Australia tagged posts

The Australian Open Tennis: The Laid-back and Fun Grand Slam

Fans of The Australian Open MFP

The Australian Open, in Melbourne, sizzles in January…literally and metaphorically.  It is often called the People’s Open because the grounds passes are affordable, its outer courts have a fun family atmosphere and loads of people from the Northern Hemisphere come Down Under to escape the northern winter and bask in the sunshine.

To get you in the swing of things, here is the lowdown on the sort of atmosphere you are likely to experience.

Many fans dress up to support their favorite players.  There’ll be lots of people draped in the Australian flag with large Mexican-style Australian flag or yellow and green hats. Canadians might have their red maple leaf flag painted across their faces. The Dutch dress in bright orange.  There is no limit to the creativity. Fans of rising Thai tennis star Luksika Kumkhum wear home-made We Love Luksika.  A couple of French fans wear Napoleon hats.

facepainting-72* Crowd Pleasers: There are often group organizers at popular matches that start crowd wave...

Read More

Six of Australia’s Best Beaches

Australia's Best Beaches

Whitehaven Beach

Around the world’s largest island, life is a beach. Actually about 12,000 beaches and not just any old beaches.  Australia has some of the world’s best with fine quartz sand created from its ancient granite rocks and pulverized shells. Its clean oceans are renowned for rolling surf, the envy of board riders around the world, and its massive reef systems teem with marine life. Many beaches are protected by national parks and have scenic headlands and coastal dunes with vegetation that ranges from tropical to temperate.

Before jumping in the deep end, a word of warning. These visions of paradise can be treacherous.  Always swim between the red and yellow flags (460 beaches are patrolled), which designate safe and supervised areas, and remember to use sunscreen and wear sun protection.

Bondi...

Read More

The Nine Best Aboriginal Experiences in Australia

Learning to spear fish at Kooljaman at Cape Leveque

Indigenous tourism is flourishing all over Australia as visitors and locals alike are keen to learn more about the ancient wisdom and cultural traditions of the world’s oldest living culture.  Here is a sampling of intriguing offerings that range from short bush tucker walks, didgeridoo lessons and guided rock-art tours to multi-day cultural immersions.  For more information, check out Aboriginal Tourism Australia.

Read More

The Rowley Shoals: Australia’s Secret Underwater Paradise

Rowley shoals mfp header

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...

Read More

Photo Friday: outrigger canoe in Papua New Guinea

PHoto Friday outrigger

I took this photo while on a multi-day, 80-kilometer kayaking trip in Papua New Guinea with Australian-owned No Roads Expeditions.

My husband and I and our three teenage daughters paddled alongside the Tigak and Tsoi islands – coral atolls with swaying coconut palms that meander from the main island of New Ireland to the brooding jungle-covered hulk of Lavongai.

One day, I paddled with local guide, Lapin who couldn’t wait to show us his home on Nusakelo. “I love my island – the wide sandy beach, the orchard and vegetable garden, the coral reef,” he says quietly. “Can you believe an American found Nusakelo on Google Maps and tried to buy it for $70,000? We said ‘No.’ because we want to keep it just the way it is.”

Lapin’s relatives arrive in outriggers, painted the same delicate turquoise as the surrounding sea. They brought the day’s catch for our lunch. This photo is of one of their outriggers left on the side of the lagoon.

New Guinea is a surprising place...

Read More

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...

Read More

Byron Bay’s Best Aussie Beach Cottages

Imeson Cottage has a spectacular view of Clarkes Beach in Byron Bay

Byron Bay beach cottage with panoramic ocean view

Byron Bay on the North Coast of New South Wales has the answer to all our fantasies about the perfect Aussie beach cottage. They have beach cottages to suit just about every family and friend configuration and better yet, they are actually right behind the beach!

There is something built into the Australian DNA that summertime must be spent with family and/or friends in a simple beach house as close to the water as possible. Memories of salty sun-kissed bodies, towels thrown over veranda railings, surfboards propped against the fence, and casual barbecues within earshot of the surf bring us all back to those carefree days.

Problem is that in most cases our aesthetic has grown up a little and there is a huge gap between those wistful fantasies and the real life comforts we all now seek on holiday...

Read More

Photo Friday: Packing Prosecco Picnic in Victoria’s King Valley

Forges Farm offers a Packing Prosecco picnic in the King Valley

I took this Photo Friday image in the bucolic King Valley in Victoria’s High Country.

The afternoon sun glints on the Prosecco glasses set beside platters of local Milawa cheeses and crusty bread. Ancient river red gums shade our picnic area, set with hessian-covered hay bales, blankets and bright pillows as Hereford cows feast on clover in a nearby paddock. Our horses also enjoyed chomping on those sweet green grasses on the 20-minute pack horse ride…more of a lazy amble really…to the picnic spot along the King River on Forges Farm.

How do you pack a horse

Fifth generation cattle farmers Anne Marie and Graham Forge are the last original settler family on the King River. Before we had set out, they’d demonstrated the fine art of packing horses, once used to take supplies into the high country.

“I am so proud to be living and working on the same piece of property as my forefathers,” says Anne Marie. “And it’s great to be able to show visitors our packhorse skills.”

Lo...

Read More

Saffire Freycinet: Tasmanian Luxury Lodge by a Secluded Beach

Saffire Freycinet on Great Oyster Bay in Tasmania

I have always thought that Tasmania’s Saffire Freycinet is one of Australia’s finest luxury lodges, not only because it is in a stellar location by a secluded beach but also because it offers exceptional intuitive service and a wide range of luxury experiences.

Tasmania’s Saffire Freycinet was named 2014 Grand Award Winner in Andrew Harper’s world renowned luxury Hideaway Report. Harper describes Saffire Freycinet as a “superb contemporary 20-room resort nestled in a eucalyptus forest beside Great Oyster Bay. Floor-to-ceiling windows in three-story main lodge grant magnificent views of the pink-hued Hazards Mountains across the bay.”

This is another huge stamp of international approval for Luxury Lodges of Australia, which is a collection of independent luxury lodges and camps offering unforgettable experiences in Australia’s most inspiring and extraordinary wilderness locations.

The award is richly deserved.

Saffire Freycinet offers a design-rich but low-key and sophisticated retreat in exquisite natural surroundings on the edge of Tasmania’s Freycinet Peninsula. The name itself conjures up its setting with the merging of the sapphire blue waters of Coles Bay with the fiery hues of the pink granite Hazard Mountain Range at sunset…ergo the jewel of Tasmania.

With its swooping stingray-shaped roof, its dramatic ceiling made of ribbed golden celery-top pine and its wall of windows overlooking the water and mountains, the main lodge makes a grand statement but is also warm and welcoming. The lounge area offers comfortable couches and chairs, with Tasmanian Huon pine stumps for tables, lots of games and a long gas fireplace providing warmth in wild and wintry weather.

While the design is stunning, it is...

Read More

Photo Friday: Whitehaven is one of the world’s best beaches

Whitehaven Beach in Queensland's Whitsunday region is one of the world's most beautiful beaches

Whitehaven Beach, located in the heart of the Whitsundays region of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, is regularly voted one of the world’s most beautiful beaches.

Comprised of 100 percent pure white silica, the seven-kilometer beach stretches along one side of Whitsunday Island, which is the largest of the 74 islands in the Whitsunday region.

At the northern end of Whitehaven Beach is Hill Inlet, which is a stunning cover where the tide shifts the sand and water to create an ever changing fusion of colors.

I took this picture on a scenic helicopter flight from Hamilton Island. We swept along the full stretch of Whitehaven Beach before heading out to Heart Reef, the other iconic attraction in this part of the world.

There are several ways to access Whitehaven Beach. Many companies offer day trips (from Airlie Beach or Hamilton Island) by  power boat or sailing boat. Most overnight sailing trips also stop here...

Read More