Sydney Harbour Bridge with a yellow and blue sunset.

A beginner’s guide to New South Wales

The Australian state of New South Wales boasts many accolades. Not only is it home to Australia’s biggest and busiest city – iconic Sydney – but it’s also home to the country’s highest peak, its very first winery, and is the birthplace of Australia’s obsession with surfing.

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The Australian state of New South Wales boasts many accolades. Not only is it home to Australia’s biggest and busiest city – iconic Sydney – but it’s also home to the country’s highest peak, its very first winery, and is the birthplace of Australia’s obsession with surfing.

Covering an area of 809,444 km² in south-east Australia, there’s a lot of ground to cover on a New South Wales itinerary. So it’s worth saving up your holiday leave for, or embarking on a trip as a retirement holiday. To make the most of your time in this incredible part of the world, we’ve compiled this mini-guide that includes things to do, attractions to see, where to stay, and how to get there.

Things to do in New South Wales

As we’ve mentioned, New South Wales is expansive and it’s difficult to tick everywhere off your list – but we recommend that the following five things make your final itinerary.

Organise a road trip

Credit: Dee Kramer Photography

Here are three of the incredible road trips on offer in New South Wales: The Grand Pacific Drive (on the South Coast from Sydney to Shoalhaven); The Legendary Pacific Coast (up the North Coast from Sydney); and the Greater Blue Mountains Drive (through the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains). The drives vary in length and we recommend taking a few days to enjoy them and to explore the towns along the way.

Whale Watching

Credit: Destination NSW

Whales migrate in their thousands along the New South Wales coast, with Humpback and Southern right whales a common sight. You can book yourself onto an organised boat tour from towns including Jervis Bay and Port Stephens, but there are many vantage points along the coastline where you might be lucky enough to spot whales in the distance. There are 38 vantage points in Sydney and in the surrounding area, including two spots near popular beaches such as Bondi Beach and North Head lookout near Manly.

Seek out an adrenaline rush

Credit: Destination Port Stephens

Adrenaline-seekers are in for a treat in New South Wales. Try hang-gliding and skydiving in Wollongong, snorkelling in Byron Bay, quad-biking in Port Stephens or abseiling in the Blue Mountains. You can even try white-water rafting on an Olympic course in Penrith Whitewater Stadium in Sydney’s west.

Catch some surf

Credit: Destination NSW

The home of Australian surf culture is Freshwater, on Sydney’s northern beaches, where Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku popularised surfboarding in the summer of 1914-15. Surfing tours depart from Sydney to world-famous surf breaks on both the South Coast and North Coast of New South Wales.

Explore the Outback

Credit: Destination NSW

Broken Hill, a remote mining town, is a good place to start an outback adventure, where you can take part in a heritage trail of the town’s mining history. Nearby you can also admire Aboriginal rock art – dating back thousands of years – in Mutawintji National Park.

Then there’s the town of Silverton, which has been attracting filmmakers for decades. The tiny township and the surrounding areas have featured in many popular movies, including Mad Max 2, Mission Impossible 2, Razorback and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Food and Wine in New South Wales

Credit: Destination NSW

Australia is famed for its wineries and New South Wales is no exception. The Hunter Valley (north of Sydney) is Australia’s oldest winegrowing region; offering both historic family-owned businesses and up-and-coming wineries. Mudgee (northwest of Sydney), the Southern Highlands and Orange (west of Sydney) are the other wine regions that are popular with visitors.

To explore the best produce in New South Wales we recommend a journey along a dedicated food and wine touring route. You can join an organised tour or rent a car to follow them at your own leisure. Popular trails include Hawkesbury Harvest Farm Gate, the Hunter Valley’s Around Hermitage Food and Wine Trail, the Southern Highlands to South Coast trail, and the Poachers Way in the Canberra district.

Accommodation in New South Wales

A luxury glamping text with white and light brown textiles.
Credit: Paperbark Camp

New South Wales boasts a variety of accommodation types to suit all styles and budgets. If you are seeking something special, a self-contained apartment or spa resort might suit your plans more. You can also spoil yourself with a spot of glamping.

Getting there and getting around

Credit: Destination NSW

Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport is the usual starting point for people embarking on a New South Wales adventure. There are no direct flights between the UK and Sydney, however, there are dozens of ways to reach the city via one-stop connecting flights – with some key
changeover locations including Singapore, Dubai and Los Angeles (the perfect excuse for two holidays in one!).

Sydney Airport is about 10km from the city centre and easily accessible by train, bus or car. Trains depart frequently from underground stations in the airport’s domestic and international terminals, while public buses depart from bus stops outside T1 and T3 (but not T2). There is also a taxi rank outside, and at the T1 and T3 information desks you can book a Shuttle Bus that takes you directly to your hotel.

When it’s time to explore regional New South Wales, it’s best to opt for a rental car or an escorted tour. These are best booked in advance through your Travel Consultant, who can help you get the best price.

Etc

  • January is the warmest month, with an average temperature of 18.6–25.8°C and the coldest month is July, with an average range of 8–16.2°C (46–61°F).
  • Popular shopping precincts in Sydney are open seven days a week, from 9am-10am to 5.30pm. On Thursdays, stores open until 9pm. City supermarkets are open for up to 24 hours.
  • The currency is the Australian dollar (AUD).
  • There are two time zones in NSW: Australian Central Standard Time and Australian Eastern Standard Time.
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A first-timer’s guide to Adelaide’s vibrant Festivals scene

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Adelaide isn’t called The Festival City for nothing. In the months of February and March, the city comes alive with the sound (and visuals) of the Adelaide Festival, WOMADelaide and – of course – the Adelaide Fringe Festival.

Fringe Festivals take place all over the world – with Adelaide clocking in as the second-biggest (after Edinburgh) as well as the largest in the southern hemisphere. It’s an open-arts festivals where artists and performers of various disciplines can apply and are chosen at random rather than by a panel of curators.

March time is – unsurprisingly – Adelaide’s busiest time for visitors, with roughly 2.7 million attendees at 2018’s Fringe Festival. If you’re planning to visit 2019’s Festivals in the city, here’s everything you need to know before you go.

When and where?

The next Adelaide Fringe Festival will be held between 15th February and 17th March 2019 – with 400 venues participating, Adelaide Festival opens 1st March and runs through to 17th March with the headline performance of Mozart’s Magic Flute and iconic WOMADelaide a 4-day festival celebrating music, arts and dance from 7th to 10th March.

If you’re planning on visiting, remember that this is late summer for Adelaide with temperatures reaching highs of a gorgeous 28°C. The city is bursting with culture, flavours, events and entertainment throughout the period and golden beaches can be found on Adelaide’s doorstep. Taste your way through world-famous wine regions only minutes away, soak up the sun, join the party at our immersive festivals and events or spend the night exploring Adelaide attractions and a thriving restaurant and bar scene.

Who’s performing?

The official guide won’t be released until December, but Adelaide Fringe has confirmed that 125 acts have been booked already. Every year the acts cover a wide range of disciplines ranging from theatre to dance, and comedy shows to cabaret. There are also always shows that cater towards family and children. In the first programme announcement for Adelaide Festival, Barrie Kosky’s electrifying contemporary take on Mozart’s The Magic Flute – a blend of live opera with Tim-Burton-style animation and a silent film aesthetic – is set to be a highlight of the 2019 line-up.

How do you book tickets?

Individual performers look after their own tickets, but when the schedule is ready it will have links to any online ticket websites, click here for details. There are both free and paid performances. Adelaide Festival tickets can be booked here from 22nd August

Are there any other festivals on at the same time?

Yes – it isn’t called Mad March for nothing! The Adelaide Fringe, WOMADelaide, and Adelaide Festival of Arts are all on at the same time.

Are there any side events on?

Events are still to be formally announced, but there’s usually an Opening Night Street Party and nightly street markets.

How do I get to Adelaide?

To get from the UK to Adelaide you will need to stop over somewhere else (perfect excuse for two holidays in one!). The most popular places to stop over are the Middle East and South-East Asia. 

What should I pack in my day bag?

If you’re heading out to a full day of shows, take what you would in your normal handbag. Remember lots of physical money though, as some food vendors won’t have card machines, and some venues won’t allow opened bottles of liquid.  

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A beginner’s guide to Western Australia

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The biggest of Australia’s six states, Western Australia is home to everything that makes Oz great.

It boasts a cosmopolitan capital city, stunning coral reef, an adventurous outback and great surf. But being on the other side of the country from the iconic Sydney or bustling Melbourne, it has a smaller tourist crowd and everything is a lot cheaper. Some travellers argue that Western Australia is the ‘real’ Australia.

Ready to explore this goldmine of adventure and exploration? Here’s some key information to get you started.

Where to Go

Western Australia boasts a massive and diverse landscape, and we can’t possibly list everything (that’s a blog for another day!). But below we have rounded up five key places of interest that you should definitely consider.

Perth

The capital city of Western Australia and your first port of call if you’re flying in from international shores. It has everything you would expect from a large capital city, but still has a low-key atmosphere about it. Start your day slowly with a stroll through King’s Park – one of the largest inner city parks in the world (even NYC’s Central Park doesn’t beat it).  Then finish your day by hopping on the ferry to South Perth and watching the sunset over the spectacular skyline.

Margaret River

Australia is recognised internationally for its delicious wines and surfing waves. Margaret River is the perfect place for both. With 100 wineries it’s no surprise that it produces 15% of the country’s premium wines. Then along the coast you’ll find 40 surf sports, ranging from powerful reef breaks to fun beach waves.

Monkey Mia

Part of the Shark Bay World Heritage Site, this little bay is so lovely even dolphins like to swim into shore to check it out. Every day specially trained rangers are on hand to provide insight into the dolphins who have made this bay their home. The perfect chance to learn more about these playful creatures in their natural habitat.

Ningaloo Reef

The Great Barrier Reef might receive most of the attention, but the Ningaloo Reef is the world’s largest fringing coral reef. If you’re wondering what fringing coral means – it’s a coral reef that is only moments from the shore. Yep, you don’t need a boat trip to see this reef; a few strokes and you’ll be snorkelling over it.

The North West

The places we’ve mentioned already are tucked into the South West corner of Australia. But if you want adventure we recommend heading north to Broom and Kimberley. Here you’ll experience the Australian outback. Wander through the ancient gorges of Karijini National Park, witness Australia’s highest waterfall (King George Waterfalls) and admire some of the oldest aboriginal artworks on earth.

How to Get There

Perth is the transport hub for the region. Here you’ll be able to catch an international flight or a plane to another beautiful area of Australia. Like any other trip Down Under, it is the perfect opportunity to stop over somewhere exotic on the way. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are both popular options.

Getting around

Western Australia is vast and if you want to explore corner to corner, we’d recommend a hire car. Word of warning though: fill up your tank as these roads are remote! Also remember to hire a 4×4 as the roads can get very rocky.

If however, you’re planning on staying in the populated Perth and South West region, you can get by on train and coach. There are plenty of hop on and hop off tickets available.

Weather and Climate

The weather is always diverse when we’re talking about somewhere the size of Western Australia. But as a general rule, the south is similar to the Mediterranean, the east is desert and north is tropical. If you’re planning to travel across the state, make sure you take a variety of clothing options (and take plenty of sunscreens).

Final tips and recommendations:

  • The currency here is Australian Dollars
  • Perth is cheaper than Sydney and Melbourne
  • The time zone is Western Standard Time (AWST) is GMT + 8:00.
  • The legal drinking age is 18
  • The school holidays work differently in Western Australia and the children have their long summer break during December and January.
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10 amazing Australia bucket list experiences

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When it comes to bucket list experiences, Australia does not disappoint.

The country is a goldmine of adventure. Blessed with a variety of landscapes ranging from lively cosmopolitan hubs through to desert plains, with the colourful ocean life minutes from its shores. Whether you’re a city lover, scuba diver, wildlife-seeker, sports enthusiast or adrenaline junkie, Australia has a once-in-a-lifetime experience for you.

So grab your bucket list, we’re about to tick a few things off it.

Diving in the Great Barrier Reef

Definitely one of Mother Nature’s proudest achievements, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral ecosystem. There are several ways to admire the reef, whether it’s scuba diving or from above on a boat trip. Either way, this is a bucket list experience that everyone must do once in their life.

Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb

For the best views of this famous city, book yourself a Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. It’s not for the faint hearted but it offers unbeatable views (especially at night) and is a great way to get your adrenaline pumping.

Meet dolphins in the wild

Dolphins are friendly creatures, but usually you need to take a boat trip to see them. Their usual home is along the shores of Monkey Mia in Western Australia, however, they regularly swim into shallow waters to mingle with humans. Organised tours are operated by locals who know the best spots and have their own personal stories.

Travel through the outback on board The Ghan

Considered one of the world’s greatest rail journeys, The Ghan Railway reaches areas of Australia that are otherwise inaccessible. Crossing the states of Southern Australia and Northern Territories, the train will stop off at Alice Springs, Katherine, and Coober Pedy (the end points are Adelaide and Darwin).

Drive the Ocean Road

Over in the southern state of Victoria, lies Australia’s most scenic road trip. The Great Ocean Road is the world’s largest war memorial (it was built to commemorate WW1 veterans) and runs by several prominent landmarks. The most famous of these landmarks is the Twelve Apostles limestone stack formations.

Soak up the atmosphere of Melbourne

Melbourne definitely takes the top spot as Australia’s coolest city. It’s the perfect place to view colourful street art, shop in stylish second-hand stores, enjoy international fusion cuisine and drink cool cocktails into the early hours. Remember to also take a day to relax, embrace the city’s café culture and soak up the atmosphere – in a city as interesting as Melbourne, this is sometimes all you need to do.

Cage Dive with Great White Sharks

If you’re an experienced diver, head to South Australia and come face-to-face with one of the ocean’s greatest creatures. Most tours have to be booked in advance and many operators request that you already know how to work scuba equipment. There’s also the option of watching from the boat though.

Witness the Aurora Australis

The northern lights might get more attention, but the lesser known southern lights are just as spectacular. They are a lot more elusive (and your timing needs to be impeccable) but it is undeniably worth it. The best time to see them is September with secluded Tasmania topping the list of locations.

Watch the sunset over Uluru Rock

Complete your Australian adventure with this fiery sunset. While the drive to Uluru rock is far (and bumpy!) the red glow from the rock in the later hours is one nature’s best tricks.

What’s your top Australia bucket list experience? How many have you ticked off?

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A street with walls covered in graffiti at night but well lit with street lamps

Where to find the best street art in Melbourne

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Melbourne is a colourful and vibrant city – literally. Its sidewalks and buildings are adorned with vivid and interesting street art, giving a nod to its accolade of being Australia’s cultural capital and a hub for the country’s creative community. Across the city you’ll find little clusters of walls and buildings proudly decorated by local artists, most of which are included in the many Street Art Walking Tours (this is a thing) but if you fancy a DIY meander then these are the pathways and lanes where you’ll find the best street art the city has to offer.

Hosier Lane

Arguably the central point for Melbourne’s street art scene, Hosier Lane can be found opposite Federation Square. The quality of the street art found here is highly acclaimed, and has become a popular backdrop for photographers and bloggers. The lane is also known for its upmarket cocktail bars.

Union Lane

Along the city centre’s Bourke Street Mall, you’ll find the small opening to this 550-metre long pathway. An otherwise quiet street with no bars or cafes, this secluded lane’s sole attraction is the miss-match of street art that covers almost every inch of its walls.

Degraves Street

Degraves Street in the Central Business District of Melbourne brings together two important aspects of Melbourne life: coffee culture and street art. The art deco atmosphere and alfresco dining gives off a Parisian appearance, but the down-to-earth street art and buskers help remind passer-by’s that they are among the streets of sunny and relaxed Melbourne.

Centre Place

Centre Place might look familiar as it regularly features in many tourism campaigns for the city. Not only does it showcase some of the city’s best street art, but specifically it is home to some of Melbourne’s best examples of stencil graffiti. You’ll also find a great selection of vibrant bars, cafes, restaurants, boutiques, sushi bars and shops.

Know of any hidden lanes that also showcase Melbourne’s famous street art scene? Let us know in the comments.

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5 reasons to visit the Gold Coast

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The Gold Coast is a vibrant city in Queensland, just one hour south of Brisbane and offers just the right balance of laid back beach resort and cosmopolitan playground – and is a paradise for surfers, sun worshippers, families and party goers. It’s one of Australia’s most popular holiday destinations for both Aussies and international visitors, with something for everyone and guaranteed sunshine most of the year.

The Gold Coast has so much more to offer than just the nightlife that it is often best known for and here are just five reasons why you should add the Gold Coast to your list of places to visit.

Beaches

Perhaps the most obvious attraction of the Gold Coast are the stunning beaches that span the coast as far as the eye can see. With the coastline stretching more than 70km, you can find a secluded private spot or experience the buzz at a livelier beach like Surfers Paradise.

The coastline is accompanied by a string of different neighbourhoods each with a distinct character. From the bustling shops and bars in Surfers Paradise to the coastal chic vibes in Broadbeach you can find the perfect spot for surfing, sunbathing, barbequing or whatever else might take your fancy!

Theme Parks

The Gold Coast is home to all of Australia’s theme parks making it a perfect getaway for thrill seekers. With two water parks and three theme parks, you can take your pick of hair-raising rides, or if rollercoasters aren’t for you, then opt to relax in the lazy river or take in a show.

The variety of theme parks makes the Gold Coast a perfect family getaway and offers fun for all ages. The parks are conveniently located close to one another so you can easily hop from one to the next one.

Lamington National Park

Just a forty-five-minute drive from the Gold Coast is Lamington National Park, the world’s most extensive subtropical rainforest. Take a stroll through the picturesque walking trails and don’t forget your camera to capture the stunning natural waterfalls.

The area boasts an impressive treetop walkway through the rainforest, or if you enjoy hiking you can join one of the 160km worth of walking trails. The National Park also hosts a boutique vineyard where you can dine a la carte, enjoy a casual picnic and taste some fine wine.

Surfing

As the name suggests, Surfers Paradise is one of the best places to learn to surf in Australia. The average temperatures, mild water and relaxed coastal vibes are the main reason that copious numbers of people flock to the Gold Coast and try their hand at surfing. Beaches are watched over by lifeguards all year round and the different conditions make it suitable for any level of surfer. Surf rental shops can be found across the Gold Coast so you also won’t need to bring your own.

Cafe Culture

The variety of quirky and distinctive neighbourhoods nestled amongst the Gold Coast means that there is a vast number of cafes and restaurants on offer. Try out the trendy Burleigh Heads area and take your pick of al fresco cafes serving up impressive coffees and brunches. There is also plenty of street food available from local vendors along the beachside resorts and at the local markets.

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Why you should visit Western Australia

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No trip to Australia would be complete without snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, or visiting the iconic Sydney Harbour, which is why visitors often flock to the country’s East Coast. This can leave Western Australia overlooked, and we are here to tell you why it is definitely worth a trip.

Being Australia’s largest state there is plenty to see and do. Get off the beaten track on an epic road trip to discover some of Australia’s best kept secrets, and stumble upon the idyllic white beaches. Of course there are so many places to visit that we couldn’t possibly cover them all, but here are some great destinations to get you started.

Perth

Enjoy the best of both worlds in Perth, a vibrant city with an equal amount of natural beauty. Explore the compact but cosmopolitan city on foot, with a stroll along the Swan River before relaxing in Kings Park. Just thirty minutes outside of Perth, you will find the trendy port town of Freemantle. Enjoy a coffee in one of the many bustling cafes and take a tour of the historical area.

There are very few places in Australia where you can watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean and Perth is one of them. We recommend making the twenty minute journey out of the city to Cottesloe Beach for one of the best sunsets in Perth and watch the sky change some unforgettable colours.

Rottnest Island

We recommend catching a ferry to Rottnest Island for a unique day trip. The island itself is only 11km long and with no transport on the island you can hire a bike to get around. It is the perfect place for snorkelling in the crystal clear water & spotting wildlife in their natural habitat and is hugely popular with families. Here you will find the native animal, the quokka, which is part of the kangaroo and wallaby family. Known for being super friendly and posing in selfies, the Quokka was recently named “the world’s happiest animal”!

Margaret River

Located three hours south of Perth, the Margaret River area is one of best food and premium wine regions in Western Australia. Home to boutique breweries, world renowned wineries and gourmet restaurants, it is a must visit for any culinary enthusiast. Some of Australia’s finest Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon is produced here, so be sure to visit a local vineyard and indulge in some samples. The town hosts impressive markets, selling local produce and a variety of arts and crafts. Not just for foodies, Margaret River has stunning beaches and offers some amazing surf spots.

Shark Bay World Heritage Site

Heading further up the West Coast you will reach the Shark Bay World Heritage area, which spans an incredible 10,000km and is best known for Shark Bay itself and Monkey Mia. Home to the largest marine embayment in Australia, it is a wildlife lover’s paradise. This spot is famed for its daily dolphin visits and is the place to go for a chance to feed and interact with dolphins in their daily habitat.

Broome

Even further north you will find Broome, the gateway to the sparse and vastly diverse Kimberley Region. Broome is home to the pristine Cable Beach which is ranked amongst the world’s best beaches and is one of Western Australia’s most popular holiday destinations. Take a camel ride across the white sands of Cable Beach, or enjoy watching the incredible sunsets from one of the luxury resorts.

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