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Posts in ‘Things to do in Australia’

5 Popular Backpacking Destinations For 2014

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With summer 2014 arriving to most of the globe it is time to pull out the knapsack, check the atlas and plan where in the world you will be spending your vacation.

We present to you, our picks for the top 5 destinations for backpacking around the world-

India
India is a really huge country.  With the world’s largest rail system and a vast road network (sometimes bumpy), getting around is not too difficult.  Accommodation, food and transportation are inexpensive.  Choosing where to go is a challenge.  You have the spectacular sandy beaches of Goa and Kerala; the sky scraping, snow-capped Himalayas; the thick forests of Central India and the Ghats; the deserts of Rajasthan and Ladakh.  The ancient cities of Delhi, Varanasi and Puri along with the forts and palaces of Rajasthan will vie for your attention.

Backpacking in India

India has a history and tradition of backpacking going back to the flower power era of the 1960s.

Thailand
Thailand is an exotic and exciting place to explore, especially for the novice backpacker.  On offer are hundreds of miles of pristine sand beaches, lush jungles populated with dazzling creatures, amazingly friendly and helpful locals and fantastic food.  The country’s culture has survived the onslaught of tourism and modernity.  There are still many quiet places where you can chill.  The place is crammed with amazing temples and exciting markets.  Transportation is cheap and the street food very safe.

The country is a well-trodden backpacker destination.  Backpacking Thailand is relatively easy, still inexpensive with amazing deals on offer – just bargain.  It also has a legendary nightlife.

Australia
Australia offers fantastic beauty and adventure.  It’s a very large (we’re talking continent-sized here) country and travel can be a challenge but worth the effort.  The geography ranges from the vast trackless outback, to the incredible Great Barrier Reef.  You can snowboard and ski within a few hours of a sun-kissed sandy beach.  There are strangely named picturesque small towns and very modern and fascinating cities.  You can trek through ancient rainforests or camel-trek the arid and startling Northern Territory.

Australia has a very competitive and inexpensive budget accommodation market where you can get good deals.  The rail network is not extensive and generally hugs the coast.  The best way to get around the country is by road but be prepared for long rides because most journeys take 10 to 20 hours.  You can save a lot of money by buying bus passes.

Indonesia
Indonesia is comprised of thousands of islands, most of which are uninhabited.  It is a really huge country and you will have to pick what all you wish to see. Most of the population is concentrated on Java and around the capital, Jakarta.   Once you get away from Jakarta you will find yourself in vast jungles, with ancient temples, mysterious lakes and hot springs.  There are lively and fiery volcanoes, stunning beaches and some of the best surfing.  The cities of Bogor, Bandung and Yogyakarta have to be visited to be believed.  Then of course, there is Bali and its gorgeous Hindu culture.

Backpacking

Travel is relatively inexpensive but can be a challenge.  The warm, friendly and hospitable people, the food and fantastic countryside will more than compensate for any difficulties you may have.

Brazil
This huge country is a wonder world filled with amazing sights.  It is blessed with naturally varied and rich landscape with thousands of miles of beaches and humungous tracts of rainforests fed by great rivers including the mighty Amazon.  This vast land has incredibly diverse climatic and cultural conditions.  The vibrant hedonistic cities of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Salvador are legendary for their party atmosphere and nightlife.

The main mode of getting around Brazil is by bus.  The buses are generally excellent and services frequent and good.

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Touring Bathurst Island, Australia

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Bathurst IslandBathurst Island lies in Australia’s far north.  Bathurst is one of nine that make up the Tiwi Islands, which lie about 80 kilometres north of Darwin. There are two ways to get to the island either by a light aircraft or the thrice weekly ferry from Darwin.  Both transportation modes are wonderfully scenic.

You have to remember that tourism is restricted and so are visitors.  You need to get a permit to visit and even then you have to go on a pre-arranged tour with an Aboriginal guide.  You can apply for your permit online or from the office of the Tiwi Land Council on Bathurst Island.  It is far more convenient to let the tour operators organise your visit and permit.

You can do a one or two day tour of the island.  The facilities and amenities on the island are rather basic and there are no hotels or places to stay except for a couple of remote fishing lodges.  While there are food and general stores, the locals still follow the traditional fishing and hunting customs to meet their food needs.  It is an important part of their community lives. Tour operators however, do provide meals and camp-style accommodation for overnight stays.

Once on the island, the experiences are absolutely terrific. The pleasures of Bathurst Island can be placed in two distinct categorises.  One is the natural and scenic side and the other is the people.

The Aboriginal population call themselves the Tiwi, which translates to people, so saying Tiwi people is a redundancy.  One of the treats in visiting Bathurst Island is the arts and crafts of the Tiwi.  The main community is Wurrumiyanga, previously called Nguiu.

You get a first hand and close-up feel for the art and everyday life of the Tiwi.  You can watch and marvel at the artists while they work.  Their batik and silk clothes, woven bangles, vividly painted conch shells, wood carvings and pottery are splendid.  Wood carvings generally have birds that are sacred and meaningful to the Tiwi.   Some really good carvings are on display at the Mission Heritage Gallery and the Tiwi Designs Art Centre.

The Tiwi culture is rather unique.  Back in 1911, Father Gsell, a Catholic priest convinced the government to give him land on the island to build a mission.  Fortunately he did not carry out too many conversions and what has evolved is a very unusual mix of Tiwi Aboriginal traditions and customs and Christian doctrines, signs symbols and texts.

An outstanding representation of this cultural mash-up is the lovely wooden church built sometime during the 1930s.  Another is the beautifully decorated and colourful burial poles, called pukamanis that dot the countryside.  They mark burial sites and some of them are more than 10 feet tall.

The scenic part of your tour takes you along beautiful coastlines, sandy beaches, through rainforests, waterfalls and inviting rock pools where you can take a dip if you are so minded.  Some of the plants and animals are totally unique to Bathurst Island.  One of the most enduring sights is the cycad trees.  They look like a cross between ferns and palm trees, with a single thick trunk and a crown of large green feather-like leaves.  In fact the name Wurrumiyanga means “the place where cycads grow.”

I found out Bathurst is a privately owned island.  In 1978 ownership was formally handed back to the Tiwi people.  Today the island is run by the Tiwi Land Council and they have done a good job of it.

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Hop-on Hop-off Sydney

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Hop-on Hop-off Sydney Bus Tour; Credit - express000
Whether you drive, stroll or take a bus through Sydney you cannot help but notice that it is a really beautiful city. It sprawls around one of the most beautiful harbours in the world – Port Jackson more famously known as Sydney Harbour. The presence of rivers and the sea; the numerous inlets and coves that make up the city all means that the place is chock-a-block with the sails of hundreds of boats. This makes for a wonderfully picturesque setting.

Research has shown that the Sydney area has been inhabited by humans for over 30,000 years but modern settlements came up after James Cook landed at Botany Bay in 1770. The site of the first town in Australia was at Sydney Cove in 1778, which was a penal colony. Today the city is spread out over the surrounding hills and coastal areas that include the famous Bondi and Manly Beaches.

Despite the dominating presence of water, Sydney also boasts some really attractive and well-maintained parks and green areas such as Hyde Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens. The city is also surrounded by several National Parks.

Along with natural beauty, Sydney offers great shopping and dining experiences. The best eating places are around the beaches and waterfronts. It also hosts many international sports events and arts festivals.

Sydney enjoys generally fine weather and is a great place to visit throughout the year. It has plenty of sunshine and fabulously blue skies. So the hop-on-hop-off open top bus tour is a great and most convenient way to see the city and that too at your own pace. It allows you to follow your own sightseeing plans.

The hop-on-hop-off bus tour includes stops at the following places:

•    Circular Quay
•    Wynard Arcade
•    Queen Victoria Building
•    Town Hall
•    William St
•    Kings Cross
•    El Alamein Fountain
•    Woolloomoolloo Bay
•    Sydney Opera House
•    Botanical Gardens – (Scenic walk to
•    Mrs Macquarie Chair)
•    Parliament House/NSW Library
•    Hyde Park
•    Australian Museum
•    Central Station
•    Power House Museum
•    Sydney Fish Market
•    Star City Casino
•    Maritime Museum
•    Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre
•    Imax/Chinese Gardens
•    Sydney Aquarium
•    King St Wharf
•    Campbells Cove
•    The Rocks

Notes:
•    The tours include full English commentary. Some include entry fees to several attractions.
•    They don’t include meals, drinks, tips and gratuities.
•    Children below 4 years old are free of charge, provided they do not occupy a seat.
 

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10 Things for Adrenaline Junkies to do in Tasmania

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The Nut, Stanley Tasmania

The unique topography of the Tasman Peninsula boasts of several exciting adrenalin sports and activities. Adrenaline junkies won’t lack for thrills, whether it’s scuba diving, rock climbing, skiing, kayaking or other activities.


1. Scuba Diving
Tasmania is surrounded by many beautiful bays all rich in marine life. One can access all these sites by boat. On the East Coast Dive Trail, divers can explore shipwreck sites from way back as 1779. The west coast is wild and only hardy divers can attempt the waters here.

2. Snorkeling
Snorkelers have much to explore in Tasmania, particularly along the east coast. The clear blue waters allow snorkelers to play with the soft and hard corals, and enjoy the multi-hued marine life.

3. Surfing
You can enjoy some large waves on the Bass Strait, and in Hobart where the high swells delight pipe-surfers. There are 6 surf spots in the North Coast, 11 in the east, 15 in Hobart and SE, and 17 in the west coast. Shipstern Bluff is the most challenging surfing location in Australia.

4. Sea Kayaking
Kayaking is a great way to catch the best sights, both above and below the water. Sign up for a sea kayaking tour to explore the Southwest Area of Tasmania which is chock full of remote islands, wild rivers and wilderness harbors. Don’t forget to explore Wineglass Bay and the Great Oyster Bay by kayak.

5. Skiing
The Australian ski season is between June and September. Tasmania is one of the tree states to experience sufficient snow for annual skiing. Visit the Ben Lomond National Park’s premier ski resort and Mount Mawson in the Mount Field National Park for the best skiing in Tasmania.

6. Snowboarding
Most ski villages offer snowboarding as well. Snowboarding is great fun, especially when your snowboard hurtles down a steep slope, such as the one on the Ben Lomond plateau. The stunning scenery and diverse wildlife make snowboarding here a very popular experience.

7. Rock Climbing
Climbers crowd here to try the Totem Pole, a spectacular free-standing dolerite rock pillars that spears straight out of the water. With sharks and volatile tides at the bottom, climbing this rock is a say-hello-to-death kind of endeavor.

8. Wilderness Sport Climbing
Try wilderness sport climbing over the huge boulders at Adamsfield, ranging from light slopes to steep roofs. This wilderness range presents a challenge to the fittest of climbers, as the effort requires quite a bit of trekking as well.

9. Mountain Climbing
The 1270 meter tall Mt. Wellington in Hobart is a mountain climber’s delight. Cataract George in Launceston offers a great variety of climbing experiences as well. The Freycinet Peninsula offers the Hazards, a fabulous 300m high, pink granite dome to the climber.

10. Abseiling
The beauty of Cataract Gorge is vied only by its reputation as a climber’s paradise. More than 300 rocks are available for climbing in the lower gorge, with another 550 climbs up to the Trevallyn Dam. Climbers start with abseiling and then move into climbing, guided by professional climbers.
 

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Sydney Harbour Bridge

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Sydney Harbour BridgeCall it iconic, symbolic, the gateway, the most famous, distinctive, landmark or whatever, but the Sydney Harbour Bridge is really Australia’s most well-known badge of recognition.  Oh yes!  The locals call it ‘The Coathanger.’

When it was officially opened on 19th March 1932, an estimated crowd of between 300,000 and a million people lined the shores around the harbour to witness it.

Construction work on the Sydney Harbour Bridge began in 1924. The first suggestion to build a bridge connecting the northern and southern shores of the harbour came as far back as 1815. The suggestion was put forward by a ‘convict,’ and architect, Francis Greenway. It was only in 1900 that design submissions were invited with the approved design, by Dr. J C Bradfield, accepted in March 1924.

There is still an ongoing debate (heated at times) as to which bridge is the model for the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The two contenders are the smaller Tyne Bridge in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England and the Hell Gate Bridge in New York, USA.

Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb:  To get an absolutely stunning 360° view of Sydney and the Blue Mountains you have to take the Bridge Climb. This guided climb started in 1998 with tours, of 12 to 14 people, leaving every 10 minutes or so. The round trip takes roughly three and a half hours. There are also twilight and night tours when you can catch a fabulous sunset or the city as she lights up.

At around US$200, the price is a bit steep (pun intended).

Some Interesting Facts about Sydney Harbour Bridge
 
Length of arch span:  503 metres

Height of top of arch: 134 metres about mean sea level

Height of aircraft beacon:  141 metres above mean sea level

World’s Largest: It is the world’s longest single steel arch bridge

Total length of bridge: 1149 metres including approach spans

Bearing Pins: Each of the four pins measures 4.2 metres long and 368 millimetres in diameter

Number of rivets:  Approximately 6 million

Largest rivet: Weighed 3.5 kilograms and was 395 millimetres long

Allowance for arch expansion: The arch may rise or fall 18 centimetres due to heating or cooling

Record tonnage erected: 589 tonnes of steelwork was erected on the arch in one day on 26th November 1929

Load Test: The Bridge was test loaded using up to 96 steam locomotives placed in various configurations

Paint required:  272,000 litres of paint were required to give the Bridge its initial three coats

Users:  When it opened you could walk or ride across on a horse or in a horse carriage.  Sadly, you cannot today. You can however still walk or bicycle across

Traffic: Eight vehicle lanes, two train lines, a footway and a cycleway

Flying Under The Bridge: Several sorties were flown in the 1940s, particularly in 1942 and 1943.  I don’t think it is allowed anymore
 

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10 Fast Facts about Sydney

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Sydney Harbour

Sydney, the capital of New South Wales is the largest, oldest and most cosmopolitan city in Australia. The city, which is also home to the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, has some interesting facts about it. Read on for our collection:

1. Sydney is the 73rd most populous city in the world. It is also the 21st most-expensive city in the world.

2. The local nickname for the Sydney Harbour Bridge is the ‘Coat Hanger’, because of its arch-based design. The Bridge is 1511.3 feet wide; and took over 8 years to build it.

3. The Rocks in Sydney is one of the most-visited sites. Called the “birthplace of Sydney”, some of Sydney’s oldest pubs can be found here. You’ll also find a maze of cul-de-sacs and courtyards, with historic buildings sitting next to vibrant modern cafes.

4. Sydney Tower is the city’s tallest building. You can have a great view of the city at the top of the tower.

5. Sydney Opera House holds 5 theatres. You can take a guided tour that’ll take you backstage to learn more about this world-renowned landmark. Approximately 4.5 million people visit the Sydney Opera House a year.

6. A resident of Sydney is known as a Sydneysider.

7. In terms of variety, the Fish Markets of Sydney rank as the 2nd largest in the world.

8. The main languages spoken in Sydney are English, Chinese and Arabic.

9. The Sydney Funnel web spider is considered the world’s most deadly spider. It is the only spider that has killed people in less than 2 hours.

10. Being Australia’s first and largest city, Sydney – also known as ‘Sin City’ – was wanted to be the capital of Australia, but its convict stigma counted against it.

What other interesting or weird facts have you got about Sydney? We would like to hear from you!

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New Year’s Kiss

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New Year's Kiss A friend once told me that her New Year’s resolution was to be kissed as the clock struck twelve on the first day of the New Year. So here are some great and different places that I would suggest for that magical kiss with that special someone:

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Famous for its Carnival, Rio is also great destination any other time of year. This is one of the few times of the year that the locals join the tourists for a great time! This celebration is on par with their Carnival and the fireworks are absolutely amazing. Dress up in white and share that New Years kiss on the beaches of Rio! And you cannot come all the way to Brazil without experiencing its rainforests, can you?

Venice, Italy

This small city in Italy is perfect for a New Year’s kiss. On the last night of the year, many restaurants in Venice have feasts starting from 9p.m. and lasting until midnight, with great food and cheap wine. Also, in St. Mark’s Square there is a huge celebration with music, fireworks and a huge group kiss at midnight. And nothing spells romantic like a gondola ride through the canals of Venice!

Cape Town, South Africa

Welcome the New Year dancing in Cape Town! Some of the hottest parties and celebrations are held in this seaside city, and you can have your special New Years Kiss while on the beach. You of course will have to try the wine while in South Africa, for it rivals even Italy for quality!

Hong Kong, China

Although the Chinese Lunar New Year does not coincide with December 31st, there are still celebrations held in Hong Kong! You will not be at a loss to find a popping party the night of. Top the Hong Kong experience off with your New Years kiss while LED lights count down the last 60 seconds of the old year! You cannot forget the wonderful beauty outside Hong Kong either, for China is home to some of the most breathtaking sights.

Sydney, Australia

Although not as typically romantic as European cities, Sydney has a lot to offer. Enjoy your New Year’s kiss as some of the first New Year’s fireworks in the world explode in the night sky amid music! The best part of being in Sydney at the end of the year is that it is not wintertime; you will be coming in the height of summer. You can spend your days at the beach, dolphin spotting and enjoying the Australian lifestyle!

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A Meal & Vintage Melbourne Tramcar Ride

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Melbourne’s Colonial Tramcar Restaurant is truly fabulous. You get so much in one place even though that place is mobile. Imagine moving slowly through Melbourne’s beautiful streets and the night lights in all their glory while having a great meal. It makes for a wonderful evening. Or you could do lunch as you watch the city going about its business.

For over thirty years, three 1927 classic converted tramcars have been cruising Melbourne’s streets giving people a unique visual treat while satisfying their tummies. These vintage, rich burgundy coloured tramcars have sumptuous and beautifully designed interiors reminiscent of a bygone era.

Each tramcar travels on a separate fixed route through southern Melbourne, seven days a week, the whole year around. They start and terminate near the Melbourne Exhibition Centre and opposite the Crown Casino. These tramcar restaurants seat thirty-six guests but you don’t feel cramped for space. Due to scheduling constraints trams have to leave on time and don’t wait around for latecomers, so be there at least 15 minutes before the scheduled time.

There are three outings – one for lunch and two dinners. The meals are fixed both in price and menu but the good news is that unlimited alcohol is included in the price. The meals are pre-cooked and heated prior to being served on the tram. While the food is very good, the drawback is that the choice is limited and so are the drinks.

The menu for Luncheon is a 4-course meal ($82.50), Early Dinner a 3-course meal ($77.00) and the Late Dinner is a sumptuous 5-course meal ($121) so quantities are not a problem and you won’t go hungry. Be prepared for lots of meat! Oh yes, the staff, are good old Aussie friendly, attentive and quick to fill your glass.

 

Oh! You will need to book well in advance because this is a very popular thing to do.  Whether you book online or make your reservations at the Tramcar Restaurant office you will have pay up, in full, up front.

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By Land, Sea and Air: The Best Things to do in Cairns, Australia

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CairnsCairns, Australia is a magnificent fusion of sea, land and air. Its close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest make it a fantastic destination for travellers from all over the world. There are plenty of things to do and after travelling to Cairns and being swept off my feet by its beauty, I’ve realised that the best way to get the most out of your trip to Cairns is by designating time for activities on land, in water and in the air.

Land

Cairns is nearby some of the most majestic rainforests in the world. Daintree Rainforest is the world’s oldest surviving rainforest and the largest continuous stretch of rainforest in Australia. Having said that, it only takes up about 0.1% of Australia’s land mass, yet is home to 30% of the country’s frog, reptile and marsupial population. Daintree is part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Site, in particular because some of the oldest species of plants grow here including 7 families of ancient fern. Daintree is also unique in that its dense tropic forest ends on the very edge of white sandy beaches leading to crystalline sea water. If you are interested in exploring this exotic and ancient rainforest, we offer a Cape Tribulation & Daintree Rainforest Tour From Cairns that takes visitors on a life changing trip through the primordial forest.

For those animal lovers out there, a trip to Cairns offers several opportunities to come into close contact with some of the strangest creatures in the world. The Cairns Zoo presents the unique opportunity to explore the zoo at night and meet its nocturnal residents. Late-night visitors are treated to a true Aussie barbeque and then led by torch through the dark zoo. It’s a spooky adventure that I would do again in a heartbeat. I even got to pet a koala, which made my night.

Petting a Koala

For those who want to see animals in the daylight, there are plenty of ways to do that too. The Rainforestation Nature Park is an excellent option because it combines exploration of the rainforest with Australia’s largest Koala and Wildlife Sanctuary. Rainforestation is part of a 100 acre World Heritage Park and offers visitors truly unique activities such as riding an army duck through murky rivers under the canopy of one of the most beautiful rainforests in the world. While I was there I held a koala, threw a boomerang (I ran away instead of trying to catch it when it came hurtling back at me) and tried my best to play the didgeridoo.

If you happen to have an unappeasable desire to see some crocodiles up close and personal, then head over to Hartley’s Crocodile Adventure. At Hartley’s, you get the opportunity to see the terrifying head shake and death roll of some of the largest crocodiles you’ll ever see. You also get the chance to hold a crocodile (I opted to take a picture kissing the nose of a baby croc…of course, his mouth was rubber banded shut so it wasn’t the scary ordeal that it sounds like it could be.) You can also go to the Snake Show and discover some of the most deadly snakes in the world, including the Australian Brown Snake, one of which slithered by my foot while hiking in the outback on a separate trip to Australia. I highly recommend seeing one at the Snake Show instead… Crocodile

Sea

Underwater World
Of course, what Cairns is best known for is its location right on the Great Barrier Reef. Visitors from all over the world come to swim with the thousands of tropical fish, explore the islands just off the coast from Cairns and cultivate their tan in the hot Australian sun. The number one thing to do, at least in my opinion, is to explore the aquamarine depths of the reef. It is an entirely foreign aquatic world down there, just waiting to be explored. There are plenty of ways to get to the reef, one of which is by a Quicksilver Catamaran which boasts an impressive Underwater Observatory and acts a platform from which you can go snorkelling. The observatory is perfect for those wanting to see all of the brightly-coloured fish without getting wet (some of my friends staying on the boat and actually watched us swim up to the window of the observatory).

For those wanting to dive a bit deeper into the good ol’ ocean blue, diving expeditions are the ways to go. Whether you are diving at night, diving with sharks or just plain old diving, the experience is sure to be one you will never forget. Inky blue water below, turquoise water above and thousands of fish all around comprise the traditional dive. If you want to stay out on the water for longer than an afternoon, 3 and 4-day Diving and Marine Life Cruises are available. They are essentially aquatic hotels that allow you to get the most out what is sure to be a surreal diving experience. Boat

If you are simply looking for a romantic and relaxed time on the water, Cairns is the perfect place to be. There are a number of Evening Dinner Cruises that are perfect for a dreamy night with your beloved. Gaze at the mangroves that line the water as you sip on champagne, let the delicious food and gentle rocking of the boat lull you into contentment and gaze at the stars in the arms of your sweetie on the deck. It certainly will be a delightful evening not soon forgotten.

Of course, not all of the things to do in Cairns are stress-free. Thrill seekers can get their adrenaline pumping on a Tully River Rafting Excursion. The tour takes you on an incredibly fun white water rafting excursion through the rainforest. It’s led by expert guides and concludes with a delicious meal cooked on the ‘barbie’.

Air

Who doesn’t dream about flying every once in awhile? To be honest, I can’t imagine a prettier place to fly over than the emerald jungles and hypnotic turquoise waters of Cairns.

Plane

Now, there are two main ways of seeing Cairns from above. The first is with a Scenic Flight that takes you from the wild rainforests to the white cays and aquamarine ocean. The flight will take you over the Great Dividing Range in the rainforest near Cairns. You may feel like you are flying through a scene from Jurassic Park (I know I did). The rainforests really do look as ancient as they are. From the sky above the rainforest, you will travel to the coast. It is a surreal experience, looking out at the reef from your plane and seeing the shimmering colours of the coral refracted by the water above them. For those who, after seeing the water, need to be in the water, there are also flights that will then stop and allow you to go Snorkelling at Sandy Cay.

Another, more leisurely way to explore the sky space above Cairns is via Hot Air Balloon . Of course, in true Aussie fashion, the balloon flight isn’t entirely relaxed. While up in the balloon, you will get to experience a balloon chase, which is essentially exactly what it sounds like: Your balloon will chase another balloon across wide open country and vice versa. It’s a very fun time and not stressful in the slightest, but it does add a bit of pace to the otherwise lovely, leisurely and scenic flight.

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Exploring the Dreaming Rock: The 5 Best Things to Do at Uluru (Ayers Rock), Australia

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Uluru To the aborigines of the wild and desolate Australian outback, Uluru is a sacred and mystical site. To travellers from around the world, Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is a thing of wonder and mystery. Uluru is one of Australia’s most distinctive landmarks. The giant red rock rises out of the land like the sun rises above the horizon, inspiring photographers, painters and nature-lovers with its exquisiteness. When I first gazed upon the Dreaming rock, I was astounded by the natural beauty and spiritual energy vibrating through the air.

Uluru towers above the earth, reaching 318m at its highest points. It is made of arkrose sandstone and is 8km in circumference. It is considered an inselberg, which literally means “island mountain” and stands along with the nearby Kata Tjuta formation as the only two testaments to the evolution of the earth in an otherwise flat landscape. Archaeological findings suggest that humans first settled in the area around Uluru approximately 10,000 years ago. Europeans first explored the area in 1872 when Ernest Giles first mapped Uluru and named it Ayers Rock.

The Anangu, the aboriginal people who have lived near the formation for hundreds of years, consider Uluru a sacred dreaming site. The Dreamtime was when the great spirits created everything upon the earth. The concept of ‘Dreaming’ can refer to several things; it can be an individual’s spirituality, such as when a man or woman says they are part of Kangaroo Dreaming or Dingo Dreaming. ‘Dreaming’ is also the place where each person’s spirit lives eternally. The aborigines believe that every spirit existed before its time on earth in the Dreaming and that it continues to exist after the death of the body. The Dreaming pervades every aspect of an aboriginal Australian’s life. It is a complex and unique network of stories, faith, knowledge and practices. The aborigines believe that there is a hollow space beneath Uluru that houses Tjukurpa, the Dreamtime.

1) Discover the Legends surrounding Uluru- Visit the Museum

In order to visit Uluru, visitors must buy passes to enter the park. These can be purchased through our Uluru Pass. Once you have entered the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, it is best to begin your adventure by visiting the cultural centre located near Uluru’s base. Not only does the centre have an extensive list of all of the activities happening in the park but also introduces you to the culture of the Anangu. The centre presents material relating to traditional culture and park history. The entrance to the cultural centre tells the story of the Anangu people and the various aboriginal beliefs and stories that involve Uluru. There is also an art centre in the vicinity that sells incredibly intricate aboriginal art. It’s nearly impossible to resist buying the incredible pieces they have in the store (I bought a hand-woven aboriginal pillow cover that reminds me of Uluru every time I sit down on my couch). Uluru

2) See Uluru from Every Angle

When you see Uluru, you realize why the aborigines believe it to be the centre of their spiritual existence. The sheer size of it is enough to inspire awe in anyone. The colour of it reminds me of the embers of a fire; the oranges and reds seem to intensify as the sun moves on its path through the day. To really experience the majesty of Uluru, you need to get up close and personal with the giant monolith. Our Uluru Pass, besides getting you into the park, also includes several walking tours. Visitors to the park can walk around the entire base of Uluru, while also witnessing the flora and fauna of the beautiful Outback. Keep a sharp eye out for Malu (red kangaroos) and echidnas as they are not found anywhere else in the world outside of Australia. Explorers and adventures can also discover the rugged beauty of the Kata Tjuta formation. Kata Tjuta is close to Uluru and with its deep gorges, unique rock colouring and exotic flora it is not a destination to be missed.

3) Experience Night-time in the Outback

A night in Uluru There is nothing like the outback after the sun has gone down. Stars blaze brightly above, the air gets cool and refreshing and if you listen closely, you may hear the lonely sound of a dingo’s far-off howl. Star gazers and romantics will find the Sounds of Silence Dinner particularly entrancing. Diners get to sample real bush tucker, including kangaroo, emu and barramundi, and sip on champagne as the sun sets on Uluru. After the delicious dinner experience, explore the heavenly stars above with an experienced Star Talker who will walk with you through the net of constellations hanging in the sky. Night in the Red Centre is an otherworldly experience; my friends and I felt as if we had travelled through the mists of time back to a primordial land.

4) Take to the Skies above the Red Centre

The Anangu consider Uluru to be one of their most sacred sites. When tourism began in Uluru, they were dismayed to witness visitors climbing up and down Uluru’s lofted peaks. Today, the local indigenous community requests that visitors do not climb Uluru. The path that leads to the top of the monolith crosses a sacred dreaming path, a fact that has caused the traditional owners of the rock much anguish. Though the path is still accessible, it has become smooth over the years from visitors’ feet and the path remains closed for most of the year. Those who wish to see what Uluru looks like from above but desire to respect the wishes of the Anangu will delight in a breath-taking Helicopter ride over Uluru and Kata Tjuta. If you choose to see the formations this way, you will witness some of the most awe-inspiring views Australia has to offer.

5) Experience the Bushman Lifestyle

A trip to the outback is not complete without experiencing the bushman’s lifestyle. Bushmen are the wild cowboys of the outback; they drive cattle, work farms and sheer sheep on a farm circuit they call the Wallaby Track. Needless to say, Bushmen are a fiery bunch (think Hugh Jackman’s rough and tough portrayal of a drover in the blockbuster Australia). Bushmen, after a long day’s work droving cattle, often sit around the campfire telling stories and eating bush tucker. You too can experience this sort of lifestyle, albeit in a slightly more comfortable way, by setting off on the Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon 3 days camping safari. Campers will explore Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon over the course of three days, with two nights lodging in the permanent campsites at Uluru and Kings Canyon that boast off-the-ground beds and a hearty supply of bush tucker.

The Outback

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