Australia

  • Get Festive in New South Wales

    Vivid Sydney

    Sydney Harbour | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    Sydney Harbour | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    The weather in Sydney in May is absolutely beautiful and the addition of  Vivid Sydney enhances your stay. Vivid Sydney is the world’s largest festival of light, showcasing innovation and creativity across the iconic city. The Sydney skyline, harbor, Opera House and bridge all come alive with bright light installations each night during the festival. This spectacle of light and music transforms the city into an artistic wonderland. You can even view from a private boat on the harbor! I would add an extra day in Sydney to experience it.

    Crystallise Light Installation | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    Crystallise Light Installation | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    Magicians of the Mist | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    Magicians of the Mist | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    New Year’s Eve in Sydney

    New Year's Eve Fireworks | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    New Year’s Eve Fireworks | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    It was my first New Year’s Eve in Sydney, and knowing I would soon be climbing the bridge, sailing under it and seeing the world’s most spectacular fireworks display, had my adrenaline surging. The evening begins cruising around Sydney Harbour for a few hours enjoying champagne and the view. Then, they serve dinner after the first round of mesmerizing fireworks. Finally, right at midnight, the second round of fireworks begins which lasted much longer. The finale could not be put into words. New Year’s Eve in Sydney exceeded my expectations.

    Sydney Harbour Fireworks | Photo Credit: Ian Swain II

    Sydney Harbour Fireworks | Photo Credit: Ian Swain II

    Opera House on New Year's Eve | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    Opera House on New Year’s Eve | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    Handa on the Opera

    Sydney Opera House | Photo Credit: Opera Australia

    Sydney Opera House | Photo Credit: Opera Australia

    Imagine sitting on the edge of the park in the Royal Botanical Gardens, with Opera Australia performing on a floating stage and the famed Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as the back drop. Each year the performance changes! I suggest taking the VIP package with access to the lounge before and during the intermission. This is not an event to be missed!

    Hosh Carmen Dancer | Photo Credit: Opera Australia

    Hosh Carmen Dancer | Photo Credit: Opera Australia

    Madama Butterfly | Photo Credit: Opera Australia

    Madama Butterfly | Photo Credit: Opera Australia

    May 23, 2018 • Articles, Australia, Destinations, Ian Swain Sr, Travels • Views: 3401

  • Where to Stay in New South Wales

    The Langham Sydney

    Lobby | Photo Credit: The Langham, Sydney

    Lobby | Photo Credit: The Langham, Sydney

    The Langham Sydney is tucked away in a residential area in the historic Rocks district. Just minutes from the hustle and bustle of Sydney Harbour, this charming hotel has a residential feel. It is a tranquil oasis after a busy day of sightseeing. I especially love that each of the 98 rooms and suites is decorated in an elegant and classic style. Each room overlooks the Western Harbour or the city. You can treat yourself at the wonderful Spa by Chuan. Also, you can enjoy the beautiful indoor heated pool with its star-covered ceiling – a Sydney icon! A favorite of mine is afternoon tea with Wedgwood in the Palm Court. You certainly don’t want to miss this indulgent experience!

    Grand Langham Room | Photo Credit: The Langham, Sydney

    Grand Langham Room | Photo Credit: The Langham, Sydney

    Afternoon Tea | Photo Credit: The Langham, Sydney

    Afternoon Tea | Photo Credit: The Langham, Sydney

    Pool | Photo Credit: The Langham, Sydney

    Pool | Photo Credit: The Langham, Sydney

    Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley

    Wolgan Valley | Photo Credit: Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley

    Wolgan Valley | Photo Credit: Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley

    Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley is a conservation-based resort set in a 7,000-acre nature reserve in the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains area. The resort is an easy three-hour drive or a 45-minute helicopter flight from Sydney. A stay at Wolgan gives a unique opportunity to explore the Australian bush in style, with superb accommodation and outstanding food and wine!

    One of the highlights of this property are the charming individual villas. These villas are complete with a double fire place and each with their own plunge pool and veranda allowing for beautiful views over the valley. Above all, there is never a lack of things to do! Activities range from 4WD adventures that allow you to spot local wildlife to colonial heritage tours and stargazing. The spa at Wolgan Valley is outstanding, but I would recommend pre-booking any treatments. A stay at Wolgan Valley is the quintessential Australian experience. It is one of my favorite places in New South Wales for a relaxing, authentic adventure in understated luxury.

    Horses | Photo Credit: Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley

    Horses | Photo Credit: Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley

    Picnic | Photo Credit: Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley

    Picnic | Photo Credit: Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley

    Wildlife Drive | Photo Credit: Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley

    Wildlife Drive | Photo Credit: Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley

    The Byron at Byron Bay Resort and Spa

    Exterior | Photo Credit: The Byron at Byron Bay

    Exterior | Photo Credit: The Byron at Byron Bay

    The Byron at Byron Bay Resort and Spa sits in a coastal rainforest, minutes from a stunning beach and coastline. The resort has a casual, laid-back yet elegant vibe. Dining at the Byron at Byron Bay is a true fine dining experience where you will enjoy fresh, seasonal and locally-sourced food in the restaurant overlooking the rainforest. The comfortable suites are located within the sub-tropical rainforests with screened in porches and spacious living areas.

    Complimentary yoga classes are offered, and the multi-award-winning spa is definitely worth a visit! You can visit the gym, tennis courts or go on a guided walk through the rainforest – this resort certainly has something for every traveler! Also, the resort has a complimentary shuttle to take you to the center of Byron Bay, a beachside town with a quirky style and a thriving food scene. The Byron at Byron Bay is an oasis of tranquility where you can enjoy wonderful hospitality!

    Deluxe Spa Suite | Photo Credit: The Byron at Byron Bay

    Deluxe Spa Suite | Photo Credit: The Byron at Byron Bay

    Infinity Pool | Photo Credit: The Byron at Byron Bay

    Infinity Pool | Photo Credit: The Byron at Byron Bay

    The Restaurant | Photo Credit: The Byron at Byron Bay

    The Restaurant | Photo Credit: The Byron at Byron Bay

    May 22, 2018 • Anne Pace, Articles, Australia, Destinations, Property Highlights, Travels • Views: 3073

  • Experience Vivid Sydney

    A Festival of Light

    More than just beautiful and inspiring, Vivid Sydney is exceptionally fun. As much as you are exploring and observing the unique installations, you are also interacting with them.

    Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    My most memorable moment was arriving in Circular Quay as the lights began projecting on the sails of the Sydney Opera House. The colors and designs were incredibly vivid, adding this overwhelming sense of surrealism to such an iconic structure.

    Photo Credit: Ian Swain II

    Photo Credit: Ian Swain II

    Photo Credit: Ian Swain II

    Write New South Wales in on your travel list around Vivid Sydney. Experiences like these leave you with that unforgettable WOW feeling – and it is only getting better!

    Photo Credit: Ian Swain II

    Photo Credit: Ian Swain II

    Photo Credit: Ian Swain II

    Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    Let me know your thoughts on my favorite shots from my Vivid Sydney adventure!

    May 2, 2018 • Articles, Australia, Ian Swain II, Travels • Views: 3928

  • Five Myths About Koalas

    Koalas are so cute they could be mythical creatures; maybe that’s why there are many popular myths about them. Below are the top five most popular myths about these fuzzy creatures.

    Myth 1: Koalas are “drunk/high” on eucalyptus

    This is possibly one of the most popular myths in the animal kingdom. In fact, if you start typing into google, “are koalas…” the first option is “are koalas high”!

    The idea that we’re not the only species on the planet that gets intoxicated is gratifying. That this intemperate animal should be Australian resonates with the world view of Australia: a land of friendly, sozzled creatures lazing about in the sun. However, koalas are not drunk or high on eucalyptus! There is no alcohol in eucalyptus to intoxicate them. They do rest a lot, but it’s not due to a hangover!

    Koala in Tree | Photo Credit: Echidna Walkabout

    Photo Credit: Echidna Walkabout

    Myth 2: Koalas only eat one type of gum-tree

    So, these creatures live all over Australia, but only eat one tree? No wonder such a fussy animal is dying out!

    However, this is not true. Koalas in the You Yangs near Melbourne have been recorded eating every one of the 15 species of eucalypt in the park. All over Australia, the gum-trees they eat number in the hundreds of species!

    This myth may have started from some early scientific research that showed that koalas have a high preference for certain species of eucalyptus in certain regions. That can be true in some places, but not in others. In the You Yangs, 34% of koala sightings are in River Red Gum Trees. The rest of the time, they are in Blue Gums, Yellow Gums, Ironbarks, Sugar Gums and many other types.

    Myth 3: Koalas are slow

    Researchers probably wish this were true. A koala can run on the ground at around 32km per hour. If frightened, they can leap up a tree in 2 metre bounds.

    Koalas lead a slow lifestyle most of the time. They rest a lot due to the low nutrient value of their food, but when they move, they can be fast, agile and powerful.

    Myth 4: Koalas are docile and love to be pet and cuddled

    These cute creatures are still wild animals and like most wild animals, they prefer to have no contact with humans at all.

    Two independent scientific studies: a 2014 University of Melbourne study (1) and a 2009 study (2), found that even captive koalas, born and raised in a zoo, experience stress when humans approached too close to them. In the wild, Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours have found that 10 metres is the closest you should ever be to a koala. Any closer, and the koala’s behavior changes — they stop resting or feeding and they stare nervously. Unfortunately for them, they look cute even when they are terrified.

    Now an orphaned koala being raised by a wildlife carer may enjoy being pet by their carer. But all evidence suggests koalas do not enjoy being pet by strangers.

    Photo Credit: Echidna Walkabout

    Photo Credit: Echidna Walkabout

    Myth 5: Koalas are so numerous, they are hanging out of trees everywhere

    This is not true. Wild koalas are declining at a rate of 53% in Queensland, 26% in the small remaining population of New South Wales and 14% in Victoria. That is why they are listed as “Vulnerable” (one step below endangered). The IUCN lists them as one of the 10 species worldwide most at risk from climate change (3).

    This myth comes from two partial-truths — the first is historical: there was once a time when the animals were very plentiful across their range. However, that time is long gone. The other partial-truth is that there are five to six small pockets in southern Victoria and South Australia where koalas are overabundant (4), for reasons that are not understood. These populations receive a lot of media and research attention, which makes them seem larger than they are.

    This is why Australians are getting behind Wild Koalas Day on May 3rd. Wild Koala Day is about connecting koalas with habitat protection. If we are all to enjoy koalas, we need them to survive in the wild, not just in captivity. Act now to save them! On Wild Koala Day, May 3rd, plant a tree, protect the forest and phone a politician!

    Photo Credit: Echidna Walkabout

    Photo Credit: Echidna Walkabout

    References

    (1) http://theconversation.com/how-many-visitors-can-a-koala-bear-not-many-it-seems-26970

    (2) http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0007378

    (3) https://www.iucn.org/content/species-climate-change-hit-list-named

    (4) The 5-6 overabundant koala populations:

    • Cape Otway/Great Ocean Road, VIC
    • Raymond Island, East Gippsland VIC
    • Portland/south western VIC
    • Kangaroo Island, SA
    • Adelaide Hills/Mt Lofty Ranges, SA
    • French Island, VIC

    January 16, 2018 • Articles, Australia, Bloggers • Views: 8631

  • Barangaroo – The New Sydney Suburb

    Barangaroo is the newest suburb of Sydney. This area is receiving much attention because of the beauty of the location and the diversity of experiences found there. Barangaroo was a wife of Bennelong, an aboriginal. He was instrumental in helping the British colonists of Sydney during the early days of settlement. As a result, the area is rich in aboriginal and maritime history.

    Aerial View of Barangaroo | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    Aerial View of Barangaroo | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    Exploring the New Suburb

    The two main areas of Barangaroo are the Barangaroo Reserve in the north and the Dining and Retail precinct in the south.  There is easy access from the city which makes a visit to this inviting waterfront precinct a great addition to any exploration of Sydney. Because it’s close, visitors can drive, bike, walk or take a ferry.  There are fully accessible walking paths from Circular Quay and from the train station at Wynard. The Wynard Walk is an easy way to reach the Reserve. Or a ferry can take you right to Wulugul Walk, the heart of the restaurant and retail complex.

    South Barangaroo | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    South Barangaroo | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    The Reserve features a re-created Sydney Harbour headland, with the foreshores built from local sandstone as they would have looked in the earliest days of Australia’s history. The Cutaway is a unique cultural venue underneath the Reserve. It has hosted many special art exhibits and Fashion Week.  There are extensive gardens with native Australian plants, ideal for walking and biking. You can also enjoy the lovely views with a picnic or observing the public art throughout the area. Fishing and hunting were an important aspect for the Aboriginal people, who were the first inhabitants of this land; therefore an Aboriginal guided tour to learn of the significance of Sydney Harbour is a must.  Through artworks and special events, the Aboriginal culture is celebrated in Barangaroo.

    Street in South Barangaroo | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    Street in South Barangaroo | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    What To Do

    The southern precinct is a foodies delight! There is a wide range of restaurants to appeal to different palates and budgets. Options range from fine dining to more casual places, coffee shops, artisan bakeries and hip bars.  This is a fun waterfront area with world class dining.  There are impressive shopping options here as well, with boutiques offering both international and local designers. David Jones, the major Australian department store has opened a world-first concept store in Barangaroo.

    Cuisine from Anason Restaurant | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    Cuisine from Anason Restaurant | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    Anason Restaurant | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    Anason Restaurant | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    There is definitely something for every visitor to enjoy in this new dynamic location!

    November 13, 2017 • Anne Pace, Articles, Australia, Destinations, Travels • Views: 15829

  • Under the Radar: Tasmania

    Tasmania is sometimes referred to as the “forgotten state”; it’s typically not on the radar for first time visitors to Australia. Many of my Aussie mates haven’t even visited! However, Tasmania is full of adventures and surprises for the fortunate traveler. It’s compact size allows you to experience a variety of landscapes and activities in a long weekend. Stroll on empty coastlines, walk through eucalyptus-clad forests, and climb rugged mountains. Spot land and sea life, savor the gourmet food and superb wines, witness the flourishing creative arts scene and embrace the local lifestyle.

    Views of Tasmania | Photo Credit: Kathryn Fischer

    Views of Tasmania | Photo Credit: Kathryn Fischer

    Hobart | Photo Credit: Tourism Tasmania

    Hobart | Photo Credit: Tourism Tasmania

    The main gateway to Tasmania is Hobart Airport, servicing flights predominantly to and from Melbourne and Sydney. You will need to connect through either city if you are flying in from another country, or from another Australian destination. I recommend renting a car directly upon arrival as self-driving is the best way to explore Tasmania.

    Yes, you will have to drive on the left side of the road, but it just takes a few minutes to adjust!

    Discovering Hobart

    Hobart is a quaint port city with a strong colonial heritage. Sandstone Georgian warehouses contrast with modern offices, and old pubs remain alongside trendy craft breweries and whiskey distilleries. Former port buildings now house contemporary restaurants and funky art galleries.

    On Saturdays, locals fill Salamanca Place selling and purchasing all types of goodies, including freshly picked produce, cheeses, homegrown honey, antiques, and second-hand goods. It’s an unmatched cultural experience that allows you to mix with Tasmanian’s of all ages, and is a true foodies’ dream. I tasted a wide variety of eats from savory salmon jerky and sausage, to sweet blueberry crumb cake and juicy strawberries with cream. Finally, I grabbed a loaf of sourdough bread and multicolored apples to fuel our adventures ahead.

    Salamanca Place | Photo Credit: Kathryn Fischer

    Salamanca Place | Photo Credit: Kathryn Fischer

    Fresh Berries | Photo Credit: Kathryn Fischer

    Fresh Berries | Photo Credit: Kathryn Fischer

    Arts & Culture

    Up the Derwent River on the Berriedale Peninsula lies MONA. The Museum of Old and New Art was built underground on a picturesque winery, and has been described as a “subversive adult Disneyland.” The best way to get there is via the fast ferry from the heart of Hobart. Before or after your journey through the cavernous gallery, enjoy a tasting at Moorila Winery or Moo Brew Brewery onsite.

    Museum of Old and New Art | Photo Credit: MONA

    Museum of Old and New Art | Photo Credit: MONA

    The non-labeled artwork is controversial and thought-provoking. The exhibits broaden your perspective, and make you appreciate the eccentricity of Tasmania. After emerging from the intriguing museum, I witnessed a double rainbow and wild peacocks roaming around the land. Tasmania is truly magical.

    Exploring Nature

    Countless nature-based experiences are accessible from Hobart. Dominating the skyline, Mt. Wellington stretches 4,000 feet above the city. If you do not have the time or energy to hike up the mountain, a 20-minute drive from the city center will lead you to its peak. The Pinnacle has expansive views of Hobart and beyond … if you’re lucky and the dense clouds clear.

    Waterfall in Tasmania | Photo Credit: Kathryn Fischer

    Waterfall in Tasmania | Photo Credit: Kathryn Fischer

    Northwest of the city, Tasmania’s first national park, Mt Field, is the perfect place to get your nature fix, especially if you’re time poor. The national park has trails for all types of hikers. One particularly easy, yet scenic walk is to Russell Falls, the most photographed waterfall in Tasmania. You will stroll past moss-covered rocks and draping fern trees, and spot the world’s tallest flowering plant, the swamp gum. It’s likely that you’ll encounter native Australian animals, such as wallabies and echidnas. If you do not, stop at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. You’ll be able to get up-close to all sorts of Australian wildlife, including the infamous Tasmanian devil.

    Tasmanian Coast | Photo Credit: Kathryn Fischer

    Tasmanian Coast | Photo Credit: Kathryn Fischer

    Tasmanian Devil | Photo Credit: Tourism Tasmania & John J Kamma

    Tasmanian Devil | Photo Credit: Tourism Tasmania & John J Kamma

    Venturing Out of Hobart

    If your schedule allows you to venture farther from Hobart, a journey up the East Coast is a must. First, stop in Bicheno to visit the blowhole, which erupts every few minutes. Be on the lookout for roadside stalls, where you can enjoy fresh seafood, dairy products, berries, and fruits direct from the local growers and fisherman. I purchased a ½ dozen oysters the size of my hand for $5 total. The quality of the food is unbelievable, until you have the pleasure of tasting it yourself! The fresh flavors are ingrained in my memory forever.

    Choose an accommodation that’s half way up the East Coast, near Freycinet National Park. It’s one of Tasmania’s principal draws, and for a good reason. One of my personal favorite hikes within Freycinet is the Wineglass Bay Track. You’ll wind through the eucalyptus-filled bush, which will lead you to pure white beaches and turquoise waters. The pink granite rocks speckled with orange lichen, contrasting against the azure sea, is a sight not to be missed. Lastly, if you prefer to visit the national park by water, cruise the crescent shaped Wineglass Bay with a local catamaran operator.

    Freycinet National Park | Photo Credit: Pure Tasmania

    Freycinet National Park | Photo Credit: Pure Tasmania

    Wineglass Bay | Photo Credit: Sail Walk

    Wineglass Bay | Photo Credit: Sail Walk

    Isolated from mainland Australia, Tasmania has a quirky, laid-back culture that feels different from the rest of the country. Although there’s so much more to explore, my suggestions are a solid start for an authentic Tasmanian experience. The clean air, fresh food, and pristine wilderness will leave you feeling refreshed and inspired.

    Where to Stay:

    Hobart – Islington HotelHenry Jones Art Hotel, or MACq 01 Hotel

    East Coast – SaffireEdge of the Bay Resort, or Freycinet Lodge

    When to Go:

    Tasmania is a year-round destination, but November to April boast sunnier skies & warmer days.

     

    October 27, 2017 • Articles, Australia, Destinations, Kathryn Fischer, Travels • Views: 4570