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.

You can book a private tour with Longhorn YOUnqiue Tours to Ballarat which includes the wildlife park. 

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.

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.