If you after a unique view of Brisbane and it surrounds I can recommend doing the Story Bridge Adventure Climb. Get the ferry there and finish off with a pint at the Story Bridge Hotel.
Brighton...? Not as in the UK or the island across the ditch (in Unzud), Brighton beach in Melbourne is the real McCoy.
Split in the middle by Middle Brighton Baths (see other Been There tips) and the Royal Brighton Yacht Club, Brighton beach runs from Brighton (obviously) to Brighton Beach - there is a place called that, with a pub and train station.
All along the way is a broad strip of bright yellow sand (NO stones here in Oz) with brightly coloured beach bathing boxes. Pics of these are in Melbourne's gallery.
Laze on the beach in the warmer weather or when it gets cooler in winter and the wind whips up the waves, join the surfers or windboarders on the waters of Port Phillip Bay. Watch out for the dolphins or penguins!
Brighton Beach is bayside Melbourne
12-15 kms from the CBD
take the bus or a train to ..Brighton Beach (its a real train station 20 mins from the city)
We had an amazing meal at the Capel Vale Winery overlooking their vineyards in Margaret River, Western Australia. Why memorable? The meal, wine and atmosphere was so good, I threw caution to the wind and asked my (then girlfriend, now) wife to marry me!
An Italian restaurant hidden away in Surry Hills. Not easy to find - which makes it even more rewarding - but very busy when we were there. Fantastic, fresh, al dente Italian cooking accompanied by the mother of all wine lists. Try the crab if it's on.
If you want to do a day trip (or more) to the Hunter when you're in Sydney, it's a perfect choice. They only take you to boutique wineries (some of which only sell their wines at the cellar door) and the insight and banter from the guide (Steve in our case) was quality. A great day out, helped by the fact that Steve really knew the area and the people who live there.
I think they're based in Sydney - contact them here: www.boutiquewinetours.com.au/
Firstly it's located in a vineyard. Secondly that vineyard is at the highest point in the valley and has stunning 360 degree views of the surrounding countryside. Thirdly you can only buy its wines at the cellar door so they are totally unique. Fourthly, the people who run it are lovely. And finally, it's a stunning cottage and is only two hours or so out of Sydney. Perfect for a weekend away from the city.
An angel walks in the vines at Higher Plane. Much like the world, their heavenly Chardonnay and dreamy Shiraz are well worth discovering. Under the effortless care of our four-legged angel, I had a four-month escape from life in the fast lane while working in this well-tended Margaret River vineyard. Our black spotted friend split her time between warning us about snakes, finding shade under the lush Chardy branches, bathing in the lake and chasing kangaroos. The wines produced here are by their very nature balanced, and now so am I.
Head to the Cellar Door at Juniper Estate near Cowaramup, Western Australia, for a sip of their award-winning Chardonnay, or visit www.higherplanewines.com.au .
Wine and surf are just 2 of many reasons to visit the Margaret River area, find out more at www.margaretriver.com. If your budget will stretch to it, then hire a house at nearby Prevelly Beach.
The Cape York Peninsula in far north Queensland is too big to cover in a few lines. It seems to be largely overlooked on most travellers’ itineraries and hardly gets a mention in the guidebooks. The reason for the omission might be the perceived difficult access to the region. This is a myth! The road in the dry season is a cakewalk with a 4WD and the tricky bits have bypasses should you wish to use them. If you’re prepared to take the road less travelled you will find a part of Australia seldom visited and with exceptional beauty. The road I took commenced in Cairns: I followed the Cook Highway north to the Daintree rainforest, then took the scenic Bloomfield track via Cape Tribulation to Cooktown. From Cooktown, the Battle Camp road went through the Lakefield national park to Laura. The road north via Fruit Bat falls eventually led to the Northern most tip of Australia. The trip didn’t end there: I ventured into the Torres Strait islands before returning south. The trip took two weeks during which I spent time on secluded beaches (so secluded that no one would know what you got up to on them!), lush rainforest full of wildlife, Aboriginal rock art sites, pubs in the middle of cattle farms in the outback and luxury hotels. Do your research, I recommend buying a copy of Ron and Viv Moon’s guide to Cape York before you make the trip.
Rent a car in Cairns. Britz lets you take vehicles up to the cape. Ring them on 1800 331 454 for more information.
Shakey Tables is a beautiful vineyard with accommodation in Rothbury, Hunter Valley.The log cabins are set in gorgeous surroundings, with kangaroos, birds and all sorts of other wildlife right outside your door. Not only this, but the award winning restaurant serves some of the tastiest, contemporary food that I ate in all Australia. Their wine is great too, as is that of all the other vineyards nearby.
Thorngrove Manor Hotel is a member of the prestigious Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Designed in the ecclectic Gothic inspired style of the colonists, this celebrates architectural design and creativity. It's a five minute walk to the local village set atop a hilltop. Food is all bio-dynamic and organic. Rooms are inspirational with antique gilded clocks next to LCDs and ipod docks. Small in size, but huge in experience with the closest winery and wildlife sanctuary five minutes away.
I recommend the Rutherglen wine region, a relatively new region set in north eastern Victoria in the valleys of Australia's snowfields. It has some famous Australian wineries like the Brown Brothers estate, but is also home to plenty of small wineries great for a break with close access to the skifields of Mt. Hotham and the beauty of bright and other local towns.
What is it? It's a cross between a fun house, museum and a shop.
This place in Melbourne is full of collectables, fossils, old antiques, old scientific curios, natural history items (taxidermy anyone?) and even has a perfume library. Amazing, crazy, eclectic, eccentric ... that's Wunderkammer!
Melbourne is getting a collection of great little restaurants along its bay and Vincents is another one. It has fantastic views across Port Phillip Bay and the surrounding bayside suburbs from the upstairs dining room.
The menu is mediterranean based and of course offers lots of fish choices.
The pastas were great as were the home made dips. Service was smart and efficient. BYO and also licenced, Vincents is just a nice place to go and have a meal
Australia's oldest family owned vineyard, and a place well worth a visit. Before visiting this mecca for the grape I didn't "get" wine, and more specifically the words used to describe wines by the likes of "TV's Oz Clarke". The staff insisted that we try everything on their extensive list, describing the wines as we went along... it was a bit of a Damascus moment for me and suddenly I could taste those red berries, peaches and all sorts of other flavours!
It was both a pleasure and an education, and well worth a visit... just make sure you aren't the designated driver!
It turns out that Wise Wines, the place where my fiance and I have chosen to get married next year, is Australia's only winery with a sea view. If you stand on the balcony, in front of the wide, sweeping bay windows you can soak up the view of the vines, which tumble down the hillside towards a valley which leads to the Indian Ocean, about 2kms awy.
Of course you don't necessarily need to get married here, as we had originally stumbled across this winery a few years ago after running along the coastal path from our beachfront Dunsborough accommodation, along beaches and bush and to Eagle Bay. Anyone can simply dine at the excellent restaurant which showcases the region's excellent fishing and freshwater crayfish. And it isn't remiss to sample the winery's range of premium white and reds. We have already arranged for their 2006 Chardonnay and Cab Sav for our wedding. Needless to say the wedding is simply an excuse to come back for another excellent weekend away from Perth!
McLaren Vale in the Adelaide Hills, just south of the city, generally seems to be considered the poor relation of the Barossa Valley to the north. It isn't. It is one of the prettiest and most charming wine growing regions you can visit, complete with ocean views and truly excellent wines. Coriole is a fine ambassador for McLaren Vale wineries and hosts many arts and culinary events throughout the year. Its reds are some of the best you can sup. The olive oil's pretty good too.
A relatively little-known wine region around four hours' drive south of Perth in the south-westernmost corner of Australia. Both the climate and the grape blends are reminiscent of Bordeaux, although the wineries have a strong Aussie accent: friendly, fun and also offering great food. My favourite is Wise Winery on Eagle Bay, which offers sweeping vistas of Geographe Bay from a panoramic dining terrace - the perfect setting for a delicious lunch, accompanied by a glass of 'Half Wit' Chardonnay or their 'Coat Door' Shiraz / Cabernet blend. The sheltered crescent of Meelup Beach is just down the road.
Semillon Sauvignon heaven, with a simple roast tomato soup, sitting on a simple bench overlooking the vines, a golden light like chardonnay filtering through the leaves. Bliss.
The granddaddy of Australian wineries, a short drive from the centre of Adelaide to the suburbs. Tours and tastings at prices from reasonable to eye-watering. Fantastic Aussie Shiraz, a great fortified, and a delicious high-end restaurant with a panoramic view over the city.
Florence falls and Buley rock pool offer very different swimming experiences. Go in the wet season and you'll be hard pressed to swim under the waterfall; the force of the cascade creates a natural water treadmill, allowing one to swim on the spot. Compare this with the more sedate pleasures of Buley where a cluster of shallow pools in a fast flowing river create an antidote to the wildness ofFflorence, more like a natural jacuzzi. All in 32 degree heat and totally crocdile free!
An easy two hour drive south of Darwin
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