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.
Africa has the ‘Big Five’…The Great Barrier Reef has the ‘Great Eight’
Here you will find eight iconic residents of this fantastic underwater eco-system which until you have seen them all, really means you haven’t seen the Great Barrier Reef at all.
Whales, Manta Rays, Clown Fish, Turtles, Potato Cod, Giant Clams, Maori Wrasse and of course Sharks.
The largest coral reef system in the world is their home. Some might migrate here, some might travel along its length and some stay in exactly the same place all of their lives.
They range in size from 18cms long right up to 18 metres long and are the ‘heroes’ of the reef.
To put it in perspective how wonderful diving the reef is you can spend about an hour in the water on an average snorkel or dive. That dive site changes with the tides, during daytime and night and throughout the seasons so what you see in one half of the day can be totally different in the other.
You could visit exactly the same site every day for a year and always see different things there….so if you think you’ve seen ALL OF the Great Barrier Reef…think again.
So, if you would love to dive off into another world to find the reefs great eight then let us help you make it part of your very own bespoke, tailor made holiday to Australia all you have to do is contact us on 01323 446550 email firstname.lastname@example.org or click on the contact us link on our home page.
We are often asked what and where is the best rail journey in the world? So in answer to this we have detailed below some of our must do Great Rail Journeys of the World:
Consider the luxury rail experience offered by the Eastern and Oriental Express, operating between Singapore and Bangkok and taking two or three nights depending on the direction of travel. Enjoy vistas of tea plantations, rolling farmland, colonial cities and historic temples.
Take a rail journey in Vietnam, from the bustling city of Hanoi to the village of Sapa, located in the mountains overlooking spectacular views of the Ta Van valley’s terraced rice fields. The train operates overnight in both directions.
Think about the super-fast Shinkansen ‘Bullet Train’ in Japan. There are a number of routes on offer, but no trip to Japan is complete without at least one trip in the iconic Bullet Train.
Picture courtesy of JNTO
There are three iconic rail journeys available in New Zealand, one on the North Island, and two on the South.
On the North Island, the Northern Explorer runs from Auckland to Wellington through diverse countryside comprising of rolling farmland, towering viaducts and beautiful hidden valleys.
On the South Island, the Tranz Alpine train runs from Christchurch in the east to Greymouth in the west through stunning scenery. A stop is made in the small mountain town of Arthur’s Pass, where a stay enables a closer inspection of this Alpine region. The Coastal Pacific runs from Picton (tying in perfectly with the ferry from Wellington on the NorthIsland) south to Christchurch. This rail journey stops in Kaikoura en route, where a stay gives the opportunity to take a whale watching cruise.
An impressive and popular rail journey on the Devil’s Nose section of railway in Ecuador could be a part of your holiday itinerary. Named Devil’s Nose due to the many deaths amongst workers as well as difficulty of building it, the route connects the Alausi and Sibambe stations taking a stunning trip down the rocky slopes of the Andes through breath-taking scenery.
Board the tourist train in Peru taking you on a journey through the Urubamba Valley or Sacred Valley of the Incas, to the marvellous mountaintop ruins of Machu Picchu.
One of the more popular rail routes is the Coast Starlight which takes you along the west coast between Seattle and Los Angeles stopping in Portland along the way. Why not take a day out of your itinerary to treat yourself by taking a trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train where you can relax on-board the exquisitely restored vintage rail cars and experience fine dining service, multiple course meals and the stunning Napa Valley scenery. Most people see the Grand Canyon from the skies but since 1901 the Grand Canyon Railway has been taking people right through the heart of this amazing place and you could be one of them, you’ll feel like you’re travelling back in time. For something a little different during your visit to Colorado why not travel along the 45 miles of 3 foot narrow gauge track on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway which has been running since 1881. However long your journey is travelling by rail is a definite must do during your USA holiday.
Picture courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer
The most famous rail journey in Canada has to be the Rocky Mountaineer. With a variety of routes available you can spend a couple of days or a couple of weeks on board. One of the more popular routes is the Journey through the Clouds which takes you between Vancouver and Jasper with an overnight stop in Kamloops. With different grades of service available this is a must no matter how big or small your budget is. If you want to travel the width of Canada in comfort and without missing the scenery as you concentrate on driving then take a ride on The Canadian. In the space of four nights and three days, you’ll get to see the lakes in Northern Ontario, the lush boreal forest, the western Prairies, and the magnificent Rocky Mountains as you travel between historical Quebec and modern Toronto.
Australia has some of the most iconic rail journeys in the world. There isn’t enough room here to talk about them all but here are some to whet your appetite. The Indian Pacific gets its name because it covers 4352km between Perth on the Indian Ocean and Sydney on the Pacific Ocean. The whole journey takes three nights, although you can break it up with a stop in Adelaide. You’ll travel through a variety of landscapes from towns and cities to the desert like Nullarbour Plain, from the outback to the forest of the Blue Mountains. So we’ve taken you East and West, but what if you want to go North and South? Named after the Afghan Cameleers who travelled this route, the Ghan will take between Darwin in the North to Adelaide in the South going straight through the centre of Australia. If it’s just a day on a train that you would prefer then a trip on the Kuranda Scenic Railway is perfect. It was built between 1882 and 1891 and is made up of 15 hand made tunnels and 37 bridges taking you from Cairns into the Barron Gorge National Park on your way to Karunda, known as the village in the rainforest.
Africa has a wealth of train experiences that cover the whole spectrum from world leader to leaving a lot to desire. Rovos Rail has exciting itineraries that stretch from Pretoria, in South Africa through all their southern neighbouring countries and even a trip to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Where possible they travel during the day. The Blue Train is another South African luxury train that travels from Johannesburg to Durban and Cape Town or vice versa.
Picture courtesy of SA Tourism
For further information, and for assistance planning your next bespoke, tailor made holiday which could incorporate one of these great rail journeys, please call us on 01323 446550, email us at email@example.com
For most people, holidays in Australia are synonymous with overland safaris into the backing Red Centre of the country, miles of idyllic beaches and much more interesting flora and fauna than almost any other place on earth. However, holidays in Australia can also be planned around visiting some of the world’s most vibrant and interesting cities. The only question, is which are the best cities in Australia to plan holidays or a sightseeing trip around?
Holidays in Cairns
Credit Australia Tourism
For travellers who might be strapped for time, cities like Cairns are perfect for sampling the best that Australia has to offer in a single locality. Subtropical and bordering the Great barrier Reef, Cairns in a relatively small provincial city but is positively booming when it comes to things to do and ways to unwind in the area.
Another relatively small provincial city, Alice Springs might not be as iconic as cities like Melbourne or Sydney but with the red centre of Australia right on the city’s doorstep, the outlying area definitely makes up for what Alice Springs lacks in terms of cosmopolitanism. The place to be for visitors to Australia who want to sample a sense of the countries original pioneering spirit, Alice Springs is the last significant stop on the road for those looking to travel to iconic places of interest such as Ayers Rock and Kings Canyon.
Holidays to Australia usually start and depart from places like Sydney and Melbourne. In this case, it’s easy to forget about Darwin tucked away in the far north of the country but if you have the time, Darwin definitely shouldn’t be overlooked. A popular domestic holiday destination, Darwin is home to fantastic stretches of tropical coastline. At the same time, the azure waters of the area’s bays and natural harbors make Darwin the place in Australia for activities such as water skiing and scenic boat cruises.
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