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Why You Should Spend 5 Nights in Sydney

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

Why You Should Spend 5 Nights in Sydney

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

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

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

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

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

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

City Sights and Opera House

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

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

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

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

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

Darling Harbour

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

Queen Victoria Building

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

Royal Botanic Gardens

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

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

The Rocks District

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

Museums

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

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

Barangaroo

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

Sunny Beaches

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

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

5 nights in sydney

Photo: Tourism Australia / Andrew Wallace

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

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

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

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

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

Hop On Hop Off Ferry

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

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

Food and Dining

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

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

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

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

Mountain Walks and Hikes

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

5 Nights in Sydney

Credit: David Ireland / Tourism Australia

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

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

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

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

5 Nights in Sydney

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains

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

Wineries and Vineyards

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

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

5 nights in sydney

Photo: – Tourism Australia / Oliver Strewe

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

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

5 nights in sydney

Photo: Pernod Ricard Winemakers / Ernest Fraczak

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

Aussie Wildlife

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

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

5 nights in sydney

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

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

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

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

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

See the Most of Sydney

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

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

  I Want to Spend 5 Nights in Sydney


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Combine Your Australia and New Zealand Vacation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Can Drive On the Same Side of the Road

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

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

australia and new zealand vacation

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

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

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

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

australia and new zealand vacation

Photo: Vaughan Brookfield

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

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

You’ll See Perfectly Contrasting Landscapes

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

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

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

australia and new zealand vacation

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

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

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

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

You’ll Experience Distinct Aboriginal and Maori Native Cultures

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

australia and new zealand vacation

Photo: Steve Strike / Tourism Australia

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

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

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

australia and new zealand vacation

Photo: Te Puia Maori Institute

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

You Can See Each Country’s Unique Wildlife

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

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

australia and new zealand vacation

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

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

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

Dolphin Encounter Kaikoura New Zealand

Photo: Rob Suisted

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

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

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

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

Australia and New Zealand Vacation Adventures

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

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

Add New Zealand to My Trip

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

5 Reasons Why You Need to Visit the Sydney Opera House

Posted on: July 21st, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments

It’s the Aussie icon that’s adorned post-cards, book covers and travel brochures the world over. It’s been featured in movies and travel documentaries countless times.

For most, it’s the face of Sydney. And nearly 50 years later it’s still a top tourist draw to the city.

Would you believe us if we told you it was almost never built?

We’ll show you how what was once called “the biggest planning disaster in the world” continues to amaze visitors and locals alike and why it’s an Aussie staple you don’t want to miss in Sydney.

Quick History

Sydney Opera House

The stark-white, scalloped building is unmistakable. The white, shell-like wings sprout in to the sky from its personal peninsula on Sydney Harbour.

It was this standout building proposal that won Danish architect Jorn Utzon New South Wales’ competition in 1957 to design a public space to be constructed on the Harbour.

The opportunity of a lifetime, right?

Not so much.

The construction of the Opera House was riddled with problems. An estimated $7 million construction cost ballooned to more than $100 million – a 1400% cost blowout that still stands as the largest in history.

Contractor mismanagement, infrastructure disasters and government cover-ups all but ruined the career of Utzon for good. In fact, seven years before the building’s completion, Utzon packed his bags and left the job and the country.

He never returned.

A group of auxiliary architects stepped in to take his place and with a lot of hand-wringing and a little bit of luck, by 1973 construction had wrapped on the Opera House.

sydney opera house

But sometimes the end justifies the means and as luck would have it, the Opera House went on to become an international landmark. Each year, the building-that-almost-never-was adds more than $700 million in tourism.

We’d call that a winning bet!

Though Utzon never returned to see his completed design in person, he did receive his long overdue comeuppance. In 2003, he has awarded an honorary Doctorate of Architecture.

And in 2007, the Opera House was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Just one year before his death.

Besides it’s brilliant architecture, the Opera House is renowned for a plethora of activities that solidify its place as one of the top destinations in Australia.

Take a Tour

Dive right in to your Opera House experience and get set up with an expert guide to give you an inside look at the Sydney Opera House. You’ll walk the inside of the historic building while you listen to the oral history of it’s construction and completion. This exclusive look at the interior of the multiple concert halls within the Opera House is often unseen by the average tourist.

Since the Opera House hosts six different performance halls, it’s hard to get an in-depth look at the entirety of the venue on your own.

sydney opera house

Your guide will take you through many of the unique performance venues, each with it’s own particular architecture and feel.

Insider Fact: The Grand Organ in the Concert Hall is the largest mechanical action pipe organ in the world!

See a Show

It goes without saying, but seeing an actual show at the Sydney Opera House is one of the most memorable ways to experience it. And although you might not know it by the name, the Opera House hosts more than just operas.

A wide range of Broadway-shows, gigs, contemporary concerts, symphony orchestras and more ensure that you won’t miss an opportunity to sit in on one of the most fantastic live venues in the world.

A lot of people can see they’ve seen the Opera House – even if just in the distance from the Harbour. But how many can say they’ve experienced all it has to offer?

Tip: Book early – the Opera House didn’t become world renowned as a venue by playing to an empty house! Seats tend to fill up quickly and it’s best to book your tickets ahead of time, ideally before you even arrive in Sydney. Ask us how.

Wine and Dine

Looking to ramp up your already-special occasion? Grab a table at Bennelong, the Opera House’s premier restaurant. With world-class chefs and a fine-dining level of service, there is no better way to make your Opera House experience special. Tables inside this airy space face out on to the Sydney Harbour and city-skyline for a view that rivals the five-star menu.

sydney opera house

The space and architecture of Bennelong was one of the last projects Jorn Utzon (the Opera House’s original designer) completed before leaving the project. The tall ribcage of wood and glass that provides those stunning views of the Harbour also provides a look in to Utzon’s original idea for the rest of the Opera House’s interior.

Also be sure to check out the Opera Kitchen, just adjacent to the Opera House. The al-fresco dining experience overlooks the Sydney Harbour for great views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. If all that walking around has you hungry, combine your Opera House tour with lunch at the Opera Kitchen.

Cruise to the Sydney Opera House

Looking to arrive at the Opera House in style? Hop aboard a Harbour Cruise and ferry over to the Opera House entrance. The scenic cruise takes you around the entirety of the Sydney Harbour for unprecedented views of the city skyline, Opera House and Royal Botanic Gardens. With an Express Pass, you’ll have the option to use this hop-on, hop-off ship as your personal water taxi.

Cruise over to the Opera House for your tour and when you’re done, hop back on and ferry over to Darling Harbour. From there, head to the Royal Botanic Gardens and Rocks historic precinct. You’ll get to enjoy the beautiful Sydney weather aboard the open air Harbour Cruise. It’s an unforgettable way to see all the sights around the Opera House and Harbour.

See it All Lit Up

sydney opera house

If you’re lucky enough to plan your trip around mid-May to June, you’re in for an incredible audio-visual festival experience. Vivid Sydney is a two-week festival that covers the city, including the Opera House and Harbour in light-installations and art. The city comes to life as blank walls become canvases for talented artists to paint with light. Colorful light projections illuminate the scalloped-wings on the Opera House – and the view of the Opera House lit up from the Harbour is stunning.

The Opera House also holds special concerts during Vivid, blending this visual-experience with music to create a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Can’t travel to Sydney for Vivid? Don’t worry! You can still see the Opera House in all it’s lighted glory every single night.

Badu Gili is a 7-minute art-installation projected on the “sails” of the Opera House. A different work of art from Aboriginal artists will be displayed each night at sunset and repeated at 7 p.m. So even if you can’t make it for Vivid, you’ll get the beautiful visual of the stark white Opera House turned technicolor each night of your stay in Sydney.

Visit the Sydney Opera House

Sometimes a city’s biggest attraction can be something of a tourist trap. Overhyped, too crowded, not worth it.

The Opera House is none of those things.

There is something for everyone to enjoy at this Aussie icon and you don’t want to leave Sydney without a visit. Remember, the biggest tourist destination in Sydney draws big crowds and events sell out fast.

Let us do the booking for you, whether you want to be there for Vivid Sydney, see an amazing show, or simply cruise the waters of the Harbour.

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


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Things to Do in the Blue Mountains | New South Wales

Posted on: June 15th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments

Things to See and Things to Do in the Blue Mountains | New South Wales, Australia

Things to Do in the Blue Mountains New South Wales Australia

Credit: Destination NSW

Sydney is by far the most visited city in Australia, known best for its Harbour and Opera House. But just two hours outside of the city is the Greater Blue Mountains Area. This natural wonder is truly a must-visit on your next trip to Sydney. There are so many things to do in the Blue Mountains that you could easily spend an entire trip trekking through it.

The Greater Blue Mountains Area is a largely untouched, mountainous forest landscape. The huge expanse covers more than two million acres just west of the hustle and bustle of Sydney. It was named a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its unique geological rock formations, forest and waterfalls. This ecological diversity provides a wide range of habitats for more than 400 different types of animals. Several species considered rare or under threat of extinction call the park home.

The name “Blue Mountains” is no misnomer. Legend has it that when the temperature rises, the essential oil from the eucalyptus forest evaporates and disperses in to the air. This causes sunlight to filter through the mist in the air and scatter blue light over the canopy and vista. This natural phenomenon casts a spectacular bath of blue-light over the region.

Things to Do in the Blue Mountains Sydney New South Wales Australia

Credit: Masaru Kitano snaK Productions

Hanging Rock Things to Do in the Blue Mountains Sydney Australia

Credit: Andrew Smith / Tourism Australia

Within the Greater Blue Mountains Area are seven official National Parks of New South Wales. These include Blue Mountains, Gardens of Stone and Nattai National Parks. Blue Mountains National Park is the most popular of all parks in the Blue Mountains Area. In fact, it is one of the most visited national parks in all New South Wales.

Visitors and local Aussies alike flock to Blue Mountains National Park for strenuous hiking, easy walking, rock climbing and more. Numerous viewing areas called “lookouts” are accessible to visitors. They offer up some of the most sought after and breathtaking views of the area’s natural expanse in the entire region.

Eaglehawk Lookout

Before you even enter the park’s trailhead you will be immediately blown away by the view from this lookout. From here, you’ll be able to gaze upon The Three Sisters. This three-towered rock formation is one of the most fascinating sites in the entire Blue Mountains Area.

Three Sisters Things to Do in the Blue Mountains New South Wales Australia

The Three Sisters are viewable from several vantage points in the park. Eaglehawk Lookout tends to be less populated than sites like Echo Point, so you get a solemn ambiance like no other. Eaglehawk Lookout offers up some of the best views in the park and is one of the best things to do in the blue mountains.

Things to Do in the Blue Mountains Eaglehawk Lookout New South Wales Australia

Eaglehawk Lookout, Blue Mountains

Govetts Leap

Take one look at the massive expanse over Govetts Leap and you’ll say to yourself… Well, probably nothing actually because this is a view that will truly leave you speechless. As your eyes remain transfixed on the sheer size of the valley below, you’ll begin to see the details that make up this view of the World Heritage treasure. Look one direction and see the dancing spray of water falling 180m down a sheer-face cliff to the valley below. Look another direction and spot a yellow-tailed black cockatoo swooping down to the trees. Govetts Leap is one site that must be seen to be believed.

Things to Do in the Blue Mountains Govetts Leap New South Wales Australia

Credit: Susan Wright / Destination NSW

National Pass

Check your fear of heights at the door before beginning this 3-mile walk. The National Pass treks through sheer Blue Mountains cliff-sides at dizzying heights. As soon as you begin this walk you are rewarded with a magnificent view from Jamison Lookout. It’s an instant payoff in a walking trail that only gets better from here. As you continue on you’ll be serenaded by the sounds of Wentworth Falls, a multi-tiered waterfall cascading down from Jamison Creek above.

Jamison Valley Things to Do in the Blue Mountains Sydney New South Wales Australia

Credit: Sue Wright / Tourism Australia

From here you’ll descend the Grand Stairway. The stairway was built by hand more than a century ago. In recent years, the National Pass has been retrofitted with modern safety features like handrails along some of the more difficult paths and sheer faces. But the Grand Stairway is still a a steep climb down, so be sure to watch your step along the way!

Arrive at one of the ultimate lookouts on the National Pass and you’ll come face to face with a narrow edge over a sheer cliff face. If your knees weren’t shaking before, prepare yourself for this grand view that feels like you’re at the edge of the world overlooking the valley below.

Mount Banks

The summit of Mount Banks is the highest point in the park. You can see the peak of Mount Banks from nearly every spot in the park. Explore this peak up close for a view that truly overlooks all Blue Mountains National Park. Climbing the tallest mountain in this park luckily doesn’t involve any extra equipment or increased danger and the summit is accessible via footpath. Once you arrive at the top, fill your lungs with the clean, ozone-laden air the area provides (called a health tonic since the early 1800’s). Gaze out on a 360-degree panoramic view, unimpeded by any handrails or fencing.

This mountaintop is as natural as it gets and if you’re looking for one of the best views in the park, it doesn’t get any better.

Blue Mountains Botanic GardensThings to Do in the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens New South Wales Australia

Just on the outer edge of Blue Mountains National Park, the Botanic Gardens at Mt. Tomah is a great stop on the way back from the inner Blue Mountains Area. Established in 1972, the garden contains 69 acres of public grounds. An additional 320 acres of land was also set aside, solely dedicated to the conservation of trees and other plants. Walk the grounds and marvel at more than 40,000 native, rare and exotic plants that dot the landscape.

Stunning mountain views and vistas surround the walk through the gardens. You could easily spend an entire day trying to see it all. Get lost in the garden and see the beauty of meticulously cared for, colorful flora.

Jenolan Caves

Things to Do in the Blue Mountains Jenolan Caves NSW Australia

Credit: Destination NSW

While technically not inside Blue Mountains National Park, the Jenolan Caves just south-west of the Greater Blue Mountains Area is well worth the side-track to visit. Jenolan Caves is Australia’s largest underground, limestone cave network

tucked inside a valley of Kanangra-Boyd National Park. Self-guided or fully escorted tours of the cave network take you through a number of the sites caves, rock formations (including the majestic Grand Column) and subterranean rivers.

Visit the Blue Mountains

With so many things to do in the Blue Mountains, you’re never far away from having an amazing time.. As soon as you see the calming, blue-haze of the mountain range you’ll be in awe at the untouched natural world before you. Make a stop over in Blue Mountains National Park from nearby Sydney for a quick nature retreat. We have plenty of trips with stopovers in Sydney and free days to explore or let’s work together and plan the perfect trip for you.

BONUS TIP: Stop by Featherdale Wildlife Park on your way up to the Blue Mountains. There you can see some of Australia’s amazing wildlife up close. Take a photo with a koala, feed some kangaroos and see Australia’s amazing native birds!

Things to Do in the Blue Mountains Featherdale Wildlife Park Sydney Australia

Featherdale Wildlife Park, Sydney

Things to Do in the Blue Mountains Featherdale Wildlife Park Sydney Australia

Featherdale Wildlife Park, Sydney

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Shopping in Sydney – Queen Victoria Building

Posted on: June 8th, 2017 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments
Shopping in Sydney

Image Credit: Daniel Boud; Destination NSW

For the best shopping in Sydney visit the Queen Victoria Building or QVB, a beautiful landmark in the heart of Sydney. It’s rare to find a destination that fulfills the desires of shopaholics, architectural enthusiasts and history-buffs, but QVB gets it done!

The architecturally splendid building, constructed in the 1890’s, takes up an entire city block.  It can be accessed by George, Market, York and Druitt Streets.  It’s also easily accessed by train via underground walkway from the Town Hall Station.

A Rich History

The Queen Victoria Building was first constructed as a Municipal Market with a concert hall and warehouses for local artisans and service providers of the time. The building’s function changed throughout the years to accommodate the needs of the city,  including a stint as a city library and offices for the city counsel.  Sadly, this amazing building was left to fall into disrepair and it was nearly demolished in the 1950s.

Luckily for us, the 1980s brought restoration to the Queen Victoria Building and it became a mainstay in Sydney’s shopping culture. Recently, the building underwent another $48 million Australian dollar 6-year restoration that reflects its original design by faithfully restoring its arches, pillars, intricately titled floors, grand central dome and sculptures, while modernizing services for savvy shoppers.

Queen Victoria Building History

Image Credit: Daniel Boud; Destination NSW

Don’t miss these historical sights:

  • The “Royal Clock” is located on the upper level of the southern half of the building.  It’s very fun to watch as it activates on the hour with a trumpeting procession, revealing animated dioramas of English royal history through windows on both sides of the clock. Get a spot on the upper level to view the dioramas.
  • The “Great Australian Clock” which includes 33 scenes from Australian history as an Aboriginal hunter circles the exterior of the clock continuously, representing the never-ending passage of time.
  • The fully operational vintage lift (aka elevator) – beautiful and functional!
  • The Queen’s letter is located on the top level near the main dome.  In 1986, Queen Elizabeth II wrote a letter to the future Lord Mayor of Sydney.  The sealed letter is to be opened and read aloud to the people of Sydney in 2085.
  • A display replica of Queen Victoria and her jewels.
  • The Tea Room on the top level offers traditional high tea in the original Grand Ballroom.
  • Look up to catch all the glorious stained glass windows and splendid architecture of the building’s 21 domes.
  • Look down to see the intricate tile work restored in 2009 on the lower levels.

You can explore the fascinating history of the QBV on a guided tour, running at 11:30 am on Tuesdays, Thursday and Sundays from the QVB Concierge desk on the first floor.

Shopping in SydneyAmazing Shopping in Sydney

With 6 levels of shops, cafes and restaurants spanning over a city block, you’re bound to find something you want at the QVB.  In the bottom level, you’ll find Victoria’s Basement, a bargain discount store along with many food and convenience stores.  As you make your way up to the top of the building, the stores get classier and more expensive.  Find art, antiques, jewelry, fashion and fine gifts in the boutique shops on the upper levels.

Map

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Sydney Must-See: Royal Botanic Gardens

Posted on: May 23rd, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments


You’ve seen the Opera House. You even cruised the Harbour. You think you’ve seen it all. Time to pack up and go off to the next city, right?

Wrong.

If you leave Sydney without seeing the Royal Botanic Gardens, you’ve missed one of the most beautiful parts of the entire city.

Sydney is huge. It can’t be boiled down to just those two landmarks. Don’t get us wrong, they are amazing, must-see destinations. But it should be criminal to miss seeing this idyllic park right on the iconic Sydney Harbour.

We’ll show you why you’ll love this floral oasis just as much as we do in our guide to the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.

Prime Photo-Ops

Keep your camera at the ready, because every which way you turn is a great backdrop for a photo. Sunny skies most days out of the year keep the flowers blooming, the trees thriving and the grass plush – year round. Your friends will be green with envy. See the Opera House in the morning and then walk on over to the Garden. It’s a great one-two punch of the best sightseeing in Sydney.

Enter through the Queen Elizabeth II gate and take the winding, perfectly manicured path through native plants and pristine greenery. This entrance runs along the water’s edge for great shots of Sydney Harbour. 

From there, stroll toward Government House, the current official residence of New South Wales’ governor. Even better, we think you’ll dig the architecture of this sprawling 1800’s-era mansion that looks like something from King Arthur’s Court! You can even catch a tour of the inside of the building, whose design hasn’t been changed in over a hundred years.   Exit the mansion and head for the Australian Native Rockery. Walk among picture-perfect examples of native Australian flora. Sit on the lawn facing Sydney Harbour for amazing views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.  

Tip: This is one of the best places to get shots of three Sydney landmarks in one! If you look close, you may even see climbers in the distance participating in a Harbour Bridgeclimb!

Love is in the Air

There’s just something romantic about walking through a garden. Especially when that garden has more than 2000 huge, fully bloomed roses of all colors surrounding you (OK, maybe that’s a bit on the nose). Nevertheless, we dare you to walk through this sea of reds, whites and pinks and not feel at least a little lovey-dovey. Let that sweet, floral scented air envelope you and you’ll see why the Royal Botanic Garden is one of Sydney’s most popular wedding spots.   Look above for a great view of towering downtown Sydney skyscrapers looming overhead. A reminder that this serene, green garden is an oasis just minutes away from the hustle and bustle of the central business district.  

Aboriginal Heritage Tours

Aboriginal Australians are the world’s oldest civilization. Dating back some 50,000 years, Aboriginal heritage plays an important role in Australia’s history. Aboriginal Australians are fiercely proud of their heritage and their continued traditions make Aboriginals the oldest, continuous human culture in existence. Learn about the diverse history of Aboriginal Australians in Sydney with a guided tour led by an Aboriginal guide.

Using the Royal Botanic Garden as a historical backdrop, you’ll learn about the rich, Aboriginal heritage of the Garden. Your guide will show you useful and medicinal plants in Aboriginal culture, see ancient artifacts and taste traditional bush foods. Heritage Tours are 100 percent Aboriginal owned and all proceeds support Aboriginal jobs and communities.

Tip: Go for a longer Aboriginal heritage tour that takes you through the Garden at Sydney proper. You’ll get in-depth insight in to the rich Aboriginal cultural history.

Australian Wildlife

Sulfur crested cockatoo Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

Photo: Sulfur-crested Cockatoo

Ask the average person what they think of when they hear “Australia” and you’ll most likely get one of three answers. The Outback, the Great Barrier Reef and of course, the wildlife. The kangaroo, the koala, the crocodile, the dingo… The list of iconic animals that call Australia home goes on and on. And the Royal Botanic Garden is no exception.

Among the animals that have found the Garden’s prime real estate the ideal place to set up shop are the sulfur-crested cockatoos.

Named for the sulfur-colored yellow streak that adorns the tops of their heads, these ivory-and-yellow feathered birds are found in many areas of the Garden. They have become increasingly friendly with humans due to hand feeding, but it is not recommended officially by the park because of dietary restrictions of birds.

The flying fox is another example of winged wildlife that the Royal Botanic Garden hosts, albeit reluctantly. The trees where these furry-bats like to nest are increasingly being decimated by the species and there have been efforts to re-home the animals. But they can still be spotted in the trees of the park hanging out during the day.

 

Latitude 23 Glasshouse and Fernery

If you just desperately miss that heavy, humid summer air, you’re in luck. Latitude 23 is a tropical paradise all inside a large glass building. The moisture is cranked up to replicate the equatorial region between the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn (both located at 23° latitude, hence the name!). Amazing, non-native tropical plants thrive in this hot box glasshouse, so you can see exotic orchids, hoyas, bat-plants, Papua New Guinean tongue-lilies and more.

Stop by the Fernery next door where immense, lush ferns grow wild. From climbers, to hangers, to the tallest tree ferns from all over the world. The Fernery is liked you stepped in to an uninhabited jungle, where the plants rule the land.

From there, walk over to the succulent garden for an amazing look at some native Australian succulents and cacti.

Make sure you carve out some time for the Royal Botanic Garden when you’re in Sydney. Bring a blanket, pack a lunch and have a relaxing picnic in the park surrounded by some of the most amazing plant life and greenery in the city. It’s the perfect spot to spend a few hours idly strolling, either before or after your visit to the Opera House.

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Want to make sure you don’t miss it? We can schedule the perfect itinerary for you and ensure you don’t miss anything in Sydney.

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Things to do in Australia | Must-See and Do in Australia

Posted on: May 19th, 2016 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments

Our favorite ways to see all of the Australia Highlights on a short vacation

Last week we talked about how you can get the most out of a short vacation to Sydney.  This got us thinking…What if you only had time to visit one or two Australian cities? What can you do and see in order to create the perfect been-there-done-that Australian vacation? So we’re putting together a blog series that takes all the main reasons people visit Australia and compresses them into an epic vacation comprising of just 1 or 2 destinations.

Things to Do in Australia Sydney Vacation

Here at About Australia, we work with hundreds of clients every week.   Most Americans are aware that Australia is an amazing country with a vast diversity of beautiful sights, experiences and wildlife. They want to see the beaches, explore the Great Barrier Reef, experience Australian City life, see kangaroos and koalas, learn about the rich Aboriginal culture, check out the local food and wine and explore the Outback. Australia is on almost every traveler’s bucketlist.

What many people don’t realize is that Australia is a huge country – about the size of the United States to be exact. Once they wrap their heads around that fact, their next question is, “Do I have to travel all over Australia to see all the iconic sights?”

USA compared to Australia

The answer to that question is both yes and no. It all depends on which iconic sights you want to see.

Sydney Harbour and access to the Great Barrier Reef are at least 1,000 miles apart. That’s a 2 -3 hour plane ride or over 20 hours by car.  Then, if you have your heart dead-set on seeing Uluru (Ayers Rock), you’ll have to fly over 1,700 miles to the center of the country for a spiritual outback adventure.  A similar trip in the US would take you from Orlando to NCY to Denver.  So yes, if you want to see the Sydney Opera House, the reef and the Red Centre, you will have to do quite a bit of Australian Domestic Travel. And honestly, that’s ok!  As they say in Australia, “No worries, mate!”

This type of trip is amazing! All of the once-in-a-life time experiences and amazing sights more than make up for the additional travel. But this type of trip takes time, a larger budget and quite a bit of patience, especially if you are traveling with young children.

Must-See and Do in Australia - Kangaroo

But, you say, “I don’t have a lot of vacation time. Can I still travel to Australia and see the highlights without spending a ton of time and money?”  Yes!  With a smaller travel budget and just 5-7 days downunder, you can still get a great overview of Australia’s highlights just by visiting one or two select cities.

Family on Beach Great Barrier Reef Taking the Family to Australia

Or maybe you’re thinking, “I want to take my kids on an Australian adventure. But after that long plane ride to the other side of the world, I don’t want the stress of packing up the kids every few days and flying across the country just so they can get the full Australian experience.”  You don’t have to!

Plan your trip to just one or two strategic locations and your kids will have an experience that is both educational and fun – one they will remember long after returning home to the rigmarole of everyday life.  It’s one thing to spend your family vacation on the beach with playgrounds, kids programs and free child care. It’s quite another to live in an Australian city for a week visiting beaches, learning about ancient culture and cuddling kolas. I’d argue that the latter is much more engaging and educational.

The 7 major highlights of Australia are Beaches & Aquatic Life, Modern Culture & Art, Wildlife, the Outback, the Rainforest, Food & Wine and Indigenous Culture. A piece of these can be found in all major metro areas. You just have to know where to look…

7 Highlights of Australia

…And thus the blog series has begun!  Every week we’ll show you how you can see all 7 highlights in one city (or the surrounds).  Browse through the series to help you pick a few cities which are best for you and your short vacation to Australia.

A word of advice:

Make sure you carefully plan every aspect of your trip. Know exactly what will be on your itinerary each day and book in advance.  A lot of people believe they can book the flights and hotels then figure out the rest on the fly. This is a bad idea. The logistics alone can be quite daunting and after investing a lot of time and money into something, you want it to go well.  We, of course, are proponents of you contacting us so we can use our expertise to help you plan the perfect trip.   Sure, may be able to do it yourself, but you can avoid a lot of stress and worry if you let us do it for you!
Get-A-Trip-Quote or Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).

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

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

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

Things to do in Australia | An Adelaide Vacation with All the Australia Highlights

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

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

16 Photos That Will Make You Want To Go To Australia Right Now

Posted on: October 29th, 2015 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments
16 Stunning Photos of Beaches and Aquatic Life in Australia
Look at the tweet below and you’ll understand what it feels like to experience the beauty of Australia.Below are 16 amazing photos to trigger some of that awe inspiring delight right now!Our Destination Experts can help you plan the perfect trip to Australia. Customize your trip and start jumping for joy.

Whale Sharks in the Indian Ocean, Western Australia

Whale sharks in Western AustraliaImage by Migration Media – Underwater Imaging via Western Australia facebook

The Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia is the only place in Australia where you can swim with the majestic Whale Shark. The Whale Shark is the largest known fish and can grow up to 42 feet long. Unlike most sharks, they are filter feeders with huge toothless mouths.

 

The Famous Bondi Baths, Sydney, New South Whales

Bondi Pool Australia TripImage by: Andym5855 on flickr

These giant pools have been a landmark of Bondi Beach for over 100 years! There is a large pool for lap swimming and a smaller pool for the kiddos. Its a great way to experience one of Australia’s most beautiful beaches during the winter. The pool is open 6am to 6:30pm, Monday through Friday, 6:30am – 6:30pm on Saturday and Sunday, and is closed for cleaning on Thursdays. It’s only $6.50AUS for adults & $4.50AUS for children.

Sea Turtles on the Great Barrier Reef

Sea Turtles in Australia

When visiting the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, don’t forget to bring an underwater camera. Whether you’re diving or snorkeling, you’re sure to run into many members of the large diverse aquatic life population, like this Green Sea Turtle. Six of the world’s seven marine turtles can be found on the Great Barrier Reef.

Lizard Island, The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

Lizard-Island

Sitting right on the Great Barrier Reef, Lizard Island has some amazing views and uniquely diverse diving conditions. Forbes.com recently published an article about the Luxury Resort of Lizard Island, saying it “may be one of the most beautiful place in the world.” The resort, complete with a recent 46-million dollar renovation, is absolutely stunning. With 24 sandy white beaches and 1,013 hectares of National Park, it’s really easy to get away from it all.

(Click here for 11 Day Luxury Lizard Island & Sydney Getaway from $3,995)

Sea Lions off the coast of Port Lincoln, South Australia

Swim with Sea Lions in Port Lincoln in South AustraliaImage by: Adventure Bay Charters via australia.com facebook

These friendly “puppies of the sea” can be found in many waters off the coast of Australia. This photo was taken in the crystal clear water of Seal Cove. So adorable!

Byron Bay, New South Wales

Sunset At Byron Bay Travel to AustraliaImage by: Adrll Slonchak on flickr

Byron Bay is a popular vacation spot among the Aussie population. So you know it’s good! It’s a laid back, new-age utopia kind of town with miles of picture-perfect coastline. Great for families, friends, couples and shutterbugs.

The Penguin Parade on Phillip Island, Victoria

Little Penguins on Phillip Island Every night a parade of little penguins marches across Summer Land Beach. Phillip Island in Victoria is home to an estimated 32,000 breeding pairs. As you can imagine, this is a very cute sight to see!

Swimming with Humpbacks off the Sunshine Coast, Queensland

Swimming with Humpbacks on the Sunshine Coast Experience AustraliaImage by: Migration Media Underwater Imaging, Australia.com Facebook

This amazing photo was taken off the coast of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast during this year’s Humpback migration season (July – October). It’s amazing to see calves swim along side their mums.

Wineglass Bay, Tasmania

Wineglass Bay Tasmania Trip to AustraliaImage by: aussiejeff on flickr

Wineglass bay, located on the Southern edge of Tasmania, is located in Freycinet National Park. These perfect contours, turquoise water and pure white beaches exist on any normal day while you’re on Wineglass Bay.

Baby Turtles on Diamond Beach, New South Wales

Baby turtles on Diamond Beach Image by: Judith Conning via australia.com on facebook

Every year thousands of baby turtles make their way to the ocean for the first time. Turtle nesting grounds can be found all over Australia’s coast.

The Twelve Apostles, Port Campbell National Park, Victoria

12 Apostles Melbourne AustraliaImage by: Visit Melbourne on facebook

Near the Great Ocean Road in Victoria in Port Campbell National Park, you’ll find a collection of limestone stacks just off the shore. There are only eight apostles now, after the ninth one dramatically collapsed in July of 2005. Interesting fact: There were never 12 stacks, as far as we know.

Augie the Killer Whale on the Coral Coast, Western Australia

Augie the Killer Whale Western Australia Image by Indian Ocean Imagery via Western Australia facebook

Considered an Exmouth local and regular around Ningaloo Reef, Augie the Orca is known for putting on a show. He’s been spotted multiple times performing for crowds on cruises around the reef.

Fraser Island, Queensland

Fraser Island Ship Wreck Visit Australia Image by: Greg Schechter

Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, is a nature lover’s dream. Activities available include 4×4 next to the sandy cliffs, hike through the rainforest, meet native wildlife, whale-watch, comb the beaches, visit shipwrecks, and swim in freshwater lakes ringed with gold. The photo above is of the island’s most famous shipwreck, the SS Maheno. It was one of the first turbine-driven steamers.

Tangalooma Island Resort, near Brisbane

Dolphin feeding Tangalooma island resort Tour Australia

Tangalooma is the only place you’re practically guaranteed the opportunity to feed wild bottlenose dolphins during your stay. Each night at sunset up to 10 wild dolphins visit the shores of Tangalooma and everyone is invited to feed them a treat. The feeding program runs with strict guidelines to ensure the health and safety of the dolphins, but everyone still enjoys this magical experience.

Heart Shaped Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

Heart Reef Great Barrier Reef Travel to Australia Image credit: Kieran Stone via australia.com facebook

You might recognize this scene from TV and movies. The Heart Shaped Reef, in Hardy Reef, is a great place for snorkeling and scuba diving. You can see this lovely sight from a helicopter or plane tour.

Bremer Island, Northern Territory

Bremer Island Visit Australia Image by: Australia’s Outback, Northern Territory on facebook

Bremer Island is at the topmost end of Australia in the Northern Territory. It’s the perfect place for a remote wilderness retreat, world class fishing, learning about the Yolngu culture, and getting away from it all.

There are so many amazing sights to see on and off the coasts of Australia. As they say, pictures just don’t do it justice.

You have to see it for yourself. Are you ready to start planning your tip to Australia?

Help Me Plan My Trip >>

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

Places to Visit in Australia to Experience Aboriginal Culture

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

What places are on your Australian vacation wish list?

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

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

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

Places to Visit in Australia – New South Wales

Dreamtime Southern X Tour Sydney Australia

Image by Dreamtime Southern X

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

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

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

Places to Visit in Australia – Northern Territory

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

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

Northern Territory Camel Ride Ayrer's Rock Australia

Image by AYQ

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

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

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

Places to Visit in Australia – Queensland

Queensland Daintree National Park Aboriginal Tour Australia

Image by: Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat Tours

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

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

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

Places to Visit in Australia – Victoria

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Aboriginal Guide Australia

Image by: Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

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

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

Places to Visit in Australia – Western Australia

Western Australia Tour

Image by: Koomal Dreaming

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

 

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

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Great Barrier Reef, Best Australian Beaches & Dives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kangaroo on Kangaroo Island AustraliaSea Lion on Kangaroo Island Australia

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 


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