Tag Archive for "food"

Eat Like an Australian: 24 Australian Food Items You Have to Try

Posted on: November 20th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

Ever wondered what Australians eat Down Under?

Though Australian cuisine is blended with many Asian and Mediterranean dishes, truly traditional Australian food lies in bush tucker, fresh seafood and something to soak up the ale.

Not to mention the delectable pastries and sweets you’ll wish you knew about your whole life!

Here are 24 Australian foods you have to try to eat like an Australian.

1. Vegemite

Vegemite on toast is an australian food

You were probably expecting to see Vegemite listed 24 times in this article, but there’s more to Australian food than this controversial spread.

But what exactly is Vegemite? It’s a dark brown spread made from vegetables, spices and yeast extract, making it more savory rather than sweet.

The most popular way to eat Vegemite is on toast. It tastes extremely salty – just small amount will do. Even less than what you’re thinking. But who knows – you might be one of the lucky ones to fall in love with Vegemite the moment it graces your tongue.

2. Lamingtons

Lamingtons are an Australian food

There’s probably nothing more heavenly than the sweet lamington. This small, rectangular sponge cake is lighter than a feather and more airy than a fluffy cloud. It really is a dream wrapped in a perfect cube of chocolate covered cake and rolled in coconut.

This Australian dessert is a favorite with coffee or tea, and the pride of any baker.

3. Meat Pies

Meat pie is Australian food credit David McLeish

Photo: David McLeish

Pair a meat pie with a beer, at a sporting event or in the morning after a night out. This Australian favorite is made up of flaky pastry filled with minced meat and gravy, sometimes mixed with a variety of vegetables. It’s basically the Australian food equivalent of a chicken pot pie.

This filling snack is perfect on the go or at a pub, and is quintessentially Australian.

4. Tim Tams

Tim Tams

These sweet biscuits (the Australian way to say cookies) have become a favorite on our side of the pond for their chocolatey goodness.

Never had one before? A Tim Tam is basically two chocolate-malted cookies with a layer of creamy chocolate filling sandwiched in between, all coated in melted chocolate.

Walk into any Coles or Woolworths (supermarkets) and you’ll find huge displays of Tim Tams in a variety of flavors. Overwhelmed with options like mint chocolate, iced coffee, white chocolate, chewy caramel and more, you might have a hard time  choosing. The most popular choice is the original, but you might like to play the Tim Tam challenge and try them all!

Biting into one of these is like entering a chocolatey heaven. But for a truly transcendental experience, you’ve got to try the Tim Tam Slam. Bite the corners of the diagonal corners off the cookie and use it as a straw to sip on coffee or hot chocolate.

5. Moreton Bay Bug

Moreton Bay Bug credit Tourism and Events Queensland

Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland

Don’t worry – this isn’t an actual bug. Moreton Bay Bugs are more like lobster, and are often said to taste even better.

You’ll find Moreton Bay Bugs featured in seafood dishes all over Australia. They are usually cut in half, drizzled in butter, oil, lemon or other seasonings and often grilled or barbecued.

After one bite of these “bugs,” lobster won’t compare ever again.

6. Witchetty Grub

Witchetty Grub

Do worry – this IS an actual bug. 

This small, white larva is found in the deserts of the Outback and has featured in traditional Aboriginal bush tucker for thousands of years.

If you’re brave enough to give it a try, you’ll find it tastes like chicken. It also packs a powerful amount of protein – more than an entire steak. Witchetty Grubs are traditionally eaten raw, but they are also served barbecued as an appetizer.

7. Kangaroo

Kangaroo Steak credit Maksym Kozlenko

Photo: Maksym Kozlenko

People like to joke and ask if you can eat kangaroo, and the truth is yes, you can totally eat kangaroo. In fact, it’s quite normal. Kangaroos are essentially like deer in the U.S. – they turn up on quiet plots of land, they like to jump out in front of your car, and they are quite tasty.

Kangaroo meat is low in fat, often grilled on a barbecue to a rare to medium finish. Eat it on its own or in a burger – it’s not often you can say you’ve tried kangaroo!

8. Pavlova

Pavlova

You could almost start a war between Australia and New Zealand over who first invented the Pavlova.

It is said the desert was created in honor of Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova during her tour of Australia and New Zealand in the 1920’s, with both countries laying claim to its creation.

This meringue based cake has a delicate, crispy outer shell and a fluffy, marshmallow-y center, topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit such as kiwi, strawberries and blueberries.

9. Fairy Bread

Fairy Bread

This simple treat is a nostalgic favorite from Australian kids’ birthday parties. It’s simply slices of white bread cut into triangles, spread with butter and covered in hundreds and thousands (the Australian term for sprinkles).

You likely won’t find fairy bread in stores or bakeries, probably because it’s so easy to make.

10. Dim Sim

Fried Dim Sim

This is the Australian food equivalent of dim sum, differing mostly in its tendency to come fried rather than steamed.

These large dumplings are generally half the size of a fist and filled with minced meat and vegetables. Perfect as a bite-sized snack on the go. 

11. Chiko Roll

Chiko Roll

Chiko rolls are Australia’s take on egg rolls. They’re more doughy than the flaky egg roll, deep-fried and filled with beef and a variety of vegetables.

These are often eaten as snacks on the go, found in local fish ‘n chip shops or by snack vendors at popular venues.

12. Fish ‘N Chips

Fish and chips

Fresh fish lightly fried to crispy goodness paired with thick-cut chips (french fries to us on this side of the pond) is a must for those sunny Australian beach days.

Wrapped in paper and seasoned with a bit of salt and lemon adds an undeniably satisfying touch to this classic Australian food.

You’ll find fish ‘n chips in just about any pub or in a waterfront shop by the beach.

13. Damper

Damper bread

This traditional soda bread was an Australian food staple of working class Aussies in the past.

Its simple recipe lends itself to a quick preparation almost anywhere. It’s made up of wheat flour, water and salt, sometimes with baking soda, baked in the ashes of a campfire.

14. Vanilla Slice

Mille-feuille vanilla slice credit George Seguin

Photo: George Seguin

This pastry is said to originate in France, but its exact origin is unknown. In French it’s called the mille-feuille, translating to “thousand sheets.” In English it’s known as the vanilla slice, a delicate dessert with layers of puff pastry and pastry cream or custard, glazed with powdered sugar or icing.

Variations of the vanilla slice are found all over the world, but Australians lay claim to this sweet pastry. With an annual competition for the best vanilla slice baker held in the state of Victoria, the Australians’ passion for the vanilla slice definitely deserves them its ownership.

15. Prawns

Prawns

Ready to slip some shrimp on the barbie?

Well first off, Australians don’t call it shrimp – it’s prawns, mate. And whether you get them at a restaurant or grilled up at a barbecue, you can’t go wrong with prawns. With the freshest seafood found along Australia’s shores, you’re sure to get tasty prawns no matter where you try them.

16. Emu

Emu

Emu meat is lean, low in cholesterol and high in iron and vitamin C. It’s a meat-lover’s dream, yet many people can’t get past the thought of eating this flightless bird.

It’s commonly featured in Australian food, usually in burgers, meat pies and even as a pizza topping.

Telling your friends you’ve tried emu is probably more bewildering than trying kangaroo, so don’t miss out on this tasty bird when you’re visiting Australia!

17. Barramundi

Barramundi

This native Australian white fish is desirable for its delicate taste, succulent flesh, moderate fat content and rich nutrients. It even has less calories than salmon yet still packed with healthy fatty acids.

The rest of the world is slowly catching on to this holy grail fish, but for now you’ll mostly find it served in restaurants across Australia.

18. Chicken Parmigiana

Chicken parmigiana

Simply referred to as a “parma,” this staple is a favorite on the pub specials menu. A parma is basically a schnitzel, or chicken fried in breadcrumbs, topped with tomato sauce and melted cheese.

The best way to eat a parma is at a pub parma night, where you can grab a parma and beer for a decent price.

19. Beetroot

Beetroot

Aussies love to add beetroot to their burgers, sandwiches and salads. You’ll definitely find this vegetable featured throughout many menus across Australia.

Its nutty, earthy taste pairs well with sweet and strong flavors, adding a flair of creativity to any dish. Be sure to try a beetroot burger after trying kangaroo and emu burgers!

20. Bush Dust

Bush Dust credit Tasmanian Gourmet Online

Tasmanian Gourmet Online

Get a taste of Australian herbs and spices with bush dust.

This mixture of Tasmanian native pepper, macadamia nuts, bush tomatoes, herbs and spices is perfect for bread dipped in olive oil or simply as a seasoning. Its deep red color is deceiving – this blend of spices has a mild, nutty taste, rather than hot or spicy.

Try it on fish, chicken, potatoes or vegetables. Really it pairs well with almost any dish.

21. Weet-Bix

Weet-Bix

Weet-Bix is similar to a granola bar made up of whole-grain wheat. High in fiber and low in sugar, it’s a favorite breakfast item so iconic it’s garnered a catchphrase in two countries: “Aussie Kids are Weet-Bix kids,” and “Kiwi Kids are Weet-Bix kids.”

22. Anzac Biscuits

ANZAC biscuit

These cookies have a history rooted in WWI. They were once made by the wives of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) and delivered to their men at war.

Now these cookies are made in commemoration of ANZAC Day, April 25th, honoring those who gave their lives to the war.

The delicious cookies are essentially oatmeal cookies made with golden syrup and desiccated coconut.

23. Violet Crumble

Violet Crumble

This is arguably Australia’s greatest contribution to cuisine. At least, anybody with a sweet tooth will think so.

Violet Crumble is one Australia’s most popular chocolate bars, with a crumbly honeycomb toffee center coated in chocolate.

The texture of the honeycomb toffee is similar to malt candy, though much softer and delicate. It almost has a cotton-candy consistency once you bite into it.

You’ll find Violet Crumble at just about any supermarket. Try it in ice cream to send your taste buds to heaven.

24. Flat White

Flat white coffee

Alright, so this isn’t food per se, but Australians are passionate about their coffee and are strong contenders for the best coffee in the world.

One sip of their coffee and you’ll never be able to go back to Folgers.

Even taking a barista course is an unspoken requirement before getting a coffee gig in Australia.

Locals will proudly say you can’t find a better flat white anywhere else in the world, and they might be right. Stop into a local coffee shop (you’ll find dozens of local coffee shops in any city – locals tend to avoid Starbucks like the plague) and grab yourself a flat white.

Australian Foods You Have to Try

One of the highlights of experiencing a foreign land is trying its culinary delights.

From snack foods to strange meats, give Australian food a try on your next trip to Australia.

Need help planning your trip? That’s our full time job. Contact our Destination Specialists to begin your journey today. Ask us about our favorite Australian food!


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


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Sydney Harbour

Things to Do Around Sydney Harbour


Things to Do Around Sydney Harbour

Posted on: October 3rd, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

Sydney Harbour credit Destination NSW

If it’s your first time traveling to Australia, you’re probably landing in Sydney.

The moment you step off that plane – right at sunrise – you’re going to want to make a beeline for your hotel and fall face first into your bed.

But that’s a terrible idea.

Not only will most hotels not have check in until at least 2pm, but you’ll want to stay up to avoid jet lag.

Luckily, Sydney is filled with countless things to do right as you step off the plane.

And there’s nothing better than diving headfirst into this beautiful harbour city in all its splendor by exploring its dynamic harbourfront.

We’ve made it easy for you with these things to do around Sydney Harbour.

Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens

things to do near Sydney Harbour

With extensive grounds of beautifully manicured lawns and gardens, the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens are a tranquil escape right in the heart of the city.

Its many trails are perfect for getting your bearings and taking a leisurely stroll with fantastic views of the harbour.

Walk through the Mrs. Macquaries Road footpath to Mrs. Macquaries Point, a picturesque headland jutting out into the harbour.

Take a seat on the famous Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair for one of the best views directly across the Sydney Opera House.

Continue along the waterfront for more fantastic scenery. With the white Opera House sails set against the Sydney Harbour Bridge across the harbour, you’ll no doubt be stopping for pictures every step of the way.

The gardens are home to an array of stunning native trees, plants and flowers with lawns dedicated to each.

Grab a snack or pack a picnic lunch and rest on the Flower Bed Lawn, a clearing of verdant green grass dappled with towering trees and exotic plants. Stop by the Main Pond for a chance to see the resident eels (don’t worry, they’re harmless!). Head toward the Rose Garden Beds for a charming pavilion lined with roses, complete with a statue of Cupid to accentuate its loveliness.

You’re bound to see locals getting in their morning jog and other groups simply enjoying the resplendent grounds. Learn more about the garden by joining a free tour, hopping on the garden’s Choo Choo Express or take a guided tour led by an Aboriginal leader and taste Aboriginal bush food found in the gardens!

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House Sails credit Tourism Australia

From the Botanic Gardens you can easily reach the Sydney Opera House.

As you take your first steps toward the towering sails, you’ll feel the draw of this undeniably mesmerizing icon.

This is the face of Sydney, its main feature recognized around the whole world. Seeing it for the first time is an experience in and of itself.

So, bask it all in. You definitely won’t be the only one. This architectural wonder draws millions of visitors each year – and as such a unique structure set against one of the most picturesque harbours in the world, it’s no mystery why.

Join a tour to get an inside look at the Opera House with an expert guide detailing the history of the building. You’ll get an exclusive look at the interior of the concert halls – perhaps you’ll want to catch a show here later! 

Circular Quay

Right down the Sydney Opera House is Circular Quay, the hub of Sydney’s harbourfront action and gateway to iconic attractions.

This is where many cruises, ferries and water taxis depart, connecting visitors to the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and the historic Rocks District.

Here buskers tickle out tunes and impress crowds with unique performances. Pop-up restaurants and one-of-a-kind events set up shop along the Quay. Not too long ago, Jeff Goldblum set up his Chef Goldblum’s food truck serving up free hot dogs in the Quay!

Dining with a View

Lining Circular Quay is a progression of fantastic waterfront restaurants promising an essential Sydney experience – excellent food paired with unbeatable views.

Grab a spot at Opera Bar, often lauded as the best beer garden in the world. Perhaps the sweeping panoramic views across the harbour steer the scales in its favor. Peer over from the ledge of the Opera House’s promenade and you’ll spot vine-laden umbrellas perched over tables and bar stools. Order a cocktail or a glass of fine Australian wine and settle into the seats curving along the water’s edge .

For a special occasion, reserve a spot at Aria, only minutes away from the Opera House. Enjoy a delectable four course menu and extensive wine list, both highlighted by sublime views out from the glass walls.

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia credit Tourism Australia

This Sydney staple houses Australian and international contemporary art along with touring exhibitions. Get a glimpse of modern artworks produced around the world today and let your inner artist get lost in the thought-provoking collections you’ll encounter here.

See breathtaking exhibitions by Aboriginal artists, brimming with color and spirituality. Take in puzzling artworks, bemusing at first, but always with something to take away.

The Museum of Contemporary Art will at once welcome and challenge your notions of art and stimulate your imagination. If you’ve never given contemporary art a chance, this is the perfect place to give it a go.

The Rocks District

The Rocks Sydney credit Tourism Australia for Things to do Sydney Harbour

Cobbled laneways cut through some of Sydney’s oldest pubs and historic buildings. Structures gleam with their original eighteenth century colonial architecture, standing proud with their gabled roofs.

This is The Rocks, site of Sydney’s first settlement in 1788.

Brimming with a colorful history of convicts, soldiers and sailors, this is the perfect place to learn about the history of Sydney.

Many walking tours detailing the history of the area are available, some with a focus on Aboriginal history, convict stories or even pub walks. Who wouldn’t want to grab a pint in some of Sydney’s first bars?

Amble over to The Rocks Markets for enticing street food and boutique local shops, celebrating authentic local foodie experiences. The markets recreate a feel reminiscent of the bustling commons that once thrived in eighteenth century Sydney. Discover locally crafted clothes, jewelry and homewares along with gourmet food, artisan meats, cheeses and sweet treats mingling their delicious scents within the air.

Learn more about The Rocks before European settlement at The Rocks Discovery Museum. Housed in a restored 1850’s sandstone warehouse, here you’ll find unique exhibitions showcasing images and artifacts found in The Rocks – some of which you can even hold. The best part – it’s free!

Cruise on the Harbour

You can’t go to one of the world’s most gorgeous harbour cities and not go on a cruise. In fact, it’s a Sydney rite of passage.

Lunch cruises, dinner cruises, ferries and water taxis – the options are almost unlimited.

Get the glamorous harbour cruise experience with a dining cruise. With breakfast, lunch and dinner cruises available, enjoy a spectacular meal any time of the day with million dollar harbour views.

Explore more of Sydney and the sparkling harbour aboard a sightseeing ferry. We like to recommend our clients to get their hands on a Hop On Hop Off 2-day ferry pass for an easy cruise across the harbour highway to 10 famous Sydney stop overs, including Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, Taronga Zoo, Luna Park, Barangaroo and others.

Darling Harbour

Harbourside Shopping Center credit HSC

This lively precinct is home to fun tourist attractions, trendy waterfront dining experiences as well as premier Sydney shopping.

Meet incredible aquatic species at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, one of the largest aquariums in the world. Discover dugongs, sharks, penguins and tropical fish in the aquarium’s differently themed zones. Touch sea stars, shark eggs and coral at the Discovery Rockpool, and get a look into the prehistoric marine life from the dark depths of the ocean at Jurassic Seas.

Stroll down along Darling Harbour to the Harbourside Shopping Center, where the exciting buzz of Darling Harbour emanates from its waterfront dining and boutique shops.

Here you’ll find anything from familiar places to grab a quick bite to eat to waterfront steakhouses. Grab some grub then browse the shops for a new Australian-made outfit or souvenir.

Further along the harbour you’ll come across the Australian National Maritime Museum, where a wealth of seafaring and naval exhibitions provide a look into Australia’s coastal culture.

Climb aboard a replica of Captain Cook’s Endeavor vessel, the tall ship in which he first landed on Australia in 1770. Learn stories about the passengers – settlers and convicts from the 18th century – and their voyages to a new life in Australia. With knowledgeable guides possessing an impressive passion for Australian maritime history, you’re sure to dive deeper into the history of Australia – so closely intertwined with the ocean.

Taronga Zoo

Koala at Taronga Zoo, Sydney credit Tourism Australia

A popular stop on a harbour cruise is Taronga Zoo. With native Australian wildlife, rare exotic animals and breathtaking views of the cityscape across the harbour, Taronga Zoo might just be one of the most gorgeous zoos in the world.

Start with a gondola cable car ride lifting you above the zoo, gliding over trees and bush with views across the harbour.

Meet cuddly koalas, friendly kangaroos and their elusive tree-dwelling cousins, tree kangaroos.

Get up close to the graceful Sumatran Tiger on the Tiger Trek, or see the magnificent Asian elephants. Visit the towering giraffes, who have arguably to best view across the harbour in the whole zoo. Home to over 340 species, you’re bound to find your favorite animal.

Luna Park

Luna Park, Milsons Point credit Steve Back and Destination NSW

Find a true boardwalk amusement park experience at Luna Park, another favorite stop on the sightseeing ferry. Situated across the harbour right along the water, that ferris wheel is guaranteed to have incredible views.

Vibrant with colors and exciting rides for the kids, this is an essential harbour stop for families with little ones. But there’s an undeniable thrill that will strike your very core as you feel like you’re about to be flung into the harbour as you ride the Wild Mouse rollercoaster!

Slide down steep slopes on the Devil’s Drop or spin into a frenzy on the Rotor. Wind down on the Carousel – an amusement park staple – or get lost in the dizzying Mirror Maze.

Luna Park lets your inner kid go wild and immerse yourself in the nostalgia of the perfect carnival day.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge credit Tourism Australia

Past Darling Harbour is the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, an architectural feat to match the likes of the Opera House.

Its famous steel arch has earned it the nickname “The Coathanger.” Luckily, it’s much more supportive than that. In fact, the bridge has eight traffic lanes and two railway lines with a pedestrian walkway on the eastern side of the bridge and a cycling track on the western side.

Haven’t had enough of those gorgeous harbour views? Get a totally different perspective of Sydney Harbour at the very top of the Harbour Bridge arch on a BridgeClimb!

An essential Sydney must-do, this exciting journey combines fascinating history detailing the making of the bridge with a thrilling climb over the arch. You’ll get fitted with a climbing suit, briefed in safe practices and set off in a group led by a bridge climbing pro.

With morning, afternoon and evening climbs available, you can wake your senses with this invigorating climb or see the sunset glow cast over the harbour and Opera House sails. 

Besides, it’s not everybody who can say they’ve climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge!

Barangaroo

Baragaroo Reserve, Barangaroo credit Destination NSW

Barangaroo is the new kid on the block. Or harbour, you could say.

Once a site used for dumping shipping containers, this wasteland has transformed into a spectacular waterfront precinct. Quite the ugly duckling turned into swan story.

The precinct is named after Barangaroo, an indigenous Cammeraygal clan leader from the Eora Nation living around the north harbour at the time of European colonization. She was revered as a free-spirited and strong-willed Aboriginal woman. Several accounts tell about her refusal to wear European clothing to a formal dinner with settlers and turned up painted in white clay with a bone through her nose.

Just as Barangaroo held tightly to her indigenous roots, so does the idyllic parkland known as Barangaroo Reserve. This project is a testament to the achievable beauty of a congenial blend between urban renewal and nature.

Barangaroo Reserve is a 14-acre natural sanctuary created with a mission to restore the endemic trees, plants and shrubs of the area. Join a walking tour through the picturesque reserve and learn about the different plants and their uses, led by a knowledgeable Aboriginal guide.

Barangaroo Waterfront Dining

Head down past Nawi Cove for exceptional Barangaroo dining. The strip directly facing the waterfront features ten unique, carefully selected restaurants showcasing some of Sydney’s best local cuisine.

Indulge in Turkish share plates bursting with fresh flavors at Anason, and top it off with an authentic Baklava pastry. Treat your tastebuds to a feast of eclectic Australian flavors with an eight course tasting menu at Bea Restaurant, housed in the unique Barangaroo House. Pair your delectable dishes such as seared swordfish with bone marrow and wild barramundi with apple and brown butter with premium Australian wines. Order the Rocky Road for dessert for a chocolate experience out of this world!

Explore Sydney Harbour

Sydney is a world-class city with a harbour unparalleled in adventures to thrill history buffs, foodies and daredevils alike. The number of things to do around Sydney Harbour are countless and promise incredible experiences uniquely Australian.

The best part about exploring the harbour is that many of these sightseeing stop are some of the best free things to do in Sydney!

Want more recommendations on things to see around Sydney Harbour? Connect with our Destination Specialists to plan your perfect Sydney visit on your trip to Australia.

Add Sydney to My Trip

10 Must-Do Adventures In Ballarat, Australia

Posted on: August 21st, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

Amazing Australia Road Trips Part 3

Australia’s Gold Rush: Halls Gap to Melbourne

Empty your pockets. When traveling through Ballarat, you’ll need the extra space for gold.

In our Amazing Australia Road Trips Pt. 2, we went over 13 great adventures in the Grampians. Now we’ll head back to Melbourne after an epic Great Ocean Road adventure, but there’s still many treasures to discover on this leg of the trip.

You might even find actual gold!

Between Halls Gap and Melbourne is a region rich in Australia’s gold rush history, including the goldfields of Ballarat.

From a spectacular local food and art scene rivaling Melbourne’s and a splendid heritage backdrop, Ballarat is the perfect stop to enjoy the finer things in life.

Here are 10 adventures in Ballarat and surrounds to end your Australia road trip with a bang.

Hang Around Halls Gap for Breakfast

Breakfast at Harvest Halls Gap

After downing a few cups of Joe throughout your travels in Australia, you’ll know there’s something special about Aussie coffee.

Fuel up for the day at Harvest, where the coffee maintains the Aussie standard of excellence. Fresh ingredients create a stellar breakfast menu highlighting the amazing local produce of the Grampians.

Favorites include the Bubble & Squeak (poached eggs and ham off the bone on a bed of potato and vegetable hash) and zesty corn fritters.

Harvest is a warm and inviting spot. Almost as good as a Melbourne cafe with much lovelier staff. Good food and would recommend the aptly named Bubble n Squeak.Janelle Galea

I’m a serious coffee snob, long black, hot n strong no sugar. So to my shock the coffee at Harvest was simply superb. I highly recommend this beautiful quaint little cafe on the edge of Halls Gap… the staff are amazing and ready to share their knowledge of the area from walks to wineries and more. The food was great and I’ll miss this little cafe. It would be awesome if it were to become your local. Check it out soon.Tony Meehan

See the Gold Rush Opulence of Ballarat on a Heritage Walk

Town Hall Ballarat

After driving about two hours on the Western Highway from Halls Gap you’ll cross paths with Ballarat.

The Australian gold boom of the 1850’s completely transformed this small sheep station to a major town, now the third largest inland city in Australia.

As you travel closer to the heart of the city, the legacy of Ballarat’s gold rush becomes evident in the magnificent Victorian and Edwardian buildings lining the streets.

Stretch your legs after your drive and take on the heritage walking trails winding through the central heritage precinct.

You’ll find some of Australia’s most beautifully preserved colonial architecture such as the impressive Town Hall and Craig’s Royal Hotel in in Lydiard Street and historic monuments and statues along Sturt Street.

It was my great experience to see inside the Ballarat town hall during a heritage week. Loved all the decorations and all furniture back in gold era. I hope the council will keep the Victorian vibe in the hall and won’t put too much urbanism into our old town hall.Jolt Media

Explore the Ballarat Botanical Gardens

Ballarat Botanical Gardens

Step into the serenity of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, where rows of red, yellow and pink begonias decorate verdant lawns dotted with classical statues.

Towering trees providing ample shade along paved trails lead to the Robert Clark Conservatory. Here you’ll find the setting out of something in a wedding planner magazine.

Hydrangeas, fuchsias and pelargoniums bloom into a spectacle of purple, pink and red hues in the summer, while autumn boasts a gorgeous begonia display.

Walk down Prime Ministers Avenue past bronze busts honoring Australia’s past prime ministers, adding a unique historical touch to the gardens.

Wander through the carefully landscaped lawns and find Victorian marble statues from Italy placed throughout the gardens.

A highlight is the Sensory Garden, an interactive space where you can touch and smell different plants.

Best place to hang out or enjoy a morning walk. Green house is warm for having a break after run or exercise. This historical garden will give you about Ballarat in the past and so many kinds of plants. Marble Statues are amazingly beautiful. Just come to see something green. On weekend you can enjoy a farmer market along the lake, too.Hugo Krystal

Taste Your Way Through Ballarat’s Growing Food Scene

Meigas Spanish Tapas Ballarat

From authentic Spanish tapas to cozy cafes with exciting menus, Ballarat’s food scene will delight any foodie.

There’s no end to the delicious eateries featuring local produce – an unspoken requirement you’ll find throughout its restaurants.

Grab a slice of some of the region’s best pizza at The Forge Pizzeria. This local favorite delights in crafting unique pizzas. Think slow roasted pork, gorgonzola dolce and green apple slaw on your pie, or woodfired roast pumpkin, goats cheese and pine nuts. Definitely a must for any adventurous eater.

Relish in the colorful Spanish atmosphere at Meigas, where the tapas pack incredible flavors in every bite.

Never have I expect to find food this good outside of Melbourne. Yes if you look at the menu, it look kinda expensive but the serving size is very generous and it is worth every cents. The octopus was tender and seasoned just right with the paprika. The Lamb skewers, the meat is tender, slightly pink in the inside, the sauce to dip with is wonderful. Oh that beef cheek, you don’t need a knife to cut it. It is soft. The sauce and the mash underneath complement it perfectly. Overall all the food are perfect. Beside the food, the atmosphere, the deco and the service are excellent. Even we were sitting by the window, the waiter and waitress came by pretty often, making sure we are okay. Oh lastly for the drink, they have this one with the gin, citrus and cinnamon, you have to try it if you like gin. It is that good!Jenny Kwong

Sip on Locally Brewed Craft Beers

Hop Temple Ballarat

Craft beer enthusiasts may want to hold off on lunch and explore Ballarat’s growing craft beer scene. In a city where food and drink are an experience-based culture, beer lovers are sure to find their slice of heaven in Ballarat.

Get up close to the brewing process at Athletic Club Brewery, boasting an eclectic range of beer styles sure to pique your interest. Settle into one of the couches facing the beer vats behind a glass wall and sip on a choice draft brewed on site.

Head over to Hop Temple, slated as the city’s craft beer mecca. Unique decor, live music and friendly staff are just the beginning of Hop Temple’s highlights. With more beers than you can count on tap and a delicious menu that stands out on its own, this gem has something for everyone.

What is there not to love about this place? The walk through the alley to get to the entrance was a thrill, and when I opened the door, my mouth dropped open at the space aesthetics. My husband and I shared some scrumptious hot sides and a beer paddle as our afternoon tea. It was so relaxing sitting there in the cozy corner near the stairs, enjoying our food and beverages. Wished we stayed for dinner, but had prearranged to go elsewhere… hopefully we will be back soon.Helen Man

Visit Sensational Art Galleries

Art Gallery of Ballarat

Ballarat’s mix of major galleries and smaller studios are home to spectacular masterpieces to impress any art buff.

The Art Gallery of Ballarat, considered one of the best regional galleries in all Australia, draws visitors even from Melbourne. Housed in the heritage precinct of Ballarat, you’ll find an incredible range of exhibits throughout the spacious gallery.

This is by far the best regional art gallery I have ever been too. Wonderfully set out, has a great selection of art and lots of different exhibits and themes. From classic to modern, sculptures to painting’s and photos plus some Comic art. Was blown away with how amazing it was and the staff were excellent too. The best thing of all was it’s free, I was so surprised that something so awesome could be free. Please make sure you make a donation though as this place deserves it. Definately recommended for all.Steve Pickwell
We were totally surprised at the quality of this art gallery. It is brilliant! The art collection is amazing. We certainly did not expect to see such a large variety of beautiful works of art by both well-known and less-known artists in a regional gallery. It was certainly worth spending time here!Anna Palmer

See Nuggets of Gold at the Gold Museum

Gold Nugget in Gold Museum Ballarat

Everything that glitters is indeed gold at the Gold Museum. This informative museum is the perfect introduction to Ballarat’s gold rush history, displaying an impressive collection of gold nuggets, gold artifacts and gold coins.

Discover the chronological history of the gold rush as it swept over this region of Australia, lending to the prosperity of Ballarat. Gaze over historic photos and carefully preserved articles of clothing from the era.

Very interesting and well set out, you get to see real pieces of history from mining to clothing and jewellery plus real nuggets! Something for everyone. I was told not to miss it and I’m glad I visited.Oxley Vic

A great place to learn about the history of the Ballarat gold fields and interesting details. The replica gold nuggets found are eye popping. If you have any interest in history this place is well worthwhile. Fascinating facts and information well presented and well worth a quick visit.C_and_J_Lewis

Pan for Gold at Sovereign Hill

Sovereign Hill Ballarat

So far we’ve only skimmed the surface of Ballarat’s heritage. It’s time to feel the rush of the gold mining excitement for yourself and travel back in time at Sovereign Hill.

This open air museum is a living, breathing replica of Ballarat in the 1850’s. Walk through Main Street, lined with shops and factories showcasing rare 19th century trades practiced by skilled artisan using original machinery of the times.

Learn to make your own candy, watch the processing and pouring of a spectacular gold ingot or buy a post card and send it off at the working post office.

Catch a show at the Victoria Theatre or hitch a ride on a horse-drawn coach. Try your hand at firing a musket or dress up in Victorian costumes and snap a photo as a unique souvenir. With staff always in character and even a large number of actors in costume roaming the streets, Sovereign Hill feels like the closest thing to a time machine.

But the one thing you absolutely must do is try your hand at panning for gold.

If you’re lucky, you might get to keep what you find!

Absolutely wonderful place to spend the day! There are delicious bakery’s, gold panning (I found quite a bit of it) candle making (you can colour your own candles!) you can have your name be on a ‘WANTED’ poster, you can make your own bath salt jar they sell amazing boiled sweets they take you on a self guided tour underground in the mines and they run a show were you get to watch someone pour gold (gold pouring) and that is only some of what you get to experience at Sovereign Hill I definitely recommend it I’d like to thank the guy at the gold panning for teaching us how to pan and even giving us a few specks of it! Thanks to all the staff for making our day wonderful!Bella Hales

Meet the Animals at Ballarat Wildlife Park

Feeding kangaroos in Ballarat Wildlife Park

An Aussie road trip isn’t complete without at least a few wildlife encounters.

Ballarat makes it easy to get up close to iconic Australian animals at the Ballarat Wildlife Park.

Situated on natural bush land, you’ll find a fantastic range of animals in the park, including some you may not have encountered in the wild just yet. Hand feed the kangaroos roaming around the grounds, spot exotic cassowaries, meet the cute spotted-tail quolls and get to know the resident wombats.

And of course – take a picture with a koala!

Hands down my favorite experience in Australia to date. The park is smallish, which gives it a cozy atmosphere and allows you plenty of time to explore each exhibit. The animals all appear happy and well taken care of – honestly if I could be one of the kangaroos in another life, I wouldn’t hesitate. Plus, the staff were all lovely (not something I necessarily expect from bigger zoos). We paid extra for the wombat encounter and it was definitely worth the money. Plus, feeding and cuddling with the kangaroos was such a great time. Can’t recommend highly enough!Brittany Lloyd

Soak in the Mineral Baths at Hepburn Springs

Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa

Unwind with an invigorating mineral soak in the baths of Hepburn Springs.

Just a slight detour northeast of Ballarat, Hepburn Springs is home to Australia’s largest concentration of mineral springs.

This lends to the many spas dotting the area, all fulfilling their promise to end your day on the highest note of relaxation.

Step into the healing warmth of mineral water with a night bath at The Mineral Spa. Intimate, adults-only and with breathtaking views into the countryside, this destination spa is one of the most acclaimed in all Australia.

My partner and I went on a Sunday. We did the early bird spa and the Radiance facial together. It was great as we were the only people in the spa so we were comfortably trying out all the different saunas and spas, and the facials were amazing. I can’t commend the massage therapists enough, they did an amazing job, so much so, that I fell asleep a couple of times. The refreshments throughout and at the end were a nice finishing touch. Would highly recommend and are definetely looking at planning another trip soon!Ms Blossom

End Your Australian Road Trip in Melbourne

Our epic Australian road trip has come to an end.

With countless things to see and do in regional Australia, this journey promises fantastic experiences and memories to last a lifetime.

Now one of Australia’s most iconic cities awaits. With its unique heritage and a growing food and art scene, Ballarat is the perfect precursor to the stylish city of Melbourne.

Want to Visit Ballarat, Australia?

Ballarat holds a fascinating history and treasures extending far beyond gold for the curious traveler.

Only a short distance away from Melbourne and an essential stop on an Aussie road trip, our Destination Specialists can make the visit happen!


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


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9 Things to Do in Hobart for an Amazing Tasmania Vacation

Posted on: June 4th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

Local Hobart Musician credit Samuel Shelley

Rich in history, incredible food, creative locals and smooth whiskies to warm you from the chill of mountain air – this is Hobart.

It’s the capital of Tasmania, Australia’s island state, located about one hour’s flight away from Melbourne.

Its blend of strong heritage and waterfront charm make it popular for travelers looking for a laid-back destination that has it all.

From one-of-a-kind museums to great hikes, native wildlife and haunting historic sites, Hobart has something for everyone.

Here’s our list of 9 amazing things to do in Hobart for the best vacation in Tasmania.

Stroll Through Salamanca Market

Get ready for a reawakened passion for food. At Salamanca Market, a simple stroll is impossible without the urge to taste your way through its stalls.

You’ll find wallaby burritos, salmon sausage and fresh scallop pies among other gourmet artisan food. Sample local honey, sip on locally distilled gin or whisky, and admire leather goods – every stall boasts finely made products with an emphasis on local.

Another favorite stop is at the wood work stalls, where you’ll find an array of impressive crafts made from Tasmanian timber. Along with the bustle of local musicians lending their talents to the crowd, the inviting atmosphere alone makes Salamanca Market worth it.

Located near at historic Salamanca Place next to the Hobart waterfront, the market is only open on Saturdays from 8:30am to 3pm.

Get Your Culture Fill at the Museum of Old and New Art

Things to do in Hobart at Museum of Old and New Art MONA credit Joe McNally Tourism Australia

Known as Hobart’s eccentric child, the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) sets out to challenge perceptions of art.

Some liken MONA to Vegemite – you’ll either love it or you’ll hate it. But one thing is for sure about this controversial museum – you’ll never forget it.

The museum itself is considered an interactive piece. With artful architecture and winding staircases jutting out in every direction, the setting is perfect to lose yourself in a world of conceptual art and ideas.

Here, owner David Walsh displays his extensive private collection of modern art and antiquities. You’ll find pieces ranging from a waterfall installation cascading words to confronting exhibits on human anatomy.

MONA invites you to form your own opinion with its ‘O’ device. Provided to all visitors, the O offers artist interviews, self-proclaimed ramblings from David Walsh, and information on each exhibit as they are encountered.

On the ‘O’ you’ll see an option to either “Love” or “Hate” each piece, letting you know how many other people agree with you after submitting your answer. At MONA, there are no wrong opinions.

Many warn that this museum is not for the faint of heart, but all you really need is an open mind.

Indeed, that’s often the source of the most rewarding experiences.

Climb kunanyi / Mount Wellington

Mount Wellington Hobart Tasmania credit Tourism Australia

Slip into a sweater and head to kunanyi / Mount Wellington for the best views over Hobart.

No, that’s not a typo – the official name of Mount Wellington incorporates its Palawa kani name from the languages of Aboriginal Tasmanians, using no capital letters. 

As part of Wellington Park, the many walking tracks, mountain biking trails and even rock climbing easily make for a whole day exploring the mountain.

Climb to the summit and take a break from the wind in the Pinnacle observation shelter. With tall glass walls overlooking Hobart, the expansive view will leave you breathless.

Get an even closer look on the Pinnacle boardwalk observation deck and take in the inspiring view with the breeze of cool, mountain air.

Make a stop at the Lost Freight Cafe on the way down. This charming cafe fitted out of a shipping container serves up some of the best coffee in all of Hobart, along with a savory rosemary lamb pie and other hearty treats.

See Her Story at Cascades Female Factory

Cascades Female Factory credit Tourism Tasmania Jonathan Wherrett

As Australia’s second oldest capital city after Sydney, Hobart is full of historic sites with turbulent pasts. One of the city’s most significant sites is Cascades Female Factory, lying in the shadow of kunanyi / Mount Wellington.

This historic purpose-built institution incarcerated thousands of children and female convicts of yesteryear.

Plaques detailing the history of this site hang along the walls of the restored ruins. Tours are also available, led by knowledgeable and passionate guides.

A must-do experience, however, is the “Her Story” dramatization of the Female Factory’s past. You’ll relive the history as you follow the story of one woman’s experience in the institute, complete with transparent depictions of the harsh treatment endured by these women.

Taste Pure Tasmanian Beer at Cascade Brewery

Cascade Brewery in Hobart, Tasmania

Crafted with pure Tasmanian water sourced straight from kunanyi / Mount Wellington and Tasmanian-grown hops, Cascade Brewery does beer best.

Established in 1824 and still in regular operation to this day, this is Australia’s oldest working brewery.

Not even a fire can bring this Tasmanian icon down – after a great bushfire devastated southern Tasmania and Cascade in 1967, the people of Hobart joined together to rebuild the brewery. The result is not only a flagship of rich Tasmanian beer but also a testament to the resilience of Tasmania’s people.

Get a taste of the Cascade Pale Ale, the oldest continuously brewed beer in the country. The smooth and rich Cascade Stout is sure to hit the spot for stout drinkers. Or try a brew available only in Tasmania – the Cascade Lager.

The ornate gothic facade of the brewery and its splendid gardens are inviting enough to spend a day out on the grounds. Grab lunch at the onsite restaurant with a generous menu featuring locally sourced produce.

Opt for a tour of the brewery for a timeline of Cascade’s history along with a look behind the scenes of the brewing process. Just be sure to wear pants and closed-toe shoes!

Visit Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary

Tasmanian devil at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary credit Tourism Tasmania Graham Freeman

Bonorong prides itself as a small business with a huge heart. As a 24/7 wildlife rescue service, we’re inclined to agree.

The sanctuary’s aim is to nurse animals back to health and into the wild. Run by volunteers and housing species extinct everywhere in the world but Tasmania, Bonorong is truly special.

Here you’ll meet native wildlife such as kangaroos, koalas and wombats along with the Tassie favorite – Tasmanian devils.

From feeding frenzies to personal encounters, the wildlife experiences are intimate, fun and unforgettable.

Get up close with Tassie devils and have a “tug of war” with them for their dinner. Hand-feed adorable Eastern quolls, tawny frogmouth owls and sugar gliders.

Want to see it all? Join a sanctuary tour, where you’ll receive a bag of kangaroo food to hand-feed the kangaroos roaming freely on the grounds.

Located just about half an hour from Hobart’s city center, Bonorong makes for a great day trip.

Explore the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery credit Tourism Tasmania Simon Cuthbert

There’s no better place to immerse yourself in Tasmania’s history than at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

Though not large, you’ll easily find yourself lost within the rich stories and history behind the exhibits.

Marvel at ancient Tasmanian artifacts and early settlement relics. Learn about the poignant Black War of the 1820s and Aboriginal culture with dedicated galleries. You’ll also find a fabulous coin collection and fine Australian paintings.

Crowd favorites include the Tasmanian devil exhibit with an extensive history of the animal. You’ll even learn how it came to feature as a character on the Bugs Bunny cartoon!

The museum star, however, is its thylacine exhibit, showcasing this infamously extinct animal. Not one to shy from Tasmania’s turbulent history, the objective portrayals this museum employs is truly a refreshing experience.

Tour through the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens

Conservatory in Royal Tasmania Botanical Gardens credit Tourism Tasmania Michelle Lang

Escape into tranquility at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, showcasing flora from Australia, New Zealand and even Sub Antarctic species.

Established in 1818, these are Australia’s second-oldest gardens – another historic landmark for Hobart.

Stroll through cheerful fruit and vegetable patches, charming succulents and other interesting native plants.

Explore the secretive nooks and crannies, enshrouded in flowering plants and blooms.

Make your way to the Japanese Garden for true serenity, complete with a tranquil brook under a bright red bridge.

Stop by the Sub Antarctic Plant House for one of the gardens’ most exciting and unusual collections. Here you’ll find plants from Sub Antarctic islands in a climate-controlled complex complete with chilly fogs and mists.

Our favorite way to visit the Gardens is on a small group city tour of Hobart highlights.

Go on a Bruny Island Foodie Adventure

Neck Beach Bruny Island Tasmania credit Tourism Tasmania Andrew Wilson

Delight your senses on a Bruny Island Traveler tour for a taste of Tasmania’s gourmet food and goods.

A popular day trip from Hobart, Bruny Island lies less than two hours away from the city. That’s a small journey for some of Tasmania’s most delectable treats.

Every stop on your journey is a course on your menu for the day. You’ll taste savory artisan cheeses from Bruny Island Cheese Company, freshly caught oysters at Get Shucked Oysters, hand-crafted spirits at Bruny Island House of Whisky and much more.

More of a sweet tooth? You’ll also get a taste of sweet berry treats, premium chocolate and honey throughout your journey.

Our tip is to skip dinner the night before the tour!

Looking for More Things to Do in Hobart?

Hobart appears a tranquil refuge at distance, but a closer look reveals a city rich in history, culture and experiences.

As experts in Australia travel, we’ll give you the best tips and sightseeing recommendations for your stay in Hobart.

Want to include Hobart on your next Australia vacation? Let’s start planning your journey today!


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


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8 Reasons Why You Should Visit the Gold Coast Right Now

Posted on: April 10th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

Broadwater Marina Mirage Aerial

Why You Should Visit the Gold Coast

Sun-kissed skin, sunny beach days, stunning rainforests and iconic Australian moments are what the Gold Coast is all about.

Whether the beach calls your name or you’re after adventure, the Gold Coast awaits.

Get a peek into the good times that never end – even after the sun sets. Here are our 8 reasons why you should visit the Gold Coast right now.

Boundless Beach Days

Girl walking along beach with paddleboard at sunrise

The Gold Coast boasts a fabulous collection of Australia’s best beaches. Their crystal blue waters, incredible surf breaks and breathtaking high-rise backdrops make Gold Coast beaches irresistible to any kind of beach goer.

Venture to Surfers Paradise Beach, the famous beach hotspot of the Gold Coast, and roll out a towel for a lazy sun-kissed day.

The new foreshore at Surfers Paradise is bustling throughout the day with walkers, cyclists and skateboarders taking advantage of this beachfront boulevard vista overlooking the surf and sand.

Like the Surfers Paradise of yesteryear, beachside shopping, dining, bars and clubs continually offer the complete holiday experience all in one compact destination package.

Broadbeach, south of Surfers Paradise is a precinct full of cafes, restaurants, retailers and is a friendly beachfront. Just a little further down the coast is Burleigh Heads, acclaimed for its beachside village vibe and array of excellent cafes.

Visitors flock to the Southern Gold Coast for its change of pace. From here, you can look back towards the Surfers Paradise skyline in the distance and really feel you’ve slowed down.

The surf is spectacular and the southern suburbs exude old-school beachside charm combined with world-class oceanfront hotels, restaurants and an array of retro festivals.

Live Like a Local

People sitting in a cafe overlooking the beach Destination Gold Coast

If you are looking for the quintessential “Aussie lifestyle” then head to the Gold Coast with its miles of sandy beaches, urban sophistication and incredible natural environment.

The city’s growth and continuing popularity as Australia’s number one holiday destination is a testament to the relaxed vibes and welcoming atmosphere that the city exudes.

The Gold Coast offers a variety of opportunities to scratch beneath the surface and live like a local.

Drop into one of it’s seriously cool micro-breweries that offer live music and food trucks, or browse its vibrant street food markets. Join the “clubbies” at the local volunteer Surf Life Saving club for a drink and world class views.

Or just take some food down to the beach, fire up one of the free BBQ’s, grab a spot among the locals and take it all in.

Conquer Your Fear of Heights on the SkyPoint Q1 Climb

Q1 SkyPoint Climb, Gold Coast

Sure, the Q1 Resort tower is the highest point in all of Gold Coast, but don’t let that scare you!

The SkyPoint Climb at Q1 is Gold Coast’s answer to Sydney’s Bridge Climb, and an absolute must-do for the best views over Gold Coast.

Starting on level 77 of SkyPoint Observation Deck, you’ll shimmy into a full body suit and strap on a harness before a safety training by a professional and friendly guide.

Harnessed to a purpose-built safety rail system, you’ll find the guided climb up to to the summit unbelievably easy. As the best way to see the true beauty of the Gold Coast, the 360 degree views make the climb truly worth it. The swells of the ocean against the coast, the lush hinterland and even views from Brisbane to Byron Bay are all yours to take in.

Rise with the sun on a morning climb or watch the city lights illuminate the evening with a night climb. You can even include a dining option with your climb – the night climb boasts a delicious shrimp tagliatelle!

As one of the best photo ops in Gold Coast, your guide will snap photos of you and your group with the backdrop of the gorgeous city skyline in the distance. By then you’ll have forgotten all about any fear of heights!

Taste the Incredible Food Scene

People in a busy bar Etsu at night

The Gold Coast’s food scene has evolved so much in the last few years, it’s a full-time job just keeping up with the latest openings.

From hatted restaurants (the Australian equivalent to Michelin stars), quirky cafes and food trucks to wine bars and craft beer taphouses, there’s something for every palate.

Relish elegant beachfront hotel dining in Surfers Paradise or sample delectable seafood on rooftop restaurants in Burleigh Heads. Get your Asian fusion mix in Broadbeach, where you’ll find creative dishes to delight your taste buds.

The locals swear by street eats such as ramen from Muso and Double Zero’s Neapolitan style pizza.

Chill out at al fresco eateries such as Sandbar with its brunch seaside menu, or see why the good tunes and pizza of Justin’s Rooftop make it a popular favorite with the locals.

Get Up Close with Wildlife at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Close-up of a koala looking at the camera

The Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is the unsung attraction of the Gold Coast, home to one of the world’s largest collections of native Australian wildlife.

Catch the mini train circling around the sanctuary for easy access to the various exhibits and encounters.

Here you can pet the curious kangaroos and feed the rainbow lorikeets perched on your shoulder.

Watch an exciting crocodile feeding or catch the Dingo Walk, where you’ll get to feel the stunning white coat of Marrok, a pure white alpine dingo. Don’t miss your chance for that iconic Australia photo shoot while holding a koala!

For a unique experience, visit the hospital where you can witness the conservation team operate on sick and injured animals. The vets warmly welcome visitors and explain every aspect of their process. Now THAT’S getting up close and personal!

Head for the Hills in the Gold Coast Hinterland

Mount Tamborine women laughing at falls and walking Witches Fall Bush Walk

Hidden beneath the Gold Coast’s bold first impression is a serene hinterland filled with thriving rainforests, stunning waterfalls and fantastic walking trails. The best part is it’s all within just an hour’s drive from the hustle and bustle of Gold Coast.

Venture into the ancient, world heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests and explore its gorgeous national parks. Lamington National Park offers plenty of walking trails for all fitness levels, decorated by cascading waterfalls along the way. Walk among the shady tree canopies on the Tree Top Walkway near O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.

Take a break from the sand and find your zen in the swimming holes throughout the forest, such as the Currumbin Rock Pools.

Springbrook National Park is full of hidden gems such as caves, spectacular waterfalls and a natural bridge arch. Wherever you’re wandering throughout the rainforest, keep an eye out for kangaroos and wallabies peeking out from their bush retreats!

Catch these unique pockets of the rainforest you might’ve otherwise missed on a small group tour, our favorite way to explore the Gold Coast Hinterland.

Shop ‘Til You Dop

The Village Markets Burlegih Heads Destination Gold Coast

You won’t find a love for local markets and high-end shops alike greater than the at the Gold Coast.

Browse the stalls of handmade items and uniquely Australian products at the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets.

Feel the bohemian vibes of the Village Markets at Burleigh Heads, where you’ll find boutique stalls of fashionable and locally designed clothes along with delicious street eats.

Luxury shopping gets no better than at Pacific Fair’s offer of high-end designer digs and glamorous department stores.

An experience unto itself is Harbour Town, Australia’s largest outlet shopping center featuring premium Australian and international brands. In other words, a shopaholic’s dream.

Stay Up Late

Busy crowd outside cocktail bar Miami Marketta

When the sun goes down, the adults play.

By night, the Gold Coast’s vibrant nightlife welcomes the party-loving night owls, cocktails in hand, at laid-back music venues and rooftop bars.

Energetic, enthusiastic, electric, eclectic! These are just some of the words that sum up the social scene that Surfers Paradise was built on. Surfers Paradise comfortably maintains its position as the good-times hub of the Gold Coast.

For a generous flow of craft beer, stop by Balter Brewery for a nice, cold pint and hang out with its down-to-earth crowd.

Indulge in exuberant luxury at The Star’s 24-hour casino or mingle with the locals at a true Gold Coast rooftop icon – The Island.

Experience a taste of international street food and nightlife at Miami Marketta, a small venue housing 25 food vendors and fantastic live music.

Whether you’re looking for a wild night out in the city or a more relaxed end to your day, the Gold Coast’s extensive nightlife has something for all night-owls.

Ready to Go to the Gold Coast?

Incredible beaches, lush hinterland, theme parks – there’s no end to the reasons to visit the Gold Coast.

This iconic tourist destination is a must for a glimpse into the quintessential “Aussie lifestyle.”

Feeling the call of the Gold Coast? Let’s start planning your trip today! As experts in Australian travel, we’ll help plan your vacation to include a stay in the Gold Coast. We know it’ll be a highlight of your trip!

I Want to Go to the Gold Coast!


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23 Ways to Wine and Dine In Australia Part 2: Coast to Coast

Posted on: February 21st, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

The Best Australia Food and Wine for a Coastal Vacation

The food and wine scene across Australia is constantly setting trends and becoming a bucket list destination for foodies everywhere.

On the east coast you’ll find an abundance of the world’s fresh seafood and waterfront dining with a tropical flair. You’ll also find that Hunter Valley and the Barossa are not Australia’s only premier wine regions. The Margaret River wine region in Western Australia is a must-do for any wine lover.

In Part I of our 23 Ways to Wine and Dine in Australia blog, we showcased the top spots for food and wine in Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart and Adelaide. But exceptional gourmet food and wine experiences are also found in tropical Queensland and Australia’s enchanting west coast.

Stop at these 23 spots for the best wining and dining in Noosa, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Perth and surrounding wine regions.

Noosa

Noosa is a bit of a hidden secret in Australia. With fantastic beaches, lush national parks, world-class dining and shopping, this is the place Aussies go for a beach holiday close to home.

The food and wine scene in Noosa is quickly becoming one of the best in all Australia. You’ll find everything from award-winning waterfront dining along the Noosa River to a motorcycle-themed bar serving craft beer and coffee.

Treat yourself in this beach city gem and indulge in one of our must-do restaurants while in Noosa.

Sails – No local can deny that Sails is a Noosa institution. Framed by the serene views of Noosa Main Beach, vibrant seafood delightfully presented and an extensive wine list – pure tropical bliss.

Wasabi – Some of the best views of the Noosa River are found at Wasabi. A sunset sitting is perhaps the best complement to its traditional Japanese cuisine. Their Omakase degustation menu features a seven or nine course meal highlighting ingredients sourced from their own local farm, Honeysuckle Hill. You’ll find tried and true favorites like sashimi and nigiri along with regional dishes such as Moreton bay oysters and sake steamed spanner crab.

Locale– Wander down to the end of Hastings Street to perhaps the most down-to-earth restaurant in Noosa: Locale. Sleek and sophisticated Italian cuisine meets lush alfresco dining in this local favorite. Their prawns and zucchini flowers are popular starters, but you’ll be dreaming about their squid ink pasta for days. Their wine list is also a dream, ranging from champagne to shiraz and everything in between.

Season Restaurant– Attentive and professional service with a charm as relaxed as its beach setting, Season is another Hastings Street favorite. Book ahead for a beach side table, but don’t fret if you don’t get that coveted seat – the real star of Season is the seafood curry.

Noosa Beach House – If you’re coming to Noosa Beach House, you’re coming for the signature Sri Lankan Snapper curry. Can’t decide from their small menu? Opt for the degustation menu and delight in six courses featuring roasted pork belly, wagyu sirloin, local spanner crab along with an Amuse Bouche. A little bit of everything with a little something extra!

Brisbane

As the capital city of tropical Queensland, Brisbane combines urban city living with beachside relaxation. And as the third largest city in all of Australia, there no doubt Brisbane is becoming a contender for some of the nation’s best food scenes.

Here are the top Brisbane restaurants to stop at for world-class wining and dining.

Sono Restaurant – Looking for the best sushi in Brisbane? Or perhaps the best seafood, period? Look no further than Sono. Boasting Brisbane’s freshest sashimi, exciting teppanyaki and amazing views of the Brisbane River, this Japanese and seafood dining experience is unreal. And with Moreton Bay just a little ways down the river, their Moreton Bay Bugs are a must.

Urbane – If you have an entire afternoon free, that may be just enough time to dine at Urbane. Here, it’s all about dining at your own leisure where friendly and personable attendants will remember your name. The service is definitely one of the top reasons Urbane is listed as the top restaurant in Queensland. Their five and seven course degustation menus featuring Australian and vegetarian cuisine undoubtedly contribute to their well-deserved awards.

Bacchus – This is perhaps the best place for that first dip into Australian fine dining. Extremely knowledgeable and approachable staff will dash away any qualms you have about asking what exactly is on your plate. That’s just a testament to the impressive presentation. And with a menu detailing the exact region where each dish is sourced, you’ll soon become an expert on your own meal. Pair your seven course degustion meal with wine or choose a decadent dish from their a la cart menu. The venison main dish is a popular hit.

Malt– Satisfy any cravings for duck at Malt, where this consistent favorite is cooked to crispy perfection. Add in generous wine pours, a rustic-chic setting and live piano performances for an evening of utter romance.

Gerard’s Bistro– Tantalize your taste buds with Brisbane’s take on Middle Eastern cuisine at Gerard’s Bistro. Get cozy with your dining partner as these dishes are made for sharing. And you’ll want to get a little taste of everything, with tasty dishes such as coal-grilled octopus, suckling pig and fried cauliflower.

Gold Coast

Mount Tamborine and Surrounding Wineries

The vacation never ends when you’re in the Gold Coast. Sunny beaches, wild theme parks and a buzzing nightlife – it’s got everything you need to wind down and get loose.

But for a more quiet retreat, the Gold Coast Hinterland will enchant with its lush national parks, waterfalls and charming towns.

In this region you’ll find Mount Tamborine, known as the “Green Behind the Gold.” And with breathtaking scenery, clean mountain air and award-winning wineries, we feel their gold is well deserved.

O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyard– With a fabulous picnic lunch on offer to complement their gorgeous grounds, this is the winery of your fantasies. That is, if you dream about a gourmet picnic by Canungra Creek, sipping on a glass of wine while looking out to the turtles in the water. If you’re lucky you may spot the elusive resident platypus!

Witches Falls Winery– If you’ve only got time for one winery visit while in the Gold Coast, Witches Falls Winery is the place to go. Passionate and friendly service, local cheeses and six wine tastings for $6 – it’s hard to go wrong here.

Ocean View Estate– For a boutique winery with serious food, Ocean View Estate is a must. It’s difficult to say which is their main draw – their superb wines or their extensive and carefully curated menu. And for the non-wine lovers out there, they do their own craft beer as well!

Albert River Wines– Got a special occasion coming up? Albert River Wines provides the perfect setting for any celebration. High quality dishes such as barramundi and veal provide an impressive dining experience, surrounded in the colonial charm of a historic home. Add in a taste of their sauvignon blanc or their popular red blends for a splendid day in the Gold Coast hinterland.

Perth

Most people only experience Australia’s east coast on their first vacation Down Under.

But Australia’s west coast offers an otherworldly charm that shouldn’t be missed. Repeat visitors from around the world are drawn to Western Australia’s surreal national parks, a burgeoning food scene and fantastic wine regions.

Perth, the nation’s sunniest capital city is the main base for exploring the best of this region’s food and wine. Chic eateries and European-style bars are tucked in its inner city laneways, and fine dining is found within the CBD.

Here are the top spots in Perth worth a stop for a little indulgence.

Wildflower – The tasting menu at Wildflower not only offers exceptional Australian cuisine but also rotates according to the six seasons of the indigenous Noongar calendar. Each dish celebrates local ingredients throughout the changing of the seasons. This is the sort of attention that makes Wildflower a local favorite. The stunning views of the Swan River definitely help.

Petite Mort – Petite Mort is a bit of a hidden secret, where French and Australian cuisine meet in a three or ten course menu. Ingredients full of color and flavor are paired together on elegantly presented dishes. The ten course degustation menu is a favorite for its corned silverside and quail egg dish along with its signature dessert – “Death By Chocolate.”

C Restaurant in the Sky– It’ll be difficult for anything to top the views at C Restaurant. Literally. This upscale restaurant is located in the slowly revolving 33rd floor of St. Martins Tower, lending to incredible 360 degree views of the city. What better way to spend an evening than indulging in fresh seafood or tender pork belly while looking out onto the Swan River and city lights?

Varnish on King– This hidden gem of a whiskey bar is quickly becoming a Perth institute. The Bacon Flight – four generous cuts of bacon matched with whiskey – is a bucket list item for true Perth foodies. And if you’re not into whiskey, they have a Rose and Bacon flight as well!

Margaret River

When looking for things to do in Perth the most common response is a day trip out to Margaret River. With stunning natural beauty, craft breweries and countless wineries, this region provides so much more than one day’s worth of adventure.

Known for its cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay, you’ll find just as delectable white wine varieties throughout the region.

Leeuwin Estate– World-class chardonnay, free tastings and amazing food – this is one of Wilyabrup’s finest wineries. Its sensational vintages also helped put this region on the wine map. Though there’s a fee to taste their Art Series wines, offering perhaps Australia’s best chardonnay, the price is totally worth it.

Cullen Wines– Considered a gem of the region, this family-run winery is 100% biodynamic. The ingredients used in their sophisticated menu are all sourced from their gardens and local surrounds. That’s right – not only will you find exquisite red blends but you’ll also find a divine menu with dishes such as rabbit, duck and barramundi. Come for the wine, stay for the food.

Fraser Gallop– Like a scene out of a movie, the Fraser Gallop Estate grounds are undoubtedly the most beautiful in all of Wilyabrup. And their serious, built-to-last Parterre Cabernet Sauvignon is just as stunning.

Woodlands– Personal and friendly tastings make their elegant cabernet sauvignon all the more pleasurable. Friendly and knowledgeable staff create the cozy and family-feel atmosphere this cellar door is well-known for. An asset to the charm of Wilyabrup Valley.

Voyager Estate– A bucket list item for premier Margaret River wining and dining. Delectable degustation with wine pairings, rose gardens and wine and cheese flights – this is a slice of paradise. If you still aren’t impressed, perhaps their  flagpole – Australia’s second largest flag and flagpole – will do the trick.

Ready for a Little Indulgence in Australia?

Aussies love their food and drink, and love sharing the best places even more. For more recommendations on the best food and wine in Australia, your Destination Specialist can give you insider tips. We’ll make it all the more easier to plan your food and wine trail throughout your vacation Down Under!

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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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 HandsFor 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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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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Melbourne Must-See: Queen Victoria Market

Posted on: May 18th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments


There’s simply no better way to spend a relaxing morning than a farmer’s market. Interacting with local farmers and artisans. Letting your culinary creativity run wild as you browse fresh, local, inspiring produce. Or just spending some time searching for the perfect, unique gift to take back home.

Queen Victoria Market Melbourne

Photo: Queen Victoria Market

For that perfect farmer’s market experience in Melbourne, look no further than Queen Victoria Market. Since the 19th century, this market has been Melbourne’s go to street market for produce, meat, home goods, gifts and more.

So grab a cup of coffee from a local cart, dive in to some amazing street food and walk with us as we peruse Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne.

Queen Victoria Market spans nearly 20 acres. This makes it the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere, a record you probably didn’t even know existed. Victoria Market is huge, on par with other great markets in the world like the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, the Fish Market in Tokyo and Pike Place Market in Seattle.

Organic Produce Queen Victoria Market Melbourne

Photo: Queen Victoria Market

Organic Produce Queen Victoria Market Melbourne

Photo: Roberto Seba / Tourism Australia

 

With over 600 vendors selling their wares five days a week, this is not your average farmer’s market.

Queen Victoria Market is divided in to sections called “precincts”. Looking for great produce and natural products? Start things off in the “Organics Precinct”. There you’ll find local farmers and co-ops selling organic produce and meat. You’ll also find healthy, sustainable products created by health-conscious artisans. The largest and most diverse array of organic produce in the entire city is found right at this market.

Craving a bite to eat? Head to the Market Place Food Court. World-class chefs and family run establishments alike compete for your taste buds at the food court. For a real round-the-world lunch, grab a few small plates from different vendors for a sample of Melbourne’s eclectic cuisine.

Where else can you sip Chinese tea, snack on Japanese sushi, dine on curry from Sri Lanka and finish it off with Tiramisu from Italy?

Queen Victoria Market Melbourne

Photo: Queen Victoria Market

Tip: Even though you’re all the way over in Australia, stop by the American Doughnut Kitchen. These confection-experts set up shop in a 1950’s travel van where they prepare world-famous “hot jam doughnuts”.

After you’re fueled up on amazing eats, you’ll have the energy to comb the “General Merchandise Sheds”. This precinct is a sort-of flea market meets farmer’s market, with vendors selling an immense variety of goods, gifts and kitsch. From clothing jewelry and handcrafts, to cell phones, electronics and movies. Spend enough time in this precinct of the market and you’ll find anything you could ever need and somethings you probably don’t. You can even buy a stuffed Alpaca made of Alpaca wool. We’ll let you decide whether you need that or not.

The Vic Market’s newest section is String Bean Alley, where vendors set up shop in rows of re-purposed shipping containers. Upscale, handcrafted arts and crafts by local artists are for sale in this boutique section of the market. Photographers, painters and other visual artists also have galleries set up in String Bean Alley offering paintings and prints.

String Bean Alley Queen Victoria Market

Photo: Queen Victoria Market

Queen Victoria Market is open Tuesday and Thursday – Sunday. During certain seasons, the market opens its doors on Wednesdays for the Night Market. Street performers, musicians and other live entertainment join vendors for a great night time destination event. The Night Market is a festive event that attracts thousands for a night out in Melbourne.

Make sure you carve some time out in Melbourne for the Queen Victoria Market. It’s the perfect spot to pick up some local veggies, shop for a unique gift, or simply for a lunch out in downtown Melbourne.

 

Add Queen Victoria Market to My Trip

Want to start planning your trip now?

Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm) and speak to one of our expert Destination Specialists today.

Best City to Visit in Australia is the Best City in the World to Live | Melbourne, Australia

Posted on: March 7th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
Melbourne Intro Banner

Photos: Tourism Australia, Peter Dunphy and Ewen Bell

For the sixth consecutive year, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia has been named the world’s number one most livable city. This is according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), who each year compile a list of the most liveable cities. Not only that, Melbourne has taken a spot in at least the top 3 since the list began in 2002. So what makes a city “most livable” and what has given Melbourne an edge above in its six-year reign at the top of the list? It turns out that the answer may also make Melbourne the best city to visit in Australia.

Downtown Melbourne Cyclist and Tram

Photo: Josie Withers Photography

No coincidence or luck of the draw, Melbourne’s spot at the top is based on real numbers and data. The EIU combine together metrics like culture and environment, education, infrastructure, stability, and healthcare to get a specific picture  of what life is like for the average Melbourne citizen. Despite Melbourne’s perfect scores in things like education and healthcare effecting locals more directly, there is an overall benefit to the city in terms of tourism as well, making it one of the most visited cities in Australia.

Melbourne is the capital of the Australian state of Victoria and is the second most populated city in the country. Though it may not have the immediate name recognition of Aussie staples like Sydney, with its eponymous Opera House, Melbourne has consistently been recognized as a true global city. With a unique, rich cultural environment and renowned infrastructure and parks, Melbourne is not only a great place to live for locals, but the best city to visit in Australia for your next travel destination.

Culture – Sights and Sounds

Melbourne received a perfect 100 in the EIU’s “culture and environment” score, securing its place as a culturally rich destination. Melbourne is also recognized as the “cultural and sporting capital” of Australia – and for several years was named as the “World’s Ultimate Sports City”. Lending to this distinction is a diverse array of cultural institutions and a large number of museums, sporting facilities, festivals, street art and music venues. In fact, with a larger number of music venues per capita, Melbourne has actually surpassed Austin, TX, current reigning “live music capital of the world”. Nearly 500 venues dot the landscape of Melbourne, making live music a more than $1 billion industry.

Melbourne Australia Concert Music Venue

Photo: Paul Philipson

The value of such a large focus on the music industry encompasses more than just the huge number of jobs and money injected in to the city. It also means that Melbourne is committed to making itself a destination city for arts and entertainment. Local hotels, bars, cafes, and restaurants are all trying to cater to Melbourne tourists. In Melbourne, so much activity happening means you don’t have to wait until the weekend for a night on the town. Even on a Monday, you can catch dinner and a show.

Whether it’s an intimate 50 person affair at The Old Bar in Fitzroy or a 5,000 person packed concert at the Festival Hall, Melbourne’s music scene is a must-see cultural institution. With such a large variety of venues, even a short stay in Melbourne can be enough to intimate yourself with the locals. A live concert allows you to view first-hand the type of cultural experience that makes Melbourne not only the best place to live in the world, but also the best city to visit in Australia.

Foodie Heaven

A sort of unsung hero in the foodie world, Melbourne is home to more than 5,000 cafes and restaurants. In fact, it has one of the highest numbers of restaurants and cafes per capita of any city in the world, more than even New York City. A large multi-cultural population, with residents from more than 140 nations, Melbourne’s food scene represents an eclectic and diverse smorgasbord of cuisine. Melbourne has hosted its own annual Food and Wine Festival since 1993. Each year, a growing number of attendees and chef-celebrities make their way to the city, solidifying its place as the food and wine capital of Australia.

First time visitors to Melbourne may in fact be overwhelmed by the array of options at their disposable. Full on foodies and the food-curious alike will find Melbourne to be the best city to visit in Australia, with no shortage of unique culinary experiences. Famed chefs and up and comers in the fine dining scene alike have found a place in Melbourne among a food landscape brimming with talent and options.

Melbourne Australia Cofee Shop

Photo: Josie Withers Photography

For those seeking a slightly more casual approach to dining in Melbourne, Melbourne’s café and coffee culture is also renowned the world over. Australia’s current coffee culture originated in the early 1950’s with an influx of European immigrants from places like Italy, France, and Turkey. Even though coffee has been available since the early 1800’s, it wasn’t until then that Australia and Melbourne in particular found its focus in high quality espresso drinks that were previously largely unavailable. A focus on unique, independent cafes and coffee shops over chains and franchises give each Melbourne café a unique impression of its surrounding neighborhood, giving visitors a proper feel of the local culture of the city.

The Garden City in the Garden State

Melbourne is known as “the garden city” within Victoria, which itself is “the garden state” of Australia. More than 1300 acres of green space are located in the city of Melbourne, nearly 15% of its total land area according to a study done by 202020 Vision. Public parks and gardens, some dating all the way back to 1862, account for a large percentage of green space in the city.  Attention to green spaces is a quality of life metric that tends to be an important indicator of satisfaction to residents of cities around the world and Melbourne excels at providing them.

Melbourne Australia Green Spaces and Gardens

Photo: Josie Withers Photography

Melbourne Australia Green Spaces and Gardens

Photo: Josie Withers Photography

 

The internationally renowned Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne is a nearly 100 acre group of gardens on the bank to the south of the Yarra River that runs through center Melbourne. Attracting more than 1,000,000 local and non-local visitors every year, the Botanic Gardens contain over 10,000 species of plant, both native and non-native. Outdoor sculpture gardens that mix green space with art also dot the landscape of Melbourne both within and outside of the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Infrastructure

Melbourne has a dense city center, along with an extensive network of public transportation, making its infrastructure some of the best in the world, with a perfect 100 EIU score. Progressive infrastructure and ongoing infrastructure improvements are a big reason Melbourne tops the list year after year. Visitors and locals alike largely prioritize a dense, connected public transit system. Featuring the largest tram network in the world, and an extensive network of regional and metro rail, Melbourne is the best city to visit in Australia especially for car-free touring.

Downtown Melbourne Cyclist

Photo: Mark Chew

Melbourne Tram

Photo: AAT Kings

The EIU also takes in to account more than 700 km of bike lanes and routes that were added in the past few years, with hopes to increase safety for those riding downtown or commuting by bike. While many of Melbourne’s outer suburbs are still car dependent, the city center is easily navigated and commuted by bicycle due to the lane upgrades implemented by the city. On top of the car-side bicycle lanes, there are a large number of cycling trails that go through many of the city’s parks, edging past laneways and hidden cafes.

These bike lane improvements make getting around the city easy for first time visitors, or those who return to Melbourne time and time again. One of the best ways to get around any city is by bicycle, and Melbourne is no exception. With the autonomy of a self-driven stay, the ease of not having to park and drive in an unfamiliar city, and the hop-on, hop-off convenience of a bus tour, both visitors and locals alike can enjoy this positive livability benefit. Melbourne may also just be the best city to visit in Australia by bike.

Best City to Live, Best City to Visit in Australia

It’s clear that Melbourne’s distinction as “most livable city” doesn’t just benefit people who live there already. The city’s diverse culture, progressive infrastructure, and focus on nature and green spaces prove to be important indicators of satisfaction to tourists as well. The best city to visit in Australia is one that combines cultural experiences with progressive transportation convenient for those traveling, and Melbourne has proven consistent at providing it all and more.

Make Melbourne a must-visit destination when you’re planning your next trip. It takes some of the best aspects of other Aussie cities and packages them in to a sort of condensed, greatest hits of Australia. Chances are you don’t have infinite time to spend on your next vacation and Melbourne is a great way to make the most use of the time you do have.

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