Dolphin Swims

Sea All Dolphin Swims & The Bellarine Peninsula

For a hands-down most fun thing to do with your family make sure to do the Dolphin & Seal Swim. Just 30 minutes from the start of the Great Ocean Road and 1.5 hours from Melbourne, Sea All Dolphin Swims operates from the historic town of Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula. This is a nature-based experience that you simply won’t forget!

Sea All Dolphin Swims – Queenscliff

But here’s a warning… this is not a Seaworld attraction experience. All animals are completely wild, and the experiences are totally impromptu…

Dolphin Swims

Dolphins at play

The swim tour:

Takes 3.5 hours, and you get to meet the local residents of the Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park… most notably colourful fishes, Australian Fur Seals and of course, the Burranan or Bottlenose Dolphins. You can do as much or as little as you like in these shallow and protected waters. Learn to snorkel, then swim with both the Seals and Dolphins or simply watch from your spot on the boat or the boom net if you prefer…

Dolphin Swims

Sea All Dolphin Swims – Queenscliff

Australian Fur Seals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I gotta tell you it’s a lot of fun sitting in the boom net watching the dolphins & humans at play !

Dolphin Swims

Sea All Dolphin Swims – Queenscliff

Since a recent ban on commercial fishing in the Bay has been introduced you can expect a 95% success rate with Dolphin sightings. Sea All Dolphin Swims offer a nice small group with a maximum of 35 guests onboard. If you are wondering about your young ones swimming, then let them decide. They will be well coached and supported on the day. Swimming is open to all ages.

Dolphin Swims

Sea All Dolphin Swims – Queenscliff

The Dolphins:

Dolphin Swims

The dolphins are the stars of the show and they love to frolic in the boat’s wake. They are both social and intelligent, and it is SO much fun to be with them in the water. Sea All Dolphin Swims prides themselves on ensuring that their guests have an engaging and altogether unforgettable experience. So, make sure to add this to your wish list!

Good to know:

The swim tour is based at Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula. Queenscliff is a port with a car/passenger ferry which connects one side of the Bay to the other.

Queenscliff-Sorrento Ferry

The ferry is an excellent way to connect your stays on The Great Ocean Road to Phillip Island or the Yarra Valley and beyond. But whilst you are in Queenscliff take time to also explore the wider Bellarine Peninsula by visiting the local wineries, farmgates and the Koala & Wildlife Sanctuary at Barwon Heads.

The Whiskery on the Bellarine Peninsula. Chris McConville

Wine from Jack Rabbit

Seafood on the Bellarine Peninsula

Australia's Bushfire recovery

Update: Australia’s Bushfire recovery

Record-breaking temperatures and months of severe drought have fuelled a series of massive horror bushfires across Australia in the summer months of 2019-2020. The areas most affected were southern NSW, far eastern Victoria and Kangaroo Island in South Australia. At least 33 people have been killed – including four firefighters – and more than 11 million hectares (110,000 sq.km/27.2 million acres) of bush, forest and parks across these regions of Australia has burned. Up to 2,000 homes have been lost. More than 1 billion mammals, birds, and reptiles likely lost their lives in the blazes. Smoke pollution from the fires reached New Zealand over 1,000 miles away.

Australia's Bushfire recovery

Source: NSW Rural Fire Service / Victoria Country Fire Authority, 31 Jan/bbc.com

These are very sad facts indeed…

And what has happened since? The rains have helped contain many of the worst fires in February 2020. The ongoing incredible generosity from individuals, groups, organisations both from local and global communities has helped with Australia’s bushfire recovery. The Australian Government has sprung into action with a dedicated effort. There have been many bushfire relief concerts ranging from events at the local hotels to International stars such as Katy Perry & Mylie Cyrus announcing their support with upcoming concerts. Community fundraisers abound.

These efforts and events all signal a collective hope. Hope that we can make a difference. Support those directly affected. And in the words of our National Bushfire Recovery Agency it’s all about……Relief. Recovery. Regenerate.

Australia's Bushfire recovery

Darren Donlen – Nature and Wildlife 2019

Here is a quick look at some of the amazing bushfire recovery initiatives & stories:

Aces for Bushfire Relief:

Tennis stars from across the world joined forces at the Melbourne Australian Open in January to help the victims of Australia’s bushfires by turning aces into donations. The Aces for Bushfire Relief campaign encouraged the public to pledge a donation for every ace served by their favourite tennis player. An amazing 11,058 aces were served over the duration of the Australian Open with a total of AUD $5.8 million raised.

Australian Open

Blaze Aid:

Blaze Aid is a volunteer-based organisation that works with families and individuals in rural Australia after natural disasters such as fires and floods. The volunteers work alongside the rural families and help to rebuild fences and other structures that have been damaged or destroyed.

Wildlife Help:  

A Victorian man put his own life on the line to help save koalas that have been impacted by the bushfire crisis in East Gippsland. After fire tore through the eucalyptus forest in Mallacoota, Patrick Boyle ventured into the still-smouldering bush to save the lives of the vulnerable marsupials. The 22-year-old said he just wanted to do his part after seeing everyone rally around one another. https://9now.nine.com.au/today/victoria-fires-mallacoota-local-puts-life-on-line-to-save-koalas/f20708ae-b97f-4815-a2b9-7099e0859816 

 

Australia's Bushfire recovery

Darren Donlen – Nature and Wildlife 2019

Spend with Them:

A number of incredible new initiatives have been launched on Instagram showcasing the abundance of small businesses in bushfire-affected communities, encouraging Aussies to spend their money at places that need it the most. It’s a way to put money directly in the pockets of these fire-affected businesses & service providers. #spendwiththem, #buyfromthebush, #emptyesky

Firefighters:

After saving countless homes and lives in this hellish bushfire season, firefighters can now look forward to a free cruise as a reward. Over 7000 volunteer first responders will enjoy a luxury 4-night cruise compliments of Royal Caribbean International. https://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/national/free-luxury-cruise-for-bushfire-first-responders/news-story/6c4386b73e327a866ae516f5af7bfbe5

 

Travel Local:  

A new campaign has been launched to encourage visitors to support the communities who need our help by visiting and staying awhile. While donations have flooded in from around the world, the number of tourists visiting has dropped by 80 per cent in some regions compared to the same time last year. The campaign is focused on the regions hardest hit. By booking a trip to these regions we can all help the local economy and pump much-needed funds back into towns that need tourist dollars to survive. #DontDelayYourStay.

Byron Bay

Be amazed by Byron Bay!

Byron Bay. What is all the fuss about? It has a lot to do with the hugely independent and creative character of the community. Of course, there are the stunning beaches and pristine coastline. Not to mention the magnificent hinterland with many National Parks to explore. The town is all about being clean and green. And yes, let’s not forget Chris Hemsworth (aka Thor in the Avengers) has chosen to call this coastal town home.

Byron Bay

The Pass Stairway. Tourism Australia.

In the past Byron Bay was known for its whaling station and as a surfing mecca. These days it’s a bohemian town on the global map with over two million visitors each year. Don’t expect high-rise towers overshadowing the beaches, franchise shops and shopping centres in this northern NSW coastal town. If you want that drive 40 minutes up the road to the Gold Coast. Byron is loved because of the nature and low-rise feel of the town. With the choice of two airports within a 40-minute drive, and the Brisbane International Airport only two hours north, Byron Bay is easily accessible. So, if you enjoy nature walks, beaches, buying locally organic food from the farmers market and treating yourself to the local day spa then Byron Bay is your town.

Byron Bay

Person walking to Minyon Falls. Tourism Australia.

Here are some of the key things to do:

Explore the Beaches:

Byron Bay has a plethora of gorgeous beaches to choose from… all blessed with white sands, plenty of waves and resident dolphins. They enjoy the waves just as much as we do! Main beach/Clarkes beach are in the town centre or take a picnic and wander to beautiful Wategos or Little Wategos Beach for a spell. Otherwise make time to wander through Arakwal National Park to Cosy Corner and Tallows Beach. We enjoyed a close encounter with a Wallaby and her Joey in the National Park before we walked the long expanse of Tallows Beach.

Byron Bay

Byron Bay Lighthouse views of Tallows Beach. Tourism Australia.

Cape Byron Walking Track:

Visit the most easterly point of mainland Australia at the Cape Byron Lighthouse. This loop track is 3.7km and takes roughly 2 hours. Lots of great bush & water views with plenty of steps and stops on the way. Tip – don’t walk back on the road but instead take in the Tallows Beach return route as it’s much nicer. Aim for Sunrise or Sunset for the best photos.

Byron Bay

People watching the Sunrise at Cape Byron Lighthouse . Tourism Australia

Get out on the water:

Byron Bay is all about the beach so make sure you take it all in. One great option is to do a kayak tour to see the dolphins and whales (in season). It’s alot of fun, and the bonus was sighting Loggerhead turtles and kayak surfing back to shore. You can also snorkel or dive at Julian Rocks marine reserve. Alternatively, consider a surf lesson for the whole family.

Byron Bay

Kayaking in the Ocean. Tourism Australia.

Food/Retail with a difference:

Byron Bay definitely has a creative vibe that is evident through the food and retail scene. The wide variety of independent shops makes for a solid afternoon’s explore and there are plenty of regular markets featuring local artisan works as well as fresh produce. The variety and breadth of restaurants & cafes is fantastic. Don’t forget to explore the Arts & Industry Estate which features the local Stone & Wood Brewery.

Byron Bay

Byron Bay Streetscape. Tourism Australia.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary:

Based on the Gold Coast, and only a 50-minute drive from Byron Bay, this native wildlife sanctuary is a good option for those members of the family who want to cuddle a Koala. The law allows you to hold a koala in Queensland, but you cannot in New South Wales. The Sanctuary offers several sessions daily where you can join in to learn more about koalas and hold one at the end of the session.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo courtesy of Tourism & Events Queensland.

Make the time to visit Byron Bay & surrounds. Discover what is special about the area…it won’t disappoint! It’s always nice to get off the beaten path and immerse yourself in the local community and enjoy this lovely coastal town.

Sunshine Coast Hinterland

Discover the Sunshine Coast Hinterland…

Rainforests. Waterfalls. Crystal-clear rockpools for swimming. Local fresh produce. Hmm….sounds good doesn’t it? The Sunshine Coast Hinterland in southern Queensland offers a picturesque break from the endless beaches and water activities of the famous Sunshine Coast. Why not shift your gaze inland for some mountain fresh air and stunning vistas?

Sunshine Coast Hinterland

Glass House Mountain views. Photo: Joint TA/TEQ

The Sunshine Coast Hinterland is only a 30-minute drive inland from the coast or 1:30 hours north of Brisbane. So, it’s very easy to do as a daytrip or stay awhile to really explore all the fantastic activities the area offers. A true self-drive destination, the Hinterland is dominated by the many National Parks and the 3 main towns of Maleny, Montville and Mapleton. It’s all about taking time out to enjoy the fantastic array of local produce at the country markets, visiting the dairy & cheese purveyors, admiring the art at the local galleries and craft studios, enjoying some local wines or beers with fantastic views and of course not forgetting plenty of hikes and spotting wildlife in the National Parks.

Sunshine Coast Hinterland

Montville. Photo Tourism & Events QLD

Blessed with a sub-tropical climate you can expect an average temperature of 28 degrees in summer and 20 degrees in winter. No extreme weather for the Sunshine Coast Hinterland which is perfect for picking a half-day or full-day section of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland great walk route or planning a picnic at Baroon Pocket Dam. If you are looking for a break from the buzz of the Sunshine Coast, then the Hinterland is the perfect peaceful escape. Here are some of the key things to do:

Chase Waterfalls: 

The Sunshine Coast Hinterland has plenty to choose from, but the top 3 would have to be:  Kondalilla Falls – Located north of Montville these falls are found in the heart of the Kondalilla Falls National Park. The Kondalilla Falls circuit is a 4.7km walk and to reach them enjoy a bushwalk through rainforest to a picturesque rockpool at the top of the falls. Gardners Falls – One of the prettiest waterways in Australia. There are freshwater rock pools perfect for splashing about, with the largest pool for swimming found underneath the falls. Mapleton Falls – The most impressive of them all as the falls plunge 120m. The Mapleton Falls Lookout is actually above the falls itself.

Sunshine Coast Hinterland

Mapleton Falls. Photo Tourism & Events QLD

Glass House Mountains:

The Glass House Mountains National Park is not-to-be missed. Remnants of volcanic activity from many millions of years ago, the mountains stand proud in an awe-inspiring landscape. Start with a stop at the Glass House Mountains visitor centre, a great way to get a good orientation of the area. Make sure to stop at picturesque lookouts, or get your heart pumping with some hiking, rock-climbing or abseiling.

Abseiling. Photo Tourism & Events QLD

Blackall Range Tourist Drive: 

Arguably the most scenic of the Sunshine Coast drives, the Blackall Range Tourist Drive takes you through a number of quiet little townships nestled up in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, enjoying amazing views of the valleys below and the coast off in the distance. Rising up over 500 metres above sea level you will find that the air is cooler, the grass is greener, and the local produce is fresh and tasty. Wander through the many art galleries, sample the local produce at the boutique wineries, cafes & restaurants, do some rainforest walks, meet the locals at the markets and you’ll even find a traditional cheese factory.

Goats, Maleny Dairies. Photo Tourism & Events QLD

Nature Lovers Paradise:

For lush rainforests, pretty waterfalls, crystal-clear rockpools for swimming, plenty of wildlife and picturesque hikes you are spoilt for choice in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.  Kondalilla National Park is a refuge for native wildlife and plants.  For unspoilt mountain scenery visit Conondale National Park. Mapleton Falls National Park has the most impressive waterfall. The Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve has 55 hectares of subtropical rainforest and a great rainforest walk.

Sunshine Coast Hinterland

Obi Obi Creek. Photo: Queensland Government

Take the time to visit the Sunshine Coast Hinterland when in the area. Make a point to discover what is special about both the Sunshine Coast and the hinterland. It’s always nice to get off the beaten path and immerse yourself in the local community!

Port Douglas

An insider’s guide to tropical Port Douglas…

Port Douglas in Far North Queensland ticks the box of being the real “treat” component of your holiday….it oozes tropical relaxation and adventure! Expect a touch of paradise, Port Douglas is uniquely bordered by two World Heritage sites, the magnificent Great Barrier Reef and the ancient Daintree Rainforest.

Port Douglas

The Great Barrier Reef Drive. Photo from Tourism & Events Queensland

The Great Barrier Reef Drive is the top coastal drive that leads you from Cairns to Port Douglas in just over an hour. The huge palm trees that border the drive into Port Douglas set the scene well for this tropical getaway and seaside town. Blessed by the tropical weather, you can expect lovely mild weather in June/July/August that is perfect for all outdoor activities or simply relaxing at Four Mile Beach. Humidity & the wet season kick in over the summer months…but essentially Port Douglas is pretty much perfect to visit year-round.

Port Douglas

Four Mile Beach. Photo from Tourism & Events Queensland

Port Douglas

Indigenous Art Gallery. Photo from Tourism & Events Queensland/Andrew Watson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four Mile Beach is picture-perfect with the palm-tree lined beach consistently recognised as one of Australia’s best beaches. Great for long walks, swimming or trying your hand at kayaking or paddle boarding. After some sun and beach time wander up the main street to explore the shops, galleries, cafes and restaurants. Drop by the local markets on Sundays for a vivid array of tropical fruits and local arts & crafts. The Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina has some great bars and restaurants from which you can watch all the boats returning from a day on the Reef. For something unashamedly Australian don’t miss the nightly Cane Toad race at the Iron Bar. For a great Thai cooking class and lunch you can’t miss Oaks Kitchen & Garden or alternatively if you just feel like a decadent long-lunch travel 15 minutes out of town to either Silky Oaks Lodge or Thala Beach Lodge and indulge.

A small village that delivers so much, Port Douglas has so many things to see and do… you can easily spend a week or more in the area. Here are some of the key things to do:

Port Douglas

Michaelmas Cay. Photo from Tourism & Events Queensland

Explore the Great Barrier Reef: 

The main attraction to this gorgeous town is no doubt the Great Barrier Reef. It is absolutely a must-do! Fortunately, you have easy access from the local marina with plenty of operators to choose from. You can choose boats that take a minimum of 12 or a maximum of 350! The bigger operators have more toys to play with, expect glass bottom boats, helicopter rides etc. The smaller operators offer a completely personal nature experience focused around snorkelling and diving. I strongly recommend the smaller group tours…however the decisions don’t stop there. Duration is another factor, with the most popular choice being the full day tour. But you can also do overnight/live-aboard trips for the keen divers, or the fast half-day trips for those that are happy with a shorter snorkel. Finally, from Port Douglas you have quick access to the Low Isles, a sandy coral cay located on the inner Great Barrier Reef which is a good option for those with younger children, or of course you can visit the outer Great Barrier Reef on a longer boat trip to get to those famous dive/snorkel sites that offer the visual paradise that the Great Barrier Reef is famous for.

Port Douglas

Snorkelling on Opal Reef. Photo from Tourism & Events Queensland

Port Douglas

Moore Reef. Photo from Tourism & Events Queensland

Appreciate the Daintree Rainforest:

The other main must-do is to visit the Daintree Rainforest, one of the top three oldest in the world. The first stopping point is Mossman Gorge, located only 20 minutes north of Port Douglas. You can do self-guided walks, or join a Dreamtime Walk Tour and learn about the indigenous culture and their connection to the natural environment. Don’t miss a refreshing dip in the gorge for a beautiful Rainforest experience. Then on to the township of Daintree and catch a 1-hour wildlife cruise where you can expect to see crocodiles enjoying the sun. Cross the Daintree River and explore the Daintree Discovery Centre. The kids will love the Canopy Tower and aerial walkways through the Rainforest. Drive further north to Cape Tribulation, where you can step straight from the rainforest on to the magnificent beach. For a family fun activity do some Ziplining through the rainforest with Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours. Don’t forget to stop and enjoy some tropical fruit ice-cream from the Daintree Ice Cream Company on your return journey.

Port Douglas

Daintree Creek. Photo from Tourism & Events Queensland

Port Douglas

Meet the wildlife: 

Meet Zac, the 5-metre Saltwater Crocodile at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures. He is a big fella, around 500kg and over 50 years old. He still has all his teeth! Don’t miss the Crocodile feeding shows where you see the crocodiles jump for their food. Hartley’s is a great day out. They have plenty of other unique Aussie animals as well. You can book a private tour to cuddle a Koala, feed wallabies (small kangaroos), hold a lizard and meet a Wombat. Hartley’s is 25 minutes south of Port Douglas. The closer alternative is Wildlife Habitat, which offers the Aussie wildlife experience right in Port Douglas.

Port Douglas

Tree Kangaroo. Photo from Tourism & Events Queensland

Port Douglas

Visit Atherton Tablelands:

For a full day trip visit Kuranda & the Atherton Tablelands. Only 1 hour from Port Douglas there is plenty to do up there. Kuranda is a good starting point with the Rainforestation, Markets and the largest Butterfly aviary in Australia. This is a coffee growing region so if you love your coffee & chocolates make sure to visit Coffee Works. For more action there is a professional go kart racetrack at Mareeba that even beginners can have a go on. For something different make sure to visit the Bat Hospital in Atherton or look for the elusive Platypus at Tarzali Lakes. Finally, don’t miss the Curtain Fig Tree, one of the largest trees in Far North Queensland in an endangered forest near Yungaburra.

Port Douglas

Origin Espresso1. Photo from Tourism & Events Queensland/Andrew Watson

Make sure to add Port Douglas to your wish list for your next Australia holiday. I know it is tough to decide where to go…. But this is one to tick off your bucket list!

Australian break

Our beautiful Australian break

Text & Photography by Sylvie Drion-Halbin

It’s already been a few weeks since we came back to Shanghai and, when thinking about Australia again, I first see its colours : the bluish green of eucalyptus plants, the turquoise blue of the sea, the azure sky, the red soil with all its ochre nuances ; then I get all the pleasant smells from the fragrant trees such as tea trees and eucalyptus.

Australian break

Author Sylvie Drion-Halbin at Uluru

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We decided to go far away from Shanghai during the Mid-Autumn Festival break to treat ourselves to a beautiful trip taking us towards spring. This had been our dream for a long time.

We researched many travel guides in preparation. However, exploring Australia and all its mythical sites soon seemed to be some kind of Chinese puzzle 😊

We wanted to go everywhere. As a result, we completed our tour in several stages. Vicki Baensch from Australia Expat Travel has been of tremendous help with organising and booking our transport and accommodation.

Melbourne

We were totally delighted with its Art Deco buildings and alleys, large welcoming parks, art galleries, narrow side streets, eco-friendly shops and delicious restaurants. Paul, from Rentabike in Federation Square, was a choice ambassador for his city. We cycled through it and thanks to him we went to its residents’ favourite places and found the most gourmet spots in Melbourne.

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Hosier Lane, Melbourne

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Cathedral Arcade, Melbourne

Australian break

Eureka Tower, Melbourne

 

We continued our discovery along the coast lines, mostly during a road trip along the Great Ocean Road. We explored lighthouses and forests where it isn’t unusual to see wild koalas. We were able to admire the 12 Apostles’ grand landscapes, which are truly moving at sunset.

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Cape Otway Lighthouse, Great Ocean Road

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Koala, Great Ocean Road

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Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road

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Red Parrot, Kennett River

Uluru & the Red Centre

It was then time for us to fly towards the Red Centre. We literally landed at the foot of Uluru, Ayers Rock. Uluru acted like a strong magnet, our eyes were constantly drawn towards this mineral mountain – a true oasis amongst the desert.

Australian break

Uluru

 

 

 

 

 

 

We immensely enjoyed immersing ourselves in the aboriginal culture whilst listening to the talks given by the Park Rangers during the Mala walk and the magnificent Kata Tjuta rock domes.

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Uluru Sunset

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Kata Tjuta

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Aboriginal Rock Art

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Kata Tjuta views

 

We drove on towards Alice Springs aboard a 4×4 vehicle. After a night spent in a hybrid tent / hut we continued towards the famous Kings Canyon.

Starting walking at dawn enabled us to avoid the high heat during our climb to the top and also to come across native animals such as dingoes, kangaroos and birds. We were able to fully enjoy the totally amazing mineral landscape.

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Australia 4×4 drive

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Kings Canyon

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Kings Canyon vista

Sunshine Coast & the Great Barrier Reef

We concluded our trip with exploring the Sunshine Coast, between Brisbane and Airlie Beach.

We spent one of our most incredible nights camping in an igloo tent set up on a rig some 80 km offshore, and only two flipper strokes away from Hardy Reef, where we went scuba diving and explored the Great Barrier Reef with its 1001 shades of blue.

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Great Barrier Reef, Hardy Reef

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Great Barrier Reef

Australian break

Hardy Reef, Great Barrier Reef

We’ve already planned to go back to Australia because we haven’t managed to fit a few days’ stay in Sydney and its surroundings. We cannot wait to return to this fabulous continent and to also visit Tasmania and nearby New Zealand … we only need to decide when!

Our highlights were:
– Red Centre and the incredible energy radiating from Uluru
– Discovering Aboriginal Art
– The amazing and numerous encounters with the local fauna & wildlife
– A 10 minutes helicopter flight above the Great Barrier Reef

Australian break

Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Anglesea

Text & Photography by Sylvie Drion-Halbin | www.sdh-photo.com  | Instagram: sylviedrion

Uluru

What to do on a 5 day vacation to Uluru…

Are you ready to explore the real heart of Australia? A visit to Uluru or Ayers Rock and the Red Centre never fails to amaze… and an epic adventure is guaranteed!

Rising from the broad desert plain in the deep centre of Australia, Uluru is Australia’s most recognisable natural icon and our most famous UNESCO World Heritage listed site. The famous sandstone monolith stands 348 metres high and, like an iceberg, has most of its bulk below the surface. Uluru dwarfs world-famous icons such as: Big Ben, The Statue of Liberty and The Eiffel Tower. It is at its best at sunrise and sunset when the colours of the desert change and play on the great monolith.

Uluru

Kata Tjuta – Red Centre.
TRUNK magazine campaign.
Photo credit: Akari Hatakeyama and Tourism NT.  

Uluru

Base Walk around Uluru. Photo credit: Shaana McNaught/Tourism NT

Uluru is located 440 kilometres (6-hour drive) south-west of Alice Springs in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Nearby is Kata Tjuta, also known as The Olgas. This massive pile of rock domes dates back 500 million years. Both Uluru and Kata Tjuta have great cultural significance for the Anangu traditional landowners, who lead walking tours that inform about the local flora and fauna, bush foods and the Aboriginal Australian dreamtime stories of the area.

Uluru

Valley of the Winds, Kata Tjuta, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Photo Credit: Sean Scott/Tourism NT

A must-do is to experience the drive that “joins the dots” between Uluru and Alice Springs. This is a true outback adventure, with plenty of beautiful desert country to enjoy. Make sure to stopover a night at Kings Canyon, or Watarraka National Park. A highlight of Central Australia, this is an enormous chasm that has plenty of lush vegetation and is an important refuge for plants and animals. Make sure to rise early to explore the Kings Canyon rim walk at sunrise.

Uluru

Creek Walk, Kings Canyon. Photo credit: Shaana McNaught/Tourism NT

The panoramic landscapes of the West MacDonnell Ranges lie on the outskirts of Alice Springs. Don’t miss Simpsons Gap which sports a permanent pool and rock wallabies live in the gap’s rocky ridges. Standley Chasm lights up in fiery colours reflected by the overhead sun at midday, and picturesque swimming holes such as Ellery Creek Big Hole, Ormiston Gorge, Glen Helen Gorge and Redbank Gorge offer refreshing relief on a scorching day.

Uluru

Ormiston Gorge, West MacDonnell National Park. Photo Credit: Shaana McNaught/Tourism NT

Uluru

Backpackers pull over to take in a spectacular West Mac’s sunset. Photo Credit: Mitchell Cox/Tourism NT

Finish in Alice Springs with an explore of the many amazing local art galleries. This truly is a remarkable drive that captures the very essence of Australia!

Uluru

Mbantua Fine Art Gallery and Cultural Museum, Alice Springs. Photo credit: Shaana McNaught/Tourism NT

Here are some of the key things to do:

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park:

Experience some incredible views whilst learning about the traditional culture. Join the Ranger guided Mala Walk to explore the park’s geology, natural environment and cultural heritage. Do the famous Valley of the Winds walk which explores Kata Tjuta and reveals stunning views of the landscape. Hire a bike, ride a camel, enjoy a very special evening meal with Uluru as your backdrop, do a dot painting workshop and be amazed by the southern night sky.

Uluru

Photo Credit: Sarena Hyland/Tourism NT

Uluru

Uluru, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Photo credit: David Kirkland/Tourism NT

Alice Springs:

Do the nocturnal tour at the Alice Springs Desert Park. Don’t miss the Kangaroo Sanctuary and Reptile Centre. A hot-air balloon ride early morning is a fantastic way to enjoy the local desert scenery. Visit the Royal Flying Doctor service and do a quad bike tour.

Uluru

Alice Springs Reptile Centre, Alice Springs. Photo credit: Shaana McNaught/Tourism NT

Make sure to add Uluru and the Red Centre drive to your wish list for your next Australia holiday. I know it is tough to decide where to go…. But this is one to tick off your bucket list!

Sydney

Sydney guide: New Year’s Eve & beyond…

Sydney is an enchanting city. Often described as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, its magic lies within the gorgeous Sydney Harbour and the best-known sails of the Sydney Opera House.

Sydney also showcases the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, beautiful beaches, rugged coastlines and a climate that encourages a relaxed outdoor lifestyle. Special to visit at any time of the year, Sydney is a great starting point for your Australia adventure. There are plenty of things to do, with the major event being the amazing New Year’s Eve fireworks display from the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Australia is one of the first countries in the world to celebrate New Year’s Eve as the clock ticks to midnight. The Sydney fireworks on the Harbour Bridge are famous worldwide with over 1 billion viewers. It is an unforgettable experience! If you are lucky enough to be in Sydney over that period it is important to plan for the celebrations. Some options for fireworks viewing are to enjoy the fabulous views on a boat in the harbour or wine & dine in a restaurant with harbour views. For those of us that don’t want to splurge our entire holiday savings on one night, there are free vantage points around the harbour if you are prepared to get there early. Another great option is to purchase tickets and get a fantastic view from the Royal Botanic Gardens. This offers brilliant views of both the Opera House and Harbour Bridge in a stunning setting. These tickets include a picnic basket and family friendly entertainment. Ticket access is a ballot system, so you need to register. The pre-sale release date is September 10 before the public release on 24 September. Expect tickets to be approx. AUD $350/person. I highly recommend you register for an unforgettable night! Click here to register.

Sydney

Friends enjoy a tour in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. Photo credit: Destination NSW

But of course, there is plenty more to do in Sydney apart from the New Year’s Eve celebrations. Make sure to do a harbour cruise or catch the ferry to Manly, climb the Harbour Bridge or the Pylon Lookout, learn to surf at Bondi Beach, do the Bronte to Bondi coastal walk, allow time for some retail therapy and take a backstage tour at the Sydney Opera House to name a few. You are spoilt for choice in Sydney and the challenge is how to fit it all in! And just to make your decision even more difficult… here are a few more worthy options to consider. These must-dos should be included on everyone’s Sydney bucket list:

Bonza Bike Ride:

Take a 2.5-hour Highlights tour or the 4-hour 17km Classic tour of Sydney. It is an excellent way to start a Sydney holiday… it’s an easy ride through parks, along the harbour, and past all of Sydney’s iconic sites. You’ll get to ride on the world-famous Sydney Harbour Bridge as well! The tour guides make it a fun few hours and it is not too difficult for families. Kids can have a choice of kid’s bikes/trail-alongs or baby seats to make Mum or Dad do all the work!

Sydney

Cycling Tour around Sydney Harbour. Photo credit: Destination NSW

Watsons Bay Ferry & Lunch Combo:

Catch the ferry from Circular Quay to Watsons Bay. Watsons Bay is on the southern head entrance to Sydney Harbour and is Australia’s oldest fishing village. To the east is the Pacific Ocean and to the west is the Harbour with a glorious view of Sydney. Expect waterfront restaurants, great views and walks. Great for a day trip, make sure you enjoy the seafood at Doyles on the Beach for lunch. Savour fresh fish, lobster, prawns and more with views of one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world. Alternatively order some fish and chips from the Doyles kiosk and enjoy watching the kids play at the beach and feed the seagulls. There is also an easy 2-hour walk which includes a scenic hike around South Head featuring beautiful views of Sydney Harbour, the city skyline, the Pacific Ocean, North Head and the historic Hornby Lighthouse. Such a glorious day out!

Sydney

Watsons Bay, Sydney. Photo credit: Destination NSW

Barangaroo Reserve:

Discover a fantastic mix of experiences in Barangaroo, including the newest restaurants, beautiful parkland, shopping and fascinating Indigenous tours. Barangaroo is Sydney’s new waterfront car-free destination. It is the transformation of one of the city’s oldest industrial sites into a spectacular, six-hectare headland open space for all to enjoy. The highlight is a promenade along the harbour foreshore offering uninterrupted water views of Sydney Harbour from Walsh Bay under the shadows of the Harbour Bridge right through to Darling Harbour.

Sydney

Family enjoying a walk through Barangaroo Reserve, Barangaroo. Photo credit: Destination NSW

Sydney is a great starting point for your Australia Holiday. It has the wow-factor in abundance and offers so much to see and do. Sydney is that go-to destination for good reason… it’s the city you have to love. Ask us to include Sydney in your Australia holiday itinerary…

Great Ocean Road

A local’s top tips on the Great Ocean Road

The spectacular Great Ocean Road enables an experience of nature in all its wonder on an 244km epic adventure. This dramatic coastal road begins in Torquay and winds its way westward, hugging the rugged cliffs and beaches of southern Australia through seaside villages and national forests & parks. The start is less than a 2-hour drive from Melbourne, and you could easily allow 3 nights to explore the delights of this world-famous stretch of coastline.
The Great Ocean Road pays homage to serviceman lost in World War 1, and the thousands of returned soldiers who carved the route from rocky cliffs. It is most famous for the Twelve Apostles, the limestone stacks rising out of the Southern Ocean, situated within the Port Campbell National Park right near the end of your journey.

Great Ocean Road

Twelve Apostles, Roberto Seba | 2014

Witness the power of the Southern Ocean as it continues to shape this stunning coastline. You are in for a treat with some magnificent surf and swimming beaches. This is where you will find the home of such iconic surf brands as Ripcurl and Quicksilver. The Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach is where the world’s best surfers compete each Easter in the longest running surf competition in the world.
Do some short walks through the Otway Ranges amongst tall trees, ancient plant life and lush green ferns. Walk among giant tree ferns at Maits Rest, make sure to see the glow worms at Melba Gully, enjoy the impressive Triplet Falls or experience the full beauty of this rainforest paradise on the Otway Fly Tree Top Walk or Zip Line tour.

Great Ocean Road

Great Otway National Park

Native animals abound with opportunities to easily spot the big Red Kangaroos on the Anglesea Golf Course and the colonies of wild Koalas on the Kennett River Koala Walk. Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve is an inactive volcano that offers self-guided nature walks and plenty of wildlife viewing.

Great Ocean Road

Juvenile Eastern Grey Kangaroo

The Great Ocean Road is more than a drive, it is a feast of magnificent nature that is not-to-be-missed. Here are some of the key things to visit & do:

Torquay:

The home of the surfing industry and the iconic surf-brands, Rip Curl & Quicksilver. If you are keen on getting the latest in surf gear, then make sure to visit the Surf City precinct where you will find all the surf brands latest retail outlets. Pop around the corner to grab a bargain at the Surf factory outlet stores selling last season’s discounted stock. Take a surf lesson, enjoy a tasty lunch or coffee at Café Moby or try out the local ales at Blackmans Brewery.

Great Ocean Road

Rip Curl, Torquay

Anglesea:

11km before you hit Anglesea make a pit-stop at the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery. A definite foodie delight! A must-see is to visit the Anglesea Golf Course to view the large group of kangaroos that call it home. Best seen in the morning or late afternoon.

Lorne:

Wander this charming seaside township with its picturesque beach and huge gum trees lining the bay. Lorne has a range of cafes, restaurants and boutiques. Take a walk to the back of town where you will find Qdos Arts Gallery. Situated amid lush rainforest, explore the sculpture garden, contemporary gallery or simply enjoy a light meal at the café. Catch a new-release movie at the grand Art Deco Theatre that shows daily in Summer. A great short walk is Erskine Falls, a 30-metre cascading waterfall just 10km inland from Lorne.

Great Ocean Road

Lorne vista

Kennett River:

Make sure you do the Kennett River Koala Walk – one of the all-time favourite activities on the Great Ocean Road. Relax and enjoy the peace and beauty of the bush as you wind your way along the Grey River Road through Koala popular gum forest and into the dense Otway Rainforest. A great place to see koalas in their natural habitat.

Great Ocean Road

Koalas, Kennett River

Port Campbell National Park:

Discover this remarkable stretch of coastline which includes the extraordinary collection of wave-sculptured rock formations such as the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge and London Bridge. Stunning at sunset.

Great Ocean Road

Twelve Apostles at sunset

Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve:

Meet Koalas, Emus, Kangaroos and many species of waterbirds roaming freely in Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve, which sits inside an extinct volcano. There are plenty of short walks to explore this ideal place to experience the Australian bush, enjoy magnificent scenery and get up close and personal with some of Australia’s most iconic native birds and animals.

Great Ocean Road

Tower Hill Nature Reserve

The Great Ocean Road is a must-visit destination for those of us that enjoy the great outdoors. It is a triple win of magnificent beaches, pristine rainforests and getting up close and personal with the native wildlife. Ask us to include the Great Ocean Road in your Australia holiday itinerary…

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…