The ultimate Brisbane weekend itinerary

The ultimate Brisbane weekend itinerary

-Updated September 2017-

I’m a Brisbane local through and through. I was born here, grew up here, and though I’ve traveled the world, I think I’ll always call Brisbane “home”. Brisbane has just about everything that you could want; the convenience and variety of a big city, friendly locals and easy access to great beaches, rainforest and country scenery. There are so many things to do in Brisbane, but if you’ve only got limited time (i.e. a weekend stopover), here are some of the best things I’d recommend. Rather than a set itinerary, I’ve listed lots of things that you can pick and choose from to create your own adventure to suit your taste, budget and weather!

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The Ultimate Guide for the Gold Coast to Melbourne Drive

The Ultimate Guide for the Gold Coast to Melbourne Drive


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Planning a Road Trip for the Gold Coast to Melbourne Drive

The south east corner of Australia holds many the best natural wonders, sprawling cities and rolling coastline that this magnificent country has to offer. Planning a road trip for the Gold Coast to Melbourne drive will take you through some of the highlights, spanning a journey that covers 1,700km and taking approximately four or five days, depending on how long you wish to stop off for along the way.

-updated August 2019-

Melbourne to Gold Coast Map

Want to know “How far the Gold Coast from Melbourne by plane”? Start off by finding a flight to Gold Coast, and then follow the scenic routes to take in the best of Australia. The pretty journey isn’t just for looking at though – along the way you’ll go through dozens of national parks which all deserve to be explored, as well as some of the best cities where you can enjoy culture, nightlife and Australia’s famous food.

Gold Coast

Gold Coast to Melbourne drive

Start from the town of Gold Coast, where the aptly named Surfers Paradise epitomises what the city is all about. Stroll along the beach and watch the surfing buffs hit the waves, or get involved and learn how to surf from one of the many schools here: you may just find you’ll need it on your journey down Australia’s coast!

Bundjalung National Park

Looking South towards Woody Head

Credit: Stephan Ridgway on Flickr

A two and a half hour drive from Gold Coast, you’ll pass through quaint surfing towns like Byron Bay and Ocean Shores to get to Bundjalung National Park where you can go canoeing down the park’s rivers and creeks or even explore the coral reef just off the coast. And if you really want to be at one with nature, you can camp overnight here.

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Coffs Harbour

Coffs Harbour

Approximately three hours from Bundjalung, Coffs Harbour is a favourite holiday destination for many Australians. A quaint tourist settlement, highlights here include the Big Banana, one of the first of Australia’s Big Things. There’s also a range of accommodation here if you need a well-deserved break.

Crowdy Bay National Park

Crowdy Bay National Park

Credit: Robyn Jay on Flickr

Perhaps one of the lesser-known of Australia’s National Parks, Crowdy Bay is a pretty swathe of coastline, perfect for stopping off and enjoying a day by the seaside, and it’s around 3 hours from Coffs Harbour. One of the more serene stop-offs on this journey, it’s a nice place to stop and stretch your legs.

“Canberra is Australia’s capital, and while it’s not as vast as Melbourne or Sydney, it has its own unique attractions that are well worth a stop-off on your journey.”

Newcastle

Newcastle, NSW

Credit: Rina on Flickr

Two and a half hours down the coast, you’ll enter Newcastle, one of Australia’s largest cities. A diverse settlement, you’ll find a backdrop of mountains and beaches with wineries and trendy restaurants nestled in between. Make sure you visit one of the famous Newcastle Baths – outdoor swimming pools which attract sunbathers and swimmers alike.

Sydney

Reflections in Crimson

Just over two hours away lays the gem in the crown of Australia: Sydney. The largest of Australia’s cities, it offers up some of the most recognisable landmarks including the Sydney Opera House and the harbour. Spend a few days here sampling the cuisine, surfing at Bondi Beach, and getting to know what Australia is really about.

Canberra

Canberra

Canberra is Australia’s capital, and while it’s not as vast as Melbourne or Sydney, it has its own unique attractions that are well worth a stop-off on your journey. A planned city in the middle of the bush, it offers up manmade lakes and national monuments surrounded by Australia’s untamed outback. Take a trip up the Black Mountain Tower for amazing views over the cityscape.

Wagga Wagga

Wagga Railway Station

Credit: Framton Goodman on Flickr

Australia’s largest inland city, Wagga Wagga has close Aboriginal ties, which is how it got it’s unique name. Enjoy attractions like the Wagga Zoo and the RAAF Wagga Heritage Museum to understand how life in this town has developed.

Melbourne

CWC Aus v Eng at the MCG

Credit: Tourism Victoria on Flickr

Your final stretch of the journey will be the longest; you’ll travel through untamed outback and small villages along the route, which will take just over four hours. Once in Melbourne enjoy the cultural arts at Southbank, or catch a game at one of the city’s many sporting arenas including the world famous MCG. If you’re feeling inspired to continue your journey, why not take a road trip on the Great Ocean Road?

Top 14 School Holiday Activities for Brisbane Kids

Top 14 School Holiday Activities for Brisbane Kids

Finding school holiday activities for Brisbane kids can be a challenge, especially if the weather is not cooperating. But, don’t stress! We’ve gathered together some of the best things to do around Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast. You’ll find some classics in there (like the museum) but we’ve been on the hunt for some more interesting ideas, too. Many of these activities would make great birthday party ideas. Maps are included for some listings to help you find the closest venue, and Queensland school holiday dates are at the bottom. As always, if you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments below!

School Holiday Activities for Brisbane Kids Updated 2017

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What Makes Vivid Sydney So Addictive That You’ll Never Want To Miss It?

What Makes Vivid Sydney So Addictive That You’ll Never Want To Miss It?

vivid sydney bridge opera house

Sydney is an amazing city with world renowned monuments such as the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and The Rocks. You can check out the great markets in the area, sip on a cappuccino and enjoy the beautiful views of the harbour.

Every year from late May to mid June, Sydney takes it to the next level and lights up the whole city with beautiful light displays called Vivid Sydney. The Opera House comes to life with dynamic light shows that display anything from lizards to the great Outback regions of Australia.

There’s so much to take in and if you’re new to the city it can be pretty overwhelming. With countless events happening, many locations and displays to see, it’s easy to waste time walking around.

Last year I had the pleasure of exploring the lights, and this is my guide to enjoying Vivid Sydney in a timely manner.

Starting Off At Martin Place

Martin Place Station

Credit: Kate Ausburn on Flickr

Martin Place is just a quick bus or train away from most stations around Sydney. Martin Place has a great open plaza where lights stretch for multiple blocks.

Walking down the stretch of events I saw interactive lights and companies looking to show off their cool toys. I found myself sucked in. From trying Microsoft’s Virtual Reality (VR), dancing on light patterns, to playing video games on a 10 meter high screen, it was well worth stopping by to see the lights up close.

Vivid Sydney 2014

Credit: Lynda on Flickr

Next Stop Circular Quay

After enjoying the lights of Martin Place, I hoped back on the train and headed a quick 5 minute train ride to Circular Quay.

Vivid Sydney 2016 Sydney Harbour Harbour Lights CREDIT Destination NSW JH 001

By Allison Lee (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Getting off the train, I was immediately greeted by the lights. They were turning the water in a beautiful dancing display. From the Harbour Bridge, ferries, and the Opera House, the lights were bolstering great displays that made me stop and appreciate the beautiful night.

The Rocks

Not far from the station, The Rocks offered many of the most popular displays that are easy to visit in a short span of time.

Vivid Sydney 2016 The Matter of Painting TheRocks CREDIT Destination NSW AW1961

By Allison Lee (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

This year, just about 200 meters from the Circular Quay Station, the MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), is putting on a major display called Organic Vibrations. Projecting vibrant colours onto the MCA, these transcendental lights warp and give the building life.

Next to the MCA Canon is offering a free printing booth where you can hand off your SD card and get Vivid Sydney pictures printed off on A3 paper. Canon is also offering a ticketed event, where they loan you a camera and take you for a walking tour designed to give you a great view of the lights.

Past the MCA, I ventured to the historic region of The Rocks, exploring the alleys and cobblestone paths where lights and displays hung from above, running into giant skeletons that looked like they belonged in the Dia de Muertos parade in Mexico.

This year The Rocks is hosting 25 displays to check out, so it’s a must stop on your Vivid Sydney venture.

Royal Botanic Garden & Opera House

After The Rocks, I headed back towards the Opera House to get an up close view.  I then visited the Royal Botanic Garden.

Vivid Sydney 2016 Sydney Opera House Songlines CREDIT Destination NSW JH 002

By Allison Lee (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The paths full of lights in the Botanical Garden offered a unique tropical atmosphere. This area was a little less crowded than the Opera House itself, so it was nice to have a little quiet time.

This year there will be 12 displays, so be sure to walk around the Opera House and find the Vivid Sydney displays in the Gardens.

Darling Harbour

Vivid Sydney

Credit: Roderick Eime on Flickr

As the night started to come to a close, I hopped on a ferry from Circular Quay to Darling Harbour. Lounging in the front area of the ferry, I got to see all the magnificent lights of the harbour, all the lit up ferries and Luna Park bolstering its normal bright light display.

As the ferry got closer to Darling Harbour, fireworks started to erupt, illuminating the sky. This is a fairly common occurrence on the weekends at Darling Harbour, although so much better with the added Vivid Sydney experience.

Once I arrived I found a fire and laser show displayed out on the water. Accompanied by music, the show and fireworks were a great way to end the night.

If you’re in Sydney for longer than a quick trip, there are many one day events that are definitely worth checking out. You can find all the events listed on the Vivid Sydney page.

Accommodation Deals:



Booking.com

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Top 5 places to visit in Australia: A backpacker’s travel guide

Top 5 places to visit in Australia: A backpacker’s travel guide

Australia is one of those countries I did not immediately list as my top destination for backpacking. To my amazement, when I had reached there, I found it was one of the best decisions I had made. Initially it was tough for me as I was looking for a good destination to travel with my backpack. As a backpacker, I try to find places that have a good combination of beauty, affordability and comfort. After visiting a number of places in Australia I want to share my top 5 places to visit in Australia. Let’s get started.

The Great Ocean Road

Great Ocean Road

Image Credit: Tourism Victoria

Do you like scenic coastal drives like me? You are going to love the Great Ocean Road then. The best part that I liked about the Great Ocean Road is the native wildlife. Obviously, the surf breaks and the rainforest will mesmerise you. If you are a fan of waterfalls, you will find a few to be happy with.

Most backpackers choose to do a variety of activities when they are on the Great Ocean Road. Don’t be deceived by the term “road” anyway. This road is more than a simple road. Bushwalking is very popular. I had to try bushwalking as I had never tried it before. I am not a surfer (I am afraid of water) but hey, you can still watch and enjoy, right?

Another popular activity to do is mountain biking. If you are a fan of art then there are other activities that will excite you such as gallery or museum visits.

From a backpacking point of view, you will find you are not alone. You are so close to beautiful nature; the sea, koalas and kangaroos. They are always there to be with you anyways so you are never alone. The Great Ocean Road is definitely one of my top picks.

Wilsons Promontory National Park

wilsons promontory

Credit: view of norman beach on FreeAussieStock

This national park is known as the largest coastal area in Victoria. Well, if you are a regular backpacker here, you will know that people refer to this place as the Prom. What’s the reason behind that? The reason is because this is a place to love. If you are romantic and still an alone backpacker like me, this is a great place to have a good time.

The reserve is literally huge. Do not expect to see a small “park” when you come here. The reserve is around 50,000 hectares in terms of length and the whole thing is a gem for the beauty seekers.

Let’s talk about activities now for a second. What can you do there? The most common activity among backpackers is camping. Camping is fun and when you have a clear sky and rivers all around you, it gets even more enjoyable. The only thing that I would want to warn you about is the heat. Australia can be a hot place at times. Make sure that you know about the temperature and plan accordingly. It is ironic that the sky is the clearest when the weather is hot. Overall, a great place to spend a day whether you are a backpacker or a couple madly in love.

Sapphire Coast – Between Sydney & Melbourne

Do you like beaches? I know, right? What’s new in a beach? They are crowded anyway and the unwanted attention is everywhere. If you think the same, this coast is going to change your mind. The Sapphire Coast is a mix of great trails and beautiful beaches. I have been to other beaches before including some really good ones but this is different. This beach is all about sanity and calmness.

I know that not every backpacker seeks for calmness and saint beauty. But if you are of my type, you will love this place. So basically, the reason that most people do not end up being here is because this is a joint point between Sydney to Melbourne. The Sapphire Coast will come in the middle point when you are going to Melbourne and oh boy, the scene is amazing!

Goldfield might not be the most appealing thing on earth but this is definitely one of the least common things that you will be able to experience. Also, the old towns along with great food (their oyster is very famous) will appeal you. Basically, it is a china town with some differences. The differences being calmness, a great beach and forest.

Fraser Island

Fraser Island aerial

Image Credit: Tourism Queensland

In my backpacking experience, I have found some geeky backpackers who only visit places that have beautiful islands. If you are one of them, I am sure, you know about Fraser Island. Unlike the top 3 picks of mine, this is a popular one as this has been featured in different movies. There’s a chance you’ve seen it in a movie.

Fraser Island is known to be the largest sand based island in world. This is a world heritage and as a bonus, you get to see a beautiful rainforest too along with the island itself. What does this offer? Hold your nerve!

Have you ever climbed a sand blow? You can do that here! You can also swim in one of the many freshwater lakes. When I say many, I literally mean 100s of them. If I had to pick one negative thing about this Island, then that would be the crowd. As this is a popular destination, it keeps on being overcrowded.

Uluru / Kata Tjuta / Kings Canyon

The Outback and red center of the country is in absolute contrast to the 36,735 coastal kilometers of the Australian mainland. Desert, steppe, red sand, dried-up bushes, water springs for bathing, dingos, emus and a lot of natural beauty.

If you take a trip through the middle of the country via Uluru (the native name for the Ayers Rock), you will be surprised by a rocky cliff rising about 350 meters high. Uluru is situated about 340 kilometers southwest of Alice Springs and is located in the “Uluru-Kata-Tjuta National Park.” For the Aboriginal people of Australia, this rock is very special. It is considered a sacred place to the “Anangu”; i.e. the traditional Aboriginal owners of Uluru.

A walk around the sacred rock is worthwhile, as there is a lot to discover: wall paintings of the Aboriginal people, water holes as well as different stone structures and shapes. Although there is the possibility to climb Uluru, however, the local Aboriginal would prefer visitors not to climb Uluru. Uluru is a holy landmark, which should not be climbed, and on the other hand, they do not want to be responsible for causing people to be injured in the ascent. Over 35 people have been injured in the past year.

This is the place where you can experience the Aboriginal culture, but at the same time it is confronted with the sad aspects of the European settlement of the country and learns more about the enormous importance of the Australian landmark for the country’s tourism. There are free guided tours of rangers as well as paid tours from different providers. A hike (or bike ride) around the Uluru is very worthwhile. Particularly the sunrises and sunsets are very impressive, for which special platforms and viewing area have been made. Uluru is remarkable for changing color at different times of day and night. The rock is made of sandstone which reflects the light of sunset and sunrise.

From Uluru, you can visit Kata Tjuta, an extraordinary rock formation consisting of 36 different mountains. Here, too, you can undertake different hikes and explore the special surroundings. Since the temperatures can be over 40 degrees during the day it is worth starting early. (Hint: enjoy sunrise from the less visited point of the Kata Tjuta).

If you are already in the middle of the country, a visit to the Kings Canyon in the Watarrka National Park is also recommended, even if this is still 300 kilometers north-east of Uluru-Kata-Tjuta National Park. The 100-meter high rock walls offer impressive views and great hiking possibilities. The “Rim Walk” (6km, 3-4 hours), a circular route along the top edge of the canyon is particularly impressive. Also due to the high temperature start your journey early or late during the sunset.

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Australia is a huge country and there are countless stunning places to visit and see. Take as much time as possible for an Australian trip. You will be impressed by its beauty of nature, the nice people and the relaxed lifestyle.

I enjoyed Australia a lot and didn’t regret it one bit. This is not the case with most of my backpacking experiences. These recommendations are based on a trip from Melbourne along the east coast to the north via Sydney and Brisbane to Cairns, through the Outback to Darwin and via Alice Springs and Adelaide back to Melbourne. For this reason, you will not find any recommendations and travel tips for Western Australia.