Australia is one of the best travel destinations in the world for nature lovers. The relatively young country is still full of potential for adventures in its untamed, natural beauty, not to mention encounters with some unique and fascinating wildlife. Whether you’re going for arid deserts, snow-capped mountains, or beautiful coral reefs, there’s something for every kind of nature lover in Australia. Here are four of the best stops for your adventure down under.

Great Ocean Road

great ocean roadAround three hours outside of Melbourne, this road stretches 150 miles along the beautiful southern coast of the country. It was intended as a memorial in honour of all the Australian soldiers that died in World War I, and is home to one of the nation’s most iconic landmarks: 12 Apostles. This is a chain of massive limestone columns that jut out from the sea, created over millions of years through erosion from the tide and the wind. There are a number of other amazing stops along the way, making this a perfect route for an off road caravan road trip to be taken in small stretches. This includes a number of whale-watching points, wildlife reserves, and walking trails that are bursting with incredible photo opportunities.

Kakadu National Park

kakadu-national-parkLocated near Darwin, this is the perfect destination for any travellers who are interested in the flora and fauna of the countries they visit. This huge national park has a wide range of plants native to the country, interspersed by unique Aboriginal art. The park is owned by a number of clans of the indigenous people, many of whom have family trees that have lived in the area for centuries. You’ll have no problem finding a local aboriginal person who will be happy to give you an insight into their folk stories, spiritual beliefs, and history.

Kangaroo Island

kangaroo islandAny nature lover heading out to Australia will obviously want to see its most iconic animal in its natural habitat. Tours of Kangaroo Island are available for booking all year round. Aside from seeing red kangaroos in abundance, you’ll also get to see adorable koalas, majestic pelicans, and sea lions and seals in the waters around it. Aside from all the wildlife you’ll be able to see, Kangaroo Island is also a hotspot for foodies. Fine wines, along with locally produced sheep’s cheese and seafood, have really helped to put the island on the map.

Uluru National Park

uluru-australiaIf you only see one site of natural beauty in Australia, make sure it’s Uluru national park, home to the iconic Ayers Rock, or Uluru in the aboriginal language. The park has some of the most unique and breath-taking natural rock formations in the world, all centred around the world-famous centrepiece. After you visit, you’ll know exactly why it became such a centre of cultural significance for natives and settlers alike. The park is also home to some of the most endangered species of plants and wildlife in the world, and you’ll be able to find out about the various ongoing efforts to preserve them.

I’ve always wanted to check out Sunshine Coast area, especially Noosa Heads because many people have mentioned that it’s stunning up there. It’s a 3 hours to drive from Broadbeach to Noosa Heads so during my last trip to QLD in May, I finally went to Noosa Heads for a day trip.  The beach is nice and the rainforest walk is pleasant but compared to many other stunningly beautiful places in the world, it’s lacking the wow factor in my eyes. But still, there are some pretty corners worth taking a picture or two and I really like the relaxed atmosphere there.

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Oh you know what was the highlight of the trip? Betty’s Burgers.

I tried the Betty’s Classic and Betty’s Classic Stack. They are not just ordinary burgers, they are exceedingly tasty burgers! Can’t wait for Betty’s Burgers to come to Sydney.

 

The most memorable part of my Gold Coast trip this time is those amazing sunrise and sunset on the beach. Burleigh Heads is just about 20 minutes drive from Broadbeach where I stayed so we scheduled one one evening to drive over to Burleigh Heads to watch sunset over the water.

The problem is everyone else seemed to have the same idea that evening. It was packed with people with picnic blankets and cars when we get there and it took us another good 20 minutes to drive around to find a parking spot. I watched the most stunning part of the sunset through car window when those high rise buildings in Surfers Paradise glittered in the last golden sunlight of the day.

The sun had gone down as we finally settled on a rock along the hills but I still captured some beautiful images of the skylines to remember that charming evening.

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While staying Broadbeach, we made a day trip to Brisbane. Can you believe that was the first time I actually went to Brisbane in the last 20 years?

The weather was beautiful that day and there were nice, pretty cotton candy clouds on the sky which made it very photogenic. To top it all up, the sunset over Story bridge that night was just incredibly stunning.

I spent the day exploring leisurely and enjoying being a visitor free from any pressing timelines. The view to Brisbane CBD from the lookout of Mt Coot-tha was magnificent, way exceeding my expectation and did I mention the sunset? Look at the colors, the clouds, the bridge and everything! I felt immediately in love…

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View to Brisbane CBD from the lookout of Mt Coot-tha

 

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Sunset over Story Bridge.

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I have a confession to make, I used to be that person that sleeps until the last minute in the morning and never ever bothered to watch sunrise.

Last year for the first time in a long time, I accidentally watched sunrise from my hotel in Bangkok due to the time difference. Since then I watched a few more sunrises because I’ve been making a consistent effort to get up early everyday. Each sunrise is uniquely stunning and so different from the other, but that sunrise during one of these days I stayed in Broadbeach recently is the most spectacular and remarkable so far.

The world surrounding me looked incredibly stunning before the sun came out over the horizon. Here’s a snapshot from my balcony (27th floor):

🌅😍 #whoneedsfilters 27th floor. Before sunrise.

A post shared by Yvonne Zhai (@yvonne_zhai) on

Downstairs on the beach, it was so surreal. Words couldn’t describe the beauty I’ve seen and felt. Totally speechless, I just kept staring and snapped more photos to remember this magical moment.

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Coolangatta (the southernmost suburb of city of Gold Coast, QLD Australia), Wagga Wagga (a regional city in NSW Australia) – don’t you like the sounds of those names?

Though I’ve heard of lots of good things about Coolangatta, I never had any desire to go and check it out until earlier this month. Coolangatta belongs to the Gold Coast city and has the reputation of the being the coolest end of Gold Coast. So while we were in Gold Coast area, I thought why not go and see it finally? It was only 30 minutes’ drive from Broadbeach, where we stayed anyway.

Gold Coast is so different from Sydney, the temperature difference during a day is much smaller; the atmosphere is much, much more relaxed and people a lot friendlier. No wonder so many people like Coolangatta. What’s not to like? We stayed for the whole afternoon and chilled on the beach to watch the entire period of sunset. How I loved the time spent on the beach! It’s so amazing how many colours the sky could turn in a matter of a couple of hours!

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In my younger years, I wouldn’t consider a holiday as such if it doesn’t involve a 3 weeks+ overseas trip. How time has changed me:).

Not only the place I went for a holiday recently is within Australia, it is also somewhere I’ve been before! Back in 2012 I visited Broadbeach in Gold Coast for the first time for 4 days and really loved it there. This time, we went for 8 days but instead of flying there and mainly staying in broadbeach, we drove all the way up. During the 8 days, I explored many other beautiful places in Gold Coast region, took a day trip to Brisbane, another day trip to Noosa Heads, revisited all the major shopping centres and of course, spend a lot time soaking up the sun on the those endless stretch of white sandy beaches.

Last time I didn’t post any pictures for my trip to Broadbeach, so here are some photos from Broadbeach this time.

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Bought this Summer, this is my first ever red dress. Apart from dressing up for to have some photos taken, I don’t see any other occasions it could be had. I was buying it regardless. To me, it was like fulfilling childhood dreams – to dance freely in a large circle skirt, in a far far away land.

Well Australia is quite far away from any other continent and Mt Wilson is about 100km west from Sydney – not particularly close either. I was too intimidated to wear anything red when I was young. Grey and brown coloured outfits were my wardrobe staples. But now? I don’t care that much. You see, age is a good thing. It gives you confidence. It makes you do whatever pleases you.

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I love the amount of great spots in Australia. This time, we’re going wider afield than usual. Instead of sticking to the east coast, we’re going to the other end. Broome is a coastal town and area in the Kimberley, the north-west region of Australia. The region is known for rugged wilderness well worth exploring and Broome is no different. But that’s not all it has to offer. Let’s take a look at this sandy, historically packed part of Oz.

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Photo source: Pinterest

Cable Beach

Indeed, one of the best things that Broome has to offer over other great destinations in the Kimberley is its fantastic beaches. In particular, Cable Beach is a huge 22km stretch of beach that’s perfect for a most serene stroll. Camel rides are popular to travel this huge stretch. Broome holiday advice from Best of The Kimberley is one of the places you can check for when the beach is in vacation season.

Horizontal Falls

Of course, anywhere in the Kimberley is going to have some rough terrain that has to be seen to be believed. Horizontal Falls is one such place. Two immense gorges create an amazing effect. The rushing tide funnels through a line in immense pressure, creating the visual effect of horizontal waterfall. This is best seen from above and there are plenty of planes willing to take you over for a good price.

Malcolm Douglas Wildlife Park

Of course, if it’s the wild you want to see, then you want to see some of the fauna as well. Malcolm Douglas Wildlife Park, named after the much loved documentary maker, is just fifteen minutes from town. As well as a host of crocodiles moved from its old spot on Cable Beach, it has hundreds of kangaroos, rare dingoes and colorful birdlife.

Short Street Gallery

Not all the wonders of Broome are entirely natural, however. There’s great man-made culture on display as well. The Short Street Gallery in particular is well worth a visit. Here you’ll see the largest and oldest maintained display of indigenous Australian and immigrant art. There’s all kinds of styles displayed. Aboriginal, Malay and Japanese history living in a constantly revitalizing host of exhibitions.

Willie Creek Pearl Farm

Of course, one of the most important parts of history in Broome is the town’s pearl industry. This carefully farmed luxury has been a cornerstone of industry and economy. You can see the history up close in the Willie Creek Pearl Farm.  Also recommended is visiting the Japanese cemetery. Here the history of hundreds of pearlers’ contribution to the town is honored.

Sun Pictures Cinema

Of course, while you’re enjoying the town, you might want to take some time to catch a movie at the cinema. There are few better cinemas in the world for film fans to see than Sun Pictures. The longest running outdoor cinema has been entertaining with film and live shows for over a hundred years now. It hasn’t stopped today, either. You’ll not experience such a lively outdoor cinema so rich in history anywhere else in the world.

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The Breakwater lighthouse behind me

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On the right: The Flagstaff Hill lighthouse

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Wide leg pants are back. I’m not a trend follower but I know this because a couple of PR agents sent me photos featuring some rather ugly wide leg pants.

One of the reasons I don’t follow fashion trend for the sake of it is because not all styles would fit me well. Wide leg pants are exceptions. I like them. It was pointed out to me quite a few times that my legs are relatively short (though overall I can be classified as tall in person) and not as straight as they should be. Wide leg pants don’t show my flaws that much. For that reason alone, I like wide leg pants, but not the ugly ones.

As the saying goes: Fashion comes in cycles. Wide leg pants, are IN not for the first time. I had many of them from a long time ago but have cleared them out over the years. The only one left now is this pair of Chloe white pants. They are not that wide legged but still count.

Now back to the location: Wollongong. We were not even planning going to Wollongong that day. We were driving to Port Kembla and Wollongong is just on the way. We took a wrong turn & were immediately drawn to this row of large rocks. It was an easy decision to pull over have some photos taken there.

There are 2 light houses in Wollongong not far from each other. The bigger one the hill (The Flagstaff Hill lighthouse) attracts a lot more visitors on average but don’t you think the smaller one ( The Breakwater lighthouse) and its harbour surroundings are more photogenic?

 

 

 

Austinmer Beach

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Zombie walk on the beach… a happy zombie for once

Sydney has been raining literally non-stop for a week now. Without even a minute break from those heavy rain drops from the sky, one can only sit inside and dream about beach weather.

Those photos are from my last trip to Austinmer Beach a couple of weeks ago. Autinmer beach is about one and a half hours’ drive south from Sydney, close to Wollongong city centre. Why drive so far to a beach while there are so many wonderful beaches in Sydney? Perhaps the scenic drive is quite enjoyable; perhaps that large rock platform has our names on it; perhaps it has this little shop that can cook up the best fish and chips. Whatever the reason, a day trip to Austinmer beach always manage to make me feel energized and happy.

And that’s all that matters. Do whatever makes you happy, whenever you can.

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Photos: Candidtown Photography

Silk top from Marcs, Ray Ban sunglass.

 

Endless beach, soft silky sand, warm ocean water and sun. Finally it feels like… Summer. Before we left the big smoke, I was a little worried that we might get too bored to stay in Broadbeach for a week even though it was decided to be a “dot nothing, just chill” holiday. But 4 days on, cosmopolitan Broadbeach has exceeded our expectation in so many ways that it becomes more and more tempting to buy an apartment here overlooking the ocean and stay permanently or at least come over every once in a while.On the way from airport to the resort, I asked the driver if there’s any nice local restaurant she could recommend. She listed a few then ended firlmly: “ You won’t go starving people”. She was right. There are restaurants next to restaurants. Italian, Thai, yum cha, loads of Japanese, 10 minutes walking around in the heart of Broadbeach, we had the 7 days menu planned, different dinning experiences every day.

Live bands playing for you while dining. All the possible modern amenities within walking distance. Lots, lots and lost of shops. Great coffee. Friendly, helpful people. The lady in bright yellow top, hot pink skirt and bright yellow feather in her blond hair. That amazing expression on the little boy’s face on the beach holding a Pipi half size of his palm… Those are the things about Broadbeach that make me say Oooh…. And of course, the wild, long beach. “I want to spend 4 hours on the beach every day, no computer, no mobile, no charts, no emails!!” I declared as soon as I stepped on the beach the first day. “But,” J protested quietly, “ I will be deep fried, or at lease well done:(.” So we settled on 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the late afternoon when the sun is less strong. But really, the beauty about the ocean is that, you don’t have to be in it to enjoy it, it simply makes you feel good to look at it or be around it.

4 days no rain & being able to look at the sunning ocean whenever I wish, I feel a little spoiled, happy and even proud as I’ve been getting up before 8am every morning (very early for me, not a morning person). The sparkling pool is waiting for me every morning, there’s no time to be wasted before heading back to rainy Sydney.

That’s right, a fabulous  holiday doesn’t have to involve bungee jumping or 24 hours flight to Europe.