Palm Cove

Australia: Palm Cove Escape

Palm Cove BeachPalm Cove is one of our all-time favourite family holiday destinations. It is in tropical North Queensland, just north of Cairns, and is a beachside haven with a charming village atmosphere. White sandy beaches lined with glorious coconut palms and the year round warm ocean make Palm Cove one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Palm Cove also boasts plenty of award winning restaurants & day spas to enjoy. The town packs a lot in for a holiday as it is lucky to be in a location which has a double whammy close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef as well as the Daintree Rainforest. It really is a perfect holiday destination where you can do as much or as little as you please.

Our family of 5 have been lucky enough to holiday regularly in Palm Cove for 10 years now and so we have pretty much done most activities and there are plenty of them! When the children were younger we favoured relaxing on the beach, visiting the Cairns Tropical Zoo to feed the kangaroos and cuddle a koala, catching the Skyrail to Kuranda for the day, visiting the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, relaxing on an eco-adventure tubing down Behana Gorge and enjoying Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park to learn how to throw a boomerang.

Cairns Zoo, Palm Cove and Rainforest Tubing

Two of our children are now teenagers which means different types of activities appeal. more action based adrenalin-pumping adventures are now in demand! Recent conquests are water-skiing/wakeboarding/kneeboarding at Cable Ski Park (a huge favourite), Jet ski hire at the Palm Cove beach, bungy jumping, horse-riding for the day, jungle-surfing, swimming at Mossman Gorge and a full day trip trekking & white-water rafting through the rainforest.

Daintree Rainforest near Palm Cove

But the two big World Heritage drawcards to this area the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest – amaze all ages and we continue to explore both on numerous visits. The magic of the Great Barrier Reef is in the variety of soft & hard corals, fish species, the Manta Rays and of course, the Green Turtles. Snorkelling in the warm, clear waters of the colourful Great Barrier Reef is an unforgettable experience not to be missed. Similarly, the Daintree Rainforest is a wonderful treat exploring the world’s oldest rainforest and discovering plenty of plants, animals & reptiles along the way. Crocodile spotting along the Daintree River is fun, especially when the kids find a Logodile instead of a Crocodile!

Great Barrier Reef

Tropical North Queensland and Palm Cove are definetly a must-see for any visit to Australia as the area delivers iconic and unique Australian experiences that make for an unforgettable holiday!

Facts:

  • Best season (April to October) has daytime temperatures ranging around 26- 30 degrees Celsius. Perfect weather for all activities.
  • Palm Cove is a 30 minute drive from Cairns & 45 minutes to Port Douglas. Palm Cove is well placed for all activities/destinations.
  • Recommended Activities/Tours: This is a short selection. There is so much you can do in this area!

 

Animals:

http://www.australianbutterflies.com/

http://www.crocodileadventures.com/

 

Nature & Adventure:

http://www.mossmangorge.com/

http://www.skyrail.com.au/

http://www.aussiedrifterz.net/

http://www.tourismpalmcove.com/beach-fun-co/

http://www.cableskicairns.com.au/

https://www.ajhackett.com/cairns/

http://www.cairnshorseriding.com.au/

http://www.foamingfury.com.au/

http://www.junglesurfing.com.au/

 

Culture:

http://www.tjapukai.com.au/

 

Great Barrier Reef:

http://wavelength.com.au/

http://www.passions.com.au/

http://www.reefmagiccruises.com/

 

Daintree Tours:

http://www.tropicaltours.com.au/

http://www.billytea.com.au/

 

Northern Territory

Australia: Top End Northern Territory Adventure

There is no doubt that the top end of Northern Territory delivers a fantastically special & unique Australia holiday. The beauty of this area is the joy of exploring World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park as well as both Litchfield & Nitmiluk National Parks – all within a 3 hour circuit drive of each other and Darwin. Easy driving and magnificent nature-based activities to enjoy for the whole family!

So with that in mind our family of 5 began our Top End adventure by collecting our hire vehicle in Darwin and driving 120km south to our first stop Litchfield National Park. Litchfield National Park comprises 1500 sq kms of largely untouched landscape. It is a favourite to view monsoonal rainforest, the perennial spring-fed streams and waterfalls, magnetic termite mounds, the weathered sandstone outcrops, as well as historic ruins.

Litchfield National Park Northern Territory

Our family enjoyed exploring many of the walks and swimming holes such as Buley Rockholes, Wangi Falls & Walker Creek. For respite at the end of the day’s walks, we made our base at Batchelor Butterfly Farm & Tropical Retreat in the township of Batchelor (only 20 minutes from the park) and what a wonderful surprise that was! Our daughter was enthralled with all the butterflies, my sons loved the swimming pool and the adults enjoyed the restaurant and very good quality meals. The accommodation was basic but clean & comfortable and the visit to Litchfield was a delight for everyone!

Litchfield National Park Northern Territory

After 2 days exploring Batchelor/Litchfield National Park we then headed 240km south-east to Katherine. It’s a drive through the Northern Territory’s stunning and lush northern tropics, steeped in nature, aboriginal culture and outback pioneering history. There are many stops and points of interest enroute. Katherine is very much an outback town, and does not have alot of endearing qualities about the town itself. However, the region boasts the not-to-be missed Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Park.

Nitmiluk is home to the spectacular Katherine Gorge, a series of 13 sandstone gorges carved over a billion years by the Katherine River. The impressive gorge walls and white sandy beaches can be explored on foot, by canoe or on a cruise and are stunning from the air on a scenic helicopter flight. Aboriginal culture is strong in the area and there are many Aboriginal rock art sites dotted throughout the Park. Nitmiluk National Park has plenty of adventure activities! It is a haven for nature lovers, with its rugged landscapes, dramatic waterfalls and lush gorges providing an abundance of flora and fauna.

NTBLOG3 Katherine Gorge Northern Territory NTBLOG1

Canoe trips along Katherine Gorge are a must-do activity. Unfortunetly for our family we were unable to enjoy canoeing due to the National Parks survey for crocodiles in the area Better to be safe than sorry! However, we managed to enjoy Katherine Gorge in many other ways: the 3 gorge cruise, swimming in a picturesque waterfall and bush walking along the many trails throughout the park. The park rangers & tour guides provided interesting information on the area and Nitmiluk has a simply stunning landscape and plenty of adventure activities to enjoy.

Katherine Gorge Northern Territory

Our next stop was World Heritage Listed Kakadu National Park, a 240km drive north of Katherine. Definitely the highlight of our trip, Kakadu is the jewel in the crown for the Northern Territory. Covering nearly 20,000 square kilometres of exceptional natural beauty and unique biodiversity, Kakadu is one of very few places World Heritage listed for both its cultural and its natural values. Kakadu is a living cultural landscape. Generations of the Bininj/Mungguy Aboriginal people have lived on and cared for this country for tens of thousands of years. Kakadu National Park is a timeless place – a landscape of exceptional beauty, great biodiversity and a wide variety of of landforms, habitats and wildlife. Kakadu is home to 68 mammals, more than 120 reptiles, 26 frogs, more than 2,000 plants and over 10,000 species of insects.

Gunlom Falls Kakadu Northern Territory

Our first adventure in Kakadu was a 2km walk to Gunlom Falls. We were lucky enough to swim and enjoy the clear natural plunge pool area and waterfall. This was followed by many notable stops as we explored the park: Night wildlife safari spotlighting for the wildlife in a Billabong, a one hour scenic flight over Kakadu & Arnhem Land, Ubirr & Nourlangie regions walking and admiring Aboriginal rock art sites, swimming in Jim Jim Falls plunge pool and visiting Jabiru Township the centre of Kakadu. At all of these points of interest park rangers were available and provided informative talks about the art and culture/stories several times per day. Well worth listening!

Kakadu views Northern Territory Kakadu Northern Territory

But perhaps the most amazing of all the regions in Kakadu is the Yellow Waters Wetlands. This is an area that will deliver the WOW factor with plenty of wildlife action! In fact just before we arrived a crocodile had been caught eating a shark unfortunetly for the shark he was in the wrong area and beaten by one of the world’s oldest predators! We took a sunset cruise around the wetlands and loved the wildlife action and awesome scenery.

Yellow Waters Billabong, Northern Territory

We enjoyed 3 days in Kakadu, and could have easily stayed for a few more. There is so much to do! Apparently most people who visit Kakadu make the mistake of only visiting Kakadu for a day trip with a 6 hour return journey to Darwin built in! That does not allow time to visit many sites, and really soak up the atmosphere of the awe-inspiring land that is Kakadu. To our family, Kakadu National Park was more than just a beautiful landscape. We left with a greater understanding of the Aboriginal connection to the land. Our land has a big story. Sometimes we tell a little bit at a time. Come and hear our stories, see our land. A little bit might stay in your hearts….

Our Top End Northern Territory Adventure was nearing completion as we left Kakadu and headed west back to Darwin (300km) for a few days relaxation before heading home. Darwin proved a good place to relax and rejuvenate, visit some museums, do some shopping and enjoy the atmosphere of the famous night markets.

A holiday adventure of a lifetime to remember!

 

Facts:

  • Winter season (May to September) is traditionally the most popular time to visit. The daytime temperatures range around 30 degrees Celsius and the nights are cool. Perfect weather for all activities.
  • All roads travelled are bitumen and fully sealed. So short distances, and easy driving. This drive is also a good one for motorhome vehicles as an alternative to car/accommodation.

Darwin Beach View, Northern Territory

Northern Territory

An Australian Outback Adventure The Kimberley’s & Broome

The Kimberley region of north Western Australia is one of those true frontiers a place to be revered for the majestic country and adventure it beholds.

So it was with this in mind our family of five began our Kimberley adventure in Kununurra, the gateway to the East Kimberley. Aptly named ‘meeting of big waters’, the picturesque township of Kununurra is located on the banks of Lake Kununurra and the Ord River. Kununurra is a hub of local industry for agriculture, mining and a host of great holiday experiences. You can take a four-wheel drive tour, join a lake and river cruise or charter a flight over some of the most spectacular landforms in the world. Visit the largest open cut diamond mine on the planet (Argyle Diamond Mine), explore wilderness parks like the world heritage listed Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungles), canoe down the Ord River, hire a houseboat or try abseiling. www.kununurratourism.com

Kununurra the Kimberley

We collected our trusty four-wheel drive rental, grabbed some provisions at the supermarket and headed for Broome 1000km to the west. Our first stop which is 100km out of town is El Questro Wilderness Park. This park is one million acres in size, and is truly a uniquely Australian holiday experience. It is definitely one of my all-time favourite places to visit and enjoy. We made our base for 4 nights at the Emma Gorge Resort in safari-style tented cabins (very much glamping as each tent has its own ensuite, and deck to relax at dusk and enjoy the sounds of the bush!). We particularly enjoyed the sounds of the birds and animals at sunrise, as well as the magnificent meals in the restaurant. Of particular note are the many gorges you can hike to and swim in the pristine waters, the Chamberlain Gorge Cruise, Horseriding & barramundi fishing, as well as listening to the stories/songs of the Jackeroos in the evening at the El Questro Station around a camp fire.

El Questro the Kimberley

With much anticipation we left El Questro and headed west along the famous Gibb River Road. The Gibb River Road offers people the unique opportunity to experience the real outback Australian lifestyle – explore life on the cattle stations, learn about the rich aboriginal and pastoral history of Australia’s Great North West, visit aboriginal communities, and meet the true, genuine characters of the Australian bush. We headed to a cattle station 300km west of El Questro called Mount Elizabeth Station. This was an overnight stop with many surprises. The station cook rustled up a lovely dinner for all the staff & visitors, and early morning provided a great walk around the station watching the daily rituals of the working station, with plenty of kangaroo watching too! Mount Elizabeth Station provided us with one of the best swimming gorges of the entire trip with soft sand included!

Mornington Camp the Kimberley

We then headed deep into the heart of the Gibb River Road. Plenty of stops enroute to enjoy a quick dip in a gorge take plenty of photos and admire Aboriginal art. We met a cyclist who was traversing the entire length of the road from Cape York to Broome all 2500km of it. Very enthusiastic and fit!

Rock Art the Kimberley

Our next stop was the amazing Mornington Wilderness Camp, a wildlife Sanctuary. Mornington Sanctuary covers more than 3,000 km2 of spectacular gorges and tropical savannah dominated by the Fitzroy River and King Leopold Ranges. It is a naturalist’s paradise, providing refuge for over 200 species of birds and a diverse range of other wildlife. All proceeds from the Wilderness Camp are dedicated to the conservation of wildlife in the Kimberley. Unfortunetly we only stayed 2 full days, you could easily enjoy 3 nights/4 days in the Sanctuary. Again the accommodation was superb safari style luxury tents, and accompanied by another wonderful restaurant with delicious food. Our highlight here was canoeing in Dimond Gorge. It is a spectacular gorge, and we enjoyed meandering along in the canoes, swimming on the way and exploring at all opportunities. Such awe inspiring isolation at nature’s best.

The Kimberley

Our Gibb River Road/Kimberley adventure was nearing completion as we headed due west to our final destination Broome. Home to the famous Cable Beach, and with lots to see and do, it was the ideal place to finish our Kimberley adventure. We spent 7 nights here relaxing and enjoying some chill-out family time: We rode camels along Cable Beach and experienced the magnificent sunset, caught a light plane up to the Aboriginal managed camp at Cape Leveque, visited many art galleries/cafes, shopped for pearls in Chinatown, we enjoyed an outdoor movie in deck chairs at the cinema and spent plenty of time relaxing at the beach. www.broomevisitorcentre.com.au

A holiday adventure of a lifetime to remember!

 

Facts:

  • Winter season (May to October) is traditionally the most popular time to visit. The daytime temperatures range around 30 degrees Celsius and the nights are cool. Perfect weather for all activities.
  • The Gibb River Road extends for approx. 900km from Broome to Kununurra. It is in a wilderness location and driving in this area should not be taken lightly. An alternative would be to catch a domestic flight from Broome to Kununurra (flight time 1:20 mins) and experience the surrounds at both ends. This will still deliver the outback experience with less risks for overseas travellers.

Boab Tree the Kimberley

 

Australia

Travel Down Under Australia is a fabulous holiday with variety and fun for the whole family.

Our Australia Holiday By Amy Mellinger

One of my lifelong dreams has been to visit Australia. Its distance from my home country (the U.S.), its natural beauty and those fabulous accents have long captured my imagination.

Last December we took our dream vacation. My husband, three children (ages 8, 10 and 14) and I boarded the 10-hour overnight flight and awoke in Sydney to begin our Australian adventure.

Sydney

We made Darling Harbour, a neighboring inlet of Sydney Harbour, our base in Sydney and it was ideal for both beauty and convenience. From our hotel, the Grand Mercure, we were within a walk or short cab ride from numerous restaurants and activities. On our first day we took a ferry across Sydney Harbour to the Sydney Zoo. The ferry ride was an attraction itself, with its views of Sydney’s most famous landmarks, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Our favorite exhibit was the area dedicated to Australia’s native wildlife specifically the koalas and kangaroos. But the zoo’s biggest highlight isn’t zoological at all it’s the awe-inspiring vistas. The Sydney Zoo sits on a prime piece of real estate and the views from the summit are stunning. The next day my husband and two older children woke up early for the wildly popular Bridge Climb. They were so excited they couldn’t get out the door fast enough. The Bridge Climb is a three and a half hour guided climb along catwalks and ladders all the way to the summit of the Harbour Bridge, 134 meters above the water. It’s so popular that my husband booked the climb a month before our trip (the minimum age is 10). When they returned they reported the experience was awesome and not too difficult. Even our 10 year old, who was a little nervous, returned all smiles.

Sydney Harbour Bridge Australia

Claire(11), Charlie (14) Mellinger do the Bridge Climb 123 meters above the water to Harbour Bridge in Sydney

Later that afternoon we sought out more adventure on the jet boats. The boats take you on a roller coaster-like ride around the harbor at speeds up to 80 kilometers/hour. Tour operators abound at each harbor. We loved ride but be warned it does get rough and you’ll get wet very wet if you sit in the back row as we did (children must be at least 1.3 meters to ride).

We spent our last day at Manly Beach, seven miles northeast of Sydney and just a ferry ride from Sydney Harbour. We chose Manly as surf shops on the beach offer surfing lessons (try the Manly Surf School which offers lessons for all ages). A two-hour lesson is 55 AUD for adults and 45 AUD for children. My husband and the kids took a lesson while I relaxed on the beach. Afterwards, my youngest, who was wary at first, proclaimed, I want to surf everyday for the rest of my life!

Surf lesson at Manly Beach Australia

Surf lesson at Manly Beach are a blast for the whole family.

Port Douglas

From Sydney we headed to Port Douglas, the closest gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and a gorgeous seaside destination. We flew into Cairns, an hour drive from Port Douglas, and transferred to the Peppers Beach Club which we highly recommend for the rooms, pool and staff. The beach is just a block away and the town is an easy walk.

The all-day trip to the Great Barrier Reef made three stops along the reef with time at each for snorkeling and diving. It was spectacular! We saw corals in vivid blues and pinks and fish in every color of the rainbow. From a parent’s point of view the guides were great, providing a program including snorkeling tours and a bit of reef education between stops. They pointed out various sea creatures that otherwise could be easily missed and also put the kids at ease in the water, showing them pictures of sea creatures they may see and assuring them that they were harmless. At 160 AUD for adults and 110 AUD for children (12 and under) it’s expensive but still well worth it.

Another Port Douglas highlight is Mossman Gorge, part of the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest. Twenty minutes from Port Douglas, the Mossman River tumbles through a steep-sided valley lined with huge granite boulders that create freshwater swimming holes. You can take a full-day tour of the area but it’s not necessary. We had a tour bus pick us up at the hotel (10 AUD/person) and drop us at the top of the trail. From there you can walk along a 2.7 kilometer loop trail or hike across the suspension bridge crossing the river. We stopped along the way for a picnic lunch and a swim the river water is cold but feels good after a hike.

After 11 days our dream trip ended. But now I have a new dream to return. What we saw of Australia was spectacular and the people themselves were wonderful (as were their accents).

Trip Planning: We recommend Australia Expat Travel Owner Vicki Baensch. She planned a fantastic trip that included all the family-friendly details, http://www.ausxpattravel.com.au.

Port Douglas Australia