great range of wine varieties. Renowned musicians and bands like Joe Camilleri and Black Sorrows will also be joining the event. The evening is expected to be the ultimate evening of beautiful music, sumptuous food and great wine.

Paradise on a Plate

Enjoy dining under the palms with an extended dining experience, aptly named, Paradise on a Plate. A fantastic treat for all food lovers, it will be a gourmet delight of land and sea fare. Lunch will be served on a long table with 4-course meals that will wow every food lover.quinoa salad at quinoa

Photo credit: All images used via Flickr’s creative commons licensing. Boats in Port Douglas by Michael McGimpsey; Port Douglas Beach by Jervis_Pics.
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