Monthly Archives: August 2016

DEFINITELY HAD WHILE TRAVELLING

download-8One of the greatest joys of travel is the unpredictability of exploring somewhere new. But however different our travels might be, we’ve all been struck by a number of universal thoughts along the way.

So whether you’ve grappled with getting up at sunrise or been through the various stages of recognising your own ineptness in another language, you’ll have most likely experienced something along these lines…

1. THE FLIGHT WAS DEFINITELY TODAY, RIGHT?

You checked – multiple times – yet still face a moment of abject panic when you arrive at the airport bugged by the unsettling feeling that you’ve mixed the dates up. You know you should have confirmed it one final time. A firm pat on the back if you got the date right; credit card at the ready if you got it wrong.

2. WHY HASN’T TELEPORTATION BEEN INVENTED YET?

Twelve hours squashed into an aerodynamic tin can ingesting stale air is no one’s ideal start to a trip. But unless a cargo freighter across the Atlantic sounds like a viable alternative, we don’t yet have many other choices.

3. SPEAKING ANOTHER LANGUAGE? EASY!

Just say it with the right accent and you’re off. Dos cervethaas por favoorrr.

4. MAYBE I’LL JUST SMILE AND NOD…

Ordering beer was one thing, but you now realise you should have kept up with Duolingo for longer than those four enthusiastic days. You just keeping smiling and nodding – actual words are completely overrated.

5. 4AM IS BEAUTIFUL – I SHOULD BE AWAKE AT THIS TIME MORE OFTEN!

While the cheap flights which forced you to check in before even the airport cleaner arrived weren’t the best introduction to the beauty of 4am, getting up at dawn to see sights like the Bolivian salt flats is enough to convince you of the benefits of those early mornings. You’ll definitely apply this to life back home…

6. DORM WITH 17 OTHER PEOPLE? NO PROBLEM: I SLEEP LIKE A LOG.

At some point you’ve definitely been lured into the big budget dorm – you’re the master of snoozing away nights on airport floors after all. But hostels play by distinct rules; all’s well and good until the inevitable nose-trumpeter gets going or the even less charming noises of an amorous couple become the backdrop to yet another sleepless night.

7. A 14-HOUR BUS JOURNEY WILL BE A BREEZE.

Reclining overnight bus seats always seem overrated – or at least until the next morning when you wake moulded into the shape of the 30-square-centimetre space that was your “bed”. The day spent unintentionally giving your best John Wayne impression just adds insult to injury.

TIPS FOR TRIP AUSTRALIA

download-7Pack your stuff, throw it in camper van along with a surfboard and don’t look back… This might be an old cliché but it’s one for good reason: Australia really is one of the best places on Earth for a road trip.

Whether you’re living the dream in your camper van, or making do with a less romantic form of transport, Australia’s well-kept, open roads beckon and will lead you through astonishing landscapes. There are many great road trips in Australia, but here are our favourites.

1. COASTAL VIEWS ON THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD

Staggering ocean views and easy access from Melbourne make this one of Australia’s best-loved road trips. Pack an overnight bag and follow the dramatic coastline, stopping to view a series of coastal rock formations, holding their ground in the surf.

The magnificent Twelve Apostles – eight giant sea stacks – appear otherworldly at sunset, guarding the limestone cliffs. Among the other rocky highlights include London Bridge arch, the Bay of Islands and Loch Ard Gorge.

At Bells Beach, grab a wetsuit and do your best Keanu Reeves’ impression. This was the famous surf setting for his filmPoint Break, but it was actually filmed in California.

If you’re not a surfer you can hike in Great Otway National Park, say hello to the koalas at Kennett River or kayak out into Apollo Bay to observe a seal colony. Otherwise, take it easy at a beach restaurant in the seaside town of Lorne.

Best for: Weekenders seeking surf and sea stacks.
How long: 2 days.
Need to know: Starts at Torquay, a 1.5-hour drive from Melbourne, and ends at Warrnambool.

2. ADVENTURE ALONG THE WAY FROM PERTH TO EXMOUTH

Driving north from Perth, you may expect nothing of the Outback landscape but scorched earth and straight roads all the way up the west coast. While these certainly exist, a road trip here is also punctuated with remarkable geological features, some of the world’s best (yet empty) beaches and kangaroos hopping alongside your camper van.

First, a bit of fun at Lancelin where you can go sand boarding in the dunes or off-roading in a truck-sized 4×4. Then on to the Pinnacles Desert where bizarre pillars protrude from the desert like ancient monoliths.

In Kalbarri National Park, see Nature’s Window and the Z-Bend Lookout, abseil Murchison Gorge and ride on horseback around the scenic estuary at Big River Ranch.

A five-hour drive north brings you to Shark Bay, home of weird stromatolites – the oldest fossils on Earth – and the brilliant-white Shell Beach. Stop at Monkey Mia to meet the dolphins before heading on to Coral Bay, where another pristine white beach greets you. From here you can wade out 50m to the Ningaloo Reef – the second-largest reef in Australia – to snorkel with dazzling fish, turtles, reef sharks and whale sharks.

Best for: Desert adventurers.
How long: 5 days.
Need to know: To extend the trip, keep going all the way to Broome, via Karijini National Park.

3. THE HOME STRAIT ON THE NULLARBOR PLAIN

The Nullabor is not for the faint-hearted. The mesmerising Eyre Highway runs through a vast, treeless plain, from Port Augusta in South Australia to Norseman in Western Australia.

With an almost 150km stretch that’s the world’s longest straight road, it’s no surprise that it’s known as “Nullaboring”. But many travellers love it for the beauty of the desert and the on-the-road camaraderie. There’s a strong sense of community at the roadhouses, which appear roughly every 200km – with nothing in between.

Venture away from the main road to see some of South Australia’s geological highlights, including Pildappa Rock – a 100m-long wave of red sandstone – or the peculiar rocks at Ucontitchie Hill and Murphy’s Hay Stacks.

From Denial Bay, the Eyre Highway clings to the coast all the way to Western Australia. At the Head of Bight, you’ve a good chance of spotting Southern Right Whales between June and October. Then there are the empty beaches, towering cliffs, the magnificent blow-holes – and the oddities… Eucla features the ghostly remains of a telegraph station protruding from the encroaching dunes, while Balladonia (population: 9) commemorates the spot where the Skylab space station fell to Earth in 1979.

Best for: Adventurers up for trying anything, loners and Nullarbor addicts.
How long: 7–10 days.
Need to know: Be prepared with a serviced car, and enough food and water to last between roadhouses. Daytime temperatures can reach 50°C and nights can be freezing. Be careful of wildlife and passing road-trains.

4. THE BLISSFUL BEACHES OF FRASER ISLAND

If there’s one side trip on the east coast you mustn’t miss, it’s Fraser Island, a 123-km World-Heritage-listed sand island. Here, off-roaders may roam but the dingo is king.

The beach that runs the full length of the island functions as the main highway and an airstrip for small planes, so keep an eye on the air too while you bomb along the strand. Halfway down the beach, you can’t fail to notice the eerie remains of the shipwrecked SS Maheno appearing silhouetted against the raging surf.

Take a side road into the interior and suddenly you’re in another world – specifically, you’re in a subtropical rainforest growing on 200m-high sand dunes. Stop for a swim in the sparklingly clear Lake McKenzie, one of forty freshwater lakes perched high on the dunes. It’s like nowhere else on Earth.

You can pitch your tent at any of the 35 designated grounds – just you, the campfire, the rumble of surf and the sense of beady canine eyes watching from the darkness.