Easy Perth Backpackers is a fantastic place to save money and chill for a while in Perth. They have the cheapest rates going for Northbridge and allow you to bring in your own beers/'goon' from the off license.
..strange name for a little touch of Italy in bayside Hampton. And more curiously, this new eatery has been set up by Alastair Dobbs, previously the sommelier at the Church St Enoteca.
OS presents a classic simple Italian menu accompanied of course with an excellent wine list. Bookings are advised as OS has become very popular
Far North Queensland has the tropical luxury of Port Douglas with lazy ceiling fans, cocktails and fantastic food but also back to basics four-wheel driving beyond Cape York with hidden pristine beaches. Even the main road from Cairns is a World Heritage area. The Coral sea is the most eye-catching aquamarine but take heed of the signs warning of salt-water crocodiles (salties.) The realisation that you're no longer top of the food chain gives you a whole new perspective on life. Still wanting to feel small in the marine world but much safer? Take a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef from Port Douglas. Much quieter than the backpacker chaos of Cairns, no "salties" out this far, choose a boat with a marine biologist on-board and swap watching on BBC 2 for a snorkel and flippers. See it soon - global climate change might mean its all gone in thirty years time. Even that fact on its own has been life-changing for us.
We visited the reef with Wavelength www.wavelength.com.au/ - oldest in operation, set up by a marine biologist
Shop 20, Meridien Marina Mirage, Wharf Street Port Douglas
+61(0)7 4099 5031
There are some interesting ways to travel in Melbourne. It has the largest tram network in the world with more than 1700 tram stops. It is a good way to view many parts of the city quickly and up close. For a more feets on approach, Melbourne has a shared cycling system as well. Rent a bike and explore the city at your own leisure!
You could easily miss the lanes in Melbourne. Melbourne is a beautifully laid out city with a grid of wide streets.
However, in between these, in the original service lanes, has developed a unique city culture - really what makes Melbourne special.
This is where the coffee culture small local shops are located, from cup cakes to shoe maker, from barbers to fashion designers and artists.
They are great to stroll through, have lunch, coffee, or find some unique artisan wares.
The most attractive Melbourne lanes are located between Swanston and Elizabeth and Bourke and Flinders Street. You will find them on either side of Flinders Lane. Check www.we-love-melbourne.net/melbourne-lanes.html
The most attractive Melbourne lanes are located between Swanston and Elizabeth and Bourke and Flinders Street. You will find them on either side of Flinders Lane. www.visitmelbourne.com/Regions/Melbourne/Destinations/City-precincts/Laneways.aspx
Google map: bit.ly/pHV1nT
Although it's a very hefty book and not necessarily one to take with you when travelling, if you are planning a big adventure this book is brilliant for suggesting places to go and things to see when you get there.
I was travelling to Australia and was keen not to just do the tourist trail.
This book recommended places to visit to view art in Melbourne and it was a brilliant springboard to make me think about places to go and things to see.
When I'd had enough of artistic viewings I wandered a little further out of Melbourne to St Kilda and spent some time watching the kite surfers on the beach, then headed off for some fun at Luna Park just off the boardwalk at St Kilda.
In need of something yummy to eat after a hard day viewing art and having fun I wandered along St Kilda High Street and struggled to select from the unbelievable number of cake shops!
buy the book from Amazon (or better still buy the e-book and you can carry it with you). A great place for art in Melbourne is the National Gallery Of Victoria. 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne.
Shane Henwood and his beautiful family run the local YHA hostel in this little hidden gem of a fishing town. Shane runs a super cheap tour which includes surfing with his surf champ brother in law, cliff jumping, bush walking and sailing- finishing up with a proper Aussie barbie of course. Total highlight of my gap year in Oz - Yamba is not very well known, but all the better for it!
26 Coldstream Street, Yamba, NSW Australia 2464
(+612) 6646 3997
Google map: bit.ly/o15yJp
A magical place that is often missed by travelers. Town beach has the most beautiful turquoise water, contrasting with the lush green mangroves,the yellow sand and the red pindan. Join the crowds and watch the famous extraordinary staircase to the moon. Or wander round the quirky night markets. Fancy a spot of cliff jumping for the adrenaline junkies at the stunning Gantheaume point? Be on the look out for regularly spotted turtles, dolphins and whales. Don't miss out on the spectacular sunsets at cable beach. Unwind with a glass of wine and a bbq. Just another day in paradise.
Google map: bit.ly/pmRBop
Hartleys is not just a croc farm, it is also a zoo. The tour of the farm, explaining the hows and whys of croc farming is interesting, the animals in the zoo mostly "inmates", ie crocs gone bad. The signs explain who they are and what they did to become prisoners! The visit also includes a boat ride with plenty of crocs and Aussie humour, and the reptile and crocodile shows are informative and fun.
Both the gift shop and restaurant are not overly priced and offer good quality products.
Forget the Sydney Opera bar, Scubar and the party buses driving you around Darling Harbor.
I’m taking you for a day out to the alternative and indie kids paradise, Newtown. Although only one station from Central, backpackers and tourists tend to miss this lively area.
Here is my guide to a place often forgotten for the Bondi sunshine and lifeguards. So put away you boardies and pick your favorite pair of skinny jeans.
Newtown is amazing for food. Every time I went to Oz, I ended up piling on the pounds because I lived so close to so many delicious places. I am actually slightly drooling when I think of it. Get me there now.
To start the day right, one of my favorite places for breakfast is Café Sophia on Erskenville Road. You have to try their banana raspberry melon smoothie with salmon and eggs benedict or their French toasts. Actually try everything. Just go every morning for four months like I did.
For lunch, I would generally go for one of the many Thai restaurants on King’s Street, Newtown's main road. Most of the places are vegan/vegetarian and although I'm neither, I did get a little bit addicted to the fake duck, pak choi and rice $6 lunch boxes.
To walk off all this food, shop around! Newtown has lot to offer when it comes to retail therapy, whether it’s one the many vintage stores or young designers’ outlets, you will find everything you need to look like the Sydney hipster crowd.
Then head to the art gallery “Oh really?” on Enmore Road. Oh really? is a collective/magazine/gallery presenting the latest street artists around. They regularly organize openings and you could find yourself having a beer with artist Ears while nodding to some breakbeat. Check out what’s going on at ww.ohreallymagazine.com
Then it’s time to wind down. Head down for a cold long neck at The Court House (“The Courtie”) on Australia Street. Cheap drinks, a lovely beer garden decorated with fairy lights, a lively atmosphere and very important, a pool table.
Then move on for some cocktails on the Zanzibar Roof. You will find a cosy terrace and the staff there are always lovely (and not too shabby looking either).
If the schooners have gone straight to your head, then it’s time to go and pull some shapes on the dance floor. I have to say this is not in Newtown. On a Friday I’ll head to Mum at World Bar in Kings Cross to watch live music and listen to the latest indie-electro. Check the coming up MUM nights on MusicFeeds. On any other night check out Sydney promoters and all around cool kids UPTOOUR HIPS for the best nights in town (seriously).
And there you go, I can assure you this will be hell of a good day.
Now there is a lot more to discover by yourself in Newtown and around. But it would take way too long to tell you all about it and I have still things left to see myself. It’s alright; I’ll be back very soon. I’ll see you at The Courtie.
PS: If you were still to be hungry on your way home, stop by Saray’s on Enmore Road for a pite (also called Laknore) ,a filled bread from Kosovo with lemon juice on it. Delicious.
Cafe Sofia: 7 Swanson St Erskineville NSW 2043, +61(0)2 9519 1565
Oh Really? Gallery: 55 Enmore Rd Newtown, +61(0)401 919 624, www.ohreallymagazine.com
The Court House: 202 Australia Street Newtown, 2042, +61(0)29519 8273
World Bar: 24 Bayswater Road, Kings Cross, +61(0)2 9357 7700 www.theworldbar.com
Saray: 18 Enmore Rd, Newtown, 2042, +61 (0)2 9557 5310
Garden Tuscany is a cafe in Moonee Ponds situated down a quiet laneway and it's beautifully designed. Lance's coffees and hot chocolates are some of the best in the area! Highly recommended to those visiting Melbourne.
And that's about all that needs to be said. Smooth, creamy, rich, lush. A tiny place pumping out some seriously good coffee in a city that knows its coffee.
Middle eastern restaurant in the basement of one of the coolest apartments in Melbourne. Local foodie, George Colombaris is part owner of this very swanky bar/restaurant which does terrific middle eastern fare with slick modern twists. Style and substance - quite a coup.
It's a mouthful, but that seems to be what it's called on the Flipkey page where my wife found it. However I grant it this indulgence as it is truly a hidden gem and a find that were I to visit Melbourne more often I would not be so keen to share with my Guardian friends. Fear of never being able to get in again would arouse my selfish gene. Fortunately for you Melbourne is a long way from home and not somewhere I visit regularly.
So, it's essentially a serviced apartment/ short stay accommodation in the centre of the city that isn't outrageously overpriced and has style and comfort way above its price tag. Leather couches, stunning artwork, polished concrete flooring, aesop products. Ticks all the boxes.
The Australian Inland Botanic Gardens are unusual. Located ten minutes drive from the town of Mildura, the gardens are an excellent example of a successful community project. Although supported by State governments and local councils, the creation of the gardens was the idea of local residents who raised the funds and undertook much of the work to make the idea a reality. This is not just an attractive community garden though; it is a garden with full botanic status and activities. A visit to the gardens will enable you to see plants from many different regions of the world as well as a wide selection of Australian native plants. There is a lovely rose garden. Water conservation is essential due to the semi-arid setting and the gardens provide excellent examples of measures that can be taken. An old wool shed has been rebuilt in the grounds and there is a small cafe and gift shop run by volunteers with plants for sale. Perhaps unique to a botanic garden is the Bush Chapel, an open-air chapel with tall eucalypts for walls, which provides a wonderful feeling of serenity and calm.
These relatively new gardens (opened in 2006) are both a visual delight and an uplifting educational experience at any time of the year. A firm commitment to the environment and the Aboriginal heritage of the land is evident as clearly marked walking tracks take you on a journey of discovery of Australian landscapes such as 'the red sand garden','the rock pool waterway', 'the arid garden' or 'the eucalypt walk'. Each area portrays the the subtle beauty and diversity of Australian native plants. A number of themed exhibition gardens show clever ideas for a suburban garden and expert volunteers are available to answer questions. Add a native orchid house, excellent visitor centre, garden shop, cafe, picnic and barbecue areas, bush walks to discover birds and wildlife as well as helpful information guides, you have a full-day visit that leaves you inspired and appreciative of the rugged natural beauty of Australia.
"I want some culture / Never mind the cheese / I just wanna hear music / And originality / I want some culture / Never mind the TV / Just wanna hear music / Down at the 303..."
And so with these lyrics began my quest to track down this must-see live music venue in trendy Northcote, north Melbourne. These are the opening lines of a song called "Down at the 303" by Melbourne's most famous sons, The Cat Empire, a band who my Australian wife had introduced me to over here in grey old England when we were a-courtin'. And I fell in love with her, and with the band. And with Melbourne, though I'd never been there. No matter, my wife and I arranged our wedding and honeymoon so I could see it. We got married in Australia, on the Gold Coast, then flew down to Melbourne for the honeymoon. And I fell in love again. It was July, winter time, totally out of season, but I loved it. The sun shone, it rained, it hailed, all on the same tram ride through town. And on our last night in Melbourne, we made it down to the 303.
Barely noticeable on High Street, Northcote, they don't really even have a sign outside, but it's identifiable as being next door to the Northcote Social Club.
We walked in, my heart pounding. An intimate, cosy bar upstairs, low lighting, and conspiratorial chats between young lovers. We got a drink. We moved downstairs to the venue. It was heaving, and sweaty. Some of the quietest, most beautiful live music I've ever heard was being played by a band I've now forgotten the name of. But there was no hustle or bustle, no angry, angsty pushing and shoving. Everyone was sat cross-legged on the floor. My wife and I joined them, rubbing knees with smiling strangers. It was a beautiful evening.
The Cat Empire's song (see youtube link below) is about the joy of seeing a local band in a small, local, intimate venue. It's about getting out there and finding the girl of your dreams at the gig of a lifetime, not sitting at home watching TV, not listening to cheese.
"Music is for living/ Yes, music is essential/ Music should take risks and be experimental/ In the cultchaaaa!!!"
Go check it out, go find the life of your dreams.
This place is an amazing little gig venue.
Genuinely intimate and and acoustically excellent, you will be able to get up close and personal with your favourite artists.
The best thing about it is that often up and coming British bands will gig here before they've really cracked Australia so you get a chance to see a band you love in a room barely bigger than your front room.
Oh and stay at the Prince Hotel too - it's fantastic.
Both good places to get a cheap quick meal.
Guzman is a small chain of Mexican burrito bars. Get the mini veggie burrito and a frozen margherita for $14 before a night out ...
Sabbaba is similar, but a falafel joint. One also in Newtown, city end of King St, one at Bondi. Good falafel pitta pockets, again very reasonably priced. Don't bother with Sabbaba's frozen cocktails though, Guzman's are far better!
While I'm on about good food and cocktails in Newtown, there's a tapas bar called Soni's, five minutes toward the city from the station, which does good tapas and margheritas. Upstairs is Madame Fling Flongs which I have yet to visit but apparently does good cocktails in a slightly kitsch seting.
Guzman y Gomez
175 King Street, Newtown
+61 (0)2 9517 1533
Google map: bit.ly/ie72CA
148 King Street, Newtown, 2042
+61 (0)2 9519 8084
Google map: bit.ly/fXDfyV
169 King St, Sydney, 2042
+61(0)2 9565 2471
Madame Fling Flong
+61(0)2 9565 2471
Google map: bit.ly/enKyAC
Interesting restaurant. Vegetarian only, and you pay what you feel your meal was worth. All food is organic and locally sourced, and despite the unusual - and potentially bankrupting - ethos, the food is absolutely delicious and the atmosphere warm and friendly. Highly recommended!
There are three restaurants in Melbourne: St Kilda, Fitzroy and Footscray
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