Top things to do in Melbourne

Last week I took 3 days visiting Melbourne Australia.  I discovered there is much to do in Melbourne – even for a brief, 3-night visit. I actually travelled in July, Melbourne’s winter.  However, you can visit Melbourne at any time of the year. Melbourne’s population of 4.8 million souls – that is New Zealand’s entire population in just the one city! And furthermore, all these people fit into just 70 x 50 kms.  So for a traveller like me from New Zealand, Melbourne has a 24/7 busy vibe. That’s why I also include a visit to the public gardens just to get a sense of calm before I start the explore.

Fitzroy Gardens Melbourne

Fitzroy Gardens Melbourne

Top 7 Things to do in Melbourne

A lot of authentic Australia is just a short distance from Melbourne. So that makes this vibrant a great base for exploring the wider Victoria area. We’re talking desert landscapes, local wildlife and spellbinding coastline. And just 90 minutes from Melbourne, you can see the penguins emerge from the Pacific Ocean.

1. Phillip Island Blue Penguins

A must-do tour would have to be the famous Phillip Island Blue Penguins.  As the sun sets, these cute little guys waddle up from the shore after a day out fishing. It is a magical procession to witness. The main penguin viewing area at Summerland Beach has tiered seating. This so perfect if you want to have those 180 degree elevated view. Just sit back and watch tiny blue penguins march en masse up to their burrows. You really d have to include this in your itinerary folks!

Top things to do in Melbourne - Penguins Koalas and Wildlife Tour Phillip Island

Day tour from Melbourne to see Penguins & Koalas at Phillip Island

2. Great Ocean Road day tour

You may be self-driving around Australia, but want a break from driving.  So why not go on a Great Ocean Road day tour.  This involves an incredibly scenic journey along Australia’s most spectacular coastal route. You will also get to see the famous beaches of the Great Ocean Road‘s surf Coast. For a bit of variety, you can enjoy an explore the coastal town of Apollo Bay. But there is more: you will get a guided eco tour in the great Otway National Park.  This rain forest area has cool temperatures and is perfect for a stroll.

Great Ocean Road day tour from Melbourne

The 12 Apostles can be done as a full day tour ex Melbourne

3. Guided Sightseeing City tour

There is no better way of getting to know a city than by going on a guided city tour. Believe me, it really helps to give you an overview of the city grid. There are a number of city tour companies. I used Robert from Oceania Tours and spent a few hours in some of the most famous gardens and of course the beautiful St. Patrick Church of Melbourne.

The nice part about these tours is that you get to meet other travellers from all parts of the world – people like Paolo, from Brazil!

4. Visit Queen Victoria Market

If you are into food (and most of us are) then you’ll love Melbourne. It is a gourmet paradise! Here’s where Chef Ben Shewry, a good old boy from New Zealand, made his mark. Ben’s restaurant, Attica is one of the top restaurants in Australia! Melbourne is also known for its iconic lanes, where the unusual quirky and downright delicious, can be found. We often have breakfast down these lanes.  There is no better vibe than to mix with other commuters starting off their day. You will find a huge ethic mix of people in Melbourne. The variety and overall standard is world-class.

My all-time personal fav is ‘The Block Arcade’, just a stone’s throw through from Flinders Lane. Just be prepared to unleash your taste-buds. A good place to start, would be the  Hopetoun Tearooms. A bland name perhaps, but the cakes and desserts will have you drooling.  Depending on when you visit the Hopetoun Tearooms, you might have to join a queue. So choose your time.

5. Tram Restaurant Melbourne

For most of us, dining on a tram is a novelty experience and another major attraction for visitors to Melbourne. The Melbourne Tram Restaurant have a lunch sitting, plus 2 dinner sittings. I chose the early dinner and was not disappointed. The 34 person carriages have been authentically restored so it will take you back in time. As you ‘rattle’ down towards St. Kilda, you’ll see  plenty of local life through the large windows.  (note: you won’t see as much in the winter months, as it gets darker quickly.)  The staff are extremely professional and friendly.  I chose the Barramundi fish as the my second course and it was delicious.

Melbourne restaurant tram

6. Visiting Victoria Wine regions

Let’s face it, so many regions in Australia have top quality producing wineries. And the state of Victoria is no exception. Now because Victoria has such a diverse climate, you will get to to sample every wine style imaginable. That means, you will need to spend at least a half day on a wine tour. It takes time to sample fine sparkling wine, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Shiraz. The wineries in Victoria also have fabulous restaurants so chances are you will be having lunch in one of them.

Australia wine growing areas
Australia has many wine growing regions

7. Visit St. Kilda Village and Pier

If you head out to the famous St Kilda Village, you’ll find plenty of shops and bistros to interest you. Plus there is a great esplanade where yachts and windsurfers can be seen from the bay. If theme parks are you’re thing, spend a few hours sampling the Luna Park’s eye-catching rides. Fine-dining restaurants and old European cake shops can be found on Acland and Carlisle streets. The vibe is both local and vibrant.

Travel Tips For Melbourne

The café culture in Melbourne is the very beating heart of the city. If you are not that keen on visiting the suburbs, you can always find plenty of attractions in the inner city. Get around by using the City Circle Tram. Visit the historic Flinders Street Station and best of all, hang out in Federation Square – there are plenty of outdoor music and cultural events and everyone is welcomed.

Melbourne Weather Conditions

The weather for Melbourne can best be described as temperate. You will get warm-hot summers. The seasons of spring and autumn are balmy and mild. The coldest months are in June and July, with the wettest being in October. So probably be best time to visit Melbourne would be March to May and September to November. See chart below for more detailed information or see here for the best time to visit Melbourne

Melbourne Weather Overview

Getting around Melbourne

A taxi from the airport to central Melbourne will cost A$60. The SkyBus coach service is a great way of getting to the SkyBus station in downtown Melbourne.  It is a bit more involved than just the one taxi ride. But it only takes about 25 minutes and costs around A$20 per person. From the SkyBus station, it’s an easy taxi ride to the hotel. They are all fairly central in Melbourne.

Accommodation Options in Melbourne

You will get a huge variety of hotels to choose from. So take your pick from international chains, boutique or arty places. There is accommodation to suit everyone and most budgets. Generally, the hotels are centrally located for the sake of convenience. This makes it so easy to get around. You can either walk or use the free tram “Number 35” to explore the CBD area.

melbourne flinders street

On my recent trip to Melbourne I spent a lot of time to researching more Melbourne accommodation central city options. Looking at websites with loads of pictures, videos and maps is one way to do it. But believe me, actually visiting these places to experience them firsthand, is much better. You get a clearer understanding of location, layout, room sizes, and general standards.  Of course the friendliness of management and staff plays a very important part of any evaluation. I have divided my findings into 3 main categories Mainstream, Boutique and High end.

Central Melbourne city hotels

Hotel Ibis Melbourne – Therry Street

Hotel Ibis is a 3-star property just a stone’s throw from the Queen Victoria Market. The rooms are fine, as long as you intend to spend more time exploring the city, rather than staying in-house. The hotel offers a good breakfast in their packages to suit the more budget-minded traveller.

Novotel Melbourne – Collins Street

This 4-star hotel is located right in the hub of downtown Melbourne. If you step outside the door, you can go straight to the famous Block Arcade (which hosts the wonderful ‘Hopetoun Tea Room’). The hotel has all the facilities you could ask for – gym, indoor swimming pool, restaurant.

Melbourne accommodation central city - Novotel Melbourne - Collins Street

Rendezvous Hotel Melbourne – Flinders St

Flinders Street is one of Melbourne main roads. So, with any accommodation along this main traffic artery, you’ll get a fair amount of road noise. This 4-star hotel is set in an heritage building, so the minute you set foot inside, you’ll get a real sense of history. I would call it a ‘classic’, old-world style hotel.

Adina Apartment Queen Street

There are three Adina Apartment hotel in Melbourne – they are all a bit different to each other. The 4-star Queens Street Adina left the best impression. It is central, well equipped and has a modern layout. It’s 2- and 3-bedroom apartments are perfect for family travellers to Melbourne.

Central Melbourne Boutique hotels

Apart from the main stream hotels, the Melbourne central business district is lucky to have some lovely boutique styled accommodation options. Here are a few:

QT Hotel Melbourne in Queen Street

When I walked into the QT Hotel, I had one of those ‘wow’ moments. It reminded me of the QT Museum hotel back here in Wellington. It’s funky, vibrant and full of quirky corners. More like a huge community area with seatings, cafes and large restaurant with a glass walled wine cellar next to it. The guest rooms are spacious and modern befitting a 4-star property. I think I will be staying here the next time I’m in Melbourne!

Melbourne accommodation central city - QT Hotel Melbourne in Queen Street

QT Hotel Melbourne in Queen Street

Fraser Place Melbourne in Exploration Lane

I certainly had to look hard before I found this little gem! Fraser Place sits right in the middle of the city, between La Trobe and Lonsdale Street. In fact, it is not even marked at the official Melbourne Tourism map. My instincts told me to sniff it out and go there and what a great discovery! Fraser Place is a 4-star boutique hotel with two main towers. Everything is on a slightly smaller scale, but the roof top is spacious and a great place to hang out after a day’s explore. As with all Fraser properties I have looked at, this one is maintained to a high standard.

Fraser Place Melbourne in Exploration Lane

Fraser Place Melbourne in Exploration Lane

Adelphi Hotel Flinders Lane

If you want to be right in the middle of Melbourne’s hustle and bustle, then this is the place to be. Right in Flinders amidst cafes, restaurants and other foodie places. But be warned, there will be ‘people’ noise’ at night. The rooms are spacious, as they were converted from a former office building. The reception area is very small. The staff are very pro-active and attentive.

Adelphi Hotel Flinders Lane

Adelphi Hotel Flinders Lane

Hotel Lindrum on Flinders Street

Hotel Lindrum is another ‘classic’ in Melbourne. This building is rich on history. It actually began as a tea merchant store and really sings ‘old world charm’. Some of the rooms face Flinders Street and are noisy. But if this is an issue for you, don’t worry, you can take one of the other rooms facing away from Flinders. All rooms are spacious and well maintained.

Hotel Lindrum on Flinders Street

Hotel Lindrum on Flinders Street

High-end Melbourne Hotels:

Langham Hotel Melbourne

The ‘Southbank’ side of Melbourne is basically on the other side of the CBD area across the Yarra River. This area is far more modern and developed with a number of hotels, restaurants and bars. In fact, it is a real ‘lifestyle’ area. The 5-star Langham Hotel has a ‘grand feeling’. Massive marble stairs, antique glass  chandeliers, indoor swimming pool, roof deck – it’s all here. And just a 10 minute walk will take you across the Yarra River to the CBD.

Langham Hotel Melbourne

Langham Hotel Melbourne

Westin Hotel Melbourne Collins Street

The 5-star Westin Hotel is located in the very heart of Melbourne. Get up in the morning and step into the city life of Melbourne. The interior design is classic-modern – stylish and actually very calming. After your day out, you get a feeling of returning to your ‘nest’ – ready to recharge.

Westin Hotel Melbourne Collins Street

Westin Hotel Melbourne Collins Street

Sofitel Melbourne Collins Street

I visited the Sofitel Melbourne about 3-4 years ago. I am pleased to say that not much as changed. It is still one of the leading Melbourne hotels of the central city area. You will get a wide range of room options. These include very spacious suites with stunning views overlooking Melbourne. The Sofitel has 46 levels. If you are not scared of heights, you may find the number of levels an added bonus. Keep this in mind when you are selecting your hotel stay in central Melbourne for the next time.

Melbourne Accommodation Central City - Sofitel Melbourne Collins Street

Sofitel Melbourne Collins Street

Here are some more travel hints while travelling Australia:

Happy travelling Melbourne!

Creating motorhome holidays Perth to Darwin

Have you dreamed of travelling along the remote and iconic route from Perth to Darwin? Unsure where to start with your planning? The Perth to Darwin journey is full of the unexpected … it’s a diverse landscape where one of the world’s oldest cultures share dreamtime stories through song under the outback’s glittering night sky.  It’s a continent surrounded by bright blue waters and secluded beach hideaways, full of majestic national parks where time stands still as you wind your way through rugged wildness; and it’s a foodies paradise spoiling visitors with tantalising culinary experiences.

Finding the hidden gems…

And the truth is, you’ll never really know until you experience it for yourself.  Australia is a curious country, full of hidden gems, just waiting to be discovered.  A land so vastly different from New Zealand yet just a hop, skip and a jump across the ditch. You may also combine both countries!

If you’re considering the journey from Perth to Darwin, you may be asking

  • When is the right time to visit?
  • What is the best way to explore this route?
  • Where should I go and what to do?

There is so much information available and it can be confusing and time consuming to work out what is the best motorhome holiday for you.

Coral Bay Western Australia

It’s important not to leave your holiday to chance, and by speaking to a location expert such as Gallivanting Oz about your motorhome adventure in Australia – expert and seasoned travel team members will be able to guide you every step of the way and help to avoid some of the pitfalls that are common when planning motorhome holidays. Gallivanting Oz are specialists at motorhome hire and escorted tours throughout all of Australia, including the iconic Perth to Darwin route.  There is no question too big or small when it comes to securing you the perfect motorhome for your trip – and most importantly, taking all the confusion out of the experience.

Ready to plan your motorhome holidays Perth to Darwin?

Now you know where in Australia you want to explore, the next step is to work out when you’d like to travel. All part of your Australia check list.

Motorhome travelling Australia

Some of our expert tips to consider when planning your Australian motorhome holiday:

  • As you’ll be travelling in the northern third of Australia, it’s important to understand the seasons and best time to experience.  Northern Australia is best visited in what is known as the ‘dry season’ which is roughly May to September (through the Australian winter months).
  • The wet season, which is predominantly summer, is much hotter, more humid and there are some roads in the northern third of the country which may become impassable.  The main highway around Australia is usually open, however flexibility is very important if you do decide to travel during the wet season in northern Australia.
  • It doesn’t matter which direction you travel for the Perth to Darwin route – it’s more about the time of year, to ensure you are at the Top End at the best time.  If you are starting a little later in the season, like late July/August for example, it would be better to travel Darwin to Perth direction. It is best to travel this route one way only with your motorhome – and that is an easy thing to do.
  • Take a minimum of 25 days for this route, however longer is better to give you a chance to really experience the area.  Many of our retired clients travel for around 5-6 weeks.
Vast Australian Outback

Getting local travel advice

Gallivanting Oz have an abundance of helpful and free resources to assist you to plan your perfect road trip adventure.  Your friends and family will be green with envy when they hear all about your plans!

It doesn’t matter if you are looking to plan your own itinerary with ‘freestyle’ motorhome hire, utilising all the resources provided to you, or, if you prefer, join an escorted motorhome tour.   On an escorted tour all the details are taken care of with your route plan and experiences along the way.  You too, like others, will be able to say, ‘that this was the best holiday you’ve ever had’.  So many inclusions; camaraderie of travelling with a small group and loads of flexibility.  The escorted tour option is highly organised while being very relaxed.  You just won’t believe how much is included on the route from Perth to Darwin (or vice versa) to ensure you get right into those remote, yet iconic areas, like the unique Kimberley region.

Western Australia Coastline

One of the favourite things for the Gallivanting Oz team is hearing from happy clients about their favourite highlights and what a difference they made in the holiday experience.  Certainly, evokes a sense of pride.

Don’t leave your motorhome holiday to chance.  Talk to the team today about experiencing the “Gallivanting Oz” difference.   Together, the motorhome holiday of your dreams will be created. 

Here are some suggestion what other locations in Western Australia you might want to travel prior or post you Perth to Darwin motorhome adventure. The possibilities are endless!

Happy Travelling with GallivantingOz!

Top Things To Do In Port Douglas And Surrounds

Top Things To Do In Port Douglas And Surrounds

Port Douglas is the gateway to a large number of key tourism destinations in Australia. The most well-known Port Douglas attractions include the famous Great Barrier Reef and the ancient Daintree Forest, and many more – forming an extensive list of must-do’s for any Australian holiday itinerary.

As with any holiday there some key considerations when planning your trip to Port Douglas. Read on for information on the best things to do in Port Douglas, detailed travel information and accommodation options.

port douglas beach view

Top 7 Things To Do In Port Douglas

A fabulous holiday destination and beautiful place to visit, Port Douglas has lots to see and do, and plenty of fun for all ages. The area is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream holiday location with national treasures such as The Great Barrier Reef and the lush Daintree Rain Forest right at your doorstep.

Wondering what to do while in Port Douglas? Take a look at our top 6 things to do! Want to make the most of the outdoor activities in Port Douglas? Taking a guided tour is a great way to enjoy these activities – you’ll see and learn so much more. And there’s nothing better than kicking back and letting someone else do the driving! Read on for the top things to do in Port Douglas.

1. Hug A Koala At Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas

This epic Australian Wildlife experience is perfect for those who want to hold a koala and hand feed a kangaroo. These are just two of the animals you will get to meet on your visit to the Wildlife Habitat at Port Douglas, others include pythons, crocodiles, wallabies and a selection of Australian birds all housed in natural settings. The facility also operates a wildlife conservation and rescue center.

port douglas wildlife habitat

2. Swing Through The Jungle With Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours

Enjoy a guided zip lining tour through the stunning Daintree Rainforest with the team at Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours. The ziplines range from 37-95 metres and offer spectacular views from heights of 7 to 16 metres up in the forest canopy. Work together as a team and conquer your fear of heights with this awesome off the beaten track attraction.

port douglas jungle swing

3. Go Snorkelling Or Diving At Low Isles

The sandy coral cay islands of Low Isles are located just 15 kilometres off shore from Port Douglas and are a great place to spend the day exploring this small section of the Great Barrier Reef. With two small islands to swim and snorkel between Low Isles and Woody Island – you will have plenty to explore (guided tours are the best way to experience the Low Isles). You will find beautiful coral reefs with a large variety of fish, molluscs, sea cucumbers and other sea creatures along with the odd turtle if you are lucky!

4. Spot Crocs In The Wild With Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures

Now this may not sound too child-friendly, but the folks at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures guarantee that their tours of Hartley’s Lagoon on their specially designed boats really is okay for people of all ages. There’s nothing quite like the sound of this ancient beast’s jaws snapping around its next meal – an experience you’ll never forget it and your kids will love it! The Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures complex is located just 25 minutes’ drive from Port Douglas and there are a number of other wildlife on site you are able to view.

port douglas crocodile

5. Visit Daintree Rainforest

Located on the northeast coast of Queensland, 1.5 hours drive from Port Douglas is the fantastic Daintree Rainforest. The oldest surviving tropical rainforest in the world, Daintree measures around 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) it is part of the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest on the Australian continent. Stop by the Daintree Discovery Centre for more information on visiting Daintree or see below for a more in-depth look at things to do at the Daintree Rainforest.

daintree rain forest day tour

6. Check Out The Beach In Port Douglas

Building sand castles or playing beach cricket on the perfectly soft white sands of Four Mile Beach will easily keep your family entertained for the majority of the day. When you have had enough sun and sand for the day wander through the rainforest on a 1 kilometre walking track linking Four Mile Beach and Rex Smeal Park and head on over to Macrossan Street and explore the cafes and boutique shops.

port douglas beach view

7. Go Go Great Barrier Reef

The famous Great Barrier Reef stretches along the coast of Queensland in north eastern Australia for a good 2,300 kilometres (1,500 miles). It is the largest living thing on Planet Earth – you can actually see it from outer space! This famous Reef is home to over 600 species of hard and soft coral and and let’s not forget the Reef’s countless breed of fish, turtles, dolphins and sharks. No wonder it is one of the most attractions in Australia. There are numerous guided tours and experiences to choose from to make the most of the Great Barrier Reef.

snorkel the great barrier reef from port douglas

Port Douglas To Daintree Rainforest – An In-Depth Look

The Daintree Rainforest is more than a just a quick trip which is why we have dedicated this extra block of text to discussing this great attraction in more detail – Daintree Rainforest really is a whole world of wonder ready for you to explore.

Daintree Discovery Centre

The Daintree Discovery Centre is the first stop for any travellers and will keep you and your kids busy for some time (check out their headsets explaining all the cool facts about the rainforest in a language they will understand).

Guided Tours Of Daintree Rainforest

Joining a guided tour to Daintree Rainforest can be the best way to take on the challenge of fitting in as much as you can in a day at a this amazing natural attraction. It can be a bit of a pain having to get up and ready for an early morning start (most tours will head off fairly early to get a good on the day as they cover so much in one day, that you really do need to start early).

Daintree guided day walk

Daintree Rainforest Tours from Port Douglas provide excellent local guides, transportation to and around parts of the rainforest and some added extras such as river cruises and guided walks as well as the ferry crossing that takes you across the Daintree River into the Daintree National Park. Some points of interest to look for in Daintree Rainforest Tours are:

Cape Tribulation

Departing the ferry, Cape Tribulation is a common starting point where there is a beautiful little beach. Further up the beach, there is a great lookout from which you are able to take some great photos.

Daintree Rainforest Tours from Port Douglas

River Cruises

Adding in a leisurely river cruise is also a common feature in many tours and can be the highlight of the tour for many. The gentle and peaceful ride gliding along the river provides a relaxing setting while the on-board commentary is interesting and informative. Learn about the importance of the Daintree’s ecosystem and its inhabitants – including the resident Aussie crocodiles – they will certainly get your attention.

The Daintree Rainforest Tours from Port Douglas - Daintree River Cruise

Crocodiles

These giant reptiles are quite prevalent in the borders of the Daintree Rainforest, and yes it can be a bit nerve racking to see them in their natural habitat. It really is incredible that these creatures actually survived the Dinosaur Age and still survive among the waters of the Daintree Rainforest. Look out ofr crocs sunning themselves on the river banks as you go.

Daintree Crocodile

Daintree Rainforest Walks

Walking on the forest floor on a guided rainforest walk is a great way to get in a bit of exercise and stretch the legs. You guide will likely explain about the different plants and trees of the forest and how they have adapted to flourish in the unique conditions of Daintree Forest.

The Daintree Rainforest Tours from Port Douglas - Daintree Forest Walk

Mossman Gorge

A visit to Mossman Gorge is a must, it is home to the Kuku Yalanji people who were the original inhabitants of the area. At this stage it is likely you will need to vacate your tour van and transfer to a larger bus with other tour groups. The reason for this transfer, is that the Kuku Yalanji people are employed as the bus drivers here. Don’t miss the panoramic view from the Alexandria Lookout. From here, on a good day you can see the whole spectrum of the Daintree Forest as far out as the Coral Sea.

Mossman Gorge

Important Travel Tips For Port Douglas

Port Douglas is a great base from which to explore the Northern Queensland region. It is only 67 kms north of Cairns and has a lovely village vibe to it. If you base yourself in central Port Douglas, you can walk anywhere. There is a wide variety of different types of accommodation, stylish restaurants and boutique shops – plan on staying for 3 to 4 nights for an optimal holiday time frame.

Port Douglas Weather Conditions

Port Douglas weather has two distinct seasons; a winter period of warm temperatures and low rainfall, generally the time between April and November, and the summer period with sticky humid temperatures and a much higher rainfall. See chart below for more detailed information or see here for the best time to visit Port Douglas.

port douglas weather chart

Getting Around

Most travellers to Port Douglas will arrive via domestic flights to Cairns Airport (approximately an hour’s drive from Port Douglas). From the airport you can use a coach transfer or a private transfer service to Port Douglas, or you could pick up a rental car at the airport terminal.

Insider tip; If you are staying in central in Port Douglas and taking guided tours for the majority of your trip you won’t need a car as everything, including the marina, is within walking distance and guided tours will pick you up from your accommodation.

shuttle and coach transfer australia
Private transfer service between Cairins and Port Douglas

Having the Cairns Airport nearby is a great bonus for visitors to Port Douglas, not only can your reach many other parts of Australia from Cairns, you can also get direct flights connections to Auckland in New Zealand.

Dining In Port Douglas

Well you can pretty much get your pick of cuisines in Port Douglas, from cafes, casual pizza outlets, to upmarket bistros and restaurants with a full service. Every taste is catered for and most of the restaurants are in the main strip with easy access.

Accommodation In Port Douglas

Thinking of travelling to tropical North Queensland in Australia? Take a look below at some of the great Port Douglas accommodation options. In fact, for tropical adventure, Port Douglas is the ideal place to base yourself – being a port village, most accommodation in Port Douglas is within walking distance to the marina.

The following recommendations are based on tried and tested places and are personally recommended by the team at Guest Australia. A handy hint from the locals is if you want to stay in Port Douglas, try and pick accommodation on the eastern side of town if you are looking for more peace and quiet.

Best Family Accommodation Options Port Douglas

Cayman Villas Port Douglas

Child-friendly accommodations, Cayman Villas provide rooms with a full kitchen and on-site playground facilities. They are also within walking distance of most facilities such as shops and places to eat as well as providing a bit of tranquility.

The Cayman Villas have 2 and 3 bedroom apartments – that are both spacious and stylish. This resort has three main buildings, each with three levels. If you have a lot of luggage be aware there is no elevator to the second and third floors. There is a heated swimming pool right in the middle of the complex.

Cayman Villas are a centrally located Port Douglas accommodation options

Peppers Beach Club Port Douglas

When it comes to presentation and general maintenance, Peppers ticks all the boxes. The pools are well maintained and beautiful, giving off a beach vibe. The Peppers complex has a bar, a grill restaurant and a gym and the ground floor rooms give direct access to the pools. Another bonus is their complementary guest parking and 24 hour reception.

Peppers Beach Club with family apartments close to town centre Port Douglas

Mandalay Beachfront Apartments

The Mandalay Apartments in Port Douglas are located only 100 metres from the Port Douglas beach. The resort has two pools, one of which is heated. The 1, 2 and 3 bedrooms apartments are spacious and modern. You’ll also be able to enjoy a game of tennis, guest BBQ and secure parking.

Mandalay Port Douglas accommodation option is a boutique apartment for family travellers

Mowbray By The Sea Port Douglas

This Port Douglas accommodation is very close to the beach and a mere 5-10 minute walk to the central village. Mowbray by the Sea caters well for both extended families and two couples travelling together. It has 3 levels and a heated lap pool, each apartment has its own balcony and full kitchen facilities.

Garrick House Port Douglas

Garrick House is on the good side of town in a quiet street lined with palm trees – adding to that beach vibe. The advantage of staying at Garrick House is that you’ll only be a few metres from the beautiful Four Mile Beach.

These apartments suit those on a limited budget with options including Studio, 1 and 2 bedroom apartments. The 2 bedroom apartments are on the third level and accessed by stairs. Garrick House has a small (currently) unheated pool and offers complimentary WiFi.

Garrick House has a great location close to Port Douglas beach

Best Couples Retreats Port Douglas

Shantara Resort Port Douglas

Shantara Resort is a privately owned dedicated adults-only apartment resort. It is within a short walking distance from the village, yet in a quiet and serene area. Shantara has three levels and 2 pools. However, it does not have a restaurant or bar. There is a separately owned award-winning Health and Spa in a separate part of the complex.

Shantara Interior Port Douglas is great for couples

Mai Tai Resort Mossman

For travellers seeking a totally different experience, the Mai Tai Resort ticks the box. Surrounded by native bush and situated within a nice rural area, Mai Tai is a lovely retreat. This property has strong Asian influences, and there are four individual rooms, each with their own spacious courtyard. Breakfast is served in a delightful setting on the veranda overlooking the bush. This is definitely an adult-only retreat offering tranquillity at a premium.

Mai Tai Resort Mossman is a couples retreat lodge

Best Boutique Hotel Port Douglas

Peninsula Boutique Hotel Port Douglas

The Port Douglas Peninsula Boutique Hotel is located next to the beautiful Port Douglas beach. The Peninsula has a breakfast buffet included in the daily rate which offers not only convenience but value for money. The majority of studio rooms at the Peninsula face the beach (except 4 pool view units). The studios are spacious and very comfortable.

Port Douglas Accommodation options

Best Eco Retreat Port Douglas

Thala Beach Nature Reserve Lodge

Looking for unbelievable views on a private headland between Cairns and Port Douglas, you might want to consider the jungle style chalets at Thala Beach Resort. The four deluxe eco-friendly chalets are sensitively positioned amongst the resort’s 145 acre property. The buffet breakfast at Thala Beach is top quality and dinner is also served on-site or there are some great dining choices within a 15 minute drive.

stunning views from cottage number 2 at Thala Beach resort

Best Luxury Accommodation Port Douglas

Silky Oaks Lodge Mossman

Silky Oaks is a luxury retreat set in the middle of the Daintree Rainforest, adjoining the Mossman River. Mossman is a 20- minute drive from Port Douglas or around 1.5 hours from Cairns. What you can expect from Silky Oaks is more of the premium honeymoon style experience. Each individual chalet sits in a private setting and come complete with polished wooden floors, stylish interiors and all the mod-cons – there is even a spa and health retreat on-site.

Silky Oaks Lodge near Mossman is a true luxury retreat lodge

Quick Port Douglas Travel Links

Want more information about traveling in Australia? Take a look at these quick links.


Need more inspiration? View some of the Guest Australia travel itineraries including Port Douglas here. Happy Travelling in the Port Douglas region!

Travel to Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand are close neighbours in the South Pacific. So it makes total sense to combine travel to Australia and New Zealand when you visit the ‘land down-under’. Of course, there are some key aspects with your travel planning that must be considered. For example you will need to think about the weather and the climate. Also timing and distances will play a large part in your itinerary. This blog provides an overview on how to best plan for a vacation to Australia and New Zealand combined.

travel to australia and new zealand travel combo map

Key Fact – Travel to Australia and New Zealand

Both Australia and New Zealand offer such a wide variety of landscapes and travel experiences. This is yet, another reason why a trip ‘down under’ is such an exciting prospect. Both countries are English-speaking and they share a common history. And another thing, in both countries, we drive on the ‘wrong side’ of the road! The seasons in the Southern Hemisphere are directly opposite to that of the Northern Hemisphere. So that means, summer is between November and March and winter is between June and September. Read more on key facts for Australia and New Zealand.

Kata Tjuta in ayers rock uluru
Kata Tjuta near Ayers Rock / Uluru

Seasons, climate & weather differences

Now here is a very important fact:- the climate & weather conditions Australia and New Zealand can be very different to each other! Australia is a huge continent. Even between the southern and northern coast of Australia, you will get a different climate. In fact, the best time to travel the Outback and the Northern parts of Australia is in their ‘winter’ season (between June and September). For the southern regions of Australia as well as for New Zealand the ‘summer’ season (Oct – April) is the best time to travel.

So the next question you probably have, is “when shall I travel to Australia and New Zealand as a combination holiday – what is the best month?” The answer is simple – either Sept to November or March/April until June. If you are really smart, you could spend the month of April in New Zealand first, then move on to Australia – this would work nicely. Otherwise, you could travel first to Australia in September, then to New Zealand in October. Read more on New Zealand weather conditions and clothing needed.

Australia Travel Checklist - australia climate map

Distances between key locations

Just because Australia is such a vast space and New Zealand is a tiny island nation, do not under estimate those distances, when it comes to driving! Reason? Travelling in Australia is different to New Zealand. For Australia you will use domestic flight between key locations and stay longer at one spot. For New Zealand, you will do more self-drive or use public transport such as coach, train or ferry services. Those transport options will take longer.

New Zealand’s road system is extremely good, however we do not have major arterial highways such as the case in other countries. You will have more country style roads, especially for the South Island. Therefore, on average, you don’t want to travel more than 300 kms per day. Travelling this kind of distance in New Zealand, will take you about 4-5 hours driving time. On windy days especially, this will be enough for you. And because the scenery is so gorgeous, you will have so many stops on the way. Read some more New Zealand self-driving travel blogs.

Milford Track Day Walk from Te Anau
Hiking on the Milford Track in the Fiordland National Park with Trip & Tramps.

Time you need to calculate on

If you intend to combine Australia and New Zealand in one trip, as an absolute minimum, you will need 14 days for each country. View a 2-weeks sample itinerary. Naturally the longer you have, the better your overall holiday experience will be. Afterall, you will be coming a long way for this holiday, and you need to make it worth your while.

Depending on your interests and the time of the year, you might want to have more time in New Zealand than in Australia. If you are especially into hiking, visiting New Zealand in March NZ would be a great time. After that, just take a short flight to Australia in April, to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef or see the ‘Galapagos of Australia’ – Kangaroo Island. Here is another itinerary sample for three weeks Australia and New Zealand. Please note, these sample itineraries can be amended to suit your interests, travel season and the time you have available.

12 day New Zealand kids vacation with Yellow Eyed Penguins
Yellow Eyed Penguin Tour with Elm Wildlife in Dunedin

How to best combine both countries

As mentioned before, Australia and New Zealand are close neighbours. There are quite a few international flights in between Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns with Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown. In that case, you might want to arrive in Sydney, move to the Great Barrier Reef, then on to Melbourne for a flight to Christchurch. Finish your Australia and New Zealand combo in Auckland. Fly back home from there.

melbourne flinders street

Key highlights Australia & New Zealand offer

As a destination, New Zealand offers an amazing array of landscapes and activities. Travellers are amazed at how fast our landscape changes within minutes – to rolling green pastures, over high country passes, then to beaches and rugged fjords.

Australia is famous for its Outback and endless coastlines. The waters here are crystal clear. Everyone has heard about the Great Barrier Reef or the Daintree Forest. The beauty of combining Australia with New Zealand, is the convenience of domestic flights. So with 2-3 nights stays in key locations, you will cover so much. There is certainly no need to travel thousands of kilometres through endless deserts. Believe me, this will take you months!

top 10 new zealand honeymoon things to do
Canopy Zipline Tour in Rotorua/ NZ

Summary on how to travel to Australia and New Zealand

When planning to travel both Australia and New Zealand, your key considerations are:

  1. getting your seasons right and being prepared for the climate
  2. make sure you give yourselves enough time – this is a special trip!
  3. travel both countries differently and focus on key locations.

If you stick to those 3 x key recommendations, you will have an amazing experience and holiday. Check out some those check lists as well.

Happy travelling to Australia and New Zealand!

Western Australia Highlights near Albany

There’s so much to love on the scenic drive to the Port City of Albany. This area is a part of Australia that has such a beautiful contrast of red soil and lush green bush land. For the next few days we’ll be experiencing Western Australia highlights near Albany.

After travelling through Augusta, Premberton and Denmark, we arrived at Albany. As the oldest settled city in Western Australia and has an incredibly rich history. But at this time of year, Albany is also famous for a spectacular event! In this whole area you can see the most giant migrating whales. However do keep in mind, that you only see Humpback and Southern Right Whales in late May to early October. So if you really want to see these wonderful creatures, try try to schedule your trip for that time.

We booked into the The Beach House at Bayside, a family-owned hotel with terrific hospitality and a great breakfast! What a difference a family-owned business can make.  We learned so much in the breakfast room. The host flitted around from table to table, passing on her local knowledge.  In fact, she gave us many handy hints on what to do.  In fact, a lot of what she advised, we didn’t know about.

At the time of our visit, the owners were building higher-end apartments just down the road. They should be well and truly completed by now. If B & B accommodation is not really your thing, these apartment would be a great option. Of course, they will be differently priced.

Western Australia Highlights near Albany – Whalers Station

The Whaler’s station is one of Western Australia highlights near Albany. In 1978, the last whale was taken at Albany in 1978. What remains, is an historical account of those times. What the Whaler Station does really well, is to give you an overview of the station’s history.  I would definitely recommend all visitors to choose the the guided tour.

Believe me, on this tour, you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck. We were surprised by how much clever technology was used. There’s a great 3-D presentation (glasses supplied). Three large oil tanks have been converted into small theatres. I have the say, the the actual film footage of this bleak period made quite an impact on us. We would pretty blown away by the display of whale skeletons. These are housed in a separate warehouse – up close, they’re an absolute showstoppers!

Western Australia Highlights near Albany – The Gap

Our next stop was at The Gap, located in the Torndirrip National Park, 10kms from Albany. The Gap is a a 24-metre drop to the sea and the Natural Bridge. It really is such a fantastic display of the Southern’s Ocean’s awesome drama. But a word of warning – do wrap up warmly, as it can be very cold.

There is a very safe platform. Here, you are allowed access access 40 metres directly above the foaming torrent below. How’s this for a sheer drop!

The Gap viewing shoe

I guarantee that you’ll find the powerful surge of water to be pretty awesome!

The Gap Albany

The scenery and rock formation is quite powerful and so dramatic. In fact, most people find the scenery quite beautiful.

National Anzac Centre

The National Anzac Centre is a state-of-the-art interpretative museum overlooking the King George Sound. For atmosphere alone, it is a must-do tour. Each visitor is provided with their own audio technology.  This means that you can just stroll around at your own pace.  It’s incredibly moving to hear the actual letters and diaries of these soldiers being read out. You’re very much aware that the mood is somber.  We were impressed with how all of these soldiers are given respect – no matter what side they fought on.

As you enter, there’s a continuous reel of real footage showing soldiers marching through a street. The sound of their boots is like a slow beating heart and it is quite haunting. We very quickly noticed that the lighting in this building is very subdued.  And although photos are encouraged, you cannot use the flash on your camera.  I guess this would interfere with the overall atmosphere.  I think the dimmer lighting allows the visitor the freedom to show their emotions. It is incredibly moving to read the personal diaries of soldiers who served during this time.

It was with sober heart that we left the National Anzac Centre. We times it perfect to head back into Albany.  The late afternoon sun was warm on our backs – the ideal opportunity for a refreshing beach walk.  What has been quite surprising, is how mild the winter is around these parts.

I have to say, it was a great way to end a sightseeing day.  You really can’t place enough value on getting the inside local knowledge.  We managed to see so much in one day!

View other travel blogs on the Western Australia region:

Happy travelling in Western Australia!

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