If you want to indulge in fine dining
In Australia, those in the (culinary) know will always head to hatted restaurants – that’s industry speak for F&B establishments that have been decorated with the Australian Good Food Guide’s Restaurant Chef Hat Awards – across major cities like Sydney and Melbourne for the ultimate fine dining experiences.
You may know: Tetsuya’s in Sydney for chef-owner Tetsuya Wakuda’s signature Japanese-French cooking style, presented in an elegant degustation menu that includes confit of Tasmania ocean trout and poached foie gras with chestnut mushrooms, mushroom broth and macadamia.
Melbourne regulars also know Attica for its modern and experimental take on indigenous food like crocodile ribs, emu liver parfait and cold-smoked apple juice.
But did you also know: Many regional destinations offer under-the-radar dining experiences that will give you just as many bragging rights.
Case in point: New South Wales’ Blue Mountains that are usually associated more with outdoor adventures than culinary ones. Restaurants here have something extra: they are typically housed in gorgeous heritage buildings and offer awesome panoramic views of verdant valleys.
Try these: Who would have thought that you could stumble upon award-winning restaurants in the Blue Mountains?
The Wintergarden Restaurant at The Hydro Majestic and Darley’s Restaurant are in the 2021 Blue Mountains Restaurant Awards, organised by the Australian Good Food Guide. At The Wintergarden Restaurant, order the confit quail, Riverina Angus striploin, oxtail ragout and regionally sourced cheese platters.
For a modern Australian meal, Darley’s Restaurant sources its fresh seasonal produce from within a 100-mile radius. The bonus: while you dine, your eyes feast on English-style gardens, open fireplaces and crystal chandeliers.
And if you like the Blue Mountains as your dining room backdrop, make a booking at Jamison Views Restaurant and tuck into its elegant fare of pan-seared scallops and crispy skin Tasmania salmon fillet.
Let’s explore the great outdoors – and throw in some exercise while we’re at it
Whether you love a multi-day, heart-pumping hike or a relaxing one-day walk, Australia is the place for you to get to know Mother Nature just a little better.
This is where you can sink your shoes (or bare feet) into white sandy beaches, trek along ancient river banks, breathe in beautiful coastlines or marvel at volcanic plateaus, rainforests and outback ranges.
You may know: Some of Australia’s most popular and well-known trails include the Fraser Island Great Walk near Brisbane, Queensland, and the Bibbulmun Track through the south-west of Western Australia.
But did you also know: One of the “newest” adventure walks is the five-day Scenic Rim Trail launched just last year.
Try this: Managed by Spicers Retreats, Hotels and Lodges, the Scenic Rim Trail is located predominantly in Tregony and starts off on private property, which you will get exclusive access to.
It takes you through more than 30,000 ha of forests and national parks including South-east Queensland’s Main Range National Park. Some of these were previously set upon only by Indigenous Australians and early pioneers.
Stay alert at this guided bushwalking destination to catch a glimpse of wallabies, koalas and the rare lyrebird in their natural habitats.
At the end of each day, you would have earned enough cred to relax in unique accommodation options, from the bushland Spicers Timber Getters Eco Cabins to the valley-view Spicers Hidden Vale (which has a farm, at that). There are also three small camping areas designated exclusively as Scenic Rim Trail camps for independent hikers who do not take up the guided walks.
If you love hipster cafes and bar hopping
Let’s be real: everyone makes a pit stop at a cafe or bar these days to snap shots of unusual dishes or décor (or both) for the ’gram.
Australia serves up the winning recipe for this #FOMO cause, thanks to the availability of seasonal fresh ingredients (which make for very camera-friendly plating) and establishments housed in stunning venues with views that will chalk up social media likes in seconds.
You may know: Melbourne is the mothership of artistically plated pancake and berry compote breakfasts made with the freshest locally sourced ingredients, fragrant cafes with in-house roasteries and Wes Anderson-type dessert bars that will have you checking your diet plans at the door.
But did you also know: Adelaide is now an up-and-coming destination for buzzy eats and drinks, small cosy bars and a mix of budget dining and high-end feasting.
The best thing? The melting pot of cultures in South Australia’s capital means that you can have a little of each cuisine, from Jewish to Vietnamese and Ethiopian.
Try these: If you have time for just one foodie stop in Adelaide, make it the all-in-one Adelaide Central Market. This always busy food hall has been around since 1870 and every year, it welcomes at least eight million visitors – most of whom are hungry foodies lapping up the artisan produce sold by grocers here.
Not cooking? No problem: the many cafes and bakeries – some have been around for decades – will whet your appetite with anything from falafel pita sandwiches and Sarawak laksa to naan and sweet potato doughnuts. Chances are, you’ll be packing yummy souvenirs, too, such as dried fruit, fair trade coffee and boiled fish lollies.
At night, head over to the relatively newly established, neighbouring nightlife precincts like Peel Street and Leigh Street. Here, find art-déco cocktail bar Maybe Mae with its list of intriguingly named drinks like Pandan Papi and Boomer Things, and Pink Moon Saloon which offers drinks-appropriate popcorn… on the house.
For a holiday by the waters
If you still aren’t convinced that Australia is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches (and reefs and islands), take it from Hollywood celeb and Aussie native Chris Hemsworth who says that “there is nothing better than waking up and jumping straight into the salty water, going for a surf with the family…”.
But did you also know: Broome, a 150-minute flight from Perth, boasts 22km of coastline along Cable Beach as well as a bounty of precious South Sea pearls. If you are in Canberra, the beautifully named Sapphire Coast in New South Wales, known for its oysters, is three hours away.
Try these: In Broome, look out for 130 million-year-old dinosaur footprints on ancient rocky reefs, try a camel ride along the beach at sunset and visit a pearl farm. You may also want to time your visit between March and October to catch the Staircase to the Moon natural phenomenon which occurs when a full moon rises over the exposed tidal flats of Roebuck Bay, creating the illusion of a stairway reaching to the moon.
Over by the Sapphire Coast, take up kayaking, surfing or stand-up paddleboarding. There’s also a lot to do if you aren’t into water sports. For instance, spot penguins and seals from Tathra Wharf, join a whale watching tour in Eden or hang around the museums and galleries in the town centre of Bega that is also famous for cheese and other dairy products.
If you love visiting vineyards
It’s been said that there are more than 2,000 wineries and 65 wine-growing regions across Australia. This means that at any one time in your adult life, you would have sipped a glass of Australian wine.
You may know: Western Australia’s Margaret River region is said to be responsible for 20 per cent of Australia’s premium wine production, and that the neighbouring Swan Valley is the area’s oldest wine region with its more than 40 wineries.
Singaporean travellers to Perth, the Australian city nearest to the Lion City, always plan a day (or two) out to these wine regions to learn about winemaking and pairing.
Try these: To get your gin fix, pop by Melbourne for its variety of speakeasies. Lily Blacks, Gin Palace and The Everleigh, for example, are styled like old-world establishments reminiscent of the Gold Rush era that began in 1851. And, if you drive an hour away from the city to Yarra Valley, Four Pillars Gin will reward you with its award-winning distilled gin that’s said to be the world’s best.
In Tasmania’s Hobart, Lark Distillery has been producing malt whisky since 1992 and has more than 150 types as proof of its lineage.
And located in the rugged wilderness of the Tasman Peninsula, McHenry Distillery is Australia’s southernmost whisky distillery. Here, you’ll find some of the world’s purest air. The crisp air combined with the property’s fresh water spring produces a range of smooth, uniquely Australian spirits.
You can visit the cellar door seven days a week for a taste of their pure Tasmanian gin and whisky. Don’t miss the Sloe Gin, crafted using berries foraged from the hedgerows around northern Tasmania.
For an even more adventurous tipple, Tamborine Mountain Distillery, an hour due south of Brisbane, is located on a mountain so a day trip is recommended. It concocts boutique spirits with Australian native ingredients so expect apricot schnapps and even eucalyptus gum leaf vodka.
Then at Bundaberg Rum in Queensland, which has been in business since 1888, you can have fun blending your own rum.
Get up close and personal with wildlife
Some animals are so closely associated with Australia that they have become unofficial ambassadors for the country. We’re talking koalas and kangaroos, but Australia is also home to many more species of wildlife animals like wombats, quokkas, saltwater crocodiles, whales, penguins and… 56 types of parrots!
You may know: Some of the best locations to see Australian wildlife in, well, the wild include Phillip Island for the iconic Penguin Parade, Kangaroo Island for – you guessed it – roos and Rottnest Island for its smiley resident quokkas.
But did you also know: Other states across Australia have a lot more wildlife spotting opportunities.
Try these: The platypus is a duck-billed mammal native to Australia and you will see a lot of them in Bombala, New South Wales. The area is even dubbed “Platypus Country”. Visit in the early mornings or late afternoons when these amphibians pop out of the water.
If crocodiles are your thing, Darwin in the Northern Territory will not disappoint as it is home to many species of what are the world’s largest reptiles.
Drive 15 minutes out of Darwin and meet more than a thousand crocs at the Crocodylus Park which also offers feeding tours and lets you hold a baby crocodile. There are other animal residents here too: think kangaroos, water buffalo, iguanas and snakes.
Your young ones will also love a day out at the Crocosaurus Cove with its underwater viewing opportunities. If you dare, get into the Cage of Death and “swim” with these majestic reptile creatures. Don’t worry, you will be safely tucked away in a Perspex enclosure.
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