Iconic Sydney harbour and opera

Things to do in Sydney with kids

Sydney is a great place to take the family with plenty of things for the kids to do. The only trouble you will have, will be to decide what to choose to do. Most of the attractions are close to the city centre so you don’t have to travel out too far. Below are some great things to do in Sydney with the kids.

Iconic Sydney harbour and opera

Sydney Aquarium

The Sydney Aquarium has over 12,000 creatures from 650 species to educate and entertain the whole family. You can go on a glass-bottomed boat ride through the enormous barrier reef zone so you can see the inhabitants naturally up close. The Discovery Rockpool will be a hit with the kids because they will get the chance to hold or touch variety of small sea creatures. There are always plenty of talks and presentations throughout the day including feeding demonstrations.

Sydney Observatory

Sydney Observatory in The Rocks is where you get to take a virtual tour through our solar system with 3D technology. The Observatory is one of the most significant sites in Australia’s scientific history; it is also the oldest and offers great views across Sydney Harbour. With plenty of interactive exhibitions and telescopes to marvel at the skies, this really is a must for all budding scientists or kids interested in astronomy.

Australian Museum

The Australian Museum has a great kids program which is dedicated to the toddlers. Under 5s can explore and investigate in their very own mini museum section which is designed to encourage kids to investigate objects and specimens through magnifying glasses. There are five pods for kids to explore, the bug pod, marine pod, volcano pod, observation pod and imagination pod. Older kids will love the Dinosaur exhibition where they get the chance to learn how dinosaurs lived and died.

Justice and Police Museum

Kids will love to play cops and robbers at the Justice and Police Museum. Adults will enjoy learning about the dark side of Sydney’s past and seeing the courtroom. You can sit behind the magistrates bench, stand within the docks where past criminals would have stood. Take a look at the artefacts of corporal and capital punishment including a leather lash, a hangman’s noose, an isolation mask, a mouth gag and many other physical restraints.

Taronga Zoo

If you don’t mind leaving the city for a day, hop on the ferry and take the kids to Taronga Zoo. It is only a short ride and once there you get to see great views of the harbour. This is a great family outing which the kids are going to love. You will be seriously impressed with the variety of animals at this zoo. As you would expect you will be able to get close to kangaroos’ and koalas, but you will also see animals such as Przewalskis Horses and African Lions.

The above is just a few family days out and attractions which kids in Australia will enjoy to see and do. There is also the IMAX theatre, Madame Tussauds and lots of outdoor parks such as Luna Park and Centennial Park. Sydney is a great place to take the family with no shortage of things to do.

Sydney harbour and skyline

The 5 basic tips you’ll always need for finding cheap flights to Australia

You’re thinking about travelling to Australia, but are not sure if you are able to afford the flight to your desired destination. Whether you’re travelling on business or for pleasure, Australia is an amazing country to visit. From the diversity that each city offers to the Great Barrier Reef and natural wonders that you will find in the Outback, there’s much to see and do throughout the country that will amaze and entertain you throughout your entire stay. By taking advantage of these helpful tips, you’ll be on your way to finding affordable airline tickets for you and your entire family to enjoy the experience of a lifetime. These tips apply to most other destinations but we like to focus on one destination.

Sydney harbour and skyline

1. Comparing Airlines

Before selecting the first airline that you see on the internet, it’s a great idea to do some research and get an idea of the different price points that you may expect to pay for a flight to Australia on different airlines. Some popular airlines that travel to Australia include Virgin Australia, Qantas, Jetstar and United. Other smaller airlines may also be available to take you to your desired destination. Different companies offer different prices and may also offer discounts depending on the number of seats you purchase or if you are a member of select programs such as AARP, AAA or are a military member. Compare prices to see what will provide you with the most affordable rates.

2. Travelling During Off-Peak Seasons

While you may be interested in visiting the southern hemisphere during the cold winter seasons in your home country, this is not always the cheapest time to travel. Like you, many others have the same brilliant idea of getting away from the cold and heading to Australia, where they can enjoy the warmth of summer and all that the country has to offer. Consider visiting during Australia’s spring or fall months for affordable rates and during their winter season for the cheapest flights around. If weather doesn’t make a difference to you, this is the ideal time to purchase airline tickets.

3. Buy in Advance

Timing is everything when purchasing your tickets. If you are travelling on a less-popular route to Australia, purchasing at least 21 days in advance is ideal for the best prices on tickets. For routes that see a higher amount of traffic, you may opt to scour the web for tickets during select week nights to see when the prices decrease. If you are planning well in advance, then try and get in early just as the tickets are released.

4. Last-Minute Flights

While buying in advance is usually the best option to secure your seats aboard your desired flight to Australia, waiting until the last minute can actually help you to find rock-bottom prices on unsold tickets. If you have the flexibility to travel at any time, last-minute could be the best option. However, you may not find the total number of seats that you need available when going down this route. As an example, I was able to find flights from London to Perth as little as £714 return leaving in two weeks using this website.

5. Opt for a Holiday Package

If you are planning on also purchasing a hotel stay at select accommodation throughout Australia, combining your flights and hotel stay to make a package can actually give you the lowest rates. Take advantage of discounted prices when purchasing multiple vacation services from online retailers.

Sunset on the beach in Perth

Five Great Holiday Destinations in Perth, Australia

Perth, the largest city in Western Australia, is a favorite holiday destination for visitors looking to get a taste of what Australia is really like. The area is filled not only with a number of famous historic sites, but it also is home to many natural wonders that can be found nowhere else in the world. The sheer number of things to do in Perth can truly be overwhelming, not only to people new to the area, but even for more seasoned visitors. However, there are a few sites that visitors will want to be sure not to miss on their trip.

Sunset on the beach in Perth

The top five holiday destinations in Perth are:

  • Kings Park & Botanic Garden;
  • Cottesloe Beach;
  • Perth Zoo;
  • Penguin Island;
  • Art Gallery of Western Australia.

Kings Park & Botanic Garden

One of the not to be missed stops on a trip to Perth for nature lovers is Kings Park & Botanic Garden. Kings Park & Botanic Garden is unique in that over half of the land is conserved for native bushland, a sight not to be seen anywhere else in Australia. In addition, the park is home to hundreds of native plant species and a number of bird species that are guaranteed to delight visitors.

Cottesloe Beach

More for nature lovers is Cottesloe Beach. The beautiful white sand beaches are perfect for visitors looking to relax and the water is wonderful for those interested in swimming or other water sports. Bike paths are also available along the beach for individuals who are more interested in being active on their beach holiday.

Perth Zoo

Next on the list for adults and kid alike is Perth Zoo. The zoo is divided into three main areas: Asian Rainforest, Australian Walkabout and African Savannah. It’s home to many species like dingoes, chameleon dragons and a variety of crocodiles and is a fabulous place to spend a day for the young and young at heart.

Penguin Island

Penguin Island is easily reached by ferry or private boat. Visitors to the island can see… penguins in their natural habitats and also enjoy the beautiful scenery that the island is known for. Take a trip there for R&R even if penguins don’t mean much to you.

The Art Gallery of Western Australia

For culture vultures interested in the art and history of Australia is the Art Gallery of Western Australia. The gallery plays host to over 15,000 works of art that cover a wide range of subjects. This particular gallery is especially special because of its large collection of native art, second to none in all of Australia.

Hiring a car lets visitors see the many sites Perth is famous for at their own pace and keeps them from missing out on the wonders that this breathtaking area has to offer.

Brisbane skyline in the sunset

What to visit in Brisbane

Brisbane skyline in the sunset

Brisbane is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is the capital of the state of Queensland and the third largest city in Australia. There are many exciting things you can do on a trip to  Brisbane so I decided to share a list of some of the places I visited on my trip that I want to recommend to everyone if they travel to Brisbane.

Bribie Island

One of the best holiday destinations Brisbane has to offer is Bribie Island. This area is about half an hour’s drive away from the city centre. I decided to list this destination first because of its amazing beaches which are one of the main reasons so many people visit Brisbane.

Bribie Island is a relaxing getaway that covers just less than 150 square kilometres. The Queensland government has made environmental conservation of the island one of its chief priorities. and many experts say that the area will remain beautiful for decades to come.

Bribie Island also has some of the safest beaches in the country. The beach offers the best of both worlds for travellers. You can visit the beach on the same side as the Pumicestone Passage if you want to experience the tranquil waters. The other side of the beach is more turbulent and is perfect for surfing.

Southbank Parklands

The Southbank Parklands has something for everyone. You can visit a number of great shops and cafes in the area.

The parklands also has a great man-made beach called the Streets Beach. A fair amount of the area sits on top of a lagoon that was formed after a large section of the Brisbane River started to dry up nearly 100 years ago. The Parklands have been a favorite tourist destination for families, singles and holidaymakers of all ages for over 20 years.

One of the places that almost anyone would recommend is the Suncorp Piazza. This destination greatly resembles one of the coliseums in Rome and a number of great events are held there year round.

Mount Coot Tha

The Mount Coot Tha is the highest mountain in Brisbane and can be spotted from almost any spot in the city. The area is a historical landmark and tourists throughout the country (as well as the rest of the world) all like to check it out.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to visit Mount Coot Tha on my recent trip, but I would like to make up for that next time I go to Australia. The two biggest reasons people visit Mount Coot Tha are the Brisbane Lookout and the majestic gardens.

The Brisbane Lookout is located on top of the mountain. You can look out from the lookout’s observatory and see landmarks throughout Brisbane.

Many tourists who visit Australia only think of travelling to Sydney but there are literally hundreds of wonderful places you can experience on a trip to Brisbane. I was only able to share some of the most popular destinations. If you could only visit one place, I would suggest you visit the Southbank Parklands. As I said, there is literally something for everyone there!

 

Seductive blue water of Cooper creek in Daintree Forest, Port Douglas

The Wild Wildlife Experience in Port Douglas

Seductive blue water of Cooper creek in Daintree Forest, Port Douglas

Port Douglas, close to both Cairns and Palm Cove, is a happening place along the Australian coast where visitors bask in the sunshine, bake to perfect bronze on the beach and enjoy all the amenities of a small, close-knit resort village that’s brimming with vitality and fun. The fancy resorts, luxurious spas and boutique shopping are just one side of the story, however. You should experience Port Douglas as a veritable destination for the native wildlife and natural wonder that makes Australia such an incredibly unique place to visit; the area is known as the place “where the reef meets the rainforest,” and it is home to several significant, thriving ecosystems which are open to the public and provide ample opportunities for unique accommodations juxtaposed with exploratory excursions.

Daintree Rainforest

There are myriad tours into the Daintree Rainforest, one of Port Douglas’s most popular tourist attractions. Consider visiting the Rainforest Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary, a section of land set on two hectares (eight acres) where visitors can get incredibly close to the native animals and the abundance of plants and trees. It’s an open and interactive habitat that has been specially built with guests in mind, while maintaining the integrity of the sacred rainforest (the likeness of which is disappearing all over the world). Breakfast with the Birds is a favorite morning ritual at the habitat, as well as the follow-up Lunch with the Lorikeets, which offers a sumptuous spread of fresh meats, cheeses, breads, soups, fruits, salads and even Australian wines, all in a wildlife-friendly environment where vivid birds hop along the table among diners.

Great Barrier Reef

Even schoolchildren all over the world have heard of the Great Barrier Reef, and for good reason. Considered by some to be one of the seven wonders of the natural world, the 2000 km long reef is home to an astonishing array of aquatic wildlife and underwater plants, making it a must when visiting Port Douglas. There is any number of tours with whatever activity you might want to try, from scuba diving and snorkeling to simply enjoying the view on a glass-floor boat. Port Douglas’s stretch of the reef is considered among the cleanest and purest ocean water in the world, giving you unprecedented visibility of the school of fish and other marine life.
If you’re thinking about visiting in June or July, consider that during those months it is possible to swim with Dwarf Minke whales, some of whom make their home in the warm waters off Port Douglas.

Barron or Russell Rivers

If you seek something a little more adrenaline-fueled and physical, try white water rafting on either the Barron or Russell rivers, where different expanses of rushing water give rafters of all skill sets a unique and exciting challenge.

Mossman Gorge

Keep your swimsuit handy for a day trip to Mossman Gorge, about 30 minutes from Port Douglas and located in the southern part of Daintree Rainforest. Self-guided walks take you through towering, ancient trees; hike until you reach the spot where the Mossman River pours over granite boulders, creating swimming holes in the cool, pristine water. Bring a picnic lunch for much-needed sustenance between hours of water playtime.

Where to Stay

Imagine waking every morning to the sounds of exotic bird song, the tranquil rustle of trees and scent of lush greenery. The Daintree Eco Lodge and Spa effortlessly merges comfort and luxury with nature’s splendor; a great example of this is one of the Lodge’s Rainforest Houses, where Spa Villas come equipped with Jacuzzis on a screened balcony which overlooks the forest. The Daintree Spa is the last word in relaxation, where the aim is to heal the spirit and rejuvenate the mind and body with massages, body wraps and facials.
For a more budget-friendly option, the Daintree Crocodylus Village is a cost-minded hideaway perfect for backpackers or low-maintenance folks, with rates starting as low as $25 per night for dorm-style rooms. It’s located in Cow Bay, just north of the Daintree River, giving its guests the perfect starting point for new adventures. Equipped with a pool, internet, board games, the Kingfisher Café (which is conveniently open 24 hours a day), the Gecko Bar, a general store and a self-catering kitchen there’s enough to do onsite during a relaxing evening, after a long day of exploration.

 

Backpacking in Australia – 5 things to get right before hitting the road

If you want to go on holidays in Australia, you need to make sure you go prepared, for one of the world’s largest countries, it’s also one of the least populated, so you need to be able to fend for yourself on your travels. These 5 handy tips should set you going in the right direction.

1 – Buy a decent backpack

Take a sensible amount of luggage!

You’d think that this would be common sense, wouldn’t you? But the number of travellers that get this fundamental requirement wrong is still staggering. When looking for a backpack you need to think carefully about its size. Too big and it won’t be valid as hand luggage on all flights and will be too cumbersome when travelling, too small and you won’t be able to fit in all you need. Most travellers should take a travel bag (to be left in the hostel) and a day bag (for when you’re out on day activities and plan on returning to the same hostel). A good tip is to put the entire contents of your backpack within a thick lined bin bag to ensure a turn in the weather doesn’t ruin your entire luggage.

2 – Buy a first aid kit

Every backpacker needs a simple, small first aid kit, especially if you’re out in the outback or on one of the many mammoth road trips. It should be small, light and include fundamentals such as antiseptic cream, diarrhoea tablets, sun cream and bandages. See the NHS advice for travel: http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/home.aspx.

3 – Take a map/travel guide

This is as much for your safety so you don’t get lost, as it is to ensure you don’t let any must see sights pass you by. You may think you’ve got planned everything you want to see, but a good travel book written by experienced writers can point you to some fantastic locations which may be close by.

4 – Use the Internet

This is both for research before you leave – how else would you be reading this handy guide? – as it is to use whilst you are out there. A good idea is to research the locations of some web cafes in the areas or milestones of your trip you plan on visiting. This can give some indication to relatives and friends back home when they may hear from you next. Either that or find a travel friendly 3G contract on a smart phone.

5 – Meet fellow travellers

Australia has one of the largest backpacking scenes on the planet. Go on blogs/forums before your visit; speak to people, gain inspiration (recommended trips, sights, hostels) all before you get there. But ensure that once you’re there, you don’t stop. Speak to people in your hostel, make new friends and get the very latest advice on what’s hot and what’s not whilst on your Australia trip.

IMAGE credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ianz/2172344181/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Brisbane skyline

Brisbane: a city full of romance

 Brisbane skyline

Brisbane is a great city for dating. Whether you’re living here as an expat, enjoying a long holiday or just passing through on your travels, if you’re looking for a great romantic spot to take your partner, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Brisbane is one of the cities with the highest quality of living in the world, so it’s no wonder it attracts people of all ages and nationalities looking for good weather, cultural landmarks and excellent social opportunities. A romantic city that’s home to outgoing locals, Brisbane offers many fantastic dating spots that shouldn’t be missed.

If you’re here on your own, the famous Australian hospitality means people are open to meeting foreigners with a view to forming relationships, so that date will never be far away. Another option is to look for compatible singles online…

Here are some great ideas for dates round Brisbane…

Queensland Art Gallery

The Queensland Art Gallery is located on the south bank of the Brisbane river. Next to Queensland Museum, it is Queensland’s most prestigious art institution and the country’s leading art museum.

One of the most exciting exhibitions currently running is the collection of more than 300 drawings, prints and illustrated books by celebrated French artist Henri Matisse, which is running until 4 March.

Another must-see exhibition is the incredible art installation of Yayoi Kusama, entitled Soul Under the Moon, which is designed to reflect her life-long hallucinations through the use of light and will be exhibited until 11 March alongside some of her other installations and sculptures in Look Now, See Forever.

Day Cruises

Day cruises offer something for everyone, whether you want to feed dolphins face-to-face or see the magnificent whales. Another popular cruise is the island adventure tour at Tangalooma, which offers a unique experience for those seeking an unforgettable day out. It’s also an excellent opportunity to meet new people.

Catamaran on sandy beach

Picture credit: kimandcyril

Get Sporty

As soon as you set foot in Australia, there’s an immediate sense of healthy air and a desire to get fit. If you’re in a new city, country or continent, it’s only natural to want to make use of such wonderful weather and long hours of daylight by releasing some endorphins.

Sport and exercise is a big part of Australian culture and an excellent way to meet people and feel better about yourself. If a jog along the beach isn’t what you fancy, there are plenty of other options. In your local area you’ll be sure to find teams for all levels of rugby, cricket, soccer and netball.

The Riverlife Adventure Centre at Kangaroo Point also offers rock-climbing, kayaking and abseiling for the braver exercise fans, and rollerblading, cycling, or even riding a hot-air balloon over the city are fun options for a romantic yet active day out in Brisbane.

Enjoy the Cuisine

Brisbane offers some of the best seafood in the country, and with all the exercise available, everyone should be allowed to indulge a little. The city is dotted with award-winning restaurants such as Wilson’s Boathouse or Gambarro’s.

Anyone who’s ever spent time dating in Brisbane will know the city is full of great romantic spots for dinner. But if you don’t think a candlelit dinner will suit, an excellent choice for a first date is the Good Food and Wine show, for which you can buy tickets at just over $20 and spend a day sampling foods from incredible local and international chefs.

 

1st picture credit: Flickr

Beach on Fraser Island

Discovering Fraser Island

Beach on Fraser Island

Fraser Island is a long and narrow island, 120 km by up to 24 km wide, situated on the east coast of Australia. It has the honour of being the largest sand island in the world and the largest island on the Australian east coast. It was even visited by James Cook. The island owes its name from Eliza Fraser, a shipwreck survivor.

The largest sand Island

The sand from Fraser Island originates from neighbouring Australia and was carried across the sea by strong currents. A volcanic bedrock lying below the island provided a natural catchment area for the sand to collect. However, the same current responsible for the accumulation of sand is also causing the erosion of beaches, which will only accelerate as the sea level rises. The hills on the island are made up of sand; due to the combination of wind and sand, sand dunes shift 1 – 2 m every year.

Fraser Island is a favourite among tourists who come for its stunning natural beauty, whether it be beaches, forests or lakes. The island is a World Heritage site and the Great Sandy National Park which covers most of the island and is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, also serves to protect its wildlife habitat.Blue lagoon - Fraser Island

Beautiful scenery

The island boasts over 100 fresh water lakes, the second highest concentration in Australia after Tasmania and they are exceptionally clean. In fact, it is said that sunscreen and urine from campers are the major polluters of the lakes, many of which do not have any inflow or outflow of water. In a bid to keep pollution to a minimum, vessels with motor engines are not allowed on the lakes; this includes jet skis and motor boats.

Among the rich flora, one can find rainforests growing in sand, eucalyptus trees, mangroves and swamps. Wallabies, possums, bats, sugar gliders, large variety of bird species and rare species of butterflies, saltwater crocodiles are all among the rich variety of wildlife that live and thrive in the multiple natural habitats on Fraser Island.

Dingoes on Fraser Island

Fraser Island is particularly known for its dingoes that are claimed to be the purest across all of Australia. Dogs are not allowed on the island to prevent cross-breeding and the introduction of diseases which could reduce the population of the dingoes, now a protected species on the island.

Despite numerous rules to protect the island from negative human influence, there is a permanent human population settled there, circulating around 360 people.

For more popular travel destinations, why not have a look at Travel Blat or go to Australia’s mainland – Brisbane – for a date ?