Kicking back on Australia’s eastern beaches

The East Coast of Australia is one of the most sunkissed stretches of sand on the planet, the home of wave-seeking surfers, beautiful coastal drives and some spectacular wildlife.

It takes 30 hours of continuous driving to cover the whole stretch, though, so it would be a challenge for even the most lightning holidaymakers to see it all. You’ll come accross spectacular views almost at every turn of the dramatic coastal landscape, so it’s important to know the really outstanding spots that will truly make your visit, and that’s exactly what we’ve set out below!

 

Fraser Island

If you’re looking for sand, look no further. This World Heritage Site off the coast not far from Brisbane is actually the largest sand island in the world, and has historical intrigue to match its beautiful beaches. Lodged in the sand where the waves meet the shore is the famous Maheno Shipwreck, its evocative rust colouring speaking of its escapades in World War Two. Two of the main attractions that leave tourists wide-eyed with wonder are the Pinnacles – stunning sandstone cliffs made up of sandy ridges of multiple colours – and the 100 or so hidden freshwater swimming spots which are scattered around the island and are all ringed by their own sandy beach.

 

Byron Bay

If you’ve always dreamed of travelling to Australia’s extremities, Byron Bay will help you on your way, as this is the most easterly point on the mainland. Over the years, it has become known as a haven for surfers, and it is now a prime destination for those looking to catch great waves. There is a wonderfully laid-back, community feel here in Byron and you may well end up joining the many who decide never to go back home! Whale watching, the amazing views from the lighthouse and the legendary day-trip to the hippie village Nimbin are all popular activities here, but it is the surfing that is the real draw here.

 

The Whitsundays

Some say The Whitsundays’ Whitehaven Beach is the most pristine stretch of sand in the world. At 98% pure silica, there are certainly few whiter. But this particular beach is on just one of the 74 islands that make up this spectacular collection dotted in amongst the waves of the Coral Sea. Protected from the fiercer elements by the Great Barrier Reef, these are gentle azure shores perfect for snorkelling, sailing and swimming. The majority of the islands are entirely uninhabited, meaning fantastic opportunities for camping at one with nature.

 

 

 

Ecological Society of Australia reveals stunning winner of photography competition

With one of the most spectacularly varied terrains on earth, revealing more weird and wonderful flora and fauna almost at every turn, Australia must be a photographer’s paradise.

There are endless opportunities for those who are handy with a camera to get creative with their snapshots of the landscape Down Under, and their imaginations have been fuelled once again this year by the Ecological Society of Australia’s annual Ecology in Action photography competition.

A total of 440 works were entered into the competition overall, and Alan Kwok, a member of the Ecology in Action’s judging panel and a photographer himself, described what the judges were looking for from the competition hopefuls.

“The audience should feel the passion we have when studying plants and animals … expressing that visually is quite tricky, so any photo that can do that is powerful,” Kwok said.

The overall winner has now been revealed as Eucalypt Galaxy by Richard Dimon, which Kwok described as having “a feeling that is hard to describe but makes you appreciate the country we live in.”

The images also commended by the judging panel show the extraordinary diversity of the Australian terrain, featuring the antennae of the Sinister Moth, a specimen being restored at the University of New England’s Zoology Museum and a wombat navigating a snowy expanse amongst other fascinating elements of Australia’s ecosystem.

An interesting new category introduced this year was “When No-one’s Watching”, a celebration of the captivating results that can be achieved with modern remote cameras.

“Remote cameras have become a really effective way of monitoring wildlife and they pick up interactions with animals we will never see in person. They can show very mysterious moments between animals and are very powerful for scientists as there is no human interference,” Kwok said.

 

New Tourism Australia campaign aims to attract young travellers

Tourism Australia just announced a new $10 million global youth campaign to attract more travellers. It comes as a proactive approach to a new tax plan set for January 2017, known as the backpacker tax, which officials fear may put a dent in tourism numbers.

TA hopes the plan will encourage travellers to sign up for the working holiday maker programme, which allows young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 to work in Australia over an extended holiday. Despite an increase in tax for these workers, the campaign is offering affordable deals to entice young workers Down Under.

“Youth travel is a price-sensitive market, and we’ve been very mindful of that fact as we’ve gone about developing partnerships for this campaign,” said John O’Sullivan, Tourism Australia’s Managing Director. “This is the most comprehensive package of youth focused travel offers we’ve ever had in market at one time.”

TA is partnering with six state and territory partners and numerous travel agencies in Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and the Nordics. Travellers can receive various amenities, including but not limited to discounted airfare, three nights of accommodation and job support.

STA Travel is one of the agencies involved in the campaign, and Chief Executive Officer John Constable feels confident it’ll be a success.

“We’ve been involved in a number of successful youth collaborations in the past and all have resulted in an increase in our Australian youth holiday packages, particularly working holiday maker bookings,” said Constable.

Backpackers and working holiday makers bring in $4 billion to the Australian economy. After a recent decline in visa applications, this campaign hopes to show young travellers why Australia is the place to be!

Take a trip Down Under with Qantas’ new VR app

Australian airline company Qantas has released a virtual reality app giving users the opportunity to explore the beauty of Australia from anywhere in the world. Viewers can snorkel at Hamilton Island or climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There are currently 13 possible destinations, and the company plans to add more in the near future.

Virtual Reality experiences and devices are increasingly popular these days, and this innovative app looks to change the way people think about travelling. Australia is a coveted tourist destination, and now users can transport themselves into new and exciting environments in the comfort of their own homes. If they like what they see, they can book a flight in-app.

Australian tourism has been booming, recording another record-breaking year this time around. But officials want potential visitors to know there is more to the country than meets the eye.

“Our aim with the new virtual reality app is to connect with travellers by showcasing parts of Australia they may not be familiar with,” said Olivia Wirth, Qantas Group Executive Brand, Marketing & Corporate Affairs head.

Not only do viewers have a diverse range of videos to choose from, but some include never-before-seen footage. For the first time ever, users are treated to an aerial view of the sacred sites in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park thanks to a partnership with the park’s board and the Film and Photography Consultative Committee.

While Qantas does see the benefit of a potential increase in sales, the main goal of the app is to educate people about the various, unique destinations across the country.

The Qantas VR app is widely available. Owners of the iPhone, Android, Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or Google Cardboard can all explore the land down under. For those without a VR device, 360 degree 2D viewing is also an option.

 

 

Jumping around on Kangaroo Island

If you’re looking forward to a tailor-made Australia holiday, you won’t want to miss magical Kangaroo Island. This small but perfectly formed island is located off the coast of South Australia. Easily accessed by boat from Adelaide, Kangaroo Island is an idyllic spot to explore the wilderness and soak up the tranquillity.

 

What to do on Kangaroo Island

If the idea of deserted beaches, stunning natural wonders and wildlife spotting appeals, Kangaroo Island won’t disappoint. Here, you can spend your days exploring the national parks, escaping it all on the golden sands and watching wildlife in action. Here are just a few highlights to include in your itinerary:

Seal Bay

This secluded spot is tucked away on the southern shore of the island. As you can probably guess from the name, this bay is famed for its native seal population. Watch the seals interact with each other and slip in and out of the water from the rocks above. This is a protected area, and it offers unrivalled opportunities to see seals and sea lions in their natural habitat. Kangaroo Island boasts the third largest colony of sea lions in Australia.

Flinders Chase National Park

Home to Admiral’s Arch, Flinders Chase National Park is a truly beautiful natural playground. You can spend hours marvelling at the scenery, or get your pulse racing with a clifftop hike. You’ll find fur seals, platypus, wallabies and echidnas if you’re lucky.

Penguin spotting at Penneshaw

Penneshaw, a quaint coastal town, is not just a lovely place to admire the views and enjoy a cup of tea. This is also an excellent spot to watch little penguins, also known as blue or little blue penguins, scuttling to the safety of the shore as they head inland after a day of fishing at sea. The best time to spot the penguins is dusk.

Wildlife encounters

Kangaroo Island is considered a haven for many endangered species. Here, animals can enjoy the wilds without many of the risks and dangers they encounter on the mainland. There are wildlife sanctuaries on the island, but you can also see animals roaming free in the wilderness. Keep your eyes peeled for koalas hanging out in the treetops and kangaroos hopping around contentedly. You’ll notice that the kangaroos on Kangaroo Island are smaller and darker than their counterparts on the mainland. Wallabies are also a common sight.