• Hidden Gems in Australia

    Hidden Gems in Australia

    SATC

    Hidden Gems of Australia

    HIDDEN AUSTRALIA

    As someone who loves to travel and go on new adventures, the ultimate trip was to fly across the world (literally) to discover what Australia had in store for me – and I wasn't disappointed. Having heard all about the biggest cities and classic tourist spots like The Sydney Opera house, I was determined to find the hidden gems and uncover what else Australia had to offer.

    The places on my hit list were Melbourne, Adelaide, Port Lincoln and Port Elliot, where I'd be tasting some of the local seafood, looking for kangaroos and koalas, shark diving, and fitting in a quick visit to one of the most famous streets in the world – Ramsay Street! And did I mention I'd be doing all of this in eight days?! Let the exploring commence.
    Learn to surfTravelling in November, the weather in Australia was a world away from the bitter cold that I was leaving in London. The sun was out and there was a breeze in the air as they were transitioning from Spring to Summer, making it the perfect getaway for lots of activity and sneaking in some sunbathing.

    Beach activities are a must in Australia, whether you reside to just sunning yourself on the beach or really getting involved with some beach volleyball and riding the waves with some surfing. I immediately squeezed myself into a wetsuit and carried my huge surfboard to the beach for a quick lesson on the sand before I was let loose in the sea. With the wind in the air that day the sea was slightly cold but don't let the weather deter you as the wet suit will keep you suitably warm; not that you'll even have time to notice any of that when your wiping out on your first try to stand on your board! It really isn't as easy as it looks on TV and you won't look as graceful as you imagine in your head, but it's loads of fun nonetheless and you won't want to stop until you've perfected it.

    If surfing isn't exhilarating enough for you then Port Lincoln offers an experience that will sing to the thrill seeker in you with an opportunity to cage dive with sharks! I did my dive with Calypso Star Charters. The day starts quite early as you set out on a boat that sails out for about two hours until it arrives at the perfect spot for shark watching. Squeezing into that wetsuit once again, you'll then be fitted with goggles and a diving mask attached to an oxygen tank allowing you to breathe underwater before then taking the last steps off of the boat and into the metal cage which is lowered into the water. About six of you can fit into the cage at one time (that's if you can even find six friends brave enough to take the plunge) and you're down there for about 40 minutes while professionals on the boat lure the sharks in with tuna blood and carcasses thrown into the water to entice them.

    On our dive we saw at least three different sharks including a baby one, with a few upfront encounters with them as they got close enough for you the look them in the eye. You’re also provided with an underwater camera to capture your encounters, and can buy a DVD with footage and pictures from your dive to take home to show off to your friends if they don’t believe you.

    Shark Experience

    Where can I get a koala?

    1. Great Otway National Park

      For some, sharks might be a little too out of their comfort zone, so if you prefer more cuddly wildlife then you’ll be pleased to hear that koalas and kangaroos aren’t hard to find at all. I took a wildlife tour with wildlife tours where they guarantee you a 'fury good' time. You’ll be driven down a road in the Great Otway National Park in Victoria, with high trees on either side and your only job will be to look up to see pairs and families of koalas climbing and clinging to the branches in all of the trees - and if you’re a lucky as I was you might even come across a koala strolling down the road for you to get a close up of them.

       

      When looking for kangaroos we didn’t have much luck in the usual haunts like we did with the koalas but came up trumps when we visited a local golf course (Anglsea Golf Course) that’s comically overrun with them; great for us tourists but not so great if you’re trying to complete a round of golf I imagine!

    If, after all that activity, you want some relaxing down time, a trip to McLaren Vale's wineries in Adelaide is a great way of spending the day in the sun with beautiful views while sampling some of South Australia's best grapes. But if, like me, you're not partial to alcohol, it's still worth the trip for a scenic lunch on one of your pit stops where you eat in a picturesque floral courtyard.Stopping off for a light lunch, we had table buffet of salads, breads and cheese, topping it off with the main attraction – our first taste of kangaroo meat!

    Next stop was Melbourne, one of the bigger cities in Australia and definitely a huge mix of different people and culture as we sampled more styles of cuisine including more of the local seafood, amazing burgers and healthy pizzas with the widest array of toppings you could imagine. Melbourne also proved to be great for shopping with a real mix of high-end boutiques and thrifty vintage stores all selling one of a kind pieces.

    A trip to Melbourne wouldn’t be complete, however, without a trip to the greatest street in the world – Ramsay Street. A coach tour taking you out to the Neighbours TV set will immediately take you on a trip down memory lane as the driver reminisces on Scott and Charlene’s wedding and legendary characters like Dr. Karl Kennedy (who often performs at a local karaoke bar!). I took the Official Neighbours Tour with Bunyip Tours and on our trip there we were lucky enough to catch a scene being filmed outside before taking a look around some of the different set locations and stepping foot on actual Ramsay St, complete with a portable street sign for your own picture opportunities.
    Neighbours Tour

    Australia is filled with so much to see and do, and with so many cities to see you’ll never be bored. There’s no way around flight prices, but Qantas is a great airline to fly with, with cheap internal flights to take you from one city to another to help cut your costs down, and you can save money on accommodation by staying with YHA Australia who have amazing hostels in great locations. The hostels are perfect for a group of travelling friends as you can all bunk in the same room and even have your own en suite in most places. They’re also quite modern and not what you’d imagine when you think ‘hostel’ as most of them have TVs, communal game rooms (a great way to meet fellow travellers), Wi-Fi and amazing rooms with comfortable beds and clean facilities – all you could ask for at a budget-friendly price.

    So if you want an adventure, look no further than Australia as it’s all just waiting right there for you. It will be an experience like none other that you wont forget in a hurry.