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
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 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
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
After 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).
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
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.
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
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)
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 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.
Learn About the Grampains Aboriginal Culture, Flora and Fauna at Brambuk
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
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 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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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!
Posted on: February 21st, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
The Best Australia Food and Wine for a Coastal Vacation
The food and wine scene across Australia is constantly setting trends and becoming a bucket list destination for foodies everywhere.
On the east coast you’ll find an abundance of the world’s fresh seafood and waterfront dining with a tropical flair. You’ll also find that Hunter Valley and the Barossa are not Australia’s only premier wine regions. The Margaret River wine region in Western Australia is a must-do for any wine lover.
Noosa is a bit of a hidden secret in Australia. With fantastic beaches, lush national parks, world-class dining and shopping, this is the place Aussies go for a beach holiday close to home.
The food and wine scene in Noosa is quickly becoming one of the best in all Australia. You’ll find everything from award-winning waterfront dining along the Noosa River to a motorcycle-themed bar serving craft beer and coffee.
Treat yourself in this beach city gem and indulge in one of our must-do restaurants while in Noosa.
Sails – No local can deny that Sails is a Noosa institution. Framed by the serene views of Noosa Main Beach, vibrant seafood delightfully presented and an extensive wine list – pure tropical bliss.
Wasabi– Some of the best views of the Noosa River are found at Wasabi. A sunset sitting is perhaps the best complement to its traditional Japanese cuisine. Their Omakase degustation menu features a seven or nine course meal highlighting ingredients sourced from their own local farm, Honeysuckle Hill. You’ll find tried and true favorites like sashimi and nigiri along with regional dishes such as Moreton bay oysters and sake steamed spanner crab.
Locale– Wander down to the end of Hastings Street to perhaps the most down-to-earth restaurant in Noosa: Locale. Sleek and sophisticated Italian cuisine meets lush alfresco dining in this local favorite. Their prawns and zucchini flowers are popular starters, but you’ll be dreaming about their squid ink pasta for days. Their wine list is also a dream, ranging from champagne to shiraz and everything in between.
Season Restaurant– Attentive and professional service with a charm as relaxed as its beach setting, Season is another Hastings Street favorite. Book ahead for a beach side table, but don’t fret if you don’t get that coveted seat – the real star of Season is the seafood curry.
Noosa Beach House – If you’re coming to Noosa Beach House, you’re coming for the signature Sri Lankan Snapper curry. Can’t decide from their small menu? Opt for the degustation menu and delight in six courses featuring roasted pork belly, wagyu sirloin, local spanner crab along with an Amuse Bouche. A little bit of everything with a little something extra!
As the capital city of tropical Queensland, Brisbane combines urban city living with beachside relaxation. And as the third largest city in all of Australia, there no doubt Brisbane is becoming a contender for some of the nation’s best food scenes.
Here are the top Brisbane restaurants to stop at for world-class wining and dining.
Sono Restaurant – Looking for the best sushi in Brisbane? Or perhaps the best seafood, period? Look no further than Sono. Boasting Brisbane’s freshest sashimi, exciting teppanyaki and amazing views of the Brisbane River, this Japanese and seafood dining experience is unreal. And with Moreton Bay just a little ways down the river, their Moreton Bay Bugs are a must.
Urbane – If you have an entire afternoon free, that may be just enough time to dine at Urbane. Here, it’s all about dining at your own leisure where friendly and personable attendants will remember your name. The service is definitely one of the top reasons Urbane is listed as the top restaurant in Queensland. Their five and seven course degustation menus featuring Australian and vegetarian cuisine undoubtedly contribute to their well-deserved awards.
Bacchus– This is perhaps the best place for that first dip into Australian fine dining. Extremely knowledgeable and approachable staff will dash away any qualms you have about asking what exactly is on your plate. That’s just a testament to the impressive presentation. And with a menu detailing the exact region where each dish is sourced, you’ll soon become an expert on your own meal. Pair your seven course degustion meal with wine or choose a decadent dish from their a la cart menu. The venison main dish is a popular hit.
Malt– Satisfy any cravings for duck at Malt, where this consistent favorite is cooked to crispy perfection. Add in generous wine pours, a rustic-chic setting and live piano performances for an evening of utter romance.
Gerard’s Bistro– Tantalize your taste buds with Brisbane’s take on Middle Eastern cuisine at Gerard’s Bistro. Get cozy with your dining partner as these dishes are made for sharing. And you’ll want to get a little taste of everything, with tasty dishes such as coal-grilled octopus, suckling pig and fried cauliflower.
Mount Tamborine and Surrounding Wineries
The vacation never ends when you’re in the Gold Coast. Sunny beaches, wild theme parks and a buzzing nightlife – it’s got everything you need to wind down and get loose.
But for a more quiet retreat, the Gold Coast Hinterland will enchant with its lush national parks, waterfalls and charming towns.
In this region you’ll find Mount Tamborine, known as the “Green Behind the Gold.” And with breathtaking scenery, clean mountain air and award-winning wineries, we feel their gold is well deserved.
O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyard– With a fabulous picnic lunch on offer to complement their gorgeous grounds, this is the winery of your fantasies. That is, if you dream about a gourmet picnic by Canungra Creek, sipping on a glass of wine while looking out to the turtles in the water. If you’re lucky you may spot the elusive resident platypus!
Witches Falls Winery– If you’ve only got time for one winery visit while in the Gold Coast, Witches Falls Winery is the place to go. Passionate and friendly service, local cheeses and six wine tastings for $6 – it’s hard to go wrong here.
Ocean View Estate– For a boutique winery with serious food, Ocean View Estate is a must. It’s difficult to say which is their main draw – their superb wines or their extensive and carefully curated menu. And for the non-wine lovers out there, they do their own craft beer as well!
Albert River Wines– Got a special occasion coming up? Albert River Wines provides the perfect setting for any celebration. High quality dishes such as barramundi and veal provide an impressive dining experience, surrounded in the colonial charm of a historic home. Add in a taste of their sauvignon blanc or their popular red blends for a splendid day in the Gold Coast hinterland.
Most people only experience Australia’s east coast on their first vacation Down Under.
But Australia’s west coast offers an otherworldly charm that shouldn’t be missed. Repeat visitors from around the world are drawn to Western Australia’s surreal national parks, a burgeoning food scene and fantastic wine regions.
Perth, the nation’s sunniest capital city is the main base for exploring the best of this region’s food and wine. Chic eateries and European-style bars are tucked in its inner city laneways, and fine dining is found within the CBD.
Here are the top spots in Perth worth a stop for a little indulgence.
Wildflower – The tasting menu at Wildflower not only offers exceptional Australian cuisine but also rotates according to the six seasons of the indigenous Noongar calendar. Each dish celebrates local ingredients throughout the changing of the seasons. This is the sort of attention that makes Wildflower a local favorite. The stunning views of the Swan River definitely help.
Petite Mort – Petite Mort is a bit of a hidden secret, where French and Australian cuisine meet in a three or ten course menu. Ingredients full of color and flavor are paired together on elegantly presented dishes. The ten course degustation menu is a favorite for its corned silverside and quail egg dish along with its signature dessert – “Death By Chocolate.”
C Restaurant in the Sky– It’ll be difficult for anything to top the views at C Restaurant. Literally. This upscale restaurant is located in the slowly revolving 33rd floor of St. Martins Tower, lending to incredible 360 degree views of the city. What better way to spend an evening than indulging in fresh seafood or tender pork belly while looking out onto the Swan River and city lights?
Varnish on King– This hidden gem of a whiskey bar is quickly becoming a Perth institute. The Bacon Flight – four generous cuts of bacon matched with whiskey – is a bucket list item for true Perth foodies. And if you’re not into whiskey, they have a Rose and Bacon flight as well!
When looking for things to do in Perth the most common response is a day trip out to Margaret River. With stunning natural beauty, craft breweries and countless wineries, this region provides so much more than one day’s worth of adventure.
Known for its cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay, you’ll find just as delectable white wine varieties throughout the region.
Leeuwin Estate– World-class chardonnay, free tastings and amazing food – this is one of Wilyabrup’s finest wineries. Its sensational vintages also helped put this region on the wine map. Though there’s a fee to taste their Art Series wines, offering perhaps Australia’s best chardonnay, the price is totally worth it.
Cullen Wines– Considered a gem of the region, this family-run winery is 100% biodynamic. The ingredients used in their sophisticated menu are all sourced from their gardens and local surrounds. That’s right – not only will you find exquisite red blends but you’ll also find a divine menu with dishes such as rabbit, duck and barramundi. Come for the wine, stay for the food.
Fraser Gallop– Like a scene out of a movie, the Fraser Gallop Estate grounds are undoubtedly the most beautiful in all of Wilyabrup. And their serious, built-to-last Parterre Cabernet Sauvignon is just as stunning.
Woodlands– Personal and friendly tastings make their elegant cabernet sauvignon all the more pleasurable. Friendly and knowledgeable staff create the cozy and family-feel atmosphere this cellar door is well-known for. An asset to the charm of Wilyabrup Valley.
Voyager Estate– A bucket list item for premier Margaret River wining and dining. Delectable degustation with wine pairings, rose gardens and wine and cheese flights – this is a slice of paradise. If you still aren’t impressed, perhaps their flagpole – Australia’s second largest flag and flagpole – will do the trick.
Ready for a Little Indulgence in Australia?
Aussies love their food and drink, and love sharing the best places even more. For more recommendations on the best food and wine in Australia, your Destination Specialist can give you insider tips. We’ll make it all the more easier to plan your food and wine trail throughout your vacation Down Under!
Posted on: February 12th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
The Best Australia Food and Wine for the Gourmet Traveler
When it comes to Australia food and wine, perhaps what instantly comes to mind is Vegemite…and not much else.
Yet the culinary scene throughout the country features some of the world’s most innovative and trend-setting restaurants. And the wine? Some of the best Chardonnay and Shiraz in the world.
For the true food and wine lovers, these are 23 must-see stops in Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide and surrounding wine regions. No vacation to Australia is complete without a little indulgence.
Sydney’s reputation as Australia’s global city precedes itself. Right on the doorstep of the CBD you’ll find incredibly diverse eateries to satisfy any craving imaginable.
From high-end dining to cozy cafes offering anything from Aussie dishes to Malaysian cuisine, you can’t go wrong with any pick.
But if you’re finding your head swimming from trying to choose the best Sydney restaurants, we’ve made it easy for you. Here’s our list of can’t-miss restaurants in Sydney.
Graze MCA – Located in the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, this is one of those rare restaurants that has it all. Brilliant location with an unbeatable view of the Sydney Opera House, amazing food and fantastic service. Simple and fresh ingredients highlight the generous portions of dishes such as bouillabaisse, poached ocean trout and lamb rump. Their wine list is a carefully curated celebration of Aussie and Kiwi wine regions, perfect for sipping while enjoying the views of the harbor.
Hubert – Step back in time to 1930’s Paris as you enter Hubert, a must for French cuisine. Don’t let the unassuming exterior fool you. Once inside, the unmistakably Parisian flair greets you with an ambience of dark elegance illuminated by dozens of candles. The menu boasts items inspired by cookbooks predating World War I. With live music adding to the splendid atmosphere, dining in Hubert is a divine slice of Paris right in the CBD.
Quay– Often lauded as the best restaurant in Sydney, this multiple award-winning restaurant never fails to live up to the hype. This is one of those essential Australian experiences: excellent views of iconic Sydney sights, dishes reflecting a unique blend of bush and local ingredients and a superb wine list detailing even the grape percentages of its champagnes.
Sake– If you’re inkling for a spot of Japanese, Sake is perhaps one of the best choices in all of Sydney. The simplicity of its sushi bar compliments the decadent main dishes, such as the sweet soy braised pork belly and pan seared barramundi. Your visit isn’t complete until you’ve had the famous dragon egg desert, a dark chocolate shell filled with toasted chocolate crumble, passionfruit curd, mango caramel and other vibrant delicacies.
Just about three hours away from Sydney you’ll find Hunter Valley, one of Australia’s premier wine regions.
Noted for its Shiraz and Semillon, there’s still a wide variety of wines to taste from one of many cellar doors dotting the region. A wine tasting tour is one of our favorite ways to get to know the region. What’s better than sampling a variety of wines without having to worry about the drive back?
If you’re a true wine lover, not much else.
Here are some of the top wineries in Hunter Valley you need to visit while Sydney.
Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard – If there’s one thing you’ll remember about your visit to Hunter Valley, it’ll be without a doubt the views from Audrey Wilkinson. This is where you’ll get that sweeping view of picturesque vineyards you see on the postcards. This historic winery dates back to 1866 and offers an excellent range of Semillons along with selections of sparkling, Chardonnay and Rose. Surround yourself in Audrey Wilkinson’s vintage charm with a picnic amongst the vines or a behind the scenes winery tour.
Piggs Peake – If you like big, fruit-driven red wines and small hidden gems, Piggs Peake is the place for you. Often recommended by other wineries, this small local winery has big personality. Here you’ll find a casual approach to wine (all wine names have a pig theme) with knowledge as professional and personal as any expert sommelier. Consistent favorites include their House of Sticks Shiraz and the House of Straw Merlot.
Mount View Estate – For a classic Hunter Valley experience with a boutique feel, Mt View Estate is a must-see. This estate has produced some of the most awarded wines in the Hunter Valley for 40 years. Mt View boasts a little bit of everything: a wide range of premium wines, gorgeous grounds and friendly and approachable owners.
Many locals fondly regard Melbourne as the Paris of the South – but then, many Melburnians are rather cheeky.
But there’s an unmistakably European feel about its lush Victorian architecture and grid-like city center, and it can’t be denied that Melbourne is considered as Australia’s undisputed cool kid.
The passion emanating from its world-renowned coffee and food scene is infectious, and your standards will rise to a level you’ll be hard pressed to experience anywhere else.
Attica – Foodies visiting Melbourne should have Attica at the top of their list. Rated as one of the world’s best 50 restaurants in 2017 and as the best restaurant in all Australasia, you’ll need to book at least a month in advance. But the month-long wait is well worth it. The menu consists of 17 courses blending Australian flavors in smaller portions so you can enjoy every plate. With dishes such as kangaroo, wattles and waxflower and camel milk ice, this is the perfect introduction to fine Australian cuisine.
Tipo 00 –Wander down Little Bourke Street to find one of Melbourne’s hottest eateries in one of its smallest venues. Tipo 00 is all about carbs, so leave your carb-counting at home. Don’t be fooled by its simple and small menu – the house-made pasta and risotto dishes crafted from bright and fresh ingredients will delight your taste buds with every bite. Their squid ink pasta is a favorite, and their rabbit tagliatelle is a consistent hit.
Brae – For a minimal yet chic experience, you can do no better than Brae. This restaurant has hopped up and up on the World’s Best Restaurants list, jumping from #65 to #44 in 2017. The experience speaks for itself; a visit to Brae is like visiting a friend’s home. Instead of single servings of one course at a time like regular degustation menus, you’ll be served multiple dishes at one time to graze at your own pace. The feel is reminiscent of an upscale holiday feast.
Less than an hour from Melbourne’s CBD is Yarra Valley, the Nappa Valley of Australia. Make a day trip to indulge in some of the finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay produced from one of many wineries in the region. We also love day touring out to Yarra – winery hopping without the hassle of driving, yes please!
Here are some wineries you need to visit while in Yarra.
TarraWarra Estate – Stunning grounds and Australia’s first significant privately funded public museum make TarraWarra a cultural jewel of the Yarra Valley. Have a glass of their exceptional Pinot Noir or Chardonnay while overlooking the scenic surrounds on a crisp afternoon – paradise for any wine lover.
Yarra Yering – For the serious wine buff, Yarra Yering is a must-see. Reds are the focus here, and if you’re traveling solo you can taste ten wines for $10. An absolute steal considering the selection features their current vintages.
Oakridge Wines – Come for the food and wine, stay for a game of giant chess. What more do you need to draw you in for a visit? Perhaps complimentary wine tasting with no booking necessary? We’re so there. Not to mention the beautiful grounds – you’ll be day dreaming about hosting your wedding here.
A can’t-miss stop for any foodie MUST include a trip to Hobart. Seriously, with the cleanest air and waterways in the world, Tasmania produces some of the finest seafood and distillation around.
A stay in Hobart will be full of feasting on the freshest salmon, oysters, cheeses, whiskey and ciders. Here are our highlights of some of Hobart’s premier dining institutions.
The Source – The Museum of Old and New Art is a Hobart icon – a must for any art lover with the slightest predilection for the controversial. But one of the MONA’s brightest gems is The Source, its in-house restaurant focused on seasonal local produce. Try their own Moorilla wine or delight your taste buds with one of ten thousand bottles from around the world (no, really!).
Mures – Straight from the day’s catch from their own fishing vessel, you’ll be hard pressed to find any seafood fresher than at Mures. The restaurant is split into two decks: Mures Lower Deck provides a more casual dining experience while Upper Deck is more intimate and upscale. Situated on the waterfront, you’ll enjoy superb views of the harbor either way.
The Glass House – A small but insanely popular restaurant where tables are fought over even on Monday nights. But believe the hype: attentive service with smiles, exceptional food and gorgeous views of Derwent River cement The Glass House’s reputation as a Hobart must-do. Highlights are the carefully crafted cocktails and the salmon sashimi.
Willing Brothers – Here you’ll find great eats and an extensive wine list tucked in a cozy venue. Aussie and European labels are proudly displayed on the wall of the bar, and you can even buy a bottle to take home after tasting. Pair your sips with a small but delicious meal from locally-sourced ingredients.
Ettie’s – You won’t find a more rustic chic and stylish restaurant in Hobart than Ettie’s. Its contemporary menu offers a broad range of options from roasted duck ravioli to steak frites. For a lovely leisurely meal, opt for the seven course degustation meal and get your fill of oysters, sardines, mussels and cheese.
Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills
Adelaide in South Australia is noted for its refined elegance and culture. After getting acquainted with its stately art galleries and museums in North Terrace, take a day trip out to one of the surrounding wine regions. Some of our favorites are Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills, where you’ll find 5-star wineries and some of Australia’s best cool-climate wines.
Two Hands –For an journey into what Australian Shiraz is capable of, Two Hands is a must. Their Gnarly Dudes Shiraz is a popular favorite. Here you’ll receive a unique sit-down tasting from the day’s selection and you’ll get to take your tasting glass home with you.
Torbreck – Named one of the world’s top 100 wine estates, Torbreck is a small winery excelling in Shiraz and consistency. Though big on rich reds, their whites, particularly the Roussanne Marsanne, plays rights along side their most popular contenders.
Ochota Barrels –This is truly one of Adelaide Hills hidden gems with a well-deserved cult following. All Ochota Barrels wine names are music references sure to delight any punk rock enthusiast. Grab a seat at Lost in a Forest, their cellar door housed in a 130 year-old stone church, and try their wood fired pizza while sipping on their wines. Set within an idyllic scene of bright, lush trees hanging over picnic blankets on the lawn, you’ll feel yourself delightfully lost in a forest.
Rockford – No frills and serious wine is found in Rockford. Though a smaller winery, you’re sure to receive warm and attentive service even throughout peak times. This is the place to go for a more traditional winery experience, housed in restored buildings reflecting the architecture of Barossa Valley’s early settlements. You’ll feel the warmth of their sparkling Shiraz in your very soul.
Penfolds Magill Estate – If you’re at all familiar with Australian wine, you’ll have definitely heard of Penfolds. When in Barossa, you can’t pass up the opportunity to miss this household name at their cellar door. With a wide range of affordable and high end wines, there’s something for every palate. And only 20 minutes away from Adelaide’s city center, there’s no reason for you not to go!
Want More Recommendations on the Best Australia Food and Wine?
Part 2 will highlight food and wine spots in Australia’s east coast, including Noosa, Brisbane and Gold Coast. Your Destination Specialist is also always on hand to give you the inside scoop on restaurants and cellar doors you must visit while on your trip. Give in to your desires and lets start planning the ultimate food and wine trail for your Australia vacation!
Posted on: August 10th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
Sydney has deservedly earned a reputation as Australia’s global city. It serves as the country’s financial center, it’s tourism capital and it’s probably the city that most people easily recognize (thanks Sydney Opera House!).
And you don’t become a world-class city without the world-class cuisine to go along with it. Check out our list of restaurants to try in Sydney and see why you’ll never go hungry in this foodie mecca.
Cheap Bites on the Go
Sydney is a big city with a lot to explore. If you like to keep moving when you’re exploring the Harbour city, pop into these walk-up and takeaway stands for a quick bite of delicious, affordable fare to fuel you for sightseeing.
Big Bite on Pitt – Blink and you might miss the entrance to this lunchtime favorite. The sandwich is the perfect food while you’re out and about. Big Bite does them to perfection. Simple, fresh ingredients piled as high as Ayers Rock.
Lentil as Anything – This not-for-profit local concept is a restaurant with a mission. The all-vegetarian menu has no set prices and is completely pay-as-you-can-afford. They believe that those who can pay will and those who can’t still deserve a spot at the table. The food is great, but supporting the mission is even better.
Hot Star Large Fried Chicken – This unassuming takeaway stand is a local favorite and easily missed by tourists. Taiwanese fried chicken is sort of a mix between the chicken shops of London and Nashville Hot Chicken in the U.S. Hot Star Large Fried Chicken markets on chicken that’s “as big as your face” and caters to the business lunch crowd and after-bar partiers alike.
Cafes and Coffee
Sometimes what you really want is the perfect meal to go with your morning pick-me-up. Try these breakfast/brunch/lunch/whenever-you-want spots for a taste of Sydney’s cafe culture.
Workshop Espresso – You might not know it, but Australia lays a pretty hefty claim as being the country that invented avocado toast. We can’t completely verify that claim, but if Workshop Espresso is any indication, they’ve at least mastered the art! A quirky, walk-up spot with coffee, sandwiches, pastries and of course, avocado toast.
Marlowe’s Way – Tucked in to a small alley off the main thoroughfare, you might miss this casual-café at first glance. But once you find this cherished “hole in the wall”, you’ll be glad you took the time to explore a little. The hip-spot is the perfect café to mix with the locals while tasting great coffee and a quick bite.
Kafeine – With a name like that, you know they take their coffee seriously. Professional baristas serve crafted coffees and lattes while the culinary team in the back of the house cooks up breakfast, lunch and dinner items. Kafeine serves high-quality diner items with a twist, like a pulled-pork burger, satay lemongrass-chicken salad and much, much more.
Noodle Houses and More
Ramen is having a bit of a moment in the U.S. right now, but Aussies have been hip to the pulled noodle bowls for years. Taste Japan’s culinary influence on the land Downunder with these noodle houses.
Gumshara Ramen – This authentic noodle house is located in a food court in Chinatown. Perfect for those days when you’ve worked up an appetite walking around Sydney. Locals love Gumshara Ramen for an affordable, quick bite while out and about in Sydney.
Chinese Noodle Restaurant – Sydney is a city that wears its Asian-influenced cuisine on its sleeve, as you’ll notice with the abundance of Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and other restaurants packed in and around the CBD. What sets Chinese Noodle Restaurant apart from many are is its famous hand-pulled noodles made fresh daily. Stop in for a hearty bowl of noodles just a few minutes’ walk from Darling Harbour.
Ippudo – This centrally located noodle house is a Japanese-based chain of ramen shops. But being a chain doesn’t mean Ippudo is lacking on authenticity or flavor and their noodles are consistently considered some of the best in Sydney.
Date Night in Sydney
If you’re on the trip of a lifetime with your partner or significant other, make it extra special with a night on the town in one of these chic lounges with cocktail menus that go toe-to-toe with their world-class dinner menus.
Rabbit Hole Bar + Dining – Hip digs serving modern Australian cuisine and well-curated cocktails. Bartender Doug Laming specializes in “molecular mixology”, a term that means combining science with drink mixing. If you’ve ever wanted to try a “powdered cocktail”, a “vodka foam” or a “spherified olive” – and believe us, you need to try it at least once! – Rabbit Hole is your place.
GPO Cheese + Wine Room – Step in to this underground cellar for a wine and cheese paired date night. You’ll love the low-key atmosphere and cobbled walls that give this spot the feel of a 19th century winery. Your sommelier will find the perfect wine to pair with fondue pots, cheese boards, charcuterie plates, antipasto and desserts for an unforgettable date night experience.
Bar Tapavino – Spanish tapas, the small, shared-plate style of food and drinks was all over the place a few years ago. The tapas-boom seems to have finally plateaued a bit in the U.S., but the communal, small plate style of cocktails and food is perfect for a date night out. Bar Tapavino’s emphasis on Spanish wine and upscale tapas is the perfect way to kick off a night out, or wind down from your day in Sydney.
The Apollo – This Aussie take on Mediterranean cuisine is helmed by one of Australia’s most exciting chefs. Jonathon Barthelmess’ restaurants are heavily awarded and he brings his experience and his heritage, to Sydney’s newest haven for Greek cuisine. You’ll find Mediterranean staples like lamb, yogurt sauces, fried cheese with honey and, of course, piles of warm, fresh pita.
Uncle Ming’s Bar – This casual hideaway is teeming with ambiance. Step in to the dimly-lit basement bar and you’ll feel like you were transported to another dimension. Munch on Asian-inspired bar food like dumplings, prawns, edamame and wings while sipping on signature cocktails and sake. The atmosphere of Uncle Ming’s is unbeatable for a casual date night out in the CBD.
Dining With a View
Sydney is a beautiful city. What better way to enjoy those amazing city views than alongside a delicious meal and drink?
Cafe Sydney – Wide, panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows surround this popular cocktail and dining spot. Gaze out over sweeping views of the Sydney Harbour and Harbour Bridge while you dine on upscale cuisine.
Bennelong Restaurant + Bar – Located inside the famed Sydney Opera House, the interior of this airy space is like the cavern of a ship. Wide, iron girders between huge glass windows provide amazing views of Sydney CBD and skyline. The Sydney Opera House is an architectural wonder, but Bennelong is a can’t miss destination in it’s own right.
Sydney Cove Oyster Bar – Serving fresh seafood in an unbeatable waterside location. With views of the Harbour and Harbour Bridge so close, you can hear the water splashing while you dine.
Treat Yourself with These Amazing Restaurants to Try in Sydney
Sydney is home to hundreds of amazing restaurants, bars, cafes, takeaway spots, food trucks and much, much more.
Contact one of our expert Destination Specialists for more recommendations. We’ll help you build the perfect itinerary, ensuring you have plenty of time to taste your way through Sydney.
Posted on: August 10th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
Australia has a bit of a reputation as one of the beer-drinkingest capitals of the world. There are few things that go better with warm weather, contact sports and barbecues than an ice-cold brew and Australia has all of the above in spades. With year-round warm weather in the tropical north, to Aussie Rules football, cricket, rugby and the occasional soccer match, there are plenty of occasions to imbibe Downunder.
However, Australia’s world-class wine industry is quietly preceding it’s love for lager and the Hunter Valley wine region, bottling world-class wines since the early-19th century, has a lot to do with it.
Hunter Valley’s beautiful vineyards and cellar doors are no doubt the destination of choice on a drive out to the wine region. But in the Valley, the journey plays just as big a role in a trip to wine country. As you depart Sydney, your scenic drives takes you north, passing Yengo National Park. This World Heritage-listed wilderness area is a dense, green forest of native Aussie trees and plants. The Park is also home to ancient Aboriginal Australian cultural sites dating back thousands of years.
You could also spot plenty of native Aussie animal species like kangaroos, wallabies, gliding possums, wombats and more, in the wild.
Once you make it to Hunter Valley, gaze out your window upon vast stretches of neatly arranged grape vines. Hills and valleys rise and fall and grazing animals dot the green landscape as the winding road snakes its way around the Valley.
This is wine country at its finest.
History in a Glass… Or Two
The Hunter Valley is the oldest wine region in Australia. More than 150 vineyards dot the fertile landscape west of Sydney. Vineyards dating back to the 19th century are still in operation here.
For your first step back in time, drive out to Drayton’s Wines. The Drayton family planted their first vine saplings more than 150 years ago and the winery remains in the hands of the family to this day. Six generations of Drayton vintners shaped this legacy vineyard in to what it is today and you’ll want to stop in for a taste of history along with a taste of their classic Hunter Valley Shiraz.
Next on your list of vintage vineyards, you’ll want to make a stop at Mt. Pleasant Estate. This turn of the century winery has a laundry list of accolades under its belt, but all you need to know is that Mt. Pleasant’s wine and history is pure Hunter Valley.
Then, visit the crown jewel of Hunter Valley wineries at McGuigan’s Winery, located in Pokolbin, the idyllic heart of Hunter Valley wine country. This winery is best known for winning the International Winemakers Award 3-times in its history, an almost unheard of feat among vintners. Explore this cellar door and dig in to their winning varietals like shiraz and chardonnay.
Learning with a Twist
Love wine, but can’t put in to words why? Do you hear the other tasters around you talking about the bouquet but there’s not a single flower in sight?
It sounds like you might need Wine School. Drive out to Hunter Valley Resort, where you can join up with a class of other wine amateur wine connoisseurs and have an expert guide you through a proper tasting.
You’ll learn about the winemaking process from harvest to fermentation to bottle finish. Your guide will walk you through the grounds of the vineyard to see up close how the rows of lush vines are grown and harvested.
Then, class begins in the Resort’s Wine Theatre where the history of wine comes alive. Of course, throughout the class you’ll taste and assess various varietals of whites and reds. Wine School is the perfect primer for the rest of your tasting tour and will give you an appreciation for the layers of complexity in a single glass of wine that you never even knew existed. With 38 wines from 8 local producers, you’ll have plenty of ‘homework’ to do without leave property.
Cleanse Your Palate
Like we said, there are a lot of wineries in the Hunter Valley, but you don’t have to burn yourself out packing in too many at once! Be sure to spend some time experiencing everything this quaint region has to offer.
What goes better with wine than an artisan, craft cheese? Head over to Binnorie Dairy Cheese Factory, where you can try and buy dozens of different cheeses straight from the artisans themselves. You can also stop by the Hunter Valley Cheese Company, one of the oldest dairies in the Valley region.
If you’d like to get a bit adventurous on your trip in wine country and get a true bird’s eye view of your lush surroundings, you can board a hot air balloon for a float over the pristine valley. Or, if you’re really up for an adventure, try skydiving from up high! There’s really nothing like the adrenaline rush of jumping out of a plane several thousand feet in the air!
You can even take a horseback or Segway tour of parts of the Hunter Valley. Trot or roll through pure Aussie bush land where you could even see wild kangaroos or a wombat or two.
There are plenty of other shops like antique stores, cafes, galleries and more, so you’ll always find something new and exciting to try in the Hunter Valley.
And if you’re a fan of hitting the links, the Hunter Valley also hosts some of the most beautiful golf courses in Australia. Relax with a cup of world-class wine on an 18-hole award winning course ranked among the best in Australia.
Detour to Port Stephens
Located just about an hour east of the Hunter Valley, Port Stephens is a charming coastal city that you’ll want to make some time for. Explore the busy esplanade with its quaint shops and cafes. Then, gear up for a bit of adventure if you’d like. Try out sand-boarding on the more than 20 miles of sand dunes at Stockton Beach. If you’ve never heard of sand-boarding, it’s exactly as it sounds: riding a board down the steep side of soft sand dunes. It’s just like surfing in the ocean, but without the whole swimming thing!
And if you didn’t get enough Aussie wildlife in Hunter Valley proper with the wild ‘roos and wombats, hop aboard a local Port Stephens cruise ship for some dolphin spotting. More than 150 bottlenose dolphins call Port Stephens home, making it the dolphin capital of Australia!
Of course, you can always just spend your time relaxing on more than 26 golden-beaches like Box Beach and Zenith Beach. The perfect side-trip for your stay in wine country.
Wind Down in Wine Town with a Hunter Valley Driving Tour
There’s nothing like a relaxing trip to a winery. There’s just something about those rolling, rural hills that’s undeniably pleasant. And when you do it at your own pace by driving yourself from Sydney, you can spend your time the way you like at some of your new favorite places.
Need a few more recommendations? Not sure how to go about booking a car hire halfway around the world? Get in touch with one of our Destination Specialists for a free consultation today. We can show you where to go and tell you how to get there for a worry-free trip to picturesque Hunter Valley.
Posted on: August 10th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
Why You Should Spend 5 Nights in Sydney
Most people tend to spread themselves too thin when they travel abroad. But the depth of your trip, meaning the quality of time you have experiencing the culture and sights of a given destination, is just as important as the quantity of things you see and experience, if not more.
When we plan vacation itineraries, we are very careful to include the minimum amount of time it takes to thoroughly enjoy a city. This usually means spending 3 – 4 nights. That varies, of course, with what our clients want to see and how much time they have to see it. In a perfect world, we would want everyone to spend at least 5 nights in Sydney.
Sydney is Australia’s largest and most cosmopolitan city. It boasts some of the world’s most iconic landmarks and authentic Aussie experiences. The city itself has a plethora of things to do and see, while the greater surrounds hold enchantments for lovers of nature, wine and beaches.
From world famous sites like the Sydney Opera House to world class beaches to wildlife you only find in Australia, Sydney has everything you need for a quintessential Aussie experience.
And with plenty of time to have a quality experience, your vacation in Sydney will have the depth to keep you sated when you return to the ‘real world’.
Here are just a few things you can fill your time with while you stay in Sydney for 5 nights.
City Sights and Opera House
Get your bearings and feel out the lay of the land in Sydney with a city tour. By taking a city tour early in your trip, you’ll be able to figure out how to get around and eye a few spots you may want to return to for a closer look later in the week.
Sydney is a huge, diverse city and deserves exploring. However, many strapped-for-time tourists make a mad dash for the Opera House and miss everything else Sydney has to offer.
Luckily, with a week in Sydney you won’t be strapped for time.
Of course, the Opera House and Harbour are a must visit. Start off with an insider walking tour of the world famous venue. You’ll hear the behind the scenes scoop and controversy surrounding the building’s construction.
Whether you take a organized tour or make your own way around the city, here are some sights you won’t want to miss!
This bustling marina precinct is just adjacent to Sydney CBD makes for a great stop along a city tour of Sydney. Take advantage of Sydney’s excellent public transportation and take a ferry from the Opera House to this beautiful, waterside location. You’ll have near limitless options for dining, shopping and other activities
Queen Victoria Building
Shop like the locals do at this beautiful, Victorian-era building right in Sydney CBD. This architectural masterpiece was built back in 1890 and has since undergone a complete restoration to its original beauty. Take in the airy windows, stained glass and a fully operational, vintage lift all restored to their 19th century glory. There is plenty to see at QVB and the building is worth a tour even if you’re not up to shopping ’til you drop. Want to learn more? We’ve written a guide to the Queen Victoria Building‘s rich history as a shopping staple in Sydney.
Royal Botanic Gardens
This impeccably manicured mecca of native plants and pristine greenery is perfect for a pre or post Opera House walk. Go for a walk through the beautiful garden grounds, spot local Aussie wildlife like sulfur-crested cockatoos and flying foxes and find prime photo-ops overlooking the Harbour. The Royal Botanic Gardens are saturated in color, from the 2,000+ bloom rose garden, to the lush-green Glasshouse, ferny and native succulent gardens.
Step back in time to the earliest days of Sydney settlement. Just a quick walk from Circular Quay, The Rocks district was the home of the first European settlement in Australia and features some of Sydney’s oldest buildings, shops and pubs. These days, The Rocks serves as a pedestrian friendly district with great views of the Harbour, Bridge and historical buildings.
You could spend an entire afternoon touring the museum district within walking distance of the Harbour Bridge. For modern works, you’ll want to stop at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. A hip, diverse collection of cutting-edge art is housed in this building whose architecture is a work of art in and of itself. Then, check out The Rocks Discovery Museum for a historical look at The Rocks district through the years. Adjacent to Circular Quay is the Museum of Sydney, with informative and diverse collections and exhibits of Sydney history.
Tip: If you want to see more of Sydney outside of the CBD, but still want the option to walk at your own pace, get a spot on a hop-on, hop-off bus. You can ride the bus route around Sydney, including the beautiful suburbs outside the CBD, and hop-off wherever you’d like to walk around and see the sights up close.
Dip your toes in the Harbour at Sydney’s newest waterfront destination. Adjacent to The Rocks, this mixed use district has green spaces, restaurants, shopping and the chance to see Sydneysiders at work and play.
With Sydney’s excellent infrastructure and public transportation, getting to some of Australia’s most popular beaches is easy. Hop on a city bus or train, take a ferry or go for a quick drive to Bondi Beach. This sunny spot is the perfect destination for casual beach goers, hardcore surfers, locals and tourists alike.
This horseshoe shaped section of coastline features golden sands and brilliant, turquoise waters. The surrounding esplanade is home to a dining precinct featuring some of the best beach side restaurants and cuisine.
Photo: Tourism Australia / Andrew Wallace
Spend some time on the beach soaking up the sun or learning how to surf. Bondi Beach is famous for its surf schools, teaching all skill-levels how to ride the waves of the sunny Aussie coast.
If waves aren’t your thing take a dip at the Cliff-side Bondi Icebergs pool (or ‘baths’) where you get a front row seat to watch the surfers without getting sand in your shorts!
The scenic, clifftop coastal path along sheer cliffs connects Sydney’s most well-known beaches along a pedestrian boardwalk. Soak up the sun all along the way as you beach-hop Sydney’s coast. Each beach has it’s own feel and quirks and whether you’re catching waves at each one or digging your toes in the sand, this is one of the best ways to see Sydney’s beaches.
Spend a day at the beach like a local by heading to Manly Beach. This Sydney suburb can be easily reached by ferry from Circular Quay. It’s a beautiful white sand beach where you’ll see Sydneysiders doing the three S’s – surfing, swimming and snorkeling. Manly Beach is a great place to get active for the day – bike rental, paddle-board lessons, surf lessons, kayaking, amazing walking trails and much more. And, of course, plenty of pups to wash down an Australian beer if it gets a little hot!
Hop On Hop Off Ferry
Spend a day seeing many of the sites listed above with a Hop On Hop Off Ferry pass. Travel on the harbour highway and skip the maze of commuter timetables as you cruise to 11 famous Sydney Destinations.
Fort Denison – A former penal site with an interested history.
Watson Bay – A suburb with a great beach, bird life, vibrant green parks and Gap Bluff, South Head, where you might just spot some whales in the winter months.
Luna Park – Known for it’s iconic smiling face of the Moon, this amusement park is great for children and the young at heart.
Shark Island – A pristine park in the middle of the harbour, perfect for a picnic
Garden Island – A military base where The Royal Australian Navy Heritage Centre
International Convention Center – Worth a look for the stunning architecture alone!
Food and Dining
Of course, you wouldn’t be in a world-class city without world-class dining options right in the heart of the city. Whether you’re in the mood for a 5-star, fine dining experience or just a quick bite to go from a food truck, Sydney is never short on great food.
You can find everything from Vietnamese to-go carts, upscale Italian dining, Australian gastropubs, eclectic French cuisine and more.
Adjacent to the Opera House, discover some of Sydney’s best seafood restaurants, like Sydney Cove Oyster Bar and GRAZE, sitting in the perfect spot for views over the bay while you dine.
Or head over to Chinatown for your pick of authentic cuisine, noodle bars and dumpling houses like China Town Noodle King, Golden Century Seafood Restaurant and more.
Mountain Walks and Hikes
Not a city person? Tired of the hustle and bustle of the downtown sights? Get into the great outdoors with a day trip to see world-class Aussie natural wonder.
Credit: David Ireland / Tourism Australia
Since you’ve got plenty of time in Sydney, take a short drive to Blue Mountains National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered the “Grand Canyon of Australia”. Rolling, rugged terrain, deep canyons and blue gum-trees as far as the eye can see cover the expansive vista.
A tour of the Blue Mountains provides unforgettable views from various lookout points in the park where you can spot tall waterfalls, sheer cliffs and famed rock formations like the Three Sisters. An expert guide drives you out to the Blue Mountains region, providing informative commentary and in-depth knowledge along the way.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also choose to participate in the hike portion of the trip. You’ll be dropped off at the trail head and make your way along a well-marked hiking trail. After you’ve worked up an appetite, a well-deserved lunch awaits before heading back to Sydney.
It’s the perfect way to experience the great outdoors and still have time for happy hour drinks at the Opera House.
Craving a little of those famous Australian wines? How about a taste of Aussie Red and White with a trip to wine country?
Head out to the Hunter Valley wine region, just a short drive from Sydney proper.
Photo: – Tourism Australia / Oliver Strewe
The Hunter Valley region is home to some of Australia’s best wineries. Embark on a tasting tour and experience award-winning wines in beautiful, green vineyards. Landscapes lined with rows of grape vines provide a picture-perfect backdrop to satisfy wine-lovers and fans of the great outdoors alike.
To really do the Hunter Valley justice, spend a couple of nights in wine country. Drive yourself along the rolling hills dotted with wineries, make a few leisurely stops and take your time in this relaxing region outside Sydney.
Photo: Pernod Ricard Winemakers / Ernest Fraczak
If you’d rather let an expert do the driving for you, you can embark on a luxury-coach tour of Hunter Valley. You’ll visit a few of Hunter Valley’s most renowned vineyards and all you have to do is kick back, relax and remember to cleanse your palate between each tasting!
There’s nothing more iconic to Australia than its kangaroos and wildlife. Luckily, in Sydney you’re never far from experiencing wildlife up close.
Taronga Zoo, located just across the Harbour from the Opera House, is not only the most convenient place to see wildlife in Sydney, but maybe the most fun to get to. You’ll board a ferry from Circular Quay in Sydney CBD and cruise over to Taronga Zoo’s personal dock and wharf. Step right off the boat and into Taronga Zoo where you’ll see more than 300 unique species, including all of your Aussie favorites.
Or, if you opted for the Blue Mountains tour, you’ll already be in a prime spot to visit the Featherdale Wildlife Sanctuary, where you’ll get to meet plenty of Australia’s native wildlife.
Man-made environments and walled enclosures not exactly the nature experience you were imagining?
What if you could see Australian wildlife that’s actually in the wild?
Take a day trip to the Australian Bush, just a short drive outside of central Sydney, and search towering forests for kangaroos, koalas, platypus’ and more.
The Southern Highlands outside of Sydney features thousands of acres of untouched wilderness, where animals run wild and free, just as nature intended.
See the Most of Sydney
To be honest, you could spend weeks seeing all that Sydney has to offer. Don’t shortchange yourself with a few short days. By the time you’ve traveled to the city it seems like it’s already time to leave the city.
Spend 5 nights in Sydney and get to know the city from the inside out. You’ll make some solid, unforgettable memories and a vacation with the depth you deserve.
Posted on: May 4th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
10 Amazing Things to Do in Tasmania
Sitting just south of the main continent, Tasmania is a microcosm of Australian life and culture in a landmass about one-tenth its size. Tasmania combines the rugged, natural landscapes of the mainland Outback, populous city-centers like Hobart, pristine coastal beaches and a storied history that lends to a culture that is distinctly Tasmanian. Take a look at some of these must-see places and things in our list of 10 amazing things to do in Tasmania.
Cradle Mountain National Park
Cradle Mountain. Photo: Jason Charles Hill
Start off with a venture in to one of Tasmania’s most renowned natural treasures. Cradle Mountain National Park is one of the most visited parks in Tasmania, which is no surprise when you first lay eyes on the mountainous expanse and wild landscape. The park combines rugged trail terrain with ancient rain forest, glacial lakes and some of Australia’s few sites of alpine vegetation.
Take a relaxing stroll around Dove Lake, about a 2-circuit nestled in a mountainous valley beneath Cradle Mountain itself. Or if you’d prefer more of a challenge, trek to the Summit for unprecedented views of the park’s vistas. This 6-hour return walk takes the road less traveled, straight up the steep side of the mountain.
While you trek through various hiking trails, you’ll want to be on the lookout for the deciduous-beech. Found only in Tasmania, this tree is best known for its brilliant color transition in the autumn months and in fact one of very few trees to lose its leaves in winter in Australia.
Established in the mid-1800’s as a penal settlement for prisoners and convicts, Port Arthur has a dark and storied history. Situated just on the south-east end of the Tasman Peninsula, the site now acts as an open-air museum to its troubled past. Most buildings have been maintained in their original state, as they would have been seen nearly two centuries ago.
Credit: Tourism Tasmania
The historical significance of Port Arthur earned it a UNESCO World Heritage Distinction and it continues to attract more than 300,000 visitors annually. Port Arthur reigns year after year as the number one tourist destination in all of Tasmania and is surely a can’t miss attraction.
Carve out at least a full day in your itinerary for exploring all that Port Arthur has to offer. You’ll want to take the guided tour to learn the most about Port Arthur’s history. There is so much packed in to Port Arthur it’s hard to appreciate it all without an expert giving you the inside scoop. Check out this full day tour that takes you from Hobart to Port Arthur, including a guided walking tour of the Historic Site and a cruise around the harbour.
Feeling spooky? For those looking for a scare, this tour tacks on a night time ghost tour. If the stories of Port Arthur seem grim by day, just wait until you walk the grounds at night and hear tales of its haunted history!
See a Tasmanian Devil
You didn’t think you came all the way to Tasmania to miss out on seeing it’s most famous animal, did you? See the Tasmanian devil in a habitat that is as natural as it gets at the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo. An “Unzoo” is an inside-out take on a traditional zoo where the devils roam free in their natural habitat, unencumbered by cages or fences. See how the devils would interact in the wild and witness the feeding frenzy that happens several times a day.
Credit: Tasmania Devil Unzoo
You’ll also get a chance to feed kangaroos and wallabies by hand, but don’t think this is your average petting zoo experience. Instead of putting your hand full of feed up to a hole in a chain link fence, you’ll get to experience these friendly foster-marsupials hop right up and eat from your hand.
Having fun and showing support for a good cause go hand in hand at the Unzoo as they work closely with the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Project to protect and proliferate this native endangered species. The Unzoo works to breed healthy devils that can be released in the wild to bring up the population of this dwindling native creature.
Garnering some new-found attention this year after being featured in the Oscar nominated movie “Lion”, Mt. Wellington is quickly rising to one of the top tourist destinations in Tasmania. The more than 4,000-foot mountain is impossible to miss. Its jagged summit imposes high above the city of Hobart that rests in the valley beneath. Wilderness that seems a world away is just minutes from the city.
Credit: Chris Crear / Tourism Tasmania
An easily accessible lookout atop Mt. Wellington allows sweeping panoramic views of Hobart and its surroundings. Check out Mt. Wellington’s incredible rock formations including the towering dolerite columns called the Organ Pipes. Along the 21-kilometer drive to the summit of Mt. Wellington keep an eye out for the diverse range of local plants, from rainforest-like to sub-alpine flora. In fact, the summit is regularly capped with snow during the winter months.
Nearly 200 wineries dot the landscape of Tasmania. Its temperate climate has put Tasmania on the global map for cool-weather wines like white, sparkling white and dessert wines. Luckily, most vineyards in Tasmania are located just a short distance from the cities like Hobart and Launceston, making them easily accessible even if you have only a short stay in Tasmania. Wine trails or wine routes combine several of the best of Tasmania’s wineries in a countryside wine tasting road trip.
Wine trails are the perfect way to sample the different region’s wines that make up Tasmania’s rich winery culture. Vineyards in Tasmania are lush and beautiful. Taste your way through some of Tasmania’s best vintages and see why this up-and-coming wine scene has finally arrived.
Visit the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA)
This eclectic gem of a museum is an expansive, subterranean vault of art that ranges from ancient Egyptian mummies and relics to thought-provoking, contemporary art. Upon entering MONA, descend the seemingly endless staircase to the depths below where you begin your journey. MONA is privately funded by David Walsh, a professional gambler, businessman and art collector who built his fortune by using his educational background in mathematics and computer science to develop a system of gambling, placing bets on horse races and other sports.
Walsh’s eccentric professional history is reflected in the work shown at MONA, which he once described as a “subversive adult Disneyland”. He personally curates some of the most cutting edge international modern art pieces, displaying them alongside works from his own private collection.
Leave yourself a decent amount of time to check out MONA, as each visitor is provided with a digital tour guide that uses GPS to give information about each piece as you walk around. Commentary from the owner, the artist and interviews allow an in-depth, informative experience.
No trip to a museum is complete without a glass of wine to go with it. Moorilla is MONA’s own winery and vineyard. Every step of the small-batch wine making process is done in house for purely local Tasmanian wine. Combine your tour of MONA proper with a tour of Moorilla Winery. See the wine making process from start to finish, from the picking of local grapes, to bottling and aging and taste ten of Moorilla’s prestigious vintages.
Located in Freycinet National Park tucked away from main roads and highways, Wineglass Bay is a beautiful, secluded beach area that is a must-visit in Tasmania. Wineglass Bay is a hugely popular site, despite the 45-minute walk from the parking lot to the Lookout. Check out the bird’s eye perspective of the Bay and its unique, crescent-shaped beach, from which it derives its name, set against mountainous peaks.
The view is incredible, but you’ll want to take the time to trek down to the Bay itself. From the Lookout, walk down to the shore and you are rewarded for your efforts with the pristine turquoise water and white-sand shore that has given Wineglass Bay the distinction of one of the top-ten beaches in the world.
Credit: Daniel Tran / Tourism Tasmania
In the warmer months, take a dip in the crystal-clear water surrounded by an incredible mountainous backdrop. If it’s a little bit too cool for a swim, simply enjoy the serene coast and beach area. You may even have the beach to yourself as far fewer tourists make their way down in the colder months.
If you’re looking for a unique and distinctly Tassie shopping experience, look no further than Salamanca Market. More than 300 market stalls flood the Hobart waterfront every Saturday, selling food, local crafts, artisan jewelry, clothing, plants, flowers and more. Salamanca Market is a perfect way to spend a Saturday morning. Grab a cup of coffee and peruse the vendors selling their wares, see buskers playing music, chat to the locals and just enjoy the general atmosphere of this famed market.
Credit: Poon Wai Nang / Tourism Tasmania
Plenty of stalls offering breakfast and lunch options are around, so make an event of your morning or afternoon here and try out some local cuisine while you shop. A trip to Tasmania wouldn’t be the same without a stop at Salamanca Market which is considered one of the best and most popular cultural experiences in Tasmania.
Ferry to Bruny Island
Another striking example of Tasmania’s iconic landscape is Bruny Island. Technically two land masses, a narrow isthmus called “The Neck” separates North and South Bruny. Bruny Island is well known for its amazing geology and unique rock formations. Towering cliffs like “Monument” and “Breathing Rock” are some of the tallest natural cliff formations in the world. As you ferry out to Bruny, you’ll be dwarfed by these geological wonders that are unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
Credit: LION Movie
Some of Tasmania’s best wildlife live and thrive in and around Bruny. Starting with the ferry ride over to the island, you may spot dolphins, whales, and other marine life that swim near Bruny. Once you’ve made landfall, the island itself is home to seals, albatross, eagles, and an array of wildlife so impressive it rivals national parks around the world.
After your amazing wildlife spotting excursion, you’ve probably worked up a bit of an appetite. Luckily, there is no better place to dine on local cuisine than Bruny Island. Try out local, fresh-caught seafood and cheese made from the local dairy in this combination wildlife spotting and foodie tour. Bonus tip – the tail end of this tour includes a visit to the Bruny Island House of Whisky where you can sample some of Tasmania’s finest single-malt whiskies.
See the Southern Lights
You’ve no doubt heard of the Northern Lights, but did you know the southern hemisphere has its own light show in the sky?
Credit: Dietmar Kahles / Tourism Tasmania
Best seen in the winter months, the Southern Lights are visible from basically all over Tasmania. All you need to do is wait until dark, make your way to a spot free of trees and tall mountains and look up. The Southern Lights aren’t as well-known as Aurora Borealis up north, but the light show is equally incredible. Trek out to locations with the least amount of light pollution like South Arm Peninsula, only 25 miles south east of Hobart, during the southern hemisphere’s winter months and you’re in for a spectacular astral showing.
Visit Beautiful Tasmania
Let us help you fall in love with Tasmania. With so much to see and so many things to do in Tasmania, planning it all out can be a job in itself – that’s where we come in. Our passion is spreading the beauty and culture of Australia to as many people as possible and it’s all we do; all day, every day. We can give you the ins and outs and ups and downs of Tasmania and all of Australia. Our travel experts can make your arrival at point A, B and C completely effortless. With a continent as massive as Australia (roughly the same size as the U.S. ) and the fact that all it takes to ruin a good vacation is a missed flight, ferry connection or shuttle, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. Create a trip with us and make memories that last a lifetime.
Posted on: June 9th, 2016 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments
How to see the best of Australia on a short vacation to Melbourne.
We are working on our Things to Do in Australia blog series where we outline how you can see all the major Australia Highlights in a short vacation, staying in just one or two Australian cities.
We’ve shown how you can see Beaches & Aquatic Life, Wildlife, Rainforest, Outback, Food & Wine, Modern City Culture & Art and Indigenous Culture in the city of Sydney. Today we look towards the world’s most livable city, Melbourne.
Here are things you can do in Melbourne to see major Australia highlights.
Beaches & Aquatic Life
Hang out on the coast of Port Phillip Bay with the peninsula’s iconic rainbow-colored bathing boxes providing a colorful backdrop.
A short tram ride from the heart of Melbourne, you’ll find St. Kilda Beach. It’s not only a great place for a swim, but a wonderful seaside community where you’ll find great bars, restaurants, shops and even some little penguins in the rocks.
Take a day trip out to Ninety Mile Beach, one of the most natural and unspoiled beaches in the world. It is ideal for a variety of activities, from beach fishing and swimming to walking, whale and dolphin-spotting or just relaxing in the sun…
Head to Healesville Sanctuary, a world-renowned spot to see Australian wildlife in their natural habitat. Located in the heart of the Yarra Valley, Healesville centers on local conservation and indigenous culture.
Just 45 minutes outside of Melbourne, see the wildlife in the wild. The national parks near Melbourne have a surprising diversity of wildlife: Kangaroos, Koalas, Emus, Swamp Wallabies, Cockatoos, Parrots, Galahs and more!
While Victoria isn’t the #1 destination for rainforest tourism, you can find rainforest just an hour outside Melbourne in the Yarra State Forest. Walk through myrtle beech rainforest to the Ada Tree, a giant mountain ash that is one of Victoria’s largest trees and also one of the largest known flowering trees in the world on the Ada Tree Rainforest Walk.
With a stay in Melbourne, you’ve hit the jackpot in amazing food & wine! Melbourne’s eclectic dining scene offers a wide array of the world’s great cuisines. Enjoy a wonderful dinner on the water with the Spirit of Melbourne.
Speaking of Federation Square… this famous spot hosts over 2000 events each year! It buzzes with cultural festivals, exhibitions, event launches, performances, forums, films, concerts and fashion shows. There’s sure to be something hopping at Fed Square whenever you visit.
Things to do in Australia | A Brisbane Vacation with All the Australian Highlights
Things to do in Australia | A Adelaide Vacation with All the Australian Highlights
Things to do in Australia | A Cairns Vacation with All The Australian Highlights
Things to do in Australia | A Perth Vacation with All the Australian Highlights.
When are the celebrations?
Throughout the month of May
Calling all wine lovers! If you are a wine connoisseur, then planning your Australia vacation in the month of May is a very smart move! May is Aussie Wine month, the country’s biggest celebration of Australian wine! Australia has more than 60 award winning wine regions that produce dozens of different wine varieties and styles. The Aussie wine month celebrations throughout May highlight the diversity of the Aussie culture and “puts the fun into exploring the country’s finest wine and food.”
Highlights of this incredible month long celebration include: more than 150 wine-related events throughout Australia including festivals, vineyard concerts, blend-your-own-wine classes, bicycle tours of wine regions, degustation dinners, and more. Plus, all month free-pop up tastings are taking place in Sydney’s business district, and many restaurants across the country are exclusively offering Australian wine in honor of the celebration. View the spotlight events below: