Australia Travel Guide

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Where to Go with Your Tax Refund: Tasmania, for More Than a Few Days

April 21, 2014 at 3:22 PM | by | Comments (0)


Above: Par Avion's remote airstrip in the Southwest National Park

Tax day is here, and you're probably excited...but not because you love sifting through receipts and credit card statements. You're excited because you're getting a fat refund. Probably. The economy may be on its way back up, but you should try to stretch that tax refund as far as you can...like with a little "you did a great job last year" trip—a Tax Refund Vacation.

Learn from our mistakes. Two days in Tasmania did nothing to dampen our desire to visit this southernmost bit of Australia; on the contrary, as it only whet our appetite and now Tasmania is all we can think about.

The "Island of Inspiration" is also one of picturesque bays, wilderness walking tracks, incredible contemporary art (MONA!), and what happens to be the the world's best whiskies.

Tasmania is only 35,000 square miles, 45% of which is completely given over to national park and nature reserves. Arriving to Hobart from Sydney means overflying areas that tempt thoughts of "what if I just never leave?" To sum up the style of its capital, Hobart, we'd peg it as a mix of Vancouver and Nantucket. So, in other words, it's nearly perfection for fans of good air, good eats, good views, and good value for money.

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What Everyone's Buying in Tasmania: Single Malt Whisky

April 17, 2014 at 10:34 AM | by | Comment (1)

Welcome to "What Everyone's Buying," a new series on souvenirs, wherein we investigate what tourist trinkets are the hottest selling in hotspots around the world.

Open the duty-free catalog in your seatback pocket. Flip past the cosmetics, watches and cigarettes, and what's left? Booze, and lots of it.

Alcohol and travel have gone hand-in-hand throughout history, from rum runners in the West Indies to the Highland Malt Whisky which was, at times, the only thing keeping Ernest Shackleton's men sane during their expeditions in the Antarctic.

Speaking of Antarctica, Tasmania's location at 42° S latitude puts it into a last-stop-before-Antarctica position, and the climate and terrain is reminiscent of the Scottish highlands. In other words, it's ideal for the production of what's become a Tasmanian mainstay: cask-aged, single malt whisky. Tassie whisky even took the top spot in the World Whiskies Awards 2014, which didn't come as much of a surprise to Tasmanians who've always known they're drinking the highest quality.

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This Banana Vending Machine Proves That Not Everything in Australia is Trying to Kill You

Where: Australia
April 15, 2014 at 9:15 AM | by | Comment (1)

Who says vending machine food needs to be full of salt, high in fat or generally unhealthy? Definitely not the brains behind this little gem we found while walking through a shopping center in Brisbane. Forget the Chex Mix or even granola bars, as this machine went straight for the super-healthy stuff with bananas.

This little bit of genius, called the Banana Bar, offers up small bunches of the sweet tropical fruit for just a few dollars. A bunch of three go for $3, and a bunch for sharing scores a little discount at $4 for five bananas. That's already cheaper and more convenient than the basket of single bananas Starbucks keeps next to their registers, for impulse healthy breakfast buys. And if you're not too familiar with how these prices compare to a grocery store, the mark-up isn't terrible at just about $.50 per piece; it's all about convenience and eating-on-the-run.

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First Time to Australia: What's a 'Nullarbor' Flight?

Where: Australia
April 10, 2014 at 12:05 PM | by | Comments (0)

When we brought you our introduction to Aussie slang last month, we may have forgotten one very important travel term unique only to Australia. We knew that some words would be new to us on a trip down under, but we'd never think about taking a "Nullarbor flight."

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Good Riddance to United's 747s Between the US and Australia

Where: Australia
April 2, 2014 at 3:23 PM | by | Comments (0)

April 1 may be known for April Fools' Day pranks, but the United 777s that dotted the tarmac at Sydney Airport were no joke. Yesterday marked the first day for United's regular LAX and SFO service to Sydney to be operated by all 777-200s, instead of the older 747-400s. The last UA 747 to depart Sydney said "so long" on March 31, and with it goes the worst plane to fly between the US and Australia, in terms of passenger comfort and entertainment.

Our friends at Australian Business Traveller detailed the change after it was announced, and noted that this means fewer seats in all classes. Overall, however, the news is excellent for travelers on the 14-hour non stop flights.

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When Bad Airline Meals Happen to Good Flights

Where: Australia
March 31, 2014 at 9:54 AM | by | Comments (0)

We've been pretty fortunate to score some delicious in-flight meals both in the front and back of planes, and you know by now that we're not afraid to snap some photos and share these with the world.

Nonetheless, with the good comes the bad, even in business class. We recently hopped aboard a Virgin Australia A330 from Brisbane to Perth for an evening meal and a little relaxation.

Brisbane to Perth is not only the country's longest non-stop flight, but it's also a key battleground for competition for customers. All the more reason why a bland meal was such a shocker on our flight.

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We Found A Little Bit of Coney Island Down Under in Australia

Where: Australia
March 24, 2014 at 1:32 PM | by | Comments (0)

Wandering around Sydney and Melbourne, travelers will eventually look to grab a postcard to send home to friends and family. Amongst the shots of beaches, kangaroos, and the Opera House, one relatively scary image is that of Australia's very own amusement park, Luna Park.

The iconic gate tempting thrill-seekers of all ages can be found across Sydney's Harbour Bridge at Kirribilli as well as the sea-side shores of St. Kilda in Melbourne. Pass through Mr Moon's delightfully scary mouth and head into a small park that is more like a flashback into yesteryear of roller-coasters, sideshows, and games than the modern-day monoliths of Six Flags and Universal.

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Wish You Were Here: A Not-So-Secret Secret Island in Sydney Harbour

March 19, 2014 at 11:37 AM | by | Comments (0)

Ask any Sydney tourist where to go for the best views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, and they’ll most likely recommend a trip on the Manly Ferry, which departs from Circular Quay near the base of the bridge. It’s a bit like Sydney’s version of the Staten Island Ferry in that it’s packed with both commuters and tourists, and it tirelessly plies the Harbour’s waves day in and day out.

While the Manly Ferry is certainly a great idea, we’ve got a better one: Fort Denison.

You see, Sydney Harbour is the largest natural harbor in the world. As such, it’s going to have a few surprises like islands and forts, or, in this case, a combination of the two.

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The Rolling Stones' Private Jet is Bigger Than Yours

March 18, 2014 at 10:12 AM | by | Comments (0)

Keep your eye out this month, Australia, as The Rolling Stones are flying around in their very own Boeing 767 painted with their lips-and-tongue logo. The 767, tail number ZS-DJI, is pretty minimal otherwise (but we bet the interior's anything but!). That's not a tiny private jet, by the way; a Delta 767, for comparison, holds just over 200 passengers.

The band landed in Perth yesterday to being their Australia tour, and today received the news that L'Wren Scott, acclaimed fashion designer and longtime girlfriend of Mick Jagger, had died.

The show must go on, however, and the Stones are all set to take their private jet around the continent for shows in Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Hanging Rock, and even down to Auckland, New Zealand. The Perth Airport Spotter's Blog has a few images of the plane in daylight.

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What Everybody's Buying in Melbourne: Wine!

March 7, 2014 at 10:41 AM | by | Comments (0)

Welcome to "What Everyone's Buying," a new series on souvenirs, wherein we investigate what tourist trinkets are the hottest selling in hotspots around the world.

In a country almost the size of the U.S., Australia has plenty of things to see, do, and bring home to your friends and family as little memento of your travels. One thing which Aussies take seriously is their wine, and this is doubly true in the Melbourne area. With vineyards around the country churning out award-winning bottles, bringing home a super special sip is often on the list.

Melbourne is located around 90 minutes away from some of the more popular wineries, (like Chandon and de Bortoli) for tasting, wining, dining, and best of all, purchasing favorite bottles. And if you'd rather follow a path less trodden, lots of smaller, boutique wineries dot the landscape in the Yarra, Goulburn, Rutherglen, and Alpine Valleys.

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So, Who Won BBC Top Gear's A380 Race to Sydney?

March 5, 2014 at 5:33 PM | by | Comments (0)


Above: James' final leg, from Dubai to Sydney

24 hours ago, BBC Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson and James May set off from London-Heathrow Airport with a final destination of Sydney, Australia. They flew on separate planes through different layover airports, and their arrival times were to be within thirty minutes of each other despite the incredibly huge distance traveled. The trip evolved into a Top Gear Live challenge, with the usual jokes and competitive spirit of a regular Top Gear challenge, except that it all occurred over Twitter.

Well, now that the guys have completed their #RacetoSydney journey and are on the ground Down Under, it's time to name the winner.

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Melbourne May Seem Far Away, But United's 787 Dreamliner is Willing to Make the Trip

February 26, 2014 at 9:46 AM | by | Comments (0)

Last week we got pretty excited about United's news to bring some 787 Dreamliners across the Equator for the long trip from Los Angeles to Melbourne, beginning in fall 2014. While this won't mark the first flight from SoCal to Australia's cultural capital, it is the first for the US airline; United used to first stop in Sydney, then hit the sky again to Melbourne.

If MileagePlus isn't your preferred loyalty program, there are plenty of other options to hop on the nearly 16-hour flight down under. In fact, there are two other airlines running here nonstop from the US, making that long way over the Pacific.

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