Tag Archives: weekends

— Gold Coast —

How to do the Gold Coast Hinterland three ways

WRITTEN BY ELIZA SHOLLY • FEBRUARY 25, 2020

  • It’s hard to imagine the Gold Coast ever dropping off the list of Australia’s most popular destinations. And nor should it.

    The sun, the surf and, increasingly, a sophisticated dining scene secures the region’s widespread appeal. Yet, just next door is an entirely different but equally inviting locale, whether you’re up for a pace-changing side trip or a stand-alone escape.

     

    The Gold Coast Hinterland is a rich amalgam of national parks, scenic delights and charming towns. Full of pristine Gondwana rainforest, the hinterland is less than an hour’s drive from the bright lights of Surfers Paradise, but a world away – the coast’s energetic buzz making way for a welcome calm.

     

    Whichever way you slice it, this lush paradise is a dream. Still, we’ve decided to carve it up three ways: for couples, families and nature-lovers.

    For couples

    If you’re going to get a song stuck in your head for two days straight, it may as well be Songbird by Bernard Fanning. The sweet tune from an Aussie fave proves an earworm from the very moment we pulled up at Songbirds Rainforest Retreat, a gorgeous hideaway in Tamborine Mountain.

    Songbirds Rainforest Retreat is a gorgeous hideaway in Tamborine Mountain

    If it’s a slower pace you’re after, this is a dream spot. There are just six villas, each spacious, well-appointed and surrounded by 20 hectares of verdant rainforest. And you can forget Fanning. The soundtrack here is the real deal – a chorus of birdsong to help you unwind – and your private balcony is the perfect place to enjoy it.

     

    Just up the road, Tamborine Mountain Gallery Walk is ideal for hand-in-hand meandering. The shops are hit and miss, but the hits are big – think chocolate, cheese, fudge – and the village vibe will infiltrate your bones. Plus, at the Macdonnell Road end of your stroll, Tamborine Mountain Distillery awaits, tasting room included.

     

    For lunch, Three Little Pigs Bar & Bistro on Main Street is a modern space with a strong cafe menu. A little further afield, it’s hard to pass up the romantic setting of a gourmet picnic (complete with bubbles, obvs) at O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards. And yes, there’s a cellar door.

    It’s hard to pass up O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards

     

    Back ‘home’, Songbirds’ restaurant is a genuine five-star treat. Head chef Meyjitte Boughenout delivers a creative menu, where house-grown produce is king and the wine list is exceptional. So too, restaurant manager and sommelier Alex Menzies’ recommendations.

    For families

    Round up the young ones. O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is going to blow their mismatched cotton socks off.

     

    Located in the heart of the World Heritage-Listed National Lamington Park, O’Reilly’s wouldn’t be out of place in any of these three sub-categories. I’ve given it top billing in the family category because of the parent-friendly volume of kid-friendly activities.

    The flying fox adventure at O’Reilly’s Retreat

    Wildlife shows, glow worm caves, a 180-metre-long flying fox, Segway tours, and the friendliest rainbow lorikeets you’re likely to meet – it’s a boredom-smashing combination.

     

    For parents – an oft-forgotten element of the term family-friendly – O’Reilly’s Lost World Spa offers a blissful escape. The usual selection of treatments is available, but for an adult-themed indulgence (hang on, hang on… mind out of the gutter please) try the Vinotherapy Ritual. Don’t deny it, you’ve always wanted to soak in a wine bath.

     

    On the accommodation front, there is a range of options including two-bedroom suites and two- and three-bedroom villas; the latter sleeping up to nine. The villas, featuring mesmerising valley or rainforest views, are contemporary, yet cosy, and include a spacious deck with a spa.

     

    There is a cafe, restaurant and bar on-site (the pizza is A-plus) and in-room dining is available. For the self-caterers, grab your supplies at the FoodWorks in Canungra on the way through.

    O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is a rainforest retreat

    O’Reilly’s is a destination in itself, but if you need even more adventure to exhaust young energy, hit up Thunderbird Park. With mini-golf, horse riding, laser skirmish, crystal mining and a treetop ropes course, everyone will sleep well. A range of accommodation, from camping through to four-star lodges, is available.

     

    Are the treetops not high enough for your mini adventurers? Float among the clouds with Hot Air Balloon Gold Coast, a sky-high treat over the wide-open Scenic Rim that will leave mouths agape.

    Thunderbird Park is a hit with kids

    For nature lovers

    Would it be okay to just write ‘all of the above’ here? No? Okay, fine. For nature lovers, the Gold Coast Hinterland is your proverbial oyster and if your boots were made for walking, the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk will be more than satisfactory.

     

    It’s a three-day, 54-kilometre challenge connecting the Lamington and Springbrook national parks via the Numinbah Valley. Start in the magical Green Mountain section, deep in Lamington territory, and be wowed by wildlife-rich subtropical and temperate rainforest, hidden waterfalls, magnificent lookouts, freshwater swimming holes and ancient volcano landscapes.

     

    Bite-sized portions of the track are also walkable and equally awe-inspiring. Try the four-kilometre Purling Brook Falls Circuit. Shorter still, Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk, a combination of floor trails and bridges, winds through dense canopies over a leisurely 45 minutes.

    Sunshine in Lamington National Park

    — Australia —

    5 Australian road trips you’ve never heard of 

    WRITTEN BY ELIZA SHOLLY • FEBRUARY 17, 2020

    Beyond the caravan convoys lies a world of rustic road trip routes just waiting to be explored.

    Head off the beaten path, and outside the typical tourist routes and you might just find something reminiscent of a long-forgotten authentic Australia.

     

    Here, road trips you’ve never heard of but definitely need to explore.

    1. New England Highway (NSW)

    878km/approx. 10 hours drive

    Why you should do it

    The New England Highway is an alternative route to the Pacific Highway that links Sydney and Brisbane. Beginning in Hexham, Newcastle in the south, the highway ends in Yarraman, north of Toowoomba in Queensland.

     

    The route stretches a little longer than its coastal cousin, but is worth it for the peace and quiet that takes you through quintessential Australian towns, reminding you of simpler times passed.

     

    Swap your city-style latte for a meat pie at the servo and enjoy lazy landscapes intercepted by nostalgically charming architecture. Pack your winter woollies if you’re travelling in the cooler seasons and drink in the fresh, crisp air.

    Must-see

    Check out the beautiful cathedrals of the late 1800s in Armidale, indulge in the great grub (especially for meat eaters) and Celtic culture of Glen Innes, soak up the country music scene in Tamworth and explore the beautiful national parks surrounding Tenterfield.

    Wind your way along the The New England Highway

    2. Gold Coast to Seventeen Seventy (QLD)

    568km/approx. 7 hours drive

    Why you should do it

    Travelling along Queensland’s Pacific Coast Way isn’t exactly unheard of with tourists flocking to explore the enchanted forests of the far north. However, what most people don’t realise is that Seventeen Seventy is the perfect destination, and it’s hours before you hit the tropics. Slowly savour the scenery as you embrace your inner Queenslander – chill out, slow down and enjoy the ride.

    Must-see

    Slow city-lovers can stop off in Brisbane while coastal cruisers continue north to explore the Sunshine Coast (embrace the glitz and glamour of Noosa or stay slightly south if you’re into more chilled vibes), stop off in Bundaberg if you’re a fan of old Aussie towns and rum, and explore the secret beaches and magnificent nature at Seventeen Seventy – where you can easily while away a few days cracking coconuts and exploring untouched nature.

    Seventeen Seventy is the perfect destination

    3. Sydney to Adelaide (via Blue Mountains and Broken Hill) (NSW + SA)

    1700km/approx. 19 hours drive

    Why you should do it

    Experience the raw and rugged beauty of this sunburnt country. Think outback, red landscapes, quirky country treasures, and wide open spaces that will undoubtedly invite a deeper connection to the earth and appreciation for Australian culture.

    Must-see

    Bush walk in the Blue Mountains, experience the old country charm of Bathurst, enjoy wine-tasting in sophisticated Orange, check out the famous Dubbo Zoo, discover The Dish in Parkes, enjoy spectacular sunsets and red earth in Broken Hill, soak up the water-soaked scenery at dawn or dusk at Menindee Lake (also a breeding ground for a variety of waterbirds, including herons, ibises, spoonbills and black swan), explore Aboriginal artefacts at Mungo National Park, indulge in the impressive culture of Mildura and the Murray River and enjoy wine tasting in the peaceful Barossa Valley near Adelaide.

    A straight Broken Hill road

    4. The Munja Track (WA)

    220km/approx. 18 + hours drive

    Why you should do it

    Not for the faint hearted, this 4WD-only track allows respite from the crowds conga-lining through the Gibb River Road across the Kimberley, and access to some of Australia’s most rugged, remote land.

     

    The three-day trip takes you from Mt Elizabeth station to Walcott Inlet on the coast, and is the only access point to Walcott Inlett – a pristine stretch of Kimberley coastline. For those with the resources and stamina, this track offers some of Australia’s most awe-inspiring scenery, epic swimming holes and incredible, ancient Aboriginal art.

    Must-see

    You’ll pass through the Drysdale River, Bachsten Bush Camp and discover sacred Aboriginal rock art sites (keep your eyes peeled for the stack of rocks to the right of the track at Wren Gorge which indicates a track that leads to the gorge and some majestic art).

     

    The magnificence of the natural delights cannot be over stated –it is truly worth the effort. Set up on the mud banks at Walcott Inlet to watch the impressive light show at sunrise and sunset (don’t forget your camera!).

    Access some of Australia’s most rugged, remote land

    5. Seafood Frontier (SA)

    Approx. 11 hours drive

    Why you should do it

    While it’s not exactly unheard of (you may meet a few grey nomads along the way), with so many road trippers heading north or for the Great Ocean Road, South Australia’s Seafood Frontier remains one of the less appreciated coastal road trips.

     

    Not for good reason though, as it boasts some seriously serene nature as well as, you guessed it, a sumptuous seafood safari. Taking in the best of the Eyre Peninsula, this track goes from Adelaide to Ceduna via Port Lincoln.

    Must-see

    Give yourself plenty of time (5 days minimum) to meet the giant cuttlefish in Whyalla (one of the world’s most incredible aquatic experiences, according to marine biologists), take a stroll along the picturesque beach at Port Neil, swim with the sea lions and take a seafood cooking class at Port Lincoln, discover the white sand beach at Fishery Bay, indulge in an oyster feast at Coffin Bay, explore the Great Ocean Drive, cliff sculptures and stunning sunsets at Elliston and enjoy some serious seafood indulgence at Streaky Bay.

    the seafood frontier south australian road trips

    On the hunt for the fresh oysters, on the oyster farm tour in Coffin Bay (photo: Michael Wee).

    — South Tasmania —

    How to spend 24 hours in New Norfolk, Tasmania

    WRITTEN BY ELIZA SHOLLY • FEBRUARY 10, 2020

    Let a local show you around their town for an insider’s guide to all the best bits.

    Where exactly

    New Norfolk is a charming town situated on the River Derwent, just 38 kilometres north-west of Hobart.

    Population

    Approximately 5432

    What it’s all about

    New Norfolk, the third oldest settlement in Tasmania, was established by prisoners from Norfolk Island after the gaol was abandoned in 1807. It is a town rich in character, dotted with heritage architecture and antique stores, a hub for growing hops, and surrounded by picturesque rural scenery.

    The perfect itinerary

    Tammy Baird is part-owner of three of New Norfolk’s much-loved businesses: The Drill Hall Emporium, which sells authentic antiques in an old army drill hall; Miss Arthur, an exquisite store of handcrafted homewares; and Flywheel, which specialises in boutique stationery and letterpress printing. Here, this curator of good taste shares with us the perfect day in New Norfolk, Tasmania.

    8am: Breakfast is served

    Enjoy a wholesome breakfast at the onsite kitchen after spending the night at Stanton Farmhouse, a Georgian farmhouse built in 1817.

    9am: Swan down to the river

    Head into New Norfolk, which is just a short stroll along the Esplanade on the River Derwent. Admire beautiful Woodbridge on the Derwent, a heritage-listed boutique hotel constructed circa 1825.

    The misty River Derwent

    10am: Know the drill

    Pack your eco bags for a saunter down Stephen Street. Drop into The Drill Hall Emporium for antiques, Miss Arthur for handcrafted homewares and The Black Swan for books. Grab a pastry to enjoy in Arthur Square.

    11.30am: Explore the town

    Flywheel is a boutique stationery store with a working letterpress studio halfway along High Street. We stock stationery from around the world along with our own handcrafted stationery. You may get to see the 1920s’ printing press in action.

    The flywheel boutique stationery store

    12.30pm: Track down the barracks

    Wander the Willow Court Barracks, Australia’s first purpose-built mental asylum, which operated continuously for more than 170 years and pre-dates Port Arthur Historic Site.

    1pm: Enjoy quality local produce

    Enjoy a paddock-to-plate lunch at The Agrarian Kitchen eatery, owned by Rodney Dunn and Séverine Demanet, founders of the Agrarian kitchen cooking school.

    The Agrarian Kitchen eatery heroes paddock to plate

    2.45pm: Wander to waterfalls

    Drive along the River Derwent to Russell Falls in Mt Field National Park, admiring hop kilns at bushy park estates along the way. It is a short walk to this spectacular waterfall.

    Russell Falls glory

    4pm: Have a beer or three

    Head back through Rosegarland and stop at Two Metre Tall Brewery for a pint of hand-pumped ale and cider.

    5pm: Toast to the farm life

    Return to Stanton Farmhouse to put your feet up by the fire with a cheese platter and a glass of local wine.

    — Brisbane —

    8 of the best things to do in Stafford, Queensland

    WRITTEN BY ELIZA SHOLLY • FEBRUARY 6, 2020

    It’s hard to imagine that dairy cows and tanneries once dotted the landscape now home to cool cafes, coffee roasters and creative spaces. Here’s the lowdown on a suburb reborn.

    Just eight kilometres north of Brisbane, sleepy suburban Stafford is undergoing a makeover. Combining past with present, it’s now emerging as a foodie and coffee haven as industrial roots are re-imagined and succulents, crafts and artisan cheeses fill warehouse spaces, drawing fans from near and far.

     

    Originally known as Happy Valley, Stafford began life in fairly inglorious circumstances. A rural area in the 1800s, it was known for dairy farms, Chinese market gardens and agistment for livestock. Stafford’s proximity to Kedron Brook also meant it was well located for tanneries, wool scours and fellmongeries – places that washed and processed sheep skins. Unfortunately, those activities didn’t do much for the health of the water and, by 1896, concerns were raised about pollution of the brook.

     

    As employment grew, people, churches and schools moved in and residents mingled with trades. Most heavy industry was eventually replaced by housing and a new shopping centre opened where Gibson’s Tannery, one of the original large employers, once stood.

     

    Now Stafford is shirking its toxic past and a new-look suburb is flourishing. The network of parkland and bike paths along Kedron Brook is being embraced as a community and wildlife resource, while the abundance of gyms and yoga studios suggests the locals are an active lot with exercise a priority. It seems coffee is, too.

     

    Patricia, co-founder of The Soul Pantry, loves the neighbourhood’s green areas as well as the larger spaces offered for businesses, including their own airy premises, which once housed taxis. “It’s fantastic now, but it took a solid 30 days to clean it,’ she recalls with a grin and perhaps a slight grimace. She also loves the area’s strong sense of community. “We get to know a lot of people through our workshops and on the first Friday each month we have locals’ night and stay open late for dinner and get-togethers,” she says.

     

    It’s a sentiment echoed by Lachlan Hosking across the road at Q Roasters. “Community is really important to our business. Not just the communities that produce the beans but the one here as well. These people are our friends.”

    1. Elixir HQ

    Creation of brother duo Jason and David Narciso, Elixir HQ is all things coffee in one place: The base of Elixir coffee’s wholesale operations and where its award-winning blends are roasted, it’s also where locals and others from afar gather for coffee pit stops with brekkie and lunch options to boot.

     

    Coffee aficionados can pick up some serious gear then learn how to use it like a pro with Elixir’s Home Barista 101 course.

    Elixir HQ is all things coffee in one place

    2. Q Roasters

    Q Roasters – roaster, wholesaler and cafe – is serious about coffee. As a Q Grader (Q as in quality) and international judge, Lachlan Hosking knows his stuff and brings that knowledge to each unique blend. Part of the landscape since 2014, Q Roasters values sustainability, sourcing beans from producers who care for the land and people who work it. Q Roasters also sells baked goods.

    Q Roasters – roaster, wholesaler and cafe – is serious about coffee

    3. Endeavour Foundation

    Given recycled clothing is the new black, op shopping is now the height of fashion. From hats to homewares, books to boots, hidden retro treasures abound at Endeavour Foundation’s roomy retail store. If that’s not enough, there’s also a Vinnies and a Salvos nearby and, with profits supporting community works, your shopping can be guilt-free.

    4. The Soul Pantry

    Some spaces make your heart sing. This light-filled suburban oasis is a world of earthy discovery. What started life as a florist in the city has expanded into a haven of plants, moss-covered balls and fairy lights, with a range of unique gifts and homewares on the side and an emphasis on local.

     

    Grab a market bunch or get creative – make a terrarium or kokedama (that’s a string ball plant), learn the art of floral arrangement or design your own bespoke workshop. There’s also a delightful selection of books for more home and garden inspo. The Soul Pantry Kitchen is the perfect spot for breakfast or a catch-up with friends. A bright and happy cafe space where kids and dogs are welcome, it also serves great food. Don’t miss the cheese puffs.

    This light-filled suburban oasis is a world of earthy discovery

    5. The Creative Collective Brisbane

    In a lofty gallery where bunged-up cars were once repaired, the Creative Collective Brisbane now showcases artwork, jewellery and handcrafted works of about 40 local artists and craftspeople. Think furniture pieces, home decor, ceramics and gifts you won’t find elsewhere. Commission a piece or join an art or jewellery workshop to release your inner artist. Look out for regular exhibitions and special events.

    The Creative Collective showcases artwork, jewellery and handcrafted works

    6. Benga Box

    When you want to party without bothering the neighbours, Stafford has you covered. Tucked away in a secure warehouse, Benga Box offers a safe venue space for weekend hire, without fear of noise complaints. BYO food and music and it will supply the tech stuff, lectern, stages and dance floor. Happy neighbours = winning.

    Benga Box offers a safe venue space

    7. Pod Espresso

    Neighbourhood Pod Espresso combines your caffeine hit with wholesome organic food choices, such as Rice bowls, nutritious salads or wraps. Take your frappe inside under the changing gallery of artwork by local kids and adults, or pull up a pew outside to soak in the sun. Check the specials board,where bagels often appear as one of the headline acts.

    8. The Cheeseboard

    Tucked up the back of The Soul Pantry warehouse in a white shipping container, The Cheeseboard is home to spectacular artisan Australian cheeses, many from local dairies. It’s also where Wendy Downes, one of just a handful of Australian affineurs (those who mature cheeses), carefully finishes cheeses in climate-controlled caves for wholesale. Enjoy a delicious cheese platter with a matching beer or wine, take a cheese masterclass with various pairings or pick up some select gourmet items and cheese accessories.

    The Cheeseboard is home to spectacular artisan Australian cheeses

    — Launceston —

    Inside Australia’s first social enterprise hotel

    WRITTEN BY ELIZA SHOLLY • FEBRUARY 6, 2020

    Staying in Australia’s first social enterprise hotel teaches the true value of a good night’s sleep.

    Details

    Change Overnight
    25 York Street
    Launceston, Tasmania

    The back story

    In a cosy loft room of a repurposed central-Launceston warehouse, I wake from one of the soundest sleeps I’ve had in a long time. Not just because the city’s newest boutique hotel is flash and has all the creature comforts, but because I know my stay has had a positive impact on the outside world.

     

    Like buying your toilet paper from Who Gives a Crap (it donates half its profits to help build toilets where they’re most needed) or purchasing TOMS shoes (every pair of shoes bought equals a new pair for a child in need), you can now choose to stay in a social enterprise hotel. It’s called Change Overnight and is the only one of its kind in Australia, and apparently one of only two in the world.
    Every night at Change supports one of eight causes. When I made my booking I picked Be Her Freedom – a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to ending human trafficking.

     

    This 18-room hotel officially opened in June 2019. It is the brainchild of young Tasmanian entrepreneurs Tara Howell, of award-winning Blue Derby Pods Ride, and Sam Haberle of S. Group. After teaming up with like-minded locals Toby Wilkin and Marcel Anstie, the idea quickly progressed from conceptual to concrete. Collectively, these four are a social capitalist force to be reckoned with.

    The main room of the social enterprise hotel’s three-bedroom penthouse

    First impressions

    Like the city of Launceston, Change Overnight doesn’t look like much from a distance, but its appeal increases with proximity. I arrive late on a winter’s afternoon only a few days after the official launch. The building’s exterior and entrance are understated. Inside, along a subdued hallway – symbolic of the blinkers we wear to the world’s problems or perhaps our sense of helplessness in the face of so many – are lettered doors. I’m in F: a one-bedroom, two-storey apartment.

     

    Behind each door is a far brighter and more positive space, decorated with a dynamic hand-painted mural and OZ Design furniture. Striking outdoor seating areas have been created using the building’s original exterior walls, minus the windows and roof. Views from this low-rise building take in the underrated city’s retro skyline and heritage homes.

    A penthouse bedroom

    The property

    Operations manager Anna Gibson, who has been integral to the hotel’s interior design, shows me around. The three-bedroom penthouse is particularly appealing. Afternoon sun streams through a wall of windows in the main room onto the comfy chairs and couches, linen throws and cowhide floor coverings. ‘Thanks for being a life changer’ is stencilled on a door.

     

    Change is a self-check-in hotel with state-of-the-art keyless access. Apartments are self-contained but you can choose to have your towels refreshed daily instead of every few days. “It’s literally like Airbnb but a hotel version,” explains Anna. And all sorts of people have already booked to stay, she tells me, including footy fans, corporate groups, solo travellers, couples, families. “There’s no reason you wouldn’t choose us. Our price is competitive, our product’s amazing,” says Tara Howell. Every apartment has a washing machine, well-equipped kitchen, Ultimate Ears speaker, free wi-fi, TV, air-conditioner, hair dryer, iron and ironing board, free undercover parking. Most apartments have views and the hotel is just off Launceston’s cafe strip of George Street.

    A spacious living area

    Change’s eight causes – six chosen by the team and two voted on by the public – range from local to international. “We are unapologetically global,” says Tara, “because we want people to think of their community as not just their backyard.” At this stage the plan is to support different causes each year.

     

    All murals are by Launceston-based street artist Patrick Camino, who’s been inspired by photojournalistic images of people from around the world. One face that particularly resonated with him was that of a man from India he’s since painted on a penthouse wall: “he’s thankful. I really wanted to capture that”. Patrick loves the concept of the hotel. “There’s one thing that’s always interested me,” he says. “Being distinctive.”

     

    Yet the Change team hopes their concept catches on and, eventually, people worldwide will book accommodation based on reasons beyond just amenities, location and price – so that everyone everywhere gets a better night’s sleep.

    The main room and outdoor area of a two-bed apartment

    The causes

    Causes for Change you can support by checking in…

    Act for Kids

    A night funds one therapeutic session for a child or family who has experienced abuse.

    Be Her Freedom

    A night will provide a welcome pack to a survivor of human trafficking upon entering an A21 Campaign shelter.

    Beyond Blue

    A night funds a phone call to a youth in need of mental health assistance.

    Freedom Center

    A night supports one child through a short-term education program in India.

    The Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission

    A night provides 210 breakfasts for children in an orphanage in Banbasa, India.

    Tasmanian Land Conservancy

    A night purchases and protects approximately 10 square metres of land in Tasmania.

    The Unconquered Project

    A night funds the production of 80 packs of sanitary pads and their distribution within India.

    Victory School of Hope

    A night funds one child’s term of education and school supplies at this Port Vila, Vanuatu, school.

    — Launceston —

    The best day trips to take from Launceston

    WRITTEN BY ELIZA SHOLLY • JANUARY 29, 2020

    Having long – and somewhat unfairly – struggled in the shadow of its much-loved capital, Launceston has remained a relatively under-the-radar second city. Until now.

    Thanks to the relocation of the dynamic arts and culture festival that is MONA Foma, Launceston has been given a new lease on life, silently succeeding in climbing the ranks to become the next ‘it’ summer destination.

     

    While in town for the January festival, we thought the best way to take in the sights of the state and surrounds was via a road trip. What we quickly learned was that those who invest in taking the time to explore the area by car will be rewarded with a breadth of day-trip opportunities. These are our picks.

    1. Freycinet National Park

    There are myriad reasons to scribble Tasmania onto your bucket list, this much you don’t need reminding of. What you should remember however, is that Freycinet National Park should sit somewhere near the very top.

     

    Located on the east coast of Tasmania – a scenic two-hour drive from Launceston – Freycinet National Park is a quintessential postcard of Australia’s best flora and fauna.

     

    Comprising a peninsula defined by Schouten Island, alongside a granite mountain range known as the Hazards, Freycinet National Park is the perfect day trip for those keen to stretch their legs.

     

    After paying $24 for entry into the park, there are a number of ways to fill your day.

    Dense bushland of Freycinet National Park

    Hikes

    Spend your day completing one of the many short or long hikes within the national park. One of the most popular (and rewarding) walks is to the lookout that takes in the view of Wineglass Bay from the summit of Mount Amos. The climb is about 40 minutes and takes you to sweeping, panoramic views of Australia’s best beach.

    Cloudy Wineglass Bay

    If you’re keen to get down there, the Hazards Beach hike takes you down to Wineglass Bay. At about the 11-kilometre mark, follow the signage leading through the lush vegetation, alongside sweeping views of Great Oyster Bay, Coles Bay and beyond.

     

    For shorter, more leisurely walks, head to the Cape Tourville Lighthouse. We plugged it right into our GPS and it found the remote enclave with ease. This glacial flat stroll provides commanding views of the east coast of Freycinet, as well as the expansive Tasman Sea, Mount Parsons, Mount Graham, and of course, Cape Tourville Lighthouse.

    Take a glacial, sweeping stroll along the boardwalk

    Sleepy Bay is another nice little short walk. This 1.5-kilometre track provides a look at Tasmania’s rugged coastline, with opportunities to gawp at Freycinet’s famed granite rocks.

    Food

    Inside Freycinet National Park, Coles Bay itself provides a host of food and beverage options. Geographe Restaurant specialises in wood-fired pizzas. But once inside, you’ll find your attention diverted to the outdoor deck with the best views in the business. Enjoy the a la carte menu at Bay Restaurant at Freycinet Lodge, or the casual atmosphere of Richardson’s Bistro. The Freycinet Café and Bakery offers a large selection of breakfast, lunch and snacking options – the perfect pit stop before a day in the national park.

     

    The holy grail of dining options in the area, however, has got to be Freycinet Marine Farm. Taste some of Tasmania’s best fresh seafood, best enjoyed in the sun on the deck or wrapped up to take away. Since opening in 2005, the farm has harvested oysters and mussels daily, serving them alongside scallops, abalone, salmon, prawn and rock lobster – all sourced from local fisherman. They also offer daily water- and land-based walking farm tours.

    Order up at Freycinet Marine Farm

    Beaches

    If you’re brave enough, Friendly Beach an expansive, uncrowded spot for a swim. A small contingent however: the water teeters around the five degree mark so enter at your own risk. For those not as stupid as I, the spot also provides a nice backdrop for a coastal white-sand walk.

    Enter Friendly Beach at your own risk

    2. Bridestowe Lavender Farm

    Australia is home to an array of travel experiences that are as vast as they are unique. Bridestowe Lavender Farm is one of those places.

     

    A 45-minute drive from Central Launceston, Bridestowe is recognised mostly for its spectacular, seemingly endless fields of purple lavender.

    Endless fields of purple perfection

    Funnily enough, alongside its place as one of Tasmania’s signature destinations, the farm is also significant to the state’s pioneering history. In 1922, founder Charles Denny sailed from England to Tasmania with a bag of lavender seeds he procured from the French Alps. Shortly after, the Denny family had built what would become one of the world’s largest farms, setting the standard ever since.

     

    Once you arrive, and pay your $10 entry fee, spend time roaming amid the 50 hectares of fragrant purple fields, only stopping to pick up one of the famous lavender ice creams. There’s also guided tours that run regularly throughout the day.

     

    Even outside the peak flowering period of December to January, the Estate is still home to ornamental gardens, native bushlands and the picturesque backdrop of Mount Arthur. It truly must be seen to be believed.

    Spend time roaming amid the 50 hectares of fragrant purple fields

    3. Tamar Valley

    Snaking through 58 kilometres of luscious countryside, the Tamar Valley has long helped to cement Tasmania’s reputation as one of Australia’s greatest food and wine regions.

     

    Day trip out of the city and fill your belly along the way, venturing through the outskirts of Launceston, Beaconsfield, then south to Relbia. Here are our picks of places to plug into your GPS.

    Tamar Ridge

    Tamar Ridge is what happens when a Pinot Noir obsession needs somewhere to come to life. Stop here for an immersive experience of food, wine and place, set on the banks of the Tamar River.

    Jansz

    Adjacent to the vineyard, overlooking a picturesque lake, a visit to the Jansz Tasmanian Wine Room is a feast of the senses. Find out why Tasmanian sparkling is among the best in the world – it shouldn’t take too much convincing.

    Hillwood Berry Farm

    Similar to Bridestowe, Hillwood Berry Farm is a proudly family-run property that showcases its ideal location. Spend the day picking the best berries on offer, and when you’re done, feast on fruit wines, vinegars, jams and more at the adjoining café.

    George Town Seafoods

    George Town Seafoods is yet another example of Tasmania putting other seafood proprietors to shame. Since 1993, this place has been catching, processing and exporting seafood both locally and around the world. Pop into their flagship location for some fish and chips that are as fresh as you’ll get.

     

    Hint: Bring a car with a big boot. Our Mazda6 wagon had more than enough storage for two, allowing us to fill an esky with some take-away seafood for a sunset picnic.

    Our trusty Mazda6 in its element

    Josef Chromy Wines

    Frequently listed among Launceston’s best culinary offerings, Josef Chromy Wines is a non-negotiable stop in the Tamar Valley.

     

    Located in a charming timber cottage overlooking the lake, the cellar door and accompanying restaurant provides an A+ location for you to experience fresh, local products alongside premier Tasmanian wines.

     

    If you’d like to explore the surrounding vineyard and processing facility, book a ‘Behind The Label’ tour, or one of the other extensive experiences.

    4. Evandale

    A trip to Evandale is one for the history-lovers.

     

    Long thought of as one of the best preserved historic towns in Australia, there is plenty to see and do among the relatively untouched streetscape. Wander around the late-Georgian and early Victorian architectural buildings, which take a glimpse back at Tasmania’s past. In fact, some of these buildings have been there since as early as 1809.

     

    Among the town’s adorable cultural fabric is the annual Sunday country market. A spare 20 cents will grant you entry into a variety of stalls, where you can feast on local produce at one of the popular food trucks, pore over secondhand books,  and pick up local crafts. There’s even pony rides if the kids (or you) feel that way inclined and space for more general regional musings.

    Local charm of Evandale Maket

    5. Cataract Gorge

    Cataract Gorge is to Launceston what Bondi Beach is to Sydney – an unmissable, jaw-gaping natural attraction alarmingly close to the city. Unlike Bondi Beach, however, Cataract Gorge is a place you (and thousands of other tourists) might never have heard of.

     

    Although it’s located only a few minutes’ drive from the main haunt, I will go to bat affirming this place as worthy of an inclusion on a story about day trips.

    Cataract Gorge is the crown in the Launceston jewel

    The space itself hosts an abundance of walking and hiking trails, the world’s longest single-span chairlift, a swimming pool, restaurant, kiosk, café, peacocks and wildlife, gardens, a suspension bridge, an inclinator, panoramic lookouts and an interpretation centre. I’ll forever kick myself for not prioritising this place sooner.

     

    Pack your bathers, sunscreen and some good walking shoes and get lost amid the wilderness; only stopping for a dip in the gorge or for something to eat. Your options are either Gorge Restaurant, for more upscale fare, or the charming Basin Café with views for days.

    A dip in the gorge

    Getting there:

    Flights to Launceston depart daily from Melbourne and Sydney. Direct flights from Brisbane are also available on select days.

    Playing there:

    The best way to explore Launceston and surrounds is by hiring a car. There are an array of options both at the airport, and in the city center. We opted for a Mazda6 and highly recommend. It was the perfect hybrid of inner-city mover and off-road expert. Enjoy!

    — Australia —

    All the best things happening in your state this February

    WRITTEN BY ELIZA SHOLLY • JANUARY 29, 2020

    There’s no shortage of things to do in Australia. If anyone knows that, it’s us…

    However with such a breadth of things going on around the country, it can sometimes get a little overwhelming to separate the champs from the chumps. You’re busy people, we get it.

     

    To help you out, we have collated a guide of the best-goings-on for the month of February, helping you plan your calendar accordingly. Thank us later.

    NSW

    Bring in the Lunar New Year in the heart of Sydney
    February 1-10.

    The Chinese New Year will be celebrated in style this year, with the Lunar Lanterns exhibition being stationed between the Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay and the Rocks.

    Celebrate the Lunar New Year at Sydney Lunar Festival, produced by the City of Sydney

    Follow the 13 larger-than-life lantern animals (signs of the Chinese zodiac) and wind up in the Rocks Lunar Markets for a feast.

     

    With the Sydney Harbour Bridge lit up red, the Darling Harbour dragon boat races and a ‘zodiac roulette’ all in the vicinity, the Lunar New Year leaves you with plenty to explore.

    Celebrate the humble tomato at the Tomato Festival
    February 15-16, Sydney.

    Hosted at the Royal Botanic Garden, this year’s Tomato Festival is celebrating the magic of seeds!

     

    Boasting a tomato taste test, a ‘longest’ lunch, cooking workshops and plenty of tomato-inspired food, drinks, sauces and condiments.

     

    If you are a fan of the humble red fruit, head to the Botanic Gardens for this festival, and if you are a tomato connoisseur take it a step further by entering one of the many tomato competitions to really get involved.

    Get your Groove on at Laneway Festival,
    February 2, Sydney.

    Hosted at an open-air amphitheatre in Rozelle’s Callan Park, Laneway festival champions indie music and, this year in particular, women in music.

     

    With a solid line up of indie rock, pop and R&B/hip-hop, Laneway 2019 boasts names like our very own Ruel and Tones & I.

    Laneway Festival is the event everyone is talking about

    Head back in time at the Roaring 20s festival,
    February 8–29, Blue Mountains.

    Running from the Friday the 1st till Sunday the 24th of February, the Roaring 20s and all that Jazz festival is an opportunity to step into your best evening gown and whip out the suspenders.

     

    Hosted at venues across the region including the historic Carrington hotel in Katoomba and Hydro Majestic Hotel in Medlow Bath, the festival will be filled with live jazz performances, 1920s fashion and even a ukulele festival.

    The original party palace will showcase a magestic scale lunch

    Enjoy a harbour sunset with 90s rock tunes at the zoo,
    Dates throughout Feb, Sydney.

    Twilight at Taronga’s summer concert series is back with another standout line-up. With headliners like Broods, Kasey Chambers, Meg Mac and a comedy gala featuring Kitty Flanagan, Luke McGregor, Randy and The Stevenson Experience, this event is promising a lot and delivering all throughout February.

     

    On-site food trucks and bars complement the performances, and the reduced entry price to the zoo on the day isn’t half-bad either. This years proceeds go to the Wildlife Crisis Appeal.

    Experience the thrill of a summer twilight open air show on the lawn of Taronga Zoo’s intimate natural amphitheatre

    Hit the waves at the Byron Bay Surf Festival,
    February 14-16, Byron Bay.

    A festival encapsulating the essence of beach culture, the Byron Bay Surf Festival is all about the waves, the board and the sand.

     

    With 10 events spanning five days including surfing, shaping, art, music, film and yoga, there is something for everyone (even those of us who can’t stand up on a board).

    Byron Bay Surf Festival is an annual festival celebrating surf culture then and now

    VIC

    Opening: Mrs Singh
    Flinders Lane, Melbourne

    We didn’t think it would be possible to squeeze another ounce of cool into Melbourne’s Flinders Lane, but Jessi Singh has somehow found a way.

     

    The internationally acclaimed Chef-Restauranteur – Daughter In Law, Horn Please, Don’t Tell Aunty, Babu Ji NYC, Bibi Ji – is introducing Melburnians to another fabulous lady in his life: Mrs Singh.

     

    The vibrant wine bar boats marbled blue floors, gold accents, monochrome speckled terrazzo among a 65-seater room. Expect a revolving menu of small plates, which heroes Asian flavours and Indian flair.

    You’ll find Mrs Singh at 88 Flinders Lane

    Watch an independent film in the open air,
    February 1, Mornington Peninsula.

    The AGL Peninsula Film Festival is one of Victoria’s most iconic film festivals. Featuring independent Aussie films, the festival includes both paid and free events, including a free short film festival held at Rosebud Village Green.

     

    For a great time, pack a rug, a picnic and some pals and seat yourself in front of the giant outdoor screen for this night of shorts.

    Peninsula Film Festival is Victoria’s largest, outdoor film festival

    Get lost in the Summer Night Market,
    Every Wednesday in February, Melbourne.

    Hosting 60 global street food stalls and festival bars and over 100 fashion, homewares and merchandise stalls, the Queen Vic Market’s Summer Night Market has it all.

     

    Polish off some dumplings from Pierogi Pierogi or chomp on some Italian cannoli from That’s Amore Cheese, as you meander through the stalls.

    Get lost in the Summer Night Market

     

    A novel idea: the Melbourne Book Market,
    All February, Melbourne.

    Set in the A Shed near the corner of Peel and Victoria streets at Queen Victoria Market, this market is a book lover’s dream.

     

    Sift through the canonical tomes, the romantic novellas and Stephen King thrillers in a warehouse full of pre-loved books.

    Bruthen Blues & Arts Festival,
    February 14-16, East Gippsland.

    A blues festival in the idyllic country town of Bruthen, East Gippsland, this three-day event includes music, workshops, local food and a country market.

     

    Expect great tunes and food, and enjoy a wind-down recovery day on the Sunday, soaking in some of Bruthen’s glorious small-town charm.

    Expect great tunes and food at the Bruthen Music and Arts Festival

    Indulge yourself at the annual Ice Cream Festival,
    February 12-23, Yarra Valley.

    Celebrating the end of summer in style, the Yarra Valley Chocolatier and Ice Creamery hosts a 12-day festival of all things ice-cream.

     

    With 144 flavours to choose from, and 12 new flavours added for every day of the festival, there will be a combination of all-time classics and exotic newbies to try from. Why not try your ice-cream on a pizza? Or in a hot chocolate? Anything goes at the Yarra Valley’s Irresistible Ice Cream Festival.

    Expect 144 flavours, ice cream dessert menu and special hosted tasting sessions

    Fruits of the Yarra Festival,
    February 15-16, Yarra Valley.

    Held over two days at Rayner’s Orchard, this market showcases the amazing produce of the Yarra. Fresh fruit and veg and flowers, adorn the many stalls, but there are other activities too!

     

    Immerse yourself in farm culture with a tractor ride, learn how to preserve jams like your grandma and seat yourself in the cafe to enjoy a delicious (and locally sourced) feed.

    ACT

    Live on the wild side at the Royal Canberra Show,
    February 28-March 1, Exhibition Park Canberra.

    In our usually very quiet and organised capital city pops up the action-filled, sugar-fuelled and boisterous Royal Canberra Show.

     

    With carnival rides, fireworks, motocross and a petting zoo, there is something for everyone at this once-a-year event.

     

    Enjoy a beer, a burger and some onion rings as you meander through the stalls and activities, but don’t forget to grab a show bag on your way out.

    Celebrate Australia’s diversity at the National Multicultural Festival,
    February 21-23, Canberra.

    Attracting more than 200,000 people in previous years, the National Multicultural Festival is a lively event that celebrates Australia’s linguistic and cultural diversity.

     

    Over 300 stalls line the streets, serving food from every corner of the world, as performers sing and dance on one of the six stages across the festival, unifying a diverse collective in their unique Australianness.

    Celebrate Australia’s linguistic and cultural diversity

    TAS

    Release your inner child at Obstasplash,
    February 2-3, Tynwald Park, New Norfolk.

    For ages 13+, this is a kids’ event tailored to adults: imagine a giant water-based obstacle course, spread across grassland. This is something dreams are made of.

     

    Head over to Tynwald Park to slip, slide and bounce with your pals, but don’t forget to book! Spots fill up fast (understandably).

    Explore Tassie food and wine at Festivale,
    February 1-2, City Park, Launceston.

    Renowned for its food and wine, Tasmania is a hotspot for anyone who considers themselves a fan of fine dining. A highlight of this food culture is the Festivale, held on the first weekend of February, where 75 food stalls line historic City Park in a celebration of Tasmanian cuisine.

     

    With fairy lights hanging from the trees, and Eskimo Joe playing live in the background (on select days), the ambience is perfect for al fresco dining in the park.

    Get your sailor’s hat on at the Australian Wooden Boat Festival,
    February 5-8, Sullivan’s Cove Hobart.

    Seemingly a very niche festival, this is a great way to see, eat and explore the coastal nature of Tassie.

     

    With a large display of wooden boats (naturally), nautical demonstrations, live music and theatre as well as food outlets with a strong seafood theme, this is a lot more than a boat show.

    Thousands of people have turned out to watch the opening of the Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart

    WA

    Immerse yourself in the Perth Festival,
    February 8 – March 3, Perth.

    The Perth Festival program is jam-packed, boasting outdoor cinemas, art exhibitions and live shows. The program truly must be seen to be believed.

     

    Highlights include home grown G Flip, Curated By Kids, Ballet at the quarry and a book club at writer’s week.

    Immerse yourself in the Perth Festival

    Get your connoisseur on at the South West Craft Beer Festival,
    February 15, Signal Park – Busselton.

    Somewhere between Perth and Margaret River is a small town called Busselton, whose largest claim to fame is hosting a brilliant craft beer festival.

     

    Boasting more than 120 craft beers from 20 local brewers, there is a beer for everyone – if you’re over 18 of course. The best part of this festival is that they have combined beer and gourmet cheeses, steaks and pizza to make sure the best brews don’t go straight to you head.

    South West Craft Beer Festival exclusively features breweries from the South West

    Dive in for the Rottnest Channel Swim,
    February 22, Rottnest Island.

    One of Western Australia’s most iconic events is the Rottnest Channel Swim, a 19.7-kilometre open-water event spanning from Cottesloe Beach to Rottnest Island. You can enter this team event, and enjoy the exquisite ocean water off the coast of Australia.

     

    If you’re not a swimmer it is equally acceptable to join the mass of onlookers, as you enjoy a coffee on the beach.

    The Rottnest Channel Swim is highly regarded worldwide as one of Western Australia’s most iconic events

    SA

    Get involved with the Adelaide Fringe Festival,
    February 14- March 15, Adelaide.

    The largest arts festival in Australia, and second largest in the world, is the Adelaide Fringe Festival. Every skerrick of Adelaide is immersed in the arts for a magical 31 nights, where you will find comedians in pubs, slam poets on makeshift stages in alleyways and book signings in cafes.

     

    Artists from all over Australia, and the world, head to Adelaide in February to be a part of the Fringe, so really, you should head there too.

    There’s no time like the Fringe in Adelaide

    Amp it up at the Superloop 500,
    February 20-23, Adelaide.

    Adrenaline and entertainment ignite in a fantastic fusion for this motorsport event.

     

    Seat yourself in the grandstand as you are deafened by the sound of rumbling engines and screaming fans.

     

    To top it all, three nights of concerts close proceedings – with performances from our very own Vance Joy and Amy Shark on the Friday night, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the Sunday.

    NT

    Commemorate Goyders day,
    February 5, Darwin.

    Goyder’s day commemorates the day, in 1869, that Surveyor-General George Woodroffe Goyder arrived in Darwin – and effectively marked the beginning of the City of Darwin.

     

    For this occasion Darwin whips out a physical re-enactment of the event, a wind ensemble and hands-on activities on the Darwin waterfront.

    Head to Kakadu to celebrate World Wetlands day,
    February 2, Kakadu National Park.

    World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year to raise awareness around the importance of wetlands for both humans and the planet.

     

    With 7000 square kilometres of wetlands in Kakadu, the Bowali Visitor Centre hosts an event to help you learn all about them. With kids’ activities, a barbecue lunch and a wetlands competition, this is a great day out for the whole family.

    A crocodile lurks along the Yellow Water Billabong in Kakadu National Park.

    QLD

    Cheers to all things mindfulness at the Healthy Hedonism Festival
    Fortitude Valley, Brisbane

    For the first time ever, Australians can explore the ideas of mindfuldrinking and sober-curious culture at the Healthy Hedonism Festival.

     

    Following the boom in Aussies opting for a more balanced lifestyle, this festival will feature food and beverage pop-ups, mindfulcocktail and cooking demonstrations, sampling,boutique fitness and wellness classes, beer yoga,and recovery dips in XCargo’s pop-up pool.

    XCargo is the perfect backdrop

    Get yourself to the Chinchilla Melon Festival,
    February 18-21, Chinchilla.

    In tribute to their melon farming heritage, Chinchillians have created potentially Australia’s best festival – the Melon Festival.

     

    You can expect to eat a few melons, ski on a few melons and participate in a melon bungee, among many other things. Boasting a glorious melon street parade, and only being held once every two years, this is an event you need to jump on.

    See the best of the best compete in Ocean6,
    February 1-2, Surfers Paradise.

    Ocean6 is an event of speed, agility and endurance – on the beach.

     

    Watch surf life savers go head to head in this annual event of sportsmanship, across a range of events: paddle board, ski, beach sprint and of course swimming.

     

    The event is free, and offers amazing views of those who have both the capacity and determination to do sports on weekends.

    An abundance of swell, plenty of water movement and a couple of testing rips

    Participate in the Noosa Summer Swim,
    February 1-2, Noosa.

    If you’re an avid swimmer, have a crack at one of (or all) the events at the Noosa Summer Swim. With long and short races, as well as a social lap, there is room for everyone to participate.

     

    With a great vibe, on a beautiful beach, this summer swim is not to be missed (and the prizes aren’t too bad either).

    The Noosa Summer Swim is a bucket list event for any keen ocean swimmer

    Admire the Sand Safari Arts Festival,
    February 14 – March 1, Surfers Paradise.

    With free access to some of the greatest sand sculptures, this is an amazing exhibition of fleeting art. International and local artists create and exhibit their work along a stretch of Surfers Paradise beach, including (in the past) a 10-tonne sculpture and a life-sized pirate ship resting on the beach.

     

    With this festival come the championships, where visitors can watch as the sculptors begin with a block of sand and create masterpieces that later form the centrepiece for the festival.

     

    If you are interested in sand sculpting, why not take on the challenge of a workshop? Or instead meander around the sculptures at night when they are illuminated and interactive.

    — Yamba —

    A local’s guide to Yamba, NSW

    WRITTEN BY PAIGE RICHARDSON • JANUARY 22, 2020

    Twenty years ago, if you were looking for a laid-back beach holiday in New South Wales, Byron Bay was your best bet. But with Byron Bay becoming increasingly overcrowded and overpriced, many have started to declare Yamba, 120 kilometres to the south, ‘the new Byron’.

    As a Yamba local, I’ve watched the sleepy fishing town of my childhood mature into an impressive beachside destination, which still manages to maintain its unpretentious essence and strong sense of community.

    Where is it?

    Yamba is located on the coast of northern NSW at the mouth of the Clarence River. It’s about a 3.5-hour drive from Brisbane. Visitors arriving from Sydney can catch a one-hour flight to Ballina-Byron Airport and drive the remaining 100 kilometres down to Yamba.

     

    Other towns worth visiting within day-trip distance of Yamba include: the charming riverside town of Maclean; Iluka with its UNESCO World Heritage-listed rainforest; the rugged, unspoilt beaches of Brooms Head and surfing hamlet of Angourie.

    What to do

    Beaches

    With five options to choose from, Yamba has a beach to suit everyone.

    Main Beach

    Best for: amenities.

     

    Main beach has a surf club, cafe and ocean pool and is located directly beneath the Pacific Hotel.

    Yamba ocean pool

    The pcean pool at Yamba main beach

    Whiting Beach

    Best for: small children.

     

    A short 10-minute walk from the centre of town, Whiting Beach is long and flat and has virtually no waves, so it’s perfect for kids, kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders.

    Pippi

    Best for: walkers (and their dogs)

     

    This pristine 1.6-kilometre beach is the best place for a morning stroll and the south end is an off-leash dog area.

    Pippi Beach yamba

    Pristine 1.6-kilometres of Pippi beach

    Convent Beach

    Best for: seclusion

     

    One of Yamba’s lesser-known beaches, Convent is sheltered by surrounding cliffs and has plenty of vegetation for natural shade.

    Turners Beach

    Best for: All-rounder

     

    Turner’s Beach is good for swimming and surfing. It’s patrolled during summer and is just a short walk from the centre of town.

    Yamba Farmers & Producers Market

    Held in the carpark between Whiting and Turner’s every Wednesday morning from 7am to 11am, this quaint market is a favourite among locals. You’ll be able to pick up everything from organic fruit and veg grown in backyards and high quality meat like Dorper Lamb and Esperanza Pork, to artisanal products like Ashby Sourdough and Little Things Grown microgreens.

    Turner’s Breakwall

    Grab a smoothie and breakfast burger from the farmers market and head off for a walk down to Turners Breakwall. On your right you’ll get a great view of Turner’s Beach and the lighthouse on the hill, while on your left you’ll see the open water where the ocean meets the Clarence River and, if you look carefully enough, you’re likely to spot a dolphin or two.

    Turner’s Breakwall

    See the open water where the ocean meets the Clarence River

    Blue and Green Pools Angourie

    Though it’s not technically in Yamba, the quiet coastal village of Angourie, just an eight-minute drive from town is well worth a visit. While die-hard surfers will love the challenging break at Angourie Point, the whole family will enjoy a visit to Blue and Green Pools. Follow the lead of the local kids who expertly climb the rocky cliff face to dive into the freshwater pools below.

    Blue and Green pools

    Blue and Green pools are well worth a visit

    Surf Tip

    Surfers love Yamba because there is (almost) always good surf at at least one of the beaches. If the wind is blowing north, head to Pippi or Turner’s near the breakwall. For a southerly, Angourie Point, Turner’s or Main Beach are your best bet and if it’s blowing west you can surf anywhere.

    Eat + Drink

    Morning

    Drift

    Skip the big crowded cafes in the very centre of town and head around the corner to Drift (next to the Post Office) which serves up city-quality breakfasts. Try their Wakie Wakie, a posh version of a bacon egg roll with spicy capsicum jam and coriander in a garlic sourdough roll.

    Drift Yamba

    Head around the corner to Drift

    Irons and Craig

    Arguably the best coffee in Yamba, this quirky cafe is a converted house filled with eclectic vintage furniture and lush plants. Outside is a thriving kitchen garden complete with chickens. The signature treat here is the house-made sourdough donut which is the perfect midmorning snack.

    Irons and Craig

    Irons and Craig serves the best coffee in Yamba

    Afternoon

    Brgr Spot

    By far the best burgers in town, the juicy patties, clever flavour combos and high quality toppings really hit the spot here. The knowledgeable, laid-back staff at this street-inspired venue are more than happy to guide you through their broad selection of craft tinnies.

    The best burgers in town

    Pacific Hotel

    After your burger, cross the road to the cliff-top Pacific Hotel for one more beer and enjoy the best view in town, looking out over the magnificent coastline below.

    The Pacific Hotel provides the best views in town

    Snacks at Friendly Grocer

    The unassuming Friendly Grocer is in the centre of town: it’s your go-to for authentic, freshly made Pakoras for just .50c a piece.

     Cafe Angourie

    If you’ve driven out to Angourie, it’s definitely worth staying for lunch. This light-filled bohemian cafe serves up healthy gourmet goodies such as roast cauliflower tacos, vegan bowls and coconut tumeric lattes. After lunch, pop next door to Yum Yum’s General Store and check out their impressive range of locally sourced products and house-made pastries.

    Cafe Angourie

    It’s definitely worth staying for lunch

    Night

    Karrikin

    After the roaring success of their cafe Leche, local couple Clare Bourke and Zac Roberts turned their attention to evening food, opening Karrikin just over a year ago. Karrikin manages to encapsulate the very essence of Yamba with its stylish, laid-back decor, unpretentious but accomplished staff and surprisingly inventive share plates showcasing local produce and native Australian ingredients.

     

    The menu changes with the seasons and chef Zac can be found at the local farmers markets every Wednesday, stocking up on fresh seasonal produce from the Clarence Valley and Northern Rivers. The menu is somewhat cryptic, with only the key ingredients listed, making each dish a delicious surprise. The entire menu is refreshingly unpredictable and the desserts are particularly special, nodding to the chef’s creative reimagination of nostalgic classics like fairy bread and Golden Gaytimes,

     

    While a visit to Karrikin is a must, Yamba has plenty of high-calibre dinner options including Sandbar for fresh seafood, Barbaresco Angourie for Italian and The French Pan Tree for classic French cuisine.

    woody head snapper sashimi from The French Pantree

    Woody head snapper sashimi from The French Pan Tree

    Further Afield

    If you’re looking for a change of pace, take a 20-minute drive to the quiet riverside town of Maclean. Fish off the wharf, head to the lookout for panoramic views of the Clarence Valley or simply sit and read a book on the riverbank before checking out some of these eateries.

    Palmers Island General Store (Palmers Island)

    Stop by this unassuming roadside shop, located between Yamba and Maclean, to try one of their delicious house-made pies or load up on gourmet goodies like imported cheese, charcuterie and craft beers. Palmers Island is the second largest of the 100 islands dotted along the Clarence River.

    Botero Roastery and Cafe (Maclean)

    Ask any local where to get the best coffee and they’ll proudly point you to Botero, Maclean’s very own roastery, which supplies beans to cafes throughout Australia. The floor-to-ceiling windows inside the cafe give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the roastery in action, while the outdoor seating offers a fenced in play-area so you can supervise your kids while enjoying your coffee.

    Botero Roastery and Cafe

    Maclean’s very own roastery

    On the Bite (Maclean)

    This tiny cafe in the centre of Maclean is run by a husband and wife team who serve up an inventive, diverse menu. Choose between signature dishes such as a rich lamb korma, light and refreshing Asian salad, or Turkish plate with fresh, crunchy falafels.

    On the bite serves up an inventive, diverse menu

    Sanctus Brewery Co. (Townsend)

    This newly opened craft brewery has become an instant hit with the locals (you’ll notice a much younger, trendier crowd here than at the town’s pubs). The venue offers wide, open spaces, live music and experimental brews like pineapple coconut sour and blueberry crush as well as pale ale, lager and XPA. The large fenced field also makes Sanctus perfect for kids and pets.

    Sanctus brewing co

    Sanctus brewing co is an instant hit with the locals

    — Sydney —

    How to spend 48 hours in Sydney

    WRITTEN BY MIKAELA STOLLZNOW • NOVEMBER 8, 2019

    Sydney is not just a pretty face. While its picture-perfect harbour takes centre-stage, its CBD is brimming with experiences that appeal to cultural and art enthusiasts, food lovers, naturalists and fashionistas. Here’s the ultimate 48-hour Sydney itinerary.

    Day 1

    1pm – Arrive at the Swissôtel Sydney
    Arrive before check-in to make the most of your time in Sydney’s buzzing CBD.

     

    1:30pm – Shop or stroll
    The Swissôtel Sydney is located on prime shopping turf. One of Sydney’s most beautiful historic buildings and unique shopping destinations, the 1898-built QVB (Queen Victoria Building) is a two-minute walk from the hotel, while Myer, David Jones, Westfield and Pitt Street Mall are all within walking distance.

     

    If shopping till you drop is not on your agenda, head to Hyde Park – just a three-minute walk from the hotel. Australia’s oldest public park is home to the poignant ANZAC Memorial building and the Archibald Fountain, and is a lovely, leafy spot to unwind and ease into your Sydney stay.

    Hyde-Park-Archibald-fountain

    Head to Hyde Park, Australia’s oldest public park home to the Archibald Fountain.

    3pm – Check in and dive in
    After you check in to your room, head to the heated pool on the hotel’s rooftop. Enjoy a relaxing swim with views of the surrounding highrises.

     

    6pm – Dine at Jpb
    With a focus on seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, Jpb is a modern Australian restaurant with Swiss influences. The à la carte menu features artfully presented dishes created by executive chef Paul Clune, such as blue-eye cod brandade and Aylesbury duck breast. From Tuesday to Saturday, a pre-theatre menu is available for State Theatre show-goers. The menu includes a two- or three-course dinner with a glass of house wine.

     

    7:30pm – It’s showtime
    Walk across the street to the heritage-listed State Theatre, also known as ‘The Palace of Dreams’. Opened in 1929 and resplendent in Gothic, Italian and Art Deco design, this legendary theatre has long been Sydney’s cultural and artistic hub, hosting a range of performances from music to film to comedy. Watch a show or book ahead for a guided tour of the theatre.

    Swissotel rooftop pool

    Enjoy the city view from the heated pool on the hotel’s rooftop.

    Day 2

    8am – Tick off the big sights
    No Sydney itinerary is complete without visiting its most iconic landmarks, all of which are an easy 15-minute walk from the Swissôtel. From Circular Quay, you can watch Sydney ferries cruise in and out of the harbour and soak up the epic views of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Guided tours of the world-famous sails are also available for those who wish to see behind the scenes.

     

    The charming cobblestoned laneways of The Rocks are also a must see. This historic area was the first European settlement in Australia and is now home to bespoke and luxury fashion stores and more than 50 cafes and restaurants. Markets are held here every Friday to Sunday, with rows of stalls selling artisanal wares and gourmet food.

     

    2:30pm – Enjoy some R&R
    Back at the hotel, check in to Spa & Sport for a relaxing spa treatment. The 200-minute Australian Discovery is the ultimate in indulgence, comprising a foot treatment, full body scrub, massage, mud wrap, signature facial and eye treatment. Shorter treatments are also available, as well as couples’ packages.

    Swissotel Spa & Sport

    Check in to Spa & Sport for a relaxing spa treatment.

    6pm – Rooftop rendezvous
    Located on the top level of nearby Westfield, Babylon is an ultra-chic Middle Eastern restaurant and bar with a tantalising menu, mostly cooked over a custom-built wood and charcoal mangal (Turkish grill). Enjoy a cocktail on the rooftop as the sun sets behind the city skyline, followed by a meal bursting with flavours from Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Syria and Turkey.

    Day 3

    8am – Gardens and galleries
    The Royal Botanic Garden is just 15 minutes from the Swissôtel by foot. You can join a free seasonal tour or wander the beautiful grounds yourself. Take time to visit The Calyx, which houses a colourful array of exotic plants.

    Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens

    Take a stroll through the beautiful Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens.

    On your way back to the hotel, stop by the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Established in 1871, the gallery exhibits art by international greats including Picasso and Van Gogh, Australian icons such as Brett Whiteley and William Dobell, as well as an impressive Aboriginal gallery. There are also more than 30 temporary exhibitions each year, including the much-lauded Archibald Prize.

     

    12:30pm – Leave on a high
    End your stay with a sumptuous high tea at Swissôtel’s elegant Crossroads Bar. Along with a glass of sparkling wine, enjoy savoury bites such as smoked salmon on charcoal bun with caper and lemon butter, and sweets such as fluffy scones with jam and cream.

    High Tea at Swissotel

    End your stay with high tea at Swissôtel’s elegant Crossroads Bar.

    To start planning your Sydney itinerary, head to Swissôtel Sydney.

    — Australia —

    The best October long weekend escapes

    WRITTEN BY ELIZA SHOLLY • SEPTEMBER 24, 2019

    Plan the perfect October long weekend with help from this shortlist of dream jaunts.

    All hail the long weekend. To be enjoyed this year on Monday 7 October, Labour Day celebrates the eight-hour working day, a feat achieved in the mid-19th century. One might argue the eight-hour working day has been subject to inflation over the years, but unpaid overtime won’t stop too many people making the most of a three-day weekend.

     

    Here, some of the best destinations to consider when planning your precious long weekend. Since the public holiday only applies in New South Wales, South Australia and the ACT (other states observe theirs in autumn), we’ve limited the list accordingly. But hey, would taking Monday off be so bad?

    Huskisson, NSW

    Huskisson is a popular launch pad for all things Jervis Bay, the marine paradise that extends from Culburra in the north to Sussex Inlet in the south and east to Point Perpendicular. Home to Booderee National Park, Jervis Bay National Park and Jervis Bay Marine Park, the region is a highlight reel of natural wonders, but Huskisson alone could keep you well and truly happy over a long weekend. Owen Street, Huskisson’s main drag, is packed with cafes, restaurants and retail stores and the ‘Husky Pub’ has Sunday Sesh written all over it. And those beaches – perfection.

    Swim with the seals in Jervis Bay

    Swim with the seals in Jervis Bay (Photo: Jordan Robins)

    Fleurieu Peninsula, SA

    There is much to love about South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula, but in October there’s a particular highlight worth seeking out. Southern right whales continue to splash about in the region’s waters until the end of the month with Victor Harbor the suggested vantage point.

     

    The lure of Fleurieu stretches beyond spotting these majestic cetaceans. Sip world-class wines throughout the McLaren Vale region, explore spectacular coastline at Second Valley, enjoy the natural wonders of Rapid Bay, and return home with at least another long weekend’s worth of fun you didn’t get time for.

    Sunset at Port Willunga

    Central Coast, NSW

    Just an hour north of Sydney, the Central Coast has always been a popular destination thanks to its generous coastline, and the reasons to visit just keep growing. The Boathouse Hotel Patonga is one such reason. The hotel opened late last year following a $5 million revamp and has since expanded to offer accommodation, making it an attractive one-stop-shop if checking in and staying put is your weekender style. If not, there are plenty of beaches, cafes and restaurants to check out, cool gallery spaces to roam and the creative charm of Long Jetty to explore.

    The Boat House Patonga

    Take a seat at Patonga’s Boat House

    Canberra, ACT

    While Canberrans themselves might be looking to get out of town for a long-weekend escape, the nation’s capital cuts an attractive figure for non-residents in search of a quick getaway. Far removed from the dull offering of bygone primary school excursions, Canberra is an on-trend amalgam of cultural delights, intriguing design and fantastic dining. Plus, until 14 October, Canberra shows off its spring credentials with Australia’s premier floral display, Floriade. Take Floriade, add moonlight and twinkling fairy lights, and you’ve got NightFest, the festival’s after dark offering, which runs from 3 to 6 October.

    Hayman Island, QLD

    A little further afield, but certainly worth the additional travel time, Hayman Island has recently reopened and is even dreamier than its luxurious predecessor. A $135 million overhaul, spurred by the damage caused during Cyclone Debbie in 2017, has upped the luxe factor while those world-famous views of the Whitsundays are hard to beat. Now operating as Hayman Island by InterContinental, the 166-room property puts everything at guests’ fingertips, meaning all you have to worry about is which of the resort’s five restaurants and bars to choose from. It’s a hard-knock life.

    Take a dip at Hayman Island

    Lord Howe Island, NSW

    Keen on those island vibes, but not so keen on going the distance? Lord Howe Island has got your back. The UNESCO World Heritage site, sitting pretty in the Tasman Sea about 600 kilometres off Port Macquarie, is a spectacular vision with pristine waters and lush rainforest just the beginning. Only 400 visitors are allowed on the island at any given time, there are no power lines or high-rise buildings and the island-wide speed limit is 25 kilometres per hour – this is a step back in time, in the best possible way. Direct flights to paradise are available from Sydney and Port Macquarie.

    Life on Lord Howe Island

    Limestone Coast, SA

    Travelling along the state’s south-eastern coast from Coorong National Park to the Victorian border, the Limestone Coast is jam-packed with enough natural wonders to keep you occupied for a long weekend and then some. There’s the rugged coastline, of course. And then there’s the Coonawarra region, where terra rossa soils give rise to world renowned cabernet sauvignons. But, while you’re here, be sure to discover what lies beneath, too. The region sits on a subterranean labyrinth of caves and tunnels, which have been uncovered over the years, creating incredible attractions such as sinkholes, sunken gardens and fossil preservation sites.

    Glamp under the stars at Belleweather Wines on the Limestone Coast

    Mudgee, NSW

    About three-and-a-half hours west of Sydney, Mudgee offers a slower pace than many holiday hotspots, but not at the expense of long-weekend necessities: great food, great coffee, great vibes. Add wide tree-lined streets, beautiful colonial buildings and that fresh country air, and you’ll return home rejuvenated and ready for the four-day week. And perhaps a little smug. Take the smug factor up a notch by bedding down in Australia’s first bubble tent, overlooking the vast Capertee Valley.

    Bubble Tent glamping

    Bubble Tent’s unique outer shell gives guests an experience like no other

    Mornington Peninsula, VIC

    Victorians might not be blessed with the October public holiday, but the state’s glorious Mornington Peninsula boasts strong long weekend appeal for interstate travellers. Less than 90 minutes’ drive from Melbourne Airport (Tullamarine), the Mornington Peninsula combines seaside charm with gastronomic delights and inviting cellar doors, making it a wonderful place to spend a few indulgent days.

    — Gippsland —

    Best Weekend breaks in greater Gippsland

    WRITTEN BY MIKAELA STOLLZNOW • AUGUST 20, 2019

    There’s a rumble of curiosity building around Gippsland, with weekend wanderers discovering impressive scenery and welcoming locals just beyond Melbourne’s city fringe.

    Set off from Melbourne on a drive through rolling countryside to discover boutique food, award-winning wines and vintage finds in the pretty villages and coastal towns of greater Gippsland. Where should you start, you ask? These are the hot spots everyone is talking about.

    Lakes Entrance

    Treasured for its swimming beaches, waterfront cafés and colourful fishing fleet – many of which sell the day’s catch to local restaurants – Lakes Entrance has long been one of Victoria’s premier holiday destinations. Cross the footbridge to Ninety Mile Beach and hire a fishing boat, kayak, surfboard or stand-up paddleboard (SUP) for a chance to see the playful and curious Burrunan dolphins that thrive in the sheltered waters of the Gippsland Lakes.

    An aerial view of Lakes Entrance.

    Walhalla

    Turn back the clock in charming Walhalla to experience life as it was in the gold mining era. Wander through lovingly restored heritage buildings, ride the Walhalla Goldfields Railway and explore the underground mysteries of the Long Tunnel Extended Gold Mine. This pocket-sized mountain town of fewer than 20 residents is pretty as a picture in spring in particular, with blossoms hanging  heavy from the trees.

    Loch

    Lovely little Loch is truly picture-perfect and bursting with collectables, antiques and gifts. The locals are also strong advocates for having zero ‘food miles’, with most cafés and restaurants only using produce from the area. Gin is what really put Loch on the map, however, so stop in at the Old Bank – now home to Loch Brewery & Distillery – to sample their signature gins, traditional craft ales and a single malt whisky that’s so good it’s snapped up as soon as it hits the shelf.

    Loch, Gippsland

    Sample the signature gins, traditional craft ales and single malt whisky at Loch Brewery and Distillery.

    Inverloch

    The seaside village of Inverloch is just a stone’s throw from Melbourne and fast becoming the go-to weekend getaway when you need to escape the city hustle and bustle. Check out the popular surf beach and sheltered foreshore, plus the string of lively cafés and restaurants in town. To see more of the scenic surrounds, take the Bunurong Coastal Drive to explore a dinosaur dig, spot a passing whale or simply stroll the many beaches, caves and rock pools.

    Inverloch, Gippsland

    Check out the string of lively cafés and restaurants in town.

    Mallacoota

    Over in the east, Mallacoota could quite possibly be Gippsland’s greatest escape. Perched on the edge of the UNESCO-listed World Biosphere Reserve of Croajingolong National Park, the town boasts one of the most picturesque camping spots in all of Australia. Walking, cycling, fishing and simply slowing down are Mallacoota’s most popular pastimes.

    Mallacoota, Gippsland

    Mallacoota jetty’s the perfect spot to go fishing.

    To discover more about the greater Gippsland region, visit Visit Gippsland.

    — Hunter Valley —

    Maitland: your next short-break getaway

    WRITTEN BY PAIGE RICHARDSON • JULY 30, 2019

    Maitland has undergone a transformation of late, as independent culinary hot spots and local artisans spring up across the region, discovers Sally Scott.

    Often overlooked by its more famous neighbours, Maitland packs a punch for a short break getaway. Located just two hours from Sydney, this charming region has a rich cultural history, emerging food scene and thriving arts community. Most of the action can be found in Maitland’s High Street and the redeveloped shopping precinct The Levee, on the banks of the mighty Hunter River. Here you’ll find an eclectic mix of local creatives, antique stores and cafes serving superb local brews.

     

    Make sure you to stop into nearby Morpeth while you’re here. Once one of the busiest river ports in NSW and gateway to the Hunter, this quaint historic village showcases the best of the region’s local artisans, cafes and boutique accommodation.

    COQUUN

    A new addition to the city’s dining scene is the impressive COQUUN, located on the banks of the Hunter River. Named after the Hunter’s original moniker, it roughly translates to ‘fresh water’ in the Indigenous owners’ language. Respectful tributes to the Wonnarua people are peppered throughout the menu with terms such as ‘Karay’ (meaning Kangaroo) and native ingredients adding some local flavour. Visit this refined bistro for a true taste of the local area.

    The Riverlink Building, Maitland

    You’ll find COQUUN inside the spectacular Riverlink Building.

    The Bronte Boutique Hotel

    Located in Morpeth’s main street, The Bronte is a beautiful boutique hotel boasting just six rooms. The historic building has been refurbished with an eclectic fusion of Victorian and Asian antiques and breakfast is served on the sunny front balcony.

    Icky Sticky Patisserie

    Kick start your Maitland food journey with a pit stop at the Icky Sticky Patisserie. These drool worthy creations are the work of Jessica Boutard, Phillip Bowtell and their talented and passionate team of pastry chefs. Their sweet treats have loyal locals flocking daily to the patisserie to score their sugar rush. Hot tip: get there early on the weekends to ensure your pick of the pastries.

    Icky Sticky Patisserie

    The drool-worthy creations on display at Icky Sticky Patisserie.

    MRAG

    The Maitland Regional Art Gallery (MRAG) is a series of exhibition, retail and café spaces dedicated to making arts and culture accessible to locals and visitors. Come for the art and stay for the food at popular Seraphine Café. MRAG also hosts the acclaimed Olive Tree Art and Design Markets seasonally, showcasing the region’s most talented artisans.

    Morpeth Sourdough

    During a weekend getaway to Morpeth, Stephen and wife Allison discovered the original bakehouse of his great, great, great grandfather William Arnott, founder of Arnott’s Biscuits. With baking in his blood, “it was destined” that he buy the premises and launch the Morpeth Sourdough bakery on the historic site. Fast forward more than 15 years and the Arnott’s sourdough is still in high demand and only available from the Morpeth store.

    Morpeth Sourdough, Morpeth

    First built in the 1830s and restored circa 1850, the Morpeth Sourdough building is truly special.

    Donarch Fine Chocolates

    When Donna Archer couldn’t find a Raspberry chocolate made with real raspberries, she decided to make her own! The result is the award-winning heart-shaped ‘Raspberry Heart’ chocolate and fantastical Donarch Fine Chocolates store filled with almost every chocolate imaginable. Think Donarch Honey, Dark Choc Ginger or the hand-painted Salted Caramel.

    Dennerley Leather Designs

    With over 55 years’ experience between them, husband and wife team Bob and Annie Dennerley understand the patient work that goes into producing quality, handcrafted leather goods. Their collection of belts, bags and leather accessories at Dennerley Leather Designs are all cut and stitched in the High St store using traditional tools and methods. Stick around to catch the master duo at work.

    The Rigby

    This sophisticated wine bar on Maitland’s High Street is more than just a cosy cocktail lounge, with a growing reputation for its great dining, too. Step into the character-filled 1870’s heritage building at The Rigby and be greeted by Howard Bourne or his son Nick – the dynamo family team delivering exceptional service and an inviting menu with handy wine matching suggestions.

    The Rigby

    This sophisticated wine bar on Maitland’s High Street is more than just a cosy cocktail lounge.

    The Cunning Culinarian

    Brainchild of Alina Mackee, The Cunning Culinarian brings her love of rustic, home baking into a welcoming country style café housed in a gracious old building on High Street. Using the freshest produce (some of it even home grown at the onsite kitchen garden), the food is bursting with colour and flavour. The homemade relish on our corn fritters is so good you could bottle it!

    The Cunning Culinarian, Maitland

    Order the house made granola, vanilla bean poached pear, coyo and steamed almond milk for breakfast..

    Bread & Water

    The regions first 100% gluten free café, Bread & Water, has opened right next door to Maitland Gaol and is bound to be a hit regardless of your dietary needs. Owner Vanessa Martin, who is also celiac, ensures the food is made to exacting standards with no risk of cross contamination. Vanessa’s mission is to “satisfy your desire to indulge without worry” – a dictum evident in the abundant tempting gluten free goodies available.

     

    To discover more about magical Maitland, visit visitnsw.com/maitland.

     

    — Grafton —

    Clarence Valley: where culture’s in bloom

    WRITTEN BY PAIGE RICHARDSON • JUNE 20, 2019

    The Jacarandas of the Clarence Valley draw thousands of visitors – but the region offers so much more to explore year-round.

    A purple dream

    Every now and then, you just have to stock up on the feelings that remind you that life – and the world – is beautiful. The Clarence Valley Jacaranda season in Grafton is a way to plug into that sense of wonder, as Grafton’s streets and parks are transformed into something out of a purple dream.

     

    Beginning on the last weekend in October each year and running through to early November, this wonderful floral event – and its crowning glory, the Grafton Jacaranda Festival, the oldest in the country – has been likened in significance and glamour to Japan’s famous cherry blossom celebrations.

     

    Visitors flock from near and far to the largest Jacaranda display in the country, wandering the tree-lined streets, posing for photographs and enjoying all the magic of this very special time of seasonal transition.

    Grafton Jacarandas

    Take in the magic of Australia’s largest Jacaranda display in the country.

    More than Jacarandas

    But did you know that the region is also home to more than 100 annual celebrations? There’s April’s plunge Arts & Culture festival, Art in the Paddock at Yugilbar Castle – yes, it’s an actual castle! – in June, the always-exciting Grafton races in July, regional flagship food event Gate to Plate held in September, the multicultural celebration of the Camp Oven Festival in August at Nymboida, not to mention big-ticket touring artists like Lee Kernaghan, local lasses The McClymonts, plus all the entertainment of the Clarence Valley Country Muster – one of the must events on the Australian country music calendar.

    The heart of Clarence Valley

    Grafton is a city of trees, but it’s also a place of beauty, heritage and soul hidden from the highway – and a delight to all those who venture within. The first city on the NSW north-coast, it remains the beating heart of the Clarence Valley. And while it may be famous for its Jacarandas, you’ll also find Cape Chestnuts, Golden Trumpet Trees, Tree Waratahs, Tibouchinas, Poincianas, Silky Oaks, giant Figs Trees and many more botanical highlights to marvel at.

     

    Blessed with broad avenues and magnificent architecture, Grafton’s long-standing concern with civic beauty shows itself in the abundance of beautiful trees, parks, statuesque civic buildings and fine residences. Take a walk or cycle along the streets and pathways to reflect on the region’s great heritage and history.

    Grafton, Clarence Valley

    Grafton promises an abundance of statuesque civic buildings and fine residences.

    Stroll on under Grafton Bridge for expansive views of the Clarence River in all its glory, and Susan Island. While there, see if you can spot the wreck of the Induna, 200 metres upstream from the bridge.

    Planning your visit

    If it’s the Jacaranda season that captures your imagination, remember it’s surprisingly brief, which only makes the experience more rare and memorable. Pick up a novel, perhaps one set in Grafton itself (The Mint Lawn for example, written by Clarence Valley Ambassador Gillian Mears), stretch out, start reading under the trees and let the blossoms fall as you while away the hours.

    Grafton, Clarence Valley

    The Grafton Post Office, first established in 1874, was designed by colonial architect, James Barnet.

    Don’t forget to pick up some delicious produce from a cafe, emporium, farmers market or deli to have a picnic in your own patch of purple?

     

    Here’s our favourite: How about doing nothing? Just for a moment. When was the last time you put aside your device, switched off from modern life’s distractions, stopped thinking, stopped doing? Being in the presence of these remarkable blossoms encourages stillness – even if only for just a few minutes. We can’t wait to see you here.

     

    For up-to-date events info, check out myclarencevalley.com – or better yet, come join us on Facebook via @myclarencevalley.

     

     

    — Kiama —

    Where to eat, stay and shop in Kiama

    WRITTEN BY ELIZA SHOLLY • MAY 20, 2019

    The NSW South Coast town of Kiama might be most famous for its natural attractions, but these days there’s a whole lot more for day trippers and weekenders to love beyond the blowholes.

    Blessed with a picturesque harbour, glittering coastline and bucolic country setting, there’s more to seaside town Kiama than its famous blowhole – the largest in the world.

     

    A resurgence of charming cafes, gorgeous homeware stores and luxury lodgings has transformed this NSW coastal getaway to a sea change destination worth revisiting.

    Eat

    Wild Patch Cafe

    Wild Patch Cafe serves Byron Bay coffee to kick start your day alongside a menu of paleo and healthy eats with plenty of vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free options. Order the Field of Greens – seasonal greens, seeds, kraut, sautéed Huskisson mushrooms and avocado served with local pastured poached eggs to feel well nourished.

     

    Address:  14 Manning St, Kiama

    Silica

    Newcomer Silica burst onto the dining scene in mid-2018, filling a void of quality upscale restaurants in Kiama and offering honest food to a backdrop of glistening ocean views. Silica’s menu is based around locally sourced, sustainable and homegrown ingredients via its very own organic vegetable patch at Dapto Community Farm.

     

    Whether it’s bar bites, takeaway fish and chips or the impressive à la carte menu, there’s something for everyone at Silica.

     

    Address: 72 Manning St, Kiama

    Silica hosts locally sourced, sustainable and homegrown ingredients

    Parfait Patisserie

    Baker/pastry chef Troy Hindmarch and his wife Sam made the sea change to Kiama from the Southern Highlands to open French cafe Parfait Patisserie also in mid -2018. Award-winning pastry chef Troy starts his day around midnight, baking all the breads, pastries and sweet treats onsite from scratch.

     

    The results are mini works of art, and from the classic fresh fruit tarts to the more modern matcha and Nutella tarts, you’ll be coming back for more.

     

    Address: 38-40 Manning St, Kiama

    Almond croissants

    The Little Earth Café

    The Little Earth Café is an out-of-town surprise near the Little Blowhole. With a focus on sustainability, local Swell coffee is served in stylish sustainable cups and saucers made from coffee husks which would otherwise be a wasted byproduct of coffee production.

     

    The organic cafe and general store serves wholesome dishes like waffle toasties packed with grilled haloumi from local micro-dairy The Pines, honey, harissa, tomato and rocket.

     

    Address: 10 Tingira Cres, Kiama

    Behold: the haloumi toastie

    Flour Water Salt

    Some local favourites still prevail in Kiama like Flour Water Salt a bakery, cafe and food store just off the main drag on Shoalhaven Street, known for its organic handcrafted artisan sourdough. The tiny store is packed with produce and the treats cabinet of pastries and cakes is mighty tempting.

     

    Address: 49 Shoalhaven St, Kiama

    Little Blowhole Art Bar

    Ex-Sydney couple Jamie Cole and Bruce Ferguson opened their colourful tapas and cocktail bar in a quiet corner of Kiama’s coastal suburbia, bringing a new level of sophistication to the sleepy seaside town. Little Blowhole Art Bar is a boutique gallery and eatery featuring monthly exhibitions, regular events and local musicians every Sunday afternoon.

     

    Address:  Shop 6/4 Tingira Cres, Kiama

    Stay

    Terragong 1858

    There are some superb unique accommodation options in the Kiama region including Terragong 1858, a hidden gem in the village of Jamberoo.

     

    This exquisite B&B hosted by interior designer Darryl Gordon and his partner Simon Milner is warm and welcoming as well as impeccably styled. You won’t want to leave the book-lined drawing room where guests can enjoy complimentary afternoon wine and nibbles daily at 4.30pm.

     

    Address: 467 Jamberoo Rd, Jamberoo

    Dovecote

    For larger groups, check out Dovecote, two luxury holiday houses set on a working farm a short drive from Kiama, where guests will share the property with a herd of dairy cows. The Headland is a four bedroom architect-designed residence with an expansive living wing to entertain friends and family.

     

    While The Range is a spectacular two-bedroom retreat ideal for small gatherings and boasting a plunge pool overlooking Werri Beach.

     

    Address: 27 Princes Hwy, Gerringong

    Inside the Dovecote luxury holiday house

    Sleek interiors

    Soul of Gerrigong

    Nearby Soul of Gerringong offers a coastal cool collection of self-contained spaces allowing large groups to stay together with the privacy of their own en-suite room, blurring the lines between boutique hotel and holiday home.

     

    Address:  143 Belinda St, Gerringong

    Shop

    Bouquiniste

    Seek out independent bookstore/cosy cafe Bouquiniste in the little arcade off Terralong Street. This hidden gem stocks a curated collection of the latest books and serves up impressive Brewtown coffee in a super-cute setting with shelves lined with books, a cool feature wall and a leather banquette; it’s the perfect place to while away the afternoon.

     

    Come Friday evening, the store transforms into a wine bar with cheese platters and quality drops from local Two Figs Winery to help ease you into the weekend. How civilised!

     

    Address: Centrepoint, Shop 1, Kiama, 106 Terralong St, Kiama

    Beachside Emporium

    Owner Kathryn O’Brien made the sea change from Sydney to the South Coast and brings the coastal vibes to her beautiful art and design store Beachside Emporium. The high street store focuses on local designers and Australian-made products and proudly promotes local emerging and established artists.

     

    Address: Shop 15/106 Terralong St, Kiama

    The Inside Story

    For more retail therapy by the sea, check out The Inside Story, this boutique offers a curated collection of clothing and homewares based on its interior designer owner Kathleen Bowen’s love of travel, providing a globally-inspired selection including Mela Purdie and Rue Stiic.

     

    Address: Shop 11/106 Terralong St, Kiama

    Deer Willow

    For some boho style, check out Deer Willow, a lifestyle store with a treasure trove of global homewares, fashion and accessories. Set over two floors, the coastal chic collection of items ranges from natural braided raffia sandals from Spain to antique Turkish copper trays and everything in between.

     

    Address: 12 Manning St, Kiama

    Wildflower Studio

    It’s also worth checking out Wildflower Studio across the road from Surf Beach, a cute little flower shop with some beautiful gifts including Bohemian Rose ‘Kiama’ candles so you can take that holiday fragrance home with you.

     

    Address: 2/89 Manning St, Kiama

     

    Planning a trip to the South Coast? Read our comprehensive guide to everything you need to know for the ultimate South Coast NSW weekend away.

    — Australia —

    Australia’s best weekends away on a budget

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • MAY 5, 2019

     It’s the Holy Grail of Holidaying: finding time for a couple of quick but great nights away, with money left over for food and a few fun things to do.

    Brisbane

    To stay

    A fully self-contained, chic, one-bedroom apartment at The Miro is an affordable $155 per night. Even more amazing, it’s in Fortitude Valley.

    To eat

    A cool, inexpensive breakfast at Buzz Bistro, a Parisian-style café right around the corner, is a great way to start the day.

     

    A local secret, Oxford St Bulimba is a great place for lunch after wandering the boutiques. King Crab Co. is our pick for a trendy beer and all the seafood you can eat, without busting the wallet.

    A feast at King Crab Co

    Bohemian West End is the next suburb. A cocktail at the quirky Lychee Lounge is a great pre-dinner experience. Finish the day off at Eagle Street Pier and the Helm Bar and Bistro. Big flavour, big value, big jugs of beer, big tables and big views – what better way could there be to end your day?

    To do

    The best thing to happen to Brisbane since Macarthur left town is the Gallery of Modern Art in Southbank. It’s an awesome experience.

    Gallery of modern art, Southbank

    For a bit of history (yes, Brisbane does have some), get to St John’s Cathedral on Ann Street. Amazingly, it’s under construction and will be the last Gothic cathedral to be completed in the world. Take a free guided tour at 10am or 2pm daily.

    Glass house Mountains

    The sound of serenity is all you’ll hear at Glass House Mountains Ecolodge. High above and far from the bustle of Brisbane, the mountain retreat is great for a bit of downtime.

    glass house mountains gold coast country

    Winding roads afford spectacular views of the Glass House Mountains, just north of Brisbane (photo: Elise Hassey).

    To stay

    Go bush without sacrificing flushing toilets, showers and heating – rooms at The Orchard are just $98 and have queen beds, ensuites and balconies. Ninety minutes out of Brisbane, that’s still a bargain.

    To do

    The National Park is at your doorstep, so go bushwalking on the trails in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland or drive half-an-hour to Maleny and wander through the art galleries around town.

     

    Finish off the day with a beer and schnitzel at King Ludwig’s Restaurant & Glasshouse Mountains Tavern. It’s hard to pass on the traditional Weisswurst sausage at this Bavarian beer hall, but the Ecolodge does have a guest kitchen in an old train dining car.

     

    Save an entire day for Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo. You’ll need it to catch the croc shows and explore the 70-acre site.

    Melbourne

    To stay

    In the same block as the pricey, hit-and-miss Royce Hotel, Albert Park Manor will keep you under budget and in style. Four-poster beds and wrought-iron furniture outfit standard doubles starting at $125.

    To eat

    All this sexy city has to offer is just a quick tram ride up St Kilda Rd, but get your day started with an espresso at Grossi Florentino. Mains here cost $50 a pop, but breakfast eggs in the Cellar Bar come in at under $15.

     

    For dinner, set your eyes to Gazi, George Colombaris’ modern Greek restaurant sitting sleek and sexy in the CBD. The $17 souvlaki is cheaper than a lot of pub grub around town, and is served under one of the most architecturally fascinating roofs in the city.

    Occupying the real estate that was once The Press Club, Gazi is unconventionally excellent

    End the evening with a nightcap in a big comfy couch by the fireplace at LaLa Land.

    Take a couch at LaLa Land

    To do

    Head back towards the hotel for a wander through the Ian Potter Centre at Fed Square – a mostly free cultured couple of hours surrounded by great Aussie art.

     

    While you’re there, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) has $8 screenings of silver screen classics.

    Daylesford

    A land of plenty, the produce driven community of Daylesford has providores on almost every corner and is perfect for a hunt and forage kind of weekend.

    To stay

    Spend the day gathering ingredients for the perfect antipasti plate before retreating to Station House, a renovated gold rush manor with doubles from $140, open fires and claw-footed bathtubs.

     

    To eat

    Pick up prosciutto cured the Croatian way from Istra Smallgoods in Musk, (our No. 12 Greatest Australian Gourmet Experience) and cheese from local dairy farmers like Holy Goat (No. 5 Gourmet Experience) at Cliffy’s Emporium.

    Grab Holy Goat at Cliffys Emporium

    To do

    For champagne treatment, take the Silver Streak, a vintage diesel train journey made the first Saturday of the month. For just $25, with champagne and canapés, sit back and enjoy the scenic Daylesford Spa Country Railway, slowly re-opening after 2009 fire damage.

     

    The Hepburn Springs-Daylesford area is littered with natural mineral springs; wander through open fields and forests and fill up your drink bottle at an old-fashioned hand pump.

    Sydney

    To stay

    Yes, it’s Australia’s most expensive city. But it is possible to spend two nights at a sought-after Sydney address for under $500. A room at The Russell in the shadows of The Bridge with Opera House glimpses is just $125 a double. Shared bathroom, but small sacrifice for having everything on your doorstop for a weekend limited only by your imagination, not your budget.

    To eat

    Start with cheap and cheerful breakfast at La Renaissance, meander to the affordable Rocks markets and pop into the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) for a bit of free culture.

    Macaroons from Le Renaissance

    For dinner, visit one of Sydney’s best restaurants. 

    To do

    A real hidden gem and great value is the Opera House tour, just $29 for online bookings. A great way to see out the sunlight and a Sydney weekend institution is a drink at the Opera Bar soaking up one of the greatest views in the world.

    Kiama

    Just 90 minutes drive southeast from Sydney, the relaxed seaside town of Kiama – famous for its blowhole – is an easy, stress-free weekend.

     

    To stay

    It’s also damn affordable at The Sebel Harbourside on Shoalhaven St − king bed, buffet breakfast, BBQ area and waterfront views from $120 a night. The heritage-listed property dates back to 1871, was once an Infants’ School Building, and is mercifully under ten stories high.

    To eat

    The most expensive thing you should buy in town is a waffle cone from The Ice Creamery.

     

    Grab a scoop and wander up to the Blowhole. If the sea’s a little on the rough side, head further south, just around the bay to the Little Blowhole – which often spouts more impressive sprays anyway. We recommend brekkie at The Little Blowhole Café on the way.

    To do

    Just out of town and inland, the Illawarra Fly Tree Top Walk is great for a birds’ eye view of the coast. It consists of 500m of walkways, suspended fully 25m up in the air, for a treetop trek at just $22 an adult.

    — Melbourne —

    9 of the best things to do in St Kilda

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • JANUARY 7, 2019

    Returning to her roots, Jocelyn Pride takes you into the heart of St Kilda, renowned for its bohemian lifestyle. Oozing charm, it’s the perfect spot for a weekend on Melbourne’s fringe.

    As the locals say: ‘If you think you’ve seen everything, you haven’t been to St Kilda’. For more than 170 years through ups and downs, surges and resurgences the ‘grand dame’ of Melbourne is as sassy as ever.

     

    It’s the type of place where everyone comes and anything goes. From backpackers to money baggers, artists to artistes, famous to the infamous, it’s all here in a bubbling pot of culture and creativity.

     

    Grand Victorian mansions juxtapose with hole-in-the-wall apartments, tree-lined boulevards with narrow cobbled alleyways set against the lapping waters of Port Phillip Bay less than seven kilometres from the CBD.

     

    St Kilda is named after the British ship, the Lady of St Kilda, which historians believe was named in honour of the other St Kilda – an archipelago way off the coast of Scotland.

     

    Transformed from a cargo ship into a cruiser, the ship was anchored in Port Phillip Bay in 1841 ready to be sold. JB Were, who had an interest in buying the vessel, described the anchor point as a ‘place for a picnic’, and the name St Kilda stuck.

     

    From small beginnings, as building allotments were released, and the original sandy track from Melbourne was transformed into a railway line, St Kilda boomed.

     

    By the turn of the 20th century it was considered one of the fashionable places to be, but by 1932 the Depression hit hard and with it came prostitution and crime.

     

    After World War II, St Kilda was described in the 1946 Australian Blue Book as ‘the Coney Island of Australia, a playground for both day and night for Melbourne’s citizens and visitors’.

     

    Too true. The only problem is, it’s nigh impossible to squeeze it all into a weekend, so here’s a few not-to-be-missed local haunts to get you started.

    1. Babu Ji

    Owner Mani Waraich’s philosophy is simple: “If you marry Indian food with western food you get Melbourne food.”

     

    Babu Ji might be a pint-sized cafe, but it more than earns its place within St Kilda’s most gracious building: The George.

     

    Simple and informal it’s like pulling up a chair in a friend’s dining room. Each curry is made from scratch using herbs that Mani grows and the food is presented as an art form.

     

    “People eat with their eyes,” says Mani. Choose dishes from the ‘street food’ or ‘pot menu’ with a daily chef’s set menu featuring local produce.

     

    Both licensed (great craft beefs) and BYO, it’s only open for dinner and you will probably need to book.

    melbourne victoria weekend hip hood

    St Kilda restaurant, Babu Ji is an artful fusion of Indian and western.

    2. Misery Guts

    “I didn’t have a plan, just a vibe,” says Jules Pleadin, owner of the unforgettably named Misery Guts bar.

     

    “Locals were crying out for somewhere to hang.” Hang they do and miserable they are not.

     

    Full of curios (“I ran out of space in my home”), such as old cinema chairs bearing the painted slogan ‘Misery loves company’, a piano at the ready for tinkling, and cosy lounges around an open fire, this former bank (complete with vault) hums with a mellow atmosphere.

     

    The cocktails are classic, Aussie beers on tap and the wine list bright and breezy.

    3. Scout House

    Seek and you will find it at Scout House. Scouring vintage goods from all corners of the globe, local resident Orlando Mesiti brings an eclectic collection of quirky homewares and furniture to his classy shop on the Paris end of Fitzroy Street.

     

    Think French street signs and Cire Trudon candles.

     

    And don’t worry if you can’t resist one of Scout’s custom-built signature beds – they deliver Australia wide.

    4. Miss Jackson

    Miss Jackson might be tucked away in its namesake side street, but it’s no secret.

     

    On weekends expect to queue, not only for the best breakfast around, but also to secure one of owner Steve Nicoloss’s drool-worthy designer doughnuts.

     

    Don’t be fooled by the plain walls – the food is anything but. Everything is made in-house (even the honeycomb butter) and the menu flows with the seasons.

    5. Pontoon

    Fancy gazing out to sea at St Kilda’s newest hangout? Grab a spot at Pontoon’s 18-metre-long bar.

     

    Designed to ‘bring the beach’ into the room, Pontoon is part of the rebuilt Stokehouse Precinct, which burnt down in 2014.

     

    It’s sleek yet casual with 18 beers on tap, rosé slushies and creative bar snacks from the chargrill.

    melbourne victoria weekend hip hood

    Mouth-watering spread by Pontoon in the rebuilt Stokehouse Precinct of St Kilda.

    6. United Kitchen

    When Lee Gill met Tong Li on a trip to China she had to marry him. “I thought ‘Lee Li’, what a cool name,” says the British-born jewellery designer. “And of course I also fell in love.”

     

    After searching for a place for their culinary venture (and married life), they settled in St Kilda. “It has a homely feel that embraces newcomers.”

     

    The Food here is Asian with a Latin American twist. A tip: don’t miss the grilled cos lettuce or the soft shell crab, and the lemon myrtle margarita is sublime.

    melbourne victoria weekend hip hood

    St Kilda restaurant, United Kitchen serves Asian food with a Latin American twist.

    7. Milk the Cow

    At around ‘milking time’ – that’s 4pm not 4am – you’ll find this European-esque fromagerie absolutely jumping (but not with cows over the moon).

     

    Indulging in a flight of wine and cheese is the St Kilda way of topping off a great day or the start of a big night.

     

    Open until late, there are more than 70 cheeses, a wine list as thick as an encyclopaedia and if wine isn’t your thing, choose from flights of cider, beer, saké, whisky or cognac.

     

    Read our review here…

    melbourne victoria weekend hip hood

    Make sure you sample the cheese and wine at Milk the Cow, St Kilda.

    8. Alex Theatre

    Catch a show from comedy to drama, watch dance or attend a film festival at this buzzy new arts space.

     

    With two theatres and a studio creatively refurbished by Melbourne actor/ producer Aleksander Vass, the short seasons showcase international and local talent.

    9. St Kilda pier

    Promenading the kilometre-long St Kilda pier is about as ‘Melbourne’ as it gets. Fortunately, the historic kiosk at the end of the pier was rebuilt to the original Victorian plans after being destroyed by fire in 2003.

     

    The cafe is great for soaking up views of Melbourne, but there’s more. Like many things in St Kilda, a surprise beckons beyond the kiosk: penguins. Hundreds of them. Come dusk the aptly named little penguins waddle into their burrows between the rocks. A pathway and small jetty along the breakwater makes for easy (and free) viewing.

     

    Volunteers from Earthcare St Kilda are on hand and if you’re lucky you might catch them doing their regular penguin health checks.

     

    EXPLORE MORE HIP HOODS

    SYD | Palm Beach |

    MEL | Thornbury |

    BRIS | West End | New Farm | Fortitude Valley | Paddington |

    Enjoy this article?

    You can find it in Issue 72 along with
    loads of other great stories and tips.

    BUY THIS ISSUE

    — Broome —

    12 of the best day trips from Broome

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • OCTOBER 23, 2018

    Drag yourself away from the beach for the day and you’ll be rewarded with some truly amazing Kimberley experiences.

    1. Set sail on Broome’s oldest pearling lugger

    Continue the pearling experience aboard Intombi, Broome’s oldest authentic wooden pearling lugger. As one of a handful of luggers still afloat, passengers can cruise on maritime history. The lugger was originally built in 1903 and has since been restored to her former glory to take small groups (no more than 20), around Broome, with gourmet food and alcoholic beverages also available. Sunset cruises take five hours and are $149 per person.

    2. Outback sci-fi

    Take a sci-fi journey across Roebuck Bay with Broome Hovercraft Eco Adventure Tours. This aeronautical ride takes you over tidal flats, sand bars and past mangroves, as well as other unreachable destinations around the bay.

     

    Experiences vary from a romantic sunset tour, complete with hors d’oeuvres, to the prehistoric tour, which takes in some of the world’s best preserved ancient dinosaur footprints, fossilised in beachside rocks. Prices from $111 per adult and $80 per child, including transfers.

    3. The Bungle Bundle

    Broome Aviation offer a boat and air trip called Bungle Bungle Geikie tour with many memorable highlights in between. Key features of the regions magnificent landscape you can tick off the tourist hit list include a historic town tour of Fitzroy Crossing before boarding a boat, which takes you through spectacular Geikie Gorge and the world of the Aboriginal Dreamtime.

     

    Back on the aircraft you will traverse Purnululu National Park to take in the awe-inspiring natural dome-shaped wonders of the Bungle Bungles. After another stop off for lunch the final leg of the journey takes you over the pioneering town of Derby before returning to Broome. The 11-hour adventure costs $1205 per person.

    View of the Bungle Bungles, located in the heritage listed Purnululu National Park

    4. Desert Dwellers Safari

    Saddle up for the quintessential Broome experience with Broome Camel Safaris on iconic Cable Beach. There are a few tour options but our pick is the one-hour Sunset Camel Tour, run by one of Broome’s most experienced camel operators, and includes a pair of freshwater pearl earrings as a parting gift. Nice. The sunset tour is $70 for adults and $55 for children.

    Camels at sunset on Cable Beach, Broome

    An iconic experience you will remember forever

    5. Pearls for the girls

    No adventure to Australia’s pearling capital would be complete without stopping at Willie Creek pearl farm. As one of Western Australia’s most awarded tours, Willie Creek is situated approximately 38 kilometres north of Broome and is accessible by coach, helicopter or car. Take a boat ride through azure waters where visitors are given an insight into pearl cultivation, followed by a chance to purchase pearls in The Kimberley’s most isolated pearl showroom on the banks of Willie Creek. Tours start at $55 per adult and $30 per child.

    6. Defy gravity at Horizontal Falls

    Described by David Attenborough as “one of the greatest natural wonders in the world”, the Horizontal Falls near Broome is one of the most unique waterfalls on earth.

     

    The best way to experience this natural phenomenon is with Horizontal Falls Adventures, onboard what is said to be the fastest boat in The Kimberley. Passengers are taken through the fast moving tidal flow, followed by the opportunity to swim with ocean beasts in their crocodile-and-shark-free cage.

     

    The six-hour tour includes return seaplane flights from Broome, breakfast and lunch. From $745 per adult and $645 for children.

    Cruise the Kimberley

    Take a cruise through the Kimberley.

    7. Paradise at the tip

    Two hundred kilometres north of Broome on the tip of Dampier Peninsula, you’ll find Cape Leveque, home to some of Australia’s most beautiful and deserted beaches. Here travellers can spend the day soaking in sparkling turquoise waters, framed by striking rich red cliffs – a Kimberley icon.

     

    Although remote, it’s worth the effort, particularly with a variety of water sports available such as kayaking, swimming, fishing and snorkelling. Travellers can opt for the three-and-a-half hour drive from Broome, but we recommend taking advantage of the landscape with a scenic flight. From $495 per person.

    Coastline Cape Leveque

    The dramatic coastline on the way up to Cape Leveque (photo: James Whineray).

    8. See the universe

    See far beyond Broome with Greg Quicke’s Astro Tours, which focus on what’s said to be some of the best stargazing skies on the planet. Using massive telescopes and lasers, guests will see planets, galaxies and moons visible from both the southern and northern hemispheres due to Broome’s proximity to the equator. Prices start from $65 for adults and $35 for kids. 9. Trikes and tucker

     

    Bikes and buses are nothing new; but a trike or better yet, being chauffeured in a limo trike is certainly unique. This is one of the options with Broome Trike Tours, which take guests around the local area. Other tour options include meeting crocodiles at the Malcolm Douglas Wildlife Park, sampling chilli beer at iconic Broome watering hole Matso’s Micro Brewery, and taste-testing bush tucker at Minyarr Park. Prices start from $50 per person for a pre-dinner champagne cruise.

    10. Not just for guests

    Enjoy the perks of being a guest at Eco Beach Resort, without staying a night. Situated 100 kilometres south of Broome on Roebuck Bay, Eco Beach offer a myriad of experiences for guests and day-trippers alike. And with a brand new airstrip, a scenic flight from Broome takes a speedy 12 minutes.

     

    Whale watching cruises and mud crabbing at Jack’s Creek (they’ll cook your catch on hot coals later), are among the choices, as well as guided bush walks and massage. Activities start at $30 per person.

    11. Discover The Dreaming

    Learn about the local Indigenous culture with a three-hour journey east of Broome to the remote community at Jarlmadangah Burru on a Kimberley Dreamtime Adventure Tour with Kimberley Wild Expeditions.

     

    Here you’ll discover Indigenous traditions, including hunting techniques, bush tucker, bush medicine and Aboriginal rock art with detailed stories about The Dreaming. As well as sampling local bush tucker, guests also have the privilege of sharing lunch with locals at their private campsite. A truly authentic cultural experience off the tourist path.

    Waterfall The Kimberley

    Don’t go chasing…

    12. Gorge-ous

    The Kimberley for the time poor: Broome Aviation’s Gorgeous Gorges tour is a full-day adventure that encompasses the region’s must-dos, with scenic flights over gorges, waterfalls, red ranges and remote islands that make up Buccaneer Archipelago.

     

    But what makes this experience so special is the opportunity to travel on land too. Among the many stops is Windjana Gorge, home to the revered Johnstone River Crocodile and an ancient reef system that’s significant to geologists. Passengers can cool off with a swim at Bell Gorge waterfall. Prices from $990 per person.

     

    MORE: Australian Traveller’s Ultimate Kimberley Guide

    Enjoy this article?

    You can find it in Issue 51 along with
    loads of other great stories and tips.

    BUY THIS ISSUE

    — NSW —

    The best weekend breaks you can take in NSW

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • SEPTEMBER 23, 2018

    Australian Traveller rates The top 5 short break drives from Sydney and Canberra.

    1. Sydney to the Blue Mountains

    Not for nothing have the Blue Mountains been a popular weekend holiday destination for Sydneysiders for more than a century. Today, spectacular cliff-top lookouts, bushwalks and outdoor activities continue to lift the spirits of frequently visiting nature-starved city dwellers.

     

    A string of cute mountain townships, nestled in thick Australian bushland, stretch out west from Sydney’s far western suburbs, slowly gaining altitude before reaching the Great Divide’s zenith at Mount Victoria.

     

    Many are jam-packed with historic hotels, houses and gardens, museums and galleries, antiques, arts and crafts shops, health retreats and spas, cosy bars, delicious restaurants, quaint, quality cafes, cheap hostels and charming B&Bs.

    Mountain track staircase over steep cliff edge. Wentworth Falls

    Along the way

    Stop at Faulconbridge to check out the former home (now gallery and museum) of erotic artist, sculptor, cartoonist, author and creator of The Magic Pudding, the great Norman Lindsay.

     

    Cruise to Leura for a tasty lunch (or brunch), then mosey about the local arts and craft stores. Having admired the famous Three Sisters at neighbouring Katoomba, the adventurous among you might consider jumping off the edge – abseiling is a popular activity here. For others, a ride on the Scenic Skyway then down the Scenic Railway or Scenic Cableway to Jamison Valley’s World Heritage-Listed rainforest floor for a brief or extended bushwalk will probably suffice.

     

    Those names should say it all: this place is scenic. But should you want more, check out ancient Aboriginal art in the Wall Caves at Blackheath or step back in time at Lithgow with a steam train ride on the Zig Zag Railway. The Jenolan Caves, an hour south of Lithgow, are also a classic must-do; the curvy, quirky shapes of their water-woven limestone formations reveal nature’s role as an accomplished experimental artist.

    Did you know?

    Govett’s Leap, one of the best lookout points in the Blue Mountains, was either named for a desperate bushranger who rode his horse over the edge rather than be captured, or for an English surveyor named William Romaine Govett. We know which story we prefer.

    2. Sydney to Port Macquarie

    A leisurely 400km from Sydney, where the Hastings and Camden Haven Rivers meet the Pacific, the many beaches and idyllic setting of the mid north coast town of Port Macquarie is a popular destination for surfers and tourists alike.

     

    Walk along the river mouth, right in the heart of town, to get a first-class view of the sun rising over the ocean or setting towards the hinterland. Venture towards the Great Dividing Range into gently undulating pastoral country for some more spectacular scenery, including stunning views from the Comboyne Plateau or on hikes in the Boorgana Nature Reserve.

     

    The koala hospital, Camden Haven golf course, wineries, quaint cafes and whale watching boat tours all help busy folk unwind. But you can also get your heart racing with skydiving, abseiling, sea kayaking, micro lighting, mountain biking and other adventurous activities.

    Tacking Point, Port Macquarie.

    Along the way

    On the drive up from Sydney, stop at Nelson Bay. The town’s sheltered beaches are gret for a spot of swimming and a little hike to the Gan Gaan lookout or Tomaree National Park will help work up an appetite for local dining options. Hire a snorkel, mask and pair of flippers and explore the Fly Point Aquatic Reserve where you can happily handfeed blue gropers.

     

    If you have a little more time, jump on a boat to Broughton Island. Its surrounding reefs, teeming with marine life, are famous for snapper, drummer, kingfish, flathead and groper and divers can check out underwater caves – as well as a split called the Looking Glass, which runs the length of the island.

    Did you know?

    Broughton Island was marked as Baye Perdue (Lost Bay) on an early French map, which some historians believe was copied from a Portuguese original showing the first discovery of a southern landmass around the 16th Century called Java La Grande – or, as we know it, Australia.

    3. Sydney to Dubbo

    Mudgee thrives on being an easily accessed regional NSW town (only 268km northwest of Sydney, 3.5hr drive), generously supplied with gourmet food and wine.

     

    Stay at one of the many boutique B&Bs while you explore the several heritage-listed buildings scattered around town, some built as far back as the 1850s, or go stargazing at the Mudgee Observatory.

     

    Rejuvenate yourself with a nice cold beer freshly brewed on location at the Mudgee Beer Brewery before exploring the region’s nearby national parks and nature reserves. Then go on a tour of the local wineries and treat yourself to the gourmet food at local restaurants, all of which use fresh produce from the region.

    Dirt road, Dubbo, NSW.

    Along the way

    Head to the historic outer western suburb of Windsor, the fertile flats of which were supplying fresh produce to Sydney from as early as 1794. Then get on the Bells of Line road, heading west, stopping as whim dictates at fruit stalls, galleries, craft and antique shops – all while admiring wonderful views of the rugged Grose Valley.

     

    Flora enthusiasts should stop at Mt Tomah Cold Climate Botanic Garden for a geographically grouped world tour of the planet’s most interesting and attractive cold-climate botany.

     

    From Mudgee, head 1.5hrs west to Wellington for its wonderful caves, the Cameron Parks gardens, horse riding on pastoral properties, tourist farms, galleries, historic buildings and… a house made from more than 9000 wine bottles (someone was drinking excessively).

     

    Further west still in Dubbo, critters of all kinds roam freely in their natural habitat at the award-winning Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo. If you can, time your Zoofari visit for spring when there are usually a few newborns to cuddle.

    Flooded street in the outback at Dubbo Australia.

    Did you know?

    Dubbo’s Western Plains Zoo recently succeeded in a world-first when it successfully fertilised a black rhinoceros egg.

    4. Sydney to Jervis Bay

    Jervis Bay, an easy 2.5hr drive (195km) from Sydney, well known for its clear waters and white sand, is greatly loved by water sports enthusiasts. Windsurfing, fishing and diving are just some of the things to do here, but many find themselves satisfied with a simple walk along one of the bay’s secluded beaches. It’s also home to dolphins, so keep your eyes peeled. On land, you’ll also have the opportunity to engage in a little wine tasting.

    One of the many beautiful white sand coves at Jervis Bay

    Along the way

    Begin the Grand Pacific Drive with an extreme adventure at Bald Hill on Stanwell Tops, which has become a hang gliding and paragliding Mecca. A further 15min on is the old coalmining town of Bulli, with picturesque views of the NSW coastline at Sublime Point.

     

    Stop at Wollongong for a quick feed at The Yallah Woolshed, an Australian country theme restaurant where you can sneak in a barn dance should the urge take you. Stay overnight at Shellharbour before stopping by for a quick look at the famous Blowhole in Kiama.

     

    Cool down with a dip at Gerringong’s Seven Mile Beach, then head inland to beautiful Berry, a refreshing change from the city life’s bustle, where you can browse their many boutique stores.

     

    Further south is dotted with plenty of pretty seaside villages to explore, Ulladulla, Mollymook and Burrill Lake being particularly attractive.

    Sunny Beach, Jervis Bay Australia.

    Did you know?

    In 1889, Charles Jackson, a performer, successfully crossed the mouth of the Blowhole in Kiama on a tightrope.

    5. Canberra and surrounds

    A pleasing combination of the old and the new, Canberra and surrounds, despite suffering in the past from a slightly staid reputation, really do have a huge amount going for them – you just have to know where to look. Appreciate this meticulously planned city’s seemingly endless circular symmetries from the skies in a hot air balloon, then check out one or two of the many acclaimed galleries and museums on offer.

    Every morning at dawn, more than 30 balloons take off from the lawns in front of the Old Parliament House.

    Along the way

    Wine is definitely the biggest selling point of Capital Country. The vineyards and rolling hills surrounding Canberra provide the perfect visual accompaniment to the cornucopia of tasty wines and gourmet dining experiences available. Pick up a wineries map at the Canberra and Region Visitors Centre and drive. Be seduced by outstanding examples of Viognier, Shiraz and Riesling at one of more than ten wineries (and counting) in Murrumbateman, a short drive north.

     

    Historic buildings provide interesting diversions and fresh regional produce is skilfully manipulated for salivating meals at Shaw Vineyard Estate’s restaurant or The Cupping Room.

     

    The beautiful Yarrh Wines, 9km east of Murrumbateman, holds food and wine matching on the first Sunday of each month. Head northeast to Gundaroo, a typical 19th Century village with a main street preserved in its original character. Or retrace the drama of Aussie teen flick The Year My Voice Broke in the rugged landscape and pioneering architecture of the film’s location, Braidwood, an hour east of Canberra.

     

    Only 25 minutes northwest of the CBD, Poachers Pantry, including Wily Trout Vineyard and the Smokehouse Cafe, is becoming an institution. To the southwest, the often snow-capped mountains and deep forests of Namadgi National Park provide pleasant walks and drives, while to the west, in Brindabella National Park, the barren limbs of ancient mountains are cloaked in richly coloured scrub and grasslands.

    Did You Know?

    The All Saints Anglican Church on Cowper St in Ainslie, northeast of Parliament House, was once a mortuary railway church on the outskirts of Sydney. It was dismantled and transported to Canberra in 1958, where it was re-erected, stone by stone.

    Enjoy this article?

    You can find it in Issue 23 along with
    loads of other great stories and tips.

    BUY THIS ISSUE

    — TAS —

    The beautiful Tasmanian road trip you didn’t know existed

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • AUGUST 22, 2018

    If you’re ready for adventure, buckle up for the scenic, gourmet drive of your life…

    Tasmania’s North East is the home of stunning coastline, eclectic wildlife, delightful wine, gourmet food and luxury stays. The region really comes to life during spring, and the only way to explore every corner is by car. Spirit of Tasmania offers you a unique sailing experience while giving you the ability to take your own vehicle to/from Tasmania. You’ll experience spectacular ocean views, on board dining and entertainment and comfortable accommodation, all while you anticipate the memorable road trip ahead. Your holiday starts when you step on board and then continues as you drive across the rich Tasmanian landscape.

     

    We’ve mapped out the perfect North East Tasmania road trip to start from the moment you dock at Devonport, and end when you return to board Spirit of Tasmania home.

    Devonport to Liawenee

    Thousand Lakes Lodge. Image via Eugene Hyland.

    Travel south towards Liawenee and experience a tasting adventure like never before. Stop at Ashgrove Cheese Factory, Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm, 41° South Tasmania Salmon Farm and taste over fifty types of honeys at Melita Honey Farm. These scrumptious destinations are all within forty-five minutes of each other and on the way to Trowunna Wildlife Sanctuary. Spend the afternoon learning about the endangered Tasmanian Devil at the very sanctuary that houses the world’s largest heritage population. Hop back in the car and travel one and a half hours to the uniquely remote Thousand Lakes Lodge to spend the night.

    Trowunna Wildlife. Image via Eugene Hyland.

    Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm. Image via Eugene Hyland.

    Liawenee to Coles Bay

    Coastal Pavilions, Freycinet Lodge. Image via Eugene Hyland.

    About an hour’s drive from Liawenee is Liffey Falls State Reserve. The reserve is home to four incredibly stunning waterfalls that will absolutely take your breath away. Explore them all to your adventurous heart’s desire and then get back on the road and travel east three and a half hours to the magnificent Coles Bay. Spend the night at the breathtaking Freycinet Lodge’s Coastal Pavilions. The pavilions are nestled among the trees of the Freycinet National Park and offer complete privacy and luxury.

    Liffey Falls, Tasmania

    Coles Bay to Bay of Fires

    Wake up early to explore the surrounding area before you travel north up Tasmania’s East Coast. Make sure you take a dip at Wineglass Bay and make a quick stop at Cape Tourville Lighthouse. Order a fresh seafood lunch at Freycinet Marine Farm before you start to drive up north. It won’t be long before you pass Friendly Beaches, which consists of nine kilometres of pristine coastline. Pick a stop, take a dip and get back on the road. In two hours you will have arrived at Bay of Fires. Set on a hilltop with unrivalled views, The Bay of Fires Lodge should be your home for the night.

    Freycinet Peninsula and Wineglass Bay from the air, Tasmania.

    Bay of Fires to Mount Arthur

    Extending from Binalong Bay to Eddystone Point, Bay of Fires is a region of Tasmania’s East Coast defined by its white beaches, blue water and lichen-covered granite boulders. Spend the day swimming, surfing, bird watching and relaxing before you start to head inland. Travel two and a half hours towards Bridestowe Lavender Farm to catch the lavender start to bloom in spring, but on the way make sure you stop by Willows Roadhouse for one of their famous scones! About thirty minutes away is the beautiful self-contained eco studio The Trig on Mount Arthur.

    The Trig. Image via Eugene Hyland.

    Mount Arthur to Tamar Valley

    If you have the time in the morning, about a forty minute drive away is Hazelbrae House, a property housing over 5000 Hazelnut trees. Drive forty minutes up to the River Tamar to Moores Hill Estate. Send your tastebuds into meltdown as you visit a number of wineries in the region including Loira Vines, a small boutique vineyard. Make sure you finish your day at Tamar Ridge Cellar Door owned by the famous wine making company Brown Brothers. Stay the night at their apartments next door.

    Lunch at Hazelbrae House. Image via Eugene Hyland.

    Tamar Valley to the North Coast

    It’s time to continue heading up to the stunning north coast. Travel thirty minutes to Wingtons Glamping at Clarence Point to leave your gear and explore the surrounding area. Fifteen minutes away is the beautiful Greens Beach. About forty minutes away is the gorgeous Narawntapu National Park. It’s one of the best places to view free-roaming wildlife in the state including Tasmanian Devils and has a twenty six-kilometre horse-riding trail. Once you’re done in the National Park, head back to Wingtons Glamping to fall asleep under the stars in a majestic golden safari tent.

    Wingtons Glamping. Image via Eugene Hyland.

    River Tamar to Devonport

    Travel an hour west to the beautiful Hawley Beach to enjoy a surf and a swim along the lovely coastline. When you start to get hungry, pack up shop and drive fifteen minutes to Ghost Rock Tasmania for lunch and a wine at their world famous Cellar Door. Travel a further forty minutes west and, after a seven-day self-drive adventure, you’ll arrive back to the coastal town of Devonport where you’ll drive on board Spirit of Tasmania with a full car of Tasmanian produce. Reminisce about your road trip over a glass of Tasmanian Pinot Noir whilst sailing across Bass Strait back home again.

     

    For more information on Spirit of Tasmania, check out the website…

    — Mudgee —

    Mudgee’s first glampsite has added more tents… and wow

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • AUGUST 10, 2018

    Just when you thought the world of glamping couldn’t get any better, Sierra Escape – Mudgee’s luxury eco site – expands.

    A stone’s throw from a town best known for its abundance of culinary experiences, Sierra Escape is the first and only glamping abode in the Mudgee region, and the ultimate destination for those who don’t like to check their comfort at the door. And with the recent addition of two new tents, glampers now have an even better opportunity to explore the 113 hectares of countryside waiting at its doorstep.

     

    Sierra’s proud stance as an eco-glamping site means it runs on solar power, and although all tents provide an outlet to charge laptops, cameras and mobile phones, straighteners and dryers have been left off the list of necessities (so get ready to embrace your natural hair). More importantly what it does offer is a cosy fireplace, fire-pit for marshmallow roasting, a small fridge, stove and free-standing bathtubs. If that’s not a good enough excuse to relax with a glass of Mudgee wine that we can’t stop raving about, then we don’t know what is!

     

    For keen foodies, Mudgee’s centre is less than 30 minutes away. Head to the Zin House for certified organic and biodynamic local fare, or if you’d prefer to stay by the tent, barbecues are on-site. If you’re looking for something a little different to add to your holiday, try a cultural foodie experience with Indigiearth – an experience where you can have bush tucker prepared for you at your tent.

     

    For the morning, Sierra offers both a breakfast and pantry pack including milk, tea, coffee, muesli, pancake mix and jams: perfect for breakfast in bed.

     

    Choose between beautiful Carinya, the original tent that started it all in January 2017, and new additions Dulili and Uralla…

    Dulili – the family tent

    The inside of the Dulli family tent at Sierra Escape, Mudgee.

    Accommodating up to seven people, if you’re looking at taking the family or a group of friends on a glamping adventure, the Dulili tent is the way to go. Ideal for entertaining and the perfect amount of space for all the kiddies (or buddies!), the Dulili has two bedrooms; the first with two queen beds, a single trundle and the second with a double bed. Make like MasterChef and cook up a storm in its designer kitchen, serve your creations on either the indoor and outdoor dining tables or have the kids treat you to brekkie as you enjoy the views and secluded setting.

     

    The living room of the Dulli family tent at the Sierra Escape, Mudgee.

    Uralla – the luxury tent

    The outside bath at the Urulla luxury tent at Sierra Escape, Mudgee.

    For those who want to take luxury glamping that step further, the Uralla is the ultimate choice. Sierra gets you started on your foodie indulgence with a complimentary bottle of local bubbles and chocolate waiting for you on arrival, and a yummy breakfast pack for Sunday morning sleep-ins.

     

    Boasting a large king bed, designer kitchen, fireplace and beautiful views from its prime position on top of the hill, Uralla is the perfect excuse to eat toasty marshmallows by the outdoor fire-pit or some wildlife watching in your indoor (or outdoor!) free-standing bath tub.

     

    Pricing is between $390–$650 per night depending on your choice of tent.