THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD. A SPECTACULAR COASTAL DRIVE

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A Memorable Journey Along the Great Ocean Road

Stretching more than 240 kilometres along Australia’s picturesque south east coast, the Great Ocean Road is surely one of the most beautiful coastal drives to be found anywhere in the world. As you travel beside the wild and windswept Southern Ocean, your journey will take you through remote rainforest and pretty coastal towns, and past spectacular waterfalls, secluded beaches, rugged limestone cliffs and magnificent rock stacks. This is one journey you’ll never forget!

Explore The Otways

In the Otways National Park you will find some of Australia’s best and most remote rainforest scenery, with ancient forests, enchanting valleys and kilometre after kilometre of rugged coastline. There are many beautiful beaches to discover, plus an abundance of plant life and wildlife. Be sure to explore the spectacular mountains of the Otway Ranges – or head into the valleys and take in the beauty of the park’s many impressive waterfalls, including the famous three cascades of the Triplet Falls.

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Visit Cape Otway

Visit Cape Otway, the most southerly point in the region, where you’ll find stunning scenery and an array of amazing beaches, including the picture-postcard Johanna Beach and Blanket Bay. Be sure to visit Cape Otway Lightstation and the Cape Otway Centre for Conservation, which provides visitors with a fantastic opportunity to see local native wildlife, including koalas, kangaroos, wallabies and a diverse range of birds.

Walk the Great Ocean Walk

 The famous Great Ocean Walk begins at Apollo Bay and weaves along the dramatic coastline to the 12 Apostles, taking you past secluded beaches, dramatic cliffs and truly breathtaking coastal scenery. Complete the whole 100km walk over a number of days (there are many campsites, B&Bs and hotels along the way), or sample a shorter section of the walk and enjoy a picnic at one of the many picturesque spots.

See the 12 Apostles

 No trip along the Great Ocean Road would be complete without seeing the magnificent rock stacks of the Twelve Apostles, which were formed over millions of years by the erosion of limestone cliffs and now stand proudly in the sea adrift from the shore. At up to 40+ metres high, they are an instantly recognizable feature of the coastline.

Visit the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum and Village

 Located in the coastal city of Warrnambool, the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum and Village is must-visit attraction that offers visitors the chance to learn all about the history of the so-called Shipwreck Coast and experience what life may have been like for the first European settlers in Australia. The centre houses a fascinating village and museum, as well as hosting Sound and Light Show Experiences that tell the unique story of Australia’s maritime history.

 Visit Split Point Lighthouse

Located in Aireys Inlet, the Split Point Lighthouse will be instantly recognisable to viewers of the popular TV series “Round the Twist.” Take a tour of this working lighthouse and take in the stunning 360-degree coastal views, while learning all about its history from your guide. Before you go, stop for a bite to eat at Willow’s Tea House, then burn off those calories by taking a walk along the picturesque coastal path. Article by Dan Flower.

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JANOLAN CAVES

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Explore the Jenolan Caves

Located just 175 kilometres to the west of Sydney in the Blue Mountains of Katoomba, Jenolan Caves is a must-visit attraction that offers visitors the chance to explore some of the oldest and most spectacular cave formations in the world. Take a guided tour of the nine impressive caves and marvel at the astonishing formations and underground rivers, then emerge above ground and explore the many beautiful bushwalks that surround the caves. Whether you visit on a day trip or choose to stay overnight, you’re sure to fall in love with Jenolan.

Guided Cave Tours

Nine of the most spectacular caves are open to the public, with tours by experienced guides taking place throughout the year. The cave tours vary from easy to strenuous, so just be sure to choose an option to suit your age and fitness.

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Imperial Cave is the easiest cave to explore, with the crystal formations, fossils and an underground river being easily accessible by a mostly level path that’s suitable for everyone from children through to adults.

The River Cave falls at the opposite end of the scale and is a more strenuous tour that will amaze and excite in equal measure. Lucas Cave contains the biggest chambers, including the famous Broken Column.

There are many other caves to explore, including the Imperial Diamond Cave, where you can marvel at the pure white crystal and ‘Gem of the West’ – or take in the spectacular features and formations inside the Temple of Baal Cave.

Orient Cave, Chifley Cave and Ribbon Cave all offer something different, with many dazzling formations and fossils that are sure to impress.

Jenolan Caves also offers night tours, including the popular Legends, Mysteries and Ghosts Tour.

Adventure Caving

If you fancy something a little more adventurous, why not go adventure caving? Whether you are an experienced adventurer or trying it for the very first time, the attraction offers a range of exhilarating adventure-caving experiences that allow you to explore deep inside the caves and learn more about the cave environment from your experienced instructor.

Bushwalks

When you’ve finished exploring inside the caves, head off on one of the many bush tracks and immerse yourself in the outstanding beauty of the Blue Mountains. Take a pleasant scenic stroll along the Jenolan River Walk, which leads you beside the beautiful Blue Lake and along the Jenolan River (a 3 kilometre round trip), or try the Carlotta Arch Walk, a short but relatively steep bushwalk that leads up to the spectacular limestone Carlotta Arch and provides superb views over the Blue Lake and the Jenolan Valley. The Six Foot Track stretches for 45 kilometres to Katoomba and takes several days to complete, so take your tent and camp at one of the many campsites found along the way.

Accommodation

There is so much to explore at Jenolan Caves that it makes sense to stay for several days. The attraction offers a variety of accommodation options to suit all budgets, including the Jenolan Caves House, Mountain Lodge and the Gate House. Article by Dan Flower.

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QUEENSLAND THE BEAUTIFUL SUNSHINE STATE

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Queensland: The Gold Coast and the Great Barrier Reef

From the stunning beaches of the Gold Coast to the breathtaking beauty of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia’s so-called Sunshine State is a holiday haven that has something for everyone. Take a closer look at this slice of paradise and you’ll soon discover why Queensland is one of Australia’s most visited regions…

The Gold Coast

Situated south of Brisbane on the east coast of Australia, the Gold Coast is a popular holiday destination that draws in millions of visitors thanks to its range of amazing beaches, international theme parks, world-class shopping centres and renowned nightlife.

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Explore the Beaches and Go Surfing

The Gold Coast boasts 70 kilometers of sun-drenched sandy beaches, with the area widely regarded as offering some of the best surfing locations in the whole world. Whether you’re into adventurous water sports or simply want to relax and take it easy, beach-hopping along the many stunning stretches is surely at the top of most visitors’ itineraries.

Grab a slice of paradise at Coolangatta or Currumbin beach, or head to Surfers Paradise, Main Beach or Burleigh Heads for some fun surfing action. If you’re new to surfing or want to master your technique, there are many surf schools offering lessons with experienced instructors – or take a tour and go snorkeling and diving around Wave Break Island.

Visit the Theme Parks

Adrenaline junkies will want to explore the many theme parks and attractions located around the Gold Coast. Ride the extreme roller coasters at Dreamworld, then experience the thrill of the huge water slides at Wet ‘n’ Wild. For a family-friendly day out, be sure to make a visit to Warner Bros Movie World and the ever-popular marine animal park Sea World.

Enjoy the Shops, Restaurants and Nightlife

Shop for world famous brands in the numerous shopping centres and designer boutiques, then sample both local and international cuisines in one of the many specialty restaurants and cafes. To experience the best of the Gold Coast’s famous nightlife, head straight to the lively clubs, pubs and bars of Surfers Paradise.

The Great Barrier Reef

Who could visit Australia and not make the trip to see the Great Barrier Reef? Stretching some 2,300 kilometers or more than 1,400 miles, this natural wonder is the largest coral reef in the world and is home to some of the most diverse marine wildlife on the planet.

Go Scuba Diving

Go scuba diving and experience the abundance of marine life that stretches across the entire length of the reef. Whether you’re a complete beginner or an experienced diving expert, there are countless diving locations suitable for all ages and abilities – from protected sites in and around the islands, to deeper stretches towards the outer reef. You’ll never forget the experience of swimming amongst the amazing array of corals, marine fish and turtles!

Sail Through The Whitsundays

Sail through the idyllic Whitsunday Islands in the heart of the reef and explore the secluded paradise beaches and enchanting bays that offer a plethora of swimming, diving and snorkeling opportunities. Walk along picture postcard beaches and watch the evening sun slowly disappear over the horizon, before getting back on board your vessel and relaxing with a cool cocktail.

 See the Reef from the Air

Take in the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef from the air by taking a memorable pleasure flight – either by plane or by hot air balloon. Whichever option you choose, you’ll be able to fully appreciate the sheer magnitude of one of the Earth’s greatest natural wonders and make memories that will last a lifetime. Article by Dan Flower

 

 

 

 

GO SKIING IN NEW SOUTH WALES

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The Four Best Snowfields in New South Wales

If you fancy hitting the slopes this season, New South Wales has plenty of great options suitable for everyone from first-timers through to advanced skiers.

Thredbo

Located just a five hour drive from Sydney, Thredbo is one of the most famous and popular ski resorts in New South Wales. It offers a wide variety of skiing and snowboarding slopes to suit people of all ages and abilities, plus several terrain parks aimed at everyone from children to experienced freestyle skiers.

Thredbo is home to some of Australia’s longest runs, including the Crackenback Supertrail and Funnel Web. Here you’ll find 14 lifts, including Karel’s T-Bar lift, which rises to 2037m and is the highest in Australia. If you’re new to skiing, head straight to the Friday Flat beginner’s area, where you can develop your skills and master your technique before heading out onto the slopes.

At the base of the mountain is Thredbo Village, which offers a wide range of lodges, bars, cafes, restaurants and shops. The village has that classic alpine feel and is the perfect place to relax after a fun day on the slopes.

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Perisher

Perisher is the largest ski resort in Australia and has 47 lifts across four main resort areas, with each offering a wide variety of terrain to suit differing abilities, plus a great range of world-class facilities.

Smiggin Holes is especially popular with beginners and families, while Perisher Valley and Blue Cow caters for intermediate-to-advanced skiers. The Valley also hosts a wide variety of activities throughout the season – including cross-country and night skiing.

Guthega has undergone a huge transformation in recent years and has some of Perisher’s more challenging runs – ranging from green and blue, to double blue and black. Here you can take in the stunning panoramic views across the Kosciuszko mountain range or even stop off at one of the on-snow restaurants, including the Guthega Inn and Burning Log.

Charlotte Pass

 At an elevation of 1,765 metres, Charlotte Pass is the highest resort in Australia and receives some of the best and most consistent snowfalls in the whole country. It is especially popular with families and is accessible only by Oversnow Transport, which leaves from the Perisher Valley Skitube Terminal.

The resort offers a wide range of runs to suit skiers of all abilities. The East Starter run is greater for beginners, while Sidewinder and Guthrie’s Chutes are ideal for accomplished skiers and offer a much greater challenge. There are five lifts at Charlotte Pass, including a triple chair and T-bar, plus a number of high quality accommodation options. The annual Winter Festival takes place in August and is an especially popular time to visit.

Selwyn Snowfields

Selwyn Snowfields is a small and friendly resort located near to the abandoned gold mining town of Kiandra, which is also the birthplace of skiing in Australia. The resort is especially popular with first-timers and offers a range of accessible runs that are a great place to develop your skills and build your confidence. There is no on-site accommodation, but the Selwyn Centre house a range of cafes and bars, along with a souvenir shop.
Article by Dan Flower

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JOBS WITH A DIFFERENCE-PEARLING AND FISHING

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Pearling and Fishing Jobs in Western Australia

Western Australia is well known for its established pearling and fishing industries. Although these industries have faced challenges in recent years, they are worth millions of dollars and remain popular among backpackers looking for work.

If you are looking for an alternative to the usual farming and fruit picking jobs, the pearling and fishing industries are well worth looking into. Although this type of work is tough and typically involves long hours, it can also be extremely rewarding and offers you the chance to get close to nature. What’s more, this kind of work can be lucrative and provides plenty of opportunities to learn new skills.

Pearling Jobs in Western Australia

The pearling industry in Western Australia was worth $67 million in 2014. It involves the farming of oysters for pearls (especially South Sea pearls), which are then sold for use in jewellery and other products. There is also mother of pearl, which is used in jewellery, buttons, furniture and other items.

Most of Australia’s pearling industry is focused around Broome in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, although it also has a significant presence in Queensland and the Northern Territory.

If you’re thinking of looking for pearling jobs, the first thing you should know is that it is extremely hard physical work and as such it definitely doesn’t suit everyone! The days can be long and difficult, with work typically starting at 6am in the morning and going through until late afternoon. Many pearling farms offer jobs where you work and live on the boat for several weeks at a time, although other farms allow you to work more typical shift patterns and sleep on dry land.

Although it is hard, dirty and even smelly work, pearling can also be extremely interesting and rewarding. If you have an interest in the sea and marine life, pearling offers the opportunity to experience the beauty of nature first hand and get close to the diverse range of marine life found in this part of Australia.

Pearling takes place all year round, but the busiest time of year is usually from April to October. As such, this is the best time to look for pearling jobs.

 Fishing Jobs in Western Australia

Fishing is another interesting alternative to traditional backpacker farm jobs. Again, it is hard work and often involves extremely long hours, but for the right sort of person it offers many rewards and can be extremely lucrative. If you enjoy being out at sea and fancy a new adventure, this could be the right opportunity for you.

Fishing work is most readily available between March and November. You’ll be fishing for prawns, crayfish, scallops and other shellfish, with work available both on the boats and in the processing factories. Most skippers do their own hiring, so it’s worth contacting them directly before the season begins. Work may be available through backpacker recruitment agencies, but it’s worth keeping in mind that most fishermen prefer to do things themselves and rely mostly on word of mouth.

Article by Dan Flower