King Island Destination Guide by Senior Advisor, Ruth Carlton.

Looking for “close by” destinations to explore and visit? If you, like me, have wondered just why the King Island Dairy Products, cream – dare I say double cream – taste so yummy, then once you visited King Island as I did with a small, private group, it becomes abundently clear.

Probably not a destination that many would think of, or consider, but let me assure you, it is worth a stop, and an ideal one on the way to Northern Tasmania. Flights operate from Melbourne to King Island, with the airport a short distance north of Currie, the largest township on the Island. The Island is located off the North-West point of Tasmania and can also be reached from Burnie on the North Coast of Tasmania. King Island is only 64 km long, and 26 km wide and is a wildly rugged, windswept but very attractive island boasting over 145 km of coastline and an incredible variety of seabirds and wildlife. The island has only 1500 permanent residents and – believe it or not –does not rely on Tasmania or Mainland Australia for its electricity supply! It is the second-largest island in Bass Strait.

King Island was first discovered and visited by Europeans in the late 18th Century and named after Philip Gidley King, the Colonial Governor of NSW. It enjoys a Mediterranean climate of mild summers and rain in winter.
My group was more than ready to go and check out the dairy shop as a priority, but to our surprise, we were soon told that the main Industry was – in that order at the time – kelp, beef, dairy. What a letdown! When we saw the source of the Kelp, however, and found out how widely kelp is used in the World, it became easy to understand: Cosmetics, Shampoo, Salad Dressing, Cakes, Pharmaceuticals, Frozen Food, WOW!
However, the dairy shop and bakery are absolute MUSTS and have you ever tried a Crayfish Pie?

Accommodation on the Island is not luxury, as you would expect, but the simple motels and guesthouses offer all you need. Getting back to our hotel, on the first night, and entering the dining room for our meal, you can imagine the surprise when we found our group’s table beautifully set but also displayed was a sumptuous lobster at each place and this was just our first course! So yes, crayfish is yet another industry on King Island. Probably the best choice of eateries on the Island is in Naracoopa, on the East Coast.
You will be totally surprised at what this tiny Island has to offer: exploring with a Hummer allows one to enjoy driving on the dunes. Great fun! The coastline is incredible, rugged, sand beaches with awesome rock formations. The Hummer can roll up and down the steep shoreline and get into the hidden corners!
And then there are the lighthouses. Being such an exposed island, I suppose it comes as no surprise that there have been more than 60 known shipwrecks around King Island and as a result, quite a few lighthouses have been built. I believe there are about 4 Lighthouses. Cape Wickham, on the north point, has not just Australia’s but also the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest Lighthouse! It is worthwhile taking a private guide for part of your visit. The guide can tell you the history of the area and share all the stories about quite a number of those shipwrecks around Currie harbour.
Seal Rocks State Reserve is another must on your discovery. Do ask your guide to show you where to see a platypus in the wild as this is one of the best places in the world for it! And one of the most enchanting ways to spend an evening is to venture to Grassy and check the waddle of the tiniest little penguins, what a treat!
Hopefully, Ruth has inspired you to add King Island to your bucket list. For more information, email holidays@orbitworldtravel.com.au or call 1800 249 804

New Zealand Destination Guide by Ruth Carlton, Leisure Specialist

Below is a personal insight into Ruth’s top suggestions to explore in New Zealand, when Trans-Tasman flights are back in action!

New Zealand is often referred to as “the World in Miniature”: Truly magnificent natural features, stunning scenery and unique attractions! The country offers visitors an unspoilt countryside, lush forests, bubbling mud pools, endless miles of golden sandy beaches and a dramatic coastline. Combine this with the rich and fascinating Maori culture and an unequalled range of activities and experiences and it is not hard to see why New Zealand is a destination to enjoy!

These suggestions are based on my own experiences during a number of trips to Kiwi Land, but particularly when I escorted a small Private Wine Tour around the North Island.

My clients do not, necessarily, have to use Escorted Tours, it is, in fact, easy and extremely comfortable and enjoyable to look around this country under one’s own steam, with itinerary, flight, rental car, accommodation and some important sights pre-booked by us. A good idea is an open-jaw ticket – meaning you fly into Wellington/out of Auckland, or v.v.

WELLINGTON – the World’s most southerly capital, is mostly built on reclaimed land, the central part of the city is only 2 km wide! A good hotel, the James Cook Grand Chancellor, is in the original 1840 shoreline part of town, today the main shopping area around Lambton Quay. The City is home to the Royal NZ Ballet, the NZ Symphony Orchestra, the National Dance and Drama Schools and is recognised as the Culture and Heritage Centre, also with the Te Papa Museum known as the World leader in National Museums! The Executive Wing of the New Zealand Parliament is lovingly called the “Beehive”, it is located along Lambton Quay. Absolute MUSTS are a visit to the Te Papa Museum, and a ride on the Peak Tram, the view over “windy Wellington” from the top is stunning!

Heading North, along the East Coast of the Island, one of the first treasures is reaching the Wine Area of Martinborough – oh yes, it does not always and only have to be Marlborough!
Great idea to have some Tastings and look around in the Vineyards, I can recommend:
– Palliser Estate Wines of Martinborough
– Margrain of Martinborough (Great Pinots!)

Another sight to visit, on your way North, is the Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre, they proudly ensure the conservation of some of the country’s most endangered wildlife and act as environmental education. You could see Kiwi, Kokako, Kaka and many other species!

Before reaching the Hawke’s Bay and Napier, after a good 300 km, a stop is recommended at Te Mata Peak, some 400 metres above sea level. Might not be much, but from the summit, you can enjoy panoramic views over the Ruahine, Kaweka and Maungaharuru Ranges and Cape Kidnappers, and on a clear day, you might just spot the volcano Ruapehu, in the centre of Tongariro National Park!

NAPIER – became famous, sadly, after a 7.9 on the Richter scale Earthquake in February 1931. The Township went through a massive rebuilding of the city process, and as Art Deco was the popular “thing” at that time, Art Deco it was for Napier, and it turned out to become one of the best examples! It would be more than worthwhile to invest in a Private Guide for a tour so that you not only admire the building facades, but you will hear the story behind each of the buildings! The Scenic Circle Te Pania Hotel on Marine Parade, by the way, is a great hotel, with a stunning view over the Bay!

Wineries in the Hawke’s Bay area – so many of the Vineyards not only offer tastings but also great Restaurants, for small snack type Luncheons to Gourmet Meals, here I am thinking of the Restaurant at The Mission. In this area, a drive around Cape Kidnappers is a great enjoyment!

Personal recommendations:
– Mission Estate Winery – this is New Zealand’s oldest winemaker establishment founded in 1851 – by, of course, the Monks!
– CJ Pask Winery – great Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays, Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons!

On the drive inland, from Napier to Rotorua, one comes past wonderful Lake Taupo – it is more than worthwhile to dedicate more than one day to this area!

Personally, I think this is a must, because:
– Lake Taupo is the largest Lake in New Zealand, by surface, and it is the Caldera of the Taupo Volcano
– The experience of waterskiing, sailing, kayaking, boat trips, Huka Falls and Huka Prawn Park and the Crater of the Moon – Unmissable!

ROTORUA – just a good hour away from Taupo, and we reach the 75000 Population Maori Culture Centre and the Spa Centre of New Zealand, with its Mud Pools!

A good hotel is the Novotel Rotorua Lakeside, it also offers, on some nights, a delicious Hangi with Maori Concert!

COROMANDEL PENINSULA – another well worth “linger” and drive around, on the way North! The Peninsula got its name after HMS “Coromandel” of the British Royal Navy stopped there in 1820, the ship itself got the name from the Coromandel Coast in India! The Peninsula stretches North, from the Bay of Plenty, a rugged place mainly covered by rainforest. Not a bad place to have your Fish and Chips Kiwi style!

Venturing further North, and by-passing Auckland, for the moment, the landmass becomes more and more narrow. And the price is the Bay of Islands region!  What a treasure! On the way up, by the way, you go through Whangarei – pronounced something like Fangarei – and guess what, this is the hometown of Michael Hill – and who does not know Michael Hill!

BAY OF ISLANDS – is an area of more than 140 subtropical Islands, underdeveloped beaches, big game fishing, Maori Culture, Maori Artefacts, and the 19th Century Whaling Port of Russell! The jumping-off port to the Islands is Paihia. I, together with my group, had the privilege of staying at Eagles Nest, WOW! Have a look at their Website, it costs a fortune, but oh my goodness – we had a night of more than luxury accommodation and treatment, including a Dinner on the Terrace overlooking the Infinity Pool, then the Bay – of course with the meal served and prepared by Private Cook! The cost is outrageous, but then again, what a top idea for a very special Wedding Anniversary!

WAITANGI TREATY GROUNDS – the sacred place along the Bay, the site where on 6 February 1840 the Treaty between Members of the British Crown and Maori Chiefs was signed, building the solid ground for further interactions between the original Inhabitants and New Zealand of today, at large – do not miss a visit!

Luxury Lodges New Zealand – at this point I want to highlight that New Zealand offers a wealth of Luxury Lodges for accommodation! A good source for checking is the 100% Pure New Zealand – at the time of my small group trip we stayed at an absolutely charming Private Guesthouse called Fantail Lodge, in Kati Kati, I believe though that it is not quite the same any longer. Morton Winery is just outside of Kati Kati!

Some Lodges I have used successfully for my clients:
– Kauri Cliffs – also Bay of Islands
– Huka Lodge – on Lake Taupo
– The Farm on Cape Kidnappers Hawke’s Bay

AUCKLAND – Let us finish with New Zealand’s largest city! But again, the population is just slightly over 1.5 Million! The city is located in between two harbours, the Manukau on the Tasman, the Waitemata to the Pacific, and absolutely stunning they are, full of Superyachts! Right in the centre of Auckland is the most narrow landmass of the North Island, dividing the Pacific and the Tasman. The views from the Skytower are breathtaking! Auckland, by the way, has the largest Polynesian population in the World!

Hopefully, Ruth has inspired you to add New Zealand to your bucket list. For more information, email holidays@orbitworldtravel.com.au or call 1800 249 804

Tweed Coast Destination Guide by Sally Raine, Leisure Specialist.

Dreaming, Dreaming, Dreaming…of your next holiday?  With many of us now having more time on our hands to do a bit of “armchair travel”, here is a real gem, right here on this amazing continent of ours!

We may not be able to leave our home shores just yet or even travel domestically, but when we are able to launch again why not explore The Tweed?  A natural paradise ranging from lush mountain rain forests, breath-taking mountain ranges, uncrowded pristine beaches and waterways, and an endless variety of dining options to satisfy the gourmet traveller…

So, where do you picture yourself? …On a beautiful beach perhaps?  Well, in my opinion, the ideal beach holiday destination would be the Tweed Coast. Stretching for 37 kilometres of unspoilt, sparkling waterways from Tweed Heads in the north to the tranquil beauty of Wooyung Beach in the south. Perfect for lazy days under the sun, memorable family holidays or some aquatic adventures such as snorkelling, diving, canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding, fishing, surfing and whale watching!

Fun fact: Some 14,000 whales migrate from June to November from the Atlantic to warmer subtropical waters. 

Quiet seaside villages and luxurious beachfront resorts await your arrival.  The beaches are safe and patrolled for swimming (remember to swim between the flags at patrolled beaches). The coast offers holiday parks, hotels and apartments ranging from a budget stay to first-class holiday accommodation, vibrant shopping precincts with beautiful boutiques to enjoy some ‘retail therapy’ and scores of sun-drenched cafes and restaurants to replenish yourself once you’ve soaked up all that sun, sand and water! 

Love the café lifestyle and dining out?…then drop into Kingscliff, considered to be the heart of the Tweed Coast and a great destination to enjoy popular dining with award-winning cafes and restaurants lining the esplanade.  You’ll be spoiled for choice ranging from the tastes of Japan, Thailand, Spain, Italy, Mexico, India, Nepal and Tibet, and of course Australia’s own specialities, many of which source local fresh produce.  

Alternatively, perhaps you yearn for a quieter interlude of pampering and luxury? Salt Village and Casuarina Beach are perfect for contemporary luxury oceanfront resorts.  Not to be outdone, Salt Village’s eclectic mix of bars and dining venues offer some award-winning restaurants, as well as some great casual dining for a quick bite!  A little journey onwards to Casuarina, more dining delights await ranging from Asian inspired cuisine to more casual options such as fresh fish and chips in a relaxed beachside atmosphere.   Whatever your taste buds crave, there is something to suit you!

If you prefer a more low-key experience, you will be delighted by the beach-side cottages, holiday parks and motels at Fingal Head, Hastings Point, Cabarita Beach, Pottsville and Wooyung and cosy B&B’s and retreats along the coastal hills.

Do you crave the cool mountain rainforests of the hinterland?  Imagine rolling green hills and valleys sculpted from the ancient shield volcano by the Tweed and Oxley Rivers and experience a delicious voyage of discovery with roadside stalls filled with an amazing variety of farm-fresh fruits and vegetables. This is the Tweed Valley!

The region is home to 12 National Parks and was nominated by “Tourism Australia” as one of the country’s 16 ‘National Landscapes’.  Five of these national parks are World Heritage-listed, Wollimbin Mt Warning, Nightcap National Park and the Border Ranges National Parks, Limpinwood Nature Reserve and Numinbah Nature Reserve which all form part of the “Gondwana Rainforests of Australia’ and include some of the most extensive areas of subtropical rainforest in the world.  Take a walk among the giants and experience something truly extraordinary or drive through the designated accessible areas to enjoy a picnic, some hiking or just marvel at the views of this ancient Caldera.

Mingle with the locals who include the indigenous custodians of the region, former residents of the urban rat race who have made the ‘seachange’, descendants of the early European settlers, generations of farmers, and an array of fascinating artists.  It is a melting pot of diverse cultures. 

The Valley is rich with art and craft and has been an inspiration to many artists over the decades.  Visit the local galleries, starting at Tumbulgum, the Tweed’s oldest village, established around 1840.  It is one of the first European settlements in northern NSW and its name means “meeting of the waters” as the village is at the junction of the Tweed and Rous Rivers.  Drop into the Tumbulgum Tavern to quench your thirst, the regions first unlicensed pub, originally known as “grog shanty” established in 1887 and still going strong today.

For the wine lover, ILNAM Estate is a delightful family-owned winery and is the only winery in the Tweed.  Situated in the Carool area, once a soldier settlement and best known for its banana crop in bygone years.  It has amazing ocean and hinterland views.  Once you have sampled the wines and feel like a “pick-me-up” head over to Carool’s Wirui Estate coffee farm.  It has 4000 coffee trees and produces 2 tonnes of green coffee a year.  After a day of exploring the hinterland and drinking in the wine, relax in Carool’s Potagers Kitchen, a ten-acre farm and restaurant which offers extraordinary gourmet cuisine.

How to get around? There are taxi and limousine operators, bus services, escorted day tours, car hire and self-drive driving routes – whichever suits your travel style!

There is so much more to mention.  Hopefully, this has given you a taster to inspire your next trip!  Whether you are in for an action-packed adventure, sun, surf and other water activities or simply chilling out in a relaxing atmosphere, The Tweed has plenty to offer and is one of my favourite holiday destinations!

For more information on The Tweed, or to plan your next adventure, contact me to make an appointment.

Sally Raine
(02) 9302 0700

Gold Coast Destination Guide by Aaron Spriggs, Leisure Specialist.

The Gold Coast has been Australia’s playground since the 1950s when Bris-vegans would head to “The South Coast” for weekends away on the golden sands that stretch for miles. The home of dozens of beachside hotels, caravan parks and campgrounds, it was the budget-friendly destination for millions of Australian families. Everyone remembers a past road trip to The Goldie – ours was an 11-hour drive up the Pacific Highway with us cramped in the back with bikes on the back rack and surfboards on the roof with Dad grumbling about the “yuppies” driving past us with their fancy caravans and trailers filled to the brim with necessities for their week away. We always stayed at the same holiday apartment on the canal – I live directly across the water from the same resort now and still have fond memories every time I look across the water at the old Del Ray!

The area has certainly grown up over the decades with 5-star hotels, great dining options and of course the Theme Parks on the Northern end of the coast. With most of the major resort chains centred around Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach, there is still a huge range of small privately run resorts and hotels stretching the whole length of the coast.

Starting in the south is the amazing Halcyon House. Situated just over the border in Cabarita it’s easily accessible from the Gold Coast Airport. Located right on the beach with timeless Miami inspired décor, it’s a one-stop-shop with on-sight bar and restaurant – Paper Daisy. Our Virtuoso guests receive an upgrade on arrival (if available), breakfast daily, one-way private airport transfer, wi-fi, a welcome cocktail along with a local cheese plate and bottle of Processo in your room on arrival. If you want to venture away from the beachside luxury you can hire the in house Audi A1 and explore the Tweed Coast and Southern Gold Coast – check out the nearby Husk Distillery for an award with locally made spirits and liquor or The Bread Social in Tweed Head for the best baked goods on the coast, or even take a drive through the World Heritage Listed Mt Waring National Park.

Across the border is beautiful Coolangatta, with the world-famous surf breaks of Snapper Rocks, D-Bar and Rainbow Bay. The huge Twin Towns Club dominates the area but there is also a host of small bars, pubs and eateries such as the awesome Eddies Grub House, The Pink Hotel and the classic Coolangatta Hotel that plays host to live music and everyone from the Hollywood famous, to beach bums and backpackers.

Further north along the Gold Coast Highway is the beachside suburb of Palm Beach. Palmy is home to a host of great cafes and restaurants such as The Collective, Balboas Italian and the top surf club right on the sand with cheap beers and great pub grub.

Burleigh Heads and Currumbin are amazing places to visit, stay and eat in. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is a National Trust run nature park and wildlife hospital where you can get up close and personal with native Aussie Wildlife and get swamped by hundreds of Lorikeets during the feeding sessions. Burleigh Heads has a huge range of eating places – Jimmy Wah’s, Justin Lane, The Burleigh Pavilion and The Fish House are all standout places along with a heap of cheap and cheerful places such as the Bistro at the Bowling Club. Just off the Highway in Burleigh Heads State School grounds is a weekly farmers markets held every Saturday from 6.30 am with local produce and handy crafts available. For those who love Market eating should head to BBQ Bazaar on Friday and Saturday nights for a range of food stalls and entertainment, along with full bar facilities.

Broadbeach has a huge range of accommodation options – from Mum and Dad run operations to the Sofitel, Peppers and a range of options at The Star Casino, including The Darling, with its huge suites and 17 – at The Star Restaurant up top, along with The Dorsett next door (currently under construction). This, combined with the casino, restaurant and bars, makes it a destination itself! There is also world-class shopping next door at the recently re-developed Pacific Fair with everything from Tiffany and Rolex to K-Mart and Target in the sprawling complex.

Further North along the highway has you arriving into Surfers Paradise, with accommodation options once again covering all budgets. The beautiful Jewel development is almost complete and will soon host a 5 star Langham Hotel and Beach Club right on the sand, with a view from the upper suites that range from Point Dangar and Mount Warning in the South to South Stradbroke Island and the hinterland. Surfers Paradise has plenty to keep the family busy with weekly markets, various bowling and gaming arcades, bike and scooter high and the almost open slingshot that has relocated to the very centre of Cavil Avenue to keep the patrons flying into the sky with hundreds of spectators looking on. Food options range from Maccas, KFC & Hungry Jacks on the beach to some of the best burgers and wings you’ll ever have at Longboards or House of Brews. If you’re starving, then the Buffet at QT or The Marriot are some of the best chow down options you’ll find, with the accommodation at both properties being great value and both having great pools and bars on site.

Just along the spit from Main Beach and Surfers Paradise, for great family fun, is SeaWorld. Not to forget, the fabulous Sheraton Grand Marina Mirage and the over the top opulent Versace, with great views of the Broadwater with all the glitz and glamour, you’d expect from Versace.

 Dreamworld, Wet’n’Wild, Paradise Country and Movie World are all located on the northern end of the Gold Coast and are surrounded by cheap hotels and caravan parks, but most people stay closer to the beach and drive to the parks for a day out. There are also great transport options with buses and G-Link trams. The area also hosts the Outback Spectacular and Top Golf to really cater to everyone. Close by is the Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove, for those wanting to stay in style while surrounded by native flora and fauna – every time I’ve visited I’ve seen Wallabies, Echidnas and Koala within the grounds! The true Australian experience!

The Hinterland of the Gold Coast has a number of spectacular drives and hiking trails that can lead to amazing vistas, beautiful caves and waterfalls such as The Glow Worms Cave and Purling Brook Falls. The area is also home to some great little pubs and the Canungra Pie shop is a must!

Between the Hinterland and the Coastline, there are the sprawling suburbs of the Gold Coast, with a huge network for canals running of the Nerang River giving direct water access to thousands of households. The area also has a huge range of golf course spreading the length of the coast.

The Gold Coast really does have something for every traveller and every budget. With direct flights from most major Australian cities along with international destinations such as Auckland, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, it’s a great spot for a quick getaway or extended stay. There are plenty of car rental options and parking, and with the ever-expanding G-Link Trams accessibility is getting better by the month.

For more information on the Gold Coast, or to plan your next adventure, contact me to make an appointment.

Aaron Spriggs
(07) 5556 7222