Category Archives:Australia

9 Places every Aussie Must Visit Before they Die

Us Aussies love our home, but how many of us have really seen the true Australia? 

I have been living in Australia for 10 years now and I have been lucky enough to visit almost everywhere on this list. What surprises me, though, is how few Australians get out into their own backyard and explore. So if you have been snubbing some of the ‘touristy’ sites as being well, too touristy, you may be missing out on some of the best that our country has on offer.

Check out my top ten places to visit before you die.

Surf Wave Rock

wave rock wa

Yes, it may be just a rock – but it’s a really cool one! This natural rock formation resembling a large wave is located in the small town of Hyden in the far-south of Western Australia.

While you may or may not be interested in its fascinating geological history – it still makes for a great photo. Say cheese!

Go Down Under in Coober Pedy

coober pedy australia

Situated in the heart of South Australia, about 846 km north of Adelaide, Coober Pedy is one of the most unusual towns in Australia – and perhaps the world.

To avoid the harsh Australian sun, residents of Coober Pedy built their entire town underground – mostly in refurbished mine shafts. Enjoy a cold beverage in an underground bar or go shopping for opals – Coober Pedy is the ‘Opal Capital of the World’ after all.

(I recently spent a week in Coober Pedy — so keep an eye out for my guide! It was truly amazing.)

Bring out your Inner-Tarzan in Daintree Rainforest

Daintree rainforest

Daintree Rainforest – just north of Cairns – is the world’s oldest and most diverse rainforest. As well as being home to over 30% of Australia’s native animal species, Daintree offers spectacular scenery, relaxing walks and breathtaking waterfalls.

The rainforest also seamlessly joins onto the spectacular Great Barrier Reef as it reaches the coast.

Cruise the Kimberley

kimberley cruise

The Kimberley Region is one of the most magnificent sights to be seen in Australia. With dramatic scenery, sky-high waterfalls, secluded beaches and dazzling sunsets – the Kimberley is the perfect place to relax and explore.

Cruises are the best way to see the Kimberley – taking you deep within the soaring gorges and up-close-and-personal with the powerful waterfalls.

Enjoy a Glass in the Barossa

Jacob's Creek Winery, Barossa Valley
Jacob’s Creek Winery, Barossa Valley

If you like to sit back and relax with a glass of rose, merlot or sav blanc, then there’s no better place to do it than in the Barossa Valley. Look for Australian flights into Adelaide – then the Barossa is just a short drive away.

A must-see destination for all wine connoisseurs, the Barossa Valley offers an eclectic mix of South Australian charm, world-class wines and fine foods. Cheers!

Relax on Whitehaven Beach

Whitehaven Beach, QLD

Possibly the most photographed and recognisable beach in the world – Whitehaven Beach really is as good as it looks on the postcard! 

Just a short boat-ride away from the coastal town of Airlie Beach (or I took a boat tour from nearby Daydream Island), make your friends jealous with photos of you soaking up the Australian sun on pristine white beaches with the crystal clear Coral Sea lapping at your feet. It truly is paradise!

Drive the Great Ocean Road

The Twelve Apostles
The Twelve Apostles

What were once the famous ‘Twelve Apostles’ jutting out of the water in South Australia has sadly become just eight due to erosion. With erosion constantly threatening the remaining rocks it is certainly a destination that needs to be visited before it’s too late.

These remarkable rock formations can be seen while driving along the Great Ocean Road, along which you will see all sorts of other spectacular scenery. Great excuse for a road trip!

The Biggest…

The Big Merino
The Big Merino

Australia is home to some of the biggest (albeit strangest) things – so make a point to visit them all! Did you know that Goulburn is home to the Big Merino (it’s a surprisingly fun place to visit!)? What about the Big Cow just north of Nambour, Queensland? I’m sure you wouldn’t want to miss out on the Big Prawn in Ballina – right? And we can’t forget the world’s biggest rock – Uluru – right in the heart of Australia.

Ride a Camel in Broome

camels on cable beach
Camel rides along Cable Beach, Broome

It’s not every day you get to ride a camel across the beach – not in Australia anyway. Take a camel ride along Cable Beach in the late afternoon for a unique way to see the spectacular red sunsets of the northern Western Australian coast. It is certainly one of the more unique Australian holidays!

Top 5 Rooftop Bars in Melbourne

Summer is here (although fellow Melburnians might dispute this!) and one of my favourite things to do is relax with a nice glass of wine at a rooftop bar. There are plenty of great bars at ground level, but why settle for that when you can have a tipple with a view?

Madame Brussels

Level 3/59-63 Bourke St, Melbourne
www.madamebrussels.com

1
Perhaps it’s my English background or my love for all things cute and pink, but Madame Brussels is my first choice when looking for a place to enjoy the sunshine with friends. From neatly cut sandwiches and jugs of Pimms to dashing waiters in Fred Perry tennis whites, this hard-to-find bar is like an English garden party in the sky.

It gets very busy over the summer, so be prepared to fight for a seat!

Siglo

2/161 Spring Street, Melbourne

siglo001
When you mention rooftop bars, Siglo is usually top of mind for most locals. It’s the place you go if you want to impress a date or just have a classy night out with friends. There is a distinctly European feel to it – I can’t quite pinpoint a specific country but a nice blend of Spanish, Italian and French.

The view is what really makes it – you have a fantastic backdrop of Parliament House and the spectacular St Patrick’s Cathedral. You’re also in the heart of the theatre district, so it’s perfect for a pre- or post-show drink.

Rooftop Bar & Cinema

6/252 Swanston St, Melbourne
www.rooftopcinema.com.au

6a010535ff73e4970c01127908cd5b28a4-800wi
Whenever I have people come to visit me, I always take them to the Rooftop Cinema. A first-date paradise, the rooftop bar and cinema combines two of my (and most people’s!) favourite pastimes – movies and drinks. It sure beats sitting in a dark cinema with a box of overpriced popcorn!

The views of the city skyline are unbeatable, and you can enjoy them with a drink in hand, relaxing in your own deck chair. You don’t need to watch a movie either – you can just hang at the bar!

The Carlton

193 Bourke St, Melbourne
www.thecarlton.com.au

carlton-club-05
The Carlton is one of few bars/restaurants that really does cater for every type of event and person. The decor is eclectic – to put it lightly – and the crowd even more so. But that’s what makes it so great – you never know who you might strike up a conversation with!

The drinks menu is good and the restaurant serves up some mean pub-style (albeit gourmet pub-style) food. There are two rooftop bars, complete with a Hawaiian beach-hut style vibe.

Warning: it is very easy to head there for a quiet drink and not make it home until the following day!

Captain Baxter, St Kilda

10/10-18 Jacka Blvd, St Kilda
www.captainbaxter.com.au

CaptainBaxterDeck2
City skylines are amazing at night-time, but if you’re after a mid-afternoon drink (we won’t judge you!), there’s nothing better than a relaxed beach-front atmosphere.

Overlooking Melbourne’s iconic St Kilda Beach is Captain Baxter – a chilled out bar with a fantastic outdoor deck. If you’re like me and love the idea of the beach but hate finding sand in your clothes for the next three weeks, here’s a way you can enjoy it from afar.

Your Guide to Summer Theatre in Melbourne

It’s no secret that Melbourne is Australia’s entertainment capital. The energy of an exciting new show is contagious with all the big billboards, advertisements and word quickly spreads around the city. With summer on the way, here are our top three picks for different types of theatre that will have something for everyone.

The play: A Murder is Announced

miss-marple1

In an English village, the locals peer over an advertisement in the gazette that states ‘a murder is announced and will take place on Friday 13th October, at Little Paddocks at 6.30pm.’ Unable to resist scoping out the situation, a crowd forms at this time. The lights go out, ‘a gun is fired and a body falls…’

Can you guess ‘whodunnit?’

Agatha Christie’s classic crime novel has thrilled readers with all the twists, turns and witty one liners since 1950.  Following the enormous success of ‘The Mousetrap’ last year, the same producers are bringing ‘A Murder is Announced’ to the Comedy Theatre for the first time in Australia. Based on the lovable detective Miss Marple, the amazing cast will have viewers on the edge of their seats as they follow her journey. In this all Australian production, audiences will be guaranteed to be guessing and in suspense until the final big revelation.  No one does a good murder mystery quite like Agatha Christie.

The comedy: Wogboys Live on Stage

wogboys-600x400Fans of the hit movie will be delighted at Nick Giannopoulos and Vince Colosimo reuniting for the first time on stage in fifteen years.  Both of the talented actors have moved on to star in other ventures, but they still get quoted lines from the movie to this day. This record breaking and critically acclaimed show will have the audience in hysterical as they poke fun of stereotypes through wicked humour. To add to the show’s star power, they will be joined by veteran Australian actors Alex Dimitriades and Frank Lotito.  Written, created and produced by the man with the longest surname in show business (Giannopoulos), Wogboys brings a unique, hilarious and heartfelt take on their everyday lives in the 90’s. This goes for a strictly limited season in January 2014 at the Princess Theatre. The original Wogboys are back with a vengeance.

The musical: Grease

Everyone knows all the words to the songs by heart. They are truly unforgettable.  Sandy and Danny are one of the most iconic couples in movie history as we all grew up with this hit movie. The best thing about this extravaganza is that the story means something to so many people and will remain a classic for the rest of time. Grease will be back with a bang in Australia with this dazzling multi-million dollar production. It is lead by an all-star cast including Bert Newton, Rob Mills, Todd McKenney and Anthony Callea. This energetic all-singing, all-dancing cast will have the audience on their feet at Her Majesty’s Theatre.

How to Explore Australia Free of Charge

Australia is a haven for all who visit; the beautiful beaches, terrific architecture and magnificent wildlife. So who fancies seeing this for free? It’s now possible and readily available. One-way car rental is a system by which you act as the shipper for rental companies rather than them spending extortionate amounts of money on transferring vehicles between their branches.

It will be seen by many as a very strange form of volunteer work but this is certainly not the right way to view this unique opportunity. It is travelling in an extremely cost-effective and rather fun way. See why travelling around Australia in this way will be a truly memorable (and cheap) experience.

Cost Cutting

Fundamentally, the greatest benefit of this method of travel is the saving on cost. You can travel from Darwin to Sydney, from Sydney to Melbourne and so on for simply the cost of your food and drink. All you have to do is drop the car off at the main airports and then you are free to explore at your own leisure.

Insurance, petrol and the car itself is provided; all you need to do is sit back, relax (if you aren’t driving) and let the Australian air caress your face as you investigate its abundant beauty. For non-Australian back packers lets say, this is the ideal way to make the cost of the flight back.

Hitch a tent wherever you please and use the services that companies such as Transfercar have on the table. It is truly a brilliant scheme and one all budding travelers should give considerable thought to.

Be different

Everybody these days is travelling or wants to travel. Inter-railing is becoming the new Ibiza and a gap year working in Africa is so frequent it’s the becoming the norm. Spruce it up a bit people, for the same cost of a 2 week inter railing pass (if you book far enough in advance) you can backpack around Australia! There are a million things to do and you get to experience them first hand as you are physically in the driving seat.

It is a brilliant opportunity and extremely cheap if you plan it coherent and correctly. Remember it is a win, win situation for both yourself, the organizer and the rental company – so make the most of it!

No Limits

This method of travel really does allow you to explore the depths of Australia. While you have an end destination (The Airport) what you do after that is completely up to you. The sense of freedom when driving a car is unparalleled, especially in a country so rich with wonderful sights.

Whether you are on a soul finding mission alone or on a world tour with your soul mate, exploration of this nature is an incredible option. Moreover if you love Sydney (lets say) that much you can always return (free of charge) for another week if you so wish. The beauty is in the flexibility and if you are a keen traveler then flexibility is a godsend.

A Trip Back in Time – Broken Hill & Silverton, NSW, Australia

I’ve always been enticed by the seductive and mystical quality of wide open spaces and the rich earthy tones that only a desert can provide. Big skies, majestic views, and fortune welcome all those who heed the call. People have been drawn to this area for hundreds of years, seeking a better future in many different avenues. First it was mineral deposits that lured people out this way. Nowadays it’s the scenery, the isolation, the escape from society and the freedom that comes with that. It’s the chance to look back into the remnants of days gone by while absorbing the present moment, which draws tourists out to Broken Hill and its ghost town neighbour, Silverton.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Silverton used to be a bustling mining town, until a larger mine was built in Broken Hill. Most of the residents and even some of the buildings were moved to Broken Hill, leaving the bare bones of a town behind. A handful of abandoned buildings are still scattered around in Silverton. There are about 60 people who call Silverton home today and their tenacity and charm will quickly win you over. Broken Hill and Silverton have an unbreakable historical bond that carries on to this very day, as both towns have become a well-known backdrop for a slew of popular movies  such as “Razorback”, “Mad Max II”, “Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”, “Dirty Deeds” and the list goes on.

A true-blue mining town, Broken Hill is full of historic frontier architecture, and a majority of the roads are named after various minerals. On Chloride Street, you’ll find the Silver City Mint. This fascinating art gallery boasts a wide variety of beautiful silver jewellery created by local artists, a selection of gourmet snacks, and ‘The Big Picture’ by local painter, Ando – a magical painting that captures the essence of the outback of NSW on a canvas that is almost 100 meters long!

Silver City Mint

66 Chloride Street,

Broken Hill NSW 2880

(08) 8088 6166

http://www.silvercitymint.com.au/

Just 12km out of town you will find the Living Desert State park; home to 12 intricately carved sandstone sculptures, brought to you by artists from all over the world, which stand tall atop a peak overlooking Broken Hill.  The area is quiet and meditative, mesmerizing and inspiring, with the perfect surroundings to reflect that groovy feeling. A fantastic place for hiking, having an afternoon BBQ, and the bird watching here is top notch. You can easily organise tours of the park from Broken Hill, or drive there on your own. Opening hours: between 9am -5pm (Mar-Nov) and 6am 2pm (Dec-Feb).

Broken Hill has heaps of accommodation options available to suit every need and budget range. I spent a weekend at the West Darling Hotel and loved every minute of it. Perfect for travellers who are looking for something unusual that has heart and character (definitely not for those seeking luxury). The cracked, faded, and peeling paint on the walls, the warped floorboards, the haunted feel of the long corridors, the wrap around balcony where you can almost see the 1800’s come alive, all added something special to the whole adventure!

West Darling Hotel

Argent St (Corner of Oxide Street),

Broken Hill NSW 2880

(08) 8087 2691

To find out more about attractions and accommodation in Broken Hill, follow the link below:

www.visitbrokenhill.com.au

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo get to Silverton; there are a few busses and tour companies that will take you out to Silverton for the day. You can easily book this from Broken Hill however the freedom of renting a car will do you a number of favours, as there is too much to see in Silverton for just a day trip! On your way to, or from, Silverton make sure you allow time to take a camel ride at Barrier Ranges Camel Safaris. The camels here are actually related to the ones that you saw in the Mad Max movies! There are a few different options ranging from half hour jaunts to half day trips and even longer trips can be arranged as well. They also offer nightime moonlight rides, which I’ll make sure to indulge in the next time I’m out that way. The tours are very affordable, informative and fun, and surprisingly the camels are very easy to ride. You’ll instantly fall in love with these beautiful docile creatures that are perfectly suited for the desert. And don’t worry – these camels have been trained not to spit… I asked!  The owner even makes his own handcrafted saddles ensuring a comfortable ride, and I must say I found it to be much more comfortable than riding a horse! Located 25km from Broken Hill on the Silverton Road, just before the town of Silverton.

Barrier Ranges Camel Safaris

Ph#: (08) 8088 5316

Mobile# 0418406377

http://www.silvertoncamels.net/Barrier_Range_Camel_Safaris.html

When you arrive in Silverton you’ll certainly be hungry. Take a load off and grab a bite to eat at the famous Silverton Hotel. A real hot spot for filmmakers, many movies and countless commercials have used the Silverton Hotel as their stage. My favourite band INXS stopped in here in 1992 and there are a few pictures of the band visiting the hotel on the wall, along with hundreds of rare behind-the-scenes photos of various movies shot in the area. Enjoy the simple Australian fare, great service and atmosphere while admiring the unforgettable surroundings. And if you time it right, there is a one-of-a-kind stage in the back courtyard that hosts live music fairly regularly, giving you a chance to let your hair down with the locals – an experience not to be missed! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A must-see for all visitors to Silverton is the Mad Max Museum. For anyone who’s seen Mad Max II, this attraction will absolutely blow you away! A true celebration of an important facet of Aussie culture, the museum is great for fans and lookie-loos alike. I recently had a chance to chat with prominent Silverton figure, and owner of the Mad Max Museum, Adrian Bennett.  He’s hands-down one of the most inspiring individuals I’ve ever met in all my travels. Truth be told; I’d never even seen Mad Max II before I visited the Museum! However, I heard the story of a man who moved his whole family here from England with the intent of opening a museum dedicated to Mad Max II in the area where the movie was filmed. The story struck a chord with me immediately and I knew I had to see it with my own eyes. For a person to follow their dreams so unabashedly and have the courage to fly in the face of convention against all odds is a rare and beautiful thing. I consider myself fortunate that I was able to take part in such an exceptional place. Here, Adrian shares with the TravelGoss community some of his favourite things about the area and a few of his most memorable moments at the museum:

“Owning and running the museum has been a joy since the doors opened in 2010. We have met some incredible people and make new friends on a daily basis. We have had some great shows filmed at the museum and meeting famous people from TV has been a real honour for us. Many of the original cast and crew from Mad Max 2 have visited the museum with still many others I’ve met, promising to call and see us. One of the biggest highlights for the museum was in September 2012 when Mad Max 2 villain Vernon Wells visited the museum over a 2 day period. This was such an incredible experience and a real honour for me as Vernon was my hero from the film and to think that 31 years after I first watched the movie not only would I build a museum where the movie was made but also have one of the stars of the film come and visit is sometimes still hard to comprehend!”

“When ordinary people end up in an extra-ordinary situation it sometimes makes you wonder why, and since I arrived in Australia there were certain coincidences that happened in my ‘journey’ to the outback that made me wonder if certain things were just meant to be! All of these coincidences came together, to bring me to one of the most beautiful and unique places in Australia. Of course you could say I was biased purely because I was drawn to Broken Hill and more-so Silverton because of my fascination with Mad Max 2 which was filmed in the area but, it goes way beyond that for me now.”

“One of the most incredible things to witness is the sun setting at the beautiful Mundi Mundi Lookout just 5 kms past Silverton where the curvature of the earth can clearly be seen!  Even the walking trails are incredible and not knowing what wildlife is going to pop up and greet you is also an added bonus for that photo opportunity. The area is rich with history and full of great characters with stories to tell. It’s also a must for stargazers, something I do often due to the perfectly clear night sky out here in Silverton. Just being surrounded by the great Australian outback and bushland in every direction gives you a sense of freedom that everyone should experience.”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“I think the area has a magical magnetic pull on people, it’s why artists and musicians and movie makers come here. For film makers it has the perfect backdrop, clear light and just an all-around great looking place which has everything to offer them for those perfect shots. Artists are spoiled by the incredible landscape and peaceful surroundings in which to work and the great history and people of the area supply enough stories for the lyrics of any song. It’s sometimes hard to explain why a place is so special, you really have to experience it for yourself and see why so many people fall in love with this stunningly beautiful place.” – (Adrian Bennett)

Mad Max II Museum

Sterling Street

Silverton, NSW 2880

Mon – Sun: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mad-Max-Museum/113085982075455?fref=ts

On the edge of town, you’ll find the Silverton Cemetery. Take a glimpse at the hard truths and harsh realities the local mining families would’ve faced out here in the 1800’s; things like Typhoid epidemics, mining disasters, unsafe, overheated and cramped working conditions, fibrosis and emphysema due to poor air circulation in the mines, all this took a toll on the residents of Silverton. It’s a place full of powerful stories. I found that visiting this small cemetery gave me a perspective on what life out here would have been like and made me appreciate just how much easier our modern life is. It’s an eye opening experience to spend a moment to realize what it actually takes to dig these minerals out of the earth that so many of us have taken for granted for generations.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If you’re looking for a place to stay in Silverton, I recommend Penrose Park. The site was built in the early 20th century for miners and their families to have a place to relax and escape the hardships of the times. Fully equipped with powered caravan sites, campsites, and dorm style cabins, Penrose Park is a wonderful place to spend the weekend with the family and friends. The park is absolutely teeming with wildlife, the air is clean and the owners are very friendly and helpful. The perfect spot for a picnic, a BBQ, or even a game of tennis!

 

Penrose Park

Lot 34 Silverton Rd

Silverton NSW 2880

(08) 8088 5307

http://www.silverton.org.au/penrose.htm

For more info on Silverton visit:

http://www.silverton.org.au/

*How to get there:

Broken Hill is accessible by a limited service of Regional Express flights: http://www.regionalexpress.com.au/

Countrylink offers train service from Sydney to Broken Hill:

http://www.countrylink.info

Vline offers service from Melbourne to Mildura, (then arrange bus to Broken Hill in Mildura):

http://www.vline.com.au/

*There is a shuttle bus, and tour companies that operate between Silverton and Broken Hill.

If you have the time available, and access to a vehicle, this area makes a spectacular destination for a road trip from major cities such as Sydney, Adelaide or Melbourne. The effort it takes to get there adds to the satisfaction of a genuine outback experience! No matter how you choose to get there and away, rest assured that Broken Hill, Silverton and the surrounding area will easily find a way into your heart!

Click here to read more about Tina’s adventures on her blog.

An Out of this World Experience in Broome, Western Australia

It’s easy to forget, with our busy day to day lives, that we are actually riding around on a planet in an unfathomable infinite universe. On a clear night, away from light pollution, it never ceases to amaze me, the sheer magnitude of the heavens. As my focus turns to the sky it seems to soothe and comfort, reminding me that whatever my problems may be they really and truly are insignificant in the face of the grandeur of the celestial reality. At Greg Quicke’s Astro Tours located in Broome, Western Australia, you’ll gaze at the splendour and immensity of the cosmos, while learning a bit about ourselves and our planet’s place in this intricate web of energy. We’re all intrigued by the galaxies above us, and with Greg Quicke’s Astro Tours, you’ll learn to recognise the constellations and planets, allowing for a much broader perspective on our own existence.

Astro ToursI met Greg while volunteering on Sea Shepherd’s vessel, the Sam Simon. I was completely blown away with his lexicon of knowledge. In just a few days he had made a huge impact on my understanding of the night sky, and helped me to realise that there’s a strange synchronicity within the cosmos. His friendly demeanour, inherent curiosity, and refreshing outlook on life, is contagious and he will surely help you see things in a way you’ve never experienced! I had a chance to pick his brain for the TravelGoss community and here is what he had to say:

Greg Quicke: “Stargazing is a sure way to tune into the universe. Simply getting out there under the stars is enough. Looking outside of yourself is healthy and encourages you to be more of who, and what, you truly are. We are connected with the universe, and all we need to do is become aware of this. The aboriginal people of Broome and the Dampier peninsular have many stories about the stars. They use them as seasonal indicators to know when the stingrays are fat, when it is time to catch goanna, and when to go fishing.”Astro Tours3

“The celestial events that happen every day, every month and every year are the most profound ones. The earth turns, the moon goes around the earth and the earth goes around the sun. If you tune yourself into these very simple cycles that are in our lives every day, you will achieve enlightenment. The good thing about enlightenment is that there is always further to go, more to learn and greater things to be.”

“Broome has some of the cleanest and clearest skies on the planet. Getting only a little distance out of the township is enough to get out of the light pollution caused by archaic and poorly designed street lights. Broome has 300 clear nights a year. We are close enough to the equator to see all of the southern hemisphere and most of the northern hemisphere.”

“Astro Tours was established in 1995 with one telescope and a desire to share. Today we use a fleet of telescopes to help put beautifully switched-on people in touch with the universe on a regular schedule of up to 6 nights a week from April through to October and November and sometimes if the wet season lets us, up into Christmas. As well as regular 2 hour shows run just out of Broome, Astro Tours is often invited to do Kimberley coast stargazing trips on exotic cruise boats. We run corporate events, school events, and our mobile fleet of telescopes will go anywhere that we are invited to set up and guide people through the amazing night skies of the Kimberley and beyond.”Astro Tours2

Bookings can be made by email through the website at www.astrotours.net. You can call on 0417 949 958 and you can find Greg Quicke’s Astro Tours on Facebook. Greg also offers backpackers discounts for group bookings! So if you’re looking for a new adventure in Western Australia, take a trip with Greg that will absolutely be out of this world! And make sure to mention that TravelGoss sent you!

 

 

Ph#: 0417949958

Email: [email protected]

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Greg-Quickes-Astro-Tours/167670281850?fref=ts

Click here to read more about Tina’s adventures on her blog.

Melbourne’s Fiesta in your Mouth – Los Hermanos Taqueria

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs the sun makes its daily westward pilgrimage, a warm breeze plays in the dusky streets inspiring leaves to dance freely through the air. Brick buildings toss out their lengthy end of day shadows with ease. Exuberant notes from a distant accordion bounce alongside subtle vibrations plucked from a lonely guitar, gently beckoning the weary traveller. Intriguing aromas levitate the senses, luring you to a fiesta of flavour deep in the heart of Melbourne’s nightlife hot-spot known as Brunswick. Specializing in authentic Mexican cuisine, with a focus on simple yet addictive tacos, Los Hermanos will transport you halfway around the world one dish at a time.

In a city known for its culinary diversity, it can be overwhelming to pick a place to dine while on holiday. Los Hermanos stands apart from the crowd with its ingenious and unique recipes that restaurateur Bruno Carreto searched far and wide across the Mexican countryside for. Born in Mexico City, Carreto shares with Melbourne a genuine taste of his homeland. Once through the doors the friendly and warm atmosphere will envelope you and with single plate dishes it’s easy to enjoy an evening out trying a bit of everything, or pop in for a quick snack that won’t hurt the wallet.

Cactus Salad
Cactus Salad

Begin your journey with the Ensalada de Nopales, strips of cactus cooked in lime juice and topped with crumbled feta, diced tomato, grilled onion, and fresh coriander. Continue along with a plate of Flautas de Pollo, three rolled crispy tacos filled with chicken, drizzled with sour cream and covered with shredded lettuce. Try Las Gorditas, a maize flour pocket stuffed with refried beans and a blend of ricotta and mozzarella cheese. Or give Los Sopes a taste, a maize flour base under refried beans, cheese, home-made salsa and lettuce

with your choice of Chicken, Mushroom or Zucchini. If you’re feeling adventurous, don’t be afraid to add a bit of hot sauce, each table had 3 different fiery sauces to choose from.

Next, take some time to peruse the assortment mouth-watering soon-to-be-famous tacos on the menu. For meat lovers; Tacos ‘de Pescado’ (Fish), ‘de Barbacoa’ (Lamb), ‘de Pollo’ (Chicken), and ‘de Res’ (Slow cooked Beef – a personal favourite; the meat has been twice cooked and is chocked full of flavour). Vegetarians have quite a few choices as well; try the Tacos ‘de Ejotes Papita y Huevo’ (Green Beans, Potato and Egg), ‘de Calabazita’ (Zucchini) or ‘de Hongos’ (Mushroom). There are also some tantalizing vegan options available, just ask the staff.

Authentic Mojitos
Authentic Mojitos

 

As for drinks, the Mojito is a real treasure with the perfect balance of mint and lime, or try the spicy Michelada; a mix of beer, chili, and lime on ice. Margaritas are always a treat and the home-made, not-to-be-missed, easy-to-drink, Sangria is sold by the jug and you’ll understand why when you try it.

If you’re looking for something stronger, have a shot of tequila with their home-made Tequila chaser. It’s a lovely shade of green, and surprisingly one of the most delicious liquids ever invented. With a long list of cerveza, wines, spirits and cocktails, you’re sure to find the right thing to wet your pallet. If you don’t feel like drinking alcohol, have a crack at a Jarritos, a popular Mexican soda available in a wide variety of refreshing fruity flavours.

Los Hermanos is perfect for small functions, with outdoor and indoor seating available. Call for reservations for parties of 6 or more. It’s super easy to get to, just a few steps down the street from the Brunswick Railway Station; however there is currently no signage on the building so keep an eye out for the street numbers. Limited street parking is available. Don’t miss out on Melbourne’s best Mexican eatery, spice up your holiday and head to Los Hermanos today!

339 Victoria St
Brunswick, VIC
3056

(03) 9939 3661

M-Sat 6pm-10pm

Closed Sunday

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Los-Hermanos-Mexican-Taqueria/124943380962858

Click here to read more about Tina’s adventures on her blog.

4WDing in Victoria, Australia – You’re Never Too Old to Play in the Mud!

Home to a cornucopia of incredible wonders, beyond the tourist traps and well-worn paths, the state of Victoria truly is ‘the place to be’. With a wide variety of terrain from forest covered mountains, to arid deserts, to coastal plains, you’re sure to find the perfect spot to relax and escape the pressures of daily life.

4WDing is mucky business
4WDing is mucky business

And what better way to get away from it all, to see what lies around the next corner, than exploring one of the many off-road trails Victoria has to offer. Dust off your camping gear… it’s time head out to the country for a 4WD adventure in The Garden State!

Out on the trails, it’s the sense of freedom and discovery that will quickly carve its way into your soul. Leaving the pavement behind and boldly going where most vehicles simply cannot go, affords a true pioneering experience. Enjoy a place without traffic lights or stop signs, and the speed limits are enforced not by cameras but by your own driving skills and how much of a beating your rig can handle. Of course, it’s not all about driving… Take some time to call ‘home’ that never-before-seen campsite you’ve just stumbled upon. Crack a coldie with your friends and howl at the moon, or tell ghost stories with the family around a campfire.

Plenty of time to relax
Plenty of time to relax

In Victoria you will find trails for all skill levels from novice to expert, in an assortment of different landscapes, each with its own specific challenges. Bunyip and Wombat National parks are great for sliding around and getting muddy… And I do mean MUDDY! The Alpine Region to the northeast of Melbourne is wonderful for longer trips with many river crossings and steep inclines and declines as you traipse across the mountain ranges. This area has stunning views that would almost make you believe that the whole world has turned into a forest! In the northwestern part of the state, you will find sandy trails at Little Desert National Park and gorgeous rock formations surrounded by red dirt in the Grampians National park. Going off-road allows you to travel to remote parts of the state that most people never see. Relish at a unique chance to see wildlife in its natural habitat.

Victoria's Alpine Region offers the perfect backdrop for adventure activities
Victoria’s Alpine Region offers the perfect backdrop for adventure activities

Don’t own a 4WD vehicle? Just visiting Victoria? Not to worry! There are a handful of 4WD tour operators in Victoria that will assist with everything it takes to get you started. Among them I recommend booking a trip with: Mountain Top Experience (03) 5134 6876. www.mountaintopexperience.com . They have their own fleet of Land Rover Defenders for hire, to give you a taste of driving on your own. You can book day-trips or weekends, they will cater to your needs. They offer tag-along tours for folks who have the vehicle, but might not know where to go, and they also offer driver’s training courses for people seeking guidance. They will surely teach you how to read the road, providing an excellent introduction to the sport.

Travelling in the bush, one of the most important things is to be as self-sufficient as possible. Try to anticipate any potential problems and have a solution ready. Things which are vital to bring with you on your journey include:

Don't forget your maps!
Don’t forget your maps!

– Regional Maps: Don’t risk getting lost! You can get maps of ALL off road trails from: Melbourne Map Centre: http://www.melbmap.com.au

 

– Jerry Cans (20Liter): There are no petrol stations in the outback, so make sure to bring your own!

– Tow straps: Always a good thing to have; they will not take the place of a winch, but can prove extremely helpful in recovering stuck vehicles.

– Hand-held CB radios: Stay in touch with the rest of your group, they can alert you to upcoming dangers or help if you should need assistance.

– Rope: When you’re bouncing around on the trails, so are all of your belongings. Secure everything you can with rope for a safer and quieter ride.

– NO Glass!: Should you decide to bring beverages of any kind, do not bring glass as you might soon find broken glass shards littering the back of your vehicle after an unexpected bump in the road.

– Air Pressure Gauge: A simple and very inexpensive piece of equipment, but will be very helpful when you deflate your tyres to enjoy more gripping ability. Make sure that all 4 tyres have relatively the same air pressure. (Usually between 12-20PSI, depending on the vehicle and terrain)

– Things to remember: Check the weather before you head out. Rivers can rise faster than you think and a sudden change in the weather could become an issue you’d rather not have. When in doubt, do NOT attempt; only drive trails and obstacles that you feel confident with. No one wants to have their vehicle delivered home on the back of a tow truck! When it comes to river crossings, take time to check the depth in several places. Remember that there may be obstacles submerged that you cannot see. A snorkel is very much preferred if you are frequently crossing water.

Whether you have your own vehicle, or are thinking about getting one, a great way to get started in the sport is to network. One thing you will definitely notice is the sense of community with 4WD enthusiasts. I find this aspect of the sport to be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable things about it; a subculture unto itself. These are some of the most helpful sites I have found and regularly use:

– Aussie 4WD: Database of enthusiast groups as well as information regarding tracks and vehicle specific groups.

http://aussie4wd.com/groups/     or     www.facebook.com/aussie4WD

AusJeepOffRoad: Networking tool for Jeep and other 4WD enthusiasts. Plan trips, get advice, find parts and deals on all things ‘off road’. This site has EVERYTHING you need to get started.

www.ausjeepoffroad.com     or     www.facebook.com/ausjeepoffroad

– Melbourne 4×4 Owners: www.facebook.com/groups/360205937357314/

The owner of this site, Alicia Newman, is very active in the 4WD scene in Victoria, and gives us a few hints for our future trips:

Make sure before you hit the trails that you go prepared. A good recovery kit and some basic tools are a must to carry. Never hit the trails alone as you may get yourself into a situation that you can’t easily get out of, especially if you don’t have a winch. Neerim/Gembrook areas have a range of trails, from beginner all the way to advanced levels, for you to test out your vehicle’s capabilities and your own driving skills. Get out as often as possible, it’s the best way to learn how your truck drives and also gains you more experience and confidence in all sorts of terrain.”

Nothing gets in the way of a 4WD
Nothing gets in the way of a 4WD

When you own your own vehicle, it pays to find a shop that specialises in 4WD modification, so you can rest easy with the peace of mind knowing that you and your rig are in capable hands. For Jeep modifications, I highly recommend Double Black Offroad: The ultimate one-stop-shop for Jeep Wrangler JK owners. (17/150 Chesterville Rd, Moorabbin, Victoria, (03) 9553 0744). One of the owners, Bill Barbas, took a minute to discuss some of his own 4WD endeavours with us here at TravelGoss.com

What was your first off-road vehicle?

Bill: I’m embarrassed to say it was a Holden Frontera. It was a disgraceful vehicle… I modified it and modified it, to try to keep up but then it just gave up. Then after that I got a Suzuki Samurai, went crazy with that, became president of the Suzuki club, ended up with one on 34” tyres which was a bit of a weapon! That was good fun!

What are your favourite things about 4WD in VIC?

Bill: Going to places where my mobile phone doesn’t work. Being able to relax, sit around a campfire, and do some good tracks, especially in winter with the mud that we have down here, it can be quite interesting. Labertouche, Warburton, Neerim, Bunyip, Toolangi, the Otway Ranges, the High Country; we don’t need to drive far to have a bit of fun. We’ve got a lot of places within an hour, hour and a half [of Melbourne] which are quite challenging.

Do you have any tips for first-timers?

Bill: Research, research, research… It really pays to start with a solid platform. A lot of people will buy a vehicle with the idea to get into the sport, like I did with the Holden Frontera, thinking I could keep up with Land Cruisers and Patrols and clearly I couldn’t unless I sold my house to modify the thing. That’s why the Jeep JK is such a good vehicle to start with. It’s the perfect foundation to build your rig on. The JK is so easy to modify, and easy to put big tyres on without a lot of work to make them capable. Even the short wheelbase, a 2” lift and 33” tyres in the right hands, is an absolute weapon. We have some customers’ vehicles that are modified to the hills, but if the driver doesn’t know what they’re doing, it won’t make a bit of difference. We’ve been on some trips with some stock Jeeps and it just amazes me how far they go. www.doubleblackoffroad.com/main.php www.facebook.com/doubleblackoffroad

Exploring the wild lands of Victoria requires no more than a healthy sense of curiosity and adventure! Fun for all ages, 4WD opens the world up and allows us to travel beyond our modern civilization and society to a place where nature is still the dominant force. It helps strengthen our problem solving and navigational skills, makes us more aware of our surroundings, while providing a new social platform for us to network with other like-minded individuals. Now you have a great excuse to go somewhere new, to see what’s hidden in your own backyard in this amazing and diverse state. Take the drivers wheel and become the master of your own expedition!

Read more about Tina’s adventures on her blog.

 Click on images below to see them in full size.

Would you share your travel secrets?

Well, hundreds of Australians shared theirs with Australian Traveller magazine who have compiled a list of Australia’s 100 Best Travel Secrets.

And unlike most ‘secret’ lists, there really are lots of surprises in this one that will inspire you to stay in Australia for your holiday this year.

As well as over 1,000 nominations from the magazine’s readers, a panel of 11 travel experts, including Dr Chris Brown, Kate Ritchie and Sonya Kruger, helped decide the final list.

Among the surprises on the list were Wilpena Pond in South Australia — a near perfect oval that is large enough to fit six Ulurus, and the ‘ultimate secret treehouse’, which has been revealed in the Blue Mountains.

 The full list is available in a special collector’s edition of Australian Traveller on sale April 3, but here are the top 10 to whet your appetite:

Top 10 Best Secrets in Australia

1. White’s Beach, Byron Bay, NSW

2. Wilpena Pound, Flinders Ranges, SA

3. Swimming with Minke Whales, QLD

4. Baird Bay Eco Experience, SA

5. Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa, NSW

6. Cape Range National Park, WA

7. Shelly Beach near Manly, NSW

8. Karijini National Park, WA

9. Paperbark Camp, NSW

10. Secret Bush Camps of Arnhemland, NT

How many have you been to?

Top 10 Things To Do In Sydney That Locals Recommend

Sydney is a magnet for holidaymakers from all over the world, and after you’ve spent some time in the harbourside city, it’s easy to see why – it’s one of those places where the locals seem to be having just as much fun as the tourists, if not more. While the Opera House and its majestic Bridge are appreciably its most recognisable icons, you don’t have to do much digging to uncover the many hidden gems that make the hub of Australia’s east coast an exciting place all year round. Here are ten of the best.

The Bridge Climb at Sunset

If you’re wanting to take in as much of Sydney as you can in the shortest time, one way is from 130-odd metres above its famous glittering harbour while the sun sets behind the Blue Mountains. After suiting up, your group of intrepid adventurers start the guided trek to the top of Sydney’s most impressive feat of engineering. With adult twilight packages starting at $278 it ain’t the cheapest thrill, but the 360 degree view of the city at dusk is unforgettable.

The Rocks Market on Weekends

On the northern doorstep of the CBD and a short hop from the Opera House, the Rocks Market is a trove of handcrafted jewellery, original artworks, and bags and dresses designed by some very talented stallholders. Open 10am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday, all year round. Catch a bus, train or ferry to Circular Quay.

Day Trip to the Blue Mountains

Many tours head daily to the World Heritage-listed wonderland of mountains, gorges and bushland that starts on the banks of the Nepean River, 50km west of the Sydney CBD. Highlights include the Flat Rock Lookout at Wentworth Falls, the famous Three Sisters at Katoomba, and fine dining and local produce at Leura. Oztrek’s tours start at $59 per person.

Star Casino at Night

For the card shark who likes fine food and entertainment with their high stakes gambling, the Star Casino in Pyrmont, located opposite the CBD across Darling Harbour, has it all. New additions include the Marquee Nightclub with a dance floor accommodating over 700 people, and the 5-Star Darling hotel, with impressive views of the city skyline.

Shows at the Domain

If there’s a show on at the Domain, you owe yourself to make the short trip to Sydney’s ultimate outdoor venue on the eastern fringe of the CBD. The Sydney Festival in January is when the place really comes alive, but there’s still plenty happening year round, including, of course, Carols in the Domain.

Water Taxi to Fort Denison

For history buffs, the former penal colony of Fort Denison features Australia’s only Martello tower and the very last built in the British Empire. If that means anything to you, you’ll definitely want to hop on a water taxi from Circular Quay to the island, which also boasts a well-reviewed restaurant/cafe. H2O Water Taxis start at $80 per person.

Kayaking on the Harbour

Suitable for both beginners and advanced paddlers, the half-day and morning kayak tours offered by Life’s An Adventure are, along with the Bridge climb, the best way to appreciate the Harbour’s natural beauty and landmarks. The day tour breaks for a picnic lunch of smoked salmon, fresh salad and other delectables.

Sculpture by the Sea at Bondi Beach

It’s just wrapped up, but don’t despair – it’ll be back in 2014. This year, Sydney’s premier outdoor art show featured around 70 works by artists from around the world, against the beautiful backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. Definitely one you can bring the kids to.

Taronga Zoo

The Zoo, in Mosman on Sydney’s lower north shore, is a family favourite. Twelve minutes from the city by ferry, it features around 340 species, free shows and grand views of the Harbour. Children under 4 get in free.

Dinner in Centre Point’s 360 Restaurant

Fine Australian cuisine and cocktails are served up with unmatched views of the city skyline from 360 Bar and Dining at the top of Sydney Tower. The revolving restaurant offers red carpet service in gently lit mahogany surrounds. The $30 Mon-Fri lunch special is a favourite with local high fliers.

Australia’s Best Health Retreats

Whatever your health issues, whether its stress, weight loss or you simply need to cleanse your mind– sometimes the best medicine is to get away. Below we shall look at four of Australia’s best health retreat destinations for uninterrupted, healing bliss.

Golden Door Retreats – Hunter Valley and Queensland

Golden Door has two health retreats and three spas across Queensland and New South Wales.

Enjoy at treatment at the Gold Door Retreat
Enjoy a relaxing treatment at the Gold Door Retreat

Situated in the picturesque Hunter Valley is The Golden Door – Elysia, one of Australia’s best health retreats. The retreat runs a range of relaxing health and wellness programs to unveil “a healthier, happier and motivated you.” There are weekend, 3-day, 5-day and 7-day packages to choose from as well as single treatments.

The Golden Door Health Retreat Queensland boasts an unrivalled location in the heart of the state’s Hinterland, just a short drive from the hustle and bustle of Surfer’s Paradise.  Spoil yourself with their exquisite menu of spa treatments such as a Hawaiian lomi lomi massage, reiki, herbal volcanic heat wrap and organic body revitaliser.

Links:

Samadhi Spa and Wellness Retreat – Daylesford, Victoria

Regularly listed in the top 10 Australian health retreats, Samadhi Spa and Wellness Retreat offer the ultimate relaxation and indulgence experience.

Samadhi Retreat is situated just outside of the picture-perfect town of Daylesford in Country Victoria. You can choose to visit for as little as a half or full day with packages such as: ‘Half Day Balanced Lifestyle Retreat’, which includes guided meditation, therapeutic massage, use of the spa and more; or try the ‘Full Day Rejuvenation Retreat’ and spoil yourself with an invigorating head and scalp massage, oriental butterfly eye treatment and more.

Samadhi Retreat: Life doesn't get much better than this!
Samadhi Retreat: Life doesn’t get much better than this!

For longer stays, accommodation is everything and more that you’d expect from this world-class retreat. Think peaceful, tranquil and simple décor in amongst quaint lush gardens.

Gaia Retreat – Byron Bay, NSW

Where better place to go to de-stress than the beautiful Byron Bay? As one of the most relaxed regions in Australia, it seems fitting to have one of the best health retreats there.

Gaia Retreat is co-owned by Australian icon – Olivia Newton John – and its isolated location in the stunning hinterland is ideal for helping you achieve all of your health and wellbeing goals.

There are both day spa and longer packages available at Gaia Retreat. The staff can create a personalised program for you depending on your goals – be it to get fit, lose weight or detoxify yourself.

Let your worries melt away in the salt water pool or spa while taking in the breathtaking scenery that surrounds you, or wake up to morning yoga, Pilates or meditation class.

Ki Health Retreat – Kangaroo Island, SA

The final top Australian destination on our list is Ki Health Retreat, situated on the idyllic Kangaroo Island off the south coast of South Australia.

Ki Health Retreat is more about healing and less about pampering than many of the other health retreats in Australia. You’ll be expected to follow strict regimes, but can expect outstanding results by the end of your program.

All programs last for 6 nights and you can choose from either a Dynamic or Moderate Detox program. Private rooms with views of Emu Bay are included as well as a range of fitness classes, meditation sessions, cooking classes, a deep tissue massage and more.

You’ll have to book flights to Kangaroo Island to get to the retreat, so ensure you plan ahead.

Dreamy honeymoon destinations: Australia

Whether you have Australia on your doorstep or are travelling from the other side of the world – there is nowhere more fascinating than the great Land Down Under – especially if you’re celebrating your honeymoon! Take a look at our top five honeymoon destinations in Australia for inspiration.

1. Magnetic Island, Queensland

Just a short boat trip away from Townsville in northern-Queensland is the spectacular Magnetic Island. Offering everything you could want in a honeymoon destination and more – Magnetic Island has been attracting just-married couples for decades.

Romantic sunset on Magnetic Island
Romantic sunset on Magnetic Island

Unlike many other islands off of Queensland, there are hotels and resorts to suit every budget without sacrificing on luxury or romance. Whether you’re after an ocean view apartment, beachfront villa or a rustic cottage set amongst the lush green forest of the national park – Magnetic Island is sure to impress.

With tranquil waters, secluded beaches and warm tropical weather all year round – where could be better?

2. Margaret River Region, Western Australia

Western Australia is renowned for its breathtaking coastline that offers a more secluded experience than you’ll find in the more touristy areas of Queensland, for example. One of the most romantic regions of Western Australia is Margaret River.

A popular holiday destination for Perth locals – as it’s just a six hour drive south of the capital – Margaret River is famous for its laid-back surf culture and some of our country’s best wineries. You’ll find hotels hidden away deep in the bush, along a quiet stretch of beach or in the heart of a local winery.

3. Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory

What better way to celebrate your recent nuptials than to get as far away from the hustle and bustle of city life as possible? Well there’s no place better to get away from it all than at Kakadu National Park – situated a few hours’ drive east of Darwin.

Camp under the clear starry skies or indulge yourselves in a relaxing massage and spa treatment. Hire a 4WD or join a tour to explore some of Australia’s most dramatic scenery that includes tropical wetlands, beautiful waterfalls and the chance to experience crocodiles in the wild.

4. Barossa Valley, South Australia

For couples that enjoy the finer things in life – South Australia’s Barossa Valley could be the ideal honeymoon destination. The famously picturesque wine region also has a wonderful range of other activities that are perfectly suited to honeymooners.

Enjoy lunch at one of the many world-class restaurants while sipping on a glass of locally-produced wine and taking in stunning views over the rolling green hills and vineyards. Complement your meal with a cheese tasting tour or simply stroll hand-in-hand through one of the charming English-style towns such as Tanunda or Birdwood.

5. Whitsundays, Queensland

Daydream Island, Whitsundays - the name says it all!
Daydream Island, Whitsundays – the name says it all!

Our list is not complete without mentioning one of the most beautiful and world-famous areas in Australia – the Whitsunday Islands. This group of tropical islands off the coast of Queensland offers a picture-perfect place to relax with your new spouse. There are a huge range of holiday packages catering for couples wanting to spend their honeymoon on one of the Whitsunday Islands.

The sunsets from the islands are breathtaking while the crystal clear waters are perfect for water-sport loving couples – making the Whitsundays one of Australia’s most popular honeymoon destinations. Most resorts on the islands offer honeymoon packages so you’ll always get a little something extra out of your holiday.