Tag: New South Wales Field TripView All Tags
Airports / Gold Coast Airport / OOL / Australia Travel / Queensland Travel / New South Wales Field Trip / Surfers Paradise / Beach Travel / → All Tags
In one of the most famous areas in Australia there sits a special little airport with a special little secret. Well, it's not so much a secret as it is a unique feature. We're talking about the Gold Coast Airport located just to the south of Surfers Paradise.
Gold Coast Airport, or OOL for you #avgeeks, is a normal medium-sized international airport that serves a good majority of major Australian cities and a list of short- to medium-haul international destinations. It's also a hub for Jetstar.
Since Sydney is the biggest city Down Under, it's no surprise that it's a damn good place to get cultural. Yet after half a dozen visits, our latest trip was the first time we ended up in a couple of museums.
We started out at the Australian Museum up near Hyde Park, which sounded like it should sum up the whole country in one small-ish building. It didn't, as it's instead one of those natural history places full of stuffed animals that we used to love as kids. The exhibits are modern and there are tons of those weird Aussie animals, plus a cute display of typical living room skeletons--including this cat skeleton which impressed us no end.
At the other end of town, in the Rocks area, we checked out the Museum of Contemporary Art in a gorgeous old building recently saved from demolition. There are five floors of galleries including some video installations and a floor of their newest acquisitions. Development plans mean the MCA will get a new wing and huge renos by 2011. Yay for more funky culture, we say.
If Australia's biggest city is too big for you, we've just discovered a laid-back way to enjoy it. The trick to being in the middle of Sydney without being surrounded by tall buildings and crowds is just a 10-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay to the quite remarkable Cockatoo Island.
Don't be expecting pristine wilderness from Sydney Harbor's largest island--it's been a prison and was a working shipyard until 1992. But now the Sydney Harbour Trust is turning it into a historical site for locals and tourists to enjoy.
We headed out to Cockatoo Island to stay overnight at their campsite. At just A$75 ($50) for two people--much less if you bring your own tent--you get to wave to all the yachties passing by in the evening then wake up to amazing sunrise views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Add exploring the old shipyards with spooky tunnels and eerie warehouses, and we reckon it's one of the best days (and nights) out in Sydney.
The Hunter Valley is famous for having more than 100 wineries to visit, but curiously the most successful tourist attraction there isn't a vineyard: It's a grape-free garden.
Aptly named the Hunter Valley Gardens, this place is owned by the same people who once owned the Nutrimetics skin products empire, so you know they've got money to plant. Located in the middle of all the vineyards, HVG markets itself as "the easy escape." (When we got lost trying to find a path back to the entrance, we found that kind of ironic.)
But we only got lost because the place is so huge and so distracting. From the Chinese garden through to the relive-your-childhood storybook garden, and then up the hill to a chapel where weddings are regularly held, even a nature-hater would find something to like here.
HVG runs regular thematic events like Christmas night lights and Easter specials, so time your visit right for a little something extra. Entry is A$20 ($14), and we suggest stopping by before you visit too many wineries--or you might get even more lost than we did.
In the Hunter Valley region less than two hours north of Sydney, eating out isn't a matter of finding a great pub meal or a corner cafe. If you're looking for a decent meal, you'll soon find that, as in much of the rest of New South Wales, it's all about the clubs.
These people love to belong somewhere, whether it's a workers' club, bowling club, veterans' club or the upmarket country club. We stepped out one night to the Halekulani Bowling Club in the town of Budgewoi and discovered getting a meal wasn't as simple as you'd think.
Most of these clubs have a bunch of rules and showing your ID, filling out a visitor's form and wearing the right clothes is only the start. But in exchange for your trouble you get cheap (and delicious) seafood, the chance to gamble (these clubs are allowed to have poker machines) and an insight into the Hunter Valley social scene. And of course a very full stomach.
Cruising Sydney Harbour is chicken feed compared to floating around on Lake Macquarie, less than two hours north of Sydney. The largest coastal lake in Australia, Lake Macquarie is more than four times bigger than Sydney's famous harbor and at least as beautiful.
Being so close to the big smoke, yet a whole lot more relaxing, rumor has it that celebrities pop up to the lake for a getaway. Locals can tell you scandals dating back to the King Edward and Wallis Simpson era, but there's no celebrity map tour going just yet.
Getting out on the water for a day is surprisingly cheap, with four-hour lunch cruises going for A$39 ($27). Take your binoculars to see how the rich people sunbathe on their lakeside lawns, in the hope that you might spot an escaping celebrity, too. You can take public transit there (two trains and a bus) or take the F3 highway from Sydney.