Hervey Bay

Hervey Bay & Fraser Island: 4 great reasons to visit!

Just under 4 hours drive north of Brisbane you will find Hervey Bay. This town is an aquatic paradise with a picturesque Esplanade, a vibrant Marina, plenty of cafes/shops and attractions to explore. The mild temperatures of this region mean that the sheltered waters of Hervey Bay are perfect for year-round swimming, sailing, water-sports, diving & fishing. But that is not all!

Hervey Bay

Credit: Jewelszee Photograhy/Tourism and Events Queensland

Hervey Bay is best known as the whale watching capital of Australia. It is a hotspot for Humpback whales to breed and enjoy the calm waters of the Bay. It is their rest stop on their annual migration north. This is their play time, and so it is a great opportunity to enjoy an up-close whale encounter as they are typically in a relaxed mood, and their inquisitive nature means they’ll often approach the boats of their own free will.

Hervey Bay

Whale Watching Hervey Bay. Credit: Tourism & Events Queensland

Off the coast from Hervey Bay is Fraser Island. This is the world’s largest sand Island, and World Heritage listed for good reason. The 120km-long island stretch boasts a range of sights, colours and features that make it very special: sprawling sand dunes famous for their multicoloured hues, numerous inland freshwater lakes, lush forested areas and distinctive wildlife. Fraser Island is an eco-tourism adventure with no major towns or developments. It is protected for all to enjoy the wonders of Fraser Island.

Hervey Bay

Lake Mackenzie Water, Fraser Island. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Hervey Bay also boasts easy access to the southern-most tip of the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef. After only a 40-minute scenic flight you arrive at Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, a pristine coral cay island. Enjoy a day of snorkelling and exploring the amazing sights of the Great Barrier Reef.

Hervey Bay

Lady Elliot Island – Snorkelling on The Great Barrier Reef. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

There are many good reasons to visit Hervey Bay. This region is easily accessed from Brisbane and it delivers many nature-based activities that make it a very special part of Queensland & Australia to explore!

Here are some of the key things to do:

Whale Watch:

Hervey Bay is the #1 spot to see the magnificent Humpback whales during July to the end of October. See their playful antics on a half or full day cruise. Swimming with whales is also an option!

 

Hervey Bay

Dolphins/Turtles:

Get up close and personal with some playful dolphins and catch a 4-hour cruise in sheltered Bay. Join a tour that enables you to snorkel in the Great Sandy Marine Park and see plenty of fish, turtles, dolphins and possibly dugongs. Travel an hour south to Tin Can Bay and you can feed wild dolphins at 8am daily.

Hervey Bay

Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Fraser Island:

This is a must…as only 30km off-shore or a 45 min ferry ride. As only 4wd vehicles are allowed on the island there are plenty of tour operators to choose from departing Hervey Bay. Take a one-day tour that explores the many amazing natural sites on this World Heritage listed Island.

Hervey Bay

Seventy Five Mile Beach. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland/Darren Jew

The great outdoors:

You are spoilt for choice with some fantastic beaches, hikes and walks to be had. Stroll along the Urangan Pier, which stretches almost 1 kilometre into the ocean. The Esplanade offers some great beach walks. Consider hiring a kayak, paddle board or try kite surfing.

Hervey Bay

Central Station, Fraser Island. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Hervey Bay and Fraser Island combine to deliver a fantastic holiday destination with an aquatic paradise and a huge offering of animal/nature experiences to enjoy. Ask us to include Hervey Bay/Fraser Island in your Queensland holiday itinerary…

Bay of Islands

Bay of Islands North Island NZ: Top 5 things to do

The Bay of Islands is a 3-hour drive north of Auckland in the North Island, New Zealand.  It is a top New Zealand holiday destination and stunningly scenic! Being an archipelago, it is known for all things aquatic…with over 140 islands to explore there is a wide range of marine and nature-based activities to choose from.

The Bay of Islands is also the home to Waitangi, the birthplace of New Zealand. The Bay of Islands is where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the British and the indigenous Maori people in 1840.

So, for all you marine & history buffs out there, make sure the Bay of Islands is on your hit-list. It’s a great first stop on your North Island drive circuit. Apart from Waitangi & the archipelago there are some great towns to explore in their own right. Kerikeri has a horticultural and vineyard bent, and Paihia is the main hub and gateway to the Bay of Islands. Across the Bay from Paihia is the attractive seaside town of Russell which has many bars and restaurants along its foreshore. A great place to relax and watch the sun set! This region has so many activities on offer you can easily spend 3+ nights. Expect many iconic New Zealand experiences!

Bay of islands

Russell, Bay of Islands

Here are some of the key things to do:

Boat Tour: 

Make sure to explore the Bay of Islands archipelago by taking a cruise. Explore all the highlights which will include the Hole-in-the-Rock and Urupukapuka Island. Enjoy beautiful scenery, pristine beaches and most likely some dolphins showing off! A great day out.

Bay of Islands

Bay cruise Bay of Islands

Waitangi Treaty Grounds:

Walk in the footsteps of the people who changed history. Discover the momentous events that shaped New Zealand at the Museum of Waitangi. Enjoy a guided tour and witness spellbinding cultural performances to learn more about Maori culture. It’s fascinating!

Bay of Islands

Meeting House, Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Rainbow Falls:

A waterfall near Kerikeri. A 27-metre spectacular drop with only a 5-minute trek to view makes it a must-see!

Waipoua Forest:

This is a highlight for nature lovers. 2 hours to the west of Paihia, it is well worth the trip. Waipoua Forest is the largest tract of native forest remaining in New Zealand. Plenty of short or longer walks which wind through stands of tall Kauri, Rimu & northern Rata towering trees.

Bay of Islands

Waipoua Forest, Northland

Action Options:

For more action you are spoilt for choice. The main contenders are swimming with dolphins, kayaking and diving. Other options include: Sailing, fishing, cycling, parasailing and of course, golf.

Bay of Islands

Dolphins frolicking, Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands is a must-visit destination with beautiful coastlines and famous for its beaches, boating & ocean activities. Ask us to include the Bay of Islands in your New Zealand holiday itinerary…

Margaret River

Margaret River: a true gourmet & outdoor adventure awaits!

Just a few hours drive from Perth, Western Australia lies the Margaret River region. It is a magnificent destination to relax and refresh. Expect picturesque scenery with spectacular landscapes, breathtaking coastlines, sandy beaches, the stillness of ancient forests and lush green pastures that become a blaze of colour with wildflowers in Spring. Margaret River is centrally located amongst many local fresh food provedores & gourmet experiences, awe-inspiring caves and famous surf breaks. Arts and crafts are a big part of the Margaret River character, as is cafes, restaurants, distilleries and breweries. But of course, the main drawcard is the world-class vineyards and wineries waiting to be discovered. The region is graced with long summers and mild winters…suitable for many outdoor adventures!

We were lucky to spend time in the Margaret River region recently, and it is perfect for a self-drive road trip with a good network of roads. All main roads are sealed and with relatively short travelling distances between towns and attractions, so you can pick and choose your own things to do.

Spend your holiday doing some short walks, try the local produce, go on a whale watch cruise, learn to surf, go canoeing and then dine on fresh local produce and divine Margaret River wine. It is a premier outdoorsy-region where you can expect to have some adventure, as well as relax and rejuvenate on your travels!

Margaret River

Kayaking in Margaret River. Photo courtesy of Tourism Western Australia

Here are some of the key things to do:

Caves:

Discover an ancient wonderland with some of the most spectacular caves in Australia around Margaret River. Jewel Cave, Lake Cave, Ngilgi or Mammoth Cave. You can do self-guided tours, guided boardwalk tours, off-piste hard-hat tours or abseil tours!

Margaret River

Ngilgi Cave, Yallingup. Photo courtesy of Tourism Western Australia

Wineries:

You are spoilt for choice with over 95 cellar doors in the area. This region produces a massive 20% of Australian premium wine!  Meandering from cellar door to cellar door is easy and spectacular with vistas of farmland, wine country and the coast. The diversity ranges from farm-style to architecturally elaborate, many of which have casual cafés ranging to world-class restaurants.

Margaret River

Vasse Felix vineyards, Cowaramup Margaret River

Whale Watching: 

The South-west is a great location to view Humpback and southern right whales frolic in Augusta’s Flinders Bay from early June and rare blue whales and calves join bottlenosed dolphins in Geographe Bay in Dunsborough in September through to early December.

Margaret River

Whale watching near Busselton. Photographer David Ashley

Short Walks:

This region is one of the top 10 bio-diversity hot spots in the world! There are some fantastic lookouts, hikes and walks to be had. Plenty of forests including the Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk near Denmark and make sure to visit the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse based in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park.

Margaret River

The Boranup Forest. Photo courtesy of Tourism Western Australia

Margaret River is a premier gourmet region with magnificent landscapes and experiences to enjoy. It really is a must-see destination! Ask us to include Margaret River in your Western Australia holiday itinerary…

New Zealand attraction

Rotorua: a major New Zealand attraction

Why visit? New Zealand and the North Island is such a scenic place to visit. People are friendly and have a fun sense of humor. Count on great coffee, fresh local food & wine. Enjoy the feeling of having the road all to yourself, to be able to see the horizon and enjoy the views, to breathe crisp clean air, to wake up to the sound of birds …

Sounds good doesn’t it? Tick that box and plan your NZ visit! Once decided, make sure your NZ dream trip includes a stop at Rotorua. Rotorua is a heavyweight New Zealand attraction. It is one of the most visited places in New Zealand for good reason. It is in the very heart of the North Island and is a 3-hour drive south-east of Auckland. It is the centre of Maori culture as well as the main geothermal hub (think bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers & natural hot springs). Rotorua has so many activities on offer you can easily spend 3+ nights. Rotorua delivers many iconic New Zealand experiences!

Based around Lake Rotorua, the town offers many beautiful sparkling lakes and stunning lush forests. An outdoor paradise with endless hours of fun to be had riding Rotorua’s world-class mountain bike trails, exploring the thermal parks, visiting the living Maori Village, or doing some lake trekking. It is definitely a premier destination with many must-do experiences to enjoy! Here are some of the key things to do:

New Zealand attraction

Whakarewarewa Thermal area, Rotorua, New Zealand. Pohutu Geyser.

Thermal Parks:

You are spoilt for choice! Visit Waiotapu thermal wonderland, Orakei Korako Geothermal Park or Te Puia with the largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere, Pohutu. Explore a volcanic world of gushing geysers, hot springs, and bubbling mud pools at your own pace. Very impressive!

New Zealand attraction

Te Puia Rotorua

Maori Culture: 

Make sure to visit the NZ arts & crafts institute at Te Puia. You can learn about the traditional arts of wood carving and weaving. Experience Whakarewarewa, Rotorua’s Living Maori Village. Consider an evening Hangi & Concert at Tamaki Maori Village.

New Zealand attraction

Hobbiton

Hobbiton:

This is a highlight. Only 1 hour from Rotorua, make sure to do the 2-hour movie set tour and experience the magic! A major movie set location for the Lord of the Rings Film trilogy. Make sure to watch the films before you visit!

New Zealand attraction

Redwoods Treewalk Rotorua

New Zealand attraction

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Action Options:

For more action the premier choice is Mountain biking, or the Treetop walk through the Redwoods Forest. Other options aplenty include: Rainforest Canopy Tours, White-water rafting, Skyline Gondola & Luge rides, horse-rides and the completely original Ogo ride. Visit Lake Tarawera, only a 20-minute drive which is so beautiful and serene (make sure to pack swimming gear, food & drinks). Consider doing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, one of the best one-day hikes in NZ. It is a little further afield at 2 hours from Rotorua, and features Mount Ngauruhoe (otherwise known as Mount Doom for Lord of the Rings fans).

Rotorua is a premier must-visit destination with magnificent landscapes and experiences to enjoy. Ask us to include Rotorua in your New Zealand holiday itinerary…

Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain: A highlight of Tasmania

Another family mini-break was a long weekend spent at Cradle Mountain National Park. Part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, it is a most dramatic place to enjoy some peace & rejuvenation in a pristine wilderness setting. This is one of the heavy-weights of Tasmania travel for good reason!

Cradle Mountain

Photo courtesy of Tourism Tasmania & Adrian Cook

Cradle Mountain National Park:

Is a 2:5 hour drive from Launceston.  It is at the northern end of the immense Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park. It is easy to immerse yourself in the beautiful alpine landscape with rugged peaks, windswept moors, lakes and ancient forests.  It is also the start point for the world-famous Overland Track, a magnificent 6 day walk that explores the diverse mountain terrain. But if you are not into long walks… there is still plenty to do! Spend a day doing some short walks, try boating, kayaking or horse riding and then return to your chalet to dine on fresh local produce and divine Tasmanian wine. It is a premier wilderness area where you can also expect to meet some of the friendly local animals on your travels.

Cradle Mountain

Photo courtesy of Tourism Tasmania & Andrew McIntosh, Ocean Photography

Here are some of the key things to do:

Short Walks:

There are over 20 walks around Cradle Mountain. It is an easy and fun way to explore. You can choose to start with some of the 45-minute boarded walks through rainforests to full day walks which cover alpine moors, glacial lakes and rainforests. One not to miss is the 2-3-hour Dove Lake Circuit. For some more challenge, aim for the Cradle Mountain summit walk which is 6-8 hours return.

Cradle Mountain

Photo courtesy of Tourism Tasmania & Gene Goldberg

Action Options:

For more action the premier choice is Canyoning. You can climb, jump, abseil and swim through some spectacular wilderness areas in the summer months. Half and full day tours. Our family did the more sedate 1:5 hour horse-riding on the plains with brilliant views of Cradle Mountain. You can also do some quad biking if speed is your thing!

Cradle Mountain

Photo courtesy of Tourism Australia & Graham Freeman

Animal experiences:

Expect to meet some friendly wombats, echidnas & kangaroos on your walks exploring the National Park. Don’t miss the wildlife sanctuary that is dedicated to preservation and research of the Tasmanian Devil. You can do an after dark feeding tour or dine with the devil.

Cradle Mountain

Photo courtesy of Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett

Cradle Mountain

Photo courtesy of Tourism Tasmania & supplied by Kentish Council

Cradle Mountain

Photo courtesy of Paul Fleming

Cradle Mountain is a premier wilderness area with magnificent landscapes and experiences to enjoy. It is all about nature and the great outdoors! After your outdoor walks don’t forget to call into Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge for a relaxing coffee in the gorgeous lodge. Ask us to include Cradle Mountain in your Tasmania holiday itinerary…

new zealand attractions

Fiordland: A must-see for your NZ Holiday!

If you are looking for awesome New Zealand attractions then look no further than Fiordland, the World Heritage listed National Park on the South Island. Fiordland is a great wilderness region, with spectacular mountains and waterfalls. It is a collection of huge glacier carved valleys that have been flooded by the sea. Home to both Milford and Doubtful Sounds, as well as the lakeside towns of Te Anau and Manapouri, it is simply not-to-be-missed when it comes to your holiday planning!

Te Anau is an easy 2-hour drive from Queenstown Airport, and is the gateway to the very impressive Fiordland National Park.  Located on the southern shore of Lake Te Anau, this bustling township is the jump off point for both Milford and Doubtful Sounds.  To get to Milford Sound you can either drive yourself (allow 2-3 hours for this top scenic drive) or take a guided tour bus for a relaxing day trip including a cruise on the majestic fiord.  Alongside Doubtful Sound and the Te Anau Glow Worm Caves, these three attractions are the main focus of tourism in this area.  Fiordland National Park is also a haven for Trampers (hikers) and kayakers.  Accommodation ranges from holiday parks, to B&B’s and hotels.

Here are some of the key things to do:

new zealand attractions

Photography by Rob Suisted

Milford Sound:

You can do a 2 hour or an overnight cruise to enjoy the views of Mitre Peak and the stunning fiords. The overnight cruise allows time for some kayaking, as well as star gazing in the evening. The actual drive to Milford Sound is also spectacular, and consider taking a bus tour or scenic flight to really soak up the magnificent alpine scenery without the worry of driving yourself.

Doubtful Sound:

Is the deepest Fiord and a haven for wildlife with resident bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and penguins. A day trip is possible with an 8-hour cruise, or again an overnight cruise is a great option. The departure point for the cruise is Manapouri, which is a 20-minute drive from Te Anau.

Te Anau Glowworm Caves:

Enjoy a 2-hour cruise across Lake Te Anau to explore the underground world and grottos of the Glow-worm Caves. Great family fun!

new zealand attractions

Hiking:

Fiordland National Park features three world-class Great Walk tracks with stunning scenery: the Kepler Track (4 days), Milford Track (4 days) and Routeburn Track (3 days). There are also many short walks to enjoy, and of course you can experience a guided walk as an alternative.

Make sure to plan some days around Te Anau and Fiordland. It offers breath-taking scenery, wildlife, cruises, kayaking and some great walks. It is easily accessed from Queenstown, and really is a stunning destination that does deliver on a great outdoor experience! Ask us to include Fiordland in your New Zealand holiday itinerary…

things to do in sydney

Escape to the Hawkesbury River for a brilliant day on the water!

Our family recently enjoyed a winter mini-break in Sydney. We had visited Sydney several times before and explored most of the highlights. This time our highlight was a day on the Hawkesbury River kayaking. It was a pleasure to get active and enjoy the great outdoors so close to Sydney!

 

Hawkesbury River

Parsley Bay

The Hawkesbury River:

Is an easy 1-hour train journey from the city, and the tranquil hamlet of Brooklyn is the gateway.  Brooklyn is a good place to grab a coffee and consider your options for how to explore the river. The Hawkesbury River is a breath of fresh air that flows past riverside towns into bays and inlets between the Ku-ring-gai Chase and Brisbane Water National parks. The Hawkesbury River is navigable for over 100 kilometres. You could cruise and explore these waters for weeks and still not discover it all! Spend a day hiking, boating, kayaking or enjoy an overnight anchorage in a hired boat or a waterfront B&B and wake up to the call of Kookaburras, Whip Birds, Sea Eagles and the lapping of the tides.

Here are some of the key things to do:

Kayak:

An easy and fun way to explore! You can hire either a single or double canoe, and paddle for a half or full day, or overnight and camp in the National parks. We did a 20-minute paddle to Dangar Island, had lunch at the Bowling Club, then paddled another 20 minutes to an inlet at the base of Tank Creek. Did a 1 hour bushwalk to the cascades & waterfalls with an incredible natural infinity pool that looks directly over the stunning Hawkesbury. We then returned to Brooklyn after an amazing day on the kayaks.

Hawkesbury River   

Hawkesbury River

Tank Creek Infinity Pool

   

Dangar Island:

Has a regular ferry service. No cars on the island, so it is very peaceful! Wheelbarrows are the main mode of transport for moving shopping from the jetty to home. The Dangar Island Bowling Club is the local watering hole and the place to have a meal during the weekend. Bradley’s Beach is on the southeast side of the island and is an excellent swimming beach on high tide. At low tide, the beach becomes the perfect place for the kids to play in ‘river mud’.

The Riverboat Postman:

Enjoy a historic 3-hour postman boat run on the Hawkesbury. This daily service delivers mail and other essentials whilst you soak up the magnificent scenery of the Hawkesbury.

Houseboat Hire:

A great way to explore at your leisure in the comfort of your own houseboat. Swim at secluded beaches, fish or just relax with a good book. Minimum 2-night hire outside of peak periods.

Hawkesbury River

Take a day out of your Sydney visit to enjoy a kayak on the magnificent Hawkesbury River. It is off the beaten path, easy to access, and really is a stunning excursion that does deliver on a great outdoor experience! Ask us to include the Hawkesbury in your Australia holiday itinerary…

Lake Tekapo

A guide to Lake Tekapo South Island, New Zealand

Thinking of a New Zealand road trip? It is definitely the best way to see New Zealand. You have the freedom to take your time, stop and explore, and enjoy the magnificent views from every turn. Make sure to include picturesque Lake Tekapo on your road trip. It ticks all the boxes for views, and is on the main highway halfway between Christchurch and Queenstown on the South Island.

Lake Tekapo:

The Lake itself is a gorgeous turquoise colour, and is framed by a cluster of New Zealand’s highest peaks which provide a beautiful backdrop with amazing views. Lake Tekapo is close to Aoraki/Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand. The village itself is also a UNESCO dark sky reserve, so it is the perfect spot for some stargazing.  This is a fantastic location with plenty of eye candy for every budding photographer. There is plenty to do!

Here are some of the things to do in or around Lake Tekapo:

Flight:

Take a 50-minute spectacular scenic flight which covers the most amazing views of Mount Cook & the Southern Alps, Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers, Lakes, remote sheep stations etc. Breathtaking scenery from your own window seat!

Lake Tekapo

Stargazing:

Cowans Observatory offers a nightly astronomy session which will introduce you to the various highlights of the Southern night sky. Great for families. Tour duration 80 minutes and minimum child age is 5 years.

Tekapo Springs:

Tekapo Springs is all about family fun! It is based in a stunning setting at Mt John in Lake Tekapo. Think of a relaxing soak in the pools, an indulgent treatment at the day spa, fun on the ice skating rink or an adrenaline filled ride down the tubing park!

Lake Tekapo

Hooker Valley Mount Cook National Park

Scenic Drive Lake Tekapo-Lake Pukaki-Mount Cook:

This drive has impressive scenery. Set out for a leisurely 1:15 hour drive along the length of Lake Pukaki. The turquoise lake is surrounded by the peaks of the Southern Alps and ends at Mount Cook Village. Plenty to do!  

Other Attractions:

Walking Tracks through the Mackenzie Basin and explore the Church of the Good Shepherd.

Lake Tekapo is a great stop for 2 nights, and is only a quick trip from either Christchurch or Queenstown. It really is a beautiful region that does deliver the alpine experience in pristine surrounds. Include Lake Tekapo on your bucket list. Ask us to book & plan your trip to ensure your New Zealand Holiday is your best ever!

the Yarra Valley

Why the Yarra Valley should be on your must visit list!

Working out where to travel in Australia is tough…. as there are so many diverse and superb choices… but consider adding the Yarra Valley to your must visit list!

When thinking and planning your first big trip to Australia it is important to get that perfect mix of destinations. Seek out what is special and iconic about Australia. Try to get that mix of outback, beach, city & country (weather and time permitting of course). That way you get a bit of everything and get a real feel of Australia.

The Yarra Valley ticks the “country” box. And my what a beautiful bit of country it is!

the Yarra Valley

Tarrawarra Estate

The Yarra Valley:

is a world-class wine region, and only 60 minutes from Melbourne. The valley has crisp clean air and spectacular views of the valley to the Dandenong Ranges beyond. This is a natural location with plenty to do, or you can simply relax and enjoy the gourmet food and wines of the region. But it does deliver so much more!  Be inspired with the natural beauty of the towering Eucalypt forests which are great for walking off all the food and wine. This is where you can stay in a country cottage in a natural bush setting with plenty of native animals around at dusk when you are enjoying a glass of wine on your balcony.  Spend a day at the Healesville Sanctuary and get up close and personal with our Aussie native animals… your children will love it whether they are 2 or 21!

Here are some of the things to do in the Yarra Valley…

Healesville Sanctuary:

Meet your favourite Australian animals. The Sanctuary features unique experiences with Australian wildlife amongst the sights, sounds and scents of the stunning bushland surrounds. Do not miss the Health Centre where they treat the sick/injured or orphaned wildlife. The Koala Forest is another must do and finally the spectacular Birds of Prey show which runs twice a day.

 the Yarra Valley

Kangaroos at Healesville Sanctuary

Wineries/Gourmet Food:

The Valley is home to over 80 cellar doors, sumptuous fine-dining restaurants and artisan producers of magnificent cheeses, elegant chocolates and an ale/cider trail. Go knock yourself out and attempt to try them all!

the Yarra Valley

the Yarra Valley

Yarra Valley Dairy, Photography by Roberto Seba

National Parks:

Set out for a leisurely walk past tall trees, clear creeks and fern-fringed waterfalls at either Kinglake National Park or Yarra Ranges National Park.

Golf:

The Yarra Valley delivers spectacular scenery and a relaxing region to enjoy your golf. There are many courses to choose from such as the Eastern Golf Club, Yering Meadows Golf Club, The Gardiners Run & the Yarra Valley Country Club.  

Other Attractions:

Take a breathtaking early morning hot air balloon ride over the valley, visit and wander the meandering Alowyn Gardens, make sure to visit Coombe which is a garden, restaurant and gallery or go further afield and enjoy a Steam Train ride through the Dandenong Ranges on Puffing Billy.

the Yarra Valley

Vineyard in the Yarra Valley

The Yarra Valley is a great stop for 2-3 nights, and only a quick trip from Melbourne city. It really is a beautiful region that does deliver that country feel in pristine surrounds. Make sure to ask us about the Yarra Valley. We are happy to help with your planning to make sure your Australia Holiday is your best ever!

Great Barrier Reef

An Aussie’s guide to the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef…

The Great Barrier Reef stretches for over 2,000 kilometres off the eastern coast of Australia. It consists of 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands. It is the world’s largest coral reef. Packed with amazing beauty and recognised as a World Heritage Site, it is also one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World. It is big, a definite must-see and confusing for anyone planning to visit!

This is an Aussie’s guide to the Great Barrier Reef. It is a local’s lowdown with short, helpful information on where to go, what to do and when to visit …

So where to go & what to do?

Hmm, this is tough! You may have heard of some gorgeous coastal towns such as Port Douglas or Palm Cove. Or the town of 1770…. plus, other places like Cairns, Hamilton Island, Heron Island or Airlie Beach.

These are all fantastic launch pads to dive in and explore the magnificent Great Barrier Reef. But essentially you can break it down into mainland towns versus Islands. Let me explain….

Great Barrier Reef

Heart Reef. Photo by Mia Glastonbury, Tourism & Events Queensland

Heart Reef. Photo by Mia Glastonbury, Tourism & Events Queensland

Mainland Towns:

Your Great Barrier Reef experience from a mainland town will be a fast catamaran ride out to a pontoon/dive site where you will base yourself for a day or overnight. One way can be up to 1:5 hours. Allow a full day with over 4 hours on the Great Barrier Reef itself.

The main launch spots in Far North Queensland are Cairns and Port Douglas. You can choose operators that take a minimum of 30 or a maximum of 350! The bigger operators have more toys to play with, expect glass bottom boats, helicopter rides, toddler wading pools, semi-submersible tours, underwater observatories, Seawalker helmet diving and the list goes on. The smaller operators offer a completely personal nature experience focused mainly around snorkelling and diving.

I would always recommend the smaller group tours unless some in your group are not keen on snorkelling or diving, then the bigger tours are the way to go as they still offer the Great Barrier Reef experience without being in the water if you don’t want to…

Great Barrier Reef

Groper Fish & admirer

Islands:

Particularly good for young families, the islands on the Great Barrier Reef are a great way to relax and enjoy the reef without all the travel time. Think Hamilton Island, Heron Island, Lady Elliot Island, Hayman Island….the list goes on! You also have the added bonus of kid’s clubs so that both parents can do a spot of diving whilst the children are also having a great time!

When to go?

The Great Barrier Reef is located in the tropics and hence accessible year-round. So, expect warm weather and perfect snorkelling conditions! You do want to avoid rain as that can play havoc with water visibility.

Great Barrier Reef

Opal Reef. Photo from Tourism & Events Queensland

Don’t forget….

There has been lots in the media recently about climate change (and the resulting warmer waters), and how this is having a great impact on our coral reefs around the world…. including the Great Barrier Reef.

It is very important to note that there is minimal coral damage south of Port Douglas, and the very southern section has very little coral lost. So, make sure to visit the areas on the Great Barrier Reef which have very little damage!

Now here’s another hint ….

don’t view your Great Barrier Reef visit in isolation!

The last consideration is definitely about bundling your Great Barrier Reef visit with what else to do in the area. This is where the Far North wins hands down! Not only do you have the Great Barrier Reef but you also have the double whammy of another World Heritage site, the Daintree Rainforest (top three world’s oldest Rainforest).

But that is entirely another story, so in the meantime……

Make sure to ask us the where/when/what is best re the Great Barrier Reef. We are happy to help with your planning to make sure your Australia Holiday is your best ever!