Blues Fest Byron Bay top 10 in the world- Travel_Tips


International music powerhouse Billboard has named Bluesfest among the best music festivals in the world.The Byron Bay Easter staple has come in at number 7 on Billboard's list of top musical festivals for 2016, and is the only Australian entry in the top 10.

Top billing for 2016 went to California's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival with 579,000 attendees in six days and gross ticket revenue sales of more than US $78 million.

Bluesfest Byron Bay entered the list just after Lollapalooza Chile.

The Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm recorded in 2016 a total of 104,526 attendees in five days, with a total gross in ticket prices of more than US$13 million, according to Billboard.

After Byron Bay's Bluesfest, the list ends with Lollapalooza Argentina and Brazil in top 8 and 9, plus the Mexican Corona Capital Festival in tenth position.

Bluesfest has also been nominated in the 2016 Annual Pollstar Awards in the category of International Music Festival of the Year.

The Byron Bay event is nominated among Barclaycard British Summer Time Hyde Park (London, UK), Glastonbury Festival -(Pilton, UK) Lollapalooza Berlin (Germany), Primavera Sound (Barcelona, Spain) and Rock Werchter (Werchter, Belgium).

Bluesfest has been nominated for the award for the 5th year in a row, and the 7th time overall.

The 27th Bluesfest was held over the 2016 Easter long weekend, and featured headliners Kendrick Lamar, The National, Brian Wilson, Tom Jones, D'Angelo, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and many more. Bluesfest has been recognised alongside international festival heavyweights The Barclaycard British Summer Time Hyde Park (UK), The Glastonbury Festival (UK), Lollapalooza Berlin (Germany), Primavera Sound (Spain) and Rock Werchter (Belgium).

The 28th Annual Pollstar Awards will be held on Thursday, February 2, at The Novo in Los Angeles (Friday, February 3 in Australia).

The Pollstar Awards honour artists, management, talent buyers, venues, support services and more for their professionalism, achievements and abilities. Winners are determined by votes from agents, managers and promoters of concerts around the world.

The 28th Bluesfest will take place over the Easter long weekend from Thursday to Monday, April 13 to 17 and will features headliners Santana, Zac Brown Band, Patti Smith, Buddy Guy and Mary J. Blige, among others.

Flights from Newcastle to Ballina-Byron Bay Airport with FlyPelican starts from $99. 

*This article first appeared in the Northern Star 

Five favourite beaches in Port Stephens - Travel_Australia

Summer is escaping us, make the most of the warm weather and head to Port Stephens to soak up some sun at these beautiful beaches.


Shoal Bay Beach

A photo posted by Stefanie (@stef.ghray) on

Well this is a beautiful part of the world, an idyllic destination for visitors and locals alike. There are a few great eateries just near the beach and the renowned Shoal Bay wharf for some jetty jumping.


Fingal Bay Beach

A local favourite that’s perfect for swimming and catching a wave. After your refreshing dip, bring your camera and take the 30 minute walk along the white sandy beach before relaxing at the cafe or grabbing a take away coffee, burger or ice-cream.


One Mile Beach

A photo posted by Megan Dear 🌙 (@dearhooves) on

Home to rockpools for adventure and exploring. One Mile stretches along a vast amount of coastline which means plenty of sand and water to surf, boogie board or simply try to get that perfect tan. Great milkshakes at the little takeaway.


Corlette Beach

There’s no better place than Roy Wood Reserve at Corlette on the high tide. A small calm water bay with a picnic area to cook a snag so grab an esky and a chair and watch the sun drop behind the horizon. Great for kids.


Boat Harbour

A photo posted by @karynonthebay on

A private cove inside of Tomaree National Park. Featuring a lovely, secluded beach, it’s a great area for swimming and snorkelling on a sunny day and is a wonderful place for a family day out by the sea.


This post originally appeared on portstephensblog.com.au and was republished here with permission. 


Top things to do in Lake Macquarie this summer - Travel_Australia

Lake Macquarie comes alive in summer. The sparkling Lake will be scattered with boats, jet skis, and kayaks as water-lovers make the most of the vast waterway, and the beaches will be full of people soaking up the sun. 

Lake Macquarie is a glittering jewel in our region and definitely a place you should spend some time this summer. Here are the top five things you should do in Lake Macquarie: 


  1. Hire a bike from the automatic bike hire station at Warners Bay. Cycle around the foreshore and finish the afternoon with an ice cream or cool drink from one of the establishments across the road.
  2. Spend a day picnicking and boating. Some top places for a day out with the boat include Pelican Foreshore and Croudace Bay Park.
  3. Head to Warners Bay Foreshore on a Friday evening and enjoy the live entertainment at Music on The Podium.
  4. Swim, surf and relax at one of the four patrolled beaches in Lake Macquarie. Each beach has something unique to offer. One of the highlights is exploring the caves at Caves Beach.
  5. Enjoy a relaxing stroll along of the many walking trails, or get back to nature on an invigorating bushwalk through one of the forests.

Originally posted by Lake Macquarie City on visitlakemac.com.au

Lake Macquarie is a 55 minute drive from Newcastle Airport and at twice the size of Sydney Harbour is the largest permanent salt water lake in the Southern Hemisphere.

FlyPelican adds Newcastle to Ballina / Byron Bay - Travel_Australia

This summer you can skip the gridlock on the Pacific Highway and fly direct to the Ballina-Byron region.

FlyPelican will commence flights between Newcastle Airport and Ballina Byron Gateway Airport on Monday, 7 December 2015 (subject to regulatory approval). 

This announcement is excellent news for holiday-makers planning to head north during the busy summer holiday period. The flight time from Newcastle to Ballina (Byron Bay) is one hour and 20 minutes, which in our opinion, beats almost seven hours on the road if you were to drive the same distance.

"This announcement by FlyPelican is excellent news for our region,” said Newcastle Airport’s CEO Dr Peter Cock.

"It is heartening to see that locally-based FlyPelican, which only started operations in June, has seen this as an opportunity to grow their regional network.”

“Coming into the busy summer holiday period, I am confident that the people of the Hunter will support this new service when it starts; just as they have supported FlyPelican’s Newcastle – Canberra and Newcastle – Sydney services,” concluded Peter.

And with fares starting from $99 one-way (inclusive of all taxes), it beats the price of fuel! 

Book at www.flypelican.com.au



Why you should go to the Melbourne Cup - Travel_Australia

I went to the Melbourne Cup and I didn’t place a bet. I was so caught up in the revelry and the sunshine that I also almost forgot to watch the main event!

My experience at Flemington was raucous. More than 100,000 people were yelling and cheering, commentating and cajoling, buying drinks and spilling them. Yet when race time rolled around, the crowd held its collective breath and gazed uniformly in the direction of track.

The anticipation was palpable, the atmosphere: magic.

You should go to the Melbourne Cup even if you’re not a big racing fan.

The Cup has become an Australian institution, in its 150+ year history it’s become an icon of both the racing and fashion calendars.

The Melbourne Cup is held on the first Tuesday of November every year, but the Cup-day festivities begin long before the horses bolt with race-goers commencing the hunt for headwear and fancy outfits weeks, even months, in advance. It’s the perfect excuse to treat yourself to a nice little outfit for the big day.

Sure the horses are the main event, but the fashion and frivolity is what really makes the day fun – so much so that you too might forget to place a bet!

You can still win your fortune without a win on the track.
Myer Fashions on the Field, first staged in the 60s to encourage more women to attend the races, has become one of Australia’s most exciting outdoor fashion events. In 2015 the total prize pool is valued at up to $140,000. Winners are awarded in various categories and have the ability to take home the coveted national title along with some incredible prizes, including a Lexus IS 300h Sport and a $6,000 Myer Shopping Spree. With prizes like that, it’s no wonder the competition is so popular and the standard is so high!


Fashions on the Field attracts celebrity judges from around the world and has previously brought Dita Von Teese, Coco Rocha, and Tyson Beckford as guest judges. The competition has become something of an icon in its own right.


The Melbourne Cup race day is the focal point its namesake racing carnival: The Melbourne Cup Carnival. The carnival kicks off mid-September and culminates in early November.

Book your tickets to the cup here.

Jetstar has flights to Melbourne from Newcastle starting from $69*

Virgin Australia flights start from $99*

Flemington Racecourse is a 20-minute drive from Melbourne Airport and a 15-minute drive from the Melbourne CBD.

*Price correct as at 29 September 2015

Top 10 nature experiences in Port Stephens - Travel Australia

Port Stephens is a haven for dolphins, whales, beautiful beaches, and National Parks. Here are ten ways to get in touch with nature in Port Stephens.

  1. Dive right in

    Hit the water with your snorkel and goggles to discover a thriving underwater oasis at our famous Fly Point Park located between Nelson Bay and Little Beach.

  2.  Catch a break

    Port Stephens is known for its beautiful surf beaches from Samurai and One Mile to Birubi Beach, Zenith and Box Beach. Take a surfing lesson and learn beach safety tips, as well as basic board and surf skills.

  3. On your bike

    Port Stephens is a great place to explore by bike! From rugged mountain biking along coastal tracks to family friendly cycle paths. Bring your own, join an organised tour or hire a bike once here.

  4. Take a hike

    Walk to the top of Tomaree Headland Lookout to enjoy striking views of Port Stephens and the offshore islands. It will take you about half an hour or so to reach the top but it is well worth the effort. Video footage of the walk. Check out the view from above using a drone.

  5. Talk to the animals

    Enjoy a day out with the kids... bottle feed baby farm animals, get close to the kangaroos and koalas or plan a guided walk with Tilligerry Habitat to look for koalas in their natural environment.

  6. Something to spout about!

    With over 140 bottlenose dolphins calling Port Stephens home, it’s no wonder these friendly locals are sighted so often. And, from May to November, the waters off Port Stephens play host to the magnificent migrating humpback whales.

  7. Sandsational dunes!

    The Worimi Conservation Lands (Stockton Bight Sand Dunes) are truly one of natures’ masterpieces, stretching 32 kilometres these are the largest dunes of their kind in the southern hemisphere. Explore by foot, camel or horse, in your own 4WD, on a quad bike or join a 4WD tour and sandboard down 40 metre high dunes! Awesome! Watch some footage of this spectacular place.

  8. Hull lot of love

    There’s a hull lot to love about Port Stephens if you’re into boats. BYOB or hire a yacht, jet ski, kayak, ski boat or cruiser and discover the rivers, bays, marinas, islands and off-shore adventures for old sea dogs and the little tackers.

  9. Wet your appetite
    Take a marine park day cruise, see the dolphins, visit Cabbage Tree Island, snorkel right under NSW oldest lighthouse on Fingal Island, hoist sail past the most scenic landscape on the NSW coast past volcanic islands and the magnificent Yacaaba and Tomaree headlands. Visit Broughton Island for a guided overnight camping adventure. See the little penguins, go snorkeling and enjoy breathtaking walks. Spend some time in the glorious Myall Lakes area, which boasts calm, glass-like waters and silence you have to hear to believe.

  10. Port Stephens - Great Lakes Marine Parks
    One of Australia's most extraordinary marine playgrounds, the Port Stephens - Great Lakes Marine Park is something to behold. The Park is home to many species; dolphins, turtles, fish, seabirds, sponge gardens, mangroves, saltmarshes, as well as some very special threatened species species and Indigenous heritage sites. Each year humpback whales linger along the Marine Park coastline during their annual migration north to rub barnacles from their sides on the reef offshore. 

This post was originally published on portstephens.org.au and has been reposted here with full permission.

Why you should visit Canberra with kids - Travel_Australia

Canberra is our nation’s capital, the home of Australian Parliament, and probably not the first place you think of when dreaming up a family holiday.

But, it should be. There is much more to Canberra than parliament and politicians. Here’s a list of reasons you should visit Canberra with kids.

Because Jurassic Park is cool again



Image source: nationaldinosaurmuseum.com.au/blog 

At the National Dinosaur Museum you’re greeted by full-size model dinosaurs before being taken on a journey through time; from the earth’s very beginnings to some more recent animals. 

For the aspiring archaeologist or simply a curious kid, the National Dinosaur Museum is sure to keep your children amused with its 23 skeletons, 300 fossils, and a Q&A sheet to guide you around the exhibits with the reward of a Dinosaur Hunting Licence at the end.

Find out more at: nationaldinosaurmuseum.com.au  

To tour the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS)


Image source: facebook.com/theAIS 

The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) is the cradle of Australia’s sporting success; it identifies, develops, and produces Olympic and Paralympic Champions.

A tour of the AIS will take you behind-the-scenes of world-class facilities where you might even catch some of Australia’s top athletes in training.

Every tour includes a Sportex experience where you can try wheelchair basketball, virtual downhill skiing, rock climbing, football penalty shootouts, and explore educational exhibits on the Sydney 2000 Olympics, heroes and legends of Australian sports, and sports science.

Visit ausport.gov.au/ais for more information. 


To begin a quest for knowledge


Image source: questacon.edu.au 

One of the best things to do in Canberra – regardless of your age – is to visit Questacon. Questacon is Australia's National Science and Technology Centre and cleverly disguises learning as fun, interactive games. If you want to highlight the educational factors, there are interpretive signs that explain what is going on scientifically.

Highlights include experiencing the effects of an earthquake in the Awesome Earth exhibit, testing your fear response on the six-metre free-fall down a vertical slide, and tricking your senses in the Rototron tunnel as it turns LEDs on and off to generate the visual illusion of movement. A highlight has to be peering into the ‘Disgustoscope’ to see both an ‘infinity mirror’ effect, and a ‘Disgustoscope’ illusion of writhing flesh.

For more information visit: questacon.edu.au


To remember


 

Image source: facebook.com/VisitCanberra

The Australian War Memorial combines a shrine and a world-class museum that commemorates the sacrifice of Australians who have died in war. At first thought, it may seem an unlikely destination for kids. But, in its mission is to assist Australians to remember and understand the Australian experience of war, The War Memorial offers a memorable experience for kids and families.

The exhibits are (mostly) child-friendly, while still maintaining respect of the fallen. The Discovery Zone is designed specifically for children where they can try on different war outfits, dodge sniper fire in a WWI trench, ‘fly’ an Iroquois helicopter, explore an Oberon submarine, and even imagine what Trench Foot would look like on their own little legs – thanks to some clever lighting.

Visit www.awm.gov.au for more information.


To visit a real life Fern Gully


Image source: facebook.com/VisitCanberra 

If outdoor adventures are what your family is into, an afterDARK Bush Tucker Tour at the Australian National Botanic Gardens is ideal. The one-hour tour is led by education rangers and a guest Indigenous presenter. Following a bush tucker tasting, your family will explore the varied biodiversity and habitat regions of the Gardens including the magical Rainforest Gully with a stunning lighting display. 

For more information visit: visitcanberra.com.au


For enlightenment 


If you’re planning a trip to Canberra in autumn, the Enlighten festival is a must-see. Enlighten transforms the Parliamentary Triangle into a dazzling arts precinct featuring free entertainment and the event’s trademark lighting projections, illuminating Canberra’s most iconic buildings.

After the sun sets, Enlighten still caters for youngsters with Swamp Juice, a puppet show that magically transforms household rubbish into shadow cartoons, and the Kaleidoscope Cubby. Facilitated by performance artists, people are invited to decorate the inside and outside of the clear-walled cubby with colourful static cling to create a stained glass window effect around the whole cubby.

Find out more at: enlightencanberra.com.au 


To celebrate Spring


Image source: floriadeaustralia.com

Floriade is Australia’s biggest celebration of spring, and runs from the mid-September to early October showcasing one million flowers in bloom throughout Canberra’s Commonwealth Park. 

While there are some activities that have an admission fee – the ferris wheel ($8), tea cup ride ($5), and giant slide ($5) – entry to the flower festival itself is free. You can also find some awesome activities for young kids that won’t cost a cent such as the circus playground where kids can try their hand at juggling, balancing on stilts, and walking beams; kite making workshops where kids can decorate their own kite and see it fly; and Matilda’s Farmyard Nursery which provides a chance to get up close and personal with some cute farmyard creatures.


Because kids love balloons 

 

Image source: facebook.com/VisitCanberra 

The Canberra Balloon Spectacular is considered as one of the best hot air ballooning events in the world. 

Held each year in March, pilots begin each day by inflating their balloons on the lawns of Old Parliament House before ascending into the sky and creating an exhilarating backdrop to Canberra’s national attractions.


How to get there

FlyPelican has direct flights between Newcastle and Canberra.  One way fares start from $149*  

To book go to www.flypelican.com.au 

*Fares correct as at 23 June 2015

The best restaurants in Australia - Travel_Australia

Australia’s 100 best restaurants for 2015 have been revealed. The top 100 list was curated by The Australian Financial Review and decided by a vote among Australia’s top chefs and restaurateurs.

We’ve sifted through the list to share with you the best restaurants along the east-coast of Australia, easily accessed by direct flights from Newcastle Airport.

Queensland
Four Queensland restaurants received a nod in the top 100 list.

Esquire
Esquire offers a set multi-course menu of fresh food based on market availability; this means the menu and prices change accordingly. Located on Brisbane’s Eagle Street, Esquire has gorgeous views over the Brisbane River and Story Bridge.

Image source:
couriermail.com.au

Wasabi Restaurant and Bar
Wasabi Restaurant and Bar is a Noosa institution, serving creative, modern Japanese food. Traditional flavours and ingredients are complimented by organically grown produce – some of which are grown by the restaurateur at her own farm. This restaurant overlooks the river in Noosa.

 
Image source:
wasabisb.com

Urbane Restaurant
Urbane Restaurant is located one block from Brisbane’s Botanic Gardens, and offers a fine dining degustation menu and exceptional service.  The Urbane team is committed to organic produce and perfection, presenting each meal as a work of art, which is no small task with more than 40 dishes on the menu.

Image source: australiantraveller.com (title picture)

Gerard's Bistro
Find Gerard's Bistro in James Street, Brisbane’s urban lifestyle precinct. The mouth-watering menu is filled with a wide selection of seafood, meat, and vegetable dishes, inspired by some of the most appetising cuisines from around the world.


Image source:
gerardsbistro.com.au

Victoria
If you’re in Victoria treat yourself to a meal at one of the restaurants that claimed five of the top ten positions in the list.

Attica
At Attica, the modern cuisine is served in a relaxed dining environment. Located in Ripponlea (a suburb near St Kilda), this restaurant is approximately a 25-minute drive by car from the Melbourne CBD.

Image source:
attica.com.au

Cutler & Co
Cutler & Co. Dining Room is located in an old metal works factory on Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. The open plan kitchen at the front of the restaurant creates a dynamic focal point allowing for ring-side dining, light bites, and drinks. The restaurant reflects Chef Andrew McConnell’s passion for exceptional and often unusual produce. 

Image source:
facebook.com/CutlerandCo

Vue de monde
Vue de monde, is the pinnacle of fine dining in Melbourne – literally.  At level 55 of Melbourne’s iconic Rialto building, you dine above the glittering city lights below. The prices match the sky scraping location but, the dining experience here is incomparable and a must-do on your Victorian gastronomical tour.

Image source:
vuedemonde.com.au

Cumulus Inc Eating House and Bar
Cumulus Inc Eating House and Bar opened in 2008 in Flinders Lane. The name – incorporating ‘eating house and bar’, rather than restaurant – gives away the relaxed vibe of the place. Open seven days a week, Cumulus Inc welcomes you to try breakfast, lunch, dinner, or to just grab a coffee or drink.

Image source:
broadsheet.com.au

Brae
If you want to escape the big smoke, Brae is the perfect place to dine. Set on 30 productive acres, Brae is a place to interact with nature and eat from the land. The menu is created with location in mind and reflects the restaurant’s pristine natural surrounds. Take a one and a half hour road trip from Melbourne Airport to reach Brae, it’s worth the drive.

Image source:
heraldsun.com

Australian Capital Territory 

Aubergine restaurant in the ACT is a simple yet intimate space that allows the product of creative and interesting food to shine. The kitchen is stocked by local farmers who share the Aubergine passion for fresh produce which means the menu is updated daily.

Image source:
facebook.com/auberginerestaurant

See the full list of winners here.

The geeks guide to Melbourne - Travel_Australia

A geek is someone with a burning passion for something they love. Being a geek is nothing to be ashamed of.

Geekdom is an ever-expanding empire. It’s now widely accepted that you can geek-out over just about anything; you can be a game-geek, food-geek, music-geek, style-geek, or one close to our hearts – an av-geek.

If you’re looking for a place to holiday and explore your passion, there’s never been a better place to get geeky than in Melbourne.

Even if you only scratch the surface in Melbourne, you'll reveal a city alive with arts and culture. If you know what you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it. And if not, read on for our geeks guide to Melbourne.

Food-geek
As Australia’s most culturally diverse city, Melbourne is a food-geek’s paradise with restaurants and food stores representing cuisines from many of the 200 nationalities that have made Melbourne and Victoria their home.

Melbourne’s Victoria Street, known as Little Saigon, is famous for its Vietnamese restaurants and food stores. Sydney Road, in Brunswick (Melbourne’s inner north) is full of Middle Eastern restaurants and halal food stores. Footscray has many Asian and Ethiopian cafes and restaurants; while Little Lonsdale Street in inner Melbourne is lined with Chinese restaurants. Source: studymelbourne.vic.gov.au

Game-geek
No geek list would be complete without our gamer-geeks. Though they’re more than welcome in this round-up of geek-groups; the reclusive, bespectacled teen is no longer the poster boy for gaming. The average video game consumer is more likely to fall within the 18-35 age bracket and be far from reclusive if the PAX Australia conference is anything to judge by.

PAX is an epic gaming conference that has been held in Melbourne annually since 2013 and provides a forum for tens of thousands of gamers to share their passion for video games. Visit the PAX website for more details.

Music-geek
Melbourne has a long history of producing some great musicians with acts like John FarnhamNick CaveCrowded House, GoyteSomething for Kate, JetRogue TradersTaxirideMissy HigginsMadison AvenueAnthony CalleaThe Living End, and The Temper Trap all being musically-inspired in this city.

Melbourne also nurtures live music with a vibrant independent music scene that comes alive every night of the week in pubs, clubs, warehouses, and basements. Choose a venue and check out some of the best local musicians performing across the city.

TimeOut and Broadsheet both have great lists of upcoming shows in Melbourne.

Style-geek
Melbourne is Australia’s fashion and style capital. Melbourne Spring Fashion Week (MSFW) supports this image as it launches spring/summer collections and creatively showcases Melbourne as an iconic destination for fashion, retail, design, and hospitality.

Each year, MSFW attracts more than 43,000 attendees to a variety of runways, exhibitions, workshops and activations, with all collections featured during the event available for purchase from city retailers. In 2015 MSFW will be held from Friday 28 August to Friday 4 September.

AV-geek
The Australian National Aviation Museum is in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne. It has one of the most magnificent collections of aircraft, engines, models, and uniforms in Australia.

The Australian Air Show – also called the Avalon Air Show – is also held in the Melbourne region. It regularly features planes from the Royal Australian Air Force, United States Navy and the United States Air Force. Held annually in late-February/early-March, it has been said to be the largest air show in the southern hemisphere.

Visit the Australian Aircraft Restoration Group website here and the Australian Air Show website here.

Gear up for Gold Coast Airport Marathon - Travel_Australia

In early July 2015 thousands will descend on the Gold Coast to take part in the annual Gold Coast Airport Marathon.

A rite of passage and/or pilgrimage for many, this marathon course is fast, flat, and scenic.  (Just how I like it.)  Runners run next to surf beaches and Broadwater as the crowds cheer on with some ‘runspiration’.

An easy one-hour flight from Newcastle Airport, the Gold Coast Airport Marathon weekend event also offers shorter courses for those who are a bit daunted by a 42km challenge.  Why not try the half marathon, 10km run, 5.1km challenge, or the junior dash.

Join me in taking the challenge and enter here: http://goldcoastmarathon.com.au/enter/

The Gold Coast Airport Marathon website has some great training tips to get you started, including setting a goal, how to choose your shoes, and great apps to help keep you on track.  Check them out here: http://goldcoastmarathon.com.au/training/run-gold-coast/

See you there!

How to get there:

Jetstar has daily direct flights from Newcastle to the Gold Coast starting from $99 on Saturday 4 July and returning to Newcastle from $99 on Tuesday 7 July.

Note: All prices quoted correct at 1pm Tuesday 26 May.

Image source: goldcoastmarathon.com.au

Fly to State of Origin - Travel_Australia

State of Origin is the pinnacle of rugby league and source of the long-running rivalry between New South Welshmen and Queenslanders.

Tonight the New South Wales Blues take-on the Queensland Maroons in the first State of Origin Clash of 2015. 

Since the beginning of (State of Origin) time, the number of victories taken by each team was once extraordinarily even, until 2006 when Queensland won eight consecutive series before New South Wales reclaimed the shield. 

This year’s series is set to be one of the best yet. The adrenaline and the atmosphere of the games in the State of Origin series is unrivalled. To be part of the Origin excitement, book your ticket to match two or three (or both!) through Ticketek. 

How to get there
Origin Game Two
Wednesday, 17 June 2015, 8.00pm AEST – Melbourne Cricket Ground 

>       Flights
Virgin Australia has also put on extra flights to Melbourne on 17 June in time for this match, starting from $139.
Jetstar can take you there on 17 June from $159 or you can head to Melbourne earlier in the week and score flights from $59. 
 

Origin Game Three
Wednesday 8 July 2015, 8.00pm AEST – Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

>       Flights
Jetstar has flights to Brisbane during the week of the series decider from $69
Virgin Australia can fly you to Brisbane with fares from $95  

*All prices quoted correct as at 12pm 25 May 2015.
Image source: wheretotonight.com

Indulge yourself at the Hunter Valley Food and Wine month - Travel_Australia

Imagine:  The cold winter air is breathing fresh life into the breeze outside. You’re relaxed by the warmth of fire and, as it crackles you take a smooth sip of red wine from the glass balancing in your hand. 

Now imagine this, you’re with your favourite people, you’re laughing, and your plates are empty following a gourmet feast at a fabulous restaurant. 

Sounds divine doesn’t it? 

Well, you won’t have to imagine it any longer if you get yourself to the Hunter Valley this June to experience the wonder of Wine and Food month. 

What can only be described as a wine and food extravaganza, the Hunter Valley Food and Wine month is the perfect antidote to the June-winter-blues.  

This month-long celebration has a stack of activities on offer that every type of traveller is catered (literally) for. 

A quick sample of what’s on offer includes: 

Chef’s Plate Lunches
Channel your inner foodie at a set-price lunch at some of the Hunter Valley’s best restaurants. Starting from just $39, you get a main meal and a glass of Hunter Valley wine. And, depending on where you book, maybe a sweet-treat to follow. 

Winemaker’s Table Series
A series of intimate lunches and dinners.  Your leading Hunter Valley winemaker host will select a range of their own favourite wines, which will be paired with food by a Hunter Valley chef. Together, they’ll talk you through the wine and food match. 

Pure Wine Indulgence
Your ideal opportunity to learn more about your favourite wine, the different characteristics a vineyard can produce, and the essential steps in the winemaking process.  This is perfect for the aspiring ‘wine master’. 

Winter Warmers
Set by an open fire in Hunter Valley vineyards, cellar doors, guest houses and restaurants, this is described as the ‘perfect way to relax on a cool winter’s day’. Warm up at an elegant affair with chocolate, sweets, fine teas and locally roasted coffee; dine by a blazing fireplace; or share a hearty Hunter Valley red by an open crackling bonfire.

The full calendar of events during Hunter Valley Wine and Food month (June) is available at http://www.winecountry.com.au/events/wine-and-food-month 

How to get there
The Hunter Valley is an easy 45-minute drive from Newcastle Airport. 

Flights to Newcastle from Brisbane in June start from $65 one way with Jetstar and from $89 one way with Virgin Australia* 

Flights to Newcastle from Melbourne in June start from $69 one way with Jetstar $89 one way with Virgin Australia* 

Book at www.jetstar.com and www.virginaustralia.com 

*All prices correct as at 4 March 2015


Image source: Hunter Valley Wine Country Tourism

Five of the best laneways to explore in Melbourne - Travel_Australia

Melbourne.  Famous for sport, food, shopping, and laneways.

I love exploring the laneways. I always feel like I’m Alice in Wonderland, never quite sure what’s going to be revealed to me. Will it be a quirky little boutique, a funky bar, hole-in-the-wall café, or the work of an up-and-coming along the street walls or inside a gallery?

After research on the interwebs, it seems that tourism bodies, bloggers and locals agree that these are the best lanes in Melbourne to explore:

Degraves Lane

Dining on Degraves is the quintessential Melbourne café experience. A real mix of cultures, Degraves has a Parisian vibe from the café umbrellas, but the food veers towards Italian and sweet treats. The most difficult thing about Degraves is choosing where to start!
Source: visitmelbourne.com 

Centre Place

Harking back to the days that Melbourne was built, this narrow paved lane is lined with hole-in-the-wall cafes combined with buskers and fabulous street art.  If you’ve seen a photo of Melbourne’s laneways, it’s likely it’s been taken of Centre Place.
Source: visitmelbourne.com

The Block Arcade

Mosaic-tile flooring, a glass canopy and carved stone, the Block Arcade is one of the finest examples of a 19th-century shopping arcade in the world.  This arcade is temptation on a platter for anyone with a sweet-tooth.  The Hopetoun Tea Rooms has a window display of cakes, slices, and all things nice that tempt you in for a pot of tea.  Further in the arcade is Haigh’s Chocolates, one of Australia’s premier chocolatiers.
Source: thatsmelbourne.com

Royal Arcade

This building boasts stunning architecture while linking you to Bourke Street Mall, Little Collins Street, and Elizabeth Street. The clock, framed by Gog and Magog, have struck the hour of Gaunt’s clock, on the hour, since 1892. 
Source: thatsmelbourne.com 

Crossley Street 

Men and women shoppers’ rejoice.  There is something for everyone on Crossley Street. Tailored threads await the men and designer dresses will delight the ladies.  Dining on this street ranges from hatted fine dining to Asian street food and includes everything in between.
Source: visitmelbourne.com 

The unnamed street

I often find that walking around Melbourne’s laneways I get fantastically lost.  Fantastically lost while I have a pretty good idea of where I am in the city, I have no idea what the name of the laneway is that I have just stumbled into.  These are always fabulous because the find is so unexpected and delightful. So, I’m going to add my own laneway onto this list, and I’m going to call it the Unnamed Street. 

The next time you’re in Melbourne, I hope you have the opportunity to discover at least one of these laneways for the food, the coffee, the wine, the shopping, and the art. They waiting for you.


Image source: instagram.com/josietinger

Port to Port MTB is back - Travel_Australia

Following the great success of the inaugural event last year, the Port to Port MTB is back in 2015.  Over four days, 28 to 31 May, this mountain biking event will take in the best the Hunter region has to offer. 

Day 1, Thursday 28 May
Starting in Port Stephens, Day 1 features back trails through Tomaree National Park, some steep sandy walking trailing and scrub forest, following by a dash around Fly Point Park to the finish line at Nelson Bay Marina.

Spectators will have front row seats from Fly Point along to the finish line where you can cheer on the riders with one hand while in the other you hold onto your gourmet ice cream from Nelson Bay Marina.

Day 2, Friday 29 May
Starting from the stunning vineyard of Lindeman’s Winery in the Hunter Valley, riders will then climb through Pokolbin State Forest where they follow a natural motorbike track then descend with speed to the finish at Briar Ridge.

Spectators can gather at the finish line and enjoy a drop (or two, or three) of the award-winning wines at Briar Ridge Winery as you wait for and then cheer on the riders as they cross day-two’s finish line.

BONUS: Today, between 4.30 and 6.00pm, competitors will race in a time trail format along a 2.5km track that skirts the outside of Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley’s golf course.  The track will be filled with jumps, grassy berms, and will offer time credits to the fastest riders.  You’ll be crazy to miss the atmosphere and action of the ‘Sundown Shootout!

Day 3, Saturday 30 May
A brand new stage has been included this year at Lake Macquarie.  Riders back up for the third day to take part in what the event organisers describe as the ‘flowiest single track we have ever ridden!’  Riding along the Watagan’s mountain ridge to descend into the Awaba Mountain Bike Park. 

If you’re not riding, you’re free to do as you please. Lake Macquarie has many on-water activities, fantastic restaurants by the lake, and the region’s largest shopping centre. The difficult part is choosing what to do.

Day 4, Sunday 31 May
The final day’s ride is 50km, starting in Lake Macquarie and riding along the Fernleigh Track, riders will then join the famous Glenrock Mountain Bike Park leading into Merewether Beach and along to the finish line at Dixon Park.

Along the finish line spectators will be spoiled for choice for their Sunday-morning coffee: from local haunts of Surf House and Juicy Beans at Merewether Beach to the coffee cart at Dixon Park which all come highly recommended.  The scenery at the finish line is pretty spectacular too.

Newcastle Airport is again a partner of this event. Sitting right in the middle of the four regions being ridden, we look forward to welcoming riders and spectators with open arms. 

We have direct flights from Brisbane, Gold Coast, Ballina/Byron Bay, Taree, Sydney, and Melbourne and have great connecting flights for those coming from Perth and Adelaide. 

Our team at our Information Services Desk can arrange all your airport transfers, no matter how many need transferring, nor how many bikes need to be transferred, we can help you.  Contact the team for an obligation-free tailored quote on 02 4928 9822 or email them at nais@newcastleairport.com.au

To participate in Port to Port MTB 2015, simply register at http://porttoportmtb.com/registration and we look forward to seeing you at the end of May!

Fall into winter at Port Stephens - Travel_Australia

Escape to some autumn sun and winter fun at Port Stephens – the destination for relaxation, exhilaration, exploration and degustation! Experience the very best from Mother Nature with magnificent humpback whales, dolphins, seals, and rare birds, on uninhabited islands. Get on your bike for a guided mountain bike tour or take a hike to the top of Tomaree for a spectacular view of our awesome coast.

Looking for something a little less strenuous? Chillax at a day spa, or visit the many farm gates for everything from macadamias and fits to avocados and barramundi. Dine in style on local produce overlooking the water or, try the freshest of fish and chips for a seaside picnic.

If adrenaline is more to your taste then why not tackle our monumental, 40-metre sand dunes! Experience them by sand board, quad bike, 4WD, camel, or horseback.

There’s a lot of reasons to fall in love with Port Stephens in every season!

Truly escape: five of the most remote places on earth - Travel_Australia



Sometimes in life you just want to escape. These five places will take you as far away from the daily grind as you can get. Theses place are not only amongst the most remote places on earth, they’re also breathtakingly beautiful.


Antarctica

Just a little arched berg I found #Antartica #Davis2015

A photo posted by Shaun Gillies (@duckygillies) on

Antarctica is a massive piece of land, cover in ice and snow.  While there are no permanent residents on Antarctica, there can be anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 living there at the research stations throughout the year.

Despite its remoteness, Antarctica still draws the tourists.  Cruise ships visit the Antarctica Peninsula where those on board feast their eyes on penguins, whales, and seals.

How to get there: cruise ship is the best way to see and enjoy the best this spectacular continent has to offer.


Easter Island, Chile

Beautiful day at Easter Island - sky, sea and Ahu Ko Te Riku

A photo posted by André Esteves (@andre_esteves_) on

Easter Island is a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean.  Home to around 4,000 people the island is famous for its large stone heads, known as moai. The moai are said to have been carved by locals around the 16th century. 

The island is now fairly barren, which we’ve been told only adds to the feeling of isolation. 

How to get there:
Although access used to take several weeks by boat, today the island’s airport, Mataveri International Airport, is serviced by flights from Santiago, Chile.


Motuo County, China

Motuo is thought to be the last County in China without a road leading to it.  It is a small community in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (near Nepal) and is one of the few places in Asia that is untouched by the modern world.

The County is famous for its natural, untouched beauty, so much so that Buddhist scripture regards it as Tibet’s holiest land.  Also known as a ‘virtual Eden of plant life’ Motuo houses one-tenth of all flora in China. 

Despite the fact that millions of dollars have been spent attempting to build a serviceable access road, all attempts have been abandoned because of mudslides, avalanches, and a generally volatile landscape.  So, those that do make it in are in for an unspoiled treat.

How to get there: Be prepared for a Herculean effort.  You follow a gruelling overland route through frozen parts of the Himalayas before crossing into the county by way of a 200-meter-long suspension bridge.



Uluru, Australia

Pretty much smack-bang in the centre of Australia, Uluru is a 1,600 kilometre or 17-hour drive from the closest capital city, Adelaide. 

One of the world’s greatest wonders, Uluru stands proudly on the landscape, surrounded by flat planes and red dirt. The massive rock is most spectacular at sunrise and sunset as it appears to glow as the sun hits it.

Approximately 1,000 people live and work in the area surrounding the Kata Tjuta national park, where Uluru is located.  The closest accommodation, Ayers Rock Resort, welcomes more than 400,000 guests annually through its doors. 

How to get there: Jetstar, Virgin Australia, and QantasLink offer the ability to book flights from Newcastle to Uluru (Ayres Rock) on their website.



Ittoqqortoomiit, Greenland

If you’ve seen the movie ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’, you’ll be familiar with the sparsely populated but colourful homes sitting amongst Greenland’s barren landscape.

Ittoqqortoomiit is a small village on the north-east shore of Iceland with a population of 500.  Locals make a living from hunting large mammals in the cooler months and by fishing during the warmer months. 

The waters surrounding Ittoqqortoomiit are frozen for nine months of the year; leaving only three months for access by boat.  The closest airport is 40km away, but the story goes that flights are more a novelty than the norm.  For the most part, this town is completely isolated.

How to get there: with difficulty. Summer is the best time to get in. There are generally two flights a week from Raykajavik, Iceland, and cruise ships also stop by during summer.  


24 hours in Perth - Travel_Australia

My first ever trip to Perth was a whirlwind event. I arrived at the airport at lunchtime and had around 24 hours on the ground before I had a meeting to attend and a flight to catch back to the east coast. I was lucky enough to have a mate who had relocated to Perth who showed me some of the sights. I have returned to Perth a few times since and absolutely love it. While it is a little bit pricy, it is also modern, clean and very hospitable.

Image source: facebook.com/CityofPerthWA

Whether you have a personal guide or not there are plenty of things to check out if you only have a little bit of time to kill before you jet off again. My favourite things were:

  1. Perth Zoo.
  2. Perth zoo is located on the western side of the swan river. If you are staying in the city it is very easy to grab a ferry across the river and take a short walk to the front gate. This zoo is amazing with all of the usual animal suspects to check out including lions, tigers, elephants, and all of the local Australian wildlife. If (like my wife and I) you love Orang-utans this is the zoo for you as they have a huge enclosure to watch these beautiful primates in all their glory. For more information check out http://perthzoo.wa.gov.au/

  3. Watch a sunset over the Indian ocean
  4. Love more, worry less 💛💛 #seaside #saltlife #westernaustralia #cottesloe #perthisok #perthlife

    A photo posted by K i m i ⚓️💙 (@kimiahearts) on

    If you have been an east coaster your whole life and have never seen the sun set over the ocean take the time to check it out on your day in Perth. There are so many beautiful beaches and ocean spots along the Perth western suburbs that provide the perfect area to kick back and enjoy the view. Cottesloe beach provides pristine sand or grassed terraces to tick this off your travel list.

  5. Check out the attractions in Perth City
  6. There are heaps of things to do in Perth city itself, all of which are within walking distance or a short hop on public transport. You can check out Perth mint, take a stroll through Kings Park, or visit the WA Cultural Centre. In addition Perth city has a great shopping area, lots of great eating areas and plenty of bars to check out. All the information you need is at http://www.perth.wa.gov.au/things-see-and-do-city

  7. Head down to Fremantle
  8. Half an hour to forty five minutes from Perth City is Fremantle – known for its alfresco dining and alternative vibe. You can check out Fremantle prison, the Western Australian Maritime Museum, or relax and grab a cold brew from the Little Creatures brewery. For those who love a bit of rock keep an eye out for the statue of Bon Scott down on the waterfront. For more information on Fremantle check out http://www.visitfremantle.com.au/Home

  9. Visit the Crown casino precinct
  10. Have a great weekend everybody!#cocktails #crownmelb #crownperth #friends #friday #melbourne #perth #weekends

    A photo posted by Crown Resorts (@crownresorts) on

    For those that like a flutter or a night on the town, you can head to the Crown casino precinct. Crown Perth hosts a 24-hour casino, two hotels, multiple award-winning bars and restaurants, a nightclub, a day spa, resort style pool, golf course, theatre, indoor stadium, and retail outlets. There is plenty to see and do no matter what you’re looking for.

If you have a a bit longer than 24 hours, add Rottenest Island to your itinerary and check out the Quokkas, or head to Mandurah or Margret River for a laid back beach break with spectacular food and wine.

Make the most of a short stay in Perth, get out and enjoy yourself, you might be very surprised what the city has to offer.

Both Jetstar and Virgin Australia can fly to Perth from Newcastle, with a brief stopover in either Melbourne or Brisbane.

Book your Easter getaway now - Travel_Australia

There is a four-day long weekend approaching and we have a few suggestions for how you should spend it. We’re sure the Easter bunny won’t mind hopping over to any of these destinations:

Brisbane

With so many beautiful, inspirational and thought-provoking pieces currently exhibiting at the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) and Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), the long Easter weekend will give you plenty of time to dedicate a few hours to taking it all in. Each gallery has its resident collections and exhibits which are definitely worth exploring, but these are always complemented with amazing national and international touring exhibits.

This Easter, why not check out
David Lynch: Between Two Worlds at GOMA or Hanga: Modern Japanese prints at QAG.

Right next door to the galleries is the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), Brisbane’s home of theatre, musicals and stage performances. This Easter, make sure you catch one of the final performances of the highly acclaimed production of WICKED, which has wowed audiences around the world. Source: visitbrisbane.com.au

Jetstar
has flights starting at $59* from Newcastle to Brisbane that will get you there in time for the weekend. Virgin Australia can also take you there with flights from $185*.

Image source: qagoma.qld.gov.au

Gold Coast

Image source: surfersparadise.com

The Gold Coast shows-off year-round with 57 kilometres of beautiful beaches; and even though Easter is in autumn, you’ll still need to slip, slop, slap with the average temperature sitting at a comfortable 25 degrees throughout April.

Most holiday-makers stop in Surfers Paradise, its sparkling beach and proximity to restaurants and shops make it perfect for a whirlwind weekend away. The theme parks, such as Sea World and Dreamworld, are not too far from here either.

This Easter long weekend marks the start of the Surfer’s Paradise Festival which will kick off with the Australian Street Entertainment Championships. Clowns, mimes, magicians, jugglers, dancers and performers will take to stages across Surfers Paradise in a carnival of light and laughter – as they vie for the crowd's attention.

Book your flight to the Gold Coast with Jetstar. Flights from Newcastle start from $59*.

Ballina / Byron Bay


Image source: bluesfest.com.au

This time of year Byron Bay will give you the blues. In the best possible way.

During the Easter long weekend, the Byron Bay Bluesfest brings the best local, national, and international acts to beautiful Byron Bay. This year the acts include Counting Crows, Augie March, Blue King Brown, Xavier Rudd, Ash Grunwald, The Black Keys, and the Alabama Shakes. Sound like your kind of music? You better grab a ticket quickly, they’re selling VERY fast! Visit the Bluesfest website for ticketing options.

Regional Express flies daily from Newcastle to Ballina Byron Gateway Airport with flights available from $170*.

Melbourne

 

Image source: visitmelbourne.com

Melbourne is the perfect place for an Easter escape.  Accommodation is abundant in the CBD and getting around is easy – the free city loop tram takes to all corners of the city grid where you can shop, and eat, and drink until your heart is content.

Slink down a laneway for tapas and a drink, sample a Szechuan chilli dish in Chinatown, or break out of the CBD and discover the city's specialist eating destinations – Richmond for Vietnamese, Carlton for 'Little Italy', Fitzroy for Spanish, and Brunswick for Lebanese (source:
visitmelbourne.com).

With so much to taste and only one weekend to do so, you might want to put a ‘do not disturb’ sign out for the Easter Bunny and stick to the city’s gourmet treats instead.

Jetstar will fly you to Melbourne from Newcastle from $79*.

*Prices correct as at 18 March 2015

The best surfing spots in Australia - Travel_Australia


Image source: @daily_salt

The search for the perfect wave sends Aussie surfing pilgrims world-wide, often to only discover that some of the world’s best breaks are right here in Oz.

Every surfer has a favourite spot; and they’re often reluctant to share where it is with the ‘general public’. So, we’ve done some research to anonymously bring to you the best surfing spots in Australia, and arguably, the world.

Snapper Rocks, Queensland

Time to do turns again! 📷 @swillpics

A photo posted by Mick Fanning (@mfanno) on

Who surfs here?
Surfing world champs Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, and Stephanie Gilmore call ‘Snapper’ their local and are often spotted surfing this break when they’re not chasing waves in other corners of the world.
Snapper Rocks is also home to the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro held in February/March each year. This event marks the first world tour contest of the surfing season.

What are the waves like?
Snapper is home to the world-famous ‘Super Bank’, regarded in surfing circles as the longest, most consistent and most hollow wave in the world.
The swell here often reaches six to eight feet, and one good, clean wave can transport you from Snapper to Kirra, a distance of almost two kilometres.
On a great swell, you can ride waves from the point at Snapper Rocks all the way to the neighbouring beaches of Greenmount and Kirra.

Where is it?

Snapper Rocks is a sand bottom point break considered as a world renowned surfing spot on the Gold Coast.

How do I get there?

From Newcastle Airport, Jetstar flies direct to the Gold Coast Airport, just ten minutes from the break.
Source: Tourism Australia 

Bells Beach, Victoria

Who surfs here?
Bells Beach is the site of the Australia’s country’s oldest professional surfing event: the Rip Curl Pro, held over the Easter long weekend each year.

What are the waves like?

Swells from the Southern Ocean slow down and steepen over the shallow reefs to produce outstanding surf that can rise to five metres or more, so when it gets big, most of us are best advised to think of surfing Bells as a spectator sport.

Where is it?

There isn’t much ‘beach’ at Bells, it’s mostly cliff-face. However, the views from the cliff-top car park are spectacular – a great spot to watch local surfers out in the water.

How do I get there?

Both Virgin Australia and Jetstar have daily flights to Melbourne from Newcastle Airport. Bells Beach is 100km south-west of Melbourne, along the Great Ocean Road.
Source: Tourism Australia 

Margaret River, Western Australia

Who surfs here?
Pro surfer Taj Burrow began his surfing days in this part of the world and went on to qualify for the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour at 18-years-old, becoming the youngest surfer to do so at the time. With this type of credence, it’s safe to say the surfing conditions are good.

What are the waves like?

There are several breaks in the Margaret River area that offer waves ranging from mild to monstrous depending on the swell. Yallingup is considered the best all-round surfing destination on Australia’s west coast. 

Further south of Yullingup you will find Prevelly Park: the heartland of serious Margaret River surfing. Here, swells up to six metres get spun into perfect barrels across the treacherous offshore reef.

No place for beginners or the faint-of-heart, “Surfers Point” at Prevelly even attracts the big-name big-wave lunatics from the US and Hawaii, and it’s one of the few places in Australia where board-riders wear helmets and nobody laughs at them.

Where is it?

Margaret River is 260km south of Perth, the tiny resort village of Yallingup marks the beginning of the famed Margaret River winery region, where wine enthusiasts and ‘waxheads’ (board-riders) have long converged in equal numbers in this part of Australia.

How do I get there?

Fly from Newcastle with either Jetstar or Virgin Australia, make a brief stop in Melbourne or Brisbane and continue on to Perth Airport.
Source: Toursim Australia 

Lennox Head, New South Wales

Moving down the road to this beautiful part of the area today 🌴🌞🌊 #lennoxhead

A photo posted by Lisa (@lisajanemoffy) on

Who surfs here?
The point break at Lennox Head is always teaming with locals, so make sure you bring your manners when you’re surfing here to avoid bearing the brunt of any deserved localism.

For many years, Lennox was home to Bob McTavish, an influential surfboard shaper and chronicler of surfing’s counterculture era of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

What are the waves like?

Lennox Head is a striking headland that hangs over the Tasman at such an angle that creates what many deem the perfect point break with fast waves and long tubes.

The waves break over sand, but some rock-scrambling is involved to reach the break; be sure to time your entry over the rocks carefully.
The ‘Magic Miles’ between Lennox Head and Ballina offers a mixture of beach breaks and reefs that work on a variety of wind and swell directions. The only time there aren’t any waves on the Magic Miles is when there’s no swell at all.

Where is it?

Lennox Head is a seaside village in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, Australia, situated on the stretch of coast between Byron Bay. 

How do I get there?

Lennox Head is 15 minutes’ drive via Angel’s Beach Drive and the Coast Road from Ballina Byron Gateway Airport. Regional Express has a flight every day from Newcastle Airport to Ballina.
Source: Surfthecoast 

Merewether, New South Wales

Who surfs here?
The waves at Merewether were the classroom that schooled local-legend Mark Richards in the ways of the water dancer. It’s at these breaks that MR, a Newcastle treasure and Surfest patron, learnt the skills that would see him win four world titles.

What are the waves like?
Right-handers peel down the rock and sand bottom off Merewether beach, with ideal conditions at seen in southerly swells fanned by north-west winds.

Where is it?

Merewether is a suburb of Newcastle, NSW, and is a 30 minute drive from Newcastle Airport. (So, we may be a little biased including Merewether in this list as it’s one of our local favourites.)

How do I get there?
Newcastle Airport has direct flights to and from Brisbane, Gold Coast, Ballina/Byron Bay, Taree, and Melbourne and is service by airlines Jetstar, Virgin Australia, and Regional Express.
Source: Surfest  

Aussie slang explained - Travel_Australia

When travelling around the world to non-English speaking countries, I find that I naturally slow down the speed in which I talk.  Pretty much every country around the world speaks English, however, it isn’t until I say something and get only a blank look in return that I realise how ‘Australian’ my English is, as I grapple for another phrase to replace the one I’ve just said. 

Here’s some examples of where I have said words to other nationalities (even English-speaking ones) and they have had no idea what I was talking about.

Arvo

An abbreviation of afternoon. 

“I’ll see you this arvo.”

Cya (see-ya)

See you later.

Spiffy

Great looking, dressed up.

Eg; “You’re looking pretty spiffy. Are you going on a date?”

Bust a move

To leave

“I’m really tired; I’m going to bust a move.”

To dance

“I love this song, let’s go bust a move”

Thong / plugga

Casual footwear often worn in warmer weather, also known as ‘flip flops’

“I really like your blue thongs.  What do you think of my new pluggas?”

Like a stunned mullet

Bewilderment, astonishment, in a state of inertia.

“When he saw the baby being born, he just stood there like a stunned mullet.”

Mad as a cut snake

Very angry, mad, furious

“When she found out he’d taken the car without asking, and then crashed it, well, she was mad as a cut snake.”

Barbie

Abbreviation for barbeque. 

“We’re having a barbie for dinner on Saturday night if you’d like to come around.”

Cossie 

Generally a women’s swimsuit. Can be one- or two-piece.

Budgie smugglers

Men’s tight-fitting swimming costume, resembling underpants in style.

“Nobody wants to see your dad in budgie smuglers”

Chuck a u-ee

Perform a u-turn.

“You missed the street! Chuck a u-ee and we can go back.”

Full as a goog

Having eaten so much that you are extremely full.

“Whoa, that was so much food. I’m full as a goog.”

It’s a go-er

A project, idea, or other venture will definitely occur.

“Mum said she can take us to the movies, so that’s a go-er.”

Knackered

An adjective used to describe a state of tireness.

“I’m knackered after that bike ride up the mountain.”

Mucking around

To waste time; be silly and mess around.

“The kids were mucking around instead of getting ready to go to school.”

No worries

An expression meaning “do not wory about that”

You’re welcome.

“Thanks so much for your help, I really appreciate it.”

“No worries.”

‘ow ya goin’

A friendly salutation

“How are you doing?”

Ratbag

An inoffensive term for a trouble-maker or someone causing havoc.

“You always know how to have fun; you’re such a ratbag.”

Chuck a sickie

Call in sick to work when you’re not really ill.

“I’m going to chuck a sickie and go to the beach.”

You bewdy / You little bewdy

Excited approval, something has gone really well.

“You little bewdy! My horse just won the race!”

Your shout

Your turn to by the drinks

“Tim, it’s your shout.”

Buckley’s chance

The chance of something happening is nil / it will never happen.

One day I’m going to fly…?

Bogan

A person who is considered uncultured or unsophisticated, even if they have a bit of money. Generally a derogatory term. Used in a similar vein to the UK ‘chav’ or a US ‘redneck’

Yeah-nah / nah-yeah

Yeah-nah = yes I understand what you’re saying, but I disagree. 

“I’ve heard the new movie is a hit, do you want to go with me on Friday?”

“Yeah-nah.”

Nah-yeah = no, I disagree with what you’re saying, but yes I want to take part.

“I’ve heard the new movie is a hit, do you want to go with me on Friday?”

”Nah-yeah. Let’s see something else.”

Do you have any Aussie slang terms that you think we need to explain to foreigners? Add them in the comments section below.

Get to the Grand Prix - Travel_Australia

Image source: grandprix.com.au

For most rev-heads, the middle weekend of March signals a traditional pilgrimage to Albert Park in Melbourne for the opening round of the Formula One World Championship.

Following years of Red Bull domination, 2014 saw the rise of the silver arrows; the two Mercedes drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, vied for the ultimate crown until the last race of the season.

The question is being asked of 2015. Will that domination continue this year? Or, will we see the resurgence of Ferrari, in the hands of Sebastian Vettel? Pre-season testing certainly seems to have indicated a return to form for the prancing horse.

If you are thinking of heading to Melbourne this year to cheer on Australia’s own Daniel Riccardo, it’s not too late.  Flights are available on Thursday 12 March ex-Newcastle, or you can take advantage of the additional flight from Newcastle on Virgin Australia on Friday 13 March. Coming home on Monday is also good news; Virgin Australia has scheduled its first flight from Melbourne to Newcastle on Monday 16t March which will have you at work by 10!  So, simply call the boss and tell him you are running a bit late. 

If you are heading to Albert Park for the first time, it’s only 10 minutes from Melbourne CBD and free trams operate from:

  • Spencer Street (Corner Collins Street) to Gates 1 & 2
  • Spencer Street (Corner Collins Street) to Gates 3 & 4
  • Swanston Street (outside Federation Square) to Gates 5, 8, 9, & 10

Albert Park offers a great selection of grandstand seating.  It’s mostly sold for the full four days, but there are also several grandstands that sell Sunday-only seats if you’re set for a quick visit. The general admission also offers great viewing, particularly on the exit of turn two or just past the swimming pool (no, this isn’t Monaco).

All the activity with V8 support races make the full three-day experience worthwhile.  Take a walk around the track and there are some great vantage points across the lake near the golf course (think photo /selfie opportunities). And, don’t forget the off-track entertainment which usually offers a headline act on Sunday night – all included in the price of the ticket.

Based on a dollar per hour basis you’ll struggle to get better value at a sporting event in Australia this year.

Book your tickets via the website www.grandprix.com.au

Visit these seven wonders of Australia to be true blue - Travel_Australia

Image source: @Australia
Australia is a very proud nation.  We love our Aussie icons, proudly don the green and gold, and we chant our war cry in every corner of the globe…Oi Oi Oi!

This is why my mind boggles when I hear of travellers jaunting overseas and discovering other lands, before they discover their own backyard.  How can you fully appreciate how good we have it in the Land of Oz when you haven’t seen the land of Oz?  It wasn’t until I travelled to Fiji that I fully appreciated the world-class beaches that are 5 minutes from my house.

I am proud to say that have seen a lot of Australia.  There’s a lot still for me to see, but in my opinion, here are seven trips that once you’ve completed, you earn the title of True Blue Aussie (I’m not quite there yet).

Uluru

I thought I knew what I was going to see, “a bloody big rock”.  Well, yes, it is that, but it is so much more! I was awe-struck when the plane passed over Uluru—it’s massive and rises from the ground when the land around is so barren and flat.  Driving around Uluru had me gob-smacked, and the sunrise and sunset sessions for three consecutive days had me mesmerised. 

Kata Tjuta (Olgas)

#Australia2010#montiolgas#olgas#australia#blusky#sky#redrock#sun#summer#hot#road#desert

A photo posted by Andrea (@kurtino981) on

I had no preconceived ideas about Kata Tjuta, and I was blown away.  These rock mountains are huge.  From a distance they appear to be like children’s marbles, but up close I had to crane my head right back, as in grab-the-sunglasses-that-fell-off-the-top-of-my-head back, to see the top of these wonders.  The sunset session here had me using up a memory card in my camera.

Great Barrier Reef

#kakadunationalpark #australia #travel

A photo posted by Ruslan Bikkulov (@becooloff) on

A natural wonder of the world; as spectacular from above as it is from below.  The pictures you see of the Great Barrier Reef are beautiful, but, they don’t compare to the sparkle and vibrancy of the real deal.

Tasmania

This island of ours was named in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Regions for 2015.  It’s hard to believe this little bit of Brittan can belong to the same sunburnt country of mainland Australia.  The juxtaposition of Tasmania to outback Australia is something you can only appreciate by seeing the two in real life.

Drive all day and see nothing

Ok so this isn’t a ‘place’. But, nothing says Australia more than driving for eight to ten hours and only seeing a lonely road house, a handful of cars, and lots and lots and lots and lots of red dirt. 

Kakadu

#kakadunationalpark #australia #travel

A photo posted by Ruslan Bikkulov (@becooloff) on

This is still on my personal bucket list, and I really recommend adding it to yours too. The landscape, the wildlife, the vastness, and the beauty.  This place looks like natural Australia at its best.

Any Aussie beach

As I noted earlier, it wasn’t until I travelled abroad that I began to appreciate what’s in my own backyard.  The more I travel, the more I understand why tourists come to our great land and hang out on our beaches.  A photo I posted on Facebook from a day down at the beach had my international friends commenting to ask where I was.  My reply, ‘I’m at home!’ 

Add these seven Australian wonders to your bucket list so you can call yourself a true blue Aussie.  I’m sure you have others that you have on your list.  I’d love to hear about them.  Tell me yours in the comments below and we could feature your own true blue bucket list in a future blog post.

The best shopping spots in Melbourne - Travel_Australia

Melbourne is one of my favourite places to shop because it is so easy to get around, once you’ve topped up your myki Melbourne is your oyster. The streets are lined with high street labels, the laneways are bursting with unique boutiques (try saying that at speed), and there’s artist’s markets in locations that are as lovely as their wares.

In my opinion, the CBD should possibly be renamed the CSD (Central Shopping District) simply due to the abundance of shopping options that burst from the city’s seams.

Flinders Lane is home to some gorgeous home-grown fashion labels including Alpha60 which is known for their fresh take on classic cuts and sophisticated quirk. Lady Petrova is also perfect if you’re looking for quirky. Hidden in a laneway off Flinders Lane, it is an enchanting escape for those fond of unicorn hair, who have never met a bow too big, or a piece of lace they didn’t like. It’s like walking into a life-size dollhouse.

Bourke Street Mall is a predictable recommendation, but the reason it warrants a mention on every single Melbourne article ever written is because it’s just really good. The David Jones store occupies three massive buildings and Myer puts up a good fight with an impressive nine stories of retail options.

From Bourke Street walk through Myer to reach Little Bourke Street. Here you’ll see stores such as Coach, Michael Kors, and Kate Spade New York; these stores connect to the CBD’s latest shopping mecca: Emporium Melbourne.

Emporium Melbourne boasts some of the heavyweights of international chainstores: UNIQLO and Topshop. Head here for all your puffer vest needs and on-trend clothing respectively. 
On the corner of Bourke and Elizabeth Streets you’ll find Melbourne’s GPO; even if you’ve never been to Melbourne you will find it. Melbourne’s GPO is the original general post office building (built in the 1800s). It has been fully restored and houses the biggest names in Australian and international designer fashion, including the ever-popular H&M.

Collins Street runs parallel to Bourke Street, along here is where you either window-shop or expect to leave with your credit card smoking. It’s Melbourne’s answer to the Champs Elysées; home to prestigious boutiques and high-end retailers with its eastern end of the street sometimes referred to as the 'Paris end' because of its rich architecture. Even if your bank account can’t spare a dime for the latest Louis Vuitton, at least make a stop to have breakfast at Tiffany’s. 

If you’re not one for traipsing on foot or alighting a tram, Melbourne has something even for you.
Chadstone Shopping Centre, affectionately referred to as ‘Chaddy’ by the locals, is an easy 25-minute drive from the city. And I say easy because you don’t even have to know how to drive there, simply jump on the free fashion shuttle that departs from Federation Square daily and you’re away.  

Chaddy is a must-see when visiting Melbourne. They have an enormous variety of stores ranging from Chanel to chainstore. Chadstone is the largest mall in the southern hemisphere, so if you can’t find something here you like, maybe you’re too fussy.

Or maybe you’re looking for something a little less mainstream? In which case head toward Fitzroy to browse Brunswick, Smith, Rose, and Gertrude Streets. It’s here that you will really see Melbournians in their natural habitat; looking super cool as they browse vintage furniture and clothes.  

Each Saturday and Sunday the Rose Street Artist’s Market is where those in-the-know find Melbourne’s best creatives hawking one-off wonders that you (probably) won’t get anywhere else.

These are just a few of my favourite shopping haunts.
Do you have any to add?






Image sources:

  1. instagram.com/visitmelbourne
  2. instagram.com/lady_petrova
  3. instagram.com/emporiummelbourne
  4. instagram.com/melbournesgpo
  5. Chadstone Shopping Centre
  6. Rose Street Markets

Jetstar and Virgin Australia both operate flights between Newcastle and Melbourne.

Why you should travel around Australia in 2015 - Travel_Australia

To see what the hype is about
Tasmania has been named in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Regions for 2015. It earned this title based on recommendations from hundreds of authors, travellers, bloggers, and tweeters, who say Tasmania lives up to the hype.

According to Lonely Planet, Tasmania is physically dazzling; you can bushwalk, cycle, and kayak until your heart’s content. Beautiful Wineglass Bay, craggy Cradle Mountain, and the heaven-sent Huon Valley must be added to your itinerary – wild places like these are the essence of Tasmania.

For the less outdoorsy types, tantalise your taste buds with gourmet food and wine. While I haven’t been able to personally try the seafood (anaphylactic shock isn’t my favourite way to pass the time) my friends rave about the freshest-of-fresh seafood, and claim the scallops will have you salivating for days.

Art buffs will think they’ve found heaven at Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). MONA spans three underground levels concealed inside a sheer rock face, even if you're not an art buff, you can still appreciate this world-class museum.

Read more about Tassie here www.lonelyplanet.com/australia/tasmania and here www.discovertasmania.com.au
Image source: facebook.com/DiscoverTasmania


To forget about exchange rates
The Aussie dollar is no longer rivalling the American Greenback; this means travelling overseas is becoming more expensive as your dollar is no longer worth a dollar in many overseas destinations.

The declining dollar might not be as bad as you first think; for one thing, it’s going to bring more money into the local economy as Australia will be more affordable for international visitors.

For domestic travellers, the dollar is going to go further at home – you’re always going to get $1 for $1 in Australia.

To taste the good life 
Australia is famous for its wine regions; Barossa Valley, Margaret River and my personal (and biased) favourite the oldest wine region in Australia—Hunter Valley. It’s known for its Semillon and Shiraz, and famous for wineries that welcome everyone; whether you’re a viticulturist or a vino-rookie, you’ll be made to feel at home in anyone of the 150+ wineries.

In autumn, enjoy fresh colours and temperatures to match; winter is cool, by Australian standards, providing the perfect weather for a hearty Hunter Valley Shiraz; in spring the Hunter Valley warms up, exploding with bright green vines, giving you the perfect backdrop to sample a Semillon.  

Book a wine tasting tour to sample the best wines in the region (dare I say the world…?) and not have to worry about driving home.

For more information on the Hunter Valley visit: www.winecountry.com.au
Image source: Instagram.com/moorebankvineyard

To see your own backyard before you see the world 
Australia has 19 UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites, including some of the oldest rainforests on earth and around one-third of the world’s protected marine areas.

All but three of Australia’s World Heritage sites were made by Mother Nature, so you’ll have to get off the beaten track to see them:

  • The Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics of Queensland, which includes the Daintree Rainforest give you a taste for a tropical climate and spectacular colour.
  • The Greater Blue Mountains in New South Wales is exactly that, beautiful and blue.
  • The Northern Territory’s Kakadu and Uluru/Kata Tjuta National Parks take on a different personality and look every day, and will leave you awe-inspired at our country’s long history, and
  • Western Australia’s Purnululu National Park in the Kimberley is a striking landscape that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

Image source: Instagram.com/Australia

Why you need to go to the Australian Open once in your life - Travel_Australia


Federer in action at the 2014 Australian Open. Image source: ausopen.com

Tennis has a way of mesmerising you like no other sport. The pendulum-style back-and-forth of the ball hypnotises even the most disinclined sports fans into thinking that sitting under the Melbourne sun for hours at a time will be a good time.

The crazy thing is, it actually is a great time.

Last January was my first Australian Open experience; I tagged along with my Grandma who is a diehard tennis fan and has been making the pilgrimage to the Open for as long as I can remember. She was the perfect companion for the experience, making sure I knew all the players on the court and pointed them out in the crowds as we meandered around Melbourne between games.

Grandma’s hot tips for the hot weather were also fantastic for an Aus’ Open rookie. In our hotel before we headed to the arena, we saturated light summer scarves and froze them overnight to help keep us cool during the day. She also knew the fastest line for Frosty Fruits (on the eastern side of Rod Laver Arena), and wasn’t opposed to swapping seats with me when hers eventually became shaded.

During the day, the temperature crept dizzyingly high (above 40 degrees Celsius, invoking the tournaments extreme heat policy) yet, the show went on. It was an amazing display of physical and mental strength as the tennis players remained laser-focused on the match and ignored their plastic drink bottles melting on the sidelines.

The entertainment – and discipline – wasn’t restricted to the courts. The cheer squads recite their chants with the precision and power surpassed only by a serve from Venus Williams.

One cheer squad you literally cannot miss is the The Fanatics; they stand out, head-to-toe in green and gold. Their cheer leader appropriately dons a captain’s hat, ready to ignite the “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!” chant as soon as there’s a break in play. They’re not only colour-coordinated, but have impeccable timing too, fitting an entire chorus of Waltzing Matilda between sets.

Another tip from my Grandma is that as the Aussie players peter out at the business end of the tournament, it’s recommended to adopt a new Aussie, as per the standard set by ''Aussie Kim'' Clijsters in the early 2000s, and barrack for them as though they’re your own.

After we’d seen enough sets to be able to sing along with the chants, a quick ride on tram route 70 from Melbourne Park (home of the tennis action) had us in the CBD for a late dinner and balmy walk along the Yarra before bed.

The atmosphere of the Australian Open is electric, both in Melbourne Park and in the city; it lures thousands of people from around Australia and the world.

The fact that Melbourne Park is only a heartbeat away from the city lets you wine and dine, or shop until your heart’s content, pre or post-tennis.

When to go
The Australian Open is a two week tournament is held every January. This year the event dates are 19 January to 1 February.
The Open is a knock-out event, so the going during the first week of the tournament will let you see more players in action.

Tickets
Ground passes start at $39 in 2015 and give you access to every court at Melbourne Park except Rod Laver and Margaret Court Arenas.
For information on single session tickets to Margaret Court Arena and Rod Laver Arena, go to: http://tickets.ausopen.com/tickets

How to get there
Fly from Newcastle Airport to Melbourne with Jetstar or Virgin Australia.

All the tennis action takes place at Melbourne Park, an easy walk from the city along the Yarra River, or jump on a famous Melbourne tram (route 70) to be there in no time at all.
If you want to take my grandma as a tour guide, I’ll be taking bookings from January 19.

For more details visit www.ausopen.com.au


How to get there

Fly from Newcastle Airport to Melbourne with Jetstar or Virgin Australia. During summer, both airlines have added additional flights on selected days.  Visit jetstar.com or virginaustralia.com to find out more.

There’s more to NSW than Sydney: Discover Port Stephens in summer - Travel_Australia

A 30-minute drive north of Newcastle Airport, Port Stephens boasts 26 stunning beaches, massive sand dunes, beautiful outlets and a stack of things to keep you entertained.

  1. Get out on the water
    With a bay that is two and a half times the size of Sydney Harbour, there are a number of activities to suit everyone, such as parasailing, diving, surfing or snorkeling. Port Stephens is also rightly regarded as the dolphin capital of Australia. With over 70 bottlenose dolphinscalling Port Stephens home, it’s no wonder they’re sighted so often. From late May to early November, the waters off Port Stephens are host to the magnificent acrobatic displays ofmigrating humpback whales, some weighing up to 48 tonnes. Whale-watching cruisesdeparting from Nelson Bay provide a ringside seat, but the shoreline around Fingal Bay and Anna Bay, just south of Nelson Bay, are also great viewing spots.

  2. Experience Worimi Conservation Lands
    The Worimi Conservation Lands (Stockton Bight Sand Dunes) are truly one of nature’s masterpieces, stretching for 32 kilometres. Whatever your level of adventure is, the dunes offer something for everyone. You can explore by foot, in your own 4WD, ride a quad bike or join a 4WD tour and sandboard down thirty metre high dunes. You can also join a tag-along tour to master 4WD techniques.

  3. Snorkeling at Fly Point
    Fly Point Park is located on the headland between Nelson Bay and Little Beach. Enjoy a picnic, then hit the water to explore the marine life this area has to offer. Discover the underwater world with sea caves, sponge gardens and shipwrecks.

  4. Visit the Nelson Head Heritage Lighthouse and Reserve
    Explore this spectacular site with panoramic views of the entrance to Port Stephens. The museum houses various artefacts from its previous use as a lighthouse. Afterwards take in the panoramic views from the Inner Light Tea House while enjoying an afternoon tea or a light lunch.

  5. Tomaree Headland Lookout
    Walk to the top of the Tomaree Headland Lookout to enjoy striking views of Port Stephens and the offshore islands. It will take you approximately 30 minutes to walk to the top, depending on your fitness level, but it is well worth the effort!

  6. Gan Gan Lookout
    Drive to the top of this magnificent lookout, taking in 360 degree views. Keep your eyes open for koalas, rare native birds and other wildlife and enjoy the impressive wildflower display, including giant Gymea lilies and native orchids in season.

  7. Catch a boat to Tea Gardens
    Take one of the water vessels and explore the other side of the Port. Once there you can wander around the shops at Tea Gardens and enjoy lunch on the banks of the Myall River.

  8. Try our local produce
    Pick up home made products at the local roadside stalls. Try out local oysters, seafood,macadamias, figs, olives, wines and brews.

  9. Visiting surrounding Islands
    Take a day trip to Broughton Island or visit the local seal colony at Cabbage Tree Island. The reefs which surround Broughton Island are famous for snapper and jewfish. Broughton Island is located approximately eight nautical miles North East of Port Stephens and is a part of theMyall Lakes National Park. There is a diverse range of marine life that can be spotted diving around the islands. Spot a grey nurse shark family, wobbegong and Port Jackson sharks, crayfish, large cod, schools of baitfish and extensive sponge gardens.

  10. Bushwalking Paradise
    The untouched Tomaree National Park is blessed with many interesting landscapes and has excellent walking tracks. Walking along the banks of the Tilligerry Creek almost guarantees akoala sighting. Remember to buy your “Bushwalks around Port Stephens” booklet from the Visitor Information Centre.

This article originally appeared on the Port Stephens Tourism website.  You can read the original post here

The best beaches in Australia - Travel_Australia

This country is blessed with some of the best beaches in the world. Of course it’s only natural that we believe our local beaches are the best, but we’ve thrown a couple of others in for good measure too.

Newcastle
Newcastle’s amazing beaches are within a stones-throw from the CBD.  Most of this city’s beaches are connected by the beautiful Bather’s Way which means you can see them all in one day. If you’re looking for some serious salt-and-sand time, head to:

  • Bar Beach
    The quintessential family beach, featuring a patrolled swimming area and a sheltered rock pool for children. Bar Beach is a favoured stretch for joggers and walkers, and is a great place to watch hang gliders who take off from nearby Strezlecki Lookout.

  • Newcastle Beach
    Newcastle Beach has a reputation for being one of the best surf locations in Australia.  It’s a favoured spot for board riders wishing to catch that perfect wave off Newcastle Point.  

Port Stephens

With more than 25 beaches, bays, and beautiful inlets, it’s a tough gig to pick the best beach in Port Stephens, but we shortlisted these two:

  • One Mile Beach 
    With no buildings along the beach, One Mile is one of the most natural beaches in Port Stephens.  The wide sandy beach is great for swimming and picnicking, and often has waves the perfect size for learner-surfers.

  • Fingal Bay Beach 
    A near-perfect C-curve of sand that faces southeast, Fingal Bay Beach has its own island connected by a sand-spit and is well protected from all but a hefty southeast wind. The island features an imposing lighthouse and cafes a short walk from the water’s edge. 

Gold Coast

With a 70-kilometre stretch of golden sandy beaches, you don’t have to wonder what the Gold Coast is famous for. Here’s our favourite of them all:

  • Rainbow Bay Beach
    Rainbow Bay and adjoining Snapper Rocks Beach are the southernmost beaches in Queensland.  Rainbow Bay offers a great sheltered swimming area close to shore; it’s a great spot for families and is patrolled by lifeguards. It’s no secret that this stretch of coast can produce some great surf. When the sandbars are right, the two beaches can combine to produce a classic, long, easy right-hander. The waves are popular with the surfers during southerlies, when the winds blow offshore.

Melbourne

When you think about taking a beach holiday, Melbourne probably isn’t the first place you think of. But when you’ve shopped until you want to drop, these are the best places to do just that:

  • Brighton Beach
    Along this stretch of safe, sandy bay swimming beaches are Dendy Street beach, Middle Brighton and Brighton beaches. Brighton is famous for its quaint colourful bathing boxes along the beach set against the spectacular Melbourne city skyline.

  • Aspendale Beach
    Beautiful little Aspendale Beach is 30km from the Melbourne CBD patrolled by qualified volunteer personnel from November to March each year. 

Enjoy the beach like a local and follow these beach safety tips:

Always swim between the red and yellow flags – surf lifesavers have identified this area as the safest spot to swim in the water. It’s also a good idea to always swim with a friend.

Make sure you read any safety signs at the beach and you are always welcome to ask lifeguards for more safety advice. If you find yourself needing help in the water, stay calm, and attract attention.

Check conditions before you go and find a patrolled beach by visiting www.beachsafe.org.au.


Images sourced from:

5 reasons to head to Melbourne this summer - Travel_Australia

The Boxing Day test
Howzat! It’s not just cricket; it’s Boxing Day cricket.  And it doesn’t get better than that.  This year, instead of watching from your lounge room, get in amongst the action.

http://www.cricket.com.au/tickets
 

The tennis
The best tennis players in the world descend on Melbourne from 19 January to 1 February to play in the first grand slam of the year. 

Enjoy the balmy nights, colourful fans, live entertainment and all the tennis your heart can desire.  You don’t even have to get court-side seats to enjoy the action, just head into Garden Square, soak up the atmosphere, and watch it live on the big screen.

www.ausopen.com

The Asian Cup
Coming to Australia in January 2015 the 23 day football festival kicks off in Melbourne with Australia taking on Kuwait on 9 January.

This is the biggest sporting event to come to Australia in 10 years and the largest football tournament that Australia has ever hosted.  Get to Melbourne and help cheer on our Aussie boys to victory in this Cup opening match.

http://www.afcasiancup.com/

The ‘Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier’ is on display
The National Gallery of Victoria is the only Australian venue to welcome The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From Sidewalk to the Catwalk, on show until 8 February 2015.

The exhibit showcases more than 140 garments, plus photos, sketches, stage costumes, film, television, concert and dance performances.  Those who’ve been have said “it was an assault to the senses—in the best possible way. Five stars!”

http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/whats-on/exhibitions/exhibitions/the-fashion-world-of-jean-paul-gaultier  

Melbourne’s Food and Wine Festival
Calling all foodies! We know that Melbourne is known for its great restaurants and wineries, but the Food and Wine Festival is where it all culminates in a perfect gastronomic palette of flavour. 

Prepare to take your tastebuds on a journey be it through the pop-up artisan bakery, a long-lunch for 1,500 in the city, or a low and slow barbeque opening party.  The festival runs from 27 February to 15 March.

http://www.melbournefoodandwine.com.au/


How to get there

Fly from Newcastle Airport to Melbourne with Jetstar or Virgin Australia. During summer, both airlines have added additional flights on selected days.  Visit jetstar.com or virginaustralia.com to find out more.

How to fly Newcastle to the Whitsundays - Travel_Australia

"I’m sorry I went on that holiday" said no one, ever.

Go ahead and treat yourself to a cheeky post-Christmas holiday to the Whitsundays. 

Sunshine, relaxation, and crystal clear water, need another reason to escape to the Whitsundays?

Here are three.

The Great Barrier Reef

This famous reef is world heritage listed, is the world’s largest living structure, is visible from space  and, it’s on millions of bucket lists all around the world.

The Whitsundays is the closest point off the Queensland coast to the Reef which means it’s the ideal hub for reef exploring (and possibly finding the heart reef located in the Whitsundays).

The hardest decision for us lucky enough to live a few hours flying distance away is: do we discover the majestic reef by snorkelling, or scuba diving, or flying over it first?

Whitehaven Beach

Named the 2013 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Beast Beach in Australia and number three in the world need we say more?

We’ll say just a little bit more: The beach is a seven kilometre stretch of white sand that meets aqua water.  Whitehaven Beach is known by locals as the most photographed beach in Australia.

Hot tip: Go to Tongue Point on low tide for the full experience of colours this beach can offer.

Relaxing getaway

When you’re on a summer beach holiday, it’s mandatory to pamper yourself (well, it is in my world anyway), and the Whitsundays won’t disappoint in the pampering department.  See you after I’ve had a massage, foot spa, mani and pedi, and spray tan to kick start the browning process….(the only safe tan is a fake tan).

How to get there

Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Australia all fly Newcastle to the Whitsundays (Proserpine), hubbing through Brisbane.  This makes it all very easy, and cuts out the hassle and stress of the M1 and the two hour trip south to fly north. 

Jetstar and Virgin Australia both have one-way fares from $154 each way* – that’s around $300 return. Bargain! 

*Prices correct as at  16 January 2016 for travel between 22 and 27 February 2016.

Information and images sourced from http://www.tourismwhitsundays.com.au

How to travel from Newcastle to Adelaide - Travel_Australia

Adelaide is at the very top of Newcastle Airport’s wish list. And we know it’s at the top of many of your wish lists too.

We know the demand for a flight between Newcastle and Adelaide is very high – we’re constantly asked about it on social media, via email, and from our own staff!

Our own market research supports this informal feedback, which means all signs point to Adelaide.

But, as you may have read in our blog post called ‘How Newcastle Airport secures a new destination’ we can present this information to the airlines, but they’re the ones who ultimately decide where they fly.

In the meantime, our resident Adelaidean, Angela, has shared with us how she travels from Newcastle to Adelaide, avoiding the drive to Sydney. 

Hi Angela, how do you fly from Newcastle to Adelaide?
I depart Newcastle, hub through Melbourne Airport, and land in Adelaide.  

Why do you travel to Adelaide?
Adelaide is my home! I am originally from Adelaide and all my family and friends live in and around Adelaide so I make the trip about three to four times a year.

Which airline do you fly with?
I am happy to fly with any airline but I do like Virgin Australia.

Do you take carry on or have checked luggage?
I generally have checked luggage as I usually spend a bit of time in Adelaide (plus I like shopping so need extra room in my bag).

If you have checked luggage, do they send it all the way to Adelaide, or do you pick it up and re-check it before the second leg of your journey?
Virgin Australia allows me to check my luggage all the way through which is one of the major reasons I like prefer travelling with them.

Have you ever had issues with the luggage?
Never!

What time do you arrive at Newcastle Airport and what time is your flight (usually)?
On most occasions I have taken the early (aka red eye) flight to allow me to spend as much time in Adelaide as possible. The early flight allows me to get to Melbourne early then take a flight from Melbourne that gets me to Adelaide by approximately 11am.

How long is the stop-over?
It can range from one to three hours. But the shops at Melbourne Airport are pretty good so I am very happy to have a little wonder around the airport and shop for a couple of hours! It makes the time pass very quickly.

How long does the whole trip there take?
From when I leave the front door to touching down in Adelaide approximately four hours – (three hours flying, and one hour transit which can include a leisurely shop!)

What’s the cheapest and most expensive flight ticket you purchased for this journey?
Cheapest would have been $400 and most expensive would have been $830. It can save you a lot of money to book well in advance of your travel date. Spontaneous trips are generally more expensive.

Why don’t you drive to Sydney and fly to Adelaide from there? Have you taken this option before?
I have taken this option too, but I have found that what I save in the airfare I end up paying for petrol to get to the airport and in parking at the airport. Add to that the hours wasted in getting to the airport and sitting in the Sydney traffic.

Would you recommend flying from Newcastle to Adelaide to your friends / family?
Yes, most definitely. Direct flights would be amazing, but the hubbing options available are really easy and work for me.


Flights with Virgin Australia to Adelaide start from $304.42* return during the October – November 2014 travel period. 


Book now before they’re sold out!
www.virginaustralia.com.au 

*Prices correct at 17 September 2014 

You’re on track for a great trip to the Gold Coast - Travel_Australia


The Gold Coast, it’s stunning, famous for fun, and a staple in the Newcastle Airport network. 
Next time you’re on the Gold Coast, we recommend the G:link tram to get around the area.

The brand new G:link tram operates a little north of the Gold Coast Airport
, tracking from Broadbeach (near Pacific Fair Shopping Centre), through Surfers Paradise, Southport, then stopping at Griffith University.

The 13 kilometre light rail strip links a range of services and attractions like Griffith University, the hospital, shops, and of course the beautiful beaches the Gold Coast is famous for.

The light rail is a hit with those living on the Gold Coast, and it’s a great way for visitors to see the sights of ‘the Goldie’ like a local.



There are 14 light rail vehicles (trams) servicing 16 stations. Each tram has air conditioning, dedicated spaces for wheelchairs and prams,
there is even a space designed for your surfboard – you are in Surfers Paradise after all!

This is Queensland’s first light rail system and will play a key role during the 2018 Commonwealth Games
carrying spectators between games venues, major accommodation centres of Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach, along with the proposed Athletes Village at Parklands.

If you’re planning to ride the G (that’s Queensland-speak for using the G:Link) keep in mind that you can’t buy tickets on board, so make sure you select your ticket you will purchase before you hop on. Options include:

go card
This entitles you to travel on any service throughout the Translink public transport network. You can top the card up and touch on and off the designated machine and the go card will calculate the best fare.
Paper ticket
Are only available for one-way journeys and can be used on any Translink public transport service within two hours. Paper tickets are only available on board buses and fare machines.
SEEQ card
Are recommended for tourists as they offer more than $700 in offers and discounts which can be used at more than 80 destinations.

Flights to the Gold Coast

Jetstar flies direct to the Gold Coast from Newcastle, with fares during September and October starting at $59* one-way.  

*Price correct as at 8 August 2014

**Images sourced from facebook.com/VisitGoldCoast and www.ridetheg.com.au

Get a new perspective on Melbourne - Travel_Australia

Hands up if shopping is the first thing you think of when your hear somebody say Melbourne. Do your thoughts immediately go to Bridge Road, Chapel Street, and the factory outlets?

On my last visit to Melbourne I gave myself (and my bank balance) a break from salivating over shoes and drooling over designer threads, and instead saw beautiful Melbourne from a new perspective.

Having heard the hype about the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, and knowing that it is the only giant observation wheel in the southern hemisphere, I decided to check out what all the fuss what about.

I moseyed on down to Docklands, indulged in a cappuccino and a sweet-treat and then headed to the Wheel.  Much to my surprise, there was practically no line up and we were swiftly escorted into one of the air-conditioned-weather-proof-pods and up, up and away we went.

One rotation gave us a full 30 minutes to enjoy the uninterrupted, 360-degree views of Melbourne’s CBD, the Docklands precinct, Port Phillip Bay, and as far as Mount Macedon and the Dandenong Range. I rued not having my SLR to take proper breathtaking photos, but my phone did give me some good Instagram fodder.  (Hot tip: Make sure you tag @melbourne_star in your pictures as proof you rose above the shops.)

I was astounded by the perfect vantage point of Melbourne the glass pod gave me.  It was all so pretty. 

We stuck around Docklands that afternoon and discovered that at twilight, the wheel comes alive with light (which I later learned was thanks to 15 million different LED light combinations). It really is just beautiful.

And next time if I’m feeling a little romantic, I think I’ll impress my special person with the exclusive use of our own private cabin and sip champagne and enjoy some decadent desserts provided by Melbourne Star’s very own catering team. Yes please.

Location
Melbourne Star Observation Wheel in Docklands, the city’s waterfront precinct. This is also conveniently located right next to Harbour Town DFO (if you really can’t resist a shopping fix).

Cost
A 30 minute ride on the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel starts at $19 per person or $82 for a family of four. It operates every day between 10am and 10pm and is wheelchair accessible.

Flights to Melbourne

Jetstar and Virgin Australia both fly direct to Melbourne from Newcastle, with fares during August and September starting at $55* one-way.  

*Price correct as at 30 July 2014


Images sourced from: instagram.com/melbourne_star

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