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5 of the Best Day Walks in New South Wales

By on Mar 4, 2013 in New South Wales | 0 comments

New South Wales offers Australia’s most diverse walking tours, covering leisurely coastal treks to challenging mountainous alpine climbs, and everything in between. With so many options, and a variety of National Parks and world class walks to choose from, it’s difficult to know where to start. Try to get a taste of everything on offer with these favourites. Kosciuszko National Park – Kosciuszko Summit Tour The Snowy Mountains, Australia’s most expansive alpine region, are equidistant to both Melbourne and Sydney, with the closest major city being Canberra. To ensure you can get off the beaten track at your own pace, hire a car from your landing destination and enjoy the drive south to the largest National Park in New South Wales. Mount Kosciuszko is Australia’s highest peak, and you’ll want to find the perfect viewing platform on foot. Start your walking journey in the quaint township of Thredbo and join a guided tour that will take you up into the rocky terrain. The Kosciuszko Summit tour takes you on a 13 kilometre round trip to the apex of the Snowies. It’s a moderate to difficult walk at a reasonable pace, and guides allow you time to take in the vast scenery and local flora and fauna. The walks are seasonal, so check the schedule well in advance. Royal National Park – Bundeena to Little Marley Beach (Coast Walk) The Royal National Park fits snugly along the NSW central coast between Sydney and Woolongong, making it an easy day trip from the city or even straight from the airport. Drive beyond Sutherland and head towards the beautiful little coastal town of Bundeena. From here, you will embark on a 15 kilometre trek along the cliffs and sandy outcrops of the Coast Walk. The terrain is mostly easy travelling, with some small challenges as the wide tracks give way to creeks and grassland. Indulge in a swim at the tranquil Little Marley Beach, and take a detour on your return trip to Wilkins Viewpoint. The views to Cowan Creek are worth the additional time. The Great North Walk – Yuelarbah track Despite its colossal 250 kilometre span, there is ample opportunity to traverse the Great North Walk without breaking records or pitching a tent. Because we’re starting out at the northern end of the track, near Newcastle, you’ll want to bring your car into Teralba. This section covers 25 kilometres, so you’ll need to be well prepared with food, water, and maps. You’ll venture into coastal rainforest, through canopied gullies, and past waterfalls before looking over the stunning Glenrock Lagoon. Have your lunch on Glenrock Beach, or take advantage of the picnic area at Flaggy Creek. Blue Mountains National Park – Grand Canyon Walk You’re a long way from Arizona, but you won’t be disappointed by this Grand Canyon. Venture into the sandstone and eucalypt valleys of the Blue Mountains via Blackheath, about an hour and forty minutes from Sydney by car. Your walk begins at Evans Lookout, where you’ll take in the sweeping views across the valley before descending into dense forest, pristine creeks, and past gentle waterfalls. The circuit walk will take about 4 hours all up, though there are opportunities to extend it, and is considered moderate despite several steep inclines. The valleys are cool even in the height of summer, which makes this the perfect place to escape the blazing sun. Dorrigo National Park – Rosewood Creek Track and Red Cedar Falls Dorrigo is situated on the northern coast towards Coffs Harbour, making road travel from Sydney a necessity. With the addition of the strenuous, but highly rewarding Red Cedar Falls track, this walk is a difficult three and a half hours through warm-temperate rainforest. You’ll have the opportunity to view stunning flora unique to the region, and to view the park’s highest waterfall from its base among towering cedars. Take some time out by Coachwood Falls before completing the return trip back to Never Never Picnic Ground.   These walks were selected in part because of the multiple walking options on offer from the same locale. If any particular track is deemed too difficult, or not challenging enough, you can raise or lower the bar as you see fit. And if the going gets tough – well, just look around you! Sit back and enjoy the outlook. Guest post by Marie Gale   Have you done any walks  in New South Wales? Let us know your thoughts...

How to Spend the Perfect Week in Bali

By on Feb 27, 2013 in Indonesia | 0 comments

With a nickname like the Island of the Gods, it should come as no surprise that Bali is an incredible destination to visit. The island nation is home to warm weather throughout the year, stunning beaches, artistic mountain villages and unbeatable scenery. Whether you are searching for the ultimate place to relax and unwind or a destination full of outdoor activities, you can have it all in Bali. Since flights from Australia can be as short as three hours to Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport, and great deals on flights to Bali are getting easier than ever to find, there is no better holiday than spending a full week on the island. Here is a great itinerary to follow in order to see, taste, explore and enjoy as much as you can in just seven days. Day 1: After arriving at the Ngurah Rai International Airport, take a 15-minute taxi ride to the coastal town of Kuta. This is the most popular tourism destination on the island, and it is a great introduction to all that Bali has to offer. After checking in to one of the many great hotels along the coastline, head over to Padma Beach for a cocktail and to watch the beautiful sunset. Day 2: On your first full day in Bali, nothing could be more fun than taking a private surfing lesson. Although there are dozens of places to try out surfing in Kuta, the best place to book a lesson is at the Hard Rock Hotel. For about $35, you can sign up for a three-hour course and enjoy free transfers from your hotel to the beach. After a day on the waves, try a massage to help rejuvenate your tired muscles. Spas like Villa de Daun and Carla Spa offer affordable and luxurious treatments, but you can also get a quick massage right on the beach for just a few dollars. Day 3: Although Kuta certainly has plenty to offer, escape the beach for a day and head up to the mountain village of Ubud. This is generally regarded to be the cultural hub of Bali, and there are a number of landmarks, temples and museums worth a visit. Spend the day on a guided tour taking in the Agung Rai Museum of Art, the ornately carved Goa Gajah, or Elephant Cave, the Pura Kehen Temple and the hot springs of Tirta Empul. Day 4: On your second day in Ubud, learn something new with a class in cooking, painting, ceramics, yoga or even traditional Balinese dancing. These courses can be as short as 45 minutes or as long as a full week, but many of the half-day classes are ideal for travellers. Ubud is also a great place to enjoy some of the best local Balinese foods. Stop by Ibu Oka’s at lunchtime for Babi Guling, which is a whole roasted suckling pig. Other great local foods to try include Lawar, a fresh salad, Urutan, a spicy sausage, and Sudang Lepet, which is a salted dried fish. Day 5: For a chance to see a different and less touristy side of Bali, head to the West Bali National Park. It is here that visitors can enjoy hiking along the Tegal Blunder Trail or canoeing in Gilimanuk Bay. This is a place to relax, slow down and take in the breathtaking scenery. Day 6: On your final night in Bali, head back to Kuta to experience the best nightlife on the island. Start with a beer or two in the casual outdoor bars on Poppies Lane II, and then head to the nightclubs in Jalan Legian later in the night for dancing and live music or DJs. Day 7: Before you head home, you will want to pick up some souvenirs or your trip and gifts to give to friends and loved ones. Kuta Square is a great place to find affordable and sometimes odd gifts, but the Beachwalk Bali is unbeatable as it boasts ocean views as you shop. Seven days may not seem like long, but there is no end to the fun activities that you can enjoy in that time on Bali. For more on the best things to do and see on the Island of the Gods, take a look here for more tips. Guest Post by Vanessa Harrington Have you visited Bali? Then feel free to let us know below about your favorite places to visit and activities that you’d...

The Holy City of the Vatican {Photo Junket}

By on Jan 20, 2013 in Photo Junkets, Vatican City | 0 comments

A country within a country, The Vatican or Stato della Città del Vaticano as it is spoken in Italian, is the smallest country in the world and is home to Pope Benedict XVI of the Catholic Church. I recently visited this small state whilst touring from Palermo to Milan in Italy. Being such a small area, the Vatican City is easily achievable as a day trip when in Rome, however you will need many more to fully appreciate the architecture and massive collection of artwork that is housed here. For me however, one of the best aspects of visiting the Holy City was seeing the mixture of people and cultures; From tourists keen to get that perfect photo, to pilgrims who had clearly travelled a long way to pay their respects. Whether it’s people watching from St Peter’s Square, getting lost in Michelangelo’s artwork in the Sistine Chapel, or marvelling at St Peter’s Basilica, everyone will agree that the Vatican City is a masterpiece....

Iconic South Melbourne Market

By on Jan 11, 2013 in Victoria | 0 comments

Today we headed down to the iconic South Melbourne Market for a spot of shopping and to catch up for our weekly coffee meeting. South Melbourne Market has always been a favourite of mine and is great place for wandering and window shopping, as well as picking up quality fresh local produce from the many green grocers. South Melbourne Market is famous for one thing…. Dim Sim’s and by far, the best you’ll find anywhere in Melbourne. You’ll also be spoilt for choice with plenty of cafes to choose from. Today we chose Café Padre – “Hand Crafted Coffee”. Now, with a name like this we were not to be disappointed. The smooth coffee and sweet pastries were to die for! And to follow it up, we grabbed a freshly juiced OJ from the stall on Coventry Street – squeezed right in front of our eyes. Yum! One of my favourite areas in the market is the So:Me space which features local up and coming designers. Here they can exhibit and sell their work in pop-up style stalls. From clothing to shoes and jewellery, this area floods with creativity. Getting lost down the many aisles of this market is a great way to lose a morning in Melbourne. After picking up some fresh flowers we also explored the health food store for some supplies (they sell great gluten free cornflakes) and bought up some bargains at Yak – a furniture/homewares store.   South Melbourne Market is located in the suburb of South Melbourne, about 10 minutes from the city centre. They are open Wednesdays to Sundays. For more information, check out the South Melbourne...

Image: Hugging an Elephant in Sri Lanka

By on Jan 8, 2013 in Photo of the Day | 0 comments

I went for a morning walk through the small village of Sigirya in central Sri Lanka and stumbled upon a young mahout who was washing his elephant in the local river. Using all his might, he was scrubbing the ingrained dust off it’s tough skin with the blunt end of a coconut husk. I watched on in awe of being so close to this amazing creature and without realising, I had found myself in the water with the elephant. With approval, I was able touch her and feel her breath enter and leave her body with ease. The mahout was happy to chat about how old the elephant was and her name whilst I and the elephant shared this moment that I’ll never forget. To see the complete set of photos, check out our Photo...

A roll of the dice in Monte Carlo, Monaco {Photo Junket}

By on Jan 4, 2013 in Monaco | 0 comments

Monaco is the second smallest country in the world after The Vatican City, and is a tax free paradise where the rich and famous live and the rest of us only dream about. Situated in the French Riviera this tiny country entices tourists with its white sandy beaches, the warm Mediterranean Sea,  the famous Monte Carlo Grand Prix and luxurious shopping. I only spent a day here (thankfully for my budget), however everywhere you looked the streets oozed with money and style. One of my favourite attractions was the Monaco Cathedral where American film star Grace Kelly famously married Rainier III, Prince of Monaco. Whilst hard going for the budget travellers out there, Monaco is well worth a roll of the dice…...