MONA is Australia's largest private art museum and one of the country's most talked-about cultural institutions. It opened in January 2011 and houses the collection of eccentric Tasmanian millionaire David Walsh.
Carved into the sandstone cliffs of a peninsula in north Hobart, the building alone is worth a visit. It won the National Architecture Award in November 2012.
The collection ranges from antiquities (including several Egyptian mummies) to contemporary art, and visitors are encouraged to give their opinion of the artworks through the interactive audio guide 'the O'.
I loved the design of the building and the way in which visitors are encouraged to interact with the art. MONA lives up to the hype and is one of the most unusual and entertaining art galleries I've ever been too.
The best way to get there is by ferry. The trendy, camouflage print MONA ferry leaves from the docks of Hobart's old town. There is a coffee bar on board and if you go out on deck there are amazing views of Mount Wellington and Hobart's beautiful surroundings.
Adult entry to MONA is $20 and the ferry costs another $20 for a return ticket.
The Wheeler Centre is a cultural institution dedicated to books, writing and ideas. It is the centrepiece of Melbourne’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature and organises events, lectures, readings and debates about literature and a wide range of other issues. All the events I've been to there have been really thought-provoking, and they are a great way to gain insight into both contemporary writing and 21st-century Australia. And one of the best things about The Wheeler Centre is that most of the events are free! Reserving tickets through the website is very simple so if you're visiting Melbourne make sure you check out The Wheeler Centre's programme.
Don't visit the Glenmore's rooftop bar if there's a cruise liner parked in Circular Quay. But on other days this is the only rooftop bar with a view of the Sydney Opera House. There's also the glass and steel offices of the central business district, the hump of the harbour bridge, and the busy green and cream harbour ferries (one for each of the eleven ships of the first fleet). The location is as Australian as a Vegemite sandwich.
The evening clientele is young - office workers enjoying the late sun and having fun over a schooner or two.
At ground level its a classic Australian pub- patterned carpet, slot machine, sport on the television. Climb the narrow stairs to the roof top terrace and you're high above the Rocks, seemingly eye to eye with the sails of the Opera House. You can sit back with a cold schooner of beer to watch the traffic of Sydney ferries coming and going. At this height the intrepid Harbour bridge climbers look less like ants and more like people. Best of all, its the closest pub to the Bridgeclimb so you can celebrate with your foolhardy friends who've braved the climb whilst you've enjoyed an effort-free view of Sydney Harbour.
Ocean Beach Hotel in Cottesloe, the "swanky" part of Perth with a super beach. Have a lazy day at the beach then get into OBH for a cold, cold Hahn beer or something similar. Fridges full of chilled glasses ensure this is a cold beer. Ignore the TVs and the sport. Just take a seat at the open bar front and enjoy the sunset over the Indian Ocean. Sydney may have its harbour, but it doesn't get the sunset. Enjoy the multitude of colour across the ocean as the sun dips behind the horizon ... then order another beer.
No trip to Melbourne would be complete without a visit to one of the city's great food markets (Queen Victoria market, South Melbourne market & Prahran market are my 3 favourites). And from mid-November to the end of February most of Melbourne's markets are open late one night a week. There's live music, and stalls selling street food from all around the world. Snacks/dishes are usually reasonably priced (under $12) and there's a great atmosphere.
This online poetry collection of works by local Melbourne spoken word artists and poets is a great way to get a feel for the city and its people. Each poem is inspired by a different place (a statue, a building, a street corner) and the poems have been organised into a series of poetry walks, which you can download as MP3 files. Explore Melbourne through its poets and you'll discover what a creative and inspiring city this is.
Fantastic pub where the beer menu changes each week and bar staff are happy to guide you through the current offerings with a taste of each one so you know exactly what you're buying. Each one served in a stemmed scooner rather than pints. Low lighting, high tables, big brick walls and a mixture of trendies and people off out to watch the footie in the nearby stadium. Well worth a stop.
Climbing the Gloucester tree is precarious yet exhilarating. Wend your way on flimsy looking spikes which flex unnervingly as you spiral ever higher around the weighty circumference of the 72 metre high Karri Pine in Western Australia. At the top, it is not the view that will take your breath away, but the experience of the rustles and sways of the forest canopy from within.
Gloucester National Park near Pemberton in Western Australia.
Google map: bit.ly/REgFpV
Before you travel anywhere scan you passport and store it on a hotmail account which has been opened solely for that purpose and remember you password of course.
If you lost your passport the hotmail account will give easy access for getting help, eg from the nearest Embassy etc.
The reason I recommend this is that it enabled me to take advantage of the seniors' reductions in the museums and places of interest. This saved me some money in what is quite an expensive city. I also did not have to take my passport out with me.
I spent a few months in Adelaide studying for part of my masters, and I had to put SBC Yoga in here as one of my favorite things to do. They run workshops, classes and yoga teacher training courses and they were my saviours while I was living in Adelaide. If you enjoy yoga already or want to give it a try, this is 100% the place to do it. I can't speak highly enough.
The locals use the serpantine road winding to the Northern Beaches (Palm Beach, Avalon, Bilgola, Whale Beach) as almost a last deterrent to mainstream tourism. But after a few turns (and really, its no more than that) you come across the most magnificent and laid back part of Sydney. Awesome village life, some spectacular sites, brilliant food from fine dining to a pie and chips. This is one of Australia's best places to visit and you can spend a long time just chilling out, surfing, eating, walking, watching and it's only about 40 mins from the city (with lots inbetween to see along the way). Not many hotels, but great private villas - most with amazing views.
40 mins north of Sydney, over the bridge. Stayed in Kamekura Residences. A beautiful house and pool overlooking Pittwater. www.kamekuraresidences.com
+61 412 953980
The best penguin display I have ever seen although I am sure Antartica is better. Well worth it, was located just near the casino which was also really good
This is iconic Australia, plenty of tours on offer. Our one included a cruise on Sydney Harbour after the tour which was good although it made the day very long. If you're only here for a few days it is well worth it.
‘And here’s ya free beer tickets’ begins this walkabout in Australia’s first streets. We’re good for schooners in the oldest pub (hearing too of the infamous ‘six o’clock swill’); the Irish pub where U2 launched an album; and on the Glenmore’s roof terrace where architect Jørn Utzon may once have sketched and we’ve one of the best views of his sensational Opera House.
Pub Tour is early evening also daytime tours, both bookable at the vast Sydney tourist information centre on the edge of The Rocks. Many other good pubs and restaurants and a good museum.
We joined an "I'm Free" walking tour by the anchor at Sydney Town Hall and despite the pouring rain we had a really informative and interesting three hour walk around the city centre led by Ross and the brewery he recommended to quench our post-walk thirst was perfect!
Hours being transported on a Harley-type trike from one vineyard to the next, through plantations, up hills and down tracks, kissed by the sun and the grape. Tony is a funny, genial and knowledgeable guy, and this was without doubt the best and most fun trawl through a wine region I've experienced. Book it now!
My highlight of Australia was a walkabout tour of the Blue Mountains near Sydney.
The Blue Mountains walkabout would not be everybody’s cup of eucalyptus tea. It’s quite strenuous and you will get dirty. But if you want an escape from the frenetic pace of Sydney, see more of the Australian bush than you would in a whistle-stop bus tour and gain a real insight into Aboriginal culture, this is a MUST DO.
Evan Yanna Muru, our tour guide of Aboriginal descent, met us at Falconbridge station which is approximately an hour’s train journey from Sydney’s Central Station. As a former tour guide myself, I am hard to please but I can honestly say that Evan is one of the best. He is passionate about Darug (the Aboriginal tribe that lived in the Blue Mountains) culture and his knowledge of his heritage is vast and deep. The tour group was small and they were an eclectic and interesting crew – ranging from a business tycoon who followed the road less travelled to become a volunteer in Namibia to a technical architect with Sony Playstation who was about to climb Everest.
Most of the 8k walk is off-track and therefore the terrain is rough. You do not need to be super-fit but you do need to be surefooted. However, there are compensations - our group did not encounter one other person all day. Other than our voices and movements, no other noises interfered with the bush soundscape.
I felt slightly ashamed that the Irish who settled in Australia were among those who condemned this ancient culture as primitive. I winced at the irony that many of the Irish convicts, who were transported to Australia for petty crime (I would argue partly because they themselves were dispossessed), went on to drive the Australian natives off their land. The Darug aborigines occupied the Blue Mountains for 50,000 years. Within two years of white settlement (1788), smallpox had killed more than half of this tribe. By 1860 the last of the full-blood Darug people had died.
Unfortunately the weather was not conducive to swimming in a billabong so we had our lunch sitting round a campfire in a sandstone cave. We drank eucalyptus tea and toasted marshmallows.
I do not want to give the impression that the walkabout is too worthy – we chatted and joked and finished the day, weary but exhilarated, in the pub.
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.
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