Category Wildlife

Insider tips on exploring the Komodo Islands

Three Komodo dragons up close

Three Komodo dragons sunbake at the waterhole. Each is three-meters-long with prehistoric claws, beady eyes and scaly skin, which looks like woven metal armor. It feels like I’ve done a Dr Who and dropped into a dinosaur convention. Our diminutive guide is armed with nothing but a pronged stick.

One heaves itself up and lurches towards me, so close I can hear its guttural hiss. A foot-long pink forked tongue darts in and out of its mouth. Meanwhile, saliva is drooling from the other two. Even DreamWorks couldn’t have come up with scarier looking creatures. Suddenly, my walk in the Komodo Islands National Park doesn’t feel like…well…a walk in the park anymore.

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The World’s Best Rock Art at Max Davidson’s Arnhemland Safaris

Mount Borradaile guards remarkable indigenous rock art

Mount Borradaile is a sacred site in Australia’s Aboriginal Arnhemland overlooking a tropical Garden of Eden

East of Kakadu National Park across the crocodile-infested East Alligator River my family and I go deep into Aboriginal Arnhem Land in search of some of the world’s best rock art plus a tropical Garden of Eden teeming with birds, fish and exotic reptiles. We are visiting Max Davidson’s Arnhemland Safaris at Mount Borradaile, a comfortable collection of tree-shaded cabins encircling an airy dining room with deck and swimming pool.  It is the only tourist operation in Australia located on a sacred Aboriginal site.

Mount...

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Five of the Best Day Trips to the Great Barrier Reef

GBR MPFThe Great Barrier Reef is the most magical marine environment on the planet. The world’s largest living structure, it is made up of more than 400 different kinds of hard and soft corals and is home to 1500 species of brilliantly colored tropical fish not to mention whales, dolphins and turtles. No wonder then that thousands of people travel across the globe to explore its watery paradise. That’s why there are so many reef trips on offer which, paradoxically, makes it no picnic to plan a day trip, given the baffling range of boats and adventures.

Here is an insider’s guide to what five different reef adventures from Cairns and Port Douglas are really like so you can make informed decisions about which trips are best for you based on your interests, age and skill levels.

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Cruising the Australian Kimberley Wilderness Coast

The rocks in the Australian Kimberley region are incredibly ancient

We are 400 kilometers by sea from Broome, on one of Aurora Expeditions’ many land-based adventures during their 10-night cruise between Broome and Darwin along Australia’s rugged remote Kimberley coastline.

The Kimberley was the first area in Australia settled by Aboriginals when sea crossings from the north were a mere 30 kilometers. There is compelling evidence that humans have lived here for more than 50,000 years.

Remar...

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Four of the Best Sydney Harbourside Walks

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Sydney may be a city of five million people but it also has more than 400 hectares of natural harbor waterfront that is best accessed by a remarkable network of walking trails.

We can thank the early colonists’ fear of being invaded for the creation of the Sydney Harbour National Park, which was established in the 1970s when numerous military and naval installations on prime harbor-front property were decommissioned.

Today, in conjunction with a patchwork of local preserves, you can walk through stands of Sydney red gums, she oaks, heath land and sub-tropical rainforest alive with native bird life, explore fascinating historical sites and enjoy jaw-dropping harbour views. Not only that, there are aboriginal middens and rock art as well as secluded beaches far from the madding crowds. Many of the trails also pass alongside some downright spectacular waterfront mansions so you can get your fix of the lifestyles of the rich and famous too!

Taronga Z...

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The Rowley Shoals: Australia’s Secret Underwater Paradise

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In the middle of the open ocean I’m flying along a coral channel whose water is so clear I could be a large black bird finning through the sky. Below me giant clams flash by with their gaudy dance hall smiles, aquamarine parrot fish nibble on coral bommies, white-tipped reef sharks lurk in shadows and schools of tiny neon-bright yellow fish dart amongst intricate coralline structures.

Just ahead, I try to catch up with the “Hey Dude” turtle in Little Nemo. Only we are nowhere near the Eastern Australian Current on the Great Barrier Reef.

What and where are the Rowley Shoals?

Fourteen of us are drift snorkeling on the other side of the continent at the Rowley Shoals, 250 kilometers northwest of Broome. They are three tear-drop-shaped reefs which thrust up a dizzying 400 meters from the ocean floor on the edge of the world’s widest continental shelf. This reef ride is one of the few in the world that is courtesy of a five-meter tide, which rises and falls in six hours...

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Sunshine Coast Hinterland Gourmet Hike

There's a jungle out there in the Sunshine Coast hinterland

Most people think the Sunny Coast is all about beaches and alfresco dining in Noosa, Mooloolaba and Caloundra but an entire alternative ecosystem is tucked into the folds of its ancient mountain ranges. In fact, there’s a whole jungle to explore in the Sunshine Coast hinterland…and some mighty fine raw materials for a gourmet getaway.

Black and white dairy cows graze on lime-green pastures. Avocado and macadamia trees burst out of the red earth. Ridge-top gardens peer over the Glasshouse Mountains to the blue Pacific and a family of distinctive villages beckons, each as idiosyncratic as other people’s children.

Two of the Great Walks of Queensland are here too. The 58-kilometer Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk and the 56-kilometer Conondale Range Great Walk rumble through the jungle to the evocative soundtrack of tropical birds and cicadas.

Narrows Escape Rainforest Lodge

Narrow Escape Rainforest Retreat partners with Off Beat Eco Tours to offer a gourmet hiking adventure

Hardy hikers bunk down in campsites along the way but for those of us who prefer our walking in the wild wi...

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Jean Michel Cousteau is Fiji’s best eco, family and diving resort

Jean Michel Cousteau Resort  is renowned for  its eco credentials and wonderful kids program

Fiji’s award-winning environmentally responsible Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, Fiji is built on 17 acres of a former coconut plantation overlooking the peaceful waters of Savusavu Bay on Vanua Levu Island. With one of the most impressive and engaging kids clubs in the world as well as an extensive array of adventure and pampering offerings, it is an exclusive escape for couples, families, and discerning travellers looking for an authentic Fijian experience.

Arrival and Location

It is a one-hour flight from Nadi or Suva. Guests are met at the tiny airport on Vanua Levu and given cool towels and cold water before being whisked away to the resort in a comfortable four wheel drive.

A group of...

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Photo Friday: The Endangered Orangutans of Borneo

Indonesia's orangutans are endangered because their habitat is being destroyed

Becky is a young orangutan mother who is very skilled at teaching her baby to live in the wilds of the Borneo jungle in Indonesia. Under her silent but perfectly calibrated watchful gaze he climbs up and down the tree trunk and right to the edge of the branch she is sitting on. Becky is displaying the sort of initiative and teaching skills that are hallmarks of orangutans’ superior intelligence

Sadly, orangutans such as Becky are under serious threat due to the fact that almost 80% of Indonesia’s rainforest has been lost in the past 50 years. Australia’s neighbor is the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, due almost solely to the destruction of its rainforests and carbon-rich peat lands for palm oil production.

Orangutan Odysseys

I visit Central Kalimantan or Indonesian Borneo with Australian-owned Orangutan Odysseys, the only orangutan tour company that visits all the orangutan quarantine stations in both Borneo and Sumatra...

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Best Luxury Resort in New South Wales: Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa

Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa: luxury and conservation

The Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa offers a beguiling mix of unbridled luxury and environmental sustainability.  If you are looking for the best luxury resort in New South Wales, this is it. Even better, it is immersed in a dramatic outback landscape which the resort has gone to great pains to preserve, restore and protect.

It feels like you have entered a lost world when you arrive. The 4,000-acre conservancy reserve is located at the base of its own hidden canyon surrounded by ancient sun-drenched escarpments in a tucked-away part of the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains several hours’ drive out of Sydney.

It is the first carbon neutral resort in the world to be certified through an internationally accredited greenhouse gas program and one of its key initiatives has been to restore the indigenous habitat of the former cattle property, including planting of more than 175,000 indigenous plants and restoring of the original 1832 homestead.

Occupying just two per cent of the reserve, the $125-million resort features a two-story barn-like main homestead building, constructed of wood, sandstone and glass, plus on-site recycled building materials, and an entire flotilla of 40 free-standing luxury Federation-style bungalows.

The r...

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