Uluru

10 things not to miss in Australia

Quite simply, I love Australia!

I love Australia!

 

I have been there four times to date, each time doing different things and staying in different parts of the country. There is so much more that I need to see but, in the meantime here is my list of ten things not to miss in Australia.

 

 

Adelaide to Alice in 7 days
Embark on a wonderful adventure and see some of Australia at its best with a trip from South Australia’s capital to Australia’s red centre. Walk the paths of Kings Canyon and sleep under the stars near Uluru. Drive through the opal capital of the world, see huge salt lakes, hike in Wilpena Pound and much, much more. Make some more memories with this fantastic tour.

Website: www.adventuretours.com.au for further information of this tour and many more.

Uluru, Australia

Australia Zoo, Queensland
Australia Zoo is located about an hour north of Brisbane, in Beerwah near the Glasshouse mountains. The zoo is 100 acres and there are opportunities to see some fabulous animals, take guided tours, have animal encounters and a lot more. Australia Zoo is a team of passionate people who want to educate others about animal conservation. A vision that Steve and Terri Irwin have made a reality. A fabulous day out.

Address: 1638 Steve Irwin Way, Beerwah, Queensland 4519
Open: Daily, 9.00am-5.00pm
Admission: Adult $59.00; Child (3-14 years old) $35.00; Family 4 (2 adult + 2 child) $172.00; Family 5 (2 adult + 3 child) $189.00; Pension $47.00; Student; $47.00
Website: www.australiazoo.com.au

Australia Zoo, New South Wales

Barossa Valley, Adelaide
The whole of Australia is famous for its wine but the Barossa Valley is a must see in Adelaide. Barossa is home to more than 550 grape growing families, many with the sixth generation still working the same plot of land, supplying quality grapes to more than 170 wine companies.
There are many tour companies offering a variety of Barossa Valley tours; most include three of four tastings at different wineries, lunch and a drive through the beautiful Adelaide Hills with a stop or two at local attractions, such as the Whispering wall and Menglers lookout point.

Website: www.adelaidetours.travel/tours/barossa-valley to get an idea of what’s on offer.

Barossa Valley, SA
Source: www.ytravelblog.com/barossa-valley-food-wine/

Being a Jillaroo, New South Wales
If, like me, you love horses, an Australian Jillaroo or Jackaroo School is a perfect way to spend a few day in the Australian outback. Learn skills such as horse whispering, sheep shearing and cattle mustering. Look after your own horse for the eleven days and get involved with jobs around the farm. Leconfield is a working farm and you are there to help, so if you are willing to put the effort in then this is definitely an adventure worth doing. Rest assured there will be plenty of laughs along the way and you will come away with some fabulous memories.

Address: Leconfield Jackaroo, Jillaroo School ‘Bimboola’ Kootingal, NSW. Australia 2352
Website: www.leconfield.com

Jillaroo, New South Wales

Blue Mountains, New South Wales
If you are in Sydney a trip to the Blue Mountains is a must-do. The mountain range is truly spectacular and covers an area of some 10,000 square kilometres. It was declared a World Heritage Area by UNESCO in 2000.

Get to Echo Point lookout, in Katoomba, for fabulous views over the mountains and, in particular, the “Three Sisters,” a natural rock formation that stands proud over the Jamison Valley. Another highlight in the area is to travel down to the valley on the scenic railway. This is no ordinary railway. It is the steepest funicular railway in the world. Originally part of the Katoomba mining tramways, constructed between 1878 and 1900, it plunges deep into the valley floor. Once on the valley floor, there are many trails that are popular with hikers and nature lovers.

Website: www.bluemts.com.au for visitor information, how to get there and much more.

Blue Mountains, New South Wales
Source: www.australia.com

Circular Quay, Sydney
Circular Quay is a harbour located in the north of Sydney’s central business district. There are walkways, parks and restaurants around the quay and it’s also home to the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There are also many bars, cafes and restaurants and it’s a popular place for tourists and locals alike who come to enjoy the jazz bands and musicians that play regularly. Circular quay is also the place to go for ferries, trains and buses.

Website: www.sydney.com/destinations/sydney/sydney-city/circular-quay for attractions, events and much more.

Circular Quay, Sydney

Fraser Island, Queensland
Fraser Island was listed as a World Heritage site in 1992. There are many tours to choose from, so choose wisely because there is so much to see. There is a large diversity of habitats; rainforests, eucalyptus woods, mangrove forests, sand dunes and coastal areas. It also hosts a wide range of fauna, from dingoes, whales and birds to the occasional salt water crocodile. It is the biggest sand island in the world. 80% is covered in plants and trees due to the mycorrhizal fungi which occurs naturally and is present in the sand. Visit 75 mile beach and see the Pinnacles and Eli Creek or enjoy one of the island’s 100 or so lakes.

Website: www.fraserisland.net for further information on Fraser Island.

Fraser Island
Source: www.australia.com

Indian Pacific; A Trip Across the Nullabor
The Indian Pacific train is one of the few true transcontinental trains in the world. The route: Three nights and four days via Broken Hill, Adelaide, Cook and Kalgoorlie, one way, 4,352km. Whether you’re journeying from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific or the other way round, enjoy travelling across the Nullarbor Plain, on the longest stretch of straight railway track in the world. It is definitely a trip worth taking.
Fares available include the Gold Service; Sydney-Perth $2529AUD or $2019AUD if booked in advance (based on a single cabin).

Website: www.greatsouthernrail.com.au/trains/the_indian_pacific for everything you need to know about the Indian Pacific.

Indian Pacific, Australia

Noosa Heads, Queensland
Noosa Heads is small town on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. You’ll find boutiques and restaurants which run parallel to the calm waters of Noosa Main Beach. A great way to spend the day is to explore the hiking trails for the chance of seeing local wildlife and wonderful views of the ocean. Or you can spend time relaxing on any of the beautiful beaches in the area.

Website: www.visitnoosa.com.au

Noosa Heads, Queensland

Walpole, Western Australia
When in western Australia, visit Walpole which is famous for its giant Tingle and Karri trees, and one of the best things to do there is go and see the “Valley of the Giants.” The elevated tree top walk is 40 metres high, making for spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Beneath the canopy walk there is also a pathway around the Tingle trees for walkers. There are also Eco tours and cruises and wildlife parks in the area.

Address: Valley of the Giants Rd, Nornalup WA 6333, Australia
Open: Daily, 9.00am-5.00pm
Website: www.valleyofthegiants.com.au

Valley of the Giants, Walpole, WA

Have you been to Australia? What was your favourite place? Or maybe you have a favourite activity that you did. I would love to hear from you. 🙂

 

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Alice to Adelaide in Six Days

Where else can you sleep under the stars, drink in an underground bar, and sit and watch the longest coal train trundle past? Australia, that’s where!

My original plan was to tour the Great Ocean Road before ending up with my relatives in Adelaide, but having been to Australia before and not gone to Uluru I forwent my initial plan and booked a trip from Alice Springs to Adelaide with Adventure Tours. I am so glad I changed my mind.

Upon arrival in Alice Springs I was picked up by a guy from Melankas, the hostel I was staying at for the night. I settled into the dorm, which I was sharing with two other girls. Two other people? It wasn’t big enough to swing a cat, let alone two other humans. Never mind, it was only for one night. After dinner and a couple of beers I went to bed early in preparation for my trip, but was abruptly awoken when my dorm companions came back sometime in the early hours- light on, chatting loudly. Obviously they didn’t know I had to be up a couple of hours later but, please, some consideration would have been nice. I tried to replace my annoyance with excitement as I remembered seeing Uluru from the plane. I managed to drift off back to sleep looking forward to the day ahead.

Uluru (Ayers Rock), Australia
Uluru, Australia

Day 1

I was up at 4.30am to meet the guide, whose name was Bullfrog. Not because he was reminiscent of a bull frog, but because he had a very husky, very sexy voice. I can neither confirm nor deny this because I have never had privy to what a bull frog sounds like, or if I have I can’t remember, but I took his word for it, and relished in listening to his sexy vocalisation.

Bullfrog
Bullfrog

That very first morning when I met Bullfrog I knew we would be friends. He had me on his list as Gillian, and I pointed out that I prefer Gill. He said afterwards that he thought I was a bit feisty. Who me?! But I love it when I meet someone for the first time and I feel like I have known them a lot longer, that’s how it was with us. Constant banter from day one and I am very pleased to say we are still good friends today. He is just one of those people that is very easy to get along with and we hit it off straight away. He wouldn’t tell us his real name at first and we spent one night trying to guess it. Oh, the things you do in the middle of the Australian Outback! In the end he told us it was Mark. Just so you know.

Anyway, no sooner as we had said hello, we were off on a two hour drive to our first stop at Kings Canyon.

Now, I am mostly a very sociable person and like to meet new people, and so I enjoyed chatting with a lovely girl that I met on the bus. She was really nice but by the end of the first day, she was really doing my head in. She kept asking:

“Where are we going now?”

“What’s this?”

“What’s that?”

I thought: I don’t bloody know, I haven’t been here before, ask the bloody guide.

Next:

“Why is the bus stopping?”

“Because there is a f****** great big camel in the middle of road!” (Actually, I didn’t say that to her, I thought it.)

Honestly, open your bloody eyes girl. Thinking back it is rather amusing but at the time I wanted to strangle her.

When we arrived at Kings Canyon, I was a little disappointed when we found out that we couldn’t walk up to the top of the canyon, one of the three walks possible in this area, but at the same time I didn’t want to die of heat exhaustion- it was only 8 am and already 40 degrees where we stood at the bottom, 50 at the top. But, am happy to report, that we managed to do a shorter walk around the Canyon.

Kings Canyon is part of Watarrka National Park in the Northern Territory. The red sandstone walls are over 100 metres high, and they stand tall on either side as you walk the trails below. There are pockets of lush vegetation but don’t expect any forests here due to the little rain and high temperatures. Nevertheless, the plants and animals have adapted very well to the extreme weather conditions.

Kings Canyon, Australia
Kings Canyon, Australia
King's Canyon, Australia
Lizard enjoying the sun’s rays, Kings Canyon, Australia

After tramping around Kings Canyon for a while we were back on the road for a 3 hour trip to Uluru. This area is right smack bang in outback desert country. The scenery is gorgeous but relentless; the red sand looks as if it should belong on another planet and, due to the high levels of iron oxide, is the reason the area is called the Red Centre.

Australia's Red Centre
The Red Centre, with Mount Connor in the background

We got to our first camp at Ayers Rock Resort, unloaded the bus and then went to the lookout point to watch the sunset over Uluru. I find every sunset amazing, but this one wasn’t as amazing as I have seen in pictures. Even Bullfrog said it wasn’t that good. But hey, not to put a downer on things, we were sitting in the middle of the Australian Outback with Uluru in the distance. No-one could complain at that. It was awesome. And to top the first day off we got to sleep in a SWAG- a typical Aussie bush sleeping bag or “Sleep With A Guide?” That guide, Bullfrog, was very funny. We laid there in our swags with the whole sky above us, stars twinkling and not a sound-just our silent admiration.

Day 2

Another 4 am start. This time to watch the sunrise. Again it wasn’t that spectacular. Come on, where were the brilliant red colours and azure skies when you need them.

The next part of the day’s itinerary was a walk around Uluru’s base. Just a short morning stroll of 9.4 km! Just the thing to wake you up.

It was only 9.30 am once we got back. That’s the thing about doing stuff like this in Australia. It’s so bloody hot during the day, that you have to start the day’s activities at “ridiculous” o’clock. But I am not complaining. I love getting out and seeing stuff, whatever time of the day it is.

Uluru looks smooth and featureless from a distance, but when you get up close and personal the face of the rock is weather beaten and there are loads of holes and gorges, springs and rock caves. Uluru is said to be over 600 million years old, and it is steeped in Aboriginal history and culture. Some places are sacred so you can’t take photos directly of the site. It is really interesting stuff and our lovely guide was very knowledgeable.

In the evening we returned to camp and had dinner, after which we had a few drinks and attempted to play the didgeridoo. I was completely rubbish- I didn’t have enough puff in me to make even the slightest sound. We had such a laugh and I realised that I had made some very good friends in that short space of time. So much so that we became inseparable for the rest of the week.

Day 3

The following morning we began our journey to South Australia. When you cross the border, the time goes forward one hour- only in Australia do they have three different time zones. So Mark drove into South Australia, then back again into the Northern Territory. Four times he drove round in a circle, just for laughs. Everyone in the car park thought we were mad. It was hilarious. You had to be there though to appreciate the madness!

We drove to Coober Pedy- a town 846 km north of Adelaide. It’s known for its “dugouts”- underground residences that keep people safe from the scorching daytime temperatures.
It’s also known as the opal capital of the world because of the quantity of opals that are mined there. Opal was found in Coober Pedy in 1915, and since then the town has been supplying most of the world’s opal.

The landscape is rather bare, with hardly any plant life. Because of the interesting terrain filmmakers have used this area to film movies such as Pitch Black and Mad Max.

We had a little tour of the town and checked into our underground motel. All the accommodation was really basic but it was so much fun, sleeping outdoors and now, underground. We had dinner and drinks at the world’s only underground bar. How cool is that?

The Town of Coober Pedy
Underground Church and Backpackers Inn, Coober Pedy
Underground Bar, Coober Pedy
Underground Bar, Coober Pedy

Day 4

Rawnsley Park Station was the next port of call- a cattle station nestled in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia. On the way we stopped to look at Lake Hart, a massive salt lake forming part of the Lake Eyre Basin which covers around 1,200,000 square kilometres.

When we got to Rawnsley Park, we cracked open a couple of cold beers, and walked up the nearest hill to watch the sunset. It was awesome. We saw some kangaroos and spent a good hour up at the top watching the sun disappear behind the horizon. That night we slept outside in our swags again, even though there were comfy air-conditioned rooms. We had become true bush-men.

Day 5

After a welcome lay-in until 7am, we were on our way. We drove through the Flinders Ranges to Wilpena Pound to do some hiking. Bullfrog gave us a choice of two walks to do and we chose to do the hard one (of course)- climb Mount Ohlssen Bagge.

Hiking up Mount Ohlssen Bagge, Flinders Ranges, SA
Hiking up Mount Ohlssen Bagge, Flinders Ranges, SA

It was hard going. The terrain was very rocky and loose stones made it slippy. It was quite steep in places but it was more than worth the effort for the views at the top.
We started the walk very tentatively because Mark had told us that this is snake territory, and if we saw one we were to stand still to allow the snake to slither across our hiking boots. Like that was going to happen. We didn’t see any, but am sure the snake would have heard us a mile away and kept out of sight.

The view from the summit was spectacular overlooking the natural amphitheatre of Wilpena Pound. For me it was one of the highlights of the whole trip.

From there we travelled through Bunyeroo Gorge, through sweeping plains covered in native pine trees and rugged gorges, and the home to kangaroos and yellow-footed rock wallabies.

We reached our last nights accommodation in Parachilna. Mark told us how busy the roads are in this area but we soon realised he was making a joke. There are only two people that live there, and a few buildings- the Prairie Hotel, the railway station, and the airstrip. The Prairie Hotel is owned by the Fargher family, and it is famous for their Fargher lagers and their F.M.G. dish- Feral Mixed Grill made up of kangaroo fillet, emu fillet mignon, and camel sausage.

We had a few drinks at the Prairie and at 10.30pm we all congregated by the railway line. With beer in hand we waited for the coal train. Believe me, this was the highlight of our stay in Parachilna. The train travels from Leigh Creek to Port Augusta and back again, picking up and delivering the coal. And what makes it the highlight? This train is the longest coal train in the world- 3 km and it took about 8 minutes to pass. It was thrilling because we got quite close to it (maybe not such a good idea, thinking back, we had been drinking), and we squealed with delight when the train driver sounded his horn as he passed us.

The next morning we were getting ready to leave and I saw everyone running out of the hostel. The train was on its way back to Leigh Creek. We watched it go passed again. One of the guys counted the carriages-165. It is amazing to see. The simple pleasures in life are the best ones and this was definitely another highlight of the trip. Easily pleased!

Coal train passing through Parachilna

Coal train passing through Parachilna
On the way back through Parachilna
Coal train passing through Parachilna
Coal train on the way back to Leigh Creek

Day 6

We travelled further south to Clare, where we went to a winery. Interestingly, the town’s road system was designed by a draughtsman from Adelaide who had no knowledge of the local geography. There are several roads in Clare that end dead on a cliff face, and continue again at the top of the cliff. I know! Nothing to do with the winery, so back to the wine tasting. Not everyone liked their wine! What? I don’t think I understand? Are they mad? It’s wine! They kept pouring it in my glass. My love of wine has always been there, and even back then my reputation for liking it preceded me.

Things to do in Clare, SA
Clare Winery

All that wine and several sheets to the wind later, we finally arrived in Adelaide. I had such a fantastic time with everyone I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye. So we had one last night together. I spoke to Mark a few days later before he made the trip back from Adelaide to Alice Springs. He told me that the whole of central Australia was under a monsoon and all the Flinders Ranges and Alice Springs was flooded so they couldn’t get to some of the places that we had been to. I couldn’t believe how lucky we had been.

Adelaide, SA
Our last night together, Adelaide, SA

I am so glad I changed my plans and did this trip. I made some very good friends along the way, and I saw and did some amazing things in such a short amount of time. I will always remember my trip from Alice to Adelaide. The Great Ocean Road will have to wait for another time.

A little song about that little town called Parachilna for you to enjoy 🙂