23 Ways to Wine and Dine Through Australia: Part I

Posted on: February 12th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

The Best Australia Food and Wine for the Gourmet Traveler

When it comes to Australia food and wine, perhaps what instantly comes to mind is Vegemite…and not much else.

Yet the culinary scene throughout the country features some of the world’s most innovative and trend-setting restaurants. And the wine? Some of the best Chardonnay and Shiraz in the world.

For the true food and wine lovers, these are 23 must-see stops in Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide and surrounding wine regions. No vacation to Australia is complete without a little indulgence.

Sydney

Sydney’s reputation as Australia’s global city precedes itself. Right on the doorstep of the CBD you’ll find incredibly diverse eateries to satisfy any craving imaginable.

From high-end dining to cozy cafes offering anything from Aussie dishes to Malaysian cuisine, you can’t go wrong with any pick.

But if you’re finding your head swimming from trying to choose the best Sydney restaurants, we’ve made it easy for you. Here’s our list of can’t-miss restaurants in Sydney.

Graze MCA – Located in the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, this is one of those rare restaurants that has it all. Brilliant location with an unbeatable view of the Sydney Opera House, amazing food and fantastic service. Simple and fresh ingredients highlight the generous portions of dishes such as bouillabaisse, poached ocean trout and lamb rump. Their wine list is a carefully curated celebration of Aussie and Kiwi wine regions, perfect for sipping while enjoying the views of the harbor.

Hubert – Step back in time to 1930′s Paris as you enter Hubert, a must for French cuisine. Don’t let the unassuming exterior fool you. Once inside, the unmistakably Parisian flair greets you with an ambience of dark elegance illuminated by dozens of candles. The menu boasts items inspired by cookbooks predating World War I.  With live music adding to the splendid atmosphere, dining in Hubert is a divine slice of Paris right in the CBD.

Quay- Often lauded as the best restaurant in Sydney, this multiple award-winning restaurant never fails to live up to the hype. This is one of those essential Australian experiences: excellent views of iconic Sydney sights, dishes reflecting a unique blend of bush and local ingredients and a superb wine list detailing even the grape percentages of its champagnes.

Sake -  If you’re inkling for a spot of Japanese, Sake is perhaps one of the best choices in all of Sydney. The simplicity of its sushi bar compliments the decadent main dishes, such as the sweet soy braised pork belly and pan seared barramundi. Your visit isn’t complete until you’ve had the famous dragon egg desert, a dark chocolate shell  filled with toasted chocolate crumble, passionfruit curd, mango caramel and other vibrant delicacies.

 

Hungry for more? Check out our list of more amazing restaurants in Sydney you need to try.

Hunter Valley

Just about three hours away from Sydney you’ll find Hunter Valley, one of Australia’s premier wine regions.

Noted for its Shiraz and Semillon, there’s still a wide variety of wines to taste from one of many cellar doors dotting the region. A wine tasting tour is one of our favorite ways to get to know the region. What’s better than sampling a variety of wines without having to worry about the drive back?

If you’re a true wine lover, not much else.

Here are some of the top wineries in Hunter Valley you need to visit while Sydney.

Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard – If there’s one thing you’ll remember about your visit to Hunter Valley, it’ll be without a doubt the views from Audrey Wilkinson. This is where you’ll get that sweeping view of picturesque vineyards you see on the postcards. This historic winery dates back to 1866 and offers an excellent range of Semillons along with selections of sparkling, Chardonnay and Rose. Surround yourself in Audrey Wilkinson’s vintage charm with a picnic amongst the vines or a behind the scenes winery tour.

Piggs Peake – If you like big, fruit-driven red wines and small hidden gems, Piggs Peake is the place for you. Often recommended by other wineries, this small local winery has big personality. Here you’ll find a casual approach to wine (all wine names have a pig theme) with knowledge as professional and personal as any expert sommelier. Consistent favorites include their House of Sticks Shiraz and the House of Straw Merlot.

Mount View Estate – For a classic Hunter Valley experience with a boutique feel, Mt View Estate is a must-see. This estate has produced some of the most awarded wines in the Hunter Valley for 40 years. Mt View boasts a little bit of everything: a wide range of premium wines, gorgeous grounds and friendly and approachable owners.

Melbourne

Many locals fondly regard Melbourne as the Paris of the South – but then, many Melburnians are rather cheeky.

But there’s an unmistakably European feel about its lush Victorian architecture and grid-like city center, and it can’t be denied that Melbourne is considered as Australia’s undisputed cool kid.

The passion emanating from its world-renowned coffee and food scene is infectious, and your standards will rise to a level you’ll be hard pressed to experience anywhere else.

AtticaFoodies visiting Melbourne should have Attica at the top of their list. Rated as one of the world’s best 50 restaurants in 2017 and as the best restaurant in all Australasia, you’ll need to book at least a month in advance. But the month-long wait is well worth it. The menu consists of 17 courses blending Australian flavors in smaller portions so you can enjoy every plate. With dishes such as kangaroo, wattles and waxflower and camel milk ice, this is the perfect introduction to fine Australian cuisine.

Tipo 00 - Wander down Little Bourke Street to find one of Melbourne’s hottest eateries in one of its smallest venues. Tipo 00 is all about carbs, so leave your carb-counting at home. Don’t be fooled by its simple and small menu – the house-made pasta and risotto dishes crafted from bright and fresh ingredients will delight your taste buds with every bite. Their squid ink pasta is a favorite, and their rabbit tagliatelle is a consistent hit.

Brae – For a minimal yet chic experience, you can do no better than Brae. This restaurant has hopped up and up on the World’s Best Restaurants list, jumping from #65 to #44 in 2017. The experience speaks for itself; a visit to Brae is like visiting a friend’s home. Instead of single servings of one course at a time like regular degustation menus, you’ll be served multiple dishes at one time to graze at your own pace. The feel is reminiscent of an upscale holiday feast.

Yarra Valley

Less than an hour from Melbourne’s CBD is Yarra Valley, the Nappa Valley of Australia. Make a day trip to indulge in some of the finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay produced from one of many wineries in the region. We also love day touring out to Yarra – winery hopping without the hassle of driving, yes please!

Here are some wineries you need to visit while in Yarra.

TarraWarra Estate - Stunning grounds and Australia’s first significant privately funded public museum make TarraWarra a cultural jewel of the Yarra Valley. Have a glass of their exceptional Pinot Noir or Chardonnay while overlooking the scenic surrounds on a crisp afternoon – paradise for any wine lover.

Yarra Yering – For the serious wine buff, Yarra Yering is a must-see. Reds are the focus here, and if you’re traveling solo you can taste ten wines for $10. An absolute steal considering the selection features their current vintages.

Oakridge Wines – Come for the food and wine, stay for a game of giant chess. What more do you need to draw you in for a visit? Perhaps complimentary wine tasting with no booking necessary? We’re so there. Not to mention the beautiful grounds – you’ll be day dreaming about hosting your wedding here.

Hobart

A can’t-miss stop for any foodie MUST include a trip to Hobart. Seriously, with the cleanest air and waterways in the world, Tasmania produces some of the finest seafood and distillation around.

A stay in Hobart will be full of feasting on the freshest salmon, oysters, cheeses, whiskey and ciders. Here are our highlights of some of Hobart’s premier dining institutions.

The Source – The Museum of Old and New Art is a Hobart icon – a must for any art lover with the slightest predilection for the controversial. But one of the MONA’s brightest gems is The Source, its in-house restaurant focused on seasonal local produce. Try their own Moorilla wine or delight your taste buds with one of ten thousand bottles from around the world (no, really!).

Mures - Straight from the day’s catch from their own fishing vessel, you’ll be hard pressed to find any seafood fresher than at Mures. The restaurant is split into two decks: Mures Lower Deck provides a more casual dining experience while Upper Deck is more intimate and upscale. Situated on the waterfront, you’ll enjoy superb views of the harbor either way.

The Glass House – A small but insanely popular restaurant where tables are fought over even on Monday nights. But believe the hype: attentive service with smiles, exceptional food and gorgeous views of Derwent River cement The Glass House’s reputation as a Hobart must-do. Highlights are the carefully crafted cocktails and the salmon sashimi.

Willing Brothers – Here you’ll find great eats and an extensive wine list tucked in a cozy venue. Aussie and European labels are proudly displayed on the wall of the bar, and you can even buy a bottle to take home after tasting. Pair your sips with a small but delicious meal from locally-sourced ingredients.

Ettie’sYou won’t find a more rustic chic and stylish restaurant in Hobart than Ettie’s. Its contemporary menu offers a broad range of options from roasted duck ravioli to steak frites. For a lovely leisurely meal, opt for the seven course degustation meal and get your fill of oysters, sardines, mussels and cheese.

Adelaide

Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills

Adelaide in South Australia is noted for its refined elegance and culture. After getting acquainted with its stately art galleries and museums in North Terrace, take a day trip out to one of the surrounding wine regions. Some of our favorites are Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills, where you’ll find 5-star wineries and some of Australia’s best cool-climate wines.

Two Hands -For an journey into what Australian Shiraz is capable of, Two Hands is a must. Their Gnarly Dudes Shiraz is a popular favorite. Here you’ll receive a unique sit-down tasting from the day’s selection and you’ll get to take your tasting glass home with you.

Torbreck – Named one of the world’s top 100 wine estates, Torbreck is a small winery excelling in Shiraz and consistency. Though big on rich reds, their whites, particularly the Roussanne Marsanne, plays rights along side their most popular contenders.

Ochota Barrels - This is truly one of Adelaide Hills hidden gems with a well-deserved cult following. All Ochota Barrels wine names are music references sure to delight any punk rock enthusiast. Grab a seat at Lost in a Forest, their cellar door housed in a 130 year-old stone church, and try their wood fired pizza while sipping on their wines. Set within an idyllic scene of bright, lush trees hanging over picnic blankets on the lawn, you’ll feel yourself delightfully lost in a forest.

Rockford - No frills and serious wine is found in Rockford. Though a smaller winery, you’re sure to receive warm and attentive service even throughout peak times. This is the place to go for a more traditional winery experience, housed in restored buildings reflecting the architecture of Barossa Valley’s early settlements. You’ll feel the warmth of their sparkling Shiraz in your very soul.

Penfolds Magill EstateIf you’re at all familiar with Australian wine, you’ll have definitely heard of Penfolds. When in Barossa, you can’t pass up the opportunity to miss this household name at their cellar door. With a wide range of affordable and high end wines, there’s something for every palate. And only 20 minutes away from Adelaide’s city center, there’s no reason for you not to go!

Want More Recommendations on the Best Australia Food and Wine?

Part 2 will highlight food and wine spots in Australia’s east coast, including Noosa, Brisbane and Gold Coast. Your Destination Specialist is also always on hand to give you the inside scoop on restaurants and cellar doors you must visit while on your trip. Give in to your desires and lets start planning the ultimate food and wine trail for your Australia vacation!

I Want to Taste Australia’s Food & Wine!

Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).


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9 Amazing Things to Do in Noosa and Sunshine Coast

Posted on: November 27th, 2017 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

If you’re looking for things to do in Noosa and Sunshine Coast you might get overwhelmed. The list of ways to explore this playground of relaxing beaches and lush rainforest hinterland is endless.

So we’ve made it easy.

Here’s our list of 9 top things you’ve got to do while in Noosa and Sunshine Coast. You’ll be spending your vacation like a local in Australia’s most laid-back beach culture.

1. Soak in the Sun on the Beach

Sunshine Coast is the top destination Aussies choose for a relaxing beach holiday. Many locals are transplants from all over Australia. Once you step foot on one of many golden beaches it’s easy to see why. Here are some of the top beaches in the Sunshine Coast.

Main Beach, Noosa

Main Beach, Noosa

Main Beach in Noosa is a local favorite for its gentle waves ideal for surfing, kayaking or just for a swim. Rent a kayak, paddle board or boogie board and enjoy the warm waters that constantly hover around mid-70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ever wanted to learn how to surf? Main Beach is one of the best places to take a surf lesson. World-class surfing coaches give lessons right on the beach and will have you standing on your board by the end of your first lesson.

Visit Main Beach in March for the annual Noosa Festival of Surfing. This 8-day festival draws surfers from around the world to gather and celebrate their love of surfing.

Have you ever seen a dog surf? Catch the Surfing Dog Spectacular during the festival and watch as dogs and their owners take on the waves.

Things to do in Noosa and Sunshine Coast

Sunshine Beach, Noosa

Once known as Golden Beach, this laid-back spot draws repeat visitors with its soft golden sand, secluded surfing and amazing dining along its elegant main street.

The irresistibly cool waters will draw you in with their unbelievable clarity. Boasting larger waves and little crowds, here you’ll find some of the best surfing in all of Sunshine Coast.

After a day at the beach catch a bite to eat at the award-winning Sunshine Beach Surf Club for a taste of fresh, locally-sourced dining.

Sunshine Beach

Coolum Beach

If you haven’t already noticed, surfing is kind of a big deal in Sunshine Coast. It’s no surprise when there’s no shortage of gorgeous beaches with amazing waves.

Coolum Beach is no exception.

With its carefree holiday feel and consistent rolling waves, it’s a spot locals escape to for uncrowded and patrolled surfing.

Here you’ll find one of the best beach boardwalks in all of Sunshine Coast. Take a leisurely stroll on the boardwalk and see breathtaking views of beach. Reach Point Perry Lookout for one of the best whale watching vantage points in Sunshine Coast. You might also spot turtles or dolphins frolicking in the glimmering blue sea below you.

Sunshine Beach

2. Discover National Parks and Hinterland

Need a break from the beach? One of the great things about Sunshine Coast is the unique blend of coastal beaches and charming hinterland.

There’s dozens of national parks, lush rainforests and towering mountain vistas to explore. The problem is choosing which sites of many to discover.

Here are the top things to do in Noosa and Sunshine Coast hinterland.

Noosa National Park

This popular park is a perfect mix of rainforest, mountains, wildlife and beaches, making it a quintessential Sunshine Coast destination.

Here you can hike through some of the region’s most picturesque scenery of lofty trees, rocky coasts and glorious clifftops. Spot wildlife as you wander through one of five tracks along the heath and woodlands. If you’re lucky you might spot a koala napping on the branches!

Noosa National Park

Fairy Pools

Imagine swimming in your own private rock pool with crystal clear water right on the doorstep of the ocean.

Sounds amazing, right? It’s no wonder the locals like to keep the Fairy Pools a secret.

The Fairy Pools are two pools of water in the rocks along the coast of the park. The high tide fills the pools, creating a magical scene of clear water rock pools surrounded by the ocean.

Look for these hidden gems early in the morning for the best chance to take a private dip in the Fairy Pools.

Fairy Pools

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve

One of the Sunshine Coast’s shining examples of hinterland rainforest is found in Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve.

Located about an hour away from Noosa, this stunning rainforest preserve makes for a great day of educational fun. Its Rainforest Discovery Center offers interactive information about its diverse plant and wild life.

A remnant of rainforests that once covered Blackall mountain range, this subtropical rainforest boasts stunning views of the Glass House Mountains.

Take a tranquil stroll on the long timber boardwalk winding through the reserve and explore the lush scenery.

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve

Glass House Mountains National Park

Easily one of the essential things to do in the Sunshine Coast is visiting the Glass House Mountains. The towering mountains are a distinct landmark of the Sunshine Coast hinterland, drawing eyes to their jutting peaks.

This group of thirteen hills were formed as molten lava cooled in the cores of volcanoes around 26 million years ago. Now the peaks hold cultural significance to the traditional owners, the Gubbi Gubbi people.

The mountains are a popular destination for bushwalking and climbing. Challenge yourself on one of the tracks winding around the mountains. You’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the rainforest hinterland below.

Glass House Mountains

3. Explore the Noosa Everglades

This is one of Australia’s best kept secrets. For an escape into an entirely different world of untouched wilderness, there’s no place better than the Noosa Everglades.

There are only two everglades systems in the world. One is in Florida and the other is in Noosa. The everglades is home to over 44 percent of Australia’s bird species along with over 700 native animals, so be sure to take your camera to snap photos of any wildlife you may see!

As the Noosa River winds through the everglades it becomes known as the “River of Mirrors.” You’ll see pristine reflections of the ancient tropical landscape around you, interrupted only by the gentle glide of canoes serenely paddling by.

Explore the river and Lake Cootharaba in the everglades with guided kayak tours. Or rent a kayak and take on the waterways on your own. Linger a little longer and camp lakeside at Boreen Point Campground or Cooloola Recreation Area. Permits to camp at these sites are easily obtainable with the Queensland National Park Booking Service.

One of our favorite tours takes you on a cruise through the Noosa River in the everglades. You’ll stop at Harry’s Hut, a historic quarters for forest workers and now a popular camping site. Here you’ll feast your senses with a delicious Aussie BBQ prepared by your tour guide in the tranquil wilderness of the Noosa Everglades.

Kayaking Noosa Everglades

4. Wind down on the Noosa River

The sparkling waters of the Noosa River are perfect for a relaxing day of kayaking or stand up paddle boarding. Several businesses along the river provide kayaks and boards for you to hire and enjoy the river at your own pace. Glide down the river and pass the mysterious Makepeace Island, a small heart-shaped island resort.

Experience the fun of owning a boat for a day and rent a boat or pontoon – even without a license! Explore great fishing spots and cast your line in the river for a chance to catch Australian Bass, Tailor, Trevally and more.

The sunsets in Noosa are a glorious blend of pinks, purples and oranges, best seen on a romantic Gondola cruise on the river. One of our favorite Noosa River cruises is in a beautiful Venetian inspired Gondola. This Gondola holds six people, perfect for an intimate journey with your loved one or a small group of friends.

Noosa River

5. Get your shopping on at Hastings Street

In need of a little retail therapy? Noosa’s got the perfect place. The city’s cosmopolitan cafe and boutique society lies in Hastings Street, a bustling mecca of alfresco dining and world-class shopping. Explore one of Australia’s most elegant shopping and gourmet dining strips, drawing in locals and visitors from all over Australia alike.

Pop into Massimo’s Gelateria for a taste of some of the best gelato and ice cream in Noosa. Warm up with a delicious coffee from one of many cafes – Clandestino Roasters are king in the Noosa coffee scene.

Discover hand-picked and stylish treasures from France, Italy and Belgium in Eliza’s Boutique. Browse through the beautiful custom boards in Noosa Longboards. No matter what your taste, you’ll find something just for you in Hastings Street.

Hastings Street

6. Indulge in fresh seafood and gourmet cuisine

The only problem with grabbing a bite to eat in the Sunshine Coast is choosing where to go. Foodies will be in heaven in with the myriad of restaurants, cafes and pop up restaurants to choose from. In Sunshine Coast the food is as fresh as the sea air, the cocktails flow with ease, and the flavors will delight your taste buds. Here are some of the top food experiences in Noosa and the Sunshine Coast.

Cafe Le Monde

One of the oldest restaurants in Noosa, Cafe Le Monde is a Hastings Street staple. Try their crab omelette for a hearty breakfast or enjoy a burger grilled to perfection after a day at the beach. Head to their special oyster bar on Thursday nights for $1 oysters from 5pm to 6pm.

Cafe Le Monde Noosa

Noosa Boathouse Bistro and Bar

Get a taste of Noosa’s fantastic seafood at Noosa Boathouse Bistro and Bar, floating right on the river. Dine on perfectly cooked New Zealand Salmon or try their crowd favorite – a 3 tiered seafood tower – while enjoying the gorgeous waterfront views.

Noosa Boathouse

Cooking Schools

One thing you should know about the Sunshine Coast is that it’s teeming with cooking schools. For a great hands-on experience cooking dishes bursting with flavor, take a cooking class while in Sunshine Coast. The Cooking School Noosa offers classes covering regional, French and modern South East Asian cuisines suitable for all skill levels. Love Asian cuisine? Spirit House in Yandina will have you creating tasty dim sums, tasty curries and seafood delights. One of the best things about a cooking class is getting to taste your fine work afterwards!

The Cooking School Noosa, Things to do in Noosa and Sunshine Coast

7. Get up close with wildlife at the Australia Zoo

After filling up with amazing food, treat yourself to a day out at the Australia Zoo.

There’s probably no zoo in Australia more iconic than this, famed as Home of the Crocodile Hunter. The late Steve Irwin along with his family set out to conserve Australian wildlife through attentive rehabilitation and educational exhibits. Now the zoo is recognized world-wide for its conservation efforts along with its informative and interactive wildlife encounters.

See expert handling of enormous crocodiles, giant snakes and swooping birds in the Crocoseum. Here you’ll see the Wildlife Warriors put on a show that will have you at the edge of your seat. You’ll feel the radiating passion and excitement the handlers have for caring after wildlife.

Wander through the zoo and spot Tasmanian devils, dingoes and mysterious binturongs as you make your rounds. Visit the Kids Zoo to pet goats, pigs and sheep, or even better – pat a koala on the koala walk-through. Spot Red Pandas climbing tree branches, and meet some of the most playful wombats in Australia.

Don’t worry if you need to take a whole day to explore the zoo – you’ll discover something new at every turn!

Australia Zoo

8. Discover the beauty of Fraser Island

For a more natural look into Australian wildlife and natural beauty take a day trip out to Fraser Island. This World Heritage listed island boasts towering rainforests, over 100 freshwater lakes and long, uninterrupted beaches. This unique island is the only place in the world where rainforest grows on sand, lending to its image of an island paradise.

Here you can enjoy beach fishing, four wheel driving, camping and spotting wildlife out in the wild. The adventures never end in Fraser Island  – here are some of the things you must experience while there.

75 Mile Beach

Fishing on 75 Mile Beach

This impressive stretch of beach is on the east coast of the island. Though its waters are too dangerous to swim in due to strong currents, its perfect for a four wheel drive tour.

One of our favorite tours takes you on a journey across the sands of 75 Mile Beach and off road into the island’s core. You’ll explore the rainforests and enjoy lunch at one of the island’s gorgeous lakes.

You don’t need to scuba dive to see a shipwreck. Driving down 75 Mile Beach you’ll discover the Maheno Shipwreck, truly a wondrous sight to behold. Learn the history of this ship through informative signs and snap a photo with the wreck.

Lake McKenzie

Lake McKenzie

There are many beautiful lakes in Fraser Island to enjoy a refreshing swim, but the silky white sands and crystal clear waters of Lake McKenzie make it one of the top lakes in the island.

The sparkling blues and greens of the lake will mesmerize you and draw you in for a swim. The lake is pure rainwater and the sand below prevents it from draining away. This is just one of many gems that showcase the stunning beauty of Fraser Island.

Champagne Pools

Another great spot for a swim in Fraser Island is in the Champagne Pools. These natural pools were formed by volcanic rock and are now a popular swimming spot.

Waves from the sea crash into the pools and settle with a fizzing foam, hence its name. This makes for an exciting yet relaxing swim in one of the top attractions of Fraser Island.

Champagne Pools

9. Browse through Markets

No trip is complete without purchasing some souvenirs to remember your unforgettable adventures. Or perhaps you’d like one last taste of fresh, local produce. You’ll be sure to find delightful treasures in one of  many markets in Noosa and Sunshine Coast. Here are some of our favorites:

Noosa Farmers Market

Noosa Farmers Market

Held every Sunday in what was once a sports carpark, this market is a must while in Noosa. You’ll find fresh and organic produce, local seafood, artisan cheeses, handcrafted art, skincare products and so much more. Grab breakfast in one of the stalls to fill up before a day full of browsing through the aisles.

Eumundi Markets

Eumundi Markets

This hotspot is where you’ll find the thing you never knew you absolutely needed until you laid eyes on it. Precious gemstones, yummy street food and gourmet meals, local art, designer clothing…the list could honestly go on forever. There’s even massage spots to help take the edge off the endless market browsing. Stop by on Wednesdays and Saturdays for this popular Sunshine Coast marketplace.

Yandina Country Markets

These markets are dubbed “The country markets locals love,” and once you stroll through it’s easy to see why. You’ll find freshly harvested produce, vintage finds and collectables, plants and herbs and even car parts. Held every Saturday morning, the sights and smells of these colorful markets are sure to leave a spring in your step.

Yandina Country Markets

Things to do in Noosa and Sunshine Coast

You could spend a whole vacation just exploring Sunshine Coast. And as the heart and soul of Sunshine Coast, you’ll find many of its quintessential experiences in Noosa.

Is the Sunshine Coast beckoning towards you? Want a few more recommendations? Contact one of our Destination Specialists for more information on this special region. We’ll even give you free quote on a vacation in the Sunshine Coast!

I Want to visit Noosa and Sunshine Coast!

 Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).


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Places to Visit in Australia | A Guide to the Whitsundays

Posted on: November 16th, 2017 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

Top Things to Do in the Whitsundays

The Whitsunday Islands off the coast of Queensland are known as Australia’s slice of tropical paradise. This idyllic chain of 74 island wonders stun visitors from around the world with their green-clad beauty and secluded white-sand beaches.

Relaxing on Whitehaven Beach

With people as warm as the year-round weather and a holiday feel as relaxed as its calm, crystal clear waters, it’s no wonder the Whitsundays are the premier destination for a tropical escape in Australia.

You’ve seen the mesmerizing pictures of Whitehaven Beach and its pure white sand. You’ve pondered seeing the underwater wonderland of the Great Barrier Reef.

How about experiencing these spectacular icons all in one trip?

Make Airlie Beach on the Whitsunday Coast the base of your next holiday, and you’ll be on the doorstep of these beautiful destinations. As gateway to the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef, Airlie Beach is the ideal threshold into the island holiday of your dreams.

Whitehaven Beach

Australia is teeming with gorgeous beaches. There’s iconic Bondi Beach in Sydney, the golden beaches of the Sunshine Coast, and a beach so perfect to catch waves it’s named Surfer’s Paradise.

But your idea of tropical paradise is probably a bit more secluded.

At Whitehaven Beach every spot is perfect to relax on its pure white sand, and the only crowds you’ll see are a mere handful of people. This world-famous beach is the crown jewel of the Whitsundays, constantly rated as the best beach in Australia.

The powdery white sand is 98 percent silica, meaning the sand never gets hot no matter how hard the sun glares. And with shallow, crystal clear waters always hovering at 77 degrees Fahrenheit, Whitehaven Beach is like something out of a dream.

Walking on Whitehaven Beach

How to Get There

Whitehaven Beach is on Whitsunday Island, the largest island of the Whitsundays. Whitsunday Island is a pristine paradise, with no hotels or resorts in sight, and the only way to reach it is by sea or air. The numerous islands and surrounding reef protect the waters, making them calm and perfect for sailing or cruising to Whitehaven Beach from Abell Point Marina at Airlie Beach.

With waters so still and an ambience so relaxed, you might be aching for a little adventure. Embark on an exhilarating ocean rafting ride and jet through the Whitsundays to Whitehaven Beach. Feel the adrenaline pulse through you as the wind plays through your hair and the water splashes around you.

Once you arrive at Whitsunday Island be sure to take the fifteen minute walk to Hill Inlet for those unbelievable views so iconic to Whitehaven Beach.

Whitehaven Beach Hill Inlet, Places to Visit in Australia

The heavenly swirls of white sands and aqua waters will be an unforgettable image ingrained forever into your memory.

Though Hill Inlet provides a commanding view over Whitehaven Beach, the best way to see the otherworldly swirls are by seaplane or helicopter.

The soft shades of blue gently blended with white sand glimmer below as you fly overhead. Land on the beach for a dramatic entrance – for a beach as breathtaking as Whitehaven, such a grand entrance is only appropriate.

Whitehaven Beach is not the only gem you can see while flying over the Whitsundays.

You’ll find the heart of the ocean lies in the Great Barrier Reef of the Whitsundays.

Heart Reef

Heart Reef by Plane

White sand beaches, vibrant green islands and clear turquoise water – the Whitsundays are a picture of utter tropical romance. But the picture isn’t complete without Heart Reef, out to steal yours.

This stunning natural composition of coral is in the perfect shape of a heart. Located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, this icon has been the site of many proposals and declarations of love as couples fly overhead by helicopter or seaplane. Heart Reef photo credit Jason Hill

The spectacular view appears just as it does in photos on post cards – untouched and brightly colored.

A deluxe scenic flight through the Whitsundays can include a trip over Whitehaven Beach and Heart Reef – two jewels of the Whitsundays. You’ll be reeling from a romance high once you land back on ground.

A more cost effective way to see Heart Reef by air is in conjunction with a visit to the Great Barrier Reef. You’ll depart from the Great Barrier Reef platoon and fly over this romantic natural beauty.

Great Barrier Reef

There’s no way you visit Australia without experiencing the Great Barrier Reef. This mind blowing natural wonder is a definitive Australia destination.

At the Whitsundays, you’re located near the central section of the Great Barrier Reef, making the region ideal for exploring the reef. Airlie Beach and a few of the island resorts of the Whitsundays provide ample ways to experience the reef  so you can enjoy this icon in your own style.

Our favorite day cruise departing Airlie Beach out to the reef combines interactive adventures of snorkeling, diving, semi-submersibles and underwater viewing observatories allowing you to see the reef no matter your skill level, or lack thereof.

The reef in the Whitsundays boasts some of the most colorful fish and coral formations anywhere in the Great Barrier Reef. The shallow, warm waters of the Whitsundays provide excellent opportunities for snorkeling.

Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef at the Whitsundays

If diving is your passion, you’ll be in heaven at the Whitsundays, where tens of thousands of fish and other marine life including turtles and dolphins call home.

Want to see the reef without getting wet? Glass bottom boats, semi-submersibles and cruise ships with underwater viewing observatories allow you to marvel at the underwater wonderland of the reef without dipping a single toe in the water.

Underwater Observatory of the Great Barrier Reef

Sailing

From sunny day trips to the Great Barrier Reef to leisurely charters around the Whitsundays, sailing is perhaps the best way to explore this chain of islands.

The Whitsundays offers some of the world’s best sailing, and what better way to fall in love with this island paradise than out at sea, enveloped in the glory of a gorgeous tropical sunset?

Sailing the Whitsundays

Airlie Beach offers numerous sail tours departing the marina for half day, full day, and even overnight sailing. One of our favorite luxury yacht tours includes gourmet meals, visits to snorkel sites and Whitehaven Beach – the ultimate all-in-one Whitsundays experience.

Or you may prefer to keep it simple and sail around the bays of Airlie Beach for fantastic views of the sea on a sunset cruise.

You may even hire a private yacht for bareboat sailing without a license or experience, and set course to the Whitsundays for your own island adventure.

Pioneer Bay Sunset

Airlie Beach

As the base for all this tropical island fun, Airlie Beach is the heart and soul of the Whitsundays. The vibrant and social atmosphere in Airlie Beach is infectious and its holiday daze will soon take over, ensuring you’ll never want to leave.

And many people who planned to only visit for a few weeks end up staying forever!

Airlie Beach Shore

With the Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef at its doorstep along with its laid-back main street lined with boutiques, cafes and markets, it’s not difficult to see how the tropical charm of Airlie Beach seduces visitors from around the world to its shores.

You can sunbathe at the edge of renowned Airlie Lagoon, located in the heart of the town.

Airlie Beach Lagoon

And indulge in the freshest seafood and gourmet dining in one of many thriving cafes, restaurants and bars. Tip: Head to Fish D’Vine, an Airlie Beach institution, for locally-sourced seafood and a choice of 450 types of rum.

Whitsunday Coast & Hinterland

Just minutes from Airlie Beach is the lush green rainforest of the Whitsunday Coast. Discover quiet coves, waterfalls and scenic outlooks on one of many walking trails through the hinterland.

Take a break from the beach side and explore the tropical rainforest surrounds.

Cedar Creek Falls

Cedar Creek Falls

This hidden gem is a local favorite as a day trip into the Whitsunday hinterland. Best to see during the wet season, fresh water runs off the surrounding rocks into a crisp, emerald green lagoon.

Enjoy the dappled shade of the rainforest canopy above you as you swim in the refreshing waters of the rock lagoon, and take a lunch break with a picnic in these gorgeous surrounds. Only 30 minutes away from Airlie Beach, you won’t want to miss this hidden tropical oasis of the Whitsunday Coast hinterland.

Conway National Park

Conway National Park Tourism and Events Queensland

Another popular escape into the rainforest landscape of the Whitsunday Coast is at Conway National Park. The diverse beauty of its green-clad hills, secluded beaches and panoramic outlooks over the Whitsundays is enough to lure in travelers from Airlie Beach.

Walk on a wide range of bushwalking trails winding through the park and catch sight of the many butterflies in different shades of blue, yellow and orange flutter about you in the forest. Take in the views of the Whitsundays from Mount Rooper Lookout. Discover the quiet seclusion of Coral Beach and watch as hundreds of tiny crabs run across the sand.

Best Places to Visit in Australia for Tropical Paradise

Whitsundays Secluded Beach

Not too many people know about the Whitsundays region in Queensland. When people think of a trip to Australia it’s usually to the typical destinations – the Sydney Opera House, Ayers Rock in the Outback, and the Great Barrier Reef as accessed from Cairns.

Sure, those are fantastic places to visit in Australia, but for that tropical island getaway of your dreams there’s no other place as perfect as the Whitsundays.

Whether it’s solitude and rejuvenation, fast-paced action or relaxation, you’ll find it all in the Whitsundays.

Ready to make your escape to the Whitsundays? Contact our Destination Specialists to start planning your idyllic island vacation.

I Want to Go to the Whitsundays!

 Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).


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Best Time for Whale Watching in Australia

Posted on: October 19th, 2017 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

Whale Watching Season in Australia

Whale Calf Breaching

Whale watching in Australia has grown tremendously over the last decade. The long whale season in Australia – between May and November – no doubt contributes to its growing popularity.

But whale watching season differs throughout the country and so do the kinds of whales you’ll see.

In May, whale groups including humpbacks and southern right whales migrate from the waters of the Antarctic to the tropical waters of Australia for mating season. Minke whales and even the rare blue whale also make a stop in Australia’s waters throughout their migration.

The warm waters provide a safe habitat for delivering and nursing their calves, contributing to the growing whale population in Australia. With nearly 60 per cent of the world’s whales found in Australia’s waters, it’s no wonder this is a top whale watching destination.

Make your stop along the coasts of Australia – the best place to see whales – for an incredible opportunity to see these iconic gentle giants. Read our guide below to discover the best times to see whales during whale watching season in Australia.

Whale Watching in Victoria and South Australia

Southern Right Whales in Australia

Every year along the southern coast of Australia you’ll see southern right whales migrate to the bays of Victoria and South Australia to give birth.

Whale watching season for southern rights in this region is between June and October, when they swim closest to the shores. In Warnambool, Victoria, blue whales are occasionally seen in May.

Cross off two breathtaking experiences at once and journey along the Great Ocean Road on the southeastern coast of Australia. Cruise one of the world’s most scenic drives and stop at popular lookout points to stretch your eyes across the waters below your to spot whales frolicking and breaching. Southern rights are the most commonly spotted whale from different points along the Great Ocean Road, including at Cape Nelson, Portland Bay, and Warnambool.

These curious whales tend to venture close to humans, often swimming close to boats and ultimately lending to an incredible experience with these gentle giants of the sea.

Whale Watching on the East Coast of Australia

Whale Watching in Sydney

The east coast of Australia offers excellent opportunities for whale watching, especially along the coasts of New South Wales and Queensland.

The best time to see whales in popular destinations throughout the east coast ranges between May through July and September through November.

In Sydney, you’ll typically spot humpback whales close to shore making their journey toward Queensland. Humpback whales, like southern rights, are friendly and curious about boats and divers. Their inviting nature has given them the reputation of the most popular whales among whale watchers.

Venture out to the ocean and get a glimpse of humpbacks in their natural habitat with a whale watching cruise in Sydney.

These whale watching cruises typically combine whale watching with sightseeing and information on Sydney’s history. Cruise vessels provide an intimate experience by carrying only up to 11 passengers. You’ll enjoy a private, small group tour along the Sydney Harbor with personalized and knowledgeable commentary about the city and whales throughout your journey.

Luxury Whale Watching in Sydney

Soon you’ll be an expert on Sydney and whale behavior patterns.

If you like to cruise in style, Sydney offers luxury whale watching cruises complete with a gourmet luncheon served on-board and drinks to purchase. Comfortable indoor seating allows you to sip on a cocktail while watching the giants of the sea. Or you may take in the blue expanse of the ocean out on spacious viewing decks.

Whale watching has never been so luxurious.

Spot Whales on a Great Barrier Reef Cruise

From snorkeling to diving, glass bottom boat cruises to helicopter tours, there’s no end to the ways you can experience the truly breathtaking wonder of the Great Barrier Reef.

Take a cruise to the reef and not only will you experience the world’s largest living organism – the reef itself – but you may also see whales, the world’s largest animals.

Whale season attracts humpback and dwarf minke whales between May and September to the warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef. The best time for whale watching in this region, however, is between July and September.

Whale Watching in Australia on a Great Barrier Reef Cruise

Whale Watching on the Gold Coast

If you’d rather keep your feet on the ground but still yearn for the special experience of seeing a whale, Australia’s east coast is the best place to spot whales from the beach.

The Gold Coast is rapidly becoming the premier whale watching site in Australia, with whales venturing as close as one or two kilometers from beach shores. Whales may be spotted all throughout the regular whale watching season in the Gold Coast, peaking in August.

Numerous lookout points along the Gold Coast provide great ocean views where you’ll spot humpback whales breaching and shooting big spouts of mist into the air. Point Danger, a headland on the southern end of the Gold Coast, is renowned as a premier spot for whale watching on land. Other great vantage points include Burleigh Hill and Miami Hill.

Whale Watching on Point Danger

Whale Watching in Hervey Bay

Humpback whales make a stop on their return migration to enjoy the waters of Hervey Bay. The clear waters allow you to easily see humpbacks as they frolic and breach, basking in the sheltered waters of Fraser Island with their young. The best time to see humpbacks in Hervey Bay is between July through October, right before they head south again for feeding.

Whales in Hervey Bay

You will typically begin spotting humpbacks twenty minutes into a cruise out on the waters of Hervey Bay – perfect for the eager whale watching enthusiast. Sometimes the whales venture close to the boats, a delightful treat for lucky passengers.

An even better treat is getting to swim with the whales.

Swimming with Whales

Swim with Whale Sharks

Swimming with Whale Sharks in Ningaloo Reef Exmouth photo credit Tourism Australia

The once in a lifetime opportunity to swim with whales awaits at Ningaloo Coast. This World Heritage Site is located in the north-west coast of Western Australia. Here, whale watching adventures can combine a snorkel on the Ningaloo reef with whale watching and swimming on a full day tour.

Take a cruise between March and September for the chance to get up close and personal with these friendly giants.

And the giant you’re most likely to meet on a whale swim is the whale shark. Don’t worry though – classified as the world’s largest fish, these animals are more like whales in their behavior than sharks. These docile creatures are accustomed to swimming alongside humans, with a diet consisting of only micro-organisms such as plankton and krill. So there’s nothing stopping you from taking the plunge and swimming with whale sharks!

Meeting a new friend means first gaining their trust. The same holds true even for these enormous creatures.

You’ll enter the waters with an expert guide in a small group of up to 5 swimmers, so as not to scare off the whale shark. Gaining the animal’s trust may take up to half an hour, but that’s a small price to pay for such a grand experience.

To ensure this exhilarating experience goes as smoothly as possible, a spotter plane flies overhead and alerts the crew on board when a whale is spotted. A photographer joins the swim to capture unforgettable underwater moments you can look back on.

Swimming with Dwarf Minke Whales

Swimming with Minke Whales

Other friendly and inquisitive whales that you are likely to meet on a whale swim are dwarf minkes.

These whales hang around the Ribbon Reefs of the Great Barrier Reef between May and September, peaking in early July. This region is the only place in the world where humans can interact with these whales. With a limited number of tours permitted to offer swimming with minke whales, you don’t want to miss out on this special experience! Day trips and even 3-7 night excursions onto the sea are available for enjoying minke whale watching and swimming.

If you are unsure about swimming with whales, minke whales are just gentle enough to try out the experience. They often seek out human company, swimming around snorkelers and divers and approaching boats just within a few yards. Just another reason why Australia is the best place to see whales – you’re able to experience whales in their natural habitat.

Whale Watching in Australia

All along Australia’s coastline are fantastic spots to see whales. Whether you’re a swimmer and ready for the once in a lifetime experience of swimming with whales, or if you’d rather keep your feet on the ground and see whales frolic in the ocean from the beach or a cruise, there’s a spot in Australia perfect for your style of whale watching.

Want to include whale watching in your trip to Australia? Contact one of our expert Destination Specialists. We’ll set up the perfect whale watching experience for you to see these majestic giants of the sea.

Add Whale Watching to My Trip

 Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).


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Australia Travel Hack – Using GPS for Free When Traveling Abroad

Posted on: September 15th, 2017 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments

How to Use GPS For Free When TravelingIt’s no secret, data usage while traveling abroad is expensive. The problem becomes even worse when you travel to a country like Australia, which doesn’t offer endless options for free WiFi like we have in the United States. As we become more and more dependent on our phones and the information their connection brings, we find it harder and harder to function without them.  This is especially true when it comes to getting around.

I don’t know about you, but I use my maps app nearly every day!

You need a way to use GPS for free when traveling internationally!

In a foreign land it’s nice to know you can always turn to your phone when you want to find the nearest attraction, explore the area for the best restaurants, or ensure your taxi driver isn’t literally ‘taking you for a ride’. So today we share one of our most used travel tips…

How to use the GPS on your phone without using international data

Using your map app while roaming can incur heavy usage fees when traveling internationally.  This is not due to the use of your GPS. It’s because you have to download the map data in order to understand where you are and where you want to go.  Using the GPS to target your location is free. The simple solution is to download the map data before you travel.

We suggest downloading your maps a day or two before you depart so you have the most up to date information. You can do this using WiFi while in Australia, but you’ll save a lot of time if you download using the fast connection speeds you have at home. Shared WiFi in hotels and airports can be frustratingly slow!

Here’s how it’s done using the popular Google Maps app.

Step 1: If you haven’t already, download Google Maps. Apple | Android

Step 2: Type in the city you plan on visiting in the Search Bar.

Step 3: Tap on the little “hamburger” menu.

Use GPS for Free While TravelingStep 4: Tap on “Offline Maps”.

Step 5: Tap “Select Your Own Map”. If your screen only has “Home” or “Custom map” available, tap “Custom map.”

Use GPS for Free While TravelingStep 6: Zoom in or out and adjust your map to represent where you will be while on vacation.  The larger the area, the more memory the map will use on your phone. In Sydney, for example, you would likely want to include the CBD (downtown area) and areas along the Harbour up to Bondi Beach. By limiting the area, we’ll be saving 25MB of memory.

Step 7: Click Download

Use GPS for Free While Traveling

Now, when you are in this area of the map, you will be able to use Google Maps as you normally would without using any data or WiFi.  You might want to turn the mobile data off on your phone so you don’t accidentally use your data when you search outside your downloaded area.

Step 8: Repeat this process for every city on your itinerary.

Use GPS for Free While Traveling

Tip: If you’re driving and need a large area downloaded, the standard rectangle selection might create a map that is too large to download.  Instead, break up your trip with multiple maps. Download smaller, overlapping areas along your route. These will combine in your maps app and allow you to explore the region along your entire route.

Now that you can use GPS for free when traveling, you can travel carefree!

Safe travels from your mates at About Australia!

22 Free Things to Do in Sydney

Posted on: August 10th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments

Sydney is a world-class city with limitless ways to entertain yourself and enjoy the sights.

They say that the best things in life are free, so take a tour of Australia’s most famous city with our list of free things to do in Sydney.

Explore the Sydney Harbour

The whole Harbour area is many visitors’ first-stop on a tour through Australia. You can stroll along the edge of the water and take pictures of stunning Harbour views.

Then, take a walk across the Harbour Bridge and wave to the climbers above you!

free things to do in sydney

Get Cultured at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

This Sydney mainstay will leave you in awe at the amount of amazing artwork that is on display. Australian and International works displayed in a quirky, art-deco building right inside The Rocks district.

free things to do in sydney

Photo: Tourism Australia

Soak Up the Sun

You can’t think about Australia without thinking about those sunny, golden beaches. Sydney’s beaches are some of the best and most popular in the country. Whether you’re looking to lounge and want to learn to hang-10 and surf the famous break, you can’t go wrong with a day at Bondi, Manly, Coogee or any other Sydney beach.

free things to do in sydney

Photo: Tourism Australia / Andrew Wallace

Listen to the Buskers at Circular Quay

In this bustling Harbour-side plaza you’ll find plenty of street-musicians performing for the masses. Everything from folk duos, solo musicians and didgeridoo players fill the air with the sounds of local and native tunes. It’s free to listen, but of course a busker always appreciates a good tip!

Walk the Clifftops from Bondi to Coogee Beach

Can’t decide which beach to pay a visit? How about all of them?

There are plenty of great walks in Sydney and the surrounding areas, but the walk from Bondi to Coogee Beach may just be the most spectacular. A constructed boardwalk sits perched high over seaside cliffs and runs the entire length, connecting 5 of Sydney’s sunniest beaches.

Walk along and make a stop at each beach, from surf-mecca Bondi to the sandstone-striations of Clovelly.

Bondi to Coogee Beach Walk

Visit the Chinese Garden of Friendship

This tranquil oasis in the middle of Sydney CBD is the perfect place for a peaceful pit-stop under a pagoda.

A post shared by Jay Lal (@jaylalphotography) on

Walk Through Chinatown

Sydney’s Chinatown is ranked one of the 10 best in the world. While you could go all out and try a smorgasbord of authentic Chinese cuisine – including the world-famous Golden Century Seafood Restaurant, where you can pick your own catch of the day from the fish-tank lined walls – walking through this Chinese cultural mecca in Sydney is just as satisfying.

Plan to be there on a Friday night to see Chinatown transformed in to a buzzing, outdoor night market.

Peruse Paddington Markets

One of the oldest markets in Sydney. Paddington Markets have plenty to browse through with arts, crafts, hand-made trinkets and goods and more. Walk around and enjoy the vibe of this market with Aussie locals. The market is open Saturdays from 10am to 4 pm.

free things to do in sydney

Photo: Masaru Kitano snaK Productions

Take a Free Guided Walk of the Royal Botanic Gardens

We make no secret about our love of the Royal Botanic Gardens. There’s no better place in Sydney to see such a diverse collection of flourishing flowers and lush, green plant life. The best part? You can take a free walking tour to get the in-depth low-down on this floral wonderland.

Tip: Be sure to stop for a picture at Mrs. Macquaries Chair for one of the best views from the park of the Harbour and Harbour Bridge.

Royal Botanic Garden View

Free Festivals

If you plan your trip around certain times of the year, you can take advantage of Sydney’s packed schedule of annual festivals. See the city all lit up during Vivid Sydney from May-June, see art installations, music, dance, talks and more at Sydney Festival in January, see beautiful blooms at the Cherry Blossom Festival in August and many more.

*Tip: If you miss Vivid, you can see the Sydney Opera House lit up every night with the mini light festival, Badu Gili. This 7-minute art-installation projected on the “sails” of the Opera House happens each night at sunset.

free things to do in sydney

Photo: Destination NSW

Roam Through the Oldest Park in Australia

Hyde Park is a 40-acre park smack in the middle of Sydney. At nearly 140 years old, it was the first park established in the entire country. This communal green space is manicured and pristine, with tree-lined avenues, monuments and memorials, fountains, flowers and more. Post up on a bench for a bit of people watching or take a leisurely stroll.

Explore The Rocks District

This 18th century historic Aussie settlement (one of the first ever established) has a storied past of convicts, gangs and other sordid affairs. Since then, the area has cleaned up it’s act and is perfect for a historical walk over cobbled streets, past renovated, centuries-old buildings. The Rocks is also home to two of Sydney’s oldest surviving pubs.

free things to do in Sydney

Photo: Tourism Australia

See The Rocks Museum

This unique museum is located in a restored 18th century warehouse. You’ll find a historic collection of artifacts and artwork that follow the timeline of the Rocks District, from pre-settlement to present day. Fun, interactive exhibits make this museum a history lesson that’s fun for the whole family.
free things to do in sydney

See Amazing Architecture

Sure, the Opera House is the architectural wonder that put Sydney on the map for beautiful buildings, but the industrial design of other sites will give even the most discerning eye something to geek out over.

Australia Square Tower

Australia Square Tower

St. Mary’s Cathedral

free things to do in sydney

See Local Music at a Free Gig

Sydney has an active live music scene and you can find free shows going on any night of the week, from free jazz nights at Venue 505 to free gigs and DJ nights at the chic Oxford Circus.

Stop into the Queen Victoria Building

While Queen Victoria Building (QVB) is a shop-til-you-drop paradise, you don’t need to spend anything at all to enjoy this Sydney staple. QVB makes for a great stop on a sightseeing tour of Sydney. The Victorian architecture, glass roof, tile work, stained glass panes and animated-diorama Royal Clock show an attention to detail unheard of in modern shopping malls. There is even a free historical tour.

free things to do in sydney

Image Credit: Daniel Boud; Destination NSW

See Great Works at the Art Gallery of New South Wales

Curating some of the finest international and Australian art in the world, this free museum is perfect for an afternoon of art and culture. On Wednesday nights, the Gallery opens it’s doors until 10 p.m. for lectures, film screenings and more.

Stroll Through Everleigh Market

With all the usual trappings of a farmer’s market, including organic produce, coffee, juice and takeaway food, this market makes for a relaxing Sunday afternoon. Everleigh Market is adjacent to Carriageworks Art Space, so along with produce and food there are plenty of vendors offering local art and handmade goods.

See the City from Observatory Hill

Photo ops abound in this park overlooking the Harbour and Harbour Bridge. Post up for a photo, pack a picnic lunch or walk the grounds taking in the gorgeous views along the way.

free things to do in sydney

Photo: Tourism Australia

Let the Kids Play at Darling Harbour Playground

Imaginations will run wild in this inventive, outdoor activity center that will allow your children to rediscover the act of “play”. Modern and built from the ground up with ziplines, giant slides, a mega-swingset, climbable net-tower, sand diggers and much more.

Explore the National Maritime Museum

Enjoy free entrance to selected galleries and exhibitions in this museum dedicated to Aussie Naval and marine history.

Take in the View from North Head Lookout

Gaze out over views of rugged cliffs and rocky coastline that only Australia can provide. Take the scenic walking track from Manly Wharf and arrive at North Head.

free things to do in sydney

Spend Your Down Time with These Free Things to Do in Sydney

You no doubt already have a packed itinerary with plenty of the amazing tours in and around the city. But during your down time, spend some time with these great sights. We think it will take a while to exhaust this list of free things to do in Sydney, so hopefully you have enough time in the city to try them all!

If you’re ready to start planning your trip and looking for even more suggestions and tips, talk to one of our Destination Specialists. We’ll get you set up with the perfect itinerary for you and make it so the only thing you have to worry about is what to see next.

Add Sydney to My Trip

Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).

15 Amazing Restaurants to Try in Sydney

Posted on: August 10th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments

Sydney has deservedly earned a reputation as Australia’s global city. It serves as the country’s financial center, it’s tourism capital and it’s probably the city that most people easily recognize (thanks Sydney Opera House!).

And you don’t become a world-class city without the world-class cuisine to go along with it. Check out our list of restaurants to try in Sydney and see why you’ll never go hungry in this foodie mecca.

Cheap Bites on the Go

Sydney is a big city with a lot to explore. If you like to keep moving when you’re exploring the Harbour city, pop into these walk-up and takeaway stands for a quick bite of delicious, affordable fare to fuel you for sightseeing.

Big Bite on PittBlink and you might miss the entrance to this lunchtime favorite. The sandwich is the perfect food while you’re out and about. Big Bite does them to perfection. Simple, fresh ingredients piled as high as Ayers Rock.

Lentil as Anything – This not-for-profit local concept is a restaurant with a mission. The all-vegetarian menu has no set prices and is completely pay-as-you-can-afford. They believe that those who can pay will and those who can’t still deserve a spot at the table. The food is great, but supporting the mission is even better.

restaurants to try in sydney

Hot Star Large Fried ChickenThis unassuming takeaway stand is a local favorite and easily missed by tourists. Taiwanese fried chicken is sort of a mix between the chicken shops of London and Nashville Hot Chicken in the U.S. Hot Star Large Fried Chicken markets on chicken that’s “as big as your face” and caters to the business lunch crowd and after-bar partiers alike.

restaurants to try in sydney

Cafes and Coffee

Sometimes what you really want is the perfect meal to go with your morning pick-me-up. Try these breakfast/brunch/lunch/whenever-you-want spots for a taste of Sydney’s cafe culture.

Workshop Espresso – You might not know it, but Australia lays a pretty hefty claim as being the country that invented avocado toast. We can’t completely verify that claim, but if Workshop Espresso is any indication, they’ve at least mastered the art! A quirky, walk-up spot with coffee, sandwiches, pastries and of course, avocado toast.

restaurants to try in sydney

Marlowe’s Way – Tucked in to a small alley off the main thoroughfare, you might miss this casual-café at first glance. But once you find this cherished “hole in the wall”, you’ll be glad you took the time to explore a little. The hip-spot is the perfect café to mix with the locals while tasting great coffee and a quick bite.

KafeineWith a name like that, you know they take their coffee seriously. Professional baristas serve crafted coffees and lattes while the culinary team in the back of the house cooks up breakfast, lunch and dinner items. Kafeine serves high-quality diner items with a twist, like a pulled-pork burger, satay lemongrass-chicken salad and much, much more.

restaurants to try in sydney

Noodle Houses and More

Ramen is having a bit of a moment in the U.S. right now, but Aussies have been hip to the pulled noodle bowls for years. Taste Japan’s culinary influence on the land Downunder with these noodle houses.

Gumshara Ramen – This authentic noodle house is located in a food court in Chinatown. Perfect for those days when you’ve worked up an appetite walking around Sydney. Locals love Gumshara Ramen for an affordable, quick bite while out and about in Sydney.

restaurants to try in sydney

Chinese Noodle Restaurant – Sydney is a city that wears its Asian-influenced cuisine on its sleeve, as you’ll notice with the abundance of Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and other restaurants packed in and around the CBD. What sets Chinese Noodle Restaurant apart from many are is its famous hand-pulled noodles made fresh daily. Stop in for a hearty bowl of noodles just a few minutes’ walk from Darling Harbour.

Ippudo - This centrally located noodle house is a Japanese-based chain of ramen shops. But being a chain doesn’t mean Ippudo is lacking on authenticity or flavor and their noodles are consistently considered some of the best in Sydney.

Date Night in Sydney

If you’re on the trip of a lifetime with your partner or significant other, make it extra special with a night on the town in one of these chic lounges with cocktail menus that go toe-to-toe with their world-class dinner menus.

Rabbit Hole Bar + DiningHip digs serving modern Australian cuisine and well-curated cocktails. Bartender Doug Laming specializes in “molecular mixology”, a term that means combining science with drink mixing. If you’ve ever wanted to try a “powdered cocktail”, a “vodka foam” or a “spherified olive” – and believe us, you need to try it at least once! – Rabbit Hole is your place.

restaurants to try in sydney

GPO Cheese + Wine RoomStep in to this underground cellar for a wine and cheese paired date night. You’ll love the low-key atmosphere and cobbled walls that give this spot the feel of a 19th century winery. Your sommelier will find the perfect wine to pair with fondue pots, cheese boards, charcuterie plates, antipasto and desserts for an unforgettable date night experience.

Bar TapavinoSpanish tapas, the small, shared-plate style of food and drinks was all over the place a few years ago. The tapas-boom seems to have finally plateaued a bit in the U.S., but the communal, small plate style of cocktails and food is perfect for a date night out. Bar Tapavino’s emphasis on Spanish wine and upscale tapas is the perfect way to kick off a night out, or wind down from your day in Sydney.

The ApolloThis Aussie take on Mediterranean cuisine is helmed by one of Australia’s most exciting chefs. Jonathon Barthelmess’ restaurants are heavily awarded and he brings his experience and his heritage, to Sydney’s newest haven for Greek cuisine. You’ll find Mediterranean staples like lamb, yogurt sauces, fried cheese with honey and, of course, piles of warm, fresh pita.

restaurants to try in sydney

Uncle Ming’s BarThis casual hideaway is teeming with ambiance. Step in to the dimly-lit basement bar and you’ll feel like you were transported to another dimension. Munch on Asian-inspired bar food like dumplings, prawns, edamame and wings while sipping on signature cocktails and sake. The atmosphere of Uncle Ming’s is unbeatable for a casual date night out in the CBD.

Dining With a View

Sydney is a beautiful city. What better way to enjoy those amazing city views than alongside a delicious meal and drink?

Cafe SydneyWide, panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows surround this popular cocktail and dining spot. Gaze out over sweeping views of the Sydney Harbour and Harbour Bridge while you dine on upscale cuisine.

restaurants to try in sydney

Bennelong Restaurant + BarLocated inside the famed Sydney Opera House, the interior of this airy space is like the cavern of a ship. Wide, iron girders between huge glass windows provide amazing views of Sydney CBD and skyline. The Sydney Opera House is an architectural wonder, but Bennelong is a can’t miss destination in it’s own right.

restaurants to try in sydney

Sydney Cove Oyster BarServing fresh seafood in an unbeatable waterside location. With views of the Harbour and Harbour Bridge so close, you can hear the water splashing while you dine.

Treat Yourself with These Amazing Restaurants to Try in Sydney

Sydney is home to hundreds of amazing restaurants, bars, cafes, takeaway spots, food trucks and much, much more.

Contact one of our expert Destination Specialists for more recommendations. We’ll help you build the perfect itinerary, ensuring you have plenty of time to taste your way through Sydney.

I Want to Try These Sydney Restaurants!

Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).


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If You Love Wine, You’ll Love Hunter Valley – Drive the Vineyards

Posted on: August 10th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments

Australia has a bit of a reputation as one of the beer-drinkingest capitals of the world. There are few things that go better with warm weather, contact sports and barbecues than an ice-cold brew and Australia has all of the above in spades. With year-round warm weather in the tropical north, to Aussie Rules football, cricket, rugby and the occasional soccer match, there are plenty of occasions to imbibe Downunder.

However, Australia’s world-class wine industry is quietly preceding it’s love for lager and the Hunter Valley wine region, bottling world-class wines since the early-19th century, has a lot to do with it.

If you love wine, embark on a Hunter Valley driving tour and see why this collection of postcard-perfect vineyards and wineries should top your list of places to see when you’re in Sydney.

Take the Scenic Route

hunter valley driving tourHunter Valley’s beautiful vineyards and cellar doors are no doubt the destination of choice on a  drive out to the wine region. But in the Valley, the journey plays just as big a role in a trip to wine country. As you depart Sydney, your scenic drives takes you north, passing Yengo National Park. This World Heritage-listed wilderness area is a dense, green forest of native Aussie trees and plants. The Park is also home to ancient Aboriginal Australian cultural sites dating back thousands of years.

You could also spot plenty of native Aussie animal species like kangaroos, wallabies, gliding possums, wombats and more, in the wild.

Once you make it to Hunter Valley, gaze out your window upon vast stretches of neatly arranged grape vines. Hills and valleys rise and fall and grazing animals dot the green landscape as the winding road snakes its way around the Valley.

hunter valley driving tour

This is wine country at its finest.

History in a Glass… Or Two

The Hunter Valley is the oldest wine region in Australia. More than 150 vineyards dot the fertile landscape west of Sydney. Vineyards dating back to the 19th century are still in operation here.

hunter valley driving tour

For your first step back in time, drive out to Drayton’s Wines. The Drayton family planted their first vine saplings more than 150 years ago and the winery remains in the hands of the family to this day. Six generations of Drayton vintners shaped this legacy vineyard in to what it is today and you’ll want to stop in for a taste of history along with a taste of their classic Hunter Valley Shiraz.

Next on your list of vintage vineyards, you’ll want to make a stop at Mt. Pleasant Estate. This turn of the century winery has a laundry list of accolades under its belt, but all you need to know is that Mt. Pleasant’s wine and history is pure Hunter Valley.

Then, visit the crown jewel of Hunter Valley wineries at McGuigan’s Winery, located in Pokolbin, the idyllic heart of Hunter Valley wine country. This winery is best known for winning the International Winemakers Award 3-times in its history, an almost unheard of feat among vintners. Explore this cellar door and dig in to their winning varietals like shiraz and chardonnay.

Learning with a Twist

Love wine, but can’t put in to words why? Do you hear the other tasters around you talking about the bouquet but there’s not a single flower in sight?

It sounds like you might need Wine School. Drive out to Hunter Valley Resort, where you can join up with a class of other wine amateur wine connoisseurs and have an expert guide you through a proper tasting.

hunter valley driving tour

You’ll learn about the winemaking process from harvest to fermentation to bottle finish. Your guide will walk you through the grounds of the vineyard to see up close how the rows of lush vines are grown and harvested.

Then, class begins in the Resort’s Wine Theatre where the history of wine comes alive. Of course, throughout the class you’ll taste and assess various varietals of whites and reds. Wine School is the perfect primer for the rest of your tasting tour and will give you an appreciation for the layers of complexity in a single glass of wine that you never even knew existed. With 38 wines from 8 local producers, you’ll have plenty of ‘homework’ to do without leave property.

hunter valley driving tour

Cleanse Your Palate

Like we said, there are a lot of wineries in the Hunter Valley, but you don’t have to burn yourself out packing in too many at once! Be sure to spend some time experiencing everything this quaint region has to offer.

What goes better with wine than an artisan, craft cheese? Head over to Binnorie Dairy Cheese Factory, where you can try and buy dozens of different cheeses straight from the artisans themselves. You can also stop by the Hunter Valley Cheese Company, one of the oldest dairies in the Valley region.

If you’d like to get a bit adventurous on your trip in wine country and get a true bird’s eye view of your lush surroundings, you can board a hot air balloon for a float over the pristine valley. Or, if you’re really up for an adventure, try skydiving from up high! There’s really nothing like the adrenaline rush of jumping out of a plane several thousand feet in the air!

You can even take a horseback or Segway tour of parts of the Hunter Valley. Trot or roll through pure Aussie bush land where you could even see wild kangaroos or a wombat or two.

hunter valley driving tour

There are plenty of other shops like antique stores, cafes, galleries and more, so you’ll always find something new and exciting to try in the Hunter Valley.

And if you’re a fan of hitting the links, the Hunter Valley also hosts some of the most beautiful golf courses in Australia. Relax with a cup of world-class wine on an 18-hole award winning course ranked among the best in Australia.

Detour to Port Stephens

Located just about an hour east of the Hunter Valley, Port Stephens is a charming coastal city that you’ll want to make some time for. Explore the busy esplanade with its quaint shops and cafes. Then, gear up for a bit of adventure if you’d like. Try out sand-boarding on the more than 20 miles of sand dunes at Stockton Beach. If you’ve never heard of sand-boarding, it’s exactly as it sounds: riding a board down the steep side of soft sand dunes. It’s just like surfing in the ocean, but without the whole swimming thing!

Port-Stephens

And if you didn’t get enough Aussie wildlife in Hunter Valley proper with the wild ‘roos and wombats, hop aboard a local Port Stephens cruise ship for some dolphin spotting. More than 150 bottlenose dolphins call Port Stephens home, making it the dolphin capital of Australia!

Of course, you can always just spend your time relaxing on more than 26 golden-beaches like Box Beach and Zenith Beach. The perfect side-trip for your stay in wine country.

Wind Down in Wine Town with a Hunter Valley Driving Tour

There’s nothing like a relaxing trip to a winery. There’s just something about those rolling, rural hills that’s undeniably pleasant. And when you do it at your own pace by driving yourself from Sydney, you can spend your time the way you like at some of your new favorite places.

hunter valley driving tour

Need a few more recommendations? Not sure how to go about booking a car hire halfway around the world? Get in touch with one of our Destination Specialists for a free consultation today. We can show you where to go and tell you how to get there for a worry-free trip to picturesque Hunter Valley.

Add The Hunter Valley to My Trip

Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).


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Why You Should Spend 5 Nights in Sydney

Posted on: August 10th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments

Why You Should Spend 5 Nights in Sydney

Most people tend to spread themselves too thin when they travel abroad. But the depth of your trip, meaning the quality of time you have experiencing the culture and sights of a given destination, is just as important as the quantity of things you see and experience, if not more.

When we plan vacation itineraries, we are very careful to include the minimum amount of time it takes to thoroughly enjoy a city. This usually means spending 3 – 4 nights. That varieties, of course, with what our clients want to see and how much time they have to see it. In a perfect world, we would want everyone to spend at least 5 nights in Sydney.

Sydney is Australia’s largest and most cosmopolitan city. It boasts some of the world’s most iconic landmarks and authentic Aussie experiences. The city itself has a plethora of things to do and see, while the greater surrounds hold enchantments for lovers of nature, wine and beaches.

From world famous sites like the Sydney Opera House to world class beaches to wildlife you only find in Australia, Sydney has everything you need for a quintessential Aussie experience.

And with plenty of time to have a quality experience, your vacation in Sydney will have the depth to keep you sated when you return to the ‘real world’.

Here are just a few things you can fill your time with while you stay in Sydney for 5 nights.

City Sights and Opera House

5 nights in sydneyGet your bearings and feel out the lay of the land in Sydney with a city tour. By taking a city tour early in your trip, you’ll be able to figure out how to get around and eye a few spots you may want to return to for a closer look later in the week.

Sydney is a huge, diverse city and deserves exploring. However, many strapped-for-time tourists make a mad dash for the Opera House and miss everything else Sydney has to offer.

5 nights in sydneyLuckily, with a week in Sydney you won’t be strapped for time.

Of course, the Opera House and Harbour are a must visit. Start off with an insider walking tour of the world famous venue. You’ll hear the behind the scenes scoop and controversy surrounding the building’s construction.

Whether you take a organized tour or make your own way around the city, here are some sights you won’t want to miss!

Darling Harbour

This bustling marina precinct is just adjacent to Sydney CBD makes for a great stop along a city tour of Sydney. Take advantage of Sydney’s excellent public transportation and take a ferry from the Opera House to this beautiful, waterside location. You’ll have near limitless options for dining, shopping and other activities

Queen Victoria Building

Shop like the locals do at this beautiful, Victorian-era building right in Sydney CBD. This architectural masterpiece was built back in 1890 and has since undergone a complete restoration to its original beauty. Take in the airy windows, stained glass and a fully operational, vintage lift all restored to their 19th century glory. There is plenty to see at QVB and the building is worth a tour even if you’re not up to shopping ’til you drop. Want to learn more? We’ve written a guide to the Queen Victoria Building‘s rich history as a shopping staple in Sydney.

Royal Botanic Gardens

This impeccably manicured mecca of native plants and pristine greenery is perfect for a pre or post Opera House walk. Go for a walk through the beautiful garden grounds, spot local Aussie wildlife like sulfur-crested cockatoos and flying foxes and find prime photo-ops overlooking the Harbour. The Royal Botanic Gardens are saturated in color, from the 2,000+ bloom rose garden, to the lush-green Glasshouse, ferny and native succulent gardens.

Check out our guide to the Royal Botanic Gardens for more reasons to visit.

The Rocks District

Step back in time to the earliest days of Sydney settlement. Just a quick walk from Circular Quay, The Rocks district was the home of the first European settlement in Australia and features some of Sydney’s oldest buildings, shops and pubs. These days, The Rocks serves as a pedestrian friendly district with great views of the Harbour, Bridge and historical buildings.

Museums

You could spend an entire afternoon touring the museum district within walking distance of the Harbour Bridge. For modern works, you’ll want to stop at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. A hip, diverse collection of cutting-edge art is housed in this building whose architecture is a work of art in and of itself. Then, check out The Rocks Discovery Museum for a historical look at The Rocks district through the years. Adjacent to Circular Quay is the Museum of Sydney, with informative and diverse collections and exhibits of Sydney history.

Tip: If you want to see more of Sydney outside of the CBD, but still want the option to walk at your own pace, get a spot on a hop-on, hop-off bus. You can ride the bus route around Sydney, including the beautiful suburbs outside the CBD, and hop-off wherever you’d like to walk around and see the sights up close.

Barangaroo

Dip your toes in the Harbour at Sydney’s newest waterfront destination. Adjacent to The Rocks, this mixed use district has green spaces, restaurants, shopping and the chance to see Sydneysiders at work and play.

Sunny Beaches

With Sydney’s excellent infrastructure and public transportation, getting to some of Australia’s most popular beaches is easy. Hop on a city bus or train, take a ferry or go for a quick drive to Bondi Beach. This sunny spot is the perfect destination for casual beach goers, hardcore surfers, locals and tourists alike.

This horseshoe shaped section of coastline features golden sands and brilliant, turquoise waters. The surrounding esplanade is home to a dining precinct featuring some of the best beach side restaurants and cuisine.

5 nights in sydney

Photo: Tourism Australia / Andrew Wallace

Spend some time on the beach soaking up the sun or learning how to surf. Bondi Beach is famous for its surf schools, teaching all skill-levels how to ride the waves of the sunny Aussie coast.

If waves aren’t your thing take a dip at the Cliff-side Bondi Icebergs pool (or ‘baths’) where you get a front row seat to watch the surfers without getting sand in your shorts!

Then grab a bite to eat from relaxed al fresco cafes before spending the rest of the afternoon walking from Bondi to Coogee Beach.

The scenic, clifftop coastal path along sheer cliffs connects Sydney’s most well-known beaches along a pedestrian boardwalk. Soak up the sun all along the way as you beach-hop Sydney’s coast. Each beach has it’s own feel and quirks and whether you’re catching waves at each one or digging your toes in the sand, this is one of the best ways to see Sydney’s beaches.

Spend a day at the beach like a local by heading to Manly Beach.  This Sydney suburb can be easily reached by ferry from Circular Quay.  It’s a beautiful white sand beach where you’ll see Sydneysiders doing the three S’s – surfing, swimming and snorkeling.  Manly Beach is a great place to get active for the day – bike rental, paddle-board lessons, surf lessons, kayaking, amazing walking trails and much more. And, of course, plenty of pups to wash down an Australian beer if it gets a little hot!

Hop On Hop Off Ferry

Spend a day seeing many of the sites listed above with a Hop On Hop Off Ferry pass. Travel on the harbour highway and skip the maze of commuter timetables as you cruise to 11 famous Sydney Destinations.

  • Circular Quay
  • Darling Harbour
  • Taronga Zoo
  • Fort Denison – A former penal site with an interested history.
  • Manly
  • Watson Bay – A suburb with a great beach, bird life, vibrant green parks and Gap Bluff, South Head, where you might just spot some whales in the winter months.
  • Luna Park – Known for it’s iconic smiling face of the Moon, this amusement park is great for children and the young at heart.
  • Shark Island – A pristine park in the middle of the harbour, perfect for a picnic
  • Garden Island – A military base where The Royal Australian Navy Heritage Centre
  • Barangaroo
  • International Convention Center – Worth a look for the stunning architecture alone!

Food and Dining

Of course, you wouldn’t be in a world-class city without world-class dining options right in the heart of the city. Whether you’re in the mood for a 5-star, fine dining experience or just a quick bite to go from a food truck, Sydney is never short on great food.

You can find everything from Vietnamese to-go carts, upscale Italian dining, Australian gastropubs, eclectic French cuisine and more.

scoysterbarAdjacent to the Opera House, discover some of Sydney’s best seafood restaurants, like Sydney Cove Oyster Bar and GRAZE, sitting in the perfect spot for views over the bay while you dine.

Or head over to Chinatown for your pick of authentic cuisine, noodle bars and dumpling houses like China Town Noodle King, Golden Century Seafood Restaurant and more.

Mountain Walks and Hikes

Not a city person? Tired of the hustle and bustle of the downtown sights? Get into the great outdoors with a day trip to see world-class Aussie natural wonder.

5 Nights in Sydney

Credit: David Ireland / Tourism Australia

Since you’ve got plenty of time in Sydney, take a short drive to Blue Mountains National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered the “Grand Canyon of Australia”. Rolling, rugged terrain, deep canyons and blue gum-trees as far as the eye can see cover the expansive vista.

A tour of the Blue Mountains provides unforgettable views from various lookout points in the park where you can spot tall waterfalls, sheer cliffs and famed rock formations like the Three Sisters. An expert guide drives you out to the Blue Mountains region, providing informative commentary and in-depth knowledge along the way.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also choose to participate in the hike portion of the trip. You’ll be dropped off at the trail head and make your way along a well-marked hiking trail. After you’ve worked up an appetite, a well-deserved lunch awaits before heading back to Sydney.

It’s the perfect way to experience the great outdoors and still have time for happy hour drinks at the Opera House.

5 Nights in Sydney

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains

For a closer look at Blue Mountains National Park, check out our list of things to do in the Blue Mountains.

Wineries and Vineyards

Craving a little of those famous Australian wines? How about a taste of Aussie Red and White with a trip to wine country?

Head out to the Hunter Valley wine region, just a short drive from Sydney proper.

5 nights in sydney

Photo: – Tourism Australia / Oliver Strewe

The Hunter Valley region is home to some of Australia’s best wineries. Embark on a tasting tour and experience award-winning wines in beautiful, green vineyards. Landscapes lined with rows of grape vines provide a picture-perfect backdrop to satisfy wine-lovers and fans of the great outdoors alike.

To really do the Hunter Valley justice, spend a couple of nights in wine country. Drive yourself along the rolling hills dotted with wineries, make a few leisurely stops and take your time in this relaxing region outside Sydney.

5 nights in sydney

Photo: Pernod Ricard Winemakers / Ernest Fraczak

If you’d rather let an expert do the driving for you, you can embark on a luxury-coach tour of Hunter Valley. You’ll visit a few of Hunter Valley’s most renowned vineyards and all you have to do is kick back, relax and remember to cleanse your palate between each tasting!

Aussie Wildlife

There’s nothing more iconic to Australia than its kangaroos and wildlife. Luckily, in Sydney you’re never far from experiencing wildlife up close.

Taronga Zoo, located just across the Harbour from the Opera House, is not only the most convenient place to see wildlife in Sydney, but maybe the most fun to get to. You’ll board a ferry from Circular Quay in Sydney CBD and cruise over to Taronga Zoo’s personal dock and wharf. Step right off the boat and into Taronga Zoo where you’ll see more than 300 unique species, including all of your Aussie favorites.

5 nights in sydney

Or, if you opted for the Blue Mountains tour, you’ll already be in a prime spot to visit the Featherdale Wildlife Sanctuary, where you’ll get to meet plenty of Australia’s native wildlife.

Man-made environments and walled enclosures not exactly the nature experience you were imagining?

What if you could see Australian wildlife that’s actually in the wild?

Take a day trip to the Australian Bush, just a short drive outside of central Sydney, and search towering forests for kangaroos, koalas, platypus’ and more.

The Southern Highlands outside of Sydney features thousands of acres of untouched wilderness, where animals run wild and free, just as nature intended.

See the Most of Sydney

To be honest, you could spend weeks seeing all that Sydney has to offer. Don’t shortchange yourself with a few short days. By the time you’ve traveled to the city it seems like it’s already time to leave the city.

Spend 5 nights in Sydney and get to know the city from the inside out. You’ll make some solid, unforgettable memories and a vacation with the depth you deserve.

  I Want to Spend 5 Nights in Sydney


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Combine Your Australia and New Zealand Vacation

Posted on: August 4th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments

As native-born Aussies, we named our business About Australia because we’re truly all about Australia. We love nothing more than spreading the good word about our home country and all that it has to offer. From its beautiful beaches, unique wildlife, bush land Outback and Great Barrier Reef, we could go on and on about why you shouldn’t miss the land Downunder (and we have – for nearly 20 years!).

But as Aussies, we can’t forget our island-neighbors to the east in New Zealand. Aussies and Kiwis have a close kinship. We’re basically right next to each other, we’ve fought together in the trenches and our flags are a bit similar, to the say the least.

Of course, that’s not to say we’re above a bit of playful ribbing.

Just don’t say we sound the same – we take our distinct accents very seriously!

Unfortunately, a lot of folks forget about New Zealand when they’re planning a trip abroad (in fact, there are an alarming number of maps that leave off New Zealand entirely).

Here are a few reasons why splitting your time with an Australia and New Zealand vacation can make your trip an unforgettable, multi-destination grand tour.

You Can Drive On the Same Side of the Road

So maybe this isn’t one of the first things that comes to mind, but hear us out. If there’s one thing that Americans, Aussies and Kiwis have in common, it’s our shared belief that there’s nothing like the freedom of the open road. Packing the car up and heading out on a self-paced tour of the country is a bond we all share, know and love.

We just happen to do it on opposite sides of the road.

australia and new zealand vacation

Aussies and Kiwis both adopted left-side driving from the Brits way back when and the tradition continues to this day. The good news for those keen on a self-drive tour is that once you’ve mastered left-side driving in one country, you’ll be an expert in the next.

Get ready to tackle some of the most scenic drives on the planet.

Starting in Australia? You can race along highways that hug rocky coastline, with incredible views of open ocean on the Great Ocean Road – one of the top rated drives in the world.

Or take on a 4 day coastal excursion from Sydney to Melbourne, passing through beautiful national parks, nature reserves and beaches. You can even choose to stop off at a koala reserve and see the iconic piece of Aussie wildlife in person.

australia and new zealand vacation

Photo: Vaughan Brookfield

Then, hop on a plane and take the short flight over to New Zealand. From there, you can pick up another car and continue your road trip, tackling New Zealand’s North Island, South Island or both. You can drive out to Mt. Cook, see famous Lord of the Rings filming locations, or simply take a tour of New Zealand’s amazing beaches.

Take your time and get off-the-beaten-track with an Australia and New Zealand vacation road trip.

You’ll See Perfectly Contrasting Landscapes

Did you know that Australia and New Zealand were once attached at the hip? More than 85 million years ago as the super-continent Godwana broke up, New Zealand slowly drifted away. Maybe that’s why Aussie’s have always felt a fondness for their Kiwi cousins.

It’s a wonder then, how their landscapes could be so unique. Australia and New Zealand are so diverse that you could spend weeks in each and just scrape the surface of what each has to offer. A contrasting trip between the two countries will give you an appreciation of the natural world like never before.

Start off in New Zealand and visit famous volcanoes and geothermal sites. Rotorua is a steaming cauldron of the Earth’s magnitude. The scent of sulfur wafts in the air, a constant reminder of the power of geothermal heating below. You can harness this power in Rotorua with a visit to hot pools and bathe in hot, healing mineral water.

australia and new zealand vacation

From there head to Queenstown, the birthplace of adventure travel and the most famous bungy-jumping site in the world. There, you’ll take an exhilarating stunt-boat ride through Shotover Canyon.

Then, drive yourself through green rolling vistas to Hobbiton and see how New Zealand’s incredible landscapes inspired movie-magic.

Make your way to Australia where you’ll start off with back-to-back adventures to see the most iconic natural wonders of the world, Uluru (the Red Center), the Great Barrier Reef and the Kuranda Rainforestation Nature Park.

You’ve just seen beautiful rock formations, volcanic activity, a holy site that looks like the surface of Mars, a rain forest and the technicolor of the Great Barrier Reef. And you couldn’t do it anywhere else but Australia and New Zealand.

You’ll Experience Distinct Aboriginal and Maori Native Cultures

Both Australia and New Zealand have a rich, diverse cultural-history that deserves celebration. Australia’s native history dates back more than 60,000 years. Aboriginal Australians are the oldest human civilization in the world and their native culture is survived and celebrated to this day.

australia and new zealand vacation

Photo: Steve Strike / Tourism Australia

Aboriginal Australians most notable Australian destination is Uluru, or Ayers Rock, located in the Australian outback. Uluru is a red, sandstone monolith that Aboriginal Australians revere as a holy site. The striking rock formation and the surrounding red clay have given Uluru the nickname “the Red Center” – and it could no doubt stand in as an other wordly Martian landscape.

New Zealand has its own unique history in the native Maori culture. In the 12th century, settlers from Polynesia landed and developed their own culture they called Maori.

The culture of Maori people stands side-by-side in New Zealand daily life. Most historical and natural sites and destinations have both an English name and a Maori name, such as Mt. Cook / Aoraki, Milford Sound / Piopiotahi and White Island / Te Puia o Whakaari.

australia and new zealand vacation

Photo: Te Puia Maori Institute

Go on a country-hopping tour to experience the native culture of each country. You can go on a tour of the Red Center and see Uluru up close (believe it or not, it’s taller than the Eiffel Tower!) and then hop on over to Kiwi country, where you’ll receive an official Maori Hongi (greeting), roam the grounds of Te Puia Geothermal Reserve, view traditional artwork and culture at Maori Institute and enjoy a Hangi (traditional cooking method) feast.

You Can See Each Country’s Unique Wildlife

Australia and wildlife go hand-in-hand. With kangaroos, koalas and of course crocs (made most famous internationally by Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin) – there’s no shortage of iconic Aussie wildlife.

If your trip begins in Australia, make your way to Kangaroo Island just off the coast of Adelaide. The island is a wildlife-wonderland, with all of your Aussie favorites in their natural habitats.

australia and new zealand vacation

If you’re in Sydney, you’ll have plenty of options for wildlife touring and viewing. Stop by Tonga Zoo right in Sydney CBD, or make a day trip out to Featherdale Wildlife Reserve (this makes a great top over from a Blue Mountains tour) where you’ll have up-close encounters with kangaroos, koalas and more.

Did we mention that Australia also has the distinct honor of being home to the largest organism in the world with the Great Barrier Reef?

Much like the Aussies, New Zealander’s take their own native wildlife very seriously. They even gave themselves an affectionate nickname, Kiwis, based on the flightless bird that is their national pride and joy (it even adorns their currency’s $1 coin).

Dolphin Encounter Kaikoura New Zealand

Photo: Rob Suisted

Have you ever seen a video of an acrobatic dolphin doing 360-spins in the air, back flips, front flips and more, just for the fun of it? Dusky Dolphins are found in much of Australasia, but concentrated populations are best seen off of the New Zealand coast.

In Kaikoura, you can even jump in the water and have an up-close dolphin encounter in their natural habitat.

New Zealand is also home to plenty of other native animals like yellow-eyed penguins, glowworms, fur seals, Kea parrots and more.

If you love seeing unique, diverse and super cute animals that you can’t see back home, try an Australia and New Zealand vacation for the perfect opportunity to witness some of the world’s favorites up close.

Australia and New Zealand Vacation Adventures

Australia and New Zealand are two-peas-in-a-pod. Make the most of your trip half-way around the world with a stopover in New Zealand. You’ll feel like you’ve been on two vacations at the same time and have twice as many stories to tell when you get back.

Talk to one of our Destination Specialists and we’ll make sure your multi-country trip goes off without a snag. We can suggest the best routes to take and take complete care of your trip, from A-to-New-Zealand.

Add New Zealand to My Trip

Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).