31 January 2012

Chateau Yering Historic House Hotel

Only a 50 minute drive from Melbourne, in the heart of Yarra Valley lays Chateau Yering Historic House Hotel. The exquisite estate originated in 1837 when stockmen settled in ‘Yering’ – the aboriginal name for the area. The stockmen bought with them vine cuttings which grew to become the region’s first vineyard in 1845. Since then, the Yarra Valley has become known as one of Australia’s finest wine regions and a favoured holiday destination for those seeking breathtaking beauty, serenity and adventure.

The 250 acre estate has exchanged hands many times over the years and was rejuvenated as Chateau Yering Historic House Hotel in 1997. Most of the original house built by the stockmen remains and all additions and changes made over time carefully reflect the original heritage.

There are various suites, each offering unique features to accommodate each and every visitor. The most unusual feature at the property is the presence of stuffed cats in every room. These adorable feline characters rest on the beds to add character and charm in each and every suite, welcoming you for your relaxing stay.

The open fire places, cedar trimmings, claw foot bath tubs and antique furniture create a rich, old English feeling. Filled with unique artwork and vintage pieces such as old-fashioned chess tables, the hotel is one of a kind. It provides the ideal getaway from the hustle and bustle of every day life; whether you’re looking for a golfing holiday, adventure or cosy bed-and-breakfast retreat.

Chateau Yering is close to many of the best wineries in the Yarra Valley region and has an award-winning dining room and café on site. There are numerous activities and attractions in the area that mustn’t be missed, including the Healesville Sanctuary zoo and animal hospital.

Tasmania - A Foodie's Paradise

Tasmania's four distinct seasons produces a haven ripe for fresh seafood, local produce and boutique wineries. Hire a car and you can take your time exploring the many cafes, restaurants, factories and vineyards offering an abundance of goodies from beef to handcrafted cheese.

Hobart’s waterfront becomes the star of the SydneyHobart race each year. The waterfront is a lively fishing port offering crispy chips and delicious crumbed scallops fresh from the bay.
Battery Point Steakhouse offers the finest Tasmanian beef, dry-aged and grilled to perfection. Visit the 1920’s stable building of Experience Ethos. and enjoy trendy tapas or enjoy award winning wine and magnificent views of Coal River Valley at Meadowbank Estate.

Salamanca Markets, Hobart
A visit to Hobart isn’t complete until you enjoy the produce and local flavour at Salamanca Market, opening every Saturday morning of the year. 
Want to know the secret that divides Tasmania’s northerners and southerners? The beer. The local southern drop is Cascade Brewery, the oldest operating brewery in Australia. Not only do they produce beers of the finest quality, but they also produce one of Tasmania’s favourite beverages – Apple Isle, a sparkling apple juice you can find in takeaway stores all around the state.

Tamar Valley
The Tamar Valley Wine Route in the state’s north, offers internationally acclaimed pinot noir, pinot gris and riesling wines plus vineyard restaurants offering stunning views over the Tamar River. Journey onto Launceston and find some of Australia’s best pizza at the Italian Pizza House on George Street. Located at the entrance to the gorgeous Cataract Gorge and perched on the river’s edge is an old millhouse turned restaurant, Stillwater. Boasting local produce and an excellent wine menu, it is regarded by many as the best in town. For those who prefer beer, take a walking tour Boag’s Brewery on the city centre fringe, finishing with a sample of their award-winning beers.

Tasmanian Raspberries
Tasmania’s agriculture heart is the North West, with rich, fertile red earth and mild temperatures making the region perfect for growing saffron, poppies, tuplips, wasabi, raspberries, cherries, stone fruit and host dairy farming. Hobart may be home to Cadbury’s chocolate factory, but the north west produces and processes the milk. A drive between Launceston and Burnie will see you pass a raspberry café, 2 cherry sheds, 2 cheese factories with on-site shops, Anvers chocolate gift shop plus Elizabeth Town café boasting a range of local fudge. Don't miss the new Makers' Workshop in Burnie - home to The Cheese Shop and cafe, a local favourite is the chicken and camembert pie.  

Strahan is a picturesque fishing village with lengthy convict history. The town’s port brings in the best, fresh seafood from the cold, clean west coast waters, includes oysters, abalone, scallops, crashfish and an assortment of fish.
King Island Dairy
King Island is dotted with farms producing an abundance of goodies from beef to handcrafted cheese. The ‘King Island Cloud Juice’ provides fresh drinking water from the cleanest air in the world. Its pure taste has lead to the ‘juice’ being served as table water in many exclusive French restaurants. All across Tasmania, local stores, gift shops and delis offer wasabi, gourmet sauces, handmade chocolates and fresh berry ice-cream.

Richmond Bridge
The best way to experience all Tasmania has to offer is to book a self drive package with accommodation, car hire, maps and comprehensive driving directions. For assistance booking your Tasmanian holiday, contact Sunlover Holidays on 13 88 33.  

27 January 2012

Western Australia's Whale Sharks

Enjoy a once in a lifetime experience and swim with the world’s largest fish. Whale sharks, known for their spotted pale yellow/white pattern of spots and stripes, average a length of 9.7 metres and weigh over 9 tonnes. They are filter feeding sharks that feed mainly on plankton, so humans are in no danger interacting with the sharks.

Whale Shark

A slow moving, docile creature, reaching up to a speed of 5km an hour, humans can easily jump in and swim alongside to view the grace and beauty of these gentle giants. During April to July tourists can snorkel or scuba dive with the whale sharks in the Ningaloo Marine Park from Exmouth.

Snorkelling with Whale Shark
Join a full day cruise including buffet lunch, use of snorkelling equipment and wetsuits. The best tours offer a spotter plane to assist with sightings, allowing you considerably more time in the water to swim with a whale shark. Other marine life that can be spotted during the tour include turtles, manta rays, fish and coral. It will be an exhilarating experience you will never forget!

Ningaloo Reef

For those wanting to make their Coral Coast holiday unique, stay in the exclusive safari camp of Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef. Hidden in Cape Range National Park, the property offers coral reef snorkelling just metres offshore. Packages include coach transfers from Exmouth, all meals and select open bar beverages daily.

Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef

Fraser Island & Kingfisher Bay

Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world, accessible only by 4WD vehicles. Discover an amazing array of scenery and attractions, from shipwrecks, heritage logging huts, freshwater creeks, sand dunes, crystal-clear lakes, ancient rainforests and the coloured sands of Seventy-Five Mile Beach. The region is well known for being a haven for humpback whales and their calves; during the migration season you can spot them leaping out of the ocean from the beach.

Fraser Island

Kingfisher Bay Resort is set amongst the natural beauty and tranquillity of Fraser Island. Offering hotel rooms plus 1 and 2 bedroom apartments, take the opportunity to join a 4WD tour of the island or a whale watching cruise between August and October.

Kingfisher Bay Resort

The resort's head chef shares their famous Saganaki Prawns recipe with us; a bush-style recipe featuring garlic and olive oil, finished with desert raisins, white wine and fresh feta cheese.

10x green prawns
40g diced onion
40g Fetta cheese
10g Minced garlic
160 ml white wine
200ml Bush nap (traditional Napoli sauce with added dried bush tomato – see below)

Sauté onions and garlic add prawns then deglaze with white wine. Divide ingredients between two dishes and finish with bush tomato nap and fetta cheese. Serves 2/

Chef’s Bush Nap:
100g onion
20g garlic
100g white wine
2L crushed tomatoes
100ml balsamic vinegar
50g brown sugar
150g bush tomato (dried)

Sauté 100g onion and 20g garlic, deglaze with 100g white wine – reduce down and add 2L crushed tomatoes. Turn heat down and let cook out for 2 hours and then add 100ml of balsamic vinegar and 50g of brown sugar. Blitz and add 150g of bush tomato. Season with salt and pepper. (This will make 2L of nap - which can be stored in the fridge) Ingredients can be reduced proportionately to make less sauce.

Kingfisher Bay Resort

23 January 2012

The Tangalooma Dolphin Story

Dolphin Feeding Experience
In the 1980’s resort guests kept noticing that a wild dolphin visited the jetty area after dark. They named the dolphin Eric, but soon after she appeared with her new calf Bobo, they realised Eric was a girl and renamed her Beauty. The guests fishing on the jetty at night began throwing their reject fish to Beauty and she slowly began to accept them.

Feeding dolphins at Tangalooma Island Resort
In January 1992 staff took to the water to offer fish from their hands. She wasn’t afraid of the humans and accepted the outstretched fish. With time she encouraged her children Bobo and Tinkerbell to join the feeding. Poor lighting made the dolphins shy to approach the shore, so in 1992 better lighting was set up on the jetty and Resort Guests were first allowed into the water to feed the dolphins.

In 1995 Beauty was discovered to have an infectious tumour on her rostrum. It resulted in her being unable to swim fast enough to catch fish. Unfortunately nothing could be done for her, but her calf, Shadow was only 9 months old and a plan was put together to help her survive. In a break from protocol we lifted Beauty’s feeding allowance and started to encourage Shadow with small fish. Beauty’s last visit to the jetty was on Christmas eve 1995. Three days later, when Shadow arrived by herself, staff knew Beauty had passed.

Feeding dolphins
Beauty left wonderful memories and her 3 children, Bobo, Tinkerbell and Shadow, plus Tinkerbell’s 3 children, Tangles, Storm and Phoenix, and Shadow’s 2 children Silhouette and Zephyr. Each dolphin is gentle and well mannered just like their mother and grandmother Beauty. The group includes 5 females so there is hope that Beauty's descendents will continue to visit for many more generations.

Tangalooma Island Resort offers over 80 tours and activities to make each day of your holiday an exciting adventure. Don't miss:

Sand Tobogganing on Moreton Island

Desert Safari Tour 
Take a journey to the scenic Tangalooma Desert
region as part of this thrilling 4WD tour. Then try your hand at sand tobogganing, you can reach speeds of up to 40km rushing down the sand hills.

Quad Biking on Moreton Island
ATV Quad Bike Tour 
A thrilling rush, quad bike along the bush and through Moreton Island's bushland.

Marine Discovery Cruise
Journey along in a catamaran in search of dolphins, dugongs, turtles, stingrays and more.

Kayaking Tours to the Ship Wrecks
Spot marine life and explore the sunken wrecks - all without getting wet.

The most fun way to cruise the white sandy beaches of Tangalooma.

Stand Up Paddle Boards 
Celebrities having been spotting doing this in Hawaii. Give it a go yourself on the calm waters of Moreton Bay.

Kayaking on Moreton Island
Then there is:
- Scuba Diving
- Motor Boat and catamaran hire
- Tennis
- Mini golf
- Surf Kayaks

plus much more!

19 January 2012

Romantic Holidays

A great romantic escape starts with the destination. Here are some great options for your next dreamy getaway.

Hinterland Retreats
Sunshine Coast Hinterland
The romantic hillsides of hinterland villages of Maleny & Montville on the Sunshine Coast and Mt. Tamborine & Lamington National Park on the Gold Coast offer cute villages full of antique stores, local fudge producers, cheese shops and cafes. Take the chance to interact with nature with a stroll through bushland, trek to a waterfall or picnic at one of the many lookouts. A little further south is Byron Bay Hinterland, well known for its gourmet produce, cheese and coffee. Don’t miss the 19th century town of Bangalow, with veranda clad buildings featuring homeware stores, book shops, art galleries and clothing boutiques.

Mountain Hideaways
The Blue Mountains, just an hour train ride and two hours drive from the heart of Sydney, offers villages and towns perfectly suited to a romantic escape. Take in the Three Sisters and surrounding views from Katoomba, or hold on tight to your loved one while riding the very steep 400 metre Scenic World railway. Bushwalk to Wentworth Falls or enjoy a meal at the township of Leura after a spot of antique shopping. For a cooler climate retreat where you can snuggle by the fire don’t miss Cradle Mountain. Visit in winter and you may be blessed with snow coverage, but don’t worry, this place is picturesque all year round. Short walks through the rainforest will bring you to waterfalls or historic wooden cottages and longer hikes will take you up into the peaks of the mountains.

Vineyard Indulgence
A short drive from many of Australia’s large cities including Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Perth are world renounced wine regions. Enjoy a local Shiraz, Semillon Sauvigion Blanc, sparkling or fortified wine. Amongst the vines are well known hotel chains, country retreats and quaint bed and breakfasts. The local communities don’t just love their wine; they also love a great meal too. Enjoy fabulous local produce in award winning restaurants or find a great local chocolate factory for a sweet treat.
Don’t miss: A balloon ride over the hills of the Hunter Valley, Healesville Sanctuary’s zoo and hospital at Yarra Valley, Mammoth Cave at Margaret River and a cycling tour through the Barossa Valley

Coastal Paradise

Australia offers some of the best variety of beaches in the world. From the busy Surfers Paradise, to the pristine, quiet beaches of Tasmania’s East Coast and reef fringed Coral Bay and thousands in between, we have it all. Enjoy the sheltered Main Beach at Noosa, enjoy the calm waters off Port Douglas and Palm Cove or enjoy the rough beauty of cragged coastline in Southern Western WA. The sea air soothes the soul and the sight of waves swelling in rhythm relaxes the mind. Step off the beaten track and you may find a beach all to your own to enjoy in peace and quiet.

Tropical Island Escapes
From the Whitsundays to the coral cays of Heron and Lady Elliot and the tropical paradises of the South Pacific, an island getaway is unforgettable. Friendly, adventurous in a ship wreck sort of way, private and pure escapism you can spend days sunbaking, kayaking, snorkelling with the ocean life or lying in a hammock with a good book. From tropical fruit for breakfast, a dip in the ocean after lunch and a beachside evening stroll where the only sounds around are of the palm trees swaying and the ocean lapping on the shore, nothing compares to an island holiday.

City Celebration
Sydney Harbour
Indulge in boutique shopping, take in a theatre show, eat at the country’s top restaurants or hunt for bargains antiques at inner city markets. For those who love a night out, enjoy the trendy laneways bars and dance into the night at a rooftop club. Many of Australia’s cities also offer coastal or riverside activities, from rock climbing at Brisbane’s Kangaroo Point, trekking up Sydney Harbour bridge, dining along Melbourne’s Southbank and coffee cruises along Perth’s Swan River.

For the perfect couple’s holiday don’t miss our Romantic Escapes packages. From spectacular islands, casual coastal beach resorts, gourmet food and wine regions and the secluded luxury of majestic mountains and rainforests, all our packages are ready for you to explore here.

12 January 2012

Iconic Aussie things to do to celebrate Australia

Soak up Sydney’s gorgeous coastline with the Bondi to Bronte walk.
An easy to manage path is suitable for people of all fitness levels and offers some of the best views in the city. Stop at the lookouts to spot dolphins, whales, kayakers, surfers or just gaze upon the gorgeous Bondi Beach. Then wonder into Bondi’s café district to dine with the trendy locals or browse a few boutiques. Bronte Beach offers a large grassed picnic area for BBQs and salt water swimming baths for a cool dip.

Take a drive along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.
Walk down into the famous surfing spot - Bells Beach or count the number of the 12 Apostles are still standing. Visit Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village at Warrnambool to learn about Australia’s most infamous shipwreck coast, claiming over 180 ships in its maritime history. The coastline is famous for its surf culture and this could not be more apparent by the number of surf shops in Torquay, the birthplace of iconic brands Rip Curl and Quicksilver.

Never smile at a crocodile.
With an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 adult Saltwater Crocodiles in the Northern parts of Australia, from Broome in Western Australia, across the Northern Territory coastline and down to Rockhampton in Queensland, the safest place to get up close with these big guys is at a crocodile farm or crocodile park. Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin offers the experience to get in the water with a chomper.. while safely inside a glass cage of course. Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, located 40 min north of Cairns is a tourist attraction and commercial crocodile farm. Enjoy a boat trip on the lagoon to watch the crocs lift half their body out of the water to claim the dangling chicken or fish on offer. The sound created from their powerful jaws crashing together is something you will never forget.

Sample a local drop.
Barossa Valley in South Australia offers the chance to sample world famous Shiraz in historic cellar doors and local produce at Maggie Beers farm shop. The Margaret River region in West Australia offers an array of vineyards and dramatic surf beaches. Yarra Valley offers more than 120 wineries and premier restaurants just 1 hour from Melbourne. Tamar Valley in Northern Tasmania has cool climate wineries with growing reputations and Hunter Valley in New South Wales is steeped with historical architecture and serene countryside.

Jacob's Creek Vineyard
Visit Hobart’s old and new attractions.
Constitution Dock and Salamanca Place is the finishing point for the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Steeped in history, visit local boutiques, craft shops and cafes during the week and the Salamanca markets on a Saturday. For those who enjoy edgy art, take a short 30 minute ferry ride to Hobart’s newest attraction – MONA. Privately owned, the Museum of Old and New Art also has a winery and micro brewery on site.


Take a dip in a Gold Coast beach.
There is a beach to suit everyone – families can relax in the shallow, sheltered waters of Currumbin Creek, surfers can take on the world famous waves of Snapper Rocks near Coolangatta and the sun worshippers can settle upon glitzy Surfers Paradise Beach.

Tweed Heads and Coolangatta
Hear the crowds at the MCG on game day.
Cricket may be in the name ‘Melbourne Cricket Ground’, but it is the other sport played here that is uniquely Australian. Aussie Rules is a fast paced contact sport with 18 players a side, played on an oval ground. The sport is played all over the country, but its spiritual home remains at the MCG. Join the enthusiastic crowds and see patrons from 10 to 70 years of age passionately cheering for their team. Don’t forget to keep out the Melbourne winter chill with a scarf bearing your favourite team’s colours – which you can swing round your head (Kevin Sheedy style) when your team wins.

Melbourne Cricket Ground
See The Big Things.
Starting in the 1960’s Australia’s big things were developed to offer road trippers a place to stop along their journey. From The Big Merino at Goulburn, The Big Crocodile in Normanton and The Big Banana in Coffs Harbour they often are built to represent Australia’s native wildlife and local produce industries. You can climb The Big Pineapple at the Sunshine Coast, pat The Big Koala at Dadswell Bridge in Victoria or pull an air guitar pose at The Big Golden Guitar in the country music town of Tamworth. For the ultimate Big Things, stay at the crocodile shaped hotel of Gagudju Crocodile Holiday Inn in the Northern Territory, or enjoy sophisticated luxury at the stingray shaped Saffire Freycinet in Coles Bay, East Tasmania.

Gagudju Crocodile Holiday Inn
Enjoy a day at the races.
Aussies love a punt, which is why the Melbourne Cup is known as ‘the race that stops a nation’. It is a right of passage for young Aussies dress up in their finest and enjoy a day at the races when they come of age. Whether you take in the urban, sophisticated Melbourne Cup, Sydney’s Easter Carnival or a country race day - we live in a lucky country where many of us receive a day off each year to attend our local horse races.

Have a beer in a traditional Aussie pub.
The type your grandad used to visit - beer stained carpet, wooden stools and free nuts at the bar. For real authentic experience visit a country pub where the men where akubras hats and utes claim the car park. The evening isn’t complete until you’ve enjoyed an icy cold local brew on tap with a hearty country meal of ‘meat and 3 veg’ (vegetables). To experience real country hospitality stay overnight at one of the oldest and most famous outback pubs, Prairie Hotel, situated in the Flinders Ranges region of South Australia.

Prairie Hotel
Snorkel on our magnificent reefs.
Tropical North Queensland is not the only place with great snorkelling in Australia. The Whitsundays offer easy access to the Great Barrier Reef and Heron Island Island (off Gladstone) and Lady Elliot Island (off Bundaberg) are coral cays – meaning there is the opportunity to snorkel amongst the coral and fish right off the beach. For uncrowded, pristine beaches with great visibility consider Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef (between Exmouth and Coral Bay). Here you can discover untouched coral and an arrange of water life within swimming distance from the beach.


10 January 2012

Family Holiday Fun

To help you pick your next family holiday we’ve put together a dozen of the best family friendly hotels and resorts across Australia.

1.  Turtle Beach Resort, Gold Coast, Queensland

One of the most well known family friendly resorts in the country, Turtle Beach Resort at Mermaid Beach offers low rise apartments situated around 4 pools and 9 bbq areas. It also offers 2 tennis courts, games rooms, putt putt golf, theatrette, Kids Zone, kids club plus a children’s playground.

2. Aspect Tamar Valley Resort, Launceston, Tasmania
Aspect Tamar Valley Resort
Set upon the hills of the Tamar Valley, Aspect Tamar Valley Resort is located in Grindelward, a Swiss style village consisting of with local gift shops and a 9 hole golf course. Kids will love the and huge jumping pillow and 18 hole mini golf. For the bigger kids there are 2 tennis courts and jet skis available for hire.

3. Paradise Palms Resort & Country Club, Tropical North Queensland

Paradise Palms Resort & Country Club

Set below the mountains, just 2km from the beach, Paradise Palms Resort & Country Club offers two pools, mini golf course, 18 hole championship golf course, games room, jumping pillow and an impressive 2 acres children’s adventure playground.

 4. Paradise Resort Gold Coast, Queensland 

Paradise Resort Gold Coast
Located in the heart of Surfers Paradise, Paradise Resort Gold Coast property offers a giant Zone 4 Kids Club with magical themed play spaces, waterpark and adventure playground. The property also has a lagoon pool, kids club and games room to keep kids of all ages entertained.

5. Boambee Bay Resort, Coffs Harbour, New South Wales

Boambee Bay Resort
For the sporting families, Boambee Bay Resort offers mini golf, 3 tennis courts, billards room, large pool, games room, kayaks and other sporting facilities. Relax at the end of the day in one of the 2 spas before dining in their in-house restaurant (seasonal).

6. Novotel Twin Waters Resort Sunshine Coast, Queensland 

Novotel Twin Waters Resort Sunshine Coast
Located across the river from Maroochydore and adjacent to the beach, Novotel Twin Waters Resort Sunshine Coast offers funs for kids big or small. Learn to be an acrobat at the property’s own Circus School, hit the games room, join the kids club or venture onto the property’s lagoon upon a complimentary kayaks, catamarans or windsurfer. For the folks there is a 18 hole championship golf course located 5 minutes up the road. 

7. Absolute Beachfront Opal Cove Resort, Coffs Harbour, New South Wales

Absolute Beachfront Opal Cove
Set upon the Pacific Ocean, Absolute Beachfront Opal Cove Resort offers 36 hectares of natural beauty just north of Coffs Harbour. Enjoy 2 generous sized pools, 4 tennis courts, games room, 9 hole golf course, kids club and gymnasium.

8. Sea World Resort & Water Park, Gold Coast, Queensland

Sea World Resort & Water Park

Located adjacent to Sea World theme park and overlooking the Broadwater, Sea World Resort & Water Park is ideal for families. Link to Sea World via monorail or spend the day at the property’s own Water Play aqua playground (open seasonally). There is also a kids club for children 4 and a half to 12 years (conditions apply).

9. Woodman Point Holiday Park, Munster, West Australia

Woodman Point Holiday Park
Located 10km from Fremantle in Western Australia, Woodman Point Holiday Park offers cabins and chalets set in serene parklands. To keep the kids busy there is a children’s playground, pool, kids club and games room plus a the walk to the beach is a short 1km stroll.

10. The Towers of Chevron Renaissance, Gold Coast, Queensland

The Towers of Chevron Renaissance
Located in Surfers Paradise, at the doorstep of shopping and dining precincts, The Towers of Chevron Renaissance is just 200 metres walk from the beach. Famous for its ‘Beaches in the Sky’ complex on the 5th floor, featuring a 600m square lagoon pool surrounded by sandy beach, bbqs and children’s play area. The property also has a theatrette, games room, and 2 spas.

11. Murramarang Beachfront Nature Resort, Batesman Bay, New South Wales 

Murramarang Beachfront Nature Resort
Situated on absolute beachfront in the Murramarang National Park, this property provides a range of facilities for families. Enjoy 2 pools – 1 lagoon style with waterfall and 1 children’s wading pool, bbq area, children’s playground, volleyball, kids club or hire a bike, body board, fishing rod or snorkeling gear.

12. Daydream Island Resort & Spa, Whitsundays, Queensland

Daydream Island Resort and Spa
Just a short ferry ride from Hamilton Island Airport is Daydream Island Resort and Spa, an island that offers both fringing coral and rainforest walks. For families who love the water there is a choice of sail boarding, jet skiing, snorkeling, kayaking, coral viewing and 2 pools. The family will also be busy enjoying the children’s playground, kids club, outdoor cinema and living coral reef aquarium.