Travel Blog

Rottnest Island: Western Oz’s very own island getaway

If you need a break from adrenaline-pumping adventure Down Under, there’s no better place to relax and unwind than in the tranquil surroundings of Rottnest Island. Tucked away off the shores of Western Australia, this island idyll is the perfect place to put your feet up and recharge your batteries.

 

What to see and do on Rottnest Island

 

Exploring the island

The beauty of Rottnest Island is that you can see and do as much or as little as you like. There’s plenty on offer, but don’t feel guilty if you want to spend a few hours taking in the views and breathing in the crisp ocean air. For those who do want to explore, island tours are an excellent option. You can hike your way from A to B or rest your aching limbs on board a Segway. There are also guided bus tours available. Highlights you should include in your itinerary include Rottnest Island Museum, Oliver Hill Battery and the Salt Store Gallery.

 

A day at the beach

The beaches and bays are a highlight, and you’ll find extraordinary scenery and pristine white sands. Fish Hook Bay, Geordie Bay and Parker Point are popular spots for day-trippers and tourists hoping to catch some rays and enjoy a dip in the cool blue waters. If you’re a fan of snorkelling, head to Thomson Bay. The shallow waters are bursting with all kinds of weird and wonderful creatures.

 

Action and adventure

Rottnest Island, or Rotty, as it’s affectionately known by the locals, is a haven for thrill-seekers, as well as those who like to relax and chill out. Here, you can try an abundance of activities, including mountain biking, hiking, bird watching, golf, archery, climbing and of course, surfing. If you’re not already au fait with the national sport, this is a great place to take a few lessons.

 

Wildlife encounters

Animal lovers won’t be disappointed with the wildlife encounters on offer on Rottnest Island. Head to New Cathedral Rocks to spot the New Zealand fur seals basking in the sunshine or make for West End and keep your eyes peeled for Southern Right whales and Humpbacks. The waters surrounding the island attract more than 30,000 migrating whales each year. Whale watching tours run from May to November. You may also be lucky enough to spot Rotty’s native marsupial, the quokka, on your travels. They are usually most active in the afternoons.

 

Canoeing through Nitmiluk National Park

When you hear about adventures in Australia, you probably conjure up images of breathtaking natural wonders and staggeringly beautiful scenery. If you’re hoping to combine adventure travel with city slicking, heart-stopping activities and laid-back living, there’s no better place to be than Oz. One highlight you may want to include in your travel plans is Nitmiluk National Park. This gem in the heart of the Northern Territory is the ideal place to embrace the great outdoors.

 

 

About Nitmiluk National Park

Located 244 km from Darwin, Nitmiluk National Park is a jewel in the crown of the Northern Territory. Home to a series of deep gorges, thundering falls and meandering waterways, this is what Australian adventures are all about. The park affords you the opportunity to experience an array of activities and it’s packed with flora and fauna. Here, you can indulge in hobbies ranging from photography and hiking to bird watching, swimming and camping.

 

Katharine Gorge is a popular tourist spot, and it’s not hard to see why. The views that greet you when you arrive are like nothing you could imagine. No amount of books or travel guides can prepare you for the magical scenery you’ll encounter on this trip. The good news is that there are many ways of experiencing the network of gorges and the winding waterways. You can book a helicopter tour, or get up close and personal with a canoe trip.

 

 

Canoeing through Nitmiluk National Park

Canoeing is arguably the best way to experience the thrills and spills of Nitmiluk National Park. On the water, you get a real sense of the scope and size of the park, and you can also enjoy the views up-close. There’s also something very soothing about making your way down the calm waters, with clear skies above and birdsong as your soundtrack.

 

If you’re thinking of canoeing, there are various tours and trips to choose from. You can tailor your tour to suit your fitness levels and your desired itinerary. It’s even possible to hire a canoe at night and enjoy the experience under the stars.

 

Canoe trips are weather dependent, and tours won’t operate if river levels are high. Make sure you enquire before you travel if you’re desperate to incorporate this in your plans. In some cases, such as the overnight canoe hire option, you may need a permit. The best time to visit Nitmiluk National Park if you’re hoping to hire a canoe is June to November.

 

A visit to Australia’s top voted beach: Whitehaven

The Whitsunday collection of Australian islands is viewed as one of the best island getaways in Australia, if not the world. The award-winning Whitehaven Beach is the largest on the 74 islands in the group and is a sight to behold. Whitehaven Beach is a uniquely dazzling spot, and with the sand stretching for over 4.5 miles, it never feels crowded even on its busiest of days.

Whitehaven Beach is protected by The Whitsunday Islands National Park, resulting in a wonderfully unspoilt stretch of coastline voted both the world’s top eco-friendly beach and the cleanest beach in Queensland. The sand on Whitehaven Beach is composed of 98% silica, making it light and fluffy to the touch, and also making it resistant to heat – no scolded soles here! Walking along the seven kilometres of pristine sand looking out onto the vivid blue of the crystal clear Coral Sea is one of the most romantic experiences you could imagine.

Getting to Whitehaven Beach requires a boat ride or short flight, with the option to take either a day or weekend trip. Day trips on ferries, yachts and high-speed catamarans all depart from Hamilton island and Airlie beach, and a variety of companies offer multi-day charters. With the Great Barrier Reef located just on the Whitsunday Islands’ doorstep, the surrounding area is a paradise which offers a range of activities, many of which can be added to your tour package.

Activities that you can get involved with from Whitehaven Beach and the surrounding areas include: sailing around the crystal blue and green waters, Scuba Diving around the coral reef to enjoy seeing a range of marine animals and hiring jet skis. This is the perfect way to take in the best of the full stretch of sand, and will give your trip a real injection of adrenaline. Fishing tours are also available if you fancy your chances of landing something tropical!

Whilst on Whitehaven Beach you can play some beach ball, take a walk and explore the myriad of small coves, creeks, and inlets that surround it (the best time to do this is at low tide), or you can simply relax and take in the breathtaking environment. One of the top activities is the hike to Hill Inlet. This lookout point offers possibly the best view for taking photos of the beach and ocean, looking out to where the tide shifts and hits the sand, developing the swirls in the water and creating the fusion of colours.

Whitehaven Beach is one of the best beaches in the world let alone Australia, and if you’re imagining crystal blue water and white sandy beaches – you’re imagining correctly!

Australia’s top spots on Instagram revealed

Instagram has released the year’s most geo-tagged locations in Australia, with some interesting surprises amongst the places photographed the most by the seven million keen snappers who use the platform in the country.

 

Instagram has become one of the most popular forms of social media in Australia, helping to boost tourism and drawing in visitors with all its beautiful images of the nation’s most ‘Instagrammable’ spots.

 

All the big hitters that you would expect to feature are there in the top 10 geo-tagged locations for 2016, but the data released by Instagram has also revealed a few surprises.

 

Taking the number one place on the list is Bondi Beach, a world famous stretch of sand that sweeps along Sydney’s east coast and, as a regular in bucket lists all around the world, an unsurprising entry in the top spot.

 

Positions two to five are all waterside spots: Surfers Paradise Beach in Queensland came in second, Sydney Harbour third, the Sydney Harbour Bridge fourth and Melbourne’s St Kilda Beach fifth.

 

Sixth place is the National Gallery of Victoria, the seventh is the Grounds of Alexandria, and in eighth position is the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The largest sports stadium in Australia, this magnificent arena is a must-see for sports fans thanks to the added attraction of the museum which is attached to the stadium. In ninth and tenth places are Taronga Zoo and – perhaps surprisingly – Melbourne International Airport!

 

New South Wales was the most Instagrammed state in Australia with five entries in the top 10. Alongside the most geo-tagged locations in Australia, Instagram has also announced the top travel hashtags of 2016: making the podium here were #travel, #sunset and #travelgram.

 

Record number of visitors travel to South Australia

ADE river sunriseSouth Australia has seen an annual rise of 9.6 per cent of international tourists visiting, which has injected a record $954 million into the state’s economy. These figures mean that more people visited South Australia than any other region of Australia in the past year.

International numbers increased from 392,000 to 430,000, 91% of visitors spent time in Adelaide but areas beyond are also seeing significant benefits of increased tourism. United States and United Kingdom visiting numbers rose the greatest amounts, with the U.S. soaring to 41% and UK 17%.

Lonely planet travel company, has voted South Australia the fifth top must see region in the world in 2017 – the only Australian destination to be named.  South Australia is attractive to tourists due to its hot climate, brilliant wine regions, plentiful festival choice, wildlife, gourmet food and stunning crowd-free beaches which are some of the best in Australia.

South Australia’s state government invested an additional $70 million to market the area internationally and nationally, this has attracted some major events and conferences to the state, resulting in enormous investments. As well as state investment, tourists have contributed a record amount to the state economy, an amount which continues to rise.

With increasing tourism comes increasing investment. The South Australian state has signed deals with China southern airlines, securing direct flights between Adelaide and Guangzhou. Officials believe the direct service will help increase Chinese tourism from the 2.4% rise this year.

With South Australia surpassing their massive tourism goals, the national average visitor spend is also outperforming the rest of Australia. With the appeal of the area, the activities on offer, picturesque views, tourists and student visitors look to keep rising over the next few years.

The best bungee spots Down Under

CairnsIf you’re visiting Australia, there’s a good chance that you’re looking forward to adrenaline-pumping activities and amazing opportunities to accompany adventure travel. If you’re a thrill-seeker or you’re simply keen to test your mettle, Oz is the place for you. Here, you can try everything from zip wiring and caving to climbing and off-road driving. This is also one of the finest places on Earth to do a bungee jump. If the idea of soaring through the air at speed appeals, here are some of the best bungee spots Down Under.

Cairns

Cairns is a beautiful spot to bungee because you enjoy incredible views of the sprawling rainforests beneath (if you can bear to open your eyes!) Cairns is home to the first purpose-built bungee jump tower, and it has drawn crowds from all over the globe. As well as doing your jump in beautiful surroundings, you can also take advantage of an array of sights and stunning scenery in the local area. The islands of the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest village of Kuranda are within easy reach. The centre of Cairns is a lively base for catching up with old friends or meeting new ones.

The Cairns bungee base also offers the opportunity to glide through the trees in the Minjin swing; if this sounds appealing, you can save money by buying a combination ticket. The swing is the fastest jungle swing in the world, travelling at up to 120 km/h. If you’re feeling a little anxious, take a friend or two for moral support; the swing carries up to three people at a time.

Brisbane

Brisbane is home to Australia’s crane bungee jump. Stretching 40m into the air, this swing affords you views of Surfer’s Paradise on the Gold Coast, and the chance to power through the skies at speed. The Gold Coast is also a great place to try a range of water sports. The beach resorts are bustling, especially in the summer months, and there are plenty of hotels, bars, clubs and restaurants to choose from. If you don’t already know how to surf, it’s well worth booking some lessons.

Australia is famed for its adventure sports, and there are loads of options on offer. If bungee jumping doesn’t float your boat, you could also try skydiving, abseiling or white water rafting. Most hostels and hotels offer booking services, and you can often combine passes if you’re keen to give everything a go.

Camp under the stars in the Australian Outback

Nullarbor Plain, AustraliaThere are few more recognisable places on Earth than the Australian Outback and its iconic gem, Ayers Rock. This giant red rock stands tall surrounded by dusty plains that stretch for miles. For many, seeing Ayers Rock is a dream, but it could become a reality. If you’re planning a trip to Australia, don’t restrict yourself to the bustling cities and the well-trodden backpacker tracks of the East Coast. A camping trip in the Outback is a must for any intrepid traveller desperate to revel in the throes of adventure travel Down Under.

 

Planning your trip and packing tips

Uluru isn’t one of those places you can just stumble upon. A camping break here requires planning. There are many organised tours you can do, and this helps to eliminate stress. There is also the option of planning your own trip. Before you book anything, do some research. Ask friends and search online for recommendations and read reviews. Look at the weather forecast, and read up on the activities that are available. It’s important to pack suitable gear if you’re planning to get involved in outdoor adventures and sleep under the stars.

Even on blisteringly hot days, temperatures can plummet during the night, so make sure you have warm layers and a sleeping bag with you. You’ll also need a basic first aid kit, some sturdy walking shoes, and of course, your camera. In the peak tourist season, the campsites around Uluru get very busy, so book accommodation in advance.

 

What to do on your trip

You could sit and stare at Ayers Rock for hours without getting bored, but it seems a shame to miss out on the other scintillating sights and attractions. Aim for sunrise or sunset to avoid the crowds, enjoy the eerie tranquillity and witness spectacular views. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn all about the history and significance of the national park at the Cultural Centre. It’s not against the law to climb the rock, but the Aboriginal tribes do request that visitors refrain from scaling the surfaces, as this is a scared land to them.

Once you’ve got the shots and seen the rock in all its glory, make for King’s Canyon. This is a veritable feast for the eyes with weird and wonderful geographical wonders visible from every angle. Take a walk along the rim to get the best vistas before you descend into the canyon.

Top 4 dream destinations for surfers Down Under

Australia is a surfer’s paradise, and the country has become synonymous with the iconic laid-back vibe of the tousled-haired surfer dudes who head out into the ocean in the mornings before going to work. There is a full 37,000km of coastline for keen surfers to explore in Australia, and one of the main benefits of getting into the water here in particular is the variety: there are beaches, reefs and point breaks to challenge the most experienced board-riders, but plenty of places where beginners won’t be out of their depth either.

 

Bondi

Bondi Beach is one of Australia’s most famous beaches, with a glistening blue ocean and unbelievably accessible location – it takes as little as half hour to get there from the central station. The southern end of the beach is entirely reserved for surfers, and there is also a dedicated, safety-protected area for ocean swimming. If open-water swimming is not your thing, it may also be worth checking out the Bondi Icebergs saltwater rock swimming pool for doing a few lanes with a beautiful view out over the sands.

 

Snapper Rocks

 

Snapper Rocks is found near Coolangatta and offers some of the world’s longest waves suitable for all levels of surfing experience. Snapper Rock plays host to the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast and numerous other surfing competitions throughout the year due to its incredible high standard of waves. This does mean that there can be crowds vying for the best waves, but it is testament to the quality of the surf on offer here – and you may pick up some tricks from the Pros!

 

Byron Bay

 

This New South Wales spot provides a range of different beaches for surfers to choose from, giving this town strong credentials as the number one surf town in Australia. Byron Bay provides surfers with year-round warm water, consistent waves and a nightlife scene that will light up your evenings away from the water. The Pass is situated at the end of Clarks Beach and is Byron’s most famous wave. From here you can view the entire bay and decide what break to surf. Byron Bay also provides beautiful swimming zones at the tip of the cape and a buzzing coffee scene for when you’re keen to dry off.

 

Bells Beach

 

Located near Torquay on the southern coast of Victoria, Bells Beach is home to the annual Rip Curl Pro Surf and Music festival. Bells Beach is renowned for its powerful swells and exposed reef. A backdrop of red clay cliffs provide for dramatic surroundings, meaning Bells Beach is an equally popular spot with sightseers due to the great vantage points along the cliffs edge. With the exposed reef and excellent right-hand breaks, it is worth noting that Bells Beach is for the more experienced surfer.

 

Perth Zoo continues releasing numbats into a predator-free wild!

Staff at Perth Zoo are preparing to release 19 numbats into the wild as part of the zoo’s ongoing efforts to protect the severely endangered species. It’ll be the first introduction of captive-bred numbats into the Mt Gibson wildlife sanctuary, which is officially considered predator-free after the removal of feral cats and foxes.

 

Fourteen of the numbats, who’ve been fitted with radio collars, are set to live in Mt. Gibson. The other five will be released to Dryandra woodland, home to the largest natural population of the animal.

Since the formation of Perth Zoo’s captive breeding program in 1992, 220 numbats, including the latest group, have been released into the wild. As the newer group age out, the teenage numbats will be released to make room for the birth of babies, expected in January.

 

Dani Jose, Senior Zookeeper in the Native Animal Section, says releasing the animals should be a fairly easy process due to limited contact with humans.

 

“If we were to handle them too much they would become very focused on us and perhaps not as afraid of predators,” said Jose.

 

Feral foxes and cats have reduced the numbat population to 1% of its original size. Programs to remove the predators have had mixed results over the years, but the latest feral cat bait has seen great success.

 

“We know these species can recover if we give them breathing space from those feral predators,” said Albert Jacobs, the Western Australian Environment Minister.

 

The overall goal is to delist numbats from the endangered species list, and things are looking up.

 

 “I would say the future looks brighter than it ever has in the last 40 years for the numbats,” said Jacobs. “Not only have we advanced significantly in our knowledge of how to breed them and how to feed them in captivity, we have also increased our sanctuary areas.”

 

Scientists to fly 10,000 krill to Australia for revolutionary study

Scientists plan to fly 10,000 live krill from Antarctica out to Australia as part of a ground-breaking study to monitor the effects of climate change. Working with the Australian Antarctic Division, these researchers are the first to attempt such a project in the world.

 

AAD plans to fly out 10,000 krill from Casey Station, one of their permanent Antarctic bases, to their research headquarters in Hobart, Tasmania. The flight will only take four-and-a-half hours compared to the six-week typical voyage of its icebreaker Aurora Australis.

 

Robb Clifton, operations manager of AAD, is confident that although this journey is the first of its kind, everyone involved with the project has thought through all of the logistics.

 

“We’ve got to make sure we oxygenate the water enough before the krill fly, and then [put in place] some thermal sheets and barriers to make sure that the water doesn’t freeze on the journey up to the runway and on the way home,” said Clifton.

 

Bringing live Antarctic krill to Australia would open the door to new research projects that were not previously feasible. It would also create possibilities for scientists from all over the world to travel to Tasmania and conduct their research.

 

The main topic for exploration is the effect of climate change on krill eggs. Krill are a vital species in the Southern Ocean, and Rob King, marine biologist with AAD, is excited by what could be achievable with this revolutionary study.

 

“We can take the animals from the environment and bring them almost instantaneously to a high-tech laboratory,” said King. “So that gives us much more opportunity to run powerful research on live animals. Using eggs direct from the Southern Ocean for our research will give us a clearer and more accurate picture of what’s actually happening in wild populations.”

 

The flight is set for this December, but the concrete details depend on the weather and krill availability.