If you have ever fancied a special luxury adventure cruise, then why not consider adding a True North Cruise to your bespoke Australia itinerary. A number of exciting itineraries are offered – below are just three of these:
The Southern Safari (8 Nights) Adelaide – Ceduna / Adelaide
The is a real safari of the sea and a real adventure for those who like plenty of activities with a touch of luxury. On this cruise you will stop for a scrumptious lunch at Maggie Beer’s farm, visit the famed Kangaroo Island and beautiful Coffin Bay where you can wash down oysters with champagne. Then why not get up and close with the Great White Sharks in a cage dive and also take part in some of Australia’s most reliable fishing action, this is safari with a difference!
Picture courtesy of True North
Picture courtesy of True North
WEST COAST EXPLORER (10 NIGHTS) Perth – Dampier
Relish in vibrant contrast – the deep blue waters of the Indian Ocean lap the red sands of the ‘north’ as the West Coast Explorer winds its way north from Fremantle to Dampier. The Abrolhos are steeped in history; Ningaloo boasts world-acclaimed marine life and the Montes offer fishing paradise – the ‘West Coaster’ is a sojourn that tames Australia’s still-wild western shores! A must for snorkelers and divers, fishing enthusiasts, and for the adventurous at heart!
The Rowley Shoals feature exaggerated corals, mind-blowing fish life and stunning underwater clarity; but perhaps more important than anything else – even today they are visited by only a fortunate few! Guided by a marine biologist and a team of underwater naturalists; divers and snorkelers alike will revel in a diverse wonderland of coral habitats including maze-like lagoons, surging tidal canyons and breath-taking walls. And the keen anglers will match wits with big blue-water pelagics such as black marlin, sailfish, wahoo and yellow-fin tuna. Wander the enticing shores of Bedwell Island, see the rookeries of the red-tailed tropicbird and indulge in a True North favourite – sunset drinks on the beach – 300 kilometres from the shore! The Rowley Shoals are Western Australia’s premiere coral playground!
Picture courtesy of True North
Picture courtesy of True North
For more of our favourite cruises click here or if you would like more information on the amazing True North Cruises then please contact us
If you would like to find out more of what Australia’s railways have to offer then make sure you tune in to BBC 2 at 20:00 on Saturday 26 October to watch Michael Portillo’s Great Australian Railway Journeys.
There will be six episodes starting with The Ghan – Port Augusta to Darwin in episode one. The other episode we recommend not to miss is episode three The Indian Pacific, but all are great journeys.
These are a couple of our favourite railway journeys in Australia and a fantastic way to see the country. If you like what you see and would like to know how to corporate a railway journey into your bespoke tailor-made holiday to Australia then please contact us.
With 12,500 km’s of stunning coastline, 550 species of birds, 12,000 species of wildflowers, and just a little short of 2 million people, Western Australia is a destination in its own right, and without a doubt, Australia’s best kept secret. With the Indian Ocean lapping the western shores, and the Southern Ocean to the South, the state of Western Australia quite literally smothers the western end of the vast country of Australia. Perth is the gateway, the major city, and home to a large number of the total population of WA (1.4 million actually which doesn’t leave many for the rest of the State!).
View of the city from Kings Park. Photo courtesy of Nick Walker
Perth has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. It is the sunniest capital city in Australia! Perth is a modern city with a good choice of internationally recognised hotels and apartments. The shopping is good, the city is clean and friendly, and the surrounding wine regions stunning. It boasts the scenic Swan river with its famous black swans, nearby hectares of natural bushland in Kings Park, beautiful beaches, whales, dolphins and the little Quokka on Rottnest Island (a protected nature reserve). It is not too difficult to see why Perth is a popular lifestyle city.
Rottnest Island – photo courtesy of Nick Walker
Quokka – Photo courtesy of Tourism Australia
Perth is the hub, the starting point to explore the rest of Western Australia, and whilst it is possible to visit several places of interest outside Perth on a day trip – for some of these places the distances are huge, with day excursions leaving early in the morning and returning late in the evening.
As far as day trips are concerned once you have cruised along the Swan river to Fremantle and spent a day or two at Rottnest Island, you could consider a trip to Rockingham. Here you can swim with the wild dolphins with or visit as a spectator to see these beautiful animals in their natural environment. They are not fed or made to perform, they simply come because they enjoy human interaction.
If you hire a car, not too far outside the city you can visit Yanchep National Park, where you can enjoy nature-based activities, you will find caves, the Koala boardwalk (home to a colony of Koalas), and a tree adventure park for the kids, with ziplines and rope walks. You are also likely to see wild black cockatoos as well as other parrots and possibly kangaroos too!
A venture out to the famous Cottesloe beach is another day trip to consider. This pretty beach looking out across the Indian ocean boasts beautiful white sand and numerous cafes and bars. In the evening enjoy beautiful sunsets and watch the Rainbow Lorikeets as they come in their hundreds to roost in the pine trees.
Another suggestion is a trip out to the Pinnacles. This will be a long day but worth it. The Pinnacles are limestone formations found within an otherworldly desert landscape in Nambung National Park. An extraordinary site and a great photographic opportunity! You could make this a stop en route if you were driving along the west coast.
The Pinnacles – photo courtesy of Tourism Australia
South of Perth will take you into the Margaret River wine regions of the south west, well worth exploring. There are day trips available if you are using Perth as your base, or you could stop by for a few days. A must see for any visitor to the Margaret River region is Busselton with its heritage listed Jetty. The longest wooden-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere it extends over Geographe Bay for 1.8 kilometres. You can take a leisurely train ride down the jetty to the underwater observatory at the end, where you can experience one of Australia’s greatest artificial reefs. Bunbury is also a great place to stop with its basalt rock formations and where bottlenose dolphins visit close to the shore.
Busselton Jetty – photo courtesy of Tourism Australia
If you continue around the south western tip of Australia, the point where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean, you would discover the beautiful rugged coastline of Albany and its natural wonders ‘The Gap’ and the ‘Natural Bridge’. The first European settlement in Western Australia, see Albany’s colonial architecture and the historic whaling station – now a museum.
The Natural Bridge – photo courtesy of Nick Walker
Albany – photo courtesy of Nick Walker
Whilst you are in this region visit Denmark with its wineries, and the remarkable Treetop Walk ‘valley of the giants’ in Walpole -Nornalup National Park. The Ariel walkway is 40 metres above the ground amongst the canopy of huge Red Tingle and Karri trees, which are unique to this area.
Tree Top Walk – photo courtesy of Nick Walker
Whilst you are in this neck of the woods we can recommend another wonderful way to spend your day, which is to take an Eco cruise boat trip around the secluded inlets of Walpole and Nornulup. This wilderness is a very special place, a naturalist’s paradise and a real hidden gem.
Continuing along the southern coast of WA, you will reach Esperance. Here you will find beaches amongst the finest and whitest anywhere in the world. Offshore, Fur Seals and Sealions shelter on the islands of the Recherche Archipelago. You can take a scenic flight to see the surreal ‘pink’ lake Hillier on Middle Island.
Esperance – photo courtesy of Tourism Australia
Heading inland from Perth, head to the Outback town of Kalgoorlie. Originally founded during the gold rush of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, this little town has thrived and continues to mine the precious ore from the Super Pit. Make sure you take the drive up to the viewing platform for views of one of the biggest holes you will ever see!!
Wave Rock – photo courtesy of Tourism Australia
Or by taking a different route inland discover the little town of Hyden, famous for the Wave Rock! You could combine the two if you made it part of a self-drive route.
If you drive North from Perth, along this remote coast, you will eventually reach Kalbarri (which would take over 6 hours). You can drive through the Kalbarri National Park and see the spectacular Murchison Gorges and take the opportunity to go on a river cruise on the Murchison River. Kalbarri is a delightfully unpretentious fishing village at the mouth of the River, with several simple but wholesome restaurants. As with each community on this route, the locals are genuine, friendly, welcoming and very typically Australian – proud of their country and their heritage without any brashness. Drive to Shark Bay from here and the dolphins at Monkey Mia. Shark Bay is another gem; pristine coastline, dolphins and dugongs by the dozen and a delightful lack of tourists.
Monkey Mia – photo courtesy of Tourism Australia
It’s another 5 hours drive from here to Ningaloo Reef via Coral Bay.Coral Bay is a remote and secluded treasure, and second only to the Great Barrier Reef itself. This area is not inundated with tourists and it does not have a huge choice of international resorts and accommodation and but there are some excellent fish restaurants!
Ningaloo Reef – photo courtesy of Tourism Australia
The bay itself is contained within the Ningaloo Reef which offers it perfect protection from the ocean outside. Here, glass bottomed boats take you to view the coral, whilst longer expeditions will take you further afield, skilfully negotiating the narrow channels through the reef. The Ningaloo Reef is little brother to the Great Barrier Reef. Closer into the shore, it is easily accessible to all. 500 species of fish are to be found here, plus sharks, enormous manta rays, turtles and dugongs – there is always something to see:
March to May – Coral spawning
March to June – Whale Sharks
June to November – Manta Ray
June/July to October/November – Humpback Whales
November to March – Turtle nesting and hatching.
However long you plan to stay here will probably not be long enough. You could fly to Exmouth in order to visit Coral Bay and Ningaloo Reef if you weren’t planning on driving.
Finally, another destination that you must consider is The Kimberleys, three times the size of England straddling the states of Western Australia and Northern Territories, The Kimberleys offer a perfect location for ‘getting away from it all’ – literally!! Broome is the major gateway to this region of canyons and gorges and freshwater swimming holes. Plan the timing of your visit carefully, avoiding the cyclone season when many roads are impassable due to flooding. Out of the cyclone season, the adventurous traveller will find gorges and rock formations to rival those anywhere in the world. Consider a small group escorted tour here, using 4WD vehicles and a mixture of camping and motel accommodation – this area will leave an indelible mark on your memory. A visit to this region would certainly involve an internal flight, either directly from Perth or from another location during your travels around Western Australia.
There are many options for exploring WA and if you want to see it all, a combination of driving and air would be best.
If you are planning a holiday to Australia and fancy visiting the Hunter Valley but are not keen on self drive, then why not include a rail trip in your itinerary?
You can travel to the Hunter Valley, which takes about three hours by express train, from Sydney Central Station. Along the way you will only experience seven stops. The modern trains are very comfortable and feature an on board café and toilets. Large windows offer views of the stunning scenery throughout your journey.
The package would include:
Return train tickets from Sydney’s Central Railway Station to Singleton Station
Meet and Greet transfers to and from Singleton Railway Station via private Mercedes
Two nights’ accommodation in a choice of guestrooms and cottages at the Hunter Valley Resort.
Onsite Vineyard Tour followed by a private tasting with a Cellarmaster
Hunter Wine Theatre experience showing the onsite winery in action followed by wine tasting
Accommodation, breakfast, and wine activities are included in the package.
Picture courtesy of Hunter Valley Resort
Hunter Valley Resort is a superb country inn or lodge with 35 rooms and cottages surrounded by 70 acres of countryside and 50 year old shiraz vineyards.
Whilst there see the Hunter Wine Theatre Experience, explore and enjoy the facilities in the resort, visit the Brewery, souvenir shops, go bike riding, visit local wineries and a cheese factory, try a segway, horse riding, enjoy a relaxing massage in the Hunter Valley Heaven Massage Centre, take a carriage ride, play tennis, or go swimming – there really is something for everyone!
So having had a couple of days to explore the City of Hobart and now with your hire car in hand then consider the following destination. To ensure you have seen a Tasmanian Devil I would strongly recommend that visit the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary where they are working hard to ensure these much maligned creatures have a future – along with many other orphaned or damaged wild animals. The Devils numbers are down by 90% due to a virus that has spread through them but the good news is that scientists have found a vaccine that is seems effective and there is also evidence that the remaining wild animals have built their own immunity.
Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis
Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis
You will have a chance to see most of the other indigenous Tasmanian wildlife and even feed the kangaroo who are very friendly. A short drive from here brings you to Richmond which truly has a feel of being back in the UK. The Gaol here was built in the 1820s to provide slave labour for the booming farming community. It is still almost intact and well worth a visit.
For another full day out, drive down to the World Heritage site of Port Arthur, the destination of many of the convicts from Great Britain. Built as a modern and ground breaking penal institute it became a town in its own rights. Many of the buildings are ruins while others have been restored to their former glory – particularly the homes of the officers. There is much to see and do here so plan to be there early. Also ensure you join the cruise of the Bay taking you past Point Puer Boys Prison (for convict aged below 17) and the Island of the Dead. The staff play there parts convincingly and the exhibits are well thought through and very hands on. For the brave there is ghost tour in the evening. Do NOT get left in the isolation cell – not a chink of light anywhere and pass through 4 doors to get there.
One evening when the weather is clear, drive to the top of Wellington Mountain for spectacular views over the city and harbour.
Having just got back from my holiday in Victoria and Tasmania, I thought that I would share some of my experiences and suggested activities while in Hobart. Coming in from the airport has you driving over an iconic bridge giving you a good glimpse of the city. We stayed in an apartment on one of the piers in the harbour, which worked very well – views of the ferry going across to the Mona Museum, plenty of restaurants on the piers and waterfront, and a well appointed flat.
We did not bother with a car for the first couple of days as Hobart is an easy walking city. The first place I would recommend is Mawson’s Huts Replica Museum, located right in the harbour. Not large (they are actual size huts) they are full of information of the Antarctic Expeditions that set sail from Hobart through the 20th. Century. Just a few yards from here is the Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery which is well worth exploring and then sitting in the courtyard with an excellent cup of coffee. We failed to go the MonaMuseum, as we ran out of time but would definitely suggest catching the ferry to see what is a controversial spot in Tasmania.
Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis
Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis
There are a number of food places to tempt you – along the waterfront and Salamanca Street nearby, in fact coffee houses and restaurants abound in the city.
If you would like some more information on Hobart and what to see or do then please give s a call on 01323 446550 or email email@example.com You could also take a look at one of our visit Australia suggested itineraries in Tasmania, Hobart click here
More on what to do just outside of the capital next week.
Good News – Cathay Pacific has announced that they will be launching a new service offering direct flights from Gatwick to Hong Kong four times a week. This is in addition to their longstanding routes between Heathrow and Hong Kong, and between Manchester and Hong Kong.
This new route is great news for those living in the South East wishing to visit Australia and New Zealand, as there will be connections through to key hubs in both countries from Hong Kong.
The new service is due to commence in September 2016 with Cathay Pacific’s new Airbus A350-900 with refreshed Business Class cabin and new Premium Economy Class seats.
Hong Kong makes a great stopover location, as well as a holiday destination in its own right. For more information on this, and how these flights could work well for your future holiday plans, give us a call on 01323 446550, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tourism Australia recently sent us their newsletter and we thought this was a great blog to share. Queensland may be home to the Great Barrier Reef, but it’s also home to some of Australia’s most interesting diving sites based around some of the greatest shipwrecks in history from warships to trawlers. Read on to find out the must dives of Australia:-
1. SS Yongala
Considered one of the world’s top dive sites, the SS Yongala shipwreck is situated 12 nautical miles off Alva Beach near Ayr. This ship sank in 1911, but it was more than half a century before she was discovered. You’ll find giant groupers and schools of trevally and cobia here, as well as sea snakes and turtles.
2. Tangalooma Wrecks
Situated within swimming distance off Brisbane’s MoretonIsland are the rusty wrecks of 15 ships that were deliberately sunk to create a break wall for small boats, as well as provide the perfect spot for divers and snorkellers. You’ll find wobbegongs, trevally, kingfish yellowtail and tropical fish at the Tangalooma Wrecks which have been here since 1963.
Picture courtesy of Tourism Australia
3. HMAS Brisbane
Despite its name, the HMAS Brisbane is not situated off the Queensland capital, but on the SunshineCoast between Maroochydore and Mooloolaba. Operating between 1967 and 2001, this former warship was sunk in 2005 and now provides the ideal artificial reef for divers with a huge array of sea life to discover in and around the wreck.
4. The Lady Bowen
This elegant old lady was built in Glasgow in 1864 and arrived in Australia four months later, but met her fate when she crashed into Kennedy Shoal near DunkIsland in 1894. These days, The Lady Bowen is home to giant groupers, sea snakes, sharks, rays, lionfish and turtles at this dive site.
5. St Paul
Divers consider this wreck off MoretonIsland as one of the most challenging, as it sits in an exposed area of sea with no decompression diving. But this wreck carries a tragic history worth exploring. Eighteen people died when it mysteriously hit Smiths Rock back in 1914, during good sailing conditions.
6. RMS Quetta
Considered one of Australia’s greatest marine tragedies, 133 people died when the RMS Quetta sank in 1899, after striking a coral mount near the Adolphus Channel in the Torres StraitIslands. Cod, trout, angel fish and barracuda are common here.
The AllSoulsQuettaMemorialChurch on Thursday Island was built in memory of the ship.
For divers looking for a more intact site, head to LadyElliottIsland in the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Just offshore here, you can explore the remnants of the Severance, a two-masted sailing boat that sunk in 1998. So new is this wreck, remnants of the sails can be seen, and you’ll likely encounter a moray eel here.
8. The Cremer
Situated just 10 metres offshore from KeswickIsland, off Mackay, The Cremer is considered a perfect dive, thanks to its shelter from wind and current. This large steamship sank in 1945 and is now home to giant Maori wrasse fish.
9. The Singapore
Another treasure of the warm water off of KeswickIsland is The Singapore, which sunk in the late 1800s after striking a large rock just offshore. Considered a more challenging dive than The Cremer, it sits in some 25 metres of water and is home to pelagic fish, sharks and rays.
10. The Llewellyn
Closer to Mackay, you’ll find the wreck of the Llewellyn, which is ideal for novice divers. This coastal steamer mysteriously disappeared in heavy winds in 1919 between Rockhampton and Bowen and was only located in 1997.
Off the Southern Great Barrier Reef coastline of Seventeen Seventy you’ll find the remnants of the Cetacea, a 13-metre trawler which sank in 1992. This lady of the ocean sits 32 metres underwater on a sandy bottom, attracting a variety of marine life such as rays, grouper, tuna and trevally.
Also around the same area as the Cetacea lays the wreckage of the Barcoola, sunk in 1994. Some believe this is the stand-out dive – she’s in 41 metres of water and home to groupers, cod, kingfish and giant cobia. There are often large rays, bull sharks, and bronze whalers here, too.
The trawler met her karma in 2003 and now sits upright in 26 metres of water, again off the Southern Great Barrier Reef coastline. This is considered an accessible dive for both open water and advanced divers, and is home to thousands of fish and other marine life.
If you would like to find out more or incorporate one or more of these dives into your own bespoke, tailor made holiday then please give us a call on 01323 446550 or email email@example.com
Holidays to Australia simply aren’t complete without somehow experiencing the majesty and natural magnificence of the Great Barrier Reef. Visible from space, the Great Barrier Reef is made up of over 1,200 square miles of thousands of individual reef systems and hundreds of islands. These islands and reefs are in turn home to over 600 different types of corals, many of which can only be found in and around Australia.
Photograph Copyright Australia Tourism
However, visiting the great barrier reef as part of family or individual Australia holidays doesn’t necessarily have to involve diving or even getting your feet wet. Of course, Australia is famous for it’s miles of pristine white sand beaches and second to none surf. However, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is itself one of the world’s most accessible natural wonders.
From snorkelling experiences departing from anywhere from the Whitsundays to Sydney, to glass-bottomed boat excursions, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the easiest of Australia-based natural phenomenon’s for almost anyone to get up close and personal with.
Nothing less than a marvel of natural engineering, children can delight in sunset fish feeding. New and old romantics in the mean time, can depart for most of the year on both day and overnight cruises. Even better, it’s even possible to experience the Great Barrier Reef from the air, either by scenic flight or skydive.
Australia holidays simply aren’t complete without some form of Great Barrier Reef experience. Of course, whether you decide to paddle board out onto the reef from the spectacular beaches of the Whitsundays or parachute over Australia’s foremost natural wonder at Cairns, the most important thing is to experience the area as responsibly as possible. Thankfully then, all of our own travel and activity partners are committed to helping preserve the natural beauty and ecology of the Great Barrier Reef, all you need to do in this case is be mindful of how you explore the reef when diving, snorkelling or even weighing anchor.
We’ve detailed below our top tips for visitors to Queensland – a useful guide for those thinking about a future holiday.
Allow plenty of time! The state covers a vast area so if you’re limited on time, choose one or two regions and explore them thoroughly. For example, it would be easy to spend two weeks just exploring the areas surrounding Brisbane.
Northern Queensland has a tropical climate and two seasons – wet and dry. We recommend travelling in the dry season, between May and October. This also avoids the box jellyfish season too.
Southern Queensland has four seasons – but prides itself on the fact that it usually receives 300 sunny days a year! This part of the state is a year-round destination.
Take a cruise to the Great Barrier Reef by small yacht – with limited passenger numbers you’ll have a more individual experience of this Wonder of the World.
Go whale watching! From August until October, humpback whales can be found off the Fraser Coast as they nurture their young, play and socialise.
For an idyllic end to a Queensland trip, include stay on one of the many beautiful islands of the Great Barrier Reef or the Whitsundays – there are options to suit most budgets.
Whilst we’d usually suggest visitors self-drive in Queensland, if you’re not keen or not able to do so, consider taking the Spirit of Queensland train between Cairns and Brisbane – you can stop en route for stays in plenty of places of interest.
Search for wildlife! The state is not only home to the Great Barrier Reef, but also has plenty of land creatures to see, from koalas and kangaroos to platypus. crocodiles and the elusive cassowary. We can suggest the right places to give you the best chance of seeing the wildlife.
For a true outback experience, take the ‘Spirit of the Outback’ train to Longreach, home of cattle stations, the Qantas Founders Museum and Stockman’s Hall of Fame.
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