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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).

Places to Visit in Australia – A Guide to the Great Barrier Reef

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

The Great Barrier Reef is a mind blowing natural wonder. It’s truly one of the best places to visit in Australia. It spans over 1,200 miles and harbors one of the richest ecosystems on the planet with over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands scattered along its expanse. If you’re traveling all the way to Australia, you’ll want to visit the Great Barrier Reef in all its glory. This amazing video produced by David Attenborough gives you an idea of what it’s like to explore the reef, but nothing can really do it justice. It’s one of those things you have to see for yourself.

There are a multitude of ways you can launch your reef adventure. Take the traditional route and dive or snorkel the reef, or stay dry on a glass bottom boat, scenic flight or adventurous sail. Maybe even find a more unique way to explore the reef on your own terms. Read more for your guide on exploring the Great Barrier Reef.

Snorkeling and diving

Don your mask and fins and get up close to the dazzling kaleidoscope of corals, sea turtles, rays, sharks and tropical fish of every color. Snorkeling is the cheapest and most popular way to have an aquatic adventure you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

A Day Trip on a Reef Cruise

Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef on a Day Cruise

One of the best ways to dive or snorkel the reef is to hop aboard a boat excursion. These are great because they take you out to 2 or 3 exclusive dive sites along the outer reef. All boats offer snorkeling, most offer diving for certified divers and a few even offer introductory dives for those who want to try out diving for the first time on the reef. Our favorite operators depart from Cairns and Port Douglas. If you want to make it out to famous dive sites like the Ribbon Reefs on a day-trip, you have to depart from Port Douglas. It’s a great town to stay in, but only a short transfer if you’re staying Cairns. These full day excursions tend to include lunch, snacks, snorkel gear, lycra suits and a guided snorkel tour with a dive master. Scuba diving and gear brings additional costs. Different boats offer different experiences. Some take you out to a single location with hundreds of other people, some offer a more exclusive experience and others go farther out into more remote locations to cater to the more experienced. Talk to an About Australia Destination Specialist to select the right one for you.

Liveaboard

Dive the Great Barrier Reef on your Australian Vacation

The best diving sites are located further from the mainland. Famous dive sites like The Ribbon Reefs with Cod Hole are best encountered on a 3 day Liveaboard. If you want to dive both the Ribbon Reefs and the remote and amazing North Horn at Osprey Reef, you’ll need to take a Liveaboard for at least a week. For the ultimate Great Barrier Reef experience, embark on a 14-Day expedition. During these trips, you can swim with Minke whales (June-July), see Humpbacks (August – October), dive during a shark feed (totally safe, we swear!) and visit some of the most immaculate coral reefs in the world.

Liveaboards generally only offer diving to certified divers, but snorkelers are often welcomed at a discounted rate. Snorkelers on Liveabaords are normally accompanying their diving partners. We wouldn’t recommend it otherwise. There are usually only a few dive sites that will work well for a snorkeler on a 3-7 day liveaboard trip.

Island-based Diving

For astonishing diving or snorkeling, consider staying on a Great Barrier Reef island. Our favorites are Heron Island, Lizard Island, Elliot Island, Fraser Island, Hamilton Island, and Orpheus Island. Famous diver and documentarian, David Attenborough, has named Heron Island and Elliot Island as a few of his favorite dive sites. So, you’ll be in good company! A stay at most of these islands offer the added bonus of enjoying an all-inclusive resort. Most offer free use of snorkeling gear and motorized dinghies. From these islands, a diver easily take a short boat ride with a small group to a number of amazing dive sites. Snorkelers can see the reef right off the beach or venture further on their own reef bound boat. Your About Australia Destination Specialist can find you the best deal possible.

Luxury Snorkeling Experiences

Visit Whitehaven Beach on your trip to Australia

If you really want to treat yourself, try out a day-cruise or luxury catamaran tour in the Whitsundays. These small group tours offer exclusivity and comfort all while sailing around some of the most beautiful islands in the world. The ship will drop anchor and you’ll jump into the turquoise water to snorkel among the big sea turtles, anemone and schools of colorful fish. Most excursions around the Whitsunday Islands include a visit to the famous Whitehaven Beach. This long white-sanded beach stretches over four miles along the coast of Whitsunday Island. Unlike most beaches, Whitehaven is made up of 98% pure silica which gives it a bright snow-like complexion. The sand is a fine grain with a soft velvety feel. It also doesn’t retain heat very well, so you won’t burn your bare feet on bright sunny days. It’s the most photographed beach in Australia. You can clearly see why.

See the Reef without Getting Wet

If swimming isn’t your thing, you can still see the Great Barrier Reef without submerging into the depths of the South Pacific.

Glass Bottom Boats

Glass bottom boat tours are a great way to admire the underwater beauty of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Most boats are designed to accommodate as many people as possible while still allowing everyone a clear view of the tropical life thriving below them. Some boats come with tour guides who provide detailed descriptions of the different type of coral and marine life. If you have the opportunity, take a night tour to see the coral really come to life after dark. There are great glass bottom boat tours operating out of Airlie Beach, Cairns and Port Douglas. Some also offer scuba diving and snorkeling excursions which makes them a perfect option for mixed company.

Reef HQ Aquarium

Reef HQ houses the largest living coral reef aquarium. The building itself is quite small when compared to other aquariums, but the live ecosystem sets it apart from other aquariums you’ve seen. It’s a great introduction to the reef as friendly guides explain about the reef in an educational and entertaining manner. Be sure to stop by the turtle hospital.

Fly Over the Reef

Fly over the Great Barrier Reef on Your Australian Vacation

Behold the sheer magnitude of the Great Barrier Reef by taking to the sky and seeing the reef from above. You’ll find plenty of opportunities to fly over the reef while on your Australia vacation. From the Whitsunday Islands, you can take a flight out to Hardy Reef to snorkel, hang out in a semi-submersible, check out the underwater observatory or chill on the deck and get a massage. After, take the scenic view and fly over Heart Reef. Or skip Hardy Reef and soar over the heart of the Great Barrier Reef from any one of the Whitsunday Island resorts. Helicopter rides and scenic flights are also available from Cairns and Port Douglas. Stay at a resort like Lizard Island or Orpheus Island and a low-level flight over the reef is par for the course. You’ll be awed by the stunning beauty of the maze of reefs weaved together to form this natural wonder.

Reef Fishing

If you fancy yourself an angler, fishing on the reef is a must. Cairns and the Ribbon Reefs are probably best known for trophy black marlin fishing. About 30-50 miles off the coast lies a very special stretch of ocean called “Marlin Mecca” where more “granders” (100lbs or more) are taken than all the other combined fishing water in the world. Billfishing aficionados can try their hand at catching the big one every year late September through December. Lizard Island is the only land-based operation that offers access to “Marlin Mecca”.

There is also great light tackle fishing on select areas of the reef. Take a charter from Cairns or stay on a Great Barrier Reef Island for access to nearly every species of Pacific game inhabiting the ocean just adjacent to the reef and the continental shelf. It’s a great experience for fishing enthusiasts, offering some of the fastest game-fishing in the world.

Unique Reef Experiences

Looking for something a little more “out-of-the-box”? Maybe you aren’t a very good swimmer but you really want to explore the reef. Try one of these awesome tours.

Seawalking/ Helmet Diving

See the Great Barrier Reef without getting your hair wet. | Helmet Dive | AboutAustralia.com

A helmet dive is a perfect way for non-swimmers to explore the reef like pro divers. It’s quick and easy too. You start with a quick briefing. Then, you’ll don a large space-suit type helmet and you’re ready to go. A guide will take down about 6 people at a time. Jump into the water and hold on to metal tubing as your guide takes you around the ocean floor. You’ll be completely surrounded by colorful fish and coral and you won’t even get your hair wet. Children as young as 12 can participate, so it’s great for families. You can embark on this unique diving experience from Cairns or Port Douglas.

Submarines

Great Barrier Reef Submarines

Another great option for people who don’t want to scuba dive the reef is a tiny 3-person submarine. Two people, guided by an experienced pilot can explore the underwater world of the beautiful coral and exotic marine creatures without traditional scuba gear or training. Tours depart from Fitzroy Island, just a 45 minute boat ride from Cairns. There is always a safety diver trailing the sub while your experienced diver and submarine pilot doubles as a tour guide, providing vivid descriptions of the surrounding sea life and corals. This is a really fun and super safe way to see the Great Barrier Reef!

Are you ready to start planning your visit to the Great Barrier Reef? Check out some of our Great Barrier Reef Deals below, request a custom vacation quote or phone us toll free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).

 

You may also like: 16 Photos That Will Make You Want To Go To Australia Right Now | 11 Best Underwater Experiences in Australia | Great Barrier Reef, Best Australian Beaches & Dives | Vacation Deals

A Unique Australian Destination for People Who Love Adventure – Photos from Kakadu National Park

Posted on: December 8th, 2016 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments

Kakadu National Park, located in the Top End of Australia’s Northern Territory, isn’t for everyone.

But if you have adventure in your heart, love nature and enjoy learning about ancient cultures, it’s one of the best places in the world! 

It’s one of those unique Australian destinations that is genuinely described as a very spiritual travel experience. With nearly 8,000 square miles of diverse wildness, this park holds a scared place with the Bininj/Mungguy people. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to explore this diverse natural wonderland and Aboriginal culture on your visit to Kakadu.

Here are a few things you might like to add to your bucket list and some tips for travel along the way!

Swimming Holes & Waterfalls!

Kakadu PoolsImage by: NeilsPhotography
Kakadu is a tropical area with two distinct seasons, Wet & Hot (October – April) and Dry & Cool (May – September). But even in the middle of the dry season swimming holes can be found. While you may be tempted to take a dip in any old pool, it’s best to stick to the popular and monitored swimming holes. Kakadu, after all is known for its crocodiles! Always observe the warning signs.

Gunlom – A Pool with a View

Gunlom a Pool with a View
Hidden at the top of a waterfall that can only be found after a steep hike, is an amazing little swimming hole with a view that can’t be beat!

Wangi Falls!

One of the most popular tourism attractions in the Top End, monitored by rangers, Wangi Falls is a great swimming hole with a charming waterfall and beautiful surrounds.  This guided tour takes you to Wangi Falls and other popular attractions in Kakadu within the Litchfield National Park.

Jim Jim Falls

Jim Jim Falls, Kakadu National Park A highlight for most travelers to the region, Jim Jim Falls (and Twin Falls) is not to be missed! It’s a bumpy ride and a pretty rocky walk to get to the falls, but most people find the sight to be worth the effort!  This is especially true right at the beginning of the dry season when the roads are open and the falls are still flowing heavily. They can pull back to a trickle pretty quickly after the rains stop.

Jim Jim Falls in the Wet Season – Epic!

Jim Jim Falls in the Dry Season – Still pretty great!

Ubirr!

Ubirr - Kakadu National ParkImage by: Michael Whitehead

Ubirr is one of Kakadu’s unforgettable rocks. Located in the east region of the park, this ancient outcropping of rocks is known for its rock art and panoramic views. Inside several natural shelters you’ll find a collection of Aboriginal rock paintings, dated as far back as thousands of years!  Check out this Australian Outback itinerary which includes a guided tour of the area.

Ubirr sunsets are amazing!

Ubirr Rock Art – also amazing!

Kakadu - Ubirr Rock Paintings Image by: Robert Nyman

Yellow Water Wetlands!

Part of South Alligator River floodplain, the Yellow Water provides the ultimate wildlife experience. Cruise the Yellow Water in a canopied boat to see crocodiles, jabirus, sea eagles, whistling kites and more!  This Outback wilderness itinerary includes a spectacular cruise on the Yellow Water Billabong.

Yellow Water Sunset

Yellow Water Billabong SunsetImage by: Muireann Ní Cheallacháin

Yellow Water Calm

Yellow Water Calm Kakadu NP Image by: Alberto Otero García

Forrest Kingfisher

Bird Watching – White Bellied Sea Eagle

 

A White Bellied Sea Eagle keeps watch over his domain in Kakadu National Park. #NTAustralia #SeeAustralia

A photo posted by Sam Loxton (@sloxton) on

Epic Ariel Shots!

Kakadu National Park Arieal Image by: Alberto Otero García

The remote beauty and diversity of Kakadu demands heli rides! If you’re going to take a scenic flight once in your life, Kakadu is a great place to do it. Just look at these amazing shots!

Twin Falls

 

#kakadu #darwin #australia #obsessedwithwaterfalls #latergram A photo posted by heathermcm1 (@heathermcm1) on

Sandstone Cliffs

Helicopter Flight over Kakadu National Par

Wetlands

Helicopter Flight over Kakadu National Park

Alligator River

Termite mounds!

Termite mound, Kakadu National Park, Australia Image by: Paul Mannix

Maybe seeing termite mounds doesn’t sounds like a great time to you. Well, you haven’t seen these termite mounds. You’ll surely be impressed and amazed at the architectural feats created by these tiny little bugs.

 

You’ll be dwarfed in comparison to the massive termite mounds of #Kakadu. Photo: @dgctravel via #NTaustralia A photo posted by Northern Territory – Australia (@ausoutbacknt) on

The Stars!

Consider an overnight stay in Kakadu to witness the amazing site of the night sky over Kakadu’s rough edges. Hotels and ‘glamping’ are both available!  Try this epic Australia Adventure with 2 nights in Kakadu.

 

A photo posted by Jetstar Asia (@jetstarasia) on

 

A photo posted by KAKADU TOURISM (@kakadutourism) on

Crocodiles!

Crocodile jumping for meat in KakaduImage By: Robert Nyman

Kakadu is not for the faint of heart. ‘Salties’ (Saltwater Crocs) as well as their more docile cousins, freshwater crocodiles, are found in the waters of Kakadu in extraordinary numbers. Saltwater Crocodiles are the world’s largest living reptiles. On average the crocs in Kakadu are about 16 feet, but they can grow to 20 feet and weight over a ton! You can see the salties jump on this Jumping Croc & Nature Adventure tour out of Darwin. Stay safe in Kakadu while you enjoy the awe inspiriting site of salties in the wild!

Bathing Crocodile

Bathing crocodile Kakadu National Park Image by: Paul Mannix

Saltie Spotting

Are you ready to start planning your trip to Australia? Talk to one of our Destination Specialists today. We’ll make sure you have an ‘no worries, mate’ vacation!

Help Me Plan My Trip >>

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

Bonus!

Can’t get enough jumping crocs?  Push play to see salties jump out of the water in slow-motion!

Things to do in Australia | A Melbourne Vacation with All the Australia Highlights

Posted on: June 9th, 2016 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments

How to see the best of Australia on a short vacation to Melbourne.

We are working on our Things to Do in Australia blog series where we outline how you can see all the major Australia Highlights in a short vacation, staying in just one or two Australian cities.

We’ve shown how you can see Beaches & Aquatic Life, Wildlife, Rainforest, Outback, Food & Wine, Modern City Culture & Art and Indigenous Culture in the city of Sydney. Today we look towards the world’s most livable city, Melbourne.

Here are things you can do in Melbourne to see major Australia highlights.

Beaches & Aquatic Life

Hang out on the coast of Port Phillip Bay with the peninsula’s iconic rainbow-colored bathing boxes providing a colorful backdrop.

A short tram ride from the heart of Melbourne, you’ll find St. Kilda Beach. It’s not only a great place for a swim, but a wonderful seaside community where you’ll find great bars, restaurants, shops and even some little penguins in the rocks.

Wondering where everyone is? #stkildabeach on a hot day! @captainbaxtersk @republicaplace @encorestkilda #stkildavenues A photo posted by St Kilda Venues (@stkildavenues) on

Take a day trip out to Ninety Mile Beach, one of the most natural and unspoiled beaches in the world. It is ideal for a variety of activities, from beach fishing and swimming to walking, whale and dolphin-spotting or just relaxing in the sun…

…maybe you’ll even spot one of these little guys.

Head to Phillip Island for a variety of beaches, from family friendly bay beaches at Cowes and Ventnor Beach to break beaches for surfing at Cape Woolamai.

While on Phillip Island don’t miss your chance to see cute little Penguins waddle home to their burrows.

Victoria is also known for its sheer cliffs and rocky shores. You don’t want to miss these beautiful rugged shores. Philip Island,…

The Twelve Apostles,…

…and London Bridge

Wildlife

Head to Healesville Sanctuary, a world-renowned spot to see Australian wildlife in their natural habitat. Located in the heart of the Yarra Valley, Healesville centers on local conservation and indigenous culture.

  #mate #kangaroo #healesvillesanctuary #holdinghands #nature #australia #melbourne #finally #downunder #travel #greatday #awesome   A photo posted by Maurits Leeflang (@m.w.leeflang) on

Just 45 minutes outside of Melbourne, see the wildlife in the wild. The national parks near Melbourne have a surprising diversity of wildlife: Kangaroos, Koalas, Emus, Swamp Wallabies, Cockatoos, Parrots, Galahs and more!

Minki #ballaratwildlifepark #koala #photooftheweek A photo posted by Ballarat Wildlife Park (@ballaratwp) on

Rainforest

While Victoria isn’t the #1 destination for rainforest tourism, you can find rainforest just an hour outside Melbourne in the Yarra State Forest. Walk through myrtle beech rainforest to the Ada Tree, a giant mountain ash that is one of Victoria’s largest trees and also one of the largest known flowering trees in the world on the Ada Tree Rainforest Walk.

  Boardwalk pleasures #bush #sundaystroll #ferns #boardwalk   A photo posted by Ben Barter (@bsa_goldie) on

Outback

For a little outback adventure near Melbourne, head to the You Yangs, distinctive granite peaks that rise from the flat volcanic plains between Melbourne and Geelong.

Hiking in the Young Yangs to Flinders Peak A photo posted by Phil (@ptravill) on

Food & Wine

With a stay in Melbourne, you’ve hit the jackpot in amazing food & wine! Melbourne’s eclectic dining scene offers a wide array of the world’s great cuisines. Enjoy a wonderful dinner on the water with the Spirit of Melbourne.

Head to Coda for sleek Asian/French cuisine.

Hot from the wok – sizzling Pixian prawns with king brown mushroom and lotus root @adamdsylvachef A photo posted by Coda (@codamelbourne) on

Dine high in the sky at Vue de Monde.

It begins #goodbeerweek #brewvscru A photo posted by Injera Rufus (@injera) on

Grab a bite and some of that famous Melbourne brew at a local café.

Find a hidden gem in Melbourne’s Laneways. This tour is sure to unveil some local favorites.

Head to Yarra Valley on this amazing tour for Australian wine tasting.

Modern City Culture & Art

Melbourne is well known for its public art. All you have to do is walk through the city streets, laneways and squares to get a good dose of art. From guerrilla street art…

On my travels to that same appointment #hadtostopandtakeapic #onmytravels #Ilovemelbourne #steetart A photo posted by Eve Alexiadis (@missevea) on

…to public installations.

#melbourne #australia #art #architecture #publicart #sculpture #lips #modern #riverfront #city A photo posted by stevetatham (@stevetatham) on

Melbourne’s thriving art scene supports over 100 art galleries – both large and small. Head to Flinders Lane to see private galleries and public street art.

#art A photo posted by (@exceedinglyaverage) on

Speaking of Federation Square… this famous spot hosts over 2000 events each year! It buzzes with cultural festivals, exhibitions, event launches, performances, forums, films, concerts and fashion shows. There’s sure to be something hopping at Fed Square whenever you visit.

Wander around Swanston Street & St Kilda Road to find much of Melbourne’s notable architectural sites.

Indigenous Culture

You can find some very interesting Indigenous experiences right in the heart of Melbourne. Visit the Koorie Heritage Trust.

Stop by the multi-award-winning Bunjilaka at the Melbourne Museum.

Turtle Country, 1000 Turtles by the Gallery Kaiela artists in Nitet Yapeneyepuk Gather Together A photo posted by @leulieshraghi on

For a real treat, take an Aboriginal Heritage Walk of the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Flowering Friday this week is a hybrid Waratah, Telopea speciosissima x T. oreades. One of the parent species, T. speciosissima (New South Wales Waratah), is endemic to New South Wales and is also their floral emblem. The common name of ‘Waratah’ is derived from the Aboriginal language of the Eora people, the original inhabitants of the Sydney basin. Most populations of this plant are small due to often being located near urban developments. It is now largely protected within National Parks and conservation reserves in the Sydney region. The other parent species, T. oreades (Gippsland Waratah) is native to the shady wet forests of far eastern Victoria and southern NSW. This hybrid was created to combine the spectacular flowers of the NSW species with the superior shade tolerance of the Gippsland species. The flower heads generally develop over winter and then swell in spring before opening to reveal the inflorescence so this one currently growing at Melbourne Gardens is a rare treat. Try to find it along Oak Lawn! #royalbotanicgardensvic #FloweringFriday #melbourne A photo posted by Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (@royalbotanicgardensvic) on

Are you ready to start planning your trip to Australia? Whether you are traveling for 1 week or 3 months, we can help you make your trip worthwhile.

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

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Things to do in Australia | A Sydney Vacation with All the Australian Highlights

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Things to do in Australia | A Brisbane Vacation with All the Australian Highlights
Things to do in Australia | A Adelaide Vacation with All the Australian Highlights
Things to do in Australia | A Cairns Vacation with All The Australian Highlights
Things to do in Australia | A Perth Vacation with All the Australian Highlights.

Places to Visit in Australia – The Outback

Posted on: December 10th, 2015 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments

Australia is an amazing diverse land known for it’s unique wildlife, the Great Barrier Reef and, of course, the Outback. Open spaces that seem to stretch on forever are steeped in the rich ancient culture of the Aboriginal people. The wide ochre landscape reflects Australia’s pioneering spirit and distinct identity. It’s truly an amazing place.

There’s a little bit of outback in every state of Australia, but the most robust and well-known experiences can be found in the Northern Territory, especially the Uluru/Ayers region.

This area of Australia’s Outback is truly breathtaking. Below you’ll find a collection of videos you can watch to get an idea of what a trip to Uluru might be like. We’ve done our best to create a compendium that would best impart the outback experience. Yet, images, words and video will always fail to truly convey the profound experience of Australia’s Outback. You’ll just have to see in person to truly experience its majesty.

Things to Do in Uluru/ Kata Tjuta Area

Find out what places you should visit in Uluru or Ayers Rock during your Australian Vacation to the Outback.

Field of Light art installation by Bruce Munro, is coming to Australia for the first time. Ayers Rock Resort is commited to arts and culture and this year, it’s hosting the biggest Field of Light installation to date in the place that inspired it - Uluru. Outback Camel Tours - A camel experience that can't be beaten anywhere in Australia, with the world heritage area of Uluru and Kata Tjuta as our stunning backdrop.
Outback Motorcycle Tours Explore the scenic wonders of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park home to the iconic Uluru / Ayers Rock, the great rock domes of Kata Tjuta / The Olgas and the informative Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre or the impressive Kings Canyon
Desert Awakening Tour. On your vacation explore the fascinating surroundings of Australia’s Red Centre. Watch the sunrise over Uluru, enjoy breakfast and be sure to snap a few great photos. Afterwards, visit the Cultural Centre. Journey along the Red Centre Way in the Northern Territory, navigating through Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon), West MacDonnell Ranges, Simpson Desert, and Alice Springs. Scenic Flights over Ayers Rock. Your bird’s eye view will take in Uluru and the magnificent red desert, all the way to the striking rock formations of Kata Tjuta, the waterhole Mutitjulu and the surrounding desert; a panorama of breathtaking scenery.
The township of Yulara supports Ayers Rock Resort where visitors to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park are accommodated. The resort features different levels of accommodation from hotel, apartment style, budget and camping. From relaxed dining under a desert sky, to grilling a barramundi steak on the BBQ, you can choose from 15 dining experiences. No matter which hotel you've chosen to stay at, the dining options at Voyages Ayers Rock Resort cater for every taste and budget.
'Tali Wiru', meaning beautiful dune in local Anangu language, encapsulates the magic of fine dining under the Southern Desert sky.
Join our SMALL GROUP TOURS ....SEIT Outback Australia takes you, without the crowds, on exciting, adventurous and interpretive small group tours.  Travelling with SEIT Outback Australia gives you the time to learn, absorb and relax in the heart of OZ Maruku Arts Dot Painting Workshop provides a fun introduction to local Indigenous Art. Anangu paintings are created for educational and ceremonial purposes as well as telling of events that have occurred. Join local Indigenous artists and learn about the Start your Red Centre adventure in Alice Springs and tick off Australia's icons from your must Do list! Dine under the stars at Uluru, fly above Kata Tjuta, hike the Kings Canyon Rim Walk. Here in Alice Springs, you can choose your own adventure.

These are the places you should visit in Australia!   Are you ready to plan your trip to Australia?

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Places to Visit in Australia to Experience Aboriginal Culture

Posted on: August 26th, 2015 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments

What places are on your Australian vacation wish list?

The Great Barrier Reef, our iconic Sydney Opera House and surrounding harbor, the breathtaking outback, the beautiful beaches or the luscious rainforests. These places are wonderful to visit and offer endless photo opportunities. But when they get home and return to normal life, most travelers find their most memorable moments not in ‘seeing the sights’, but in experiencing the culture.

The Aboriginal arts and culture are a very unique and interesting component of the Australian identity and one that can be experienced without traveling to remote locations. You can experience the human element of Australia in intimate and authentic ways in every state and not far from where you will likely already want to visit. Save on your trip to Australia with our deals on customized Indigenous vacation packages.

Aboriginal Australia is as diverse as the continent’s landscape; not one nation but many nation states speaking more than 250 languages. Each stop will provide you with a new and unique perspective and ground your tour of the infamous sites to the people of the land. You can also experience the culture by adding a few Aboriginal managed tours to your itinerary. Here are a few of our favorite places to visit in Australia to get a big dose of historic culture.

Places to Visit in Australia – New South Wales

Dreamtime Southern X Tour Sydney Australia

Image by Dreamtime Southern X

The Rocks (Sydney) – Take a 90- minute leisurely urban walkabout with an Aboriginal guide in The Rocks, the historic area of Sydney’s city center. Your Aboriginal guide with show you how the ancient wisdom of Dreamtime is continuously weaved into the modern city to create a unique Australian culture.

Royal Botanic Garden Sydney – The Royal Botanic Garden is a great place to learn how early Aboriginal inhabitants lived as hunters and gatherers. Intimately associated with the environment they made poisonous seeds edible, created fishing line from bark, wove leaves into mats and baskets, and much more in order to survive. During a one hour tour an Aboriginal Education Officer will help you explore the rich Aboriginal heritage of the garden and give you a first-hand perspective of the its significance.

Taronga Zoo (Near Sydney) – Just short drive from the harbor you’ll find the Taronga Zoo. An Aboriginal discovery tour offers a chance to enjoy interactive experiences with unique Australian wildlife and a chance to discover more about Australia’s rich culture. An Aboriginal guide will tell you stories of Australian wildlife, the binding relationships between flora and fauna, and the Dreaming (the creation of various creatures and landscapes). You’ll also get a great photo opportunity with a Koala and ride the Sky Safari cable to discover why Taronga is known as “The Zoo with a view”.

Places to Visit in Australia – Northern Territory

Uluru, Australia’s Red Centre (Ayers Rock) – Visiting the heart of Australia is about more than just seeing a giant red rock, it’s about experiencing the Outback; its majestic beauty, its heritage and its essence. As the traditional owners of Uluru Kata Tjuta and the surrounding land, who better to help you capture the moment than the Anangu? Unlike many of us the Anangu still possess a strong connection to the past and thousands of years of accumulated knowledge, wisdom and law. Their traditions are maintained and passed on through stories, rituals, ceremonies, songs, dances and art. There are many opportunities to experience their culture and learn more during your stay at Uluru. Here are a few Indigenous tours in Uluru. Your Vacation Planning Expert can help you select the best experiences for your trip.

Sounds of Silence Dinner– A unique award-winning gourmet desert dining experience complete with a didgeridoo welcome, a beautiful Outback sunset, Australian delicacies, and a tour of the stars.

Northern Territory Camel Ride Ayrer's Rock Australia

Image by AYQ

Camel Ride to the Sounds of Silence Dinner site (or just around the Outback) – Camel tours of Uluru are always an amazing experience. Friendly local guides teach and tell stories about the flora and fauna, the land, the indigenous people, their own lives and the history of camels in Australia in a fun and enjoyable way. The photo opportunities are always amazing and the camels, with their own unique personalities and cheeky nature, may also provide a bit of entertainment.

Tali Wiru Dinner – Another unique desert dining experience with a taste of Aboriginal heritage. This tour fills up quickly as only 20 people are allowed per night. You are taken to a large dune, well away from anything else. A majestic view of Uluru is in the distance as a local plays the didgeridoo and canapes are served as the sun sets. You will enjoy a three course meal with matching Australian wines, desert with port, and an evening of star gazing and Aboriginal stories.

Desert Awakenings Tour – This tour is a great way to view the landscape and learn about its history and its people. Travelers often describe their experience as powerful and spiritual as they learn the history of the land, take in the rock paintings and learn about the local lore of the Anangu people.

Places to Visit in Australia – Queensland

Queensland Daintree National Park Aboriginal Tour Australia

Image by: Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat Tours

World Heritage Listed Daintree National Park (Pick-ups at Cairns, Beaches and Port Douglas) – This intimate tour allows you to not only learn about the Aborginal culture of the rainforest but also experience it. It’s a day full of excitement, learning, and fun. Some highlights include a smoking ceremony, mud crab hunting, a visit to your guide’s home to cook your catch, a lesson in ingenious art, and a swim in The Mossman Gorge.

Mossman Gorge Centre (A quick car ride from Port Douglas) – The Mossman Gorge Centre is managed by Aboriginal natives, Kuku Yalanji, whose natural history makes them perfect guides to the oldest rainforest in the world. Your guide will provide an entertaining narrative of the unique tropical environment while demonstrating traditional plant use, identifying bush food sources, and sharing their special relationship to the land. The Mossman Gorge Centre is a wonderfully pleasant way to enjoy the rainforest as you walk along a broad walk, swim in pristine water and cross the mighty gorge on a suspension bridge.

Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park (About 15 minutes from Cairns Airport) – Enjoy one of the most memorable dinner and shows in the world. This performance and tour truly takes you back in history and goes a long way to bring perspective to the culture’s 40,000 year history. The food is unexpected, abundant, tastefully prepared, and absolutely beautiful. There are plenty of opportunities for photos, fireside chats with the locals and a chance to take the stage and learn a traditional dance.

Places to Visit in Australia – Victoria

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Aboriginal Guide Australia

Image by: Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre (Melbourne) – The word Bunjilaka is a word created from two local Aborginal languages and means “creation place”. It is a place where Victoria’s indigenous communities can express their own history within the Melbourne Museum. It’s also a place where you can understand the aboriginal history of belonging to the land on the Yarra River, populated by the Boonwurrung and Woiwurrung people before the first Europeans arrived.

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne – The award-winning walk through the Gardens is often described as one of the most interesting walks in the city. A local Aboriginal guide takes you on a journey through the traditional camping and meeting place the for Kulin nation. You’ll experience stories, culture, plant lore, tools and ceremony.

Places to Visit in Australia – Western Australia

Western Australia Tour

Image by: Koomal Dreaming

Ngilgi Cave (About 40 minutes north of Margaret River) – Not many American tourists make it out to Western Australia. If you do, it’s well worth your time to visit Wardandi and Bibbulman Country. You can experience this great landscape and the caves through the eyes of the traditional owners. Take a 3-hour private tour which includes a bush walk, a trip into the Ngilgi Cave where your Aboriginal guide will play the didgeridoo, and a live demonstration of spears and boomerangs. All of this will leave you with authentic insight into the indigenous way of life in historic Western Australia.

 

Australia’s landscape varies from sandy beaches to rocky cliffs, from the desert outback to tropical rainforests and within each landscape is a unique historic culture, whose Dreamtime stories are as varied as the country they inhabit. A trip to Australia isn’t complete without experiencing at least a few of these ancient and mysterious cultures.

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Great Barrier Reef, Best Australian Beaches & Dives

Posted on: August 18th, 2015 by Lexie Cargile No Comments

Are you looking to soak up the sun on warm, salty beaches or go “under the sea” for some incredible scuba diving? Australia lends itself to some of the best scuba diving in the world. With over 27,000 beaches and being home to the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef, it’s not surprising it’s a scuba divers and beach lover’s dream destination; the crystal clear waters are magnificently mysterious and provide out-of-this-world experiences. We have compiled a list of top Australia vacation spots, and the most popular and iconic beaches & dive locations; no matter your diving background, there are quintessential locations for everyone to explore.

Travel Tip: The seasons are reversed, making the weather in Australia different than the US.

The northeast region of Queensland yields the most diversity for travelers. Queensland is home to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Heron Island, Lizard Island and Brisbane, making it an ideal region for those looking to combine the best beaches, scuba diving, and a touch of urban culture.

The Great Barrier Reef is the most iconic scuba diving and snorkeling location in the world. The reef is surrounded by 900 islands and spans across 1,400 miles, roughly the size of 70 million football fields. You will come face-to-face with the world’s most unique and vibrant aquatic life.

  • Heron Island, one of the reef’s luxury resorts, allows you to fully experience the tranquility of the reef and all of its wonders. The leisurely island experience focuses on exploring the beauty of nature and leaving the hectic outside world behind.
  • Lizard Island, an exclusive Great Barrier Reef resort, accessible only by plane, is located directly on the reef. It is perfectly secluded from the world with private beaches you can unwind on and escape the “touristy” areas of the reef, as well as indulge in private, luxury spa treatments and 5-Star cuisine
True or False? Great White Sharks can be found on the Great Barrier Reef. FALSE. The reef’s waters are too warm and shallow for Great Whites; the most common shark found on the reef is a reef shark. These smaller sharks are extremely docile due to the warmer waters and the large amount of fish in the area, leaving you with nothing to worry about.

Liveaboard Sciba Diving Trip AustraliaHeron Island Scuba Diving AustraliaAustralia Beach Travel Destination

Cairns, the closest mainland entrance to the reef, is a tourism powerhouse with pristine beaches and an array of activities. PADI also rates Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef as sites for the World’s Best Big Animal Dives. In addition to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns also has the World Heritage Listed Daintree Rainforest, where you can embark on an award winning Skyrail Cableway tour across the rainforest and national parks for the “world’s most beautiful rainforest experience.” You can choose from over 600 tours a day, including: guided reef walks, scenic helicopter flights, glass-bottom boat & submarine tours, beach adventures, and fishing & sailing.

  • If you’re looking for a really authentic scuba dive experience, Cairns has various liveaboard divetrip operators that venture across the reef’s greatest dive spots for 2-7 days, where you can dive or snorkel between breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday.

Port Douglas & Cape Tribulation are the perfect mixture of beach and scuba diving. You are still close enough to the Great Barrier Reef to scuba dive at your leisure, but far enough away from everything where you can lay out on white, sandy beaches and relax without the hustle and bustle of an urban city. Cape Tribulation is the only place in the world where two Natural Wonders of the World meet – the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest.

Brisbane serves as a hub of Australian experiences for those with a short amount of time, and also provides easy access to the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast & Hinterland- breathtaking beaches, adventure theme parks, the Australia Zoo (home of the Crocodile Hunter) and incredible rainforests. While in Brisbane you can explore the South Bank Parklands – a great place to take the kiddos, lay out at Kodak Beach – Australia’s largest man-made inland beach/pool, ride a “River Cat” (ferry) across the rivers, and shop ‘til you drop at the Brisbane Mall.

Sydney, located in New South Wales, is Australia’s number one travel destination. It is worldly famous for the Sydney Harbor, the Sydney Opera House, and some of the highest rated beaches in the world; our two favorites include Manly Beach & Bondi Beach. The critically acclaimed beaches are the perfect sandy getaway with views that stretch as far as the eye can see, and offer world-class surfing, friendly locals, an incredible seafood.

Port Lincoln, also known as the “Sea Food Capitol of Australia,” sits along the shore of the Boston Bay in South Australia and is a thrill-seekers paradise. You will have the opportunity to swim with sea lions & tuna, go game fishing, or take the plunge, if you dare, and cage dive with Great White Sharks. Unwind after all of the excitement with some retail therapy at one of the countless boutiques, or dine in at one of the exquisite restaurants.

Kangaroo on Kangaroo Island AustraliaSea Lion on Kangaroo Island Australia

Kangaroo Island, another South Australian treasure, is home to the extremely unique leafy sea dragon which can ONLY be found in Australia; it is a scuba-divers dream to dive with something so rare and fascinating. In addition to Australia’s favorite land animals – kangaroos, sea lions, and koalas -all these remarkable creatures are what make Kangaroo Island special. You can marvel at these Aussie natives in their natural habitat and explore the wonderment that Kangaroo Island holds, above and below the water.

Ningaloo Reef is located along the coast of Western Australia, and is a World Heritage Listed site. You’re able to dive with whale sharks (seasonal), snorkel through incredible coral lagoons, and watch dolphins, manta rays and humpback whales migrate (seasonal). You can explore several different national parks as well as off-road through sand dunes – another great stop on an adventure travelers bucket-list.

Australia has over 27,000 beaches – that’s a new one to visit everyday for 27 years. We’ve made it easy on you and listed the top 5: White Haven Beach, Turqoise Bay, Cable Beach, Burleigh Heads Beach, and Manly Beach. For a full list of the best beaches in Australia click here.

Similarly, Australia has just as many fantastic dive and snorkel sites, the top 5 include: Cod Hole on the Great Barrier Reef, Flinders Reef, Fish Rock Cave, Lord Howe Island, and Ningaloo Reef.

Annual seasonal events among these locations include: turtle watching, whale watching, festivals & events, and birding which add a little bit of special Australian culture to your adventure. We can accommodate to include any of these seasonal events to personalize your trip even more.

 

or Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-3592877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).

 


About Australia Reviews

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The Twelve Apostles – Australia

Posted on: July 7th, 2014 by Marketing_AA No Comments

Located just off the shore of Port Campbell National Park in Victoria, Australia, is this breath-taking limestone stack known as The Twelve Apostles. If you’ve ever heard of the Great Ocean Road in Australia – The Twelve Apostles is one of the monumental moments along the scenic drive.

These magnificent towers keep watch over the Southern Ocean and have become icons of Australia.

Learn More About The Twelve Apostles

“Once upon a time – or up to 20 million years ago – they were connected to the cliffs of the mainland. The waves and wind carved them into caves, then arches, and eventually battered them down into columns that rise up to 45 meters high.” – Australia.com

As the years have come and gone the stacks have withered to the eight that remain strong and triumphant. This destination is one of those “can’t miss” moments because these limestone wonders are literally challenged daily to withstand the high winds and waters that relentlessly beat against them. The most recent stack that fell was in 2005.

When visiting The Twelve Apostles be sure to inquire about the shipwrecks and history that surround these natural wonders. If you’re taking a drive along the Great Ocean Road – be sure to plan extra time to take a romantic stroll at sunset to see the Apostles Stacks up close and personal. It’s a great once-in-a-lifetime photo moment.

The Twelve Apostles

 

A day trip to the Twelve Apostles can take a bit of planning. The best way to take the trip is from Melbourne. We’ll help you plan your stay in Melbourne and your drive on the Great Ocean Road so you don’t miss this spectacular sight.

I Want to See the Twelve Apostles!


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