This place really is a fantastic find though I spent only one night there (sadly). The guesthouse (and restaurant) is set in the rolling hills outside Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road with superb views over the surrounding countryside. The room I had was decorated in a warm, comfortable and charming country style without any hint of chintz. The house has typical Australian wide verandahs all around and rooms open directly on to this. The food is something else - beautifully cooked from fresh ingredients grown two minutes' walk away in their own organic gardens. Everything they can't grow themselves is sourced locally.
This salt water pool has been built into the Bondi cliffs overlooking Bondi Beach. The pool was created to service local life guards wanting to maintain their fitness during the winter months. You can swim in the open air pool while taking in the amazing views of Bondi beach and afterwards head upstairs to relax in the fabulous restaurant.
Arriving in Cairns we looked forward to our first swim, alas after checking out the signs about jellyfish, mudflats off the foreshore and talk from the locals about the two crocs that were found in the swimming nets a couple of days before our arrival, the sea seemed out of the question but not the swimming lagoon. In glorious sunshine, sitting alongside backpackers and babies we spent the day making the most of the water, changing rooms, lockers and lifeguards, strolling to one of the many close restaurants in the evening. There are also free early morning fitness activites run at the lagoon, like yoga and pilates. What a way to start the day!
Once in the city centre just follow the signs to the Esplanade - you can't miss it.
Bronte beach, only two coves to the south of the more popular (and crowded) Bondi is a hidden gem amonst Sydneys beaches. At the south end of the beach, just beneath the famous coast path, is the wonderful Bronte Beach Sea Pool. On a calm day, you can sit in the cool sea water
watching the world pass (or jog) by, and when
the swell's up, you can sit in the pool with your back to the ocean and see how long you and withstand the buffeting of the waves. To top it all off, Bronte's superb juice bars and restaurants are within about 200m, so you don't need to stay out of the water for too long.
About a mile south of Bondi beach, via Tamarama.
Palazzo Versace is a super swanky hotel at Marina Mirage on the Gold Coast. While my budget won't stretch to their room rates, everyone is welcome to enjoy a drink in the hotel. We chose the Versace signature cake, which was served with tea or coffee from a vast selection. At $16 it was great value, with a whopping big piece of cake (no supermodel portions here!) and was served on beautiful china while we lounged on silk-cushioned chairs.
Sailing around the Whitsunday islands for two days and two nights on board a luxury catamaran.
With a maximum of 10 passengers, the small group meant we had the freedom to try all of the activities. These included windsurfing, stand-up paddle boarding and a clear kayak.
The crew were amazing, providing watersports tuition, fantastic food and interesting information about the region.
We enjoyed a full morning at Whitehaven beach and snorkelled at numerous reefs. On Ice avoids the crowds to get the best experience and the crew cater for all abilities - they even have an air raft for non-swimmers.
Sailing into the sunset, we moored in sheltered bays and marvelled at the stars and milky way.
1300 414 419 from within Australia
Destination Whitsundays office, Airlie Beach
For great photo opportunities of the Opera House, take a walk over the Sydney Harbour bridge -signposted from The Rocks/Circular Quay. Then use your Day or Weekly 'My Multi' ticket to travel back over the bridge by train. I was going to do the Harbour Bridge climb, but after walking across the bridge, I decided the view from the footway was almost as good and I saved myself AU$180 into the bargain!
The entrance to the footway is a 10 minute walk west (left) from Circular Quay (don't be tempted to walk towards the bridge at ground level-the entrance is much further back).
Wonderful European-style bistro in the inner city area of Carlton North. A cosy spot to sip coffee and savour ricotta hotcakes for brunch, or devour a grilled eye fillet and a bottle of red for dinner.
555 Nicholson Street,
Carlton North, 3054
+61 3 9381 4443
South Yarra’s newest laneway destination Outpost, is part of the cult specialty coffee group St Ali. Fantastic coffee, gourmet sandwiches and meals and yummy cakes. All of their food is sourced from local Victorian suppliers.
9 Yarra St, South Yarra
+61 3 9827 8588
Nearest station: South Yarra
Three days into a six day impromptu 'savannah adventure' from Cairns to Darwin, this purple watering hole offered the perfect halfway home. If you're headed west, Normanton is the last town of any real size before the wilds of the Carpentaria really take hold and the town's got an authentic outback feel - the main street boasts a scale model of a 28-foot long saltwater crocodile named Krys, said to be the largest one ever shot and the "big barramundi", one of Australia's 'big things', looms over the other side of the road.
Knowing that aboriginal 'dry' communities are all that await you for provision top-ups on the dirt road to Borroloola, the Purple Pub is a sanctuary of ice cold schooners and pots. Locals will likely be necking the XXXX, and it's not the kind of place you could order a G&T without getting some funny looks, but you can't go far wrong with a Bundy & Coke or - my personal recommendation - a Tooheys Extra Dry stubby (even if it is brewed in Sydney).
Cnr Brown & Landsborough Streets
Phone: 0061 747 451 324
Fax: 0061 747 451 626
Google map: tinyurl.com/y99woxs
The tiny town of Parachilna (population 7) is little more than its pub - the Prairie Hotel. Look at a map and there is just a road and a railway line. It's outback Australia all right, 66 km from the nearest “town”. The pub is a great eating place as well as a good place for a beer. In the bar there is a fridge full of locally produced and very interesting icecreams. Walk through the back to the eating area where the walls are covered with aboriginal paintings – it’s like eating in an art gallery. It’s not grand but it is very authentic and friendly. The menu is famous for its Flinders feral food based on local, aboriginal bush tucker. This includes kangaroo, emu, yabbie (a kind of crayfish), quandongs (sometimes known as native peach and possibly the oldest known fruit on earth), native limes and bush tomatoes. When we were there in September we couldn’t resist the “Feral Food Platter” – kangaroo steak, camel sausage and emu “fillet mignon” with gravy and chips! It should have been mashed potato but we were late in the day and settled for chips. The red wine was good, too. For dessert we settled on the quandong crumble pie with vanilla bean icecream – amazing! Standing under the veranda as the sun sets, stubbie in hand, has much to recommend it – not least when the 3km long trains pass just across the road. The area is worth exploring – the red plains and mountains of the Flinders might already be familiar as the very remoteness of this area makes it popular with filmmakers, eg, The Rabbit Proof Fence”. There is great walking in the area. Explore Brachina Gorge and the history of earth seems to unfold before your eyes. The land is ancient and the stories many.
The Palace Hotel is in outback New South Wales. It's a truly unique pitstop for a number of reasons.
Film buffs will enjoy the fact that it was a location for 'Priscilla Queen of the Desert'.
Architecture fans will love the iconic 19th century heritage hotel with original retro interiors and murals.
Photography junkies will find plenty to shoot here.
Oh, and above all else it has a great bar and verandah for enjoying a cool beer after a hot days traveling.
A rough and ready bar with good beer and good wholesome food where everyone REALLY likes a drink. The locals were very friendly with a great sense of humour. The smokers area outside has a sign that says "Lepers" on it. The main entrance to the bar has a life-size ceramic guide-dog for collecting coin contributions which is wearing dark glasses and a beret. The bar has a large sign behind it which says "Beer - helping ugly people have sex since ... " A guy with almost no teeth but a beaming smile (who could barely speak) was positioned in front of the sign by his mates as a prime example for us to take his picture. I wanted to attach it as I think you would enjoy it as it gives a good flavour of how much fun this bar is.
Finally, in the offsales/carry out shop we watched an old man buy two bottles of whiskey ("What's the strongest you've got?") one for him and one for his dog; and then empty one over his dog ("Get's rid of the ticks!") The whole experience was wonderful. On the second occasion that we visited the Cow Bay Hotel a cassowary walked through the car park - amazing.
Lot 458 / Baileys Creek Rd | Cow Bay, Cape Tribulation 4873, Australia
Google map: tinyurl.com/yk5fnep
If you are ever in Alice Springs, make sure you visit Bojangles Saloon. This is a brilliant outback pub with fantastic food. Where else could you eat Emu sausage, crocodile rissoles or kangeroo steaks? The size of the portions are amazing, make sure you go hungry! The atmosphere is buzzing. If you just pop in for a drink, don't let the ancient coffin put you off - just open the door for a handful of peanuts! Thoroughly recommended for a fun evening.
80 Todd Street
Wedged between the end of the scenic 4WD Bloomfield Track and Cooktown, sits the Lion's Den Hotel. An oasis to travellers in Australia seeking the path less travelled.
Wake up to the raucous, undisciplined laughter of Kookaburras and share the outback with an assortment of other Australian fauna.
The atmospheric bar serves excellent meals and good beer and is the ideal place to rejuvenate after crossing the Bloomfiend track. Exchange tips with other travellers before continuing your journey up into Cooktown and the untouched and unspoilt Cape York Peninsula.
Rooms are very basic but clean and comfortable. Showers and toilets are shared.
The Prairie Hotel is a fabulous outback pub. In fact it is an all singing all dancing outback event these days. Wikipedia says that Parachilna, where you will find the Prairie Hotel, 'was once a town' and the highlight of an evening there is watching the train roll through town. That gives you a flavour of the place.
I have not been there for a while but I have heard it has gone from strength to strength. I first came across it on a trip to Wilpena pound and before the hotel was doing any real advertising let alone had a website. We stumbled across it and after a few days of hiking and camping it was an oasis of hospitality and sexy bikers. I have very fond memories and I think even a photo or two of tearing off on the back of a Harley down a long straight stretch of outback road with my hair streaming in the wind. The days of my youth! I had the t-shirt for many years to bring me fond reminders as I was working out on the treadmill in city centre London.
Corner of High Street and West Terrace, Parachilna, South Australia 5730
Google map: tinyurl.com/y976jn6
Ph: (8) 86484844
There is a station in Parachilna whether the train stops there or not I dont know. I believe the famous Khan runs through.
While travelling around Australia last year, we stumbled upon Bojangles in Alice Springs and had a truly memorable evening. The pub is eccentrically decorated with bits of the old Ghan train line incorporated in the bar itself, a live eight-foot long python curls around a motorbike (its ok it’s in a glass cage!) and the Australian outlaw Ned Kelly guards the door.
There’s a great selection of Australian beers and Territory tucker, including ribs, steak, emu, kangaroo, camel and Barramundi.
But the best thing about Bojangles is its live webcast. There are cameras through out the pub that stream live to the web. Friends from anywhere in the world can view the pub on-line A quick text to my brother in the UK and we were soon waving manically every time the camera pointed at our table. Generous friends can order you a round of drinks by text or email. The famous two litre Darwin Stubby was a popular request. The highlight of my evening was the DJ dedicated a song to us from my brother. It was so nice to have contact from home when I couldn’t have been further from it.
For a real taste of the Australian outback, head to this remote 100-year-old pub on the Darling River in Tilpa (town pop. of 9). This is where the locals gather and there are plenty of characters keen to tell tales of the great flooding in 1956 when the town was isolated for five months, or the past fortunes they made (and since lost) in nearby opal mining towns. Its history is on the walls, with hundreds of messages and jokes from those who have stopped by over the years. You can leave a message with a donation that goes towards the Flying Doctor Service which these Outback-dwellers depend on.
A classic Aussie pub in the classic Queenslander style. The Kin Kin pub has not only survived floods, the locals wouldn't stop boozing til their seats floated away. The last floods, in 2009, forced changes and the pub, actually called the Country Life Hotel, now has a facelift and a barn for live gigs. The food is odd but the stubbies are cold. The dirt road to Kin Kin evokes Deliverance but the locals are friendly. There is no dress code. In fact dresses rarely make an appearance at the bar. In short, truly fair dinkum mate.
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