Tag Archive for "Wildlife"

Swimming with Minke Whales in Australia: Everything You Need to Know

Posted on: December 17th, 2018 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments

Visit the Great Barrier Reef Between June & July to Swim with Minke Whales


First recognized by scientists less than 30 years ago, the dwarf minke whale is both elusive and super friendly.

There is so much we don’t know about these whales despite their proclivity to search out human company.

Scientists don’t understand why, but these whales are extremely curious and will often spend hours swimming around snorkelers and divers, giving quite a show! They are known to follow a boat around for hours, stopping for a look at each new dive site.

When to Swim with Minke Whales

Diver and minke whale credit deep sea divers den Jemma Craig Imagery

Minke whales are the most common of the great whale species, found in abundance throughout the world’s oceans. They are mostly found in the North Atlantic, North Pacific and Antarctic Oceans.

They are found off the coasts of Australia and New Zealand between March and December, but the best time to see minke whales is in June and July.

Despite their wide reach, swimming with minke whales only happens in The Great Barrier Ribbon Reefs in Tropical North Queenland, Australia. The great thing about this is that minke whales in the Great Barrier Reef are very social and communicative. Expeditions out to the reef regularly report seeing multiple whales in one day!

These multi-day Liveaboard expeditions depart from Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. These expeditions visit unique reef sites each day, offering more opportunities to swim with these gentle creatures.

This is one of the only animal encounters in the world that is entirely on the animal’s own terms. When a pod is spotted, a rope is tossed into the water. Groups of up to 10 swimmers hold on to the rope and the whales can approach or leave as they like. The whales are very generous with their time and once a pod is spotted, its rare if someone on the boat misses out on the experience while waiting their turn.

Things to Know Before Swimming with Minke Whales

Divers with minke whale credit Deep Sea Divers Den Jemma Craig Imagery

Being in the water with these majestic creatures is described as a life-changing experience. It’s common for people to emerge from the water crying, screaming or just plain speechless.

If you want to add this encounter to your Australia bucket list, here are a few things you should know!


1. Every Australian winter, the minke whales make their annual migration from Antarctica to the Great Barrier Reef from May to August. Plan your trip between June to mid-July for the best odds of seeing a pod. Peak season is in early July.

2. This special experience might take a bit of effort and luck! Only a handful of tour operators have permits to swim with minke whales and you’re never guaranteed an encounter. Increase your odds of swimming with the genial giants by taking a 3-7 night Liveaboard Excursion. In June and July, you’ll have a 98% chance of encountering the whales. It is recommend that you pre-book your excursion.

3. If you’re not keen on spending nights at sea, you can take a day-trip out of Port Douglas. These day-trips have an encounter rate of about 18%. This decreases your odds quite a bit, but if you do encounter them, you will feel as though you won the lottery! Either way it’s an amazing day out on the Great Barrier Reef. These day-trips often give discounts for multiple days out on the boat and they usually end up at different dive sites each day. So, you could stay a few nights in lovely Port Douglas and increase your odds by taking multiple trips out to the reef without feeling like you’re doing the same thing every day.

4. If you go in July, you might even have a chance to see and/or swim with Humpback whales too!

5. You can contribute directly to ongoing research including photo-identification, behavior research and conservation efforts from your minke whale encounter.

6. Dwarf minke whales are the smallest of the baleen whales. Like Humpback whales, they have no teeth, but a series of baleen plates that they use to trap and filter the food krill.

7. There is still much to be learned about these whales. For example, they have never been seen feeding on the Great Barrier Reef so it is assumed that they feed in Open Ocean while in the tropics, but no one really knows!

Diver with two minke whales credit Deep Sea Divers Den Jemma Craig Imagery

8. They are one of the fastest whales. They can travel at speeds greater than 20 knots or about 23 miles per hour.

9. Minke whales seem to prefer snorkelers to divers. They tend to get closer to and hang around longer when humans are not wearing large air tanks.

Want a chance to cross this amazing experience off your Bucket List?  Visit Australia with the help of a Destination Specialist at About Australia.  We can make your once in a lifetime trip Down Under fun and easy!

Add Swimming with Minke Whales to My Trip

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


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What Australian Animal Are You?

Posted on: November 28th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

Whether you dream of petting a kangaroo or holding a koala, getting up close and personal with Australia’s wildlife is priceless.

When you plan your trip with About Australia, we’ll lead you to the right places!


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

12 Stunning Islands in Australia

Posted on: November 2nd, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

12 Islands in Australia header

There’s no better way to recharge than on an island getaway.

But maybe your idea of recharging isn’t all beaches and sun. Maybe it’s discovering wildlife, hiking through lush rainforests or sampling local delicacies.

With over 8,222 islands in Australia, you’re guaranteed to find your own personal island paradise. Each island boasts its own unique qualities that are part of what makes Australia unlike anywhere else in the world.

We’ve gathered a list of the top 12 stunning islands in Australia that will have you dreaming of your next island getaway.

1. Kangaroo Island

Remarkable Rocks Kanagroo Island Australia Must See

Image: Alan & Flora Botting on flikr.com

See wildlife the way it was meant to be seen – out in the wild. No place does a zoo without fences better than Kangaroo Island, located off the coast near Adelaide.

Its separation from mainland Australia has allowed for the wildlife to thrive among untouched wilderness. So yes, you’ll see tons of wild kangaroos, but if you want to get close to them head to Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park.

Though the wildlife is the main star of this island, it’s hard not to be mesmerized by the dazzling landscapes. Long stretches of beaches, turquoise waters and spectacular rock formations – no zoo could even touch this.

Head to Seal Bay to walk among sea lions, swim with wild dolphins off the north coast of the island or spot koalas hanging out on eucalyptus trees at Flinders Chase National Park. Don’t miss the stunning Remarkable Rocks, Kangaroo Island’s signature landmark, looking like something straight out of a Georgia O’Keeffe painting.

2. Phillip Island

Phillip Island Penguins credit Tourism Australia

Image: Tourism Australia

See the tiniest penguins in the world at Phillip Island, just about two hours away from Melbourne.

Phillip Island is famous for its tiny penguins, but its coastal scenery is just as spectacular in its own right. Gorgeous green landscapes crumble into rugged coasts and pink granite cliffs, stretching out into surf beaches with perfectly barreling waves.

Meet the local wildlife at the Phillip Island Wildlife Park or see koalas in the wild at the Koala Conservation Centre. Stop into one of the local restaurants for a classic fish and chips lunch and visit the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit for a race on Australia’s largest four-lane GP slot car track.

As the sun sets, settle into Summerland Beach for a spot to catch the nightly Penguin Parade.

3. Fraser Island

Girl standing in Lake McKenzie Fraser Island credit Jules Ingall

Image: Jules Ingall

For an island holiday with a more adventurous vibe, head to Fraser Island, just off the coast of southern Queensland. This unique island is the only place in the world where the beach never ends. Its ancient, cool rainforest towers over white sand, interrupted only by freshwater creeks and the clearest lakes you’ve ever seen.

Pack your swimmers and head to Lake McKenzie, a pure crystal blue lake ringed by soft white sand and verdant rainforest. Honestly, this lake beats out any chemically-treated pool in clarity. And it’s all untouched, pure rainwater!

One of the best ways to explore the island is on a 4WD. Drive down 75 Mile Beach and discover the SS Maheno Shipwreck or find a spot along the beach to try your hand at saltwater fishing. You might spot wild dingoes along the way, but only admire from afar!

4. Rottnest Island

The Basin Rottnest Island in Australia credit Tourism Australia

Image: Tourism Australia

One of Australia’s favorite holiday island destinations is Rottnest Island. Located off the coast from Perth in Western Australia, many locals like to reach the island by their own boat. Ferries are also available through three ferry operators along Perth.

Though Western Australia is not often on many traveler’s lists, Rottnest Island alone is enough to add it to your bucket list. Impossibly white sand beaches with crystal turquoise waters offer fantastic swimming and snorkeling. Biking is the best way to explore the island, allowing you to beach and bay-hop across its sublime coasts to find your perfect swimming spot. The best part – no roads!

You’ll also meet Rottnest Island’s famous locals – the quokka. This unique Australian animal is found only in Rottnest Island, and has become popular for its photogenic smile.

5. Bruny Island

Neck Beach, Bruny Island Tasmania credit Tourism Tasmania

Image: Tourism Tasmania

Foodies rejoice! Culinary delights are the star at Bruny Island, perfectly paired with otherworldly landscapes.

About two hours away from Hobart in Tasmania, Bruny Island is well beyond the typical tourist trail. But once you step foot on the island you’ll see why it’s a true hidden gem.

Our favorite Bruny Island tour takes you to local artisanal shops showcasing some of Australia’s finest cheesemaking, chocolatiering and whisky distilling. You’ll also try some freshly shucked oysters, locally grown berries and premium wine. Every course on the menu is a stop on your journey!

Make the small journey to The Neck Lookout and see the isthmus connecting the northern and southern parts of the island. The view from the top is absolutely unbeatable.

6. Moreton Island

Dolphin Feeding Tangalooma Resort credit Tourism & Events Queensland Islands in Australia

Want to get up close with dolphins? Moreton Island is your best bet. Just across Moreton Bay from Brisbane, Moreton Island is a must for dolphin-feeding, kayaking, shipwreck snorkeling and sandboarding.

Yes, sandboarding – it’s exactly like snowboarding except with sand! Riding down the large slopes of sand is a lot more fun than you might realize. You might find yourself climbing the slopes again and again, then simply wash off the sand with a dip at the beach.

With no roads on the island, this unspoiled paradise is perfect for relaxing walks and simply taking in the beauty of untouched nature. Be sure to stay after sunset for the chance to hand-feed wild dolphins at Tangalooma Resort.

7. Magnetic Island

Koala in tree credit Tourism Queensland

Image: Tourism Queensland

A popular stop along the east coast of Australia is Magnetic Island. Located just 20 minutes off the coast of Townsville in Queensland, Magnetic Island promises extremely laid-back island vibes.

Time seems to be at a standstill on Magnetic Island, or “Maggie,” as affectionately called by locals. It’s easy to lose track of time here and just let the world go by.

Go for a dip in one of many sublime beaches or zip around the island on a hired mini moke, a small convertible perfect for island exploration.

Take the Forts Walk through historic WWII landmarks ending with incredible views across the ocean. Be sure to keep an eye out for koalas hanging around the trees. As home to Australia’s largest population of wild koalas, you’re almost guaranteed to spot one of these furry creatures.

8. Frankland Islands

Frankland Islands credit Frankland Islands Reef Cruises

Image: Frankland Islands Reef Cruises

One of Australia’s truest hidden gems is the Frankland Islands. Located off the northern coast of Queensland near Cairns, these islands are an untouched slice of paradise.

Only one tour operator is licensed to go to Frankland Islands, and their close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef make for perfect small-group snorkeling excursions. The main island, Normanby Island, boasts white sand beaches and clear waters ideal for snorkeling.

The marine biologist on the Frankland Islands tour crew offers guided walks around the island, exploring rock pools rife with exotic marine life.

Complete with an included lunch as you cruise back to Cairns, the Frankland Islands are a fantastic way to experience the Great Barrier Reef without the crowds. Ask our About Australia Destination Specialists about this special tour!

9. Whitsunday Islands

Whitehaven Beach from Hill Inlet credit Tourism Australia

Image: Tourism Australia

Looking for a tropical island paradise? The Whitsunday Islands offer your pick out of 74 impeccable islands.

These islands off the coast of Queensland sit within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and are just as stunning above the water as below the surface.

With only 8 inhabited islands, the rest are natural sanctuaries of secluded beaches and rainforest bushwalks, making for perfect campsites. The fringing reef protects the waters surrounding the islands, making for calm bays perfect for sailing across the islands. And you don’t even need a license to rent a private yacht for bareboat sailing!

One of our favorite Whitsunday Islands is the main, titular island, the largest of all 74. Here is where you’ll find the unparalleled Whitehaven Beach, often listed in the top 10 beaches in the world.

10. Hamilton Island

Catseye Beach, Hamilton Island

Hamilton Island is the definition of picture perfect paradise. There’s absolutely no bad angle – everywhere you turn is a postcard-ready scene, just waiting to be captured on camera.

As one of the 8 inhabited Whitsunday Islands, Hamilton Island is an Australian favorite for a luxury getaway. Take in incredible views of the ocean from high-end resort infinity pools, tropical cocktail in hand. Explore the roadless island by golf buggy and indulge in world-class dining at one of many renowned restaurants.

It doesn’t get more luxurious at Hamilton Island than in qualia, a 5-star resort embracing its magnificent surrounds in ultimate, couples-only seclusion. More budget friendly options on Hamilton Island include renting holiday homes. With a buggy included in your rental, you’re free to explore the beautiful palm-fringed, white sand beaches on this idyllic island.

11. Lizard Island

Lizard Island Resort Pavilion

Imagine stepping onto a white sand beach right out your door and seeing one of the world’s greatest natural wonders at your feet.

The best way to experience the Great Barrier Reef is being surrounded by it. Situated right on the reef, no island does this better than Lizard Island.

This small island is home to Lizard Island Resort, an all-inclusive luxury getaway up there with some of the highest-end resorts in the world.

You can snorkel some of the reef’s most pristine and young corals right from the beach, or take a scuba diving trip out to spectacular dive sites such as Cod Hole.

See the reef right from your own private infinity pool, explore the local waters on a private dinghy or walk the lush bushland on nature walks and tracks.

Indulge in gourmet meals, taste local and international wines and enjoy a private beach picnic, all included in your stay.

Lizard Island Resort provides the ultimate luxury deserving of the Great Barrier Reef right at its steps, and will be a getaway you’ll never forget.

12. Lord Howe

Couple at lookout on Lord Howe Island

Lord Howe Island is like stepping into a Planet Earth documentary. The only hues on this island seem to be endless gradients of blues and greens, hiding an abundance of wildlife.

Located over 300 miles off the eastern coast of Australia, the only way to get to Lord Howe Island is on a two hour flight from Sydney or Brisbane.

Its pristine beaches lend to some of the world’s cleanest and clearest waters perfect for snorkeling. It’s just like swimming in an aquarium!

The island is strewn with easy strolls through lush palms and forests, but for a one-of-a-kind adventure the Mt Gower climb is a must. Rated as one of the best day-treks in the world, this challenging journey takes you on a guided cliff-face mountain climb for a truly rewarding experience.

See Australia’s Breathtaking Islands

Dreaming of an island getaway on your trip to Australia? Whether you’re looking for a quiet retreat surrounded by stunning beaches or an adventure unlike anywhere else, Australia’s got an island to suit you perfectly.

Our Destination Specialists are experts in all things Australia. We’ll help you pick the best island for your Australia vacation.


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


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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

Australia Must-Do: Phillip Island

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

Things to Do on Phillip Island

Phillip Island Coast credit 3B's on Flickr

Photo: 3B’s on Flickr

There’s a little slice of Australian paradise less than two hours away from Melbourne.

Think pristine beaches perfect for surfing, incredible wildlife in their natural habitat and untouched, breathtaking coasts.

One of the world’s largest colonies of fur seals and little penguins call this island home. The world-famous nightly Penguin Parade and Seal Rocks are premier attractions – you could almost say its the local wildlife that call the shots.

Combining the best features of Australia’s natural beauty with its own unique charms, Phillip Island is best explored at ease. Here’s our guide on things to do at Phillip Island.

Take in the Coastal Scenery

Phillip Island Coastline credit Visit Victoria

The sheer beauty of Phillip Island’s coasts will take you breath away – you’ll need something to grab on to.

Fortunately, the island features many coastal walks and trails, some complete with railed boardwalks.

Wander along Woolamai Surf Beach to the Cape Woolamai Trail for truly dramatic views of the Pinnacles. This two hour walk rewards you with sublime scenery – rolling green landscapes crumbling into jagged rocks known as the Pinnacles, jutting up from azure waters. You might spot some wildlife along the way, including echidnas, wallabies and dolphins. During whale watching season you might spot a migrating humpback!

Head to the westernmost point of the island past the Phillip Island Nature Parks toward Nobbies Centre. Stroll on the winding Nobbies Boardwalk stretching along the rugged southern coast. Turquoise waters crash against the green-clad rocks before you in a breathtaking display of coastal splendor.

From the boardwalk you can see Seal Rocks, home to Australia’s largest fur seal colony.

Cruise to Seal Rocks

Seal Rocks credit Visit Victoria

Home to over 25,000 fur seals, Seal Rocks is a natural haven where seals sunbathe, frolic and play in the cool water.

Get a closer look at these friendly animals with a wilderness cruise out to Seal Rocks.

The boat drifts within yards to the seal colony. Younger seals will often swim up to the boat to get a closer look at you, peering up as you peer down.

Surrounded by hundreds of seals in the water, this close encounter with Australian wildlife is part of what makes Phillip Island so special.

Catch Some Salty Waves

Cape Woolamai Phillip Island Victoria credit Visit Victoria

Phillip Island’s dynamic coastline features spectacular beaches and rugged shores.

Calm, sheltered bays line the northern coast while wild surf breaks are found on the southern stretch of the island.

As you first cross into the island you’ll spot the curve of Cape Woolamai, a sweep of golden beach set against ancient pink granite cliffs. Woolamai Surf Beach is one of the state of Victoria’s most popular surfing beaches, with large curling waves attracting keen surfers. If you’re not one to pick up a surf board, the barreling waves are mesmerizing enough to simply gaze at from a soft spot of sand.

Get a dose of surfing and wildlife all in one at Summerland Beach. Home to the famous Phillip Island little penguins, this beach is also hugely popular with the surfing crowd for its consistent year-round waves. Wildlife and waves – it doesn’t get more Australian than that.

For swimming, you can’t go wrong with the seaside holiday vibe and shallow high tide of Cowes Beach. With changing rooms, showers and a picturesque jetty flanked by charming coastal eateries, Cowes Beach has everything set for the perfect beach day.

Stroll Through the Koala Conservation Centre

Visitor and koala at Koala Conservation Centre credit Visit Victoria

As a small haven of native Australian wildlife, no trip to Phillip Island is complete without visiting the Koala Conservation Centre.

This not-for-profit organization focuses on koala conservation and preserving their natural habitat. With knowledgeable rangers and educational information on display at the visitor center, the dedication and expertise of the Koala Conservation Centre will impress you.

Here you’ll come face to face with koalas in their natural habitat. Wander through Australian bushland on tree top boardwalks at branch-level with sinewy Eucalyptus trees. The koalas are blessed with over 14 acres of pristine wilderness to call home – not something you’ll see in most wildlife parks. You’ll spot them hanging high among the trees, munching on leaves or dozing the day away.

Take the Tree Top Koala Boardwalk for superb koala viewing. If they’re feeling active, they might climb down to lower branches only an arm’s length away from you. Many visitors report seeing up to 12 koalas in one visit!

Below the boardwalks you might also spot other native wildlife, including wallabies, echidnas, rainbow lorikeets and other exotic birds.

Explore Phillip Island Wildlife Park

Kangaroos at Phillip Island Wildlife Park credit Unbound Outbound

Photo: Unbound Outbound

For more personal encounters with a larger array of Australia wildlife, head to the Phillip Island Wildlife Park. Here you can hand-feed free-roaming kangaroos, spot echidnas shuffling through grass and Tasmanian devils lazing about in the sun.

As home to some of Australia’s most unique wildlife, some of these animals you might’ve never known existed! With over 60 acres of diverse terrain, every creature has a perfect slice of land to call their own. Other animals you’ll find here include reptiles, wombats, dingoes, emus, cassowaries and quolls. 

Pack a picnic lunch or enjoy some park snacks after meeting the furry locals. Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop to pick up a cute souvenir!

Visit Churchill Island

Churchill Island Heritage Farm Wagon Rides credit Visit Victoria

Churchill Island might just be the closest thing to traveling back in time.

Horse-drawn wagons roll past historic cottages set among tranquil gardens and orchards. Verdant green pastures are dotted with cows and sheep wandering from a restored 1850’s homestead.

Sleepy mornings on this sublime island give way to lively afternoons filled with hands-on farming demonstrations. Watch an authentic sheep shearing, learn how to crack a whip and how to milk a cow. Catch the working farm dogs herd the cheeky sheep back to the farm. 

Grab a bite to eat at the Churchill Island Cafe, where country charm combined with local produce and breathtaking views of the sea create the loveliest dining experience.

Or browse over 40 stalls of fresh, local produce at the monthly Churchill Island Farmers Market. Pick up a treat to enjoy while you take in the panoramic views across the island.

Rustic splendor by the sea – Churchill Island is a quiet slice of paradise you never knew you needed.

See the Famous Penguin Parade

Phillip Island Penguins credit Visit Victoria

As the sun begins to set, the sands of Summerland Beach become a stretch of red carpet.

Crowds gather to catch a glimpse of the Phillip Island famous.

Out of the rolling curls of waves come forth hundreds of tiny tuxedoed penguins, waddling back home to their burrows in the beach.

The miniature size of these little penguins is cuteness overload. They grow to an average of 13 inches, though some may seem as small as the palm of your hand.

Phillip Island Nature Park oversees this nightly Penguin Parade, with the best seats in all the island on a custom-built viewing platform. You can get a closer look at the penguins in an underground viewing platform, where you’ll see them marching right past your eyes.

You won’t catch any paparazzi at this show. No photography is permitted to protect the penguins, as bright flashes might scare or blind them.

After all, the most remarkable wildlife interactions are best experienced as close to nature as possible.

Make the Trip to Phillip Island from Melbourne

Phillip Island makes for a perfect break a whole world away from the hustle and bustle of Melbourne. Get back to nature with native wildlife and unforgettable scenery. 

Plus, how many people do you know that have seen a Penguin Parade?

Add Phillip Island to My Trip

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


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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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Posted on: August 3rd, 2018 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments

Amazing Australia Road Trips Part 2

The Great Ocean Road & The Grampians: Port Campbell to Halls Gap

In Amazing Australia Road Trips Part 1, we went over 12 incredible things to do on the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne to Port Campbell. Today we cover Day-2 along the Great Southern Touring Route in Australia.

Along this route you’ll find amazing ocean lookouts, food, wine culture, Australian wildlife, and the rugged outback. Adventure awaits on your road trip through the Grampians, Australia.

Get a great night’s sleep at your Port Campbell hotel and wake up early to drive to Halls Gap. Here are a few great adventures you can have along the way!

See the Sunrise at London Arch

Sunrise London Arch | AboutAustralia.com
Formally known as “London Bridge”, the London Arch hasn’t looked like its namesake since first arch collapsed in 1990. Arrive early to catch the sunrise as you watch the ocean crash against the shore. Take in the cliffs, clear water the the sense of power that slowly eroded these granite stacks into what they are today.

The bridge itself is gone, collapsed awhile ago. However the awesomeness of nature remains. Get there for first light, watch the sun come up. It will make you feel insignificant in the scale of time when you think how long it has taken to create this location. Weng C
Great view, like most other sights along the Great ocean road. But unlike the other sights, the bridge is more than just a rock in the water in my opinion. We came at dawn on the way to the Grampians after a night at portside motel in Port Campbell, so there wasn’t many people. This place would’ve been crowded during sunset I reckon. The sunrise was great even thought it came up from inland, and didn’t impede with photographing the bridge.Gordon L.
One of my favourites on the Great Ocean Road. Worth heading down to the beach to get a good idea of just how big these things areCavan Jordan

Explore The Grotto

The Grotto on the Great Ocean RoadThe Grotto is a enchanting rock formation along the Great Ocean road. It is a naturally carved out cave standing about halfway up a cliff. You’ll find a paved path that leads to a staircase descending into a viewing area.

Beautiful spot with an easy walk to the viewing platform. Try getting there early or late in the day when there are less people and the sun is setting or rising, this will make for a more picturesque view and photo! The walk down is not suitable for disabled or prams as it is down a set of stairs.Oliver Bersani
Dont stop at the lookout, walk down the stops for the amazing photo through the grotto out into the ocean.Alex Voerman
Maybe my favourite stop on the Great Ocean Road – a small grotto where saltwater is left at high tide, it’s colourful, scenic, and much less crowded than Gibson Steps or the 12 Apostles (not that those aren’t great, either). Stop in, you won’t be disappointed.Aidan Leach

Spot Whales at Logan’s Beach

Whale Watching Adventure

Find a spot at the viewing platform and be the first to catch a glimpse of a fluking southern right whale. Every year between June and October the whales return to their nursery along this coastline where they give birth and raise their calves. During peak season, June through September, they can often be seen just meters off the shore. Make sure you bring your binoculars!

Great views of the coastline from the wooden platform. Lots of room for visitors whale watching. A good sized carpark but it gets very busy during July-September & can be hard to get a park. A great spot for surfers & a nice beach for a walk along, the beach is un patrolled by Life guards. We were lucky to see quite a few whales frolicking around. A great spot for this between July-September. Bring your binoculars as well as a coat as it can be quite windy. sm05060
We have seen Southern Right Whales before but from a boat. But this was amazing to be lucky enough to see adults and calves so close in to the shore is incredible. We had traveled over 16,800 kilometres to see them and were not disappointed. This is a fantastic experience. Just remember that you will be outside and the weather will not necessarily be clement ! We experienced a cold, south westerly squall with rain and hail but that seemed fine to us to be privileged enough to see these beautiful creatures so close. The site has good car parking very close to the purpose built viewing platforms. Good information and interpretation boards. Also we found it to be a good social activity for the humans as we found people actually speaking to each other !!! We visited twice at different times on the same day and saw whales both times in mid September.John A.

Grab Breakfast in Warrnambool

Breakfast in WarrnamboolAfter waking early to catch the sunrise and a little over an hour on the road, you are probably ready for a nice relaxing breakfast. Head The Pavilion in Warrnambool for great food with a view.

While in Warrnambool, you may want to stop at the Pronto Fine Food Merchants to pick up some gourmet food stuffs for a road-side picnic lunch and snacks. 

Brilliant food, good quick service. Coffee is good. Not amazing. Best views in town though. Can get busy on weekends after 9 so worth calling ahead and booking a table.Julien Marr
My favourite chill out spot when I visit Warrnambool. If you’re lucky, you might see a seal and some stingraysKaren Luu Karen Luu

Meet Koalas, Emus and Kangaroos in Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve


Koalas, emus, kangaroos, and waterbirds roam freely here inside an extinct volcano. As Victoria’s first National Park, Tower Hill is the ideal pace to experience the Australian bush, enjoy magnificent scenery and landscapes while getting up close and personal with some of Australia’s most iconic wildlife. You’ll also find amazing wildflowers in the spring time (late September to early December).

Set aside some time to stretch your legs on a walking trail and spot Australian wildlife in the wild. Stop by the visitor’s center and ask where you can find the koalas! Plan your visit ahead of time and download a free map of the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve.

Loved this place. Take the time to look around when you first drive in – the rock formations are spectacular. Make sure to follow the posted speed limits- wildlife is all over the road. 😊 The walking trails are well signposted and give an indication of the length and difficulty involved with each walk. The peak walk is the ‘toughest’ but is worth it for the view. Keep your eyes open for different animals as you walk. We were lucky enough to visit on a misty afternoon and kangaroos, wallabies and parrots were in abundance.Dianne Hamilton
Interesting extinct volcano area. A variety of good walks, most rated as Easy. We did the Peak wall which is very steep on a properly formed concrete path /steps, great view from the top – however, not for those with breathing or heart problems! Also did the Lava walk and saw black wallabies and 2 koalas. Also enjoyed a very friendly Emu in the carpark, as well as others in the park. Visitor Centre is very informative.Denis Green

Step Back in Time in Port Fairy

Port Fairy
If you have some time and enjoy learning the history of interesting places, continue on the Great Ocean Road to Port Fairy. If this is not of interest to you, head north towards Halls Gap to spend more time in the Grampians.

Port Fairy is a charming fishing village at the end of the Great Ocean Road and the last destination on Victoria’s famed Shipwreck Coast. There are over 7000 buildings of historical significance around Port Fairy. Two walking trails take you on historic adventures.

You can choose to explore the historic buildings of Port Fairy or check out the history of Shipwreck Coast. Stop by the visitor center to pick up a map, or download the Port Fairy Historic Walks Map or Port Fairy Shipwreck Heritage Walk Map before you go.

There is also an amazing array of fashion, art, craft, old books and all sorts of collectibles along Sackville Street in the center of Port Fairy.

Griffiths Island Lighthouse is also a popular stop.

Beautiful! One of the best places in Victoria to spend time with your family. It is a best place for people who love walking.Anil K.
Charming and idyllic tree lined streets, nestled in a location surrounded by the natural beauty of the great ocean rd and the grampians. Port Fairy has so much to offer people seeking peace, quiet and good choice of food and hospitalityDavid Y.

Enjoy the Finer Things in Hamilton

The Hamilton Art Gallery
For those looking to get in a little culture on their Australian road trip, a detour to Hamilton is a must! Head to the Hamilton Gallery to immerse yourself in the vast range of international and Australian decorative art.

One of the best galleries I’ve ever been to. Fantastic mix of exhibits and artists. Absolutely lovely environment. Really high quality for the size of the town its attached to!Hayley Simons

Make a stop a Pierrepoint Vineyard, a family owned and operated vineyard, cellar door and B&B. The vineyard is managed with traditional care, and without the use of chemicals – you’ll see geese, ducks and chickens roaming free, controlling pests naturally.

Lovely small winery with great wine tasting and food platters on offer. Relaxing outdoor area with chickens and ducks to keep you companyEvan Groves

Hike Mt Sturgeon (Wurgarri)

Mt Sturgeon
Avid hikers might want to set aside a chunk of time to hike to the top of Mt. Sturgeon. After over an hour drive through the Victorian Outback, a 3 hour hike might be just what you need. The trail head can be found as you enter the Grampians  National Park; about 5 minutes from Dunkeld. This hike is only suitable for fit and energetic walkers.

Depending on the conditions, it can involve water crossings, slippery surfaces and rock hopping. The summit offers panoramic views of the surrounding ranges and volcanic plains.

Nice walk up to the top and the views are amazing.Tim Sproule
Southern most tip of the Grampians and just outside the township of Dunkeld. Great place to visit either as a starting point to the Grampians, or on your way to the next destination.Lucas Pardo

Take a Picture at The Piccaninny

The Piccaninny Grampians

The view from the summit of the Piccaninny walk provides great views of Mt Abrupt and Dunkeld with its unique landscape. This .7 mile hike takes some people a half hour and others an hour and a half. The gradually climbing trail makes its way through open forest that provides stunning wildflower displays in the spring. It’s an easy walk until you get to the last 400 yards, which is fairly steep.

Great scenery. Easy walk. Fantastic views.Sally Dobbie
Great short walk with stunning viewsJennifer Walters

Learn About the Grampains Aboriginal Culture, Flora and Fauna at Brambuk

Brambuk - The National Park and Cultural Centre

Brambuk – The National Park and Cultural Centre is a special place. Its multi award winning architecture interprets the traditional stories of the local Aboriginal people. Discover the culture of the Aboriginal communities of Western Victoria through multimedia shows, art exhibitions, artifact displays, cultural talks and lots of great activities such as didgeridoo music, traditional dance, basket weaving, boomerang throwing and painting.

You’ll often find kangaroos hanging around as well!

Great way to learn about the cultural history of Geriwald and the dreaming. Painting our own boomerangs and a lesson on how to throw them was a highlight. Enjoyed the tasting platter and wattleseed damper.Johanna de Kort
Very interesting information about the culture of the local aborigenee peoples, their lifestyle, their cultivating techniques and their moving history. Don’t forget to try the native flavoured ice-cream at the Cafe!Andreas Hurter

Wine in Great Western

Grampians Estate

Wine lovers will want to make the drive out to Great Western to visit two historic Victorian Wineries – Grampians Estate & Seppelt Cellar Door.

A James Halliday ‘Five Red Star’ winery, Grampians Estate has collected some 49 trophies with their elegant cool-climate shiraz and sparkling shiraz leading the way.

The cellar door offers wine tastings, wine tutorials, cheese platters, muffins and espresso coffee in a warm and friendly environment. Experienced staff will ensure your visit is a rewarding one.

Loved this place! We had a lovely wine tasting experience with Mich, who was funny, friendly, and knowledgeable. She shared the history of the area and the winery and walked us through each one of the wines. They had a wide range of sparkling, reds, whites, and dessert wines, so there’s likely everyone can find something they like. We liked most of their wines and we thought they were reasonable priced, plus they had a discount if you bought 6+ bottles. And they had a selection of very yummy snacks, in case you needed a quick bite. This is a great place and would highly recommend stopping by when heading up to the Grampians or on your way back to Melbourne.Alexandra Smith

Seppelt Cellar Door

Seppelt Cellar Door is famous for their heritage listed labyrinth of underground cellars known as “The Drives”. The Drives are the largest underground cellars in the Southern Hemisphere. Guided tours provide a fascinating glimpse into Victorian wine pioneering history. Tours take place every hour from 11am to 3pm. Night tours with dinner are also available.

The most amazing winery I’ve ever visited. The tour is mind blowing and the wines are some of Australia’s best ! It’s a must do ! Revisited recently and they have launched the 2018 Luxury collection – the 2016 Pinot Meunier is simply amazing and the 2018 Drumborg Riesling is going to wine awards!!! Kristy Daniel

Chase Waterfalls in Grampians National Park

You’ll find quite a few amazing waterfalls in Grampians National Park. Here are a few from which you can choose.

Splitter Falls

Splitters Falls

The serene Splitters Falls are just a short walk from Halls Gap in the Grampians. From the center of town, follow the path along Stony Creek to Venus Baths, a series of rock pools popular for toe-dipping on warm days. From here, take the stairs to the tranquil setting of Splitters Falls. Alternatively, take the short walk from Wonderland car park.

Beautiful waterfall, particularly after rain. Go in the spring and walk amongst the wildflowers!Rachael Warncke

MacKenzie Falls

McKenzie Falls

A 1.2 mile hike along a steep trail ends in the spectacular view of water cascading over huge cliffs into a deep pool. Sit on a rock in the river and enjoy the view. These waterfalls flow all year round.

Alternatively, a viewing platform at the Bluff offers great views of MacKenzie Falls after a short, easy-access walk up a gentle grade.

Best waterfalls we have ever been to hands down. Spectacular!! Would love to come every year just to bath in the crystal clear cool waters. The Grampians is wonderful. Halls gap a lovely little town. Busy is peak seasons. The walk is all steps, bring water for the trip back up. You will need slight rests and moderately fit. Kids loved it!!!Linda Vaccaro

Broken Falls

Broken Falls
Just upstream from MacKenzie Falls, you’ll find Broken Falls.  You don’t even have to leave the MacKezie Falls parking lot! Just follow the short path through open stringybark forest to the outlook on the edge of the gorge to catch sweeping views of the river tumbling over the wide dissipated waterfall.

The Broken Falls were not as impressive as the MacKenzie Falls. However the view was still quite nice as it has its own style of flowing water through a series of layers of rocks. Or I may say it is somewhat “softer” than the MacKenzie Falls. It is very close to the MacKenzie Falls, so it is worthwhile to have a look.Sin Yin LO

Hear Nothing in Silent Street, See Everything at the Pinnacle

Head to the Wonderland Car Park for a great 1.3 mile hike. Keep an eye out for native wildlife along the way, including koalas and kangaroos. Bring sturdy walking shoes as you may be doing some rock hopping along the way. You’ll ascend into the Grampians’ version of the Grand Canyon with its unique Australian rock formations.

The Grand Canyon

My favorite part of the Wonderland Loop, the canyon type formation with the erosion and rock layers this was really interesting…And the path designed to allow hikers to climb through this area was just great. A must seeTony Meehan

Silent Street Halls Gap

Then you’ll continue through Silent Street.

Its a narrow 100m passage between 2 huge walls of rock. Pretty amazing. The moment you enter, it goes completely silent all around, not even the sound of wind! From here u are just 7-10 mins fr the Pinnacle. Might be a queue to get through bcos certain parts could be rather too narrow for 2 way traffic. You will only encounter this if u take the Wonderland trail.RS

The Pinnacle Hike

Once you reach the Pinnacle lookout, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of Halls Gap and the Grampians’ main peaks. For an easier route, walk from Sundial carpark via Devil’s Gap. You’ll miss the Grand Canyon and Silent Street, but you’ll still get the amazing view from the Pinnacle lookout.

Spectacular scenery during the walk is topped by the magical views from the peak. The grand canyon diversion is well worth the additional effort. The return trip from Wonderland Carpark took 1.5 hours (for a fit bloke walking at solid pace) which included 15 minutes rest at the top and brief photo stops along the way.Ben M

Overnight in Halls Gap

With so many things to do near Halls Gap, you may want to spend a few nights in this small township nestled between the soaring rocky mountain peaks of the Wonderland and Mount William Ranges. You’ll find a number of cafes and tourist shops facing the grassy areas by Stony Creek. 

Your Australian Road Trip Continues!

In our next blog post, we’ll conclude with the journey from Halls Gap returning to the stylish city of Melbourne. You’ll travel through the Ballarat Goldfields to discover the fascinating  history, opulence and excitement of the region. 

Want to Visit the Grampians in Victoria, Australia?

If seeing the amazing Australian Outback and the Grampians is a bucket list item for you, let one of our Destination Specialist plan your perfect Australian road trip!


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


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11 Unique Australian Animals

11 Unique Australian Animals (and Some You Never Knew Existed!)

11 Unique Australian Animals (and Some You Never Knew Existed!)

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

People tend to have two reactions when it comes to Australian animals.

Either their faces light up at the thought of cute kangaroos and koalas, or they actually recoil in horror.

Though several Australian animals are considered dangerous, you’re more likely to get injured from a horse than a snake in Australia.

Over 80% of mammals and reptiles in Australia are found nowhere else on Earth. This makes for some truly fascinating creatures, some famous and others not as well known, to discover in Australia.

Here are 11 unique Australian animals, including some you may not know exist!

Koalas

Koala in Gold Coast, Queensland credit Tourism Australia

No one can resist the cuddly allure of koalas. These iconic Australia animals are marsupials, a kind of mammal that is born undeveloped and is carried in a pouch. Like all marsupials, including kangaroos, wombats and Tasmanian devils, baby koalas are called joeys.

Newborn koalas are called pinkies, born blind and about the size of a jellybean. After birth the pinkie immediately crawls into its mother’s pouch, where it’ll stay for 6 to 7 months. At around 9 to 10 months the joey leaves the pouch for good, ready to munch on a variety of eucalypts. The leaves of these trees are highly toxic and low on nutrition, requiring lots of energy to digest.

This is why koalas spend so much time snoozing so as to preserve energy – often sleeping up to 18-20 hours a day!

What sets the koala apart from other marsupials is that it has no tail. Nonetheless, koalas live high among eucalypts with ease. They mostly hang about in tall eucalypt forests and woodlands of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

Contrary to popular belief, the koala is not a bear – though it’s certainly as cute as a teddy bear. Their cuddly exterior makes them appear docicle, and though koalas usually keep to themselves, they can attack if they feel threatened. If spotted in the wild, it’s best to keep a distance.

Where to See Koalas

One of the best places to see koalas in the wild is Kangaroo Island, a natural island sanctuary home to many of Australia’s native animals.

In the state of Queensland, sanctuaries and zoos allow you to hold koalas, so if you’re after that once-in-a-lifetime snapshot with a koala, be sure to do it in Queensland! It’s illegal to hold koalas anywhere else.

Kangaroos

Kangaroo the Maria Island Walk, Tasmania credit The Maria Island Walk

Tell anyone you’re going to Australia and one of the first things they’ll ask is if you’re going to feed the kangaroos. And you’ll most likely answer “Yes!”

These native Australian animals are marsupials as well as macropods, meaning “big foot.” Red kangaroos, tall and strongly built, are the largest marsupials and the largest Australian mammal, sometimes standing at over 6 feet tall. Other types of kangaroos include the eastern gray and Kangaroo Island kangaroos, both smaller and tamer than red kangaroos. Gray kangaroos live in the forests of Australia and Tasmania while red kangaroos are found in the eucalyptus woodlands of the Northern Territory. 

An old legend about the origin of the name “kangaroo” states that when James Cook asked Aboriginals what these creatures were called, they answered “kangaroo” meaning “I don’t understand your question.”

Though this tale has been proven false, who can resist a good origin story?

Recent linguistic studies uncovered the word “gangurru” from the Aboriginal language of Guugu Yimidhirr, referring to a species of kangaroo and is very likely the source of its name.

Male kangaroos can be very aggressive toward each other, fighting over mates, but kangaroos generally keep to themselves and hop away on sight of a human. With powerful hind legs and a strong tail used as a sort of third leg for balancing, these creatures pack incredible kicks. They’re easily nature’s most skilled kick boxers.

Where to See Kangaroos

You’ll find kangaroos in nearly all Australian wildlife sanctuaries and zoos, but seeing them in the wild is a real special treat. You’re very likely to see them roaming throughout forested national parks with beaches, as well as along the side of the road on the outskirts of major cities. The best time to spot kangaroos in the wild is at dusk.

Wallabies

Wallaby in Dreamtime 2017, Brisbane credit Tourism Australia

We’ll admit it – it’s kind of hard to tell wallabies and kangaroos apart. But it gets pretty easy once you see them side by side.

Wallabies are almost an exact miniature of kangaroos. Though they can measure up to 6 feet in height from head to tail, wallabies tend to be much smaller than kangaroos, which can reach up to 8 feet in height from head to tail.

Another way to tell wallabies and kangaroos apart is from their hind legs. Wallabies have more compact legs for moving through dense forest areas while kangaroos have knees and feet set wide apart. Though smaller, their legs allow for tremendous kicks when threatened and are also great for hopping at high speeds. They also tend to be more colorful than their larger cousins, with the yellow-footed wallaby boasting yellow-orange features across its coat.

There are roughly 30 different species of wallabies, grouped by their habitat: shrub wallabies, brush wallabies, and rock wallabies. Larger wallabies tend to be social animals, traveling in groups called mobs. As herbivores, wallabies mainly feast on grasses and plants including flowers, ferns and moss.

Wallabies as a whole are not an endangered species, but there are some species of rock wallabies as well as the banded-hare wallaby that are endangered.

Where to See Wallabies 

You’re very likely to see wallabies bounding along the roads in the outskirts of major Australia cities. Locals even report wallabies hanging around gardens and backyards. You’re even likely to see them lying between grapevines of vineyards throughout the Hunter Valley in New South Wales. Wildlife parks and zoos are the best spots for seeing wallabies, as these nimble creatures usually dash away at the sight of humans.

Tasmanian Devils

Tasmanian Devil in the Maria Island Walk, Tasmania credit The Maria Island Walk

When early European settlers posted in Hobart, Tasmania, they came across a strange creature with frightening growls, high-pitched screeches and unearthly screams. Coupled with red ears and disturbingly wide jaws lined with sharp teeth, the settlers decided to call these creatures “devils.” This is how the Tasmanian devil got it’s name, though it may just be the cutest devil ever to grace Australia.

These small creatures almost look like a cross between a small dog and a bear. Their coarse dark fur and round ears give them a baby bear-like appearance, complete with a pudgy build. With a pouch to carry their young, a mother devils can nurse up to four devils at a time.

As the world’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial, they tend to eat carrion more than hunting live prey. Small native animals such as wallabies, wombats and possums are favorites, though they’ll also devour reptiles, birds and even sheep.

Though nocturnal, devils like to lay out and bask in the sun. They’re huge water lovers, wading and splashing about, even just sitting and laying in water to keep cool. Even devils can’t resist a lazy sunbathing day.

Once present in mainland Australia, Tasmanian devils are now only found on the island state of Tasmania. Loss of habitat and more recently Devil Facial Tumor Disease are the leading causes of declining numbers of devils, now listed as endangered. Though there are huge efforts to minimize the impact of this disease, it’s a difficult task, as this disease is highly contagious among devils. For these brash creatures that often fight over mates, a simple touch is all it takes for the disease to take hold.

Where to See Tasmanian Devils

Though it’s rare to see devils in the wild, you’re more likely to come across them in maintained wilderness refuges and wildlife parks. Some of our favorite places to see devils are the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo in northeastern Tasmania and Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary just half an hour outside of Hobart.

Wombats

Wombat in Bay of Fires, Tasmania credit Tourism Australia

These stout marsupials look like miniature bears with chunky cheeks. They grow up to 3 feet long and can weigh between 44 and 77 pounds. Their waddling walk and pudgy appearance make them seem slow and docile, but they can run up to 25 miles per hour. As highly territorial creatures, they attack when defending their territory. These nocturnal animals dwell in burrows dug with their long claws.

Like all marsupials, wombats possess a pouch where their young are nurtured for the first few months of life. Unlike most other marsupials, however, the wombat’s pouch faces backwards toward its rear. This is to prevent soil from getting into the pouch as the wombat burrows.

But this strange feature is nothing compared to its poo. Molded by the horizontal ridges of its large intestine, wombat poo is notorious for its cube shape. In this way, the wombat’s cube-shaped poo allows it to stay in place and mark its territory.

Where to see Wombats

You’re most likely to see wombats roaming Cradle Mountain in Tasmania and the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney, but it’s rare to see them out in the wild as they are nocturnal creatures. You’ll definitely find them in wildlife parks and zoos, with some offering the opportunity to pet and feed them.

Dingoes

Dingo, Fraser Island, QLD credit Tourism Australia

As cute as a dog yet severely misunderstood, the dingo is one of Australia’s most controversial animals. The origin of these creatures is much debated, with recent studies suggesting that dingoes originally migrated from central Asia across land bridges over 18,000 years ago.

Intensely intuitive and intelligent, Houdini has nothing on dingoes. With incredible agility, flexible joints, rotating wrists and fantastic jumping, digging and climbing abilities, dingoes are the ultimate escape artists. They can even rotate their necks up to 180 degrees around. Imagine seeing your dog do that!

Though they share many characteristics with dogs, dingoes are decidedly not dogs at all. They are classed as a unique species called Canis dingo.

Highly individualistic and naturally cautious, dingoes are very curious but are more likely to avoid unfamiliar threats and confrontation. They tend to shy away from humans, rarely showing aggression or attacking.

Although rarely kept as pets, it is legal in the states of New South Wales, Northern Territory, Victoria and Western Australia to keep a pet dingo with a license.  But doing so is not a light task – dingoes require large amounts of space, lots of bonding, and extensive training.

Where to see Dingoes

Most zoos and wildlife parks house dingoes, but if your heart is set on seeing them in the wild, head to Fraser Island off the coast of Queensland.

Quokkas

Quokka Smile

With teddy bear ears and tiny doe eyes, look for the happiest animal on Earth at Rottnest Island in Western Australia. This small macropod is in the same family as kangaroos and wallabies, with a Mona Lisa smile to add even more cuteness.

These nocturnal creatures are about as large as a common house cat and look like a tiny, chubby kangaroo.  They also have a pouch where the baby joey lives in for six months.

When quokkas aren’t eating grasses, shrubs and leaves, they roam around Rottnest Island with the liberty and confidence of a tourist. With no natural predators or traffic on the island, quokkas have grown accustomed to humans and often make attempts to sneak into restaurants and campsites in search of food.

Though it may be tempting to give a quokka a snack, feeding quokkas human food is greatly discouraged. Attacks are extremely rare, but bites have been reported – usually when people are trying to feed them.

It’s also illegal to touch a quokka – they are wild animals after all – but snapshots and selfies are allowed, even highly sought after. As naturally inquisitive creatures, they have little fear of humans and will often approach people on their own, sporting a huge picture-perfect smile.

Where to see Quokkas

Your best chance to see quokkas in the wild will be in Rottnest Island, a popular holiday destination off the coast of Western Australia. This island boasts lovely white sand beaches, stunning coasts and sparkling bays with clear waters perfect for snorkeling.

You’re also very likely to see quokkas in zoos and wildlife parks throughout Australia.

Tree Kangaroo

Goodfellow's Tree Kangaroo credit Matthias Liffers

The tree kangaroo is very much like a shy toddler hiding behind his mother’s leg. Solitary and elusive, there is still so much to learn about this marsupial. There are 12 known species of tree kangaroo, all looking quite different from each other. Some look like a woolly cross between a bear and a kangaroo with golden and red coats. Others have black and dark brown coats with smooth faces. They typically grow up to 3 feet tall and weigh up to 30 lbs depending on the species.

They dwell among the trees in tropical rainforests of the mountains in Queensland, New Guinea and surrounding islands. Though “kangaroo” is in their name, these creatures do much better among the trees than on the ground below. They hop just like kangaroos but rather awkwardly, leaning far forward to balance their long, heavy tail. They are more bold and agile in trees, hopping across branches with the help of their powerful hind legs and tail.

Tree kangaroos eat mostly fruit, leaves, tree bark and other foliage found in their rainforest habitat. Its average lifespan is unknown, but in captivity they can live for more than 20 years.

Where to see Tree Kangaroos

The only places you’re sure to see tree kangaroos are in zoos and wildlife parks throughout the state of Queensland. But if you’re lucky you might see them in the Atherton Tablelands near Cairns. You might also spot tree kangaroos on the Jungle Surfing tour in Daintree Rainforest!

Platypus

Imagine being the first person to see a playtpus. Good luck trying to convince anyone that this creature is real! It doesn’t help that this elusive animal is hard to spot – its silvery brown fur blends within the glistening surfaces of the streams and rivers in its habitat.

The platypus is monotreme, a kind of mammal that lays eggs instead of giving birth to live young. There are only four other monotremes, the others being different species of echidnas, another animal endemic to Australia. It’s also one of the few species of venomous mammals in the world. Males have a spur on their hind legs capable of delivering a venom severely painful to humans, though nothing life-threatening.

These contrary features make it a wonder that the playtpus isn’t an extinct creature from long ago. In fact, when scientists first observed a preserved body of a platypus they thought it was fake, made of different animals parts sewn together.

Though the platypus is abundant in the wild, numbers are decreasing, bumping the platypus to a “near threatened” status.

Where to See a Platypus

The platypus is generally found in the riverbanks of Australia’s eastern coast as well as Tasmania. There are only a few wildlife sanctuaries in Australia that house platypus, including the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, Taronga Zoo in Sydney, and Healesville Sanctuary near Melbourne.

A special tank called a platypusary is required for housing a platypus. For this reason there are no playtpus in captivity outside of Australia.

These special tanks allow you to see a platypus up close, where its twists and turns in the water will reveal its playful nature.

Quolls

Spotted-tail Quoll at Cradle Tasmanian Devil Sanctuary, Cradle Mountain, TAS credit robburnettimages

With a stocky body and a long tail, these spunky creatures are much like a cross between a Tasmanian Devil and a cat. Its white-spotted dark brown coat and dainty pink nose make it look like the star of a cartoon.

But these carnivorous marsupials mean business. Their sharp teeth delight in munching on birds, reptiles and small mammals such as bandicoots, possums and rabbits. Mainly nocturnal animals, quolls will sometimes bask in the sunshine, much like Tasmanian devils.

Females also grow a pouch where their young live for the first few months of life. Like wombats, their pouch opens toward the rear – only the spotted-tail quoll has a true pouch. Larger quolls live up to four to five years while smaller quolls have a lifespan of about two years.

There are four species of quoll native to Australia: the western quoll, eastern quoll, spotted-tail quoll and the northern quoll.

Listed as endangered, major conservation efforts are underway to help preserve quolls and reintroduce some species in the wild. Recently, conservation efforts have led to the successful birth of rare eastern quolls in the wild for the first time in half a century.

Where to See Quolls

Quolls are native to the eastern coast of Australia while eastern quolls are found only in Tasmania. You’re not very likely to see them in the wild outside of dedicated nature park refuges, so your best bet is to see them in wildlife parks and zoos.

Lyrebirds

It wouldn’t be surprising at all if lyrebirds are in fact robots in disguise. With incredible abilities to mimic chainsaws, camera shutters and toy guns, lyrebirds are easily one of Australia’s most impressive birds.

Some reports even swear to hearing lyrebirds mimic human speech.

Lyrebirds, found in the rainforests of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, pick up sounds from their surrounding environment. It’s able to recreate such fantastic sounds through the complex muscles of its syrinx. It takes up to one year for the lyrebird to hone its song, made up of calls from other birds. These vocalizations easily fool other birds, often responding to the lyrebird’s call.

And if such impressive tunes are not enough, male lyrebirds will display their gorgeous lyre-shaped plumes during courtship.

With such charming features, the lyrebird will surely win a mate.

There are two species of lyrebirds: the superb lyrebird and the Albert’s lyrebird, named after Prince Albert. As ground dwelling birds, they rarely take flight. Though the status of lyrebirds is “near threatened,” they are currently not an endangered species.

Where to See Lyrebirds

The lyrebirds at Healesville Sanctuary near Melbourne love to show-off their songs to visitors.  Spot wild lyrebirds in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges, both just an hour away from Melbourne.

Want to See Australia’s Unique Wildlife?

Known for its array of fascinating native wildlife, a trip to Australia isn’t complete without at least petting a koala or kangaroo.

But once you step inside a wildlife park, you’ll discover so many more breathtaking Australian animals you might’ve not known existed.

If seeing Australia’s wildlife is a huge bucket list item for you, we know the best places for unforgettable wildlife experiences.


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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