You can tell a lot about a city based on how it treats its art. A well-kept museum attracts visitors from all over the world and oftentimes is one of the greatest memories you take with you when you leave. It’s not often that someone visits Paris and doesn’t go to the Louvre.
But sometimes those huge museums can resemble the worst aspects of an amusement park. The ticket prices high. The ambiance non-existent. The gift shop unavoidable. You came for the culture, not the long lines.
Instead, head on over to North Terrace Adelaide – the cultural epicenter of South Australia. This art and museum district is loaded with great places to take in international and local art,culture and history – stress and entry-fee free.
South Australian Museum
Photo: Adam Bruzzone
Start your tour off with a visit to Adelaide’s premier cultural institution. The South Australian Museum is in a 5-story building on the North Terrace, making it the largest in South Australia. It houses a variety of natural history and sciences, archaeological and biological exhibits. The museum also hold the largest and most comprehensive collection of Aboriginal art and ethnography in the world. You’ll see ancient Aboriginal tools, instruments, jewelry, ornaments and more in the museum’s vast collection.
Tip: Take the guided museum tour. An expert tour-guide walks you through the museum, giving you insightful commentary on the collections within. The in-depth knowledge provided by the guides are a terrific way to make the most of your museum. And did we mention the tours are also free?
State Library of South Australia
On the opposite side of South Australia’s largest museum sits South Australia’s largest library. The State Library of South Australia has tens of thousands of books old and new. Reference materials and ledgers that date all the way back to pre-European settlement offer unique insight in to the history of this Aussie state.
Spend some time in the Mortlock Wing, a section of the library that visitors have referred to as being “Harry Potter-esque”. Victorian-era architecture and old-world charm of the interior make you feel like you stepped straight in to a cozy reading chamber in Hogwarts. The Mortlock Wing was also named one of the most “Beautiful Libraries in the World” by Travel + Leisure Magazine.
We think you’ll love browsing the centuries old library, thumbing through books and appreciating this South Aussie staple.
Botanic Gardens of South Australia
Photo: South Australia Tourism Commission
You won’t have to travel far for a bit of downtime from the hustle and bustle of the city-center. More than 130 acres of thriving greenery make up the Garden, making it the largest in South Australia. In addition to the amazing plant-life found in the gardens, the site is home to three large, glass-structures. The Palm House is an amazing Victorian era glass structure.
Garden designers in 1875 had the entire structure shipped from Germany in flat boxes and reassembled in Adelaide, making this mail-order building the first of its kind. And you thought assembling Ikea furniture was hard!
Also check out the Bicentennial Conservatory and the Amazon Waterlily Pavilion for more amazing glass architecture.
Parliament House of South Australia
Photo: South Australia Tourism Commission
You don’t often hear the words “beautiful” and “government” in the same sentence together, but we’ll try anyway: You’ll definitely want to check out the beautiful architecture of Adelaide’s finest government building at the Parliament of South Australia. There, that wasn’t so hard! The huge marble and granite Parliament House building is where the magic happens for South Australia’s lawmakers and heads of state. Take one of the guided tours inside for a look at its great interior design. You’ll also hear the secrets behind the red tape that caused this building to take more than 50 years to complete!
University of Adelaide
This beautiful urban campus is another centerpiece of downtown Adelaide. Walk the grounds of this famed research institution. The University’s public art galleries and museums are a great way to spend some time soaking in some fresh student art and work from artist residencies. The Samstag Museum is one of the best places to see contemporary work from art students and visiting artists. The focus at Samstag is on cutting edge visual art and sculpture in a building whose architecture is as notable as the work inside. The funky glass and concrete structure is a visually striking introduction to the contemporary works inside.
In honor of those who fought in the First World War, this large concrete memorial sculpture is a historically significant part of South Australia culture. Located adjacent to South Australia Government House, the site serves as a gathering place for Anzac Day and Remembrance Day, both Australian holidays to honor those who served and died in the line of duty.
The North Terrace is home to so many art galleries its almost hard to keep track. Here’s a selection of some of our favorites.
You’ve seen the Opera House. You even cruised the Harbour. You think you’ve seen it all. Time to pack up and go off to the next city, right?
If you leave Sydney without seeing the Royal Botanic Gardens, you’ve missed one of the most beautiful parts of the entire city.
Sydney is huge. It can’t be boiled down to just those two landmarks. Don’t get us wrong, they are amazing, must-see destinations. But it should be criminal to miss seeing this idyllic park right on the iconic Sydney Harbour.
We’ll show you why you’ll love this floral oasis just as much as we do in our guide to the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.
Keep your camera at the ready, because every which way you turn is a great backdrop for a photo. Sunny skies most days out of the year keep the flowers blooming, the trees thriving and the grass plush – year round. Your friends will be green with envy. See the Opera House in the morning and then walk on over to the Garden. It’s a great one-two punch of the best sightseeing in Sydney.
Enter through the Queen Elizabeth II gate and take the winding, perfectly manicured path through native plants and pristine greenery. This entrance runs along the water’s edge for great shots of Sydney Harbour.
From there, stroll toward Government House, the current official residence of New South Wales’ governor. Even better, we think you’ll dig the architecture of this sprawling 1800′s-era mansion that looks like something from King Arthur’s Court! You can even catch a tour of the inside of the building, whose design hasn’t been changed in over a hundred years. Exit the mansion and head for the Australian Native Rockery. Walk among picture-perfect examples of native Australian flora. Sit on the lawn facing Sydney Harbour for amazing views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
Tip: This is one of the best places to get shots of three Sydney landmarks in one! If you look close, you may even see climbers in the distance participating in a Harbour Bridgeclimb!
Love is in the Air
There’s just something romantic about walking through a garden. Especially when that garden has more than 2000 huge, fully bloomed roses of all colors surrounding you (OK, maybe that’s a bit on the nose). Nevertheless, we dare you to walk through this sea of reds, whites and pinks and not feel at least a little lovey-dovey. Let that sweet, floral scented air envelope you and you’ll see why the Royal Botanic Garden is one of Sydney’s most popular wedding spots. Look above for a great view of towering downtown Sydney skyscrapers looming overhead. A reminder that this serene, green garden is an oasis just minutes away from the hustle and bustle of the central business district.
Aboriginal Australians are the world’s oldest civilization. Dating back some 50,000 years, Aboriginal heritage plays an important role in Australia’s history. Aboriginal Australians are fiercely proud of their heritage and their continued traditions make Aboriginals the oldest, continuous human culture in existence. Learn about the diverse history of Aboriginal Australians in Sydney with a guided tour led by an Aboriginal guide.
Using the Royal Botanic Garden as a historical backdrop, you’ll learn about the rich, Aboriginal heritage of the Garden. Your guide will show you useful and medicinal plants in Aboriginal culture, see ancient artifacts and taste traditional bush foods. Heritage Tours are 100 percent Aboriginal owned and all proceeds support Aboriginal jobs and communities.
Tip: Go for a longer Aboriginal heritage tour that takes you through the Garden at Sydney proper. You’ll get in-depth insight in to the rich Aboriginal cultural history.
Photo: Sulfur-crested Cockatoo
Ask the average person what they think of when they hear “Australia” and you’ll most likely get one of three answers. The Outback, the Great Barrier Reef and of course, the wildlife. The kangaroo, the koala, the crocodile, the dingo… The list of iconic animals that call Australia home goes on and on. And the Royal Botanic Garden is no exception.
Among the animals that have found the Garden’s prime real estate the ideal place to set up shop are the sulfur-crested cockatoos.
Named for the sulfur-colored yellow streak that adorns the tops of their heads, these ivory-and-yellow feathered birds are found in many areas of the Garden. They have become increasingly friendly with humans due to hand feeding, but it is not recommended officially by the park because of dietary restrictions of birds.
The flying fox is another example of winged wildlife that the Royal Botanic Garden hosts, albeit reluctantly. The trees where these furry-bats like to nest are increasingly being decimated by the species and there have been efforts to re-home the animals. But they can still be spotted in the trees of the park hanging out during the day.
Latitude 23 Glasshouse and Fernery
If you just desperately miss that heavy, humid summer air, you’re in luck. Latitude 23 is a tropical paradise all inside a large glass building. The moisture is cranked up to replicate the equatorial region between the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn (both located at 23° latitude, hence the name!). Amazing, non-native tropical plants thrive in this hot box glasshouse, so you can see exotic orchids, hoyas, bat-plants, Papua New Guinean tongue-lilies and more.
Stop by the Fernery next door where immense, lush ferns grow wild. From climbers, to hangers, to the tallest tree ferns from all over the world. The Fernery is liked you stepped in to an uninhabited jungle, where the plants rule the land.
From there, walk over to the succulent garden for an amazing look at some native Australian succulents and cacti.
Make sure you carve out some time for the Royal Botanic Garden when you’re in Sydney. Bring a blanket, pack a lunch and have a relaxing picnic in the park surrounded by some of the most amazing plant life and greenery in the city. It’s the perfect spot to spend a few hours idly strolling, either before or after your visit to the Opera House.
Want to make sure you don’t miss it? We can schedule the perfect itinerary for you and ensure you don’t miss anything in Sydney.
There’s simply no better way to spend a relaxing morning than a farmer’s market. Interacting with local farmers and artisans. Letting your culinary creativity run wild as you browse fresh, local, inspiring produce. Or just spending some time searching for the perfect, unique gift to take back home.
Photo: Queen Victoria Market
For that perfect farmer’s market experience in Melbourne, look no further than Queen Victoria Market. Since the 19th century, this market has been Melbourne’s go to street market for produce, meat, home goods, gifts and more.
So grab a cup of coffee from a local cart, dive in to some amazing street food and walk with us as we peruse Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne.
Queen Victoria Market spans nearly 20 acres. This makes it the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere, a record you probably didn’t even know existed. Victoria Market is huge, on par with other great markets in the world like the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, the Fish Market in Tokyo and Pike Place Market in Seattle.
Photo: Queen Victoria Market
Photo: Roberto Seba / Tourism Australia
With over 600 vendors selling their wares five days a week, this is not your average farmer’s market.
Queen Victoria Market is divided in to sections called “precincts”. Looking for great produce and natural products? Start things off in the “Organics Precinct”. There you’ll find local farmers and co-ops selling organic produce and meat. You’ll also find healthy, sustainable products created by health-conscious artisans. The largest and most diverse array of organic produce in the entire city is found right at this market.
Craving a bite to eat? Head to the Market Place Food Court. World-class chefs and family run establishments alike compete for your taste buds at the food court. For a real round-the-world lunch, grab a few small plates from different vendors for a sample of Melbourne’s eclectic cuisine.
Where else can you sip Chinese tea, snack on Japanese sushi, dine on curry from Sri Lanka and finish it off with Tiramisu from Italy?
Photo: Queen Victoria Market
Tip: Even though you’re all the way over in Australia, stop by the American Doughnut Kitchen. These confection-experts set up shop in a 1950’s travel van where they prepare world-famous “hot jam doughnuts”.
After you’re fueled up on amazing eats, you’ll have the energy to comb the “General Merchandise Sheds”. This precinct is a sort-of flea market meets farmer’s market, with vendors selling an immense variety of goods, gifts and kitsch. From clothing jewelry and handcrafts, to cell phones, electronics and movies. Spend enough time in this precinct of the market and you’ll find anything you could ever need and somethings you probably don’t. You can even buy a stuffed Alpaca made of Alpaca wool. We’ll let you decide whether you need that or not.
The Vic Market’s newest section is String Bean Alley, where vendors set up shop in rows of re-purposed shipping containers. Upscale, handcrafted arts and crafts by local artists are for sale in this boutique section of the market. Photographers, painters and other visual artists also have galleries set up in String Bean Alley offering paintings and prints.
Photo: Queen Victoria Market
Queen Victoria Market is open Tuesday and Thursday – Sunday. During certain seasons, the market opens its doors on Wednesdays for the Night Market. Street performers, musicians and other live entertainment join vendors for a great night time destination event. The Night Market is a festive event that attracts thousands for a night out in Melbourne.
Make sure you carve some time out in Melbourne for the Queen Victoria Market. It’s the perfect spot to pick up some local veggies, shop for a unique gift, or simply for a lunch out in downtown Melbourne.
Sitting just south of the main continent, Tasmania is a microcosm of Australian life and culture in a landmass about one-tenth its size. Tasmania combines the rugged, natural landscapes of the mainland Outback, populous city-centers like Hobart, pristine coastal beaches and a storied history that lends to a culture that is distinctly Tasmanian. Take a look at some of these must-see places and things in our list of 10 amazing things to do in Tasmania.
Cradle Mountain National Park
Credit: Jason Charles Hill / Tourism Tasmania
Start off with a venture in to one of Tasmania’s most renowned natural treasures. Cradle Mountain National Park is one of the most visited parks in Tasmania, which is no surprise when you first lay eyes on the mountainous expanse and wild landscape. The park combines rugged trail terrain with ancient rain forest, glacial lakes and some of Australia’s few sites of alpine vegetation.
Take a relaxing stroll around Dove Lake, about a 2-circuit nestled in a mountainous valley beneath Cradle Mountain itself. Or if you’d prefer more of a challenge, trek to the Summit for unprecedented views of the park’s vistas. This 6-hour return walk takes the road less traveled, straight up the steep side of the mountain.
While you trek through various hiking trails, you’ll want to be on the lookout for the deciduous-beech. Found only in Tasmania, this tree is best known for its brilliant color transition in the autumn months and in fact one of very few trees to lose its leaves in winter in Australia.
Established in the mid-1800’s as a penal settlement for prisoners and convicts, Port Arthur has a dark and storied history. Situated just on the south-east end of the Tasman Peninsula, the site now acts as an open-air museum to its troubled past. Most buildings have been maintained in their original state, as they would have been seen nearly two centuries ago.
Credit: Tourism Tasmania
The historical significance of Port Arthur earned it a UNESCO World Heritage Distinction and it continues to attract more than 300,000 visitors annually. Port Arthur reigns year after year as the number one tourist destination in all of Tasmania and is surely a can’t miss attraction.
Carve out at least a full day in your itinerary for exploring all that Port Arthur has to offer. You’ll want to take the guided tour to learn the most about Port Arthur’s history. There is so much packed in to Port Arthur it’s hard to appreciate it all without an expert giving you the inside scoop. Check out this full day tour that takes you from Hobart to Port Arthur, including a guided walking tour of the Historic Site and a cruise around the harbour.
Feeling spooky? For those looking for a scare, this tour tacks on a night time ghost tour. If the stories of Port Arthur seem grim by day, just wait until you walk the grounds at night and hear tales of its haunted history!
See a Tasmanian Devil
You didn’t think you came all the way to Tasmania to miss out on seeing it’s most famous animal, did you? See the Tasmanian devil in a habitat that is as natural as it gets at the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo. An “Unzoo” is an inside-out take on a traditional zoo where the devils roam free in their natural habitat, unencumbered by cages or fences. See how the devils would interact in the wild and witness the feeding frenzy that happens several times a day.
Credit: Tasmania Devil Unzoo
You’ll also get a chance to feed kangaroos and wallabies by hand, but don’t think this is your average petting zoo experience. Instead of putting your hand full of feed up to a hole in a chain link fence, you’ll get to experience these friendly foster-marsupials hop right up and eat from your hand.
Having fun and showing support for a good cause go hand in hand at the Unzoo as they work closely with the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Project to protect and proliferate this native endangered species. The Unzoo works to breed healthy devils that can be released in the wild to bring up the population of this dwindling native creature.
Garnering some new-found attention this year after being featured in the Oscar nominated movie “Lion”, Mt. Wellington is quickly rising to one of the top tourist destinations in Tasmania. The more than 4,000-foot mountain is impossible to miss. Its jagged summit imposes high above the city of Hobart that rests in the valley beneath. Wilderness that seems a world away is just minutes from the city.
Credit: Chris Crear / Tourism Tasmania
An easily accessible lookout atop Mt. Wellington allows sweeping panoramic views of Hobart and its surroundings. Check out Mt. Wellington’s incredible rock formations including the towering dolerite columns called the Organ Pipes. Along the 21-kilometer drive to the summit of Mt. Wellington keep an eye out for the diverse range of local plants, from rainforest-like to sub-alpine flora. In fact, the summit is regularly capped with snow during the winter months.
Nearly 200 wineries dot the landscape of Tasmania. Its temperate climate has put Tasmania on the global map for cool-weather wines like white, sparkling white and dessert wines. Luckily, most vineyards in Tasmania are located just a short distance from the cities like Hobart and Launceston, making them easily accessible even if you have only a short stay in Tasmania. Wine trails or wine routes combine several of the best of Tasmania’s wineries in a countryside wine tasting road trip.
Wine trails are the perfect way to sample the different region’s wines that make up Tasmania’s rich winery culture. Vineyards in Tasmania are lush and beautiful. Taste your way through some of Tasmania’s best vintages and see why this up-and-coming wine scene has finally arrived.
Visit the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA)
This eclectic gem of a museum is an expansive, subterranean vault of art that ranges from ancient Egyptian mummies and relics to thought-provoking, contemporary art. Upon entering MONA, descend the seemingly endless staircase to the depths below where you begin your journey. MONA is privately funded by David Walsh, a professional gambler, businessman and art collector who built his fortune by using his educational background in mathematics and computer science to develop a system of gambling, placing bets on horse races and other sports.
Walsh’s eccentric professional history is reflected in the work shown at MONA, which he once described as a “subversive adult Disneyland”. He personally curates some of the most cutting edge international modern art pieces, displaying them alongside works from his own private collection.
Leave yourself a decent amount of time to check out MONA, as each visitor is provided with a digital tour guide that uses GPS to give information about each piece as you walk around. Commentary from the owner, the artist and interviews allow an in-depth, informative experience.
No trip to a museum is complete without a glass of wine to go with it. Moorilla is MONA’s own winery and vineyard. Every step of the small-batch wine making process is done in house for purely local Tasmanian wine. Combine your tour of MONA proper with a tour of Moorilla Winery. See the wine making process from start to finish, from the picking of local grapes, to bottling and aging and taste ten of Moorilla’s prestigious vintages.
Located in Freycinet National Park tucked away from main roads and highways, Wineglass Bay is a beautiful, secluded beach area that is a must-visit in Tasmania. Wineglass Bay is a hugely popular site, despite the 45-minute walk from the parking lot to the Lookout. Check out the bird’s eye perspective of the Bay and its unique, crescent-shaped beach, from which it derives its name, set against mountainous peaks.
The view is incredible, but you’ll want to take the time to trek down to the Bay itself. From the Lookout, walk down to the shore and you are rewarded for your efforts with the pristine turquoise water and white-sand shore that has given Wineglass Bay the distinction of one of the top-ten beaches in the world.
Credit: Daniel Tran / Tourism Tasmania
In the warmer months, take a dip in the crystal-clear water surrounded by an incredible mountainous backdrop. If it’s a little bit too cool for a swim, simply enjoy the serene coast and beach area. You may even have the beach to yourself as far fewer tourists make their way down in the colder months.
If you’re looking for a unique and distinctly Tassie shopping experience, look no further than Salamanca Market. More than 300 market stalls flood the Hobart waterfront every Saturday, selling food, local crafts, artisan jewelry, clothing, plants, flowers and more. Salamanca Market is a perfect way to spend a Saturday morning. Grab a cup of coffee and peruse the vendors selling their wares, see buskers playing music, chat to the locals and just enjoy the general atmosphere of this famed market.
Credit: Poon Wai Nang / Tourism Tasmania
Plenty of stalls offering breakfast and lunch options are around, so make an event of your morning or afternoon here and try out some local cuisine while you shop. A trip to Tasmania wouldn’t be the same without a stop at Salamanca Market which is considered one of the best and most popular cultural experiences in Tasmania.
Ferry to Bruny Island
Another striking example of Tasmania’s iconic landscape is Bruny Island. Technically two land masses, a narrow isthmus called “The Neck” separates North and South Bruny. Bruny Island is well known for its amazing geology and unique rock formations. Towering cliffs like “Monument” and “Breathing Rock” are some of the tallest natural cliff formations in the world. As you ferry out to Bruny, you’ll be dwarfed by these geological wonders that are unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
Credit: LION Movie
Some of Tasmania’s best wildlife live and thrive in and around Bruny. Starting with the ferry ride over to the island, you may spot dolphins, whales, and other marine life that swim near Bruny. Once you’ve made landfall, the island itself is home to seals, albatross, eagles, and an array of wildlife so impressive it rivals national parks around the world.
After your amazing wildlife spotting excursion, you’ve probably worked up a bit of an appetite. Luckily, there is no better place to dine on local cuisine than Bruny Island. Try out local, fresh-caught seafood and cheese made from the local dairy in this combination wildlife spotting and foodie tour. Bonus tip – the tail end of this tour includes a visit to the Bruny Island House of Whisky where you can sample some of Tasmania’s finest single-malt whiskies.
See the Southern Lights
You’ve no doubt heard of the Northern Lights, but did you know the southern hemisphere has its own light show in the sky?
Credit: Dietmar Kahles / Tourism Tasmania
Best seen in the winter months, the Southern Lights are visible from basically all over Tasmania. All you need to do is wait until dark, make your way to a spot free of trees and tall mountains and look up. The Southern Lights aren’t as well-known as Aurora Borealis up north, but the light show is equally incredible. Trek out to locations with the least amount of light pollution like South Arm Peninsula, only 25 miles south east of Hobart, during the southern hemisphere’s winter months and you’re in for a spectacular astral showing.
Visit Beautiful Tasmania
Let us help you fall in love with Tasmania. With so much to see and so many things to do in Tasmania, planning it all out can be a job in itself – that’s where we come in. Our passion is spreading the beauty and culture of Australia to as many people as possible and it’s all we do; all day, every day. We can give you the ins and outs and ups and downs of Tasmania and all of Australia. Our travel experts can make your arrival at point A, B and C completely effortless. With a continent as massive as Australia (roughly the same size as the U.S. ) and the fact that all it takes to ruin a good vacation is a missed flight, ferry connection or shuttle, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. Create a trip with us and make memories that last a lifetime.
Photos: Tourism Australia, Peter Dunphy and Ewen Bell
For the sixth consecutive year, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia has been named the world’s number one most livable city. This is according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), who each year compile a list of 140 cities and rank them in terms of livability. Not only that, Melbourne has taken a spot in at least the top 3 since the list began in 2002. So what makes a city “most livable” and what has given Melbourne an edge above in its six-year reign at the top of the list? It turns out that the answer may also make Melbourne the best city to visit in Australia.
Photo: Josie Withers Photography
No coincidence or luck of the draw, Melbourne’s spot at the top is based on real numbers and data. The EIU combine together metrics like culture and environment, education, infrastructure, stability, and healthcare to get a specific picture of what life is like for the average Melbourne citizen. Despite Melbourne’s perfect scores in things like education and healthcare effecting locals more directly, there is an overall benefit to the city in terms of tourism as well, making it one of the most visited cities in Australia.
Melbourne is the capital of the Australian state of Victoria and is the second most populated city in the country. Though it may not have the immediate name recognition of Aussie staples like Sydney, with its eponymous Opera House, Melbourne has consistently been recognized as a true global city. With a unique, rich cultural environment and renowned infrastructure and parks, Melbourne is not only a great place to live for locals, but the best city to visit in Australia for your next travel destination.
Culture – Sights and Sounds
Melbourne received a perfect 100 in the EIU’s “culture and environment” score, securing its place as a culturally rich destination. Melbourne is also recognized as the “cultural and sporting capital” of Australia – and for several years was named as the “World’s Ultimate Sports City”. Lending to this distinction is a diverse array of cultural institutions and a large number of museums, sporting facilities, festivals, street art and music venues. In fact, with a larger number of music venues per capita, Melbourne has actually surpassed Austin, TX, current reigning “live music capital of the world”. Nearly 500 venues dot the landscape of Melbourne, making live music a more than $1 billion industry.
Photo: Paul Philipson
The value of such a large focus on the music industry encompasses more than just the huge number of jobs and money injected in to the city. It also means that Melbourne is committed to making itself a destination city for arts and entertainment. Local hotels, bars, cafes, and restaurants are all trying to cater to Melbourne tourists. In Melbourne, so much activity happening means you don’t have to wait until the weekend for a night on the town. Even on a Monday, you can catch dinner and a show.
Whether it’s an intimate 50 person affair at The Old Bar in Fitzroy or a 5,000 person packed concert at the Festival Hall, Melbourne’s music scene is a must-see cultural institution. With such a large variety of venues, even a short stay in Melbourne can be enough to intimate yourself with the locals. A live concert allows you to view first-hand the type of cultural experience that makes Melbourne not only the best place to live in the world, but also the best city to visit in Australia.
A sort of unsung hero in the foodie world, Melbourne is home to more than 5,000 cafes and restaurants. In fact, it has one of the highest numbers of restaurants and cafes per capita of any city in the world, more than even New York City. A large multi-cultural population, with residents from more than 140 nations, Melbourne’s food scene represents an eclectic and diverse smorgasbord of cuisine. Melbourne has hosted its own annual Food and Wine Festival since 1993. Each year, a growing number of attendees and chef-celebrities make their way to the city, solidifying its place as the food and wine capital of Australia.
First time visitors to Melbourne may in fact be overwhelmed by the array of options at their disposable. Full on foodies and the food-curious alike will find Melbourne to be the best city to visit in Australia, with no shortage of unique culinary experiences. Famed chefs and up and comers in the fine dining scene alike have found a place in Melbourne among a food landscape brimming with talent and options.
Photo: Josie Withers Photography
For those seeking a slightly more casual approach to dining in Melbourne, Melbourne’s café and coffee culture is also renowned the world over. Australia’s current coffee culture originated in the early 1950’s with an influx of European immigrants from places like Italy, France, and Turkey. Even though coffee has been available since the early 1800’s, it wasn’t until then that Australia and Melbourne in particular found its focus in high quality espresso drinks that were previously largely unavailable. A focus on unique, independent cafes and coffee shops over chains and franchises give each Melbourne café a unique impression of its surrounding neighborhood, giving visitors a proper feel of the local culture of the city.
The Garden City in the Garden State
Melbourne is known as “the garden city” within Victoria, which itself is “the garden state” of Australia. More than 1300 acres of green space are located in the city of Melbourne, nearly 15% of its total land area according to a study done by 202020 Vision. Public parks and gardens, some dating all the way back to 1862, account for a large percentage of green space in the city. Attention to green spaces is a quality of life metric that tends to be an important indicator of satisfaction to residents of cities around the world and Melbourne excels at providing them.
Photo: Josie Withers Photography
Photo: Josie Withers Photography
The internationally renowned Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne is a nearly 100 acre group of gardens on the bank to the south of the Yarra River that runs through center Melbourne. Attracting more than 1,000,000 local and non-local visitors every year, the Botanic Gardens contain over 10,000 species of plant, both native and non-native. Outdoor sculpture gardens that mix green space with art also dot the landscape of Melbourne both within and outside of the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Melbourne has a dense city center, along with an extensive network of public transportation, making its infrastructure some of the best in the world, with a perfect 100 EIU score. Progressive infrastructure and ongoing infrastructure improvements are a big reason Melbourne tops the list year after year. Visitors and locals alike largely prioritize a dense, connected public transit system. Featuring the largest tram network in the world, and an extensive network of regional and metro rail, Melbourne is the best city to visit in Australia especially for car-free touring.
Photo: Mark Chew
Photo: AAT Kings
The EIU also takes in to account more than 700 km of bike lanes and routes that were added in the past few years, with hopes to increase safety for those riding downtown or commuting by bike. While many of Melbourne’s outer suburbs are still car dependent, the city center is easily navigated and commuted by bicycle due to the lane upgrades implemented by the city. On top of the car-side bicycle lanes, there are a large number of cycling trails that go through many of the city’s parks, edging past laneways and hidden cafes.
These bike lane improvements make getting around the city easy for first time visitors, or those who return to Melbourne time and time again. One of the best ways to get around any city is by bicycle, and Melbourne is no exception. With the autonomy of a self-driven stay, the ease of not having to park and drive in an unfamiliar city, and the hop-on, hop-off convenience of a bus tour, both visitors and locals alike can enjoy this positive livability benefit. Melbourne may also just be the best city to visit in Australia by bike.
Best City to Live, Best City to Visit in Australia
It’s clear that Melbourne’s distinction as “most livable city” doesn’t just benefit people who live there already. The city’s diverse culture, progressive infrastructure, and focus on nature and green spaces prove to be important indicators of satisfaction to tourists as well. The best city to visit in Australia is one that combines cultural experiences with progressive transportation convenient for those traveling, and Melbourne has proven consistent at providing it all and more.
Make Melbourne a must-visit destination when you’re planning your next trip. It takes some of the best aspects of other Aussie cities and packages them in to a sort of condensed, greatest hits of Australia. Chances are you don’t have infinite time to spend on your next vacation and Melbourne is a great way to make the most use of the time you do have.
Start creating your memories of Melbourne now by letting us plan a trip for you.
Posted on: January 17th, 2017 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments
The movie Lion was filmed in many locations. Much of Lion was filmed in India, but a large was filmed in pristine Tasmania. The Oscar nominated film, Lion is based on Saroo Brierley’s bestselling memoir, A Long Way Home, a story of survival and determination. The movie highlights his journey as a lost child in India finding a new home and family in Tasmania, Australia and then searching for his biological family as an adult.
As you watch the film, you can’t help but be amazed at the rugged splendor provided by Tasmania’s landscape, especially in the opening credits. If you’re like us, this film makes you want to visit Tasmania and get to know her a little better. Even the cast and crew of Lion was taken in by Tasmania’s charm. Producer Angie Fielder told The Mercury: “Our cast absolutely love it. Rooney Mara, in fact has been saying repeatedly how beautiful it is. She can’t believe it.
“We’ve all been really enjoying the night life in the evenings – the restaurants, the delicious food, the fantastic wine. Everyone is ordering lots of oysters.
“Nicole (Kidman) has been here before, but she really thinks it’s great,
“Dev Patel [Slumdog Millionaire and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel] and Rooney Mara [The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo] are here for the first time and they’re blown away.”
Here are a few of Tasmania’s notable Lion scenes and how you can include them in your next vacation:
Lion Filming Locations
Courtesy of The Weinstein Company LLC. All rights reserved.
In the movie, Dev Patel & Rooney Mara take a jog up a mountain and sit atop a mighty peak, overlooking Hobart city. This scene was filmed at Mt Wellington. It’s a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Only 25 minutes from the city center, it’s a great place to watch the sun set, hike, and take a picnic. But you don’t have to jog up there. Many tours stop at the lookout. One of our favorites includes stops at Mt Field, Russell Falls and the Bonorong Wildlife Park.
Courtesy of Tourism Australia & Graham Freeman
The Candlestick & Cape Hauy
Courtesy of The Weinstein Company LLC. All rights reserved.
When watching the film, you can’t miss this shot with the towering spire and accompanying cape. This amazing coastal scenery is part of the Tasman Peninsula, just 90 minutes from Hobart. The scenes where young Saroo, Nicole Kidman and David Wenham are sailing and playing cricket also take place on the Tasman Peninsula. There are a few ways you can take in this jaw-dropping view while you search for your own private beach. Cruise around the peninsula looking for fur seals, dolphins and sperm whales in a custom boat with an award winning tour company. You can experience the Tasman Sea intimately on a sea kayaking tour or take a four-day trek along the Three Capes Track.
Courtesy of Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service
The Bruny Island Neck
Courtesy of The Weinstein Company LLC. All rights reserved.
Another great shot in Lion is of a narrow strip of land with turquoise sea on each side. This isthmus is known as the Bruny Island Neck and it joins open and airy North Bruny to the rainforested South Bruny. There’s a reason why this shot is showcased right before the family meets for a nice meal out. Bruny Island has some AMAZING food and dining experiences! Only a ferry away, the island is easily visited on a day trip from Hobart.
Courtesy of Matt Glastonbury
Foodies will love a full day tasting journey across the island as they nibble on local cheese, slurp fresh oysters and indulge in other gourmet vittles. This tour includes a climb up the 200+ steps for an unforgettable 360 view of the isthmus. Those who love seafood would enjoy the Tasmanian Seafood Seduction where you’ll cruise around Bruny Island catching fresh seafood for a fabulous gourmet lunch. For those more interested in the wildlife around the island, there is an award-winning half-day Eco cruise where they can meet the Bruny Island seals, dolphins, whales, albatross, eagles, gannet, shearwater and petrel who live in this delicate ecosystem. You could also treat yourselves to something special with a scenic flight over the Neck to get this exact view.
Of course, Tasmania has much more to offer. In recent years, Tasmania has been named by Travel + Leisure as the one of the world’s top ten islands and Lonely Planet recently ranked Tasmania as one of the top ten honeymoon islands. Tasmania has some of the world’s best whisky, food & wine and the cleanest air on the planet. You’ll love exploring Tasmania’s lovely terrain and learning about the island’s sorted past.
Are you ready to start planning your trip to Australia? Talk to one of our Destination Specialists today. We’ll make sure you have an ‘no worries, mate’ vacation!
Posted on: December 8th, 2016 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments
Kakadu National Park, located in the Top End of Northern Territory, Australia isn’t for everyone. But if you have adventure in your heart, love nature and enjoy learning about ancient cultures, it’s one of the best places in the world! It’s one of those unique Australian destinations that is genuinely described as a very spiritual travel experience. With nearly 8,000 square miles of diverse wildness, this park holds a scared place with the Bininj/Mungguy people. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to explore this diverse natural wonderland and Aboriginal culture on your visit to Kakadu.
Here are a few things you might like to add to your bucket list and some tips for travel along the way!
Swimming Holes & Waterfalls!
Image by: NeilsPhotography
Kakadu is a tropical area with two distinct seasons, Wet & Hot (October – April) and Dry & Cool (May – September). But even in the middle of the dry season swimming holes can be found. While you may be tempted to take a dip in any old pool, it’s best to stick to the popular and monitored swimming holes. Kakadu, after all is known for its crocodiles! Always observe the warning signs.
Gunlom – A Pool with a View
Hidden at the top of a waterfall that can only be found after a steep hike, is an amazing little swimming hole with a view that can’t be beat!
A photo posted by Kim Christine (@kimchristines) on
One of the most popular tourism attractions in the Top End, monitored by rangers, Wangi Falls is a great swimming hole with a charming waterfall and beautiful surrounds. This guided tour takes you to Wangi Falls and other popular attractions in Kakadu within the Litchfield National Park.
Jim Jim Falls
A highlight for most travelers to the region, Jim Jim Falls (and Twin Falls) is not to be missed! It’s a bumpy ride and a pretty rocky walk to get to the falls, but most people find the sight to be worth the effort! This is especially true right at the beginning of the dry season when the roads are open and the falls are still flowing heavily. They can pull back to a trickle pretty quickly after the rains stop.
Ubirr is one of Kakadu’s unforgettable rocks. Located in the east region of the park, this ancient outcropping of rocks is known for its rock art and panoramic views. Inside several natural shelters you’ll find a collection of Aboriginal rock paintings, dated as far back as thousands of years! Check out this Australian Outback itinerary which includes a guided tour of the area.
Part of South Alligator River floodplain, the Yellow Water provides the ultimate wildlife experience. Cruise the Yellow Water in a canopied boat to see crocodiles, jabirus, sea eagles, whistling kites and more! This Outback wilderness itinerary includes a spectacular cruise on the Yellow Water Billabong.
Maybe seeing termite mounds doesn’t sounds like a great time to you. Well, you haven’t seen these termite mounds. You’ll surely be impressed and amazed at the architectural feats created by these tiny little bugs.
Consider an overnight stay in Kakadu to witness the amazing site of the night sky over Kakadu’s rough edges. Hotels and ‘glamping’ are both available! Try this epic Australia Adventure with 2 nights in Kakadu.
Kakadu is not for the faint of heart. ‘Salties’ (Saltwater Crocs) as well as their more docile cousins, freshwater crocodiles, are found in the waters of Kakadu in extraordinary numbers. Saltwater Crocodiles are the world’s largest living reptiles. On average the crocs in Kakadu are about 16 feet, but they can grow to 20 feet and weight over a ton! You can see the salties jump on this Jumping Croc & Nature Adventure tour out of Darwin. Stay safe in Kakadu while you enjoy the awe inspiriting site of salties in the wild!
Posted on: November 22nd, 2016 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments
Image by: Roderick Eime
Australia is on almost every traveler’s bucket list but the long-haul flight can seem like a daunting journey, causing some people to put off the trip. We promise it’s totally worth it and really not as bad as you might think. Here’s what it’s like to fly to Australia from the US with a few tips to make your journey as stress free as possible!
Avoid the headaches!
Unless you found an amazing deal on airfare, we highly recommend taking a direct flight to Australia. Likely, you’ll be flying directly to Australia from Dallas, Los Angeles or San Francisco, so your first step would be to get to one of these main hubs on a US domestic flight. Your best bet here is to make sure you book your US domestic flights with your international flights, so that you can check your luggage all the way through to your destination. Otherwise you will have to get off the plane in Dallas (LA or SF), pick up your bags, check into your international flight, drop off your bags, go through security again and then get on your international flight. We like our clients to be able to do a simple transfer from one plane to the other, knowing their bags will be transferred behind the scenes. Less lines means less stress!
Traveler’s Tip: All of your flights within the US and Australia should be booked on the same ticket as your international flight- your About Australia Destination Specialist will do this whenever possible. Not only will this lessen the stress on your way to Australia, but it also increases your luggage allowance throughout your entire journey! Usually, you’ll get two free checked bags when you book in this manner. Even if you only plan on checking one bag, the ability to check an additional bag comes in handy when you come across a flight in Australia that limits carry-on luggage to 7K (15.4 pounds). Rather than pay $50 to check your overweight carry-on, you can simply check it for free because you booked your international ticket with your Australian Domestic flights. See, it pays to book your travel with a Destination Specialist!
Your flight will most likely take off late in the evening and arrive in Australia two days later early in the morning. No, you’re not on the plane for two days, but you will cross the international dateline causing you to lose one day. So if you leave Dallas at 10:30pm on November 20th, you would arrive in Sydney at 6am on November 22nd. You’ll make up this day on the way back, arriving in the US just a few hours after you leave Australia. It’s like time travel!
So you’ve avoided the stress of the dreaded international transfer. Now it’s time to board your new home for the next 12-17 hours. If you are flying First Class, Business Class or Premium Economy, great for you! The service and food are much better and you will be much more comfortable then the folks in Economy. But these options are quite expensive, so we’ll stick to Coach in this description since that’s how most people will get to Australia.
Traveler’s Tip: Your Destination Specialist will send you information on how you can purchase advanced seat selection. If you want to sit in an exit row (for extra leg room) or sit with your travel companion, you’ll want to spend the extra cash to select your seat ahead of time.
You’ll board your flight and take your seat. Airlines like Qantas, Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand will offer in-flight entertainment from the get-go. They have a ton of options with new and classic movies, TV series, music, games and audiobooks. Get comfortable and start picking out a movie or TV show to watch. These flights also offer USB ports that will keep your mobile device charged throughout the flight. Don’t expect Wi-Fi, though. Most international flights currently don’t offer it, but that is slowly changing.
These larger long-haul planes are much more comfortable then most US domestic planes. You’ll likely have a winged headrest that folds in to catch your weary head and your seat will slide forward when laying back to give you a little bit more recline. The Qantas Airbus A380 even offers little footrest nets for added comfort (but these are not available in the exit rows or bulkhead seats).
The plane will take off and after it gets to the correct altitude, flight attendants will offer bottles of water and perhaps a lemon drink. You’ll receive a menu that tells you all that is on offer. We can’t speak for all airlines, but on Qantas, Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand, everything on this menu is included in the price of your flight – including the alcoholic beverages. Just don’t get carried away.
Here’s what we recommend you do:
Watch a movie and enjoy dinner with a tasty dessert. Then maybe watch a TV show or read for about 45 minutes. Three to four hours into your flight, when they turn down the lights, get out of your seat to stretch your legs. Maybe do a lap around the plane. If you are on the Qantas Airbus A380, you can head to the back and walk up and down the flight of stairs a few times. Then go to the restroom to get ready for bed.
It might help if you bring along a change of clothes and your toothbrush (if you forget this, ask for one). Performing your nightly ritual may help you sleep more soundly. Cuddle up with your airline provided blanket and pillow and try to get a full night’s rest. Most airlines will also have sleep masks available should you need them. Snacks and water are available throughout the night.
Traveler’s Tip: Get lots of sleep and drink a lot of water! It may be tempting to watch all three Lord of the Ring movies while you enjoy glasses of Australian wine, but you’ll hate yourself the next day.
In the morning, the lights will come on about 3 hours before you arrive at your destination and the crew will serve breakfast. Wake up, go for a little walk to stretch your legs, eat and fill out your customs card. You might find yourself asking, “Should I declare…..?”. The answer is yes. Just declare anything that remotely matches the description on the card. It will save you trouble in the long run. Now you’ll have time to watch a short movie or catch a few more Zzzzzs before landing in Australia.
You’ve arrived in Australia!
When you land, you will disembark the plane and make your way through customs. You’ll stand in a few lines, show your passport a few times and they’ll ask you what you are bringing into the country. Then you will collect your bags and a cute dog might come along to sniff your bag to make sure you are not smuggling illegal fruit and whatnot. It’s not the best experience, but it’s not the worst. And again it’s totally worth it because, yeah, you’re in Australia!
Now you have to find your way to your hotel. If you booked with us, you’ll have a transfer waiting for you. The shuttle bus will take you to your hotel where you can try to check in. It’s going to be pretty early in the morning, between 7 and 8 am, so unless you’ve arranged for early check in, they likely won’t have a room ready and waiting for you. This is really a blessing in disguise.
If you had a room ready, you might be tempted to take a nap at this point. This is not a good idea. You have to power through your first day in Australia. Stay awake until at least 9pm. Otherwise, the jet lag will be much worse throughout your vacation. Most hotels will store your bags for you and bring them up to your room when it is ready. Your job is to get out into the city and explore.
Traveler’s Tip: Resist the urge to take a nap on day one!
Posted on: November 6th, 2016 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments
A journey to Tasmania isn’t complete without a tour of the dramatic rugged coast, aquatic wildlife & the historic Port Arthur. This cruise manages to pack it all in and they do it very well! Not only is this tour listed as the #1 tour in Hobart on TripAdvisor, but the tour’s operator is listed in Tourism Australia’s Hall of fame! Here’s one you’ll remember for a lifetime!
Posted on: October 13th, 2016 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments
Australia Open promises to be an amazing time for tennis-lovers, their families and those in search of fun
Image By: JoJo on flickr.com
In Melbourne, the Australian Open isn’t only about tennis. Although, that’s a huge part of it. The Australian Open is really about fun and entertainment. This year, Melbourne’s biggest party just got bigger with amazing news for tennis enthusiasts as well as those just looking for a good time! Experiencing the Australia Open is just one of many reasons to travel to Australia.
Tennis elites confirmed for the 2017 Australian Open tournament
According to the Herald Sun, “Grand slam record-holders Roger Federer and Serena Williams and defending champions Angelique Kerber and Novak Djokovic will lead a glittering parade [of tennis elites] from January 16-29.”
All of the other top players from 2016 have also confirmed their attendance at the grand slam of the Asia Pacific. There will be plenty of opportunities to see breakout players set their sights on taking out the big guns, like Angelique Kerber did last year.
“Coming back to Melbourne as the Australian Open defending champion will be incredibly exciting, I can’t wait! This is the tournament that set me up for my most successful year and I will never forget those amazing two weeks in Melbourne. It will be an amazing experience to walk out on Rod Laver Arena again, and relive such an exciting time in my life,” said Kerber.
Image via TrollTennis on Facebook.com
Free AO Festival at Birrarung Mar
Image via Australian Open on Facebook.com
The Australian Open will return with a free two day opening festival, providing entertainment and tennis viewing for the whole family on the upper and lower levels of Birrarung Mar – including access to some of Melbourne’s best food trucks. Those with ground passes to the Australian Open will also enjoy some of Australia’s biggest bands at “The Open Sessions” on the middle terrace.
Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley said, “We’ve seen that fans flock to the Australian Open not just for the world class tennis but also the fantastic party atmosphere as seen at the AO Festival in 2016. We’re excited by our new look to the site and know that the fans are going to love the carnival atmosphere that goes with it.”
For the first time, the AO Festival will be hosted at Birrarung Mar, a brilliant and well planned outdoor venue on the banks of the Yarra River with 3 levels. The venue also has many interesting pieces of public art, some celebrating the diversity of Victoria’s Indigenous culture.
A Great Time for the Whole Family – Kids Tickets are Just $5
Image via Australian Open on Facebook.com
This year, children are invited to attend the Australian Open for just $5 (apart for Jan 21 & 22). The $5 ground pass, for children 3 – 14 years of age, not only offers access to the sporting event but also provides entry into a mini theme park called “The Ballpark”. For the first time, the Australian Open will offer all-day entertainment to young tennis fans. Kids can look forward to things like:
ANZ Tennis Hot Shots Fan Zone
$5 Food Options
Free fruit from Woolworths
Kid’s Tennis Day will also return with free entry for children under 15 and access to the Kid’s Tennis Day Rod Laver Arena Spectacular featuring some of the world’s best tennis players.
“We want kids to be able to see their idols in action and inspire them to get involved in tennis. The new kids’ zone, the Ballpark, will have heaps of fun activities, kid-friendly food options, along with the opportunity to actually play tennis, as well as a few surprises. We can’t wait to welcome more kids to Australian Open 2017 and will continue to offer world class entertainment at family-friendly prices,” said Craig Tiley
The Australian Open will be in Melbourne from January 16th – January 29th 2017 with the AO Festival taking place on January 14th & 15th.
Would you like to travel to Australia to experience the Australia Open? We can help you plan your trip and book your Australian Open tickets.