Sunday, 12 June 2016

Southern Ocean sculpts Australian Coastline

The Southern Ocean is the southern most waters of the world’s Oceans with deep waters mainly at depths of 4,000 to 5,000 metres.  The Ocean is notorious for having some of the strongest winds and largest waves on the planet. It is also home to the largest current in the world ocean, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.


Waves crash into the Southern coastline
  

Australia’s southern coast is at the northern end of the Southern Ocean and the coastline is subjected to high energy waves which constantly batter and shape the area into stunning formations. 



The battering waves create small fissures in the rock and over time cracks form or caves are formed  that extend inland. The land is eroded due to the contant wind, rain and waves and structures like the 12 Apostles, Bay of Islands, the Grotto and Loch Ard Gorge are separated from the mainland.


  1.  Wave crashes through a crackline in the coastline

The Grotto


Razorback

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Conservation Park on Mornington Peninsula

Moonlit Sanctuary is a conservation park on the Mornington Peninsula and was established by Michael Johnson who was inspired by the British Naturalist Gerald Durrell.  Michael's concept was to develop a park where people could expierence the animals that roam Australia's bushland.

From humble beginnings the Park has now grown into a very popular tourist attraction on 25 acres with wetlands, bushland and more than 30 animal enclosures.


Tawny Frog Mouth


Wetlands early development

You can wander around the park and feed some of the animals and listen to a range of keeper talks. You can also book in for a range of animal experiences.



We take tours to visit the Park on the way to see Phillip Island Penguins and combining the two makes it an amazing day of wildlife experiences. We usually include a koala and dingo experience on our tours.



The koala experience is probably the most popular


The dingo experience is also great fun


The Park has a wide range of Australian animals including our favourite the Tasmanian Devil.


The Park has a cafe and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can also book a night tour, sponsor an animal or be a keeper for a day.







Monday, 7 September 2015

Stunning sunsets and much more at Port Macquarie

Port Macquarie and the surrounding area are full of natural wonders including beaches, lakes, rivers and Natural Parks.




A stunning sunset over the river at Port Macquarie

390 kilometres north of Sydney, the town is located where the Hastings River meets the ocean. Besides the River and other waterways Port Macquarie has a range of beautiful beaches and average temperatures ranging from 7 to 27 degrees. These all ensure its a popular holiday area for fishing, surfing, beach and nature lovers alike. 



 We visited in August and enjoyed mild days of 22 degrees allowing us to fish in the River, explore the rainforest and visit a number of beaches including Town Beach, Flynns Beach, Shelly Beach and Lighthouse Beach. 

Here's a snapshot of some of the activities to enjoy if you visit the area.

Sea Acres Rainforest Centre


Located a short distance south of Port Macquarie the Sea Acres Rainforest Centre is certainly worth a visit.




With a 1.3 kilometre boardwalk meandering through the rainforest the Centre is suitable for people of all ages.  Its also possible to spot wildlife along the boardwalk. We were luck to observe a bush turkey building its nesting mound and a small and large lace monitor. Birds can be heard in the surrounding rainforest and the sound of the whip bird  was a pleasing and regular occurrence. 




Lace Monitor

There is an amazing Aboriginal exhibit downstairs at the Centre called the "Spirit of the land exhibition". Hearing and seeing the 2 Birpai Aboriginal stories told via sand drawings was totally fascinating and well worth the gold coin entry fee. 

A cafe and souvenir shop is also located at the Centre.

Lighthouse Beach

A short drive south of Port Macquarie Lighthouse Beach is a 9 kilometre stretch of beach with Watonga Rocks sitting on the sand part way along the beach.



Lighthouse Beach from the Lighthouse

The beach is popular with surfers and at the southern end camel safaris and 4wd's share the sand.





Tacking Point Lighthouse 

The beach is named after Tacking Point Lighthouse  which is the 3rd oldest lighthouse in Australia,  built in 1879, after more than 20 ship wrecks occurred in the area. 

A number of viewing platforms have been built in the area around the lighthouse as its a great place to watch for whales as they travel along the coastline. Spotters for the whale watching boat tours are often seen at the lighthouse directing the boats to areas where whales are frolicking in the waters near the point.



A whale frolicking off Lighthouse Beach




Chinese Junk Cruises

For an interesting experience try a sunset cruise along the Hastings River in an authentic Junk.




There's also a lunchtime fish and chips cruise where I'm told dolphins are often spotted.


Ellensborough Falls




If you love waterfalls and don't mind driving a longer distance Ellensborough Falls is located in Manning Valley at Elands approx 85 kilometres west of Port Macquarie. 

The falls are one of the longest single drop waterfalls in the southern hemisphere and are easily viewed from the car park area. 

There is a short walk to the head of the falls or you can walk down more than 600 steps to view the falls from the bottom. 




A kiosk is located in the car park area but only open on Fridays, weekends and NSW school holidays from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Other useful information

Port Macquarie beach guide

Beach safety in Australia


Friday, 31 July 2015

Stunning views from Eureka Skydeck

The Eureka Skydeck in Melbourne is a popular attraction for locals and visitors alike. 



View west along the Yarra River

The Skydeck towers 88 floors above Melbourne and provides stunning 360 degree views of the Melbourne skyline and surrounding suburbs. On clear days you can see surrounding mountains.


The Shrine of Remembrance 

Located on St Kilda Road, close to the city the Shrine of Remembrance is the National War Memorial dedicated to all those who served in armed conflicts and peacekeeping operations.


View East along the Yarra River 

This view shows the Art Centre Spire and Melbourne's sporting precinct including the Tennis Centre and MCG.


A closer look at the famous MCG where cricket and football are played





The Sidney Myer Music Bowl, located in Kings Domain Gardens, is a venue that hosts music events including Carols by Candlelight and the Melbourne Sympathy Orchestra's free summertime concert series.


Government House

Home to the Governor or Victoria, Government House is located between King's Domain and the Royal Botanic Gardens. 



Federation Square

Federation Square is an open space where major cultural and world class events are held. There is also a range of restaurants, bars and stores and a large tourist Information Centre.

Besides the stunning views there is a cafe, sovereign shop and The Edge where you are inside a glass cube that extends out from the 88th floor Skydeck and is suspended 300 metres above the ground. The Edge costs an additional $12 for adults and $8 for children.

Within easy walking distance of the CBD the Skydeck is located at Riverside Quay Southbank. Basically between the Southbank restaurants and Crown Casino.

The attraction is open every day.  Pricing is reasonable with adult tickets starting at $19.50, children $11 and family packages also available.

Come tour Melbourne with Longhorn YOUnique Tours


Close encounters with wildlife at Ballarat Wildlife Park

Set on 15 hectares the Ballarat Wildlife Park is a great place to visit and encounter Australian wildlife.



 With more than 80 kangaroos roaming the park the opportunity for a close encounter is excellent.

The kangaroo is probably one of Australia's most recognised wildlife and is also another marsupial that's popular with tourists.  There are over 60 species of kangaroos and their close relatives which include wallabies, wallaroos, tree-kangaroos and forest wallabies. The larger red kangaroo is found in arid regions and the eastern and western grey Kangaroos are found in great numbers across much of southern part of Australia.



The kangaroos were very friendly and totally unafraid of people as they wandered nearby.

The Park has a number of koalas and an opportunity to have your photo taken with a koala is a popular activity with visitors.  The koala is a tree-dwelling, herbivorous marsupial with thick fur making it one of the most popular Australian animals with visitors. They eat fibrous Eucalyptus leaves which are low in nutrition so they can sleep for up to 18 hours a day.



There is an interactive koala activity is on daily at 2.00 p.m.

There are a number of exhibits with Tasmanian Devils. These endangered animals (due to facial tumours) are one of our favourites. The Tassie Devil is the world's largest surviving carnivorous marsupial. They have a thick-set, squat build and their markings are unique.



An interactive exhibit with Tasmanian Devils and Spotted Quolls is scheduled each day at 3.30 p.m.

This wombat wandered out of its comfortable burrow so we could capture a great shot.   The wombat is the largest burrowing mammal in Australia. They look cute and cuddly and are very solidly built. The wombat is nocturnal coming out at night to graze. In winter months you can also see them grazing during the day.



There's an interactive wombat display at 2.30 daily. 

The Park also has a reptile house with a range of lizards, snakes and other reptiles on display. An interactive reptile presentation is held at 1.30 each day. 



The Park is open every day except Christmas Day and tickets reasonably priced.


Saturday, 21 March 2015

Otway Fly Treetop Adventure

Set amongst the beautiful Otways rainforest the Otways Fly Tree Top Adventure  provides a great opportunity to see the rainforest from a different angle.





The walk takes about an hour over its 2 kilometre length and features a thrilling cantilever section where you feel totally above the beautiful forest below. 





Views from the highest point - the 47 metre high tower are also amazing.



You start the walk from the Visitor Centre and Cafe and wander, at your own pace, down hill to the start of the treetop walk. Its then a gradual climb as you wander along the walkway where you'll find interpretive signs that provide interesting information on the range of trees and flora nearby.







A free shuttle service is available making the trip from or to the Visitor Centre easier.

Cost is a very reasonable $25 adults, $15 children, $70 family and $21.50 for seniors.

We include the Tree Top Adventure in our 2 day Great Ocean Road Tour or our 3 day Great Ocean Road and Grampians Tour.

If you have plenty of time and are ready for adventure you can do the Zipline Tour which takes 3.5 hours and includes flying on a series of cable spans from one platform to another.





Saturday, 13 December 2014

Coombe Estate - famous for more than just its connection to Dame Nellie Melba!

Coombe which opened in mid 2004 is a new winery located on the Melba Estate at Coldstream in the Yarra Valley. The property was previously home to Australia's greatest opera singer Dame Nellie Melba and has been hidden behind a huge cypress hedge. .  




Cellar door area / tack room

Dame Nellie is known as one of the most famous singers in the world in the early 20th century. Born in 1861 in Richmond, a suburb of Melbourne, Dame Nellie moved to Paris and became a Prima donna of the opera famous in  Australia, England, Europe and the US. She travelled the world during her career and the small museum/ art gallery at Coombe contains some memorabilia including her Louis Vuitton trunks.

The Estate has been significantly refurbished by Dame Nellie's great grandsons the Honourable Mark Vestey and Lord Samuel Vestey. They've done a fantastic job converting old buildings into modern facilities whilst still retaining a sense of charm and history. The cellar door area was previously the tack room, the gift shop the stables and the restaurant the motor home where Dame Nellie kept her cars including a Rolls Royce.



View into the restaurant

The restaurant uses a range of local produce from the property and features dishes like Peach Melba and  Melba. 



Outside the restaurant / motor home




Restaurant's rear glass conservatory

The Estate has 7 acres of gardens and you can take a garden tour for $25. Tours are conducted at 10 and 2 each day from Monday to Saturday. Morning or afternoon tea with amazing scones, jam and cream is included. Bookings are essential.







The homestead is maintained for family use but the Garden Tours circle the exterior. Information on the garden design is supplemented by stories of Dame Nellie and how she relaxed and entertained friends and dignitaries at the Estate.



Apparently Charlie Chaplin even stayed at the Estate and swam in the pool. The view from the pool to nearby mountains was amazing.





Its certainly worthwhile visiting Coombe to taste the wines, to eat in the restaurant or even just to take a tour of the gardens and enjoy morning/afternoon tea. 





Our 1 day Yarra Valley Tour can be modified to include a visit to Coombe.