There is something magical about Australia, it really is a unique place. Australia is the world’s largest island, covering 7.692 million km. It is home to many different climates from the mild temperatures of Tasmania, to the tropical heat of the Daintree. It really is an amazing place to visit.
When you think of the Land Down under, you often think of the many unique animals that only live there. Many people head over to catch a glimpse of a koala, kangaroo, emu or platypus.
Many people head down under to catch a glimpse of the Aussie outback, with places like Uluru, and the Daintree topping the list of places to visit. But it is more than that it has created a real urban feel, with cities like Melbourne, Sydney.
Three of Australia’s cities are in 2017 top liveable cities. With Melbourne in the top spot, for the seventh year in a row.
Australia a great place to visit, and an even greater place to live.
There is something special about Hamilton Island, it is a beautiful place to relax and unwind when on holidays.
Our children and I have been talking about what makes Hamilton Island so magical.
We put together a list of what we think makes it so magical, and what tops the list is the ability to zoom around the island in your own Golf Buggy, the wind in your hair, the view out the open sides it just adds to the ambience of the resort.
Now all the rental Golf buggies are electrically powered so every time you stop you have to plug the cord in. Once or twice we have seen people that have obviously forgotten to charge their buggies, getting slower and slower up the steep hill going up towards “One tree hill”.
So every time we arrive back at the resort the cry would ring out, Plug the cord in.
Now Master L, aged 10 loves a good pun, and loves James Corden from Carpool Karaoke fame and started saying.
“Plug the “James Cord in”.
Now the pun began to get a life of its own.
Next thing it became the “James Cord in Challenge” the Challenge to find the most picturesque places you could plug the “cord in”.
Whilst very practical the view from our accommodation is not at all picturesque, the view from the resort is nicer with views of the beach in the distance.
It took us a while but we think we have found the winner.
If you wander up to “One Tree Hill” at the very end there is an electrical plug that if you are the last buggy parked you can power up, and the view from the plug at the top of one tree hill, is amazing. The food and the drinks there are pretty amazing as well.
I love being a tourist, travelling, exploring new places, taking photos, making memories.
When I am on holidays I morph into the paparazzi. Anyone around me takes one look and can tell I am a tourist, my Nikon SLR around my neck, my backpack on my back full of all the things I need to make the most of the experience. I have even been known to bring out the tripod trying to catch that perfect sunset, or sunrise.
Unfortunately, though, life gets in the way and we can’t spend all our time on holidays.
When I am not travelling, though I am preparing for my next trip, and that feeling of wanderlust can make the long winters at home feel even colder, the work days longer and the mundane tasks of life feel like a world away from where I want to be.
Can you relate? Do you live with the constant desire to see more, do more, experience more?
But do you know there is a solution? Become a tourist in your own backyard. Take a Journey!
The definition of a journey is
Noun – an act of travelling from one place to another.
Verb – travel somewhere.
Taking a journey doesn’t mean you have to travel a long distance, you just have to travel from one place to another.
Whether it’s ten minutes from home or ten hours you can still make memories, and experience life, become a tourist in your own backyard. Take a holiday from home.
You don’t realize how beautiful the place you live is until you look at it, with fresh eyes. With eyes that are not busy rushing from here to there. You will learn new things about where you live, and some things might surprise you?
Be being a tourist, I learnt that there was a site only twenty minutes from Ballarat that was preserved from the National Trust, the Lal Lal Blast Furnace.
No more sitting around your house wondering what to do. No more wasting money at the shops buying stuff just because you’re bored. Instead, you will be seeing new things, doing new things and experiencing new things.
We spend a lot of time doing day trips in Victoria, our home state. People travel thousands of 1000kms to see the Great Ocean Road, we only need to travel a couple of hours.
We constantly look at Pinterest, to find the top 10 activities in towns around us. There are so many amazing things you can do locally if you just look. Art Galleries, Museums, Bush walks, Playgrounds, Botanical gardens our favourite chocolate mills.
What do you do when you are in between trips? How do you fulfil the feeling of wanderlust?
Port Fairy a beautiful seaside town, located only 28 km west of Warrnambool.
Port Fairy is a very popular spot for holidaymakers over the Summer period. Only 3 and a half hours from Melbourne located at the end of the Great Ocean Road it is teeming with people all through the holiday period. With a population of about 3500 (before holidaymakers) this quaint seaside town streets, shops, and beaches are full of people ready to relax and enjoy summer. There are plenty of great eateries, from restaurants, pubs to great take away places including Chinese, fish and chips and pizza places. There is hardware stores, supermarkets and chemists, but if there is something else you need Warrnambool is only a short drive away.
An Icecream shop called Poco Artisan Ice cream sees people lining up out the door to taste the homemade gelato.
The local Surf Lifesaving club at “Eastern Beach” offers a great patrolled place to swim. It is Patrolled between 10 am – 6 pm Monday to Friday and 10 am – 5 pm on the weekends. It also has a fully licensed restaurant/cafe at the Surf life-saving club called Charlie’s on East that is open for breakfast/lunch and snacks. We spent our days wandering the beautiful clear beaches.
We ended many walks along the beach at Charlie’s getting an icy pole on the way home.
It also has a great Golf Course situated right on the dunes, on Woodbine Road. Where else can you play whilst viewing the spectacular Southern Ocean? Some might say A ‘magical’ experience, befitting the name. The Port Fairy Golf course is an 18 hole natural links golf course that is listed in the top 100 golf courses in Australia.
If you are after bike riding, it is home to the Port Fairy to Koroit to Warrnambool Rail trail. A 37km flat rail trail that ranges from Dirt, gravel and sealed sections.
There is great walking tracks to explore at Griffith Island, home of the Historic lighthouse, and 15 minutes out of town at Towerhill, as well as some great coastal walk, the Mahogany Ship walk, Yambuk Lake walk, Peterborough walking track. So if history and heritage is more your style there are great walks around the Town to showcase the historic features and buildings of the town.
Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve is a great place to see local wildlife. Just be careful the emu’s try to steal your food. Our attempt at eating fish and chips became quite comical when two emus came charging up and began stealing food straight from our table. We quickly had to leave our food and find comfort in our car to eat the remaining untouched chips.
If adventure is more your style then only fifteen minutes away is the 33m slide at Yambuk located on the sand dunes. Yambuk is also a very popular spot for fishing or a BBQ.
Port Fairy is A ‘magical destination’ well worth a visit.
As we get ready to head up to Hamilton Island again, I thought I would put together a few of our favourite walks from our last trip. If you want to hear all about how you can walk to “Escape Beach“. A beautiful quiet beach on Hamilton Island.
The walk to Passage Peak is a steep climb with steps that seem to go on for ages but the view at the end makes it all worthwhile. With a great couple of lookouts along the way.
We set out from the hideaway bay entrance which gives you a couple of hundred metre walk before the steps begin, just enough to time to start warming up your muscles before the steps work muscles you had forgotten existed. The walk/climb is about 2kms one way, however, we decided to walk home a different way to give our knees a little rest from all the steps downhill.
Most of the trip up is steps with a few small respites of more level sections, however, the last 950 metres is basically just steps that seem to wind on forever. Probably the most heartbreaking sign is as you are leaving the Turkey nest junction Where the paths all meet and head up the stairs with the sign clearly telling you 950 metres to go, then about 200 metres up the path you are met with another sign that also reads 950 metres to go.
This was the path where our heartbeats really started racing when we met a snake along our path. (Ok it was a non-venomous green tree snake) but my heart rate still jumped up about 20 beats when I saw the snake slithering only 30 CM’s away.
Before you walk up the final steps to the top there is a great lookout, you wander down (silently thinking to yourself that for every step down is another step I have to walk up) but at the end gives you a great view of Whitsunday Island and the resort. We were also lucky to have a kookaburra in the trees below.
Once we got to the top there are three different lookouts
One that looks out over South East head
Another fantastic walk you can do that is about 7kms round trip.
One that looks out over the Resort
We sat there for ages watching the jet skiers in the waves below, jumping over the waves enjoying not only the fun happening below but the sense of achievement that we had made it up the steps.
And then The peak itself that looks out over the Whitsunday coral sea
We sat and watched as the rain came in across the water a welcome relief from the heat and humidity, as we got ready for the walk back.
Western Australia, a land as vast as it is beautiful.
Australia is the sixth largest country in the world by pure size, however amazingly 53rd by population. When you visit Australia you notice something, that most of the population seems to be within half a dozen hours of the coast, and with the beautiful beaches of the Great Ocean Road, Byron Bay, the Gold Coast why wouldn’t they.
Western Australia is the largest State in Australia it spreads out over 2,529,875 square kilometres, 33% of Australia’s landmass. But Just over 10% of the population resides there (2.6 million). Compare that to Victoria that is only 3% of the landmass, but accounts for over 25% of the population, you can see how Western Australia is an area vast in size, but still quite low in population.
When putting together our list of Top things to do in Western Australia you will see that there are often huge areas between them. Involving long drives in the car. But what you will find is even if you are sitting in the car for 1500kms as you drive from Perth to Eucla, the scenery is always changing and its worth the drive.
Whilst there are amazing things to do in Perth, like Kings Park, the Maritime Museum in Fremantle. Which we loved my list is some of the more original things to do, things you can’t do anywhere else.
1 – Eucla
Just 11Kms over the South Australia border stands this tiny town Eucla, now Eucla has a population of under 100 people and you would be remiss to just keep driving through on your journey over the Nullarbor. (The Nullarbor is the large flat, treeless plain you drive over from Adelaide to Perth. This holds the longest straight stretch of road in Australia 146km) The Nullarbor is a real right of passage in Australia’s RV community and you will often see stickers on the back of caravans, proudly exclaiming they have crossed the Nullarbor.
We have driven over the Eyre Highway a few times and Eucla is the real highlight of the trip.
So why stop at Eucla?
You stop at Eucla for one reason the Old Telegraph Station. The Old Telegraph Station is located in the middle of a huge Sand dune. You park your car and begin to wander through the sand dunes, hoping you are heading in the right direction and then it comes into focus. Half covered by sand. The remnants of the Telegraph station.
What is Gnomesville you might ask? How did it start?
Gnoomesville is something special, it is a little village of 7000 gnomes that sprung up in Wellington Mill over 21 years ago, just 30 minutes out of Bunbury. Gnomesville is a great place to go and have a look, there is something magical about going and looking around at the 1000’s of gnomes in the area. Our kids loved it. Search #gnomesville on Instagram to see heaps more photos.
3 – Busselton Jetty
Busselton Jetty is the longest wooden pier (jetty) in the world. Stretching 2kms out to sea, you will see many people wandering out to the end of the Jetty. But if walking 4kms is not how you intend to spend your day. Don’t worry they now have an amazing solar-powered train that runs up 1.7km of the Jetty and takes 45 minutes. At $13.50 for an adult, $6.75 for a child 3-14 years it is great value.
6 hours from Perth is the picturesque Kalbarri National Park. Kalbarri is a gorgeous seaside town 600 km north of Perth with a population of about 1400 people. Every morning at the foreshore they feed the pelicans, and tourists flock to the area. But the real stand out of the area is “Natures window”.
Nature’s window was formed by the wind eroding a section of the layered sandstone, that frames the Murchison river below. What has formed is a gorgeous window that allows for an amazing view of the Murchison River.
There is a lot of different walks in Kalbarri National Park, whether you are a beginner or experienced hiker.
Kalbarri National Park is also a great place to see Western Australia’s wildflowers. Western Australia has 800 different speicies of Wildflowers. 600 of them are only found in WA.
5 – The Valley of the Giants tree top Walk.
50 km out of Denmark is the Internationally recognised, Valley of the Giants treetop walk. As long as you aren’t scared of heights you will love walking 40 metres above the ground amongst the canopy of the huge Red tingle trees in the Walpole-Nornalup National Park. The Walk is 600 metres long as suitable for children of all ages, including strollers. However, the way you can see through the metal of the bridge under your feet does see some children (and adults) struggle with the walk across the bridge.
The Valley of the giants is open from 9 am – 5 pm daily (excluding Christmas Day). However, runs extended hours over the Christmas period from December 26th to January 26th and stays open until 7 pm.
Entry to the Discovery Centre is free, however, to walk across the Valley of the Giants, the admission price is.
Adults (16+) = $21
Concession = $15.50
Children (6-15) = $10.50
Family (2A + 2C) = $52.50
If you are there at 10:15 am 11:30 am or 2 pm (during school terms) join in the guided tour to find out more about the amazing tingle trees from one of the helpful guides.
The Treetop discovery centre also has a gift shop and sells refreshments.
6- The pinnacles
Over a quarter of a million people come to see the iconic Limestone formations in the Numbung National Park each year. Only 200 km from Perth this is a must see if spending any time in Western Australia. It really is a sight to behold limestone formations some reaching up to 5 metres in the sky, sticking out of the sand everywhere. The Pinnacles are accessible by both car ($12 per car) or walking from the discovery centre. It is a 4km loop. Whilst the Discovery centre is only open until 4:30 pm, there is an honesty system after 4:30 that allows you to go in and capture that amazing photo at sunrise or sunset when the shadows create a truly magical experience.
Point Lonsdale, a beautiful coastal town on the Bellarine Peninsula, just over 5 minutes from Queenscliff.
I spent a gorgeous weekend there with some friends, enjoying lunch down at the Dunes Cafe in Ocean Grove (a short drive away), waking up early each morning to take a stroll down to the boardwalk. Sitting outside listening to the waves crash on the shore.
Whilst it has a great relaxed atmosphere, it also has all the important things you need on the small main strip, with a grocery store, cafes, a few cute boutiques, chemist, restaurants even an OP shop whilst still keeping its lovely relaxed feel. A great little playground across from the beach, there are three caravan parks in Point Lonsdale, so whether you are after a powered site, unpowered site, or a caravan park with its own spa.
It is a gorgeous spot to visit, it is the location of one of the Heads (Otherwise known as the Rip), that make up the entrance to Port Phillip Bay.
The heads are the triangular area water between Point Lonsdale, neighbouring Queenscliff and Point Nepean. All shipping heading into Melbourne’s port must make it through the Heads. It is quite a site to be walking along the beach and watch the large Freight boats as they navigate the channel. The same channel that during May through October you can often see gorgeous whales.
Point Lonsdale has a gorgeous walking track that runs from Queenscliff to Point Lonsdale, it is 5.5km of mostly flat terrain. The distance markers run every 500 metres.
The Walk ends up at Point Lonsdale Lighthouse, this lighthouse was built back in 1902, and although the light became automated in 1999, it is still manned as it is also the Point Lonsdale signal station, that controls the movements of commercial shipping within designated areas both outside and inside Port Phillip Heads.
Affectionately known as ‘The Larder Ballarat’ down on the corner of Macarthur Street and Doveton Street North is the Macarthur street Larder. Like many cafes in the Ballarat area, this cafe is made in a converted house. However, the way they have opened up the front area means it has less of a rabbit warren feel than other converted houses. They have removed many of the walls, and the kitchen is set up in the back of the building in a reasonably open feel. Meaning as you sit and relax the smell of the food wafts around.
The menu is varied, focusing on modern fresh Middle eastern inspired food. This is not the place you are going to go if you are after a Parma and Chips. This is the place you go to eat Salads, Lamb Boreks, flatbreads and Pastries. Even in the Children’s menu, there is not a nugget and chip in sight. Instead, children get a choice of toasted sandwiches, Banana Bread, Granola, Bacon and eggs. However, there is Ice-cream for dessert.
Following on the children’s theme, the Macarthur Street Larder is the perfect place to come with your children with one of the old rooms at the back of the building has been converted to a little playroom, with a huge variety of toys. This room opens up to another large seating area, however, the only drawback is the room outside only has two tables both reasonable size though, so you need to plan ahead and bring some colouring in, in case the tables are already in use.
However, if you are going without children, the front area is large and away from the Children’s room at the back, meaning you can easily sit in the front and relax drinking your coffee.
There is also a great outdoor area perfect for Ballarat Spring and Summertime.
We went for Breakfast and also had an Iced Chocolate and the flavour of the Iced Chocolate was lovely, it was not too sweet but had a beautiful flavour to it, most places you go the iced chocolates end up tasting like plain milk. It was presented lovely too.
Breakfast was the bacon, a great mix of fried eggs, bacon, spinach, tomatoes on Turkish Bread. We will definitely be going back to try more of their Lunch menu, I have heard the Lamb Borek is well worth ordering so can’t wait to go back and try it for myself.
The Macarther street Larder Ballarat Menu
The Larder also sells a variety of homemade Biscuits and slices at the front counter, as well as Take away coffee is available.
It has a little shop as well with a selection of bags and other handmade items for sale.
451 Doveton St N, Soldiers Hill VIC 3350
Macarthur Street Larder is only open during the week.
Kualoa Ranch is a 4000-acre cattle ranch located in Oahu, Hawaii. Whilst a working cattle ranch, its claim to fame is it’s a popular tourist attraction due to the fantastic list of films and tv shows filmed within its three valleys. Kaaawa Valley, Kualoa Valley and Hakipuu Valley.
Due to its size and location it’s terrain is so varied, from Mountains, Valleys, Rainforests, beaches. So many of the locations are so familiar. As you look around you begin saying to yourself, I think this was in Jumanji, this hill was definitely in lost. I am sure I saw this part in an episode of Hawaii Five-O.
Kualoa Ranch has been in the same family since 1850 when it was purchased of King Kamehameha III. Over that time it has had an interesting history from cattle to sugar cane, to The military taking control during World War 2 and turning it into Kualoa airfield, and creating military bunkers on the land. To rock festivals, to its most famous claim to fame so far, the film site of the Jurassic Park films, lost, Pearl Harbour, Godzilla, Hawaii Five-O episodes and many more.
If you head to Kualoa Ranch, you can do a vast variety of tours from ATV, horse riding, jungle cruise and the movie tour.
We participated in the movie tour, and it was great to see some of the landmark sites from some of our favourite movies.
We stopped to have a look at one of the military bunkers which have now become a film memorabilia museum.
At the time I was keen to keep moving to the movie sites, but looking back the museum was probably the highlight of the tour, there was more time to read about the movies, and to see all about the film and tv shows filmed there.
It was also great to see the sites once we moved into the valley where many of the Jurassic Park movies were filmed. There were some film sites where there wasn’t anything left there except a plaque showing you what they shot but no other real props. Obviously, they can’t keep much there as they continue to film in the area. However, there are some fantastic sites that are iconic from some favourite movies, the log from Jurassic Park, the footprint from Godzilla and the skull area from Skull Island.
Kualoa Ranch is well worth a visit when you head to Hawaii.
Kualoa Ranch is a great day trip whether you are staying in Honolulu, Ko Olina Bay or anywhere else on the Island of Oahu.
Park your caravan in Airlie beach and catch a boat over to Hamilton Island for some amazing walks that will not only challenge you but will leave you wanting to explore more. Hamilton Island is the largest inhabited island in the Whitsundays, with its own airport and school its population is about 1200 people, with thousands more heading over by boat, plane or ferry to relax and enjoy the serenity.
There are walks to huge lookouts where you can look over the island, to walks to private beaches where you can enjoy lunch peacefully by yourself.
Make sure you bring lots of water, a phone or camera to take lots of photos and enjoy the peaceful serenity that is The Whitsundays.
We love Hamilton Island, it is one of our favourite destinations to visit not just for ourselves, but as a family. There are so many fun things to do from, the Wildlife Park, heaps of pools, water sports, kids club, shopping, the beaches, jet skiing, massages, food, the list is endless.
One of our favourite things though is to walk the many scenic trails around the island. Our children love the Clownfish club so we always make sure they can find a program they are interested in and we venture off just the two of us to explore.
On our last trip to Hamilton Island the first walk we did was the walk to Escape beach. When wanting to explore the scenic trails there are a few places that you can start your walks from, but we decided to start behind the resort. It was easy to park our golf buggy and head off on our walk.
The walk is approximately 3300 metres each way. For this walk you need to be relatively fit as there are some steep parts, as well as near the end it feels like the track seems to disappear and you are left clambering down the hill to Escape Beach.
Most of the way there is uphill so make sure you bring lots of water, however, the advantage of that is most of the trip back is downhill 🙂 This is a great track to start off with as Passage Peak whilst shorter is much steeper and has stairs that go on forever.
There are great places to stop along the way and catch your breath whilst you catch the view.You will see so many beautiful butterflies and other wildlife along the way.
But once you get to the final 200 metres and descend the steep hill to your own idyllic private beach.
We bought our own lunch with us and sat back on a rock in the peaceful surrounding with no one else in sight, I don’t know if it was the fact we had just walked 3.5kms, but that Lunch was probably my favourite of the whole trip.
On the walk back we headed through mangroves, climbed up steep hills to catch a view of the island and by the time we had finished our walk of over 8kms, we were exhausted. Thankfully a quick swim and a bite to eat at the yacht club left us refreshed and ready to walk passage peak the next day.
Have you been to Hamilton Island before, the Whitsundays?
What is your favourite location in the Whitsundays?
Just out of Port Fairy on your way back to Warrnambool is the magical, picturesque Towerhill. There is something magical about driving down the road into the crater of a dormant volcano. Driving past ash deposits, large hills, and vibrant flora and fauna.
Towerhill Nature reserve is only 14kms from Warrnambool, right on the main road. The crater itself is 4kms across and 80 metres high, and when you are inside it, you are immersed in a beautiful vibrant wetland reserve.
Back in 1892 it became Victoria’s first National Park, and later in 1961 was declared a state Game reserve.
This nature reserve is a must have stop on your trip down the great ocean Road. It is full of wildlife from Koalas, Emus, Kangaroos and other waterbirds, just watch out for the Emu’s if you decide to pack a lunch as we learnt first hand that they love to steal your lunch. Our children watched in shock as an emu made a beeline for our table and decided that our Lunch would make a tasty treat. The ensuring panic as four children made a very hasty exit with the remaining untouched food would have been very comical to all those watching.
Whilst emu’s are not supposed to be that violent, we where not willing to risk it, and we sat eating the rest of our lunch in the safety of the car.
The Nature reserve is the Centre of the Tower hill Maar volcano crater, inside this large crater there is also a visitor centre that is run by the Worn Gundidj Aboriginal Cooperative. The visitor centre was commissioned back in 1962 to be designed by Robin Boyd. Finishing 7 years later in 1969. Robin Boyd simple circular structure made from Stone with a sloping roof is reminisce of the Towerhill’s volcanic island hilltops that surround it.
The visitor Centre is a great place to grab a refreshing drink, whilst looking at a range of cultural displays and local aboriginal art and craft, that you can purchase, as a lovely keepsake. The visitor centre is open from 10am – 4pm daily.
Whilst camping in Camper vans, Tents and Caravans is prohibited, the area itself is open 24 hours.
Their are Electric BBQ’s, picnic tables and toilet facilities, but be prepared with plenty of water and to take all your rubbish home with you, as their are no Rubbish bins, or drinking taps.
Walks around the reserve.
Towerhill Nature reserve is so much more than a fun place to enjoy Lunch. It is also a great place to enjoy some walks in the area. Many people don’t realise until they start driving down the The Great Ocean Road that is a fantastic place to get active with great walks like the Sheoak Falls and Swallow Cave walks all around the area. The Towerhill reserve is no exception. From long walks to shorter walks perfect for all ages.
Explore some of the amazing walks around the reserve. Parks Victoria have some great links to walks in the reserve. There are some self guided walks, as well as guided interactive walks led by experienced guides, both during the day and night. The nighttime walk opens your eye up to the huge range of nocturnal animals in the reserve.
If you manage to head into the Visitors centre you will see it features a great range of cultural displays and local aboriginal art. Whilst the reserve has access at all times, the visitor centre is open from 10am – 4pm daily.