Another outstanding find in one of our inner city suburbs is Olives. Situated in the busy strip of Martin St (highway end) Olives was a great place for us to have a family dinner for Mothers Day last Sunday.
Olives' menu gave us a large number of choices for dinner, with most of the menu seafood/mediterranean based. Us meat eaters (and vegetarians) are also well catered for with special menu offerings.
A reasonably priced wine and drinks list is also offered for diners. Service was efficient and friendly with wait staff able to offer menu recommendations when asked. All in all, a nice evening out was had by all.
Rydges Hotel is the perfect destination for the family. It has spectacular views, delightful furnishings and great leisure facilities. It made us feel right at home albeit a home with with amazing pools for the kids to enjoy themselves in from dawn till dusk. I love this place as it gives you so much to choose from for activities, plus the bar is great! Give it a go, it's quite cheap and you won't be disappointed!
Telephone:(+61 2) 9261 4929 (overseas)
As a single traveller, doing a tour of Uluru/Kata Tjuta/King's Canyon is the easiest way of seeing the three main sights without having to worry about transport, accommodation or companions. I did a tour with Wayoutback Safaris who were excellent - knowledgeable guides who did their best to keep us away from the hordes, camping in swags in the open air, and comfortable enough 4WD buses.
Travellers Oasis was by far my favourite hostel in Australia. It's just five minutes from Cairns's main drag but is a haven of peace. The rooms are colourful, the kitchens and bathrooms clean, and the owners and staff incredibly helpful and friendly. My A$42/night single room was wonderful after a day's snorkelling on the reef!
For a road trip to remember ditch the car and try cycling the Nullarbor, Australia. East to west or west to east, it doesn’t matter, the wind will always be in your face and the flies will be lapping up the sweat. Lets not forget the March flies biting your bum as you labour through the sand hills near Yalata. The upside? Camping under a star spangled expanse of sky in the middle of nowhere with only the dingoes for company, waking up to a mob of roos bounding past your head, whale watching from the immense Nullarbor cliffs, sticky date pudding at Nundroo roadhouse, beachcombing along the deserted beach at Eucla, complete strangers stopping to offer you a cold drink, the couple who cooked us a 3 course meal in their caravan, complete with liqueurs and finally the sense of achievement when you hit ‘civilisation’ at the end of your 1300km pedal. Would we do it again? You betcha!
The Great Ocean Road, or the B100 to give it its official and less romantic name, is a 151-mile stretch of coastal highway between Torquay and Warnambool in Victoria, Australia. Hire your preferred mode of road trip transport in Melbourne and allow at least three days to do it justice.
The vividly picturesque route snakes around sheer cliffs and bypasses sandy beaches, including Bells Beach made famous in the film Point Break (although the Bells Beach scenes were actually shot in Hawaii). If you want to surf, Bells’ neighbour, the fabulously named Winkipop Beach, has better waves according to a local in a wetsuit.
The Great Ocean Road does exactly what it says on the tin; but don’t be fooled by the name – it’s not all sea views, beaches and cute seaside towns (of which Lorne is the nicest, so base yourself there if you’re looking for a place to stay), parts of the route head inland where you’ll drive through rainforests, past waterfalls and over green hills covered in sheep.
The main tourist spots on the route are situated at Port Campbell National Park – home to the majestic Twelve Apostles and other rock formations formed by years of sea erosion. You can also take the Gibson Steps down to a secluded beach and visit the graveyard at Loch Ard Gorge, which houses the victims of a 19th Century shipwreck. All well worth a pitstop.
Another highlight is the straight-out-of-a-storybook lighthouse at Aireys Inlet where 1980s kids’ TV series Round The Twist was set. Don’t let the resident cockatoos pilfer your cream tea though!
But the real magic of the B100 is its population of non-human inhabitants. It’s the perfect setting to spot some of Australia’s native wildlife, without having to go to a zoo. If you head to the Golf Club in Anglesea in the late afternoon/early evening, you’ll be privy to the sight of hundreds of kangaroos feeding on the greens. But don’t get too near, unless you want to be growled at! Koalas can be found in the Great Otway National Park forest area. Your best bet is to take a quiet side road and look up – you’ll see lots of white, fluffy bottoms in the gumtrees. If birds of paradise are your thing, stop for tea at the café in Blackwood Gully where you’ll be treated to raibow-coloured parrots flit ting around the gorgeous landscaped garden. Whale watching is also possible between June and October.
Great Ocean Road (B100)
btwn Torquay and Warnambool
But what a countryside. Trust me, if you are willing and able to make the effort, an amazing array of beaches, flora and fauna await you at Wilson's Promontory.
We travelled from Melbourne by coach to a small town called Foster where we stayed in a nice little hostel. The lady that ran the place was kind enough to drive us to the 'base camp' which is where we got the necessary permits to access the Prom.
We stocked up with as much as we could carry and set off. You must do your homework before you even get there. Know where you're heading and don't stretch yourself too much. When you find a nice campsite, pitch your tent and explore the locale.
The chances are, you may even have an entire beach to yourself overnight if you catch it in the right season and it's not too busy. We once spent an entire evening in one of the places called Oberon Bay with a beach about five times the size of Bondi all to ourselves. Truly magical but as I said before, it's a lot of effort because everywhere can only really be accessed by foot and you must carry everything with you.
The facilities at most the campsite are basic so you need to take water with you and also water purification tablets for any top-ups you get while you're exploring.
We followed a circuit around the coastline which took us about three days which I think was enough. It meant we had access to all of the bays and beaches that were on offer.
Wilson's Prom is a very remote part of Australia but is very lush and green which is an amazing contrast to the red dust and rocks of other less accessible parts of Oz. Even though the Great Ocean Road is in itself a very nice place to head to, make the effort to head towards Wilson's Prom and you will not be disappointed.
Possibly one of the greatest beaches in Australia. One of the only beaches I have been on where you have to wear sunglasses to look down as well as up! The white silica sand stretching along the coast makes for an awesome sight. Of course, unlike some places, you won't be alone but the beach is big enough to find your own quiet spot. There is no shade of any kind so make sure you dress appropriately and take lots of sun block!
The beach can be reached either from nearby Hamilton Island or even from Airlie Beach on the mainland. Both of these places are a little bit too swamped by tourism in my opinion so you should really only go for the Whitehaven experience.
Remember to make sure you take only photos and leave only footprints as this place is truly unspoilt by the modern world.
Google map: tinyurl.com/npam7x
Instead of flying in to the rock, why not fly to Alice Springs instead. Hire a car or campervan and load it up with everything you will need and then head South on the Highway until you reach the turn off for the rock. Once there you will find they have a decent campsite where you can pitch a tent or plug in the van!
Having a fully stocked vehicle means you can explore at your own pace and be totally self-sufficient which means not having to rely on the accommodation, restaurants and tours which are quite expensive because they have a captive market. Also despite what you see in some of the photos, the resort is quite a way from the rock itself so being able to drive out to it before the sun rises is a great bonus.
A trip like this means you not only get to experience the vastness of this country but also, if you're up well before sunrise, you might be lucky enough to actually feel the desert waking up around the rock. A truly unforgettable experience.
A friend and I drove a budget rental car from Sydney to Uluru (Ayres Rock) after signing to say we would stay on sealed roads and intimating that we'd be staying around Sydney. It's a long way between 'attractions' in Australia's interior so there was plenty of driving.
Highlights included picking up a didgeridoo toting hitch hiker. It turned out he was from Coventry and was teaching didgeridoo in Australia! Also seeing Uluru in the rain. I was so excited because EVERYONE sees it with a blue sky. We camped overnight and saw it with sunshine the next day so we were properly spoilt.
Breaking down and fixing the car ourselves because we didn't want to tell the rental company we were 100's of kms from the nearest tarmac added to the fun.
Opals, a space centre, road trains, sunsets, the Blue Mountains - a great trip.
My top tip would be to start out with a workable plan and be cheerful and eager to change the plan to grasp unexpected opportunities as you stumble across them.
Also, pair up with someone with an opposing body clock. My friend could drive at night and I do early mornings so we covered plenty of miles.
The most amazing road trip i have ever done. Driving across the nullarbor plains from Melbourne to Perth, stopping off in road houses, dressing up in 60's dresses making up tales to tell of our journey to the miners. Meeting amazing interesting people and seeing heads turn as you walk into a roadhouse - a rare visitor.
The drive varies through scrub, desert, beaches and lush forest. Sleep in the car, watch amazing sunrises, look out for kangeroos and roadtrains and play spot the windmill.
The first real cafe you hit and the first food that you eat that isn't a cheese sandwich makes the drive seem even more alien. Another world entirely - beautiful empty and fulfilling.
Make sure your radio works, or you'll end up like us - doing endless crosswords and singing!
Melbourne - Perth
Google map: tinyurl.com/opopmn
This is the home of cheap eats in Adelaide, and the gateway to the famous Central Market on Saturdays, where you can buy a dizzying array of fresh produce, and hang out in some of the city's hippest cafes. The vast malls and bustling foodhalls in Chinatown are also close by.
The street stretches from nightclubs to the austere court buildings of Victoria Square, with a world-tour of eateries crammed inbetween.
Adelaide's melting pot of cultures is displayed in all its delicious glory, with enticing scents and aromatic spices pouring out of restaurant windows. Choose from Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian and Japanese, Asian fusion, noodle bars, Chinese and yum cha, French and Argentine cuisine, and seafood restaurants serving fresh fish.
It sounds exhausting, but you could eat out here every night and never be bored by this smorgasbord of international cuisine.
A few personal pointers - The Greek Mezze does excellent Dolmades and Spanakopita (spinach and feta in phyllo pastry) and Ying Chow specialises in North Chinese dishes - the salty coriander chicken and red vinegar ribs are incredibly moreish.
Gouger Street, Adelaide, 5000
Google map: tinyurl.com/n6o94l
Glenelg Beach is a pretty beachfront suburb, about 20 minutes from the centre of Adelaide, popular with locals who want to escape at the weekend. The golden sandy beach, quaint jetty and side-walk cafes are paired with coastal reserves, nature trails and boats off on dolphin cruises.
The Glenelg Beach Hostel is like much of Glenelg beach, modern and funky with a kitsch seaside feel. The hostel is housed in Alexander Terrace, a Victorian house that has been converted into dormitories and private rooms. The rooms are spacious and comfortable and refreshingly bunk-bed free. You also get a free breakfast served alongside brilliant beach views, and with a brand-spanking new lounge bar and beer garden (complete with DJs!), you can return home to a pint of Pale Ale after a day's sightseeing.
In the misleadingly named area of Hackney (Adelaide's version is far more picturesque than London's well-worn suburb), the National Wine Centre of Australia is the best way to sample the fruit of the country's famous vineyards.
This tour isn't just for wine-buffs, and the interactive 'Wine Discovery Journey' takes you around the working vineyard on site, explains how wine is made, and ends with a trip to the 'wine tasting gallery', with bottles from all over Australia's winelands.
One if the highlights of the trip is a lazy lunch in the Concourse Cafe, with a plate of Australian Cheeses, and the wine shop is full of bottles to squeeze in your suitcase after a few samples.
This is the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, housing the world's largest collection of Aboriginal antiquities, and it blows other fusty museums out of the water.
The plains of Adelaide were once owned by the Kaurna (pronounced Garn-na) Aborigines, and Tandanya is their name for the city. Really learn about Adelaide's heritage by watching visual and performing arts, from the yidaki (didgeridoo) to storytelling, and dancing from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
Entry to the Centre is $5, but there is a free cultural tour every Thursday around the exhibits. It's a joy to discover Aboriginal culture, relatively unknown outside of Australia.
Haigh's is the Cadbury's of Australia, and Easter Time is the perfect excuse to drop into their factory and visitor centre for a guided tour.
This family-run company has been making hand-crafted chocolates for years, has won numerous awards and is famous with kids across its native land for making yummy Chocolate Frogs and Apricot Fruits.
A short drive or bus trip from the city centre, the tours are free and incredibly popular (call to book in advance) and last about 20 minutes.
After 'educating' yourself in the art of chocolate, visitors are rewarded with a special chocolate tasting and a free cup of tea or coffee, before picking from a factory fresh selection of chocolates and boxes of reduced 'seconds'.
The Gift Shop alone is worth the trip for a delicious souvenir - best buys include the 'Sparkling Shiraz Truffles' from South Australia's winelands and the 'Australia Collection', with chocolates using homegrown ingredients like macadamia nut and wattle seed. It's enough to convert even the most die-hard Dairy Milk fans.
Cheap and so easy to negotiate, even with a surfboard! Helpful drivers who often wait for you to be seated before driving off, a real shock for any visitors from London.
check the excellent website
to get you from place to place
This French Renaissance style building was built by the Lord Mayor in 1889, and today the hotel is a Brisbane institution.
But you won't find a room here - the 'Brekky Creek' is a pub and restaurant serving up the juiciest steaks you'll find in the city, and beer 'off the wood' (out of wooden barrels).
The bar is always packed out, thanks to Brekky Creek's stellar reputation. But this no-nonsense steakhouse for hard-core carnivores more than lives up to the hype.
Cuddle up and make some Aussie furry friends at Australia's biggest Koala Sanctuary.
There are over 130 Koalas and a host of other marsupials in this beautiful natural park, all roaming free in their natural habitat. Get snapped with one of the furry beasts in 'Koala Hug' photos and hand feed the kangaroos, or wander round the peaceful grounds and watch them hang from the trees.
There's a souvenir shop with all the usual stuffed toys and Koala paraphenalia, but the Koala Enclosure cafe boasts 360 degree views over the sanctuary while you sip your coffee.
One of the most scenic ways to get to the sanctuary is by boat, and a cruise departs from Brisbane's cultural center, sailing past the city's historic buildings and lush islands.
708 Jesmond Rd, Fig Tree Pocket, QLD 4069, Australia
Google map: tinyurl.com/m3gjyq
There are loads of backpacker hostels in Brisbane, especially in the Fortitude Valley with its buzzing nightlife.
But this award-winning hostel really goes the extra mile, with free pick up from the train station and a 'travel agency' for booking tours and surfing trips at cheap rates. The super-friendly staff will even help with finding a job on your travels!
The private rooms are like trendy loft apartments, but the amazing bar and cafe 'Birdee Num Num' comes as standard, with Sunday BBQ 'sessions', live music most nights, and an outdoor heated pool for late-night pool parties.
The best bit about this hostel? The on-site spa for a spot of pampering - a welcome to weary backpackers everywhere after weeks on the road.
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