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4 Great Ways to Experience Downtown Melbourne, Australia

Choosing to visit Melbourne, the capital city of Victoria, Australia, for a nice respite won’t leave you disappointed. This popular cultural hub boasts many accolades and offers a multitude of exciting destinations to visit. One of the best areas to explore is downtown Melbourne.
Downtown Melbourne almost completely surrounds the Port Phillip Bay and has the perennial Yarra River running through it and into the bay. It’s also where Melbourne was first established by settlers in 1835. Suffice it to say, this coastal town with 4 million residents has many attractions to visit within its downtown area, yet to narrow it down some, let’s explore four great ways to experience downtown Melbourne Australia.

Shop, Eat, and Appreciate Art at the Centre Place Laneway

The Centre Place Laneway is one of the many exciting destinations to visit in the heart of downtown Melbourne. The lively blue cobblestone laneway is designated as a pedestrian district where visitors can enjoy the unique shops, cafes, and artwork on their way to other close-by downtown Melbourne destinations. The local feel is palpable when walking through Centre Place, as apartment balconies above the shops rise multiple stories high, locals take their favorite spots at the cafes and bars, and ever-changing artwork depicts the native cultural flavors.
When you’re done with your coffee and crepes at a quaint Centre Place cafe, you can move on to explore the many small and large destinations within the downtown Melbourne area. Some of the most noteworthy are Flinders Street Railway Station, Yarra River, Degraves Street, Campbell Arcade, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Federation Square, and Princess Walk.
To get the full experience, you’ll want to spend at least a day or two in this area of Melbourne. You can start with a visit to the Centre Place laneway, then move a block south towards the Yarra River and experience the underground Campbell Arcade and Flinders Street Railway Station, where your City Circle Tram awaits.

Take the City Circle Tram Tour

Another great way to experience downtown Melbourne is by riding on the City Circle Tram. You can get on the largest urban tram network in the world at Flinders Street Railway Station and fast-track your exploration of downtown Melbourne. The City Circle Tram tour is free and runs throughout the day, allowing passengers to get on and off quickly to explore different parts of the city. There are two types of trams that service the City Circle Tram route, including the retro heritage maroon colored trams with gold trimmings and the standard modern trams with green and white colors.
Instead of driving, taking a taxi, or walking around the large downtown area of Melbourne, you can use the trams to get around with a great view and in local style. Besides being an experience in itself, the City Circle Tram offers local information and maps for destinations, events, shops, restaurants, etc.
Perhaps, after enjoying the morning at Centre Place, you can hop on a City Circle Tram and travel a mile west to visit Docklands Park or watch a soccer event at Marvel Stadium; or, you could travel southeast about a half a mile over the Yarra River to visit the historic Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.

Experience the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

Any vacation to Melbourne should include a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, which is one of the area’s biggest and most historic attractions. This is a special reserved area covering 38 hectares (118 acres) of land and drawing in over 1.8 million visitors a year. The Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria was preserved by the early settlers of Melbourne back in 1846; this large green area in the midst of downtown Melbourne creates an intriguing contrast between the brick and concrete of the city and the neatly carved out natural beauty of the botanical gardens.
There are many interesting sections of the gardens to explore; if desired, you could make this relaxing destination a day-long affair. After exploring the busy downtown area, you’ll appreciate the calm, beautiful environment the gardens offer, including small lakes, 12,000 species of plant life, large scenic lawns, various trees, wooden walkways, and much more.
You can also sit down at one of the two cafes located within the garden: The Terrace and Jardin Tan, where you can get organic, French-Indochina flavored food while enjoying the lush tropical surroundings. Afterward, you can decide whether to take a guided tour, shop for souvenirs, take a nap on the Eastern Lawn, or get back on the tram to visit the next location, perhaps the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Check Out the Melbourne Cricket Ground

If you really want to get a taste of Melbourne, you’ll have to visit the Melbourne Cricket Ground, (a.k.a. “the G”). Even if you’re not interested in Australian Rules Football, cricket, tennis, or rugby, you’ll enjoy the historical significance associated with one of the largest and oldest sports stadiums in the world.
The G was built in 1853 and has a seating capacity of around 100k, making it the 10th largest sports stadium in the world. Notably, this is the home of Victorian sport, a major part of Australia sport, the birthplace of cricket in 1877, the home for Australian football since 1859, and the location of the National Sports Museum. The entire area around Melbourne Cricket Ground is sports oriented and full of notable destinations. This includes Melbourne Park, which is where the Australian Open tennis tournament is held; also, Richmond Football Club Museum, Olympic Park, Rod Laver Arena, Tennis World (National Tennis Center), and more.
The center of it all is the G, which offers visitors more than just sports, including cinema night, concerts, guided tours, museums, cafes, pubs, beer gardens, and souvenir shops. This special destination in downtown Melbourne offers you a great way to experience the best of Australian sports, and with the G located just west of Flinders Street Railway Station, you’ll find it easy to circle back around to where you started on your City Circle Tram ride.
These four great ways to experience downtown Melbourne should give you a rough outline for your adventures. Along the way, you can fill in the blanks with a multitude of additional unique and exciting destinations, cafes, shops, and activities. In the end, experiencing the heart of downtown Melbourne will give you a greater understanding of what this unique city in southeastern Australia is all about.

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7 Great Ways to Enjoy Hamilton Island in Northeastern Australia

Australia is home to many awe-inspiring destinations, including the natural wonder of Hamilton Island in Queensland. This beautiful resort island offers travelers a unique getaway full of exciting activities and amazing sights. As the most populous island within the Whitsunday Islands, Hamilton Island offers both luxury and natural wonder for visiting guests.
From renting a buggy (golf cart) to visiting the Great Barrier Reef, visitors to Hamilton Island have many ways to enjoy this special year-round travel destination. To highlight the best choices, let’s explore seven great ways to enjoy Hamilton Island.

1. Visit the Great Barrier Reef

Hamilton Island is situated alongside the Great Barrier Reef, which is the largest coral reef system in the world and the largest living thing on Earth! This natural wonder is a world-renown destination that stretches out 1,400 miles along Queensland’s coastline, including through the Whitsunday Islands.
As can be imagined, visitors have many options for enjoying the Great Barrier Reef from Hamilton Island, including with guided tours by boat, seaplane, helicopter, and underwater. Whatever vantage point visitors choose to enjoy the Great Barrier Reef; they’ll have the chance to experience and enjoy the magnificent views and awe-inspiring environments this unique destination has to offer.

2. Play Golf at Hamilton Island Golf Club

After relaxing in one of Hamilton’s luxurious accommodations such as the Qualia Resort, Palm Bungalows, or the Reef View Hotel, visitors can grab their golf clubs, jump in their buggy, and head to the Hamilton Island Golf Club for 18 holes and some amazing views.
Designed by hall of fame golfer and five-time British Open winner Peter Thomson, this 18-hole Par 71 links style golf course is sure to challenge even the most competitive golfer, especially, with the tough holes along the island’s cliffs. The Hamilton Island Golf Club is located only a ferry’s ride away on Dent Island, due west of Hamilton Island. The breathtaking views of the Coral Sea and surrounding islands, from this lush and verdant course perched atop the island’s rolling hills and cliffs, are sure to inspire both golfers and sightseers alike.

3. Visit Whitehaven Beach

Located along Whitsunday Island, Whitehaven Beach is well-known for its pristine white beach sand and turquoise colored waters. Only 30 minutes away from Hamilton Island, Whitehaven Beach is accessible by catamaran, helicopter, seaplane, or sailboat.
Visitors can enjoy snorkeling, swimming, walking the beaches, sightseeing, and more when exploring Whitehaven Beach in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. Regarded as Queensland’s cleanest beach, this beautiful destination will give visitors plenty of picture perfect memories to capture and remember.

4. Take a Day Trip in the Air or by Sea

As alluded to before, visitors to Hamilton Island have many choices for how they want to take in the beautiful surroundings, including by seaplane, sailboat, catamaran, helicopter, or ferry boat.
The fun and excitement of taking a day trip by sea or air are sure to satisfy the innermost desires of travelers seeking adventure, and the stunning magnificence of the Great Barrier Reef and surrounding seas and islands will only accentuate the day’s activities. With these day-trip options by sea or air, Hamilton Island uniquely gives travelers the ability to see the surrounding beauty from every perspective and angle.

5. Explore Hamilton Island with a Buggy or ATV

One of the best ways to get around Hamilton Island is by renting a buggy; visitors can hop in their buggy and travel around the island to enjoy great food, live music, beaches, spas, wildlife centers, natural trails, shops, sightseeing vantage points, and more.
Traveling in their buggy, visitors can explore the 1.9 sq. mile Hamilton Island at their own pace and in style; and with only a little over 1,200 people residing on the island, the streets won’t be too crowded either. The open buggy will allow visitors to feel the warm air and be part of the local environment on a more intimate level.
As for those who want to go off-road to explore the less-visited wilderness areas of Hamilton Island, they can take an off-road adventure tour with an ATV, where they can either drive or be a passenger on their way to Resort Lookout – one the highest vantage points on the island.

6. Explore WILD LIFE Hamilton Island

When visiting Australia, visitors shouldn’t miss the opportunity to see the native wildlife this amazing continent has to offer, including koalas, eastern grey roos, saltwater crocodiles, dingoes, southern, cassowaries (pre-historic birds), and cockatoos.
This special wildlife center located in the heart of Hamilton Island offers visitors daily tours and hands-on experience with Australia’s indigenous wildlife. Visitors can take a trip in their buggy to have breakfast with the Koalas, or otherwise enjoy WILD LIFE Hamilton Island, as part of their daily adventures on the island.

7. Relax at Qualia Spa

One of the more luxurious settings on Hamilton Island is the world-class Qualia Resort, which includes a hotel, spa, and fine dining restaurants. Qualia’s spa treatments and wellbeing therapies are sure to pleasure the senses and help visitors relax while they enjoy the luxurious indoor and outdoor settings.
Large windows and open spaces surrounded by hardwood, marble, and tropical landscapes will help visitors relax at Qualia Spa while enjoying the awe-inspiring views of the surrounding islands, Coral Sea, and Great Barrier Reef.

Conclusion

When it comes to finding the perfect travel destination, Hamilton Island is as close as it gets. The optimal weather, breathtaking views, world-class destinations, and exciting activities it offers are sure to satisfy and exceed even the most experienced traveler’s expectations. Although these seven great ways to enjoy Hamilton Island merely scratch the surface with the choices visitors have, they do sufficiently highlight how special this Australian destination really is. The Hamilton Island Race Week and The Australian Ballet are two other examples of noteworthy happenings to enjoy on this Queensland island in Australia.
Suffice it to say; travelers won’t be disappointed in their choice to visit Hamilton Island, as it is second to none when it comes to world-class travel destinations.

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Five Delicious Restaurants in Sydney, Australia

Feast Through Sydney, Australia

You’ll quickly see why each dish is so popular as you enjoy some of the best meals that you have ever tasted. From the beginning of your trip until the very end, you’ll be having the ultimate food tour of Sydney.

Quay

Your trip to Sydney is not complete without a visit to Quay. Located in the heart of Sydney Harbor, the view from the restaurant speaks for itself, as you’ll enjoy your meal while gazing at the Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House. The cuisine is inspired by nature, and the atmosphere reflects that down to every last detail. If you choose to sit in the Upper Tower, you can take in the panoramic views of Circular Quay as well as The Rocks. The Green Room offers two private terraces with animation and digital artwork for your enjoyment. Choose from a 6 or 10-course menu, with innovative dishes that include Smoked eel cream prepared with almond and fresh cold pressed almond oil, Smoked Pig Jowl, and the simply delightful Maremma Duck prepared with radicchio, black garlic aged mirin, and ice plant. From the first bite to the last, you’ll agree that Quay is one of the best spots that Sydney has to offer. Each bite is to be slowly savored, as you taste the creative blend of spices and ingredients in the expertly prepared dishes.

Aria Restaurant Sydney

This elegant, glass-walled restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy the best modern Australian Cuisine in Sydney. At Aria Restaurant Sydney, you’ll be treated to creations consisting of the best ingredients from some of Australia’s top innovative chefs. In a calm, contemporary, and serene atmosphere, guests are presented with delightful creations that include Filet, Black Angus, and grain-fed steaks, as well as incredible side dishes such as Creamed Royal Blue Potato, Roast Carrots, and Scarlett Butter Lettuce. Dessert is a sweet treat, with choices that include a selection of Australian and International Cheeses, and an ever-changing menu of after-dinner drinks.

O Bar and Dining

When the time comes for a casual, laid back, yet delicious meal, look no further than O Bar and Dining. Choose from the Main Restaurant, The Lounge Bar, The Lobby Bar, or a Private Dining Room. Each choice is unique in its own right and provides the perfect space for a meal that you won’t soon forget. You’ll find a selection of food that melts in your mouth, as you choose from dishes such as Milly Hill Lamb Shoulder, Glazed King Salmon, and Twice Cooked Tinder Creek Farm Duckling. Dessert will make your mouth water, and the menu is so incredible that you will wish you could try one of everything. Delectable treats include Freeze Dried Raspberry Ice Cream, Almond Milk Sorbet, Hot raspberry & chocolate soufflé, and more. The experience continues, because guests can also try the Chef’s selection of cheese that is served with dates and a variety of fruit, or the Box of Truffles and Sweet Treats, consisting of Citrus Cashew Truffles, Pecan Butter and Matcha, and much more.

Fish at the Rocks

Enjoy exceptional maritime art and wonderfully prepared seafood dishes when you visit Fish at the Rocks. The relaxing atmosphere is extremely popular among locals, and the food is some of the best you will ever have. Dishes include Spaghettini Pasta prepared with fresh tomato and excellent herbs and spices, as well as Grilled Scampi topped with a flavorful butter, alongside a rocket pear & parmesan salad. Also, you can enjoy Whole Mud Crab chili style, served with a perfectly steamed rice. The side dishes that are offered here are equally as delicious, with choices such as the vegetable of the day and special homemade potato chips. Don’t miss out on dessert when dining at Fish at the Rocks. The menu offers selections like Crème Brulee with fruit, Carrot cake with macadamia praline and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and Smashed lemon curd served with raspberry pavlova.

Cho Cho San

Cho Cho San is quite possibly one of the most sophisticated restaurants in all of Sydney, so you’ll want to have a meal here. The environment is warm and luxurious, making every guest feel incredible as soon as they walk through the door. Choose from wonderful selections such as Natural Oysters or Ocean Trout appetizers. The next course of this amazing meal includes a Pork Cutlet served with apples, Teriyaki Fish Collars, or an expertly prepared Wagyu Sirloin complemented with wasabi. Be sure to ask for a dessert menu, because you can enjoy a wonderful ending to your meal with soft serve green tea ice cream, a scrumptious Miso Pudding, or sorbet in flavors like coconut, melon, or sake. With a selection of after-dinner drinks to choose from, you can relax as long as you like while enjoying the company as well as the ambiance of Cho Cho San.
As you can see, the food in the city of Sydney, Australia is beyond compare As home to some of the most talented chefs who create Australia’s most sought-after dishes, Sydney is a place where you can take delight in eating. So many different tastes and culinary styles come together in a way that is delicious, unique, and incredible. As you walk the streets of the city, you’ll be mesmerized by everything that you see! That adventure continues with each taste of the dishes that are offered at these wonderful restaurants.

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The Best Romantic Excursions in Brisbane, Australia

Romantic Brisbane, Australia Getaways

australian_couple_worldviaMore than just a beautiful waterfront city, Brisbane is filled with romantic escapes, unique experiences, and unforgettable sights that tend to leave travelers planning a return trip before even boarding a flight. While it’s hard to do Brisbane wrong given all that it offers, consider these can’t-miss activities and day trips if you’re headed to Brisbane in search of romance.

A getaway to breathtaking Moreton Island

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Moreton Island

Feeding wild dolphins, scuba diving alongside shipwrecks, and walking the shores of one of the largest sand islands in the world are just a few of the possibilities waiting at Moreton Island, a beloved oasis just a 75-minute skip across the bay from downtown Brisbane. Moreton’s picturesque turquoise waters, secluded lagoons, and wide beaches have made the island a haven for honeymooners for years, as it’s an ideal place to unplug from the world and soak up the tranquility.
But even though Moreton has all of the features you would expect from a world-class beach destination, there’s plenty more to Brissie’s popular escape hatch. For wildlife lovers, Moreton is a particularly great place for bird-spotting and for hand-feeding bottlenose dolphins that swim almost all the way up to the shore. Between June and November, a massive humpback-whale migration brings plenty of whale watchers to Moreton’s shores, and loggerhead turtles can be found nesting between November and February.

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Sunset at Moreton Island

Meanwhile, climbing up to the top of Mt. Tempest in the center of the island can be on the challenging side, but the couples who go for it will end up with sprawling views all the way from the Sunshine Coast in the north to the Gold Coast south of the city.
For couples that want to get the adrenaline pumping, a day of sand tobogganing or boarding down some of the island’s massive dunes can be an exhilarating and unforgettable experience. The scuba diving and snorkeling are also renowned thanks to the colorful coral and fish beneath the famously clear water’s surface.
Those dipping beneath the water at the Tangalooma Wrecks site will get a chance to see the flurry of marine life that has spawned around the row of sunken ships off the west coast of the island. While there is an upscale resort, Moreton is also a popular place for camping as well as “glamping” for those who like a little more modern comfort with their adventures.
Thanks to regular ferries and barges that take patrons from Brisbane to the island, Moreton can be the perfect day trip or an extended stay. Those hoping to travel by car can also easily bring one across for a modest fee, making it exceptionally easy to get around the sights of Moreton Island National Park, which encompasses most of the island.

A climb to remember up Story Bridge

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Story Bridge

The Brisbane cityscape tends to crystallize in your long-term memory as you scale the city’s famous Story Bridge, a marriage-proposal hot spot that offers an exhilarating urban adventure complete with arguably the best views anywhere in Australia’s capital. While those nervous about high places can simply enjoy a beautiful stroll or bike ride across the iconic cantilever bridge, more adventurous visitors can book a climbing tour up that goes about 80 meters (roughly 260 feet) above the Brisbane River. Along the way, the ingenious design of the bridge is hard to miss, but so are the stunning 360-degree views of the city that continually improve the higher you go (don’t worry, climbers are strapped to the bridge).

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Story Bridge Sunset

Connecting Kangaroo Point and Fortitude Valley, Story Bridge is an essential lynchpin for many Australians in their daily lives, but it also tends to be filled with city-gazers who simply come for the sights. But instead of fighting the traffic you’ll see during the day, particularly during commuting hours, heading to Story Bridge just in advance of twilight will lead to a sensational place to watch the city lights spring to life – along with a little more room to maneuver than the peak of the day. The longest cantilever bridge in Australia and an essential staple of the city, Story Bridge is particularly beautiful while decorated for the very popular Brisbane Festival held annually in mid-to-late September.

A picnic dinner and stargazing at Mount Coot-tha Lookout

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View from Mount Coot-tha

No trip to Brisbane is complete without a jaunt out to Mount Coot-tha, a terrific spot for great views, fine dining, and exploring the countryside just outside the city. The main attraction of Mount Coot-tha is the Brisbane Lookout, providing a panoramic view of the city and plenty of green space well-suited for lounging on a picnic blanket with a loved one. At the central observation deck, first-timers to Brisbane can get their bearings with an interactive map that highlight the icons of the city, making it an excellent spot to inspect early on during a Brisbane excursion.
More than just another great view of the city, however, the neighboring area is packed with bushwalks that let you follow the footsteps of the aborigines who walked the trails many years ago. The Mount Coot-tha Aboriginal Art Trail is even filled with original artwork in its natural setting, offering unique insight into the cultural roots of the area in addition to the lush scenery along the way. Pulled back from much of the city’s lights, Mount Coot-tha is also a great setting for stargazing and many bring their own telescopes to enhance the experience, although one Saturday a month there is free telescope viewing courtesy of the Brisbane Astronomical Society.

Other great spots and travel considerations

The city of Brisbane itself is a wonderland of romantic getaways, with countless waterfront restaurants, exciting shows, and urban hikes that will help you fall in love with the gem on the eastern coast of Australia. A walk or bike ride through the city’s riverwalk is a must, as it cuts right through the heart of Brisbane and can be great either for leisure or for getting from point A to point B.

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Brisbane Botanic Gardens

The Brisbane Botanic Gardens are also immaculately maintained and a sight to see, as is Roma Street Parkland, a wonderful urban park with sprawling green space, plenty of shade, and infinite possibilities for couples looking for a few hours pulled away from the hustle and bustle.
Although Brisbane can get a little toasty during the main summer months from December through February, its proximity to the sea also tends to keep temperatures moderate, making it a great option at any point of the year. At the peak of winter in June, average highs are still close to 70°F (about 20°C) without about seven full hours of sun on average, which tells you why Brisbane is very much an outdoors-oriented city. The winter months also have the least amount of rainfall. While both summer and winter tend to have plenty of visitors due to typical holiday schedules, both fall and spring are still very good travel windows despite an uptick in the possibility of rain in the forecast.