Posts for Oceania Category

Top Three Locations for Water Sports in Australia

Destinations, Oceania - Ross French - September 17, 2012

Guest Post

Australia is blessed with a stunning coastline – and plenty of it. Getting to Australia is easy by plane and using a frequent flyer card can even earn you points helping you save up for your next flight. There are some fabulous places for beach holidays and with massive sweeping swathes of golden sands and crystal clear waters, it’s no surprise that water sports are a hugely popular pastime with Australians and visitors. Pretty much anywhere you go will have a wonderful tourist offer but here are the three best locations for water sports:

1. Cairns for diving

Located in North Queensland, Cairns is the destination of choice for those who want to scuba dive or snorkel in the world-famous Great Barrier Reef. The reef is one of the country’s most well-known attractions and is teeming with marine life. Cairns and its immediate environs is home to a number of tour companies specialising in leading groups of divers and snorkelers out to the reef and Coral Sea. Many cater to novice or beginning scuba divers and snorkelers, while other tours are exclusively for divers that have already been certified.

Tours last anywhere from a few hours to several days and can be booked ahead of time with a credit card. Using rewards cards is advisable as you have refund protection and purchase protection which is handy when abroad. Underneath the shimmering blue waters off the coast of Cairns is a variety of hard and soft corals along with a rainbow of tropical fish. The reef is also home to the green sea turtle, potato cod, reef sharks, eels and more.

2. Sydney for surfing

While its famous opera house and bridge make Sydney an iconic city, it’s also home to the best surfing in Australia. North Narrabeen is a popular surfing spot with locals. The perfectly formed waves along the shore are a surfer’s dream. For bigger waves, visitors can choose to paddle out to the deeper water. Just south of the famous Bondi Beach, Tamarama is an excellent spot for experienced surfers and onlookers. Swells along this stretch of water regularly reach 15 feet, providing seasoned surfers with a challenge. For those content to sit back and watch, Tamarama is backed by cliffs boasting excellent views of both the beach and the city. Novice surfers can head to either Bondi or Manly beach, both located in Sydney as well. The beaches offers smaller waves more suitable for beginners and are also home to surf schools where lessons can be purchased on the spot or in advance via credit card.


3. Victoria for white water rafting

Australia is not without its freshwater, and with freshwater comes whitewater rafting. Victoria is home to the Mitta Mitta and Murray rivers, two of the most popular white water rafting spots in the country. Taking visitors through the scenic Australian Alps, rafting through this region of the country gives visitors a unique perspective on the Australian wilderness. The rafting season lasts 11 months, and there are sections of the rivers that are suitable for beginners. Visitors can book online with their credit card, and choose from day of rafting or larger packaged deals which include several days of rafting, camping and even skiing.

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5 Things to do in New Zealand for Adrenaline Junkies

Oceania - Ross French - July 26, 2012


Guest Post

Whilst Queenstown, located on the South Island, may be known as the adventure capital of the world, you’ll find a whole range of adrenaline pumping activities throughout all of New Zealand. Whether you’re into skydiving or want to take on the challenge of bungee jumping, you’ll find it all amongst the land of the long white cloud. For adrenaline junkies, New Zealand is truly a paradise, with ever changing conditions providing new challenges during every season! If you’re heading to New Zealand for your next holiday, be sure to try one, or all, of these awesome adventures!


Highest Bungy in New Zealand
When you think of adrenaline sports, most people think of Bungy Jumping. If you decide that your poison is Bungy Jumping in New Zealand, you must try the Nevis jump – New Zealand’s highest bungy at 134 metres. Rising nearly 100 metres higher than most common jumps, this is not one for the faint hearted.

Heli Skiing
Now who said you could only have fun in the summertime? Heli skiing is one of the most popular adrenaline sports, taking place on the mountain ranges surrounding Queenstown. While it’s common to book a snow holiday to New Zealand, you can really take it to the next level by having the ultimate adrenaline rush of heli skiing.

Off-road Adventures
While all the hype is about adventure activities in Queenstown, Auckland’s terrain provides the perfect environment for some insane outdoor activities. Try an 8×8 off-road adventure as you speed through the rough terrain of Auckland’s countryside – strap yourself in because this is sure to be the ride of your life! If this sounds like your cup of tea, a cheap flight to Auckland can easily be found for tourists travelling from Australia; talk to your travel agent today about holiday packages!

Canyon Swing
One of the most unique adrenaline pumping experiences in the world, the Canyon Swing will see you gliding above the Shotover River at speeds of up at 150kmph. Just metres from sheer cliff faces, you’ll experience an enormous free fall, followed by a 200 metre swing across the river. You have the option of jumping solo or with a friend, making this a fantastic group experience. This is a great activity for those who are a little unsure of bungy jumping, but still want a great story to tell the friends back home!

Sky Diving
There is no other skydiving experience in the world, than that found amongst the surrounds of New Zealand. Like any other sky dive, you’ll propel yourself out of a small plane, thousands of feet above sea level, as you plummet towards the ground – the difference in new Zealand is that you’ll be simply left in awe once you pull your parachute. As far as the eye can see, you’ll be surrounded by the wonders of nature; rolling mountain ranges, glaciers, pristine lakes and more.

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Sydney Style

Destinations, Oceania - Ross French - April 11, 2012

Sydney, Australia Sydney, Australia

Sydney style – must-see destinations when visiting Australia’s cultural capital

Guest Post

Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia

Though Sydney never fails to thrill, it’s particularly enticing this time of year. Summer somehow continues, and this town expresses itself in style, in the sunshine of day, and the cool of night. The sand and surf are sure to draw you out of the house; however, this city is more than just the beach. A short train ride or ferry trip can expose you to a new, exciting part of town. Sydney culture is nothing if not diverse.

Experience the coastline.
Tamarama walk is a fresh way to experience the iconic Bondi Beach, an easy train ride from Sydney Hotels near central Station. Tamarama wraps around the stony cliff face and stares out at the huge expanse of sea which makes Sydney so popular.

Hang out with the animals
Closer to the city is Taronga Zoo, a world of its own. The ferry ride which takes visitors from Circular Quay to the Zoo is itself a gorgeous way to see Sydney, and makes for a breezy, refreshing trip.

Taronga Zoo, an exotic oasis, full of sea creatures, hanging chimps and stomping elephants, close to the heart of the throbbing city, makes for an exotic surprise. Taronga Zoo is a world famous centre for animal preservation and conservation education.

Hop on the monorail
However, there are easier ways to see the sights in this town. The Sydney monorail takes its patrons close to the iconic Sydney skyline and is an easy means of seeing secret hotspots from a comfortable seat. The monorail also stops at Sydney’s Paddy Markets, a bustling spot for easy shopping. Surry Hills Markets, a short trip from Sydney’s central station, offers a secret market of its own.

Here in trendy, popular Surry Hills you can pick up delicious snacks and many trinkets.

Relax at the end of your day
Surry Hills hotels make for a plush end to the day. Close to cafes and coffee shops, this is a hip part of town. Make yourself comfortable and take a breather in Sydney’s trendy inner city. Here too you can catch a play at the local theatre on Belvoir Street, and eat some spicy Thai at the popular restaurant Spice I Am, a short walk from Central Station.

Exploration isn’t necessarily everything in this town; however it pays to stretch yourself in Sydney. While simply walking the streets is sure to please, finding secret hotspots and leaving the city to see Sydney’s surrounds, make for an even nicer stay in Sydney.

Daniel Nour is a Sydney travel columnist and one of Sydney’s happiest celebrants. He enjoys cooking, silly movies and warm evenings, and checking out the latest Surry Hills hotels.

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A Travelers Guide to the Sydney Opera House

Destinations, Oceania - Ross French - March 30, 2012

Sydney, Australia Sydney, Australia

Guest Post

Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia

Located in Sydney, New South Wales, the Sydney Opera House is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world and one of the largest tourist attractions in Australia. Contrary to popular belief, this extraordinary building is not only used for opera, but is used for a variety of events including music, theater, dance and rock concerts. In addition to events and tourist activities around the building in Sydney Harbor, Sydney Opera House is also one of Australia’s most popular photography spots. Pictures of tourists with the Opera House in the background is a bucket list photograph to many travelers to this beautiful city Down Under.

Architecture and History

The architect for the Sydney Opera House actually won a contest that was held to determine who would construct the new Sydney Opera House back in the mid-50s.

In 1957, a Danish architect named Jorn Utzon won the privilege, beating out over 200 entries, and construction began. However, because of the technical difficulty of building a building so large and uniquely shaped for its time, it took about 8 years to complete just the shell of the building. Finally, in 1973, the building opened to much fanfare by Queen Elizabeth II. Today, the Sydney Opera House is now an UNESCO World Heritage Site even as it undergoes modern internal changes to keep up with changing technology and performance trends.

Getting There

If arriving by public transport, inquire about a bus, train or ferry to Circular Quay. This transport hub is approximately a 5 minute walk to the opera house. There is a complimentary shuttle bus before performances and for travelers in physical need. Check the individual sites for Sydney buses, City Rail and Sydney Ferries for times and pickup locations as well as with the reception at your hotel as some Sydney accommodation properties offer tours direct from their door. If driving a personal vehicle, Sydney Opera House Car Park is available, but may be full during events. Additional parking is available on at a secure park on MacQuarie Street, and at various hotels on Philip Street and Alfred Street.

Tours and Other Itinerary Musts

Travelers don’t have to hold event tickets to take a look around the opera house. The Essential Tour lasts one hour and costs approximately $35 for adults. Interested in how productions run at the Sydney Opera House? Backstage tours are available during certain times if events or performances are not in session. Asian tours for Japanese, Korean and Chinese speaking travelers as well as child specific tours are also available for variable costs. Tickets can be ordered in advance by calling the opera house or by visiting the box office at the complex. The Opera House also boasts restaurants in and around the area as well as beer gardens.

Many event ticket holders are welcome to dine before or after shows, but many venues are available to the curious traveler seeking a cold beverage and a quick lunch. Lastly, if none of this strikes your adventure bone, buy a ticket to Sydney Highlights Experience and enjoy a seaplane tour circling the Opera House over Sydney Harbor.

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5 Australian Travel Tips You Won’t Read In Guide Books

Oceania - Ross French - February 27, 2012


Guest Post

When travelling down under, there are plenty of things you can read in all the guide books about Bondi Beach, the Harbour Bridge, the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, Tasmania….. the list goes on and on. But there are a few tips you won’t read in the travel books, and it pays to keep them handy when you’re in the land of Oz. Read our hints, get ready, and pack your thongs (the footwear kind).

•    Don’t get involved in the Sydney vs. Melbourne debate. Nobody ever wins. Ever.
East coast Aussies and travellers, for some inane reason, love to endlessly debate about which city is “better” – sunny, pretty Sydney, or its slightly uglier but über cool little sister Melbourne. The fact of the matter is, everyone’s just wasting their breath. Nobody will ever be convinced, no matter how clever your argument, and we’re all sick of hearing everyone’s opinions on the matter. Just visit both cities, enjoy each one for what it is, experience Sydney’s incredible beaches and beautiful waterways and Melbourne’s amazing bars, restaurants and cultural scene – And if you do happen to end up liking one more than the other, just kindly smile and shut up about it next time you’re at the pub and someone raises the topic.

    •    You won’t actually get killed by a psychopathic bush killer if you take a road trip – If you haven’t already seen the film “Wolf Creek”, don’t. Yes, be vigilant when you’re road tripping, yes be safe, yes travel with other hot travellers if you must, but don’t let a movie, as scary as it may be, deter you from renting used cars and going on the most epic great Australian road trip of your life, even if said movie is loosely based on true events (ok so probably shouldn’t have mentioned that last part…)


    •    Drop Bears are a real thing…only if you’ve been completely duped by a prankster
It’s an enduring urban myth – the terrifying Australian Drop Bear. You’ll find a gory artist’s interpretation if you do a quick Google search, as well as this funny Bundaberg Rum ad which references the cultural myth.

    •    A ‘barbie’ in Australia is not a plastic blonde doll
Ok, said big-breasted plastic doll does exist in Australia, but more often than not, when you hear an Australian talking about a barbie, they’re more like to be referencing that essential, wonderful piece of cookware which is a stock standard feature of backyards and balconies in almost every household all over the country. Yes, many Australian girls will have memories of the time Barbie accidentally ended up on the barbie, perhaps at the hands of a pesky little brother, but that’s a story for another time….


    •    “Winter” is really more of a figurative term
Australian winters are mild, and in fact most travellers prefer to visit between June and August, particularly if they’re hitting up the red centre to see Uluru, Alice Springs and other parts of the Northern Territory. Temperatures are much more bearable than in the middle of a scorching hot summer. Just be sure to rug up at night – The desert can be a cold place when the sun goes down.


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