Australia

Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in Australia.

Berkeley River Lodge, Western Australia

The Kimberley, in the far north-west of Australia, is one of the emptiest places on Earth. It is possible to drive for days without seeing any sign of human habitation. Yet here, on a sensational stretch of dramatic coastline, stands this unique wilderness lodge. It is so sequestered that the only way to get here is by helicopter or air taxi (or perhaps private yacht). People come for the isolation – in few places can the nights appear darker or starrier – but also for the deep, tranquil comfort of the 20 smart villas which seem to float like a lovely little armada on the coastal dunes. All the bathrooms are outdoors for long showers beneath a yellow tropical sun in the clear Australian sky. Some of the cabins look out on the snaking Berkeley River, others have views of the TimorSea.

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Berkeley River Lodge

And this sea is for looking at, not for swimming in, because the glittering water teems with bull sharks and saltwater crocodiles. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. Go fishing off the two is lands called, mysteriously, Aunt and Uncle. Or take a guided boat tour down the river – the best way to see the wild Kimberley and all that lives here: ghost gums and bottle shaped boab trees, brahminy kites, jabiru birds with beaks like screwdrivers. The hotel chef can make up a fabulous lunch box filled with salads and focacciato take along and enjoy with a cold beer beneath the Casuarina Falls. And if you are desperate for a dip, there is a beautiful swimming hole (without crocs) at the far end of the first creek on the right.

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Searching for Songlines – Australia

On the 30th anniversary of Bruce Chatwin’s inspiring travelogue, Songlines, we delve into Australia’s Aboriginal heartlands to explore its ancient trails

The red hot dust blew around us. I’d been driving for two hours in the company of Sammy Wilson, an Aboriginal man whose clan name was Uluru. This made him one of the traditional owners of the rock of the same name, Australia’s best-known landmark, which is where we were heading.

Along the way we had stopped to admire the desert blooms that had burst through following the unseasonable rains – cartoonish poached-egg flowers, vividly pink pigface and orange-coloured desert grevillea, from which Sammy showed me how to suck sweet nectar. Another time, he had picked up a bizarre thorny devil lizard that he had spied crossing the road, presenting it to me in his hands, and we had spent some time at a waterhole where budgerigars, zebra finch and pink-faced cockatoos came to quench their thirst.

Sitting in the shade while eating some tucker, Sammy showed me a book about his ancestors, which contained, among other things, a map of old walking routes. I decided it was a perfect time to ask him the question I’d been holding back. “So, do you still use the songlines?” He paused, chewed on his sandwich, and then spoke. “We still do. But I prefer to use my truck. It’s better to go by road.”

My masterplan was faltering. I’d come to the Northern Territory with the mission of learning about the enigmatic trails l had read of in Bruce Chatwin’s celebrated book, Songlines, published 30 years ago. These invisible routes were said to have been created during Dreamtime – the age in Aboriginal myth when ‘ancestor spirits’ walked and named the Earth – and are recalled in native Australian chants. Chatwin posed the idea that human language might have begun with nomadic people, including the Australian Aborigines, singing the world into life.

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Sammy Wilson and horny devil pal and ‘poached egg flowers’

I have a vision of the songlines stretching across the continents and ages,” wrote Chatwin. “Wherever men have trodden they have left a song, and [these] trails must reach back [to] where the First Man shouted the opening stanza of the World Song, ‘I am!’”

But here was Sammy – whose second name was no less than the native word for the most famous Aboriginal landmark in Australia – telling me that a songline was a drive in his air-conditioned pick-up. It wouldn’t be my last surprise, as I set about following in Chatwin’s footsteps three decades on.

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Summer’s Golden Gleam

The Australian obsession with the perfect beach life starts here in Queensland, where sun-drenched coasts, trendy riverside towns, and lush green hinterlands will beckon you to lay back, relax and take root

Australians call Queensland ‘The Sunshine State’ for good reason – with 300 sun-filled days a year, it’s the spiritual home of the Aussie beach holiday, with thousands of swimmable areas dotting its breathtaking coastline. Stretching nearly 7,000 kilometres, Queensland’s coast is only just shy of the distance between New York and Los Angeles! From its southern cosmopolitan shoreline where you’ll find the international playground of the Gold Coast, to the tropical northern extremities of the shimmering Cairns beaches, and the chic and stylish beachside attractions of Noosa and the Sunshine Coast, there are countless activities to experience and fabulous towns to explore, all set against a backdrop of brilliant days, balmy nights and a deeply entrenched beach culture.

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Queensland, Australia

Diving into the Great Barrier Reef

While many may extol the virtues of her pretty shores, others will argue that the real star of Queensland is actually just off her coast. A visit to this northeastern state simply wouldn’t be complete without a dip into one of the great natural wonders of the world – the Great Barrier Reef, home not just to some of the world’s best diving and snorkelling, but also more than 900 islands some of the best luxury resorts in the country. No matter how many images you’ve seen or stories you’ve heard, nothing compares to a personal encounter with this spectacular miracle of nature. Stretching some 2,300 glittering kilometres up the Queensland coastline, from the town of Bundaberg to virtually the tip of Cape York, the Great Barrier Reef is world-renowned as the only single living structure visible from space. Come November, the entire Great Barrier Reef erupts into life with spawning coral. This usually happens on the weekend after the full moon, and it’s an amazing sight to behold, wherever on the reef you happen to be.

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The iconic Heart Reef is best seen from air

As one of die world’s largest coral reef systems, the Great Barrier Reef is home to thousands of marine species, including dugongs, turtles, dolphins, whales, more than 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of molluscs. Not just restricted to underwater critters, there are also about 200 species of bird dial thrive (and depend) on the reef for survival. Its sheer size means there are virtually dozens of different ways to experience this incredible wonder, with tour operators operating in towns up and down the Queensland coast (including Bundaberg, Airlie Beach, Townsville and Cairns). You can fly overhead and sail directly on top of it, or even sleep on it – yes, sleep on it – if you like.

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Come meet the friendly locals that call the Great Barrier Reef home

But snorkelling or diving those clear turquoise depths offers a magic all of its own, giving you an intimate look at the kaleidoscopic colours, unbelievable array of marine life and crystal clear waters which stretch seemingly into infinity. In some parts of the reef you can dive with green turtles or manta rays, while others offer the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to swim with rare dwarf minke whales. Be sure to tick off your scavenger list of the reefs Great 8: giant clams, turtles, down fish, manta ray, potato cod, Maori wrasse, sharks and whales. Fat, friendly potato cod appear every day at the famous Cod Hole, expecting treats from visiting divers. The coral here is arguably some of the reef’s best, too.

Want a truly unique experience? How about a dive into a shipwreck? The historical SS Yongala shipwreck has become the adopted home of hugely colourful marine life, and is definitely something to add on to your bucket list. Get here by boat from Townsville, or through various other day trips available for charter.

SAL SALIS, Australia

WHAT IS THE OUTSTANDING GREEN FACTOR? Sal Salis is a remote, beachside safari camp nestled in the dunes of Western Australia’s Cape Range National Park on the shores of Ningaloo Reef. This is one of Australia’s best-kept secrets with only 16 eco-luxe wilderness tents available on site. The size of the camp allows minimal damage to the environment as the rooms and main lodge facility are constructed above ground level to protect the indigenous fauna and flora. Boardwalks also help prevent unnecessary soil erosion and guests can only use designated footpaths while walking round. Different coloured tents help the camp blend into the natural surroundings. Almost 100% of the camp’s power is generated by the sun through an array of solar panels to ensure a predominately clean source of energy and preservation of the quiet environment.

Sal Salis, Australia

Sal Salis, Australia

STYLE BONUS? Sal Salis is a fine example of the recent ‘glamping’ trend, which is defined as glamorous camping. This is also part of experiential travel, where travellers are able to head off the beaten path and immerse in an authentic local environment. Here, visitors will wake up to the song of birds and catch glimpses of kangaroos grazing among the dunes. There may also be a spectacle of breaching whales as one tucks into breakfast. Alternatively, visitors can enjoy a morning swim in Ningaloo’s crystal clear waters and discover marine wildlife up close. The spacious, airy tents are an oasis of comfort that allows travellers to take in the sights and sounds of the natural surroundings with the comforts of modern amenities.

HAGGERSTONE ISLAND, AUSTRALIA

  • POPULATION 2 (plus guests)
  • SIZE Less than 1 square mile

If Swiss Family Robinson had made landfall in Australia, chances are their home would have resembled Haggerstone Island: a crumb of land on the Queensland Coast, and one of the most northerly pieces of Australian territory.

Having fun in Haggerstone Island

Having fun in Haggerstone Island

Now an eco-resort, it’s the private kingdom of latter-day castaway Roy ‘Gouger Turner, who whittled and sawed its treehouses and bungalows into shape after first arriving in 1985 (he acquired his nickname after rescuing someone from a crocodile attack by jumping on the croc and gouging its eyes). Less eventful days in his company might see guests reeling in fish from the seas or prizing fresh oysters from the rocks before banqueting as the sun sets beyond the island’s little timber pier.

  • GETTINGTHERE Fly Scoot direct to Cairns from Singapore or on AirAsia and Jetstar from Kuala Lumpur. Take a combination of charter flight and boat trip to the island.

Get Acquainted With Sydney’s Artistic Side

A unique stage for local and international artists to showcase their wit and spirit. Art & About Sydney has been a shared celebration of creativity and identity for over 13 years, flourishing year on year with avid support from the government to foster a nurturing environment for the arts through grants, public art programs, and the encouragement of expressive installations.

An amalgamation of theatre, dance, film, art, photography and so much more, the Art & About Sydney programme has been transformed into an ongoing yearlong calendar of creativity, and for the upcoming months of September and October, visitors to the city can look forward to three standout events: Australian Life, Little Sydney Lives, and Hidden Sydney -The Glittering Mile. Australian Life is an outdoor gallery showcasing the unique sights that make up, well, Australian life.

Art installations spill over into the streets of Sydney for Art & About

Art installations spill over into the streets of Sydney for Art & About

Held at Hyde Park North, the exhibition will feature the work of 22 finalists, each chosen by a panel of photographers, artists and curators from work submitted by emerging and professional photographers across the country, all contending for the final prize of $10,000. From close-up moments of reflection to a wide-angle on the collective hopes and dreams of all Australians, these stunning shots are as diverse, interesting and surprising as the country that inspired them, and look beyond iconic images to reveal new insights into the Australian identity.

Get a dose of cabaret with a night at Hidden Sydney -The Glittering Mile. An immersive, exhilarating and witty experience set over four floors of The Nevada, the former Sydney brothel which once boasted the world’s biggest bed, Hidden Sydney-The Glittering Mile is a narrative filled with drag queens, madams of the night, quick-witted bouncers, and crims, crooks and other eccentrics alike as you relive the notorious world of Kings Cross through its heydays during the 50s, 60s and 70s. “Enter, if you dare!”

Top 3 Wonderful Aussie Restaurants

Hubert

Hubert, Sydney

HUBERT, SYDNEY – Brilliant design. Brilliant food. Brilliant ambiance. Brilliant wine list. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

From the guys behind Shady Pines, The Baxter Inn et al, it sees 10 William’s Dan Pepperell serving up a slice of French cooking that he says was inspired by pre-WW1 cookbooks.

OSTERIA OGGI, ADELAIDE – An Italian from non-Italians – but it’s hard to care when the fare elevates the country’s culinary traditions.

Our go-to when in the SA capital, Oggi’s part of the culinary happenings that have made it worth taking a new look at the City of Churches.

AUTOMATA, SYDNEY – Nearly a year after the fanfare attached to its opening, and Automata remains our inner-west haunt of choice. Why? Well, the ever-changing five-course set menu is inventive, refreshing and easily the best value in Sydney.

Top 5 Coffee Spots In Melbourne

The League Of Honest Coffee – With a name like that you can’t help but take it seriously and, predictably, its airy interiors have been attracting coffee aficionados in droves. It’s an offering from the same stable that gave java drinkers Padre Coffee South Melbourne Market and the Brunswick East Project. That’s an impressive lineage. Given the ample selection of single origin coffees, the coffee is expectedly great, to be downed with flaky French croissants. But if nothing else, go there to ogle their pair of custom-painted Slayer espresso machines, said to one of the world’s best.

Di Bella Coffee Roasting Warehouse – Di Bella is Australia’s leading coffee chain and their Melbourne Roasting Warehouse is a must-stop for every serious coffee drinker. Hidden away from the crush of Melbourne’s CBD, it’s set in one of the city’s oldest suburbs. The rustic interiors feature a giant roaster occupying centre stage and the eclectic menu pairs beautifully with their top-notch coffees. Just in case you can’t get thee to Melbourne, Coffee by Di Bella operates several cafes in Mumbai and Hyderabad (and hopefully expanding to other cities soon).

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Di Bella Coffee Roasting Warehouse

Ganache Chocolate – In an earlier avatar, Arno Backes, the proprietor of Ganache Chocolate, was a biker so passionate, he rode east from Germany and did not stop until he reached Melbourne. Here, he promptly grew roots and is arguably the top chocolatier in town. Helpfully, he has also toured South America in search of chocolate varieties. The cheerful Backes was in Mumbai recently, showcasing Melbourne’s cafe culture, and paired some of his creations with quintessential^ Australian Di Bella coffees (more about which below). At his Melbourne salon, exquisite pralines and truffles are made daily on site, not to mention a hefty Melbourne Freas Shake.

Mork Chocolate Brew House – The heavens must have smiled when Mork Chocolate, well known around Melbourne for supplying its delish dark chocolate drinking blend (cocoa content: 70%) to cafes around town, decided to set up its own retail venture. Now, you can sample their handcrafted speciality hot chocolate blends made with all-natural ingredients in a minimalist setting where the focus is purely on chocolate (so no coffee is served). There are two taps, however, one dispensing soda water infused with vanilla pods, the other sparkling chocolate soda. Amen. 150 Errol St, North Melbourne.

FERRIS WHEEL DINING – SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

For a romantic dinner, couples can book a table for two in one of the cosy cabins of the Ferris wheel at Luna Park in Sydney. As the wheel turns slowly, diners enjoy a gourmet three-course meal while watching the sun go down. It’s a spectacular sight to see the harbour come alive with twinkling lights, as the brilliantly lit Opera House dominates the view.

Hosted by The Deck, a Sydney waterfront restaurant, the menu on the Ferris Wheel Dining experience showcases the region’s abundant fresh produce and seafood. Dishes like kingfish carpaccio or lobster primavera are included, but it’s the views spanning the skyline of central Sydney all the way from Harbour Bridge to Walsh Bay, that are the star attraction. Not surprisingly, the two-hour experience is a big hit, and has been the venue for many a marriage.

BUCCANEER-ARCHIPELAGO

BUCCANEER ARCHIPELAGO, AUSTRALIA

Why go? It’s not easy to reach the Buccaneer Archipelago. This uninhabited scatter of around 1,000 islands is strewn off Western Australia’s Kimberley Coast – which itself is fairly inaccessible. You don’t accidentally pass through the Kimberley: this is the end of the road. And the Buccaneers are beyond it. Subsequently, they are almost flawless, fringed by white sands and mangroves, fuzzed by rainforest and teeming with critters – from crocodiles to fish, bats and birds. There has been some human interference, however: hikes onto the islands will reveal Aboriginal rock art daubed on cave walls and the burial sites of the pearlers who used to work these waters.

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Don’t leave without taking a dip at Silica Beach, shooting the horizontal waterfall in Talbot Bay, collecting and shucking oysters fresh from the rocks and keeping a lookout for dolphins and whales.

When to go: The dry season is May to October. Waterfalls are fullest April-May, just after the wet season. July-September is the best time for spotting humpbacks.

How to go: Cruises and sea safaris operate from Broome and Derby in Western Australia. Scenic flights also run from Derby. Helicopter and float-plane charters are possible.