Adelaide prepares for a world-first in the history of cricket

The announcement of the Ashes schedule always holds a certain thrill for cricket fans: the familiar ring to the names of the iconic Aussie venues, the chance to start planning the month’s matchday viewing and the promise of great cricket not far over the horizon. This year, though, there was an added treat amidst the agenda: on 2-6 December, the Adelaide Oval will play host to the first ever day-night Ashes test.

It is the first time in the history of the 135-year-old series between England and Australia that a Test will be played out under the lights with a pink ball thundering down the wicket. The historic rivalry between the two sides means that the atmosphere is always one of the best of any series in world cricket, but dusk falling on the arena looks like it will take it to a whole new level.

The ground where the unprecedented action will take place is the Adelaide Oval, located in the parkland between the centre and the north of the city. It is heralded as one of the most picturesque cricket grounds in Australia and the 50,000+ who will be there for the Ashes Test will make it a night to remember as history gets made.

Outside of the Oval, Adelaide is a lively place to spend some time revelling in the Aussie lifestyle. The church spires that the city is known for poke up from behind interesting little lanes lined with multicultural restaurants and packed bars, and there’s a constant calendar of live music and festivals. Add in the city’s warm Mediterranean climate and there could be few better places to while away the wait for the on-field action with a cool drink.

If you’re keen to explore the local area, the coastal hotspots of Glenelg Beach and the Fleurieu peninsula are within easy reach, as is the world-class wine of the Barossa Valley, where you can take in the terroir of the area while enjoying a tasting session. You can even follow in the footsteps of Australia’s early explorers and head out on a trip down the historic Murray River to take in the river beaches, paddle steamers and beautiful sunsets.

With the head-to-head record in the Ashes series delicately poised on 32 wins each, when the lights are switched on in Adelaide and the spectacle begins we will surely be in for a treat. England are on an upward curve following summer wins against South Africa and West Indies and look set to come out aggressively with the bat.

But both of the two previous day-night tests held at the Adelaide Oval have been won by Australia, with New Zealand and South Africa succumbing to the Aussies, so it looks set to be an exciting test of England’s mettle!

If you’ve only ever watched the action on TV and you’d like to experience the atmosphere and great community feel of a cricket trip Down Under for yourself, to book a flexible package including hotel accommodation and match tickets, click here.


The top museums to visit in Australia

Kids often scrunch their faces and cry, “not a museum!” when faced with the idea of a visit to a stuffy old museum, but in Australia the museums are a delight: places of wonder that transport youngsters to another world.

If you are travelling Down Under on a personalised holiday with little ones and looking to keep them occupied, Australia’s famous institutions are a godsend. But even if you’re not, there are some must-sees in the context of world travel that you would be mad to miss out on.

Melbourne Museum, Melbourne

As the largest museum in the Southern Hemisphere, there are plenty of halls to wander and interesting corners to explore in this iconic institution. Located in the scenic surroundings of Carlton Gardens – a wonderfully landscaped green space and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in itself – the museum takes you 600 million years back in time, letting you roam among mysterious creatures from prehistoric times, step inside the nest of the ancestral spirit Bunjil and even watch a film in the IMAX cinema.

Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney

The maritime history of Australia has left an indelible stamp on this island surrounded by the Indian Ocean to the west, the Pacific to the east and the Southern Ocean to the south. Built in Darling Harbour in 1991, the National Maritime Museum was designed to look like sails billowing in the wind and is a very attractive place to spend a few hours letting your imagination drift into undulating waves and tales of the high seas.

National Sports Museum, Melbourne

The Aussies are a nation of sports lovers, whether it be the distinctive yellow and green of their rugby kit, the national cricket team taking on the English in the historic Ashes series or the frenetic energy of Australian Rules Football. Housed in the iconic MCG cricket ground, the largest cricket ground in the world by capacity, the National Sports Museum is a temple to the country’s sporting achievements which includes over 3,500 sporting artefacts (as well as fun interactive experiences such as holograms of the country’s sporting legends).

Australian War Memorial, Campbell

A sobering and highly evocative monument, the Australian War Memorial is a very worthwhile visit for your trip. The emotional beating heart of the memorial is the Hall of Memory, where the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier and the Roll of Honour can be found. The Roll of Honour is particularly moving, listing the names of over 102,000 Australians who were killed in battle.


Top Sydney surf spots

Surfing perfectly encapsulates the laid-back lifestyle that Sydney is all about: getting out and enjoying the sun, spending time with friends and family around the ocean and the simple pleasure that is the thrill of a great wave in a beautiful setting.

If you catch a big one here in Sydney you’ll glide towards some of the most spectacular golden sands in the world. There are great communities around many of the surf spots here that will help show you the ropes, too, so you’re sure to feel right at home.

Whether you’ve never got up on a board before or you’re a firm lover of the surf lifestyle, there are options to suit all levels in this fantastic harbour city.

Freshwater Beach

Legend has it that this is where Aussie surfing was born. Around 100 years ago, beachgoers reportedly looked on baffled as a Hawaiian called Duke Kahanamoku carved out a surfboard from local timber, took it into the waves and began riding them standing up. It wasn’t long, of course, before everyone wanted a piece of the action, and you can take to the clear blue water here yourself via Surf Skool.

Bondi Beach

As surfing spots go, it doesn’t get much more iconic than Bondi. This legendary beach is a wonderful place to spend an entire day when the sun is out. From the wilder middle section of the beach to the more protected northern corner, there is lots of variety to keep you on your toes, but surfers particularly flock here when there is a northerly wind.

Umina Beach

If you haven’t surfed before, it could be a bit of a shock to the system if you head straight out into the swell in some of the more notorious spots. Much more sensible for beginners is Umina Beach, where the layout seems designed specifically with apprentices in mind. You won’t get hammered by rolling waves here: the location is perfectly protected and the gentle slope of the sea bed sets you up nicely for a smooth surf.

Manly Beach

Even the trip out to Manly on the scenic ferry across Sydney Harbour is a delight, and once you get there you’ll enjoy surfing for all abilities on what is a great day trip from the centre. Testament to the quality of the waves is the crowds who come on weekends, so if you can, it is best to pay your visit on a weekday. Once you’ve enjoyed the water, head to one of the many attractive bars and cafes for a well-deserved cocktail!


Taronga Zoo welcomes new arrivals

Taronga Western Plains Zoo, one of the top attractions in Sydney, New South Wales, has welcomed their third healthy giraffe calf of the breeding season! With the baby born in the early hours of 11th September, both new born and mother are doing well and settling in nicely to their new life together.

The new female giraffe calf has been named Malaika, which means ‘Angel’ in Swahili.

She joins two male new arrivals who were born within a week of each other on the 8th and 15th of August.

With the mothers showing all the right physical and behavioural signs in the run-up to the birth, keepers had been imminently awaiting the big day, and it was a relief when all turned out fine.

Taronga Zoo has an exceptional conservation program in place and is active in supporting the plight of giraffes in the wild, working with organisations such as Biliqo-Bulesa Conservancy, one of the largest community conservancies under the umbrella of the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT).

Other conservation and breeding projects include work with the little penguin and brush-tailed rock wallaby as well as global programmes including the Black Rhinoceros and Asian Elephant breeding schemes, which aim to help save these animals from becoming extinct and provide the protection they need to strive in their habitats.

The new giraffes have already started to make a name for themselves within the flourishing breeding herd of 11. They are currently not straying too far from their mother’s side while they get used to their surroundings, but as time goes on they are expected to gain in confidence and start to explore their area a little more. The giraffes have always been a firm visitor favourite at the zoo, and as a result of the new additions, they have instantly become one of the very top attractions.


Australia Zoo meerkat names announced!

Compare the Market has been running a competition in conjunction with Australia Zoo offering the chance to name four of Australia’s new female meerkats, and after much popular vote since the competition began on September 15, the names of the pint-sized new additions have finally been announced!

To enter the competition, animal lovers were asked to visit the company’s website and submit their favourite name. The winners of the competition have been chosen and are now the proud adoptive parents of their very own meerkat! The contest attracted thousands of entries, with the victors being announced on Tuesday 3rd October.

With a spectacular range of names put forward, it was a difficult decision to choose. The winning names were selected based on the criteria of how well they suited the meerkat’s character as well as the creative reasons behind the entry.

The following are the winning names: the meerkat family’s matriarch has been awarded the name of Molly with her three daughters being given the names of Maya, Katia and Matilda. But in fact the mob of ten cheeky female meerkats had already been making a name for themselves at Australia Zoo and it is great to watch them in action!

Their newly-created home has been carefully designed to provide them with the perfect setting. The exhibit’s construction has replicated the habitat of the sandy desert plains, allowing the inquisitive animals to keep busy and feel as if they were in the wild. The enclosure is found at the far end of the Savannah African section. The meerkats are keeping their keepers on their toes with their constant re-arranging of objects in their enclosure and their love of digging and hiding, and they are offering up new surprises every day that are making the exhibit a firm favourite amongst the Zoo’s visitors.