Backpacker Essentials April 2014
In this issue... discover the water, wineries and wildlife of New South Wales' golden triangle; lace up your walking shoes for a wander through some of New Zealand's most beautiful scenery; take better travel pics with our photography tips from the experts; and delve into the delights of South West WA. If you're keen to visit Europe there are some incredible new YHAs on offer. Closer to home, you can snap up a last-minute Easter special, plan ahead for a mid-year break, and take advantage of a cracking calendar of events.
INSIDE BACKPACKER / ESSENTIALS AUSTRALIA/NZ SKI SEASON 2014 Shutterstock u 3 EUROPE CALLING GLOBAL u The glorious Soča River and Julian Alps Shutterstock 8 GETAWAYS CITY BREAKS u 17 WILD WALKS NZ TOP TRAILS u 21 GOLDEN TRIANGLE NSW WATER, WINE & WILDLIFE ON THE LEGENDARY PACIFIC COAST VOL 18 / No 2 APRIL 2014 ◆ MANAGING EDITOR Janet McGarry DEPUTY EDITOR Elinor Sheargold NEW ZEALAND EDITOR Brindi Joy YHA CONTRIBUTORS Melinda Scott Rachel Seymour Tanya Heuke Francois LaJoie 13 Backpacker Essentials is the member magazine for YHA Australia. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Association. No material may be reproduced without prior permission from the editor. All travel prices are subject to change and conditions apply. All hostel prices are YHA member rates and are subject to change. © YHA Australia ISSN 1328-6749. ®YHA Australia, Hostelling International and YHA house and tree logos are Registered Trademarks of YHA Australia Inc., PO Box A2462, Sydney South NSW 1235 ART DIRECTOR Dan Morley GRAPHIC DESIGN Elinor Sheargold Nicolas Chua EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES The Editor, Backpacker Essentials, GPO Box 5276, Sydney NSW 2001. T: +61 2 9261 1111 F: +61 2 9261 1969 E: backpackeressentials@ yha.com.au Cover: Julian Apse TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY SHOOT N' RUN 26 u SOUTHWEST WA MADE FOR TOURING u 32 The glorious Soča River and Julian Alps Shutterstock AUSTRALIA/NZ EVENTS WHAT'S ON u 38 AUSTRALIA/ NZ NOW OPEN / NEWS / YOUR SAY Samot Shutterstock HAVE THE SOCHI WINTER OLYMPICS GOT YOU THINKING ABOUT A SNOW HOLIDAY CLOSER TO HOME? Whether you’re looking to hit the slopes skiing, snowboarding, snow shoeing or prefer to snowcialise offpiste, there’s no better time to book YHA’s ski season hostels in Australia and New Zealand for a cosy (but not costly) white winter break. N O S A E S S KI 2014 T R A T S O T E M I T IT'S T U O B A G N I K N I H T Click here for Thredbo YHA Click here for New Zealand snow hostels A.H. Reed Memorial Kauri Park Tourism NZ Whale Beach, Whangarei Tourism NZ Check out YHA NZ's new video / NOW OPEN WHANGAREI, NEW ZEALAND New Zealand has said Kia Ora to a new hostel in the North Islandâ€™s aquatic playground, Whangarei. YHA Whangarei Falls Holiday Park provides an ideal base for exploring the hundreds of beaches, pristine harbours and off-shore islands surrounding Whangarei and the beautiful Northland. Photogenic Whangarei Falls, the glow worms of Abbey Caves, and A.H. Reed Memorial Kauri Parkâ€™s Canopy Walk are a short walk away. Or, you can book a range of coastal adventures such as horse riding, kayaking, sub-tropical diving, snorkelling and cruises at the hostel reception. For something a bit different, the Waimahanga Walkway to the South East offers an easy two hour walk along an old railway embankment and through mangrove swamps. Set amongst tree-lined gardens, the friendly, familyrun backpackers offers a variety of room options including four or 10-share rooms, as well as private cabins with or without kitchenettes. Harvest some herbs from the hostel garden and treat yourself to a BBQ, or finish off the day with a dip in the swimming pool or a relaxing soak in the hot tub. Guests who miss their pets are welcome to walk the family Cocker Spaniel, Monty, who is now spoilt from all the attention. YHA WHANGAREI u u email@example.com yha.co.nz BOOK NOW / NEWS WIN 10 NIGHTS IN NEW ZEALAND To celebrate the launch of its new Your YHA online social hub, YHA New Zealand is offering the chance to win 10 nights multi-share or five nights for two people (if you want to bring a friend) in your favourite kiwi YHA.* The social.yha.co.nz site encourages travellers past, present and potential to share their stories, questions, photos and more about the Land of the Long White Cloud. This online community for all things YHA and New Zealand will also host regular photo and video competitions, starting with the incredible draw above. How do you enter? Hop on over to the Your YHA site and start sharing your photos immediately, or upload your pics to Instagram, Flickr, Twitter, Google+ or Facebook and tag them with #myYHA. Competition closes 30 April 2014. Check it out at social.yha.co.nz SYDNEY YHA AMONG LONELY PLANET’S BEST Sydney Harbour YHA has secured second place in Lonely Planet’s first ever collection of best value places to stay in the world. In fact, YHA and its global Hostelling International network clocked up five of the Top 10 Best Value Stays for 2014, with the top four recommended stays and HI Brazil’s new Sao Paulo hostel (look out for it in the June issue of Backpacker Essentials) coming in at number eight. Click here for the full story. Take advantage of Sydney Harbour YHA’s City Break deal to see why this Sydney hostel makes the grade. *participating hostels ANZAC DAY 2014 Wherever you are in Australia or New Zealand, experience the emotion of this annual event which remembers Australian and Kiwi war veterans on 25 April. Significantly, 2014 marks the 100th Anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. You won't forget a candle-lit dawn service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Take advantage of Canberra City YHA’s Autumn Break package including two nights’ multi-share or double/twin accommodation, daily breakfast, unlimited WiFi, and 1-day bike hire to help you check out all the attractions of the Australian capital - many of them are free. / YOUR SAY SYDNEY CENTRAL YHA u +61 2 9281 9000 u firstname.lastname@example.org u yha.com.au HOT DEALS NOMINATED BY TYRELL LOOS, VIC My wife and I travelled from Melbourne to Sydney by train, staying at Sydney Central YHA. The hostel location is excellent being next door to the station. The staff were friendly and the facilities great to knock up a quick meal at the end of a big day of sightseeing at all the nearby attractions that Sydney has to offer. I can’t see myself staying anywhere else when in Sydney! WIN! Got a place to nominate? Want to win a great travel prize? Tyrell will be receiving a $100 voucher from Kathmandu. Visit kathmandu.com.au. Tell us your favourite YHA (in less than 100 words) and send it, with your contact details, to email@example.com PERTH GOES SOLAR Perth City YHA has launched a large-scale solar project with assistance from YHA Australia's Sustainable Hostels Fund. The new system, made up of 145 solar panels on the hostel’s rooftop, will save about 14% of the hostel’s annual energy consumption – a CO2 reduction of approximately 42 tons per year. Guests will be able to see exactly how much electricity is being generated by the renewal energy source via a live display at reception. The expected AU$15,000 in savings generated by the new solar system will be re-invested in projects to increase the hostel’s energy efficiency, including installing LED lights. YHA’s Sustainable Hostel Fund is funded by voluntary contributions from guests booking on yha. com.au. The fund contributes to sustainability projects at YHA properties around Australia, with YHA matching all contributions. In recent years, the fund has supported sustainability projects in locations from Adelaide and Alice Springs to Byron Bay and Perth. Find out more at yha.com.au YOUR YHA YHA NEWS FOR MEMBERS IN AUSTRALIA STRATEGIC PLAN YHA has a Board of Directors, elected by members, who volunteer their services to oversee the organisation’s strategic direction. Last year, YHA marked a milestone in its history in Australia when Board members and senior management from around the country met for a two-day National Strategic Planning Conference, to plan for the future. The conference was held in Alice Springs, symbolically at the geographic centre of YHA’s hostel network. An international perspective was added by the presence of the CEOs of YHA NZ and HI-Canada (Pacific Mountain Region). A major outcome of the conference was the drafting of a new Strategic Plan to guide YHA from 2014-2018, drawing on the major themes of brand, network development, growth and governance. The Strategic Plan outlines YHA’s core values of: • Environmentally friendly • Safe and reliable • Honest and trustworthy • Loyalty • Value for money • Experience. The Strategic Plan also encompasses a range of critical success factors designed to focus the organisation and ensure that it remains a market leader well into the future. AUSTRALIAN TOURISM LEGEND YHA and members are celebrating the commitment of Julian Ledger, CEO of YHA Ltd, who has clocked up a total of thirty-five year’s service to YHA since starting with the organisation in WA in 1979. Julian was also recently acknowledged by the broader tourism industry for his leadership and vision, when he was awarded both state and national tourism awards for ‘Outstanding contribution by an individual.’ Congratulations, Julian. SMALL HOSTELS DEVELOPMENT FUND A Small YHA Hostels Development Fund has been established that welcomes donations and bequests from members for developments at smaller hostels. Over 120 YHA members have donated to this fund in recent months, and the fund currently has nearly AU$210,000 earmarked for projects at small hostels. This year, to celebrate YHA’s 75th anniversary year, YHA is seeking extra donations from members towards the fund, and will match members’ contributions to it. If you would like to contribute to this important scheme, please phone +61 2 9261 1111 or find out more at yha.com.au NEW PRESIDENT OF YHA LTD YHA is proud to announce that the new President (a ceremonial, voluntary role) of YHA Ltd is James Bruce Tomkins, OAM. James is an Australian rower, seven-time World Champion and three-time Olympic gold medallist. He is Australia’s most awarded oarsman, having made appearances at six Olympic Games, including being Australia’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. James is highly regarded as Australia’s greatest living rower, and in 2012 was elected to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athletes’ Commission, to serve for eight years. An avid traveller and father of three, James was also announced as the 2008 Victorian Father of the Year by the Father’s Day Council of Victoria. GLOBAL NOW OPEN / TOUR OF DUTY / EASTER OVERSEAS EUROPE CALLI NG FROM SLOVENIA TO SARAJEVO, BELGIUM TO BUDAPEST, WE TAKE A LOOK AT YHA'S HOTTEST NEW HOSTELS Slovenia's Soča River near Bovec Slovenian Tourist Board /NOW OPEN Images: Shutterstock, Soča Rafting d.o.o BOVEC, SLOVENIA Surrounded by the soaring peaks of Slovenia’s Julian Alps and Triglav National Park, picturesque alpine valleys, curvaceous gorges and the impossibly aqua-clear waters of the Soča River, Bovec is Slovenia’s de facto adventure capital. It’s also home to the new Hostel Bovec, located in a renovated 150 year-old house, just five minutes walk from the town square. Facilities range from a well-equipped kitchen, big bathrooms, and a cosy common room with fireplace and TV, to free WiFi throughout, bike and ski gear storage, a big sunny terrace and small garden for lazy summer evenings enjoying tasty traditional food and a drop of Slovenian wine. The 50-bed hostel offers guests comfortable multi-share rooms and warm welcoming breakfasts to help kick-start an action-packed day rafting, kayaking, canyoning, zip-lining or paragliding in and above the region’s beautiful landscape. There are sign-posted trails for mountain biking and hiking in the National Park, while winter turns to snow sports at the country’s highest ski resort, Mt Kanin. Take the cable car up the mountain for views stretching to Italy and the Adriatic Sea. YHA/HI members save 15% on Soča Rafting's kayak, rafting, canyoning, and hydrospeed activities. Save 10% on ziplining. BOOK NOW HOSTEL BOVEC u u firstname.lastname@example.org hihostels.com.au /NOW OPEN Shutterstock BUDAPEST, HUNGARY Step inside Casa de la Musica and you’ll find a modern hostel with bright, spacious dorms, doubles and twin rooms surrounding a colourful courtyard. The courtyard, which boasts a paddling pool in summer, is a favourite with guests and there’s plenty more to attract travellers with the Casa’s added extras ranging from free WiFi, kitchen, TV and lounge, to ground-floor cafe, dance classes upstairs, and a basement bar that hosts regular live bands. Located in Budpest’s central 8th district, known for some of the best nightlife, pubs and restaurants in town, the hostel is minutes from transport and many of the must-see sights. Ask the hostel’s tour desk about free walking tours which bring the city’s history, architecture, legends, daily life and hidden treasures to life and to light. For something more adventurous try caving in the natural caves under the city, kayak or cycle along the Danube River, visit Buda Castle and get lost in its labyrinth after wine tasting in the Royal Cellars, then soak in the famous thermal baths. SARAJEVO, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA Catapulted onto the world stage 100 years ago as the site of the assassination that set off WWI, and again during the intense Balkans conflict of the early 90s, Sarajevo’s cafe-lined streets are once again full of life and ripe for exploring. Subtle reminders of the 1992-1995 siege are everywhere, and Sniper Alley, the History and Tunnel Museums are high on most travellers’ lists. But today Sarajevo has embraced its multiculturalism, with mosques, cathedrals and synagogues sitting graciously side by side, a hip nightlife scene, fascinating museums and historic attractions that shed light on this city that has been at the crossroads of East and West for centuries. Hostel Ferijalac makes an ideal base to explore this appealing city, especially if you join the hostel’s free city tours. Guests are greeted with real Bosnian coffee from the 24-hour reception, and can enjoy free WiFi/ internet, cable TV, parking, and a range of double/twin, triple and 5-6 share rooms, all with private bathrooms. The outdoor terrace offers panoramic views across Sarajevo’s forested hills, while the Old Town Baščaršija, shopping bazaars, river, bus and train stations are all within walking distance. BOOK NOW u u BOOK NOW CASA DE LA MUSICA u u FERIJALAC HOSTEL email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org hihostels.com.au casadelamusicahostel.com /NOW OPEN OSTEND, BELGIUM The seaside resort of Ostend is a favourite with Belgians, drawn to this “City by the Sea” by its miles of sandy beaches, sprawling seafront, and mix of delicious fresh foods and inviting cultural scene. Travellers can now get in on the act, with the brand new Hostel De Ploate opening in the city centre, close to the beach, port and train station. This sustainablydesigned hostel boasts 49 double/twin, triple and 4-share ensuite rooms, and doesn’t skimp on facilities. Guests can choose from the onsite restaurant, hip bar, or backpackers kitchen, plus free WiFi, a lounge area, and bike and luggage storage. A stroll, cycle or buggy along the seaside promenade is a must, as are historic treasures such as the former navy vessel Mercator, nearby Flanders Fields, or Fort Napoleon. The lively Fisherman’s Quay serves up sumptuous seafood, and no trip to Belgium is complete without sampling its famous beer, chocolate and waffles. But it’s Ostend’s seaside scenery that you’ll keep coming back to, so why not brave a dip in North Sea, or keep your feet dry on the world’s longest single tramline that runs along the scenic coast. BOOK NOW HOSTEL DE PLOATE u u email@example.com hihostels.com.au /WAR TOURISM TOUR OF DUTY In August 2014, the world will mark the 100th Anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. Slovenia, Bosnia and Belgium were all touched by the war, from the intense fighting of the Soča Front (inspiration for Hemmingway’s A Farewell to Arms), and the assassination that led to the declaration of war, to the hallowed battlefields of the Somme. You may never get to the beaches of Gallipoli or Normandy, walk the Thai-Burma Railway, or be in London on Remembrance Day, but it’s likely that at some stage in your travels you will visit places connected to conflict, whether it be an ancient battlefield, a cemetery or the site of war atrocities. At some there will be museums and guided tours, others will be deserted spots only visited occasionally. It’s unlikely you will leave any of them untouched by thoughts or memories. Lonely Planet Images / EVENTS Pecold Shutterstock USA Head to Fifth Avenue in New York for the traditional Easter Sunday parade and marvel at the mad costumes, or hobnob with the President and First Family who host the annual Easter Egg Roll, egg hunt, music and amusements on the White House’s South Lawn. Stay at HI New York City or HI Washington DC ITALY Florence's 'Explosion of the Cart' dates from the 17th Century EASTER AROUND THE WORLD Discover more to Easter than chocolate and bunny rabbits with these traditional celebrations overseas. SPAIN Processions are popular in Spain, where Seville sees elaborate floats, torch-lit processions in pointy-hooded robes, and bonfire burning Judas Dolls take to its streets. In the medieval village of Verges, locals dress in skeleton costumes to re-enact scenes from The Passion in the socalled “Dansa de la Mort”. Stay at Inturjoven Seville or L'Escala's Empuries Hostel While Rome turns out for Sunday Mass with the Pope, Florence opts for pyrotechnic spectacular. An elaborate three-storey cart is pulled through the streets by oxen, accompanied by drummers and dress-ups, to the famous Duomo, The firework-laden cart is then set alight by a dove-shaped rocket for the "Explosion of the Cart". Stay at Villa Camerata Florence GREECE Have a smashing time with the locals on the gorgeous Greek Island of Corfu where palm processions, feasting and the raucous Breaking of the Jars, where people throw pots, pans and pottery out their windows. Just be sure to watch your step. Stay at Corfu Travelers Inn EASTERN EUROPE Ladies watch out if you’re travelling to the Czech Republic or Slovakia, here the favourite Easter Monday tradition involves men “spanking” women with homemade willow and ribbon “whips”. It’s all in good fun and stems from the belief that the willow tree’s vitality and fertility will rub off on the willing women. In some regions, the women get their revenge by pouring buckets of cold water on the men. This refreshing tradition has turned into an all-day water fight in Poland, where Śmigus-Dyngus or Wet Monday sees boys try to drench each other with buckets and water guns. In Hungary, the men are at it again, playfully “sprinkling” women with water, perfume (or perfumed water) in return for a kiss. There are YHA hostels in all these European countries SOUTHERN FRANCE Pack a bib, a fork, and an appetite, and head to the southern French town of Haux, near Bordeaux, which serves up a giant omelette every Easter Monday in the town’s main square. The 4,500+ egg omelette feeds up to 1,000 people. Stay at Hostel Blanquefort NEWS PART FEATURE / THE Legendar� TWO PACIFIC COAST DAVID WHITLEY DISCOVERED A MAGIC COMBINATION OF WINE QUAFFING, URBAN BROWSING AND ANIMAL SPOTTING ON PART OF THE LEGENDARY PACIFIC COAST OF NSW. TRIANGLE ◆ Legendary The Newcastle’s Ocean Baths. MARK IS FULL of reassurance. “If you hear footsteps and grunting noises on the roof at 3am,” he says. “Don’t worry. It’s not monsters – we got rid of all of them.” The Port Stephens YHA is on the cusp of the Tomaree National Park, one of the best places in Australia for spotting wild koalas. Some of them, it appears, have a fuzzy sense of the National Park boundaries. But these aren’t the critters that most visitors come to Port Stephens to see. Geography has done the area an almighty favour, creating a large, secluded estuary where bottlenose dolphins can hang out without having to battle raging swells. Hundreds live in the area, and as the Moonshadow V approaches the northern headland, the cry goes up. The pod we encounter is swimming west at high speed – the boat struggles to keep up. But soon they start riding along with the wake, gracefully leaping in and out of the water as if aiming for perfect synchronisation. Some dip under the boat and return on the other side, playing tricks on the camera-toting passengers. Port Stephens is a logical first stop if trying to turn the southern stretches of The Legendary Pacific Coast Touring Route into a long weekend road trip from Sydney. Combined with Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, it makes an easy loop circuit. But before Newcastle comes the remarkable Sahara-esque Worimi Conservation Lands. These dunes – the largest moving sand mass in the southern hemisphere – stretch for miles alongside Stockton Bight. They’re a big favourite with quad bikers, but for anyone wanting to get sand absolutely everywhere, grabbing a board is the way forward. Port Stephens 4WD tours runs sandboarding trips, and it quickly becomes apparent that the most energy is expended trekking up to the top of the dune. Once there, it’s a case of sitting on the board, with fingers trailing in the sand behind you as a largely hopeless braking and steering mechanism. Speed picks up fast as the makeshift sledge careers downwards. If you’re lucky, it glides to a dignified halt at the bottom. Sand boarding If not, it’s a case of either bailing off or face-planting to the sound of on Stockton raucous laughter from everyone else present. sand dunes. Shutterstock READ PART 1 OF THE LEGENDARY PACIFIC COAST SERIES HERE Clockwise from top: View from Tomaree Head lookout, Port Stephens; Nobby's Lighthouse, Newcastle; Newcastle Ocean Baths. Newcastle itself comes as a surprise. The heavy industry is still there, but the last couple of decades have transformed the foreshore of the Hunter River. You’d be hard-pushed to find a more blissful day in an Australian city than strolling along said foreshore, flitting between museums, parks and brewhouses, then continuing up the coast. The city does a fine line in beaches, but it’s the pools between them that weave a magic spell. The Newcastle Ocean Baths are a giant art deco people-watching arena, while the convict-dug Bogey Hole ups the thrill factor by having the surf smash into it, drenching anyone foolish enough to stand on the side. Seemingly equally foolish is self-driving in wine country – and that’s why many companies run wine tours around the Hunter Valley. But played smart, driving can be the way to expand your horizons. Dropping by at the tourist information centre on the way in works wonderfully – their printed guides have maps of the wineries, stating which ones do which varietals and staff will direct you to smaller cellar doors that are more likely to cater for your tastes. I tend to like big, fighty reds, so I’m pointed in the direction of Piggs Peake – a backroad winery that doesn’t serve tour groups. Most of its business is done via a membership club – meaning you’re unlikely to see the wines in a supermarket. And the free samples reveal themselves to be the meaty, feisty monsters I whole-heartedly love. The limitations of self-drive sampling can turn into strengths. Staying under the drink-drive limit involves forcing you to ask questions Shutterstock NEWS HUNTER AUTUMN SPECIAL There are great options for short stays at Hunter Valley YHA with a wine tour, or a family package including a visit to the Hunter Valley Zoo. Book online Shane Lenard THINGS TO DO Port Stephens: A dolphin cruise and sandboarding combo in Port Stephens can be booked through Moonshadow, costing $39.50 for YHA members. Hunter Valley: Full and half day wine tours can be booked through the YHA. Or rent a bike for $20 a day and make your own way around the wineries. Clockwise from above: A kangaroo grazes on grass amongst the vines; explore the vineyards by bike; vineyards for miles at one of the Hunter's many vantage points. Destination N SW WHERE TO STAY HUNTER VALLEY YHA ◆ (+612) 4991 3278 ◆ firstname.lastname@example.org ◆ yha.com.au BOOK NOW NEWCASTLE YHA ◆ (+612) 4925 3544 ◆ Newcastle@yha.com.au Shutterstock ◆ yha.com.au PORT STEPHENS YHA ◆ (+612) 4982 1921 ◆ portstephens_samurai@yha. com.au ◆ yha.com.au about which wines you’re most likely to enjoy and narrow down the number of samples to the ones cellar door staff particularly recommend. Not being in a group leads to a much more personalised service – and, if you ask nicely, further recommendations for other wineries that may fit the bill. It starts becoming a treasure trail – Adina also does olive tasting, there’s excellent cheese to try next to the big McGuigan cellar, Peterson’s does rare-for-the-Hunter Zinfandels. In the morning before heading back to Sydney, I pop into Kevin Sobel’s on Broke Road for a sneaky final tasting session. As an unusually sweet, fruity verdelho is poured, out walks Archie. He’s the winery’s resident St Bernard, ever-ready for a good fussing. The road trip ends as it begins – with a heart-warmingly unexpected wildlife encounter. YHA GETAWAYS DEALS YHA DEALS IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND All images: Shutterstock MELBOURNE CITY BREAK u SYDNEY CITY BREAK u ADELAIDE CITY BREAK u 3 nights at Melbourne Metro YHA 3 continental breakfasts 3 nights at Sydney Harbour YHA Daily breakfast (continental, fresh start, or DIY cooked) 1 dinner at Australian Hotel - small pizza or salad + drink 3 nights at Adelaide Central YHA Daily breakfast (continental or DIY cooked) 3 day Adelaide Metro Pass (unlimited bus/train/tram) u u u u A Myki card with value for one day on all public transport From AU$120 per person multi-share, $300 per double/ twin room. Valid to 30 September 2014. u u From AU$150 per person 4-share ensuite, $432 per double/twin room. Valid to 30 September 2014. From AU$121.50 per person multi-share, $303 per double/ twin room. Valid to 30 September 2014. BOOK NOW MELBOURNE METRO YHA u u BOOK NOW SYDNEY HARBOUR YHA u u BOOK NOW ADELAIDE CENTRAL YHA u u +64 3 9329 8599 email@example.com +64 2 8272 0900 firstname.lastname@example.org +64 8 8414 3010 email@example.com CAIRNS 5TH NIGHT FREE Escape the cooler weather by heading to tropical North Queensland. Whether you’re after a day on the water in the Great Barrier Reef, a trip to the wilds (and wildlife) of the ancient Daintree Rainforest, a night on the town after a day of adrenaline sports, or simply want to relax poolside with a good book, Cairns has something for everyone. Take the break you deserve and stay five nights for the price of 4. Priced from AU$108 per person multi-share. Valid to 30 April 2014. on-board fee). BOOK QUEENSTOWN ADRENALINE Satisfy your inner adrenaline junkie with these heart-pounding jet boat and canyon swing deals in New Zealand’s uncontested adventure capital. Choose from: DEAL 1 u u u u u 2 nights’ multi-share accommodation at YHA Queenstown Central or YHA Queenstown Lakefront Shotover Jet ride Transport to Shotover Jet from The Station Free digital photo or $20 off photo pack Free WiFi on site at Shotover Jet Priced from NZ$181 per person multi-share at YHA Queenstown Lakefront and from $197 at YHA Queenstown Central. Valid to 30 September 2014. DEAL 2 u u u u u NOW 2 nights’ multi-share accommodation at YHA Queenstown Central or YHA Queenstown Lakefront Shotover Jet ride and Canyon Swing Transport to Shotover Jet from The Station Transport to Shotover Canyon Swing for you and a friend Free WiFi on site at Shotover Jet CAIRNS CENTRAL YHA u u +61 7 4051 0772 firstname.lastname@example.org Priced from NZ$383 per person multi-share at YHA Queenstown Lakefront and from $393 at YHA Queenstown Central. Valid to 30 September 2014. YHA QUEENSTOWN CENTRAL YHA QUEENSTOWN LAKEFRONT BOOK NOW Tourism QLD Shotover Jet Tourism Victoria CLIMB THE GRAMPIANS Take your holidays to new heights in Victoria's Grampians with an exhilarating rock climbing or abseiling adventure to take in the region’s incredible views. From beginners to advanced, everyone can have a go. Package includes: u u AIRLIE BEACH STAY 3, PAY 2 Escape to paradise with an affordable getaway staying in the heart of Airlie Beach. Book three nights in a double, twin or 5-bed family room at Airlie Beach YHA and pay for only two nights, giving you more to spend on exploring the beautiful Whitsunday Islands. Priced from AU$147 for two people in a double or twin room, and $234 for a 5-bed family room. Conditions apply. Valid to 31 May 2014. 3 nights in a 4-share room at Grampians Eco YHA 3 hour rock climbing or abseiling adventure with Absolute Outdoors. Priced from AU$119.50 per person. Conditions apply. Valid to 30 June 2014. Excludes Easter, ANZAC Day and June long weekends. GRAMPIANS ECO YHA u u BOOK NOW AIRLIE BEACH YHA u u BOOK NOW +64 3 5356 4544 email@example.com +61 7 4946 6312 firstname.lastname@example.org Say Kia Ora to Rotorua, New Zealand’s Maori culture and geothermal capital. Glimpse into the lives of the early Maori at Tamaki Maori Village where you’ll be treated to an evening of ceremonial ritual, cultural performances, storytelling and a mouth-watering traditional hangi feast. Then soak at your leisure in the Polynesian Spa’s seven mineral hot springs while overlooking Lake Rotorua. Package includes: u u u 1 night’s accommodation at YHA Rotorua Three hour Tamaki Maori Village cultural evening (including transport) Adult entry to Polynesian Spa (15 minute walk from YHA Rotorua) for unlimited duration BOOK NOW YHA ROTORUA u u Priced from NZ$124.20 per person multi-share or $270.40 for 2 people in private ensuite room. Exclusive to YHA members. Valid to 30 September 2014. +64 7 349 4088 email@example.com BAY OF ISLANDS STAY ‘N CRUISE Cruise the sparkling Bay of Islands from Paihia, spot dolphins as you journey to the famous Hole in the Rock, and take in the 360° views from the top of Urupukapuka Island. This deal brings the best of New Zealand’s beautiful aquatic playground to you, including a ferry to the delightful historic town of Russell. Package includes: 2 nights’ multi-share at YHA Bay of Islands Paihia u Dolphin cruise to the Hole in the Rock u Return ferry ticket to Russell u YHA BAY OF ISLANDS PAIHIA u u BOOK NOW +64 9 402 7487 firstname.lastname@example.org Fullers Great Sights Priced from NZ$144 per person. Valid to 3 June 2014. Tamaki Maori Village ROTORUA CULTURE 'N THERMAL WONDERLAND Visit New Zealand’s “Garden City” and get a taste of the Antarctic at the same time. Say hello to little blue penguins, step into an Antarctic storm at -8°C, buckle-up for the exciting Hagglund ride, and experience an awesome simulated 4D cruise. Package includes: u u u 1 night at YHA Christchurch Rolleston House Entry to the International Antarctic Centre including 4D show and Hagglund ride. Free shuttle from Rolleston Avenue (opposite the YHA) Priced from NZ$77 per person multi-share. Valid to 30 June 2014. Exclusive to YHA members. BOOK NOW AUCKLAND B&B BREAK Ready, get set, go! Roll out of bed and hit the streets of Auckland with YHA Auckland International’s wake up pack including accommodation and breakfast, so you lose no time exploring the “City of Sails”. Package includes: u YHA CHRISTCHURCH ROLLESTON HOUSE u +64 3 366 6564 email@example.com Tourism NZ u WELLINGTON B&B BREAK Kickstart your day in the kiwi capital with a free bagel brekkie for two, courtesy of YHA Wellington. All you have to do is stay in a private room. Package includes: u u u 1 night for two people in a private room at YHA Auckland International 2 large packed breakfasts inc. cereal, milk, tea, coffee, Milo, sugar, juice, spread, jam and bread 1 night at YHA Wellington in a private room 2 bagels with cream cheese and jam + 2 regular coffees of your choice Priced from NZ$80 for two people in a private room with share bathroom, and $120 for two in private room with ensuite. Vaild to 30 June 2014. Priced from NZ$105 for two people in a private ensuite (double or twin). Vaild to 30 June 2014. YHA WELLINGTON ChameleonsEye Shutterstock u +64 4 801 7280 u firstname.lastname@example.org BOOK NOW YHA AUCKLAND INTERNATIONAL u u BOOK NOW +64 9 302 8200 aucklandinternational @yha.co.nz Shutterstock CHRISTCHURCH CITY BREAK FEATURE / WALKING NZ WALKING JUNKIE Keri Moyle and Department of Conservation confessions of a JUSTINE TYERMAN ONCE WENT TO ABSURD LENGTHS TO IGNORE ROADSIDE SIGNS POINTING TO ALL WALKING TRACKS. * L L OA THESE DAYS SHE CALLS NOTE T EADERS R N ALIA M HERSELF A TRAMPING * AUSTR HE TER T E S U E – KIWIS ESCRIB JUNKIE, HANGING OUT D O T G N I P M TRA ALKING L FOR HER NEXT FIX. BUSHW O AL KING T L A W (OR WIDE D L R O OUR W ERS!) READ u I DREAM ABOUT lightweight food on supermarket shelves and have serious conversations with my tramping boots about our next adventure in New Zealand’s Great Outdoors. This might come as a surprise to my friends and family who know me as a not-particularly-fit, desk-bound townie. It’s time to come clean. I have become addicted to the no-frills version of life. I happily wear the same clothes for days on end, eat dehydrated food, wash in glacier-melt water and share backcountry bunkrooms with snoring strangers. All this for the exhilarating and healthy exhaustion that follows walking through sun/rain/snow/wind (or any combination of these) rather than that dull fatigue that comes from crossing my eyes looking at a computer screen for eight hours a day. The spectacular Routeburn Track follows a path that was first used by Maori pounamu (jade) hunters. Julian Apse My addiction started unassumingly (as addictions tend to) when friends invited me to walk the Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks. The three-day, 32-kilometre walk turned out to be an ideal first expedition for a nouveau tramper. The initial few hours were an unbelievably beautiful confidence booster — a gentle but steady climb on a wide track through beech forest while the Route Burn babbled alongside. Then things got steeper. But by then I had bonded with my pack and boots and with every step up the narrow, rocky track, the landscape revealed waterfalls, lakes, rivers, alpine peaks and valleys. Typical New Zealand views … but they steal my breath away every time. After summiting at the 1,255 metre Harris Saddle we traversed along the Hollyford Face which turned out to be fraught with danger. Not any real danger, mind you, but it was hard trying to maintain my footing while constantly staring at Fiordland’s highest peak, Mt Tutoko hanging with glaciers. I procrastinated during the steep forest descent because I didn’t want the tramp to finish. Ever. I was enchanted. And incurably hooked. The Great Walks are the celebrities of New Zealand’s tramping line-up and require serious planning before embarking upon them. Addicted as I am, I need a tramping fix between these major expeditions. There are heaps of shorter tracks accessible to all-comers that are perfect between-times tramps. The Hooker Valley Glacier in the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park is one of the few walks in the world where you can stroll through alpine terrain to the foot of the country’s highest peaks without guide, oxygen or a team of sherpas and/or yaks lugging a few months’ worth of life’s necessities. The two-hour walk to the terminal face of the Hooker Glacier is ideal for those who don’t like climbing but want to get into the mountains all the same. We passed a sobering memorial to all those who had died attempting the lofty peaks, crossed a swing bridge over the Hooker River in the shadow of Mt Sefton, Magnificent Mt Sefton from the Swing Bridge over the Hooker River. THE HOOKER VALLEY GLACIER... IS ONE OF THE FEW WALKS IN THE WORLD WHERE YOU CAN STROLL THROUGH ALPINE TERRAIN TO THE FOOT OF THE COUNTRY’S HIGHEST PEAKS. Waking to a spectacular sunrise along the Routeburn Track. Who said you need to be an experienced hiker to enjoy the Hooker Valley track? Miles Holden Justine Tyerman MUST TAKES Your three best friends for tramping are: 1 Your feet and boots must become best friends. Get them together a good six months before you take them hiking so they can bond. Ideally they should fall in love. Do NOT borrow or rent boots. The most shocking blisters can result from this folly. Devils Punchbowl Ryan Buterbaugh 2 skirted a cliff face on a well-formed track with safety rails, ambled up a valley and along a boardwalk built to protect the delicate eco-system. Then, suddenly, we were in the presence of Aoraki Mt Cook, the Cloud Piercer. No matter how often I view her 3,754 metre stature, or from what angle, she is a stunner. The Devil’s Punchbowl at Arthur’s Pass is another easyaccess, one-hour return hike which can be tackled in any weather. To experience the true magic of the 131 metre waterfall, I went after recent rain when the cascade was thunderous. But mid-winter is special too because the mountain beech forest dresses in white, silver filaments of frost fill the air and the waterfall is frozen like stalactite sculpture. Mangakawa Walkway near Gisborne is a torture I’ve subjected myself to time and again. I tune my muscles for longer tramps by climbing step after step of the steep, high and seemingly endless staircase that winds through virgin rainforest to the top of the hill. Then after the descent I peel off sticky gear and luxuriate in a refreshingly cool, outdoor pool at Morere Hot Springs. On cold days, I soak my protesting muscles in the hot ‘fossilised seawater’, so called because the mineral water travels thousands of years before bubbling up beneath the adjacent rainforest. Your pack is your second best friend and must be professionally fitted to your back. If your pack takes a fiendish disliking to you, life on the tramp will be miserable. There’s a mindboggling array of different packs on the market. Before you go shopping, do your research: Think about where, how long and how often you’ll be tramping so you get a pack to suit. 3 Forget fashionable, wet weather gear is life and death stuff. Go for 100% guaranteed, totally waterproof gear with sealed seams and zips, especially in the jacketstakes. Leggings need to be waterproof too but a long-line jacket that covers your bum and the top of your thighs can be a life saver when battling rain, sleet, hail and wind. WHERE TO STAY YHA KINLOCH, GLENORCHY u +64 u 3 442 4900 email@example.com YHA QUEENSTOWN CENTRAL u +64 u 3 442 7400 firstname.lastname@example.org YHA QUEENSTOWN LAKEFRONT Giants Gate, Milford Track Graham Dainty +64 3 442 8413 u queenstownlakefront @yha.co.nz u I met a couple last summer who were walking Te Araroa, the Long Pathway that follows the length of New Zealand. My boots begged me to ditch the civilised life and tag along with them. There’s something so refreshing about spending the day just walking, putting one foot in front of the other; the anchoring weight of the pack on my back and the heady sensation of being able to fly when I take it off. I am a tramping junkie, I confess. Here’s hoping this addiction has no cure. YHA MT COOK +64 3 435 1820 u email@example.com u YHA ARTHUR’S PASS u u +64 3 318 9258 firstname.lastname@example.org OTHER MUST-WALK HOTSPOTS Lake Waikaremoana Track, Te Urewera National Park Time: 3 - 4 days Distance: 46km Milford Sound Track, Fiordland National Park Time: 4 days Distance: 53.5km YHA GISBORNE u u +64 6 867 3269 email@example.com Tongariro National Park Tongariro Alpine Crossing Time: 6 - 8 hours Distance: 19.4km Abel Tasman Coast Track, Abel Tasman National Park Time: 3 - 5 days Distance: 54.4 km Book online at yha.co.nz Check out the walking Inspire Me pages on the YHA NZ website: yha.co.nz/great-walks/ yha.co.nz/walks/ Tongariro Northern Circuit Time: 3 - 4 days Distance: 43.1km Rob Roy Glacier Walkway, Matukituki Valley Time: 3 - 4 hour return Distance: 10 km Cooks Cove Walkway, Tolaga Bay Time: 2.30 hour return Distance: 5.8km FEATURE / PHOTOGRAPHY TAKE YOUR CAMERA TRAVELLING, WRITES EWEN BELL, WITH THESE TIPS TO CAPTURE THE BEST OF WHAT YOU SEE. ◆ ◆ Ewen Bell TECHNOLOGY IS YOUR BEST FRIEND when capturing the moment on your travels, but the essence to great photography is letting the emotion of the moment come through. A beautiful view from your hostel, a gang of great companions or a cute little puppy running amuck in a market. When the moment happens you want to be ready to share it with the world. Regardless of what camera you are using, there are three things that can make your photography better. Go slow, get closer and look for the light. GO SLOW, GET CLOSER & LOOK FOR THE LIGHT Ewen Bell SOFT LIGHT Great light makes for great photos, so greeting the sunrise and hanging by the beach at sunset is half the job done. The character of the light is what gives character to your photos. When you meet lovely people along the journey and want a photo to remember them by, look for soft light instead of the harsh direct sun. Step inside a doorway or under the shade so your photos will be kind to their skin. Capturing a few up-close details is handy for your future memories and for posting collages. When you go slow with your photography you allow time to engage with people and delve deeper into the culture. Travel and photography are good friends, because they both enjoy a relaxed pace and meeting new faces. Walking around a city instead of catching the bus is the best way to shoot, allowing time to stop and chat or just soak up the ambience of a destination. The more you experience the better your exposures. Slowing down your travel also allows better opportunity to get in close with the camera. Take a moment to say hello to people instead of just greeting them with a lens, and you can expect richer smiles and happier subjects. Show them your photos, let them have a laugh. It builds friendship with strangers and allows for more candid photo opportunities after that initial exchange of cultures.Â Often people go back to their daily routine and thatâ€™s when you get the best photos, pictures of people being themselves and carefree of the camera. Kindness and Light: Gentle light makes for gentle portraits, but always start with a generous smile and see what comes back in return. Ewen Bell You don’t need a DSLR to take great photos anymore. “Mirrorless” cameras that feature interchangeable lenses are proving a big winner for travellers by saving weight and space. If you’re serious about your photos and want to make big prints when you get home, invest dollars in the lens and not just the camera. There are no bad cameras these days, only bad lenses. Look for a camera with wideangle ability so you can capture big scenes and busy streets. Any lens can shoot details, but a wide lens will bring home the chaos and charm of a location. The wider the better. Wide angle is also good for getting intimate shots of people, complete with the context of where they are. A spare battery is essential in your kit as the bright screens and wifi features tend to suck some juice. Many cameras will use the same cable as your smartphone so you don’t need a card reader to download. COOL CLICKS WHICH WIFI Size Matters: Bigger cameras can be an obstacle between you and your subject. Mirrorless systems allow you to engage with people while shooting their portrait. Ewen Bell A lot of mirrorless cameras today have wifi built-in and support uploading images directly to social media. This can get clunky unless your free wifi options happen to deliver decent speed. Wifi-Direct is the new buzz word for travellers however, allowing you to select a handful of pics and beam them across to your phone or tablet. This works without need for a wifi network. You can be hiking in the wilderness and still shuffle the best pics of the day across to your phone. It’s also a smart way to backup your photos, using wifi-direct to synchronise your camera with your tablet or laptop. SMALL IS SMART We’ve picked out three types of camera that each offer modest styling and great images. For the best quality pics have a look at prime lenses instead of a zoom, and let your feet do the work instead. Capturing the finer details, and above, Annapurnas in Nepal. Packing light doesn't mean you can't be loaded with smart technology. Ewen Bell Lumix GX7 with 12-24mm lens ◆ 16MP sensor ◆ WiFi enabled ◆ Touch screen ◆ Fast AF punches above its size ◆ MFT lens system has over 30 30 lenses to choose from If you can get some fast internet access over wifi then storing a copy of the journey online is the safest option. Android devices can sync to your Google account for example, or you can use Dropbox across many devices for even more flexible storage. The first few gigabytes are always free, but for less than $100 a year you can upgrade to some serious online storage in excess of your memory cards. Fuji XM1 with 16-50mm lens ◆ 16MP sensor ◆ Wifi enabled ◆ 5.6fps for fast frames ◆ APS-C sized sensor compares to smaller DSLR cameras ◆ X-mount lens system offers some great prime lenses APP ENVY Instagram is still the best way to share your moments on the road, because it’s data light and the apps are hard to beat. Photos taken on your phone are downsized to 650x650 pixels, so the uploads are fast and won’t choke on free wifi at a cafe. You can also cross post to Facebook and Twitter with zero effort, making it the fastest way to let the most people back home know how much fun you’re having. PicsArt and other apps that build collages are another way to send home lots of images with minimal uploads. Gather the day’s pics into one or two collages and post to your online profiles via Instagram. You can even queue them up on your phone with Instagram until the next wifi stop comes along. Nikon Df with 50mm f/1.8 lens ◆ 16MP sensor ◆ ISO 204,000 for super low light ◆ All metal body built for hard knocks ◆ Full frame sensor works with Nikon’s best lenses ◆ Retro styled fully functional professional DSLR SOFT OR SLOW The more advanced cameras allow you to step off the Auto mode and experiment a little: ◆ Shutter priority is handy for panning the camera on bicycles and motos speeding past. Try around 1/30th of a second to make the bikes look good while the background blurs. ‹‹ Aperture priority is all about depth of field. A low f-stop such as f/2 means low depth of field, great for foodie shots and intimate portraits. A large f-stop is better for landscapes, around f/8 for example. ◆ Remember that the smaller your camera sensor the more depth of field you get for the same f-stop. Blurry backgrounds with silky bokeh needs a fast lens and a bigger camera. ◆ For nearly everything a wide lens is best, as you can stand closer to subject for a tight shot anyway. Wildlife is not so easy, so a telephoto lens comes in handy when chasing little creatures from Market Life: Little things make for great photographic memories. Shallow depth of field is great to highlight one element of your scene. Ewen Bell FEATURE / SOUTHERN W.A. Southern W.A. u SOUTH-WEST WESTERN AUSTRALIA IS THE PERFECT PLACE FOR A ROAD TRIP WRITES STEVE MCKENNA. Tourism WA WESTERN AUSTRALIA is huge; four times the size of Texas; ten times bigger than the UK; larger than New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania combined. From state capital Perth, it’s more than 2300kms to WA’s northern-most city, Broome, with vast swathes of ochre-tinged wilderness in between. Look the other way, however, and you’ll find a cluster of alluring pit-stops within tantalisingly close range of each other. The compact south-western pocket of WA is made for touring. So once you’ve tired of Perth’s Northbridge nightlife, Sunday sessions at Cottlesloe Beach and cafe-hopping in Fremantle, hit the road. You’ll need your own wheels though, public transport is sparse in this neck of the woods. Good food and wine is bountiful in Margaret River. Vasse Felix, Steve McKenna MARGARET RIVER Tell a Sandgroper (WA native) that you’re heading to Rockingham and Mandurah - the two seaside towns just south of Perth - and they probably won’t get too excited. Say you’re going to Margs and the reaction will be more enthusiastic. Or envious. A three-hour drive from Perth, Margs is the affectionate moniker of Margaret River - a beguilingly bucolic region hedged either side of an eponymous river that feeds into the Indian Ocean. Hugh Jackman has claimed it’s the best place he’s ever been to. Asked why, the Sydney-born movie star said: “The surf, the beaches, the food, the wine, the people, the air; it’s all good man.” M a rg a re t R i ve r ’s c h a ra c te r m a y h a ve g o n e u p m a r ke t s i n ce the 1970s - when it was a campervan-jammed hippy hangout - b u t f r a g m e n t s o f i t s l a i d - b a c k b o h e m i a n c h a r m e n d u re . Organic produce markets, fish and chipperies and salt-of-the-earth taverns complement sophisticated seafood restaurants, swanky boutique hotels and award-winning wineries, dozens of which nestle amid bountiful vineyards mottled with grape-picking backpackers. The maritime micro-climate has been likened to Bordeaux’s, with Lake Cave, Margaret River. Shutterstock warm (but not extreme) summers, mild winters and ample annual rainfall helping to yield a rich array of tipples, including Shiraz, Chardonnay, Semillon Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. You can sample them - with local hams, cheeses and truffles - at dozens of cellar doors (see margaretriver.com for an extensive winery map). Beer and cider quaffers may prefer Cheeky Monkey - one of the area’s burgeoning craft breweries. Wine lovers and foodies should time their trip with the Margaret River Gourmet Escape (held each November in and around the hip little town of Margaret River). Surfing is another of the region’s passions. Margs’ 130km coastline has over 70 surf breaks, of varying difficulty, from daredevil to beginner. There are surf schools and stores in the beach-side towns of Dunsborough and Yallingup (which are also swell spots for catching a fiery WA sunset). Adorned with other-worldly-looking stalactites, Margaret River’s mysterious limestone caves reward exploration. Ngilgi, Mammoth, Lake and Jewel caves are the pick. Fossils, dating back over 35,000 years, have been discovered in them. Top to bottom: Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, Dunsborough; Getting up-close with Albany Whale Tours, Albany; A passenger in search of a Southern Right whale. Tourism WA, Steve McKenna ALBANY If deepest south-west WA has a bustling metropolis, it’s Albany. But this port town - population 35,000 - is so relaxed it makes Perth seem like Bangkok. Graced with attractive 19th century colonial buildings - many housing pleasant cafes, restaurants and museums - Albany became WA’s first British settlement in 1826, three years before Perth’s Swan River Colony was founded. Named after Frederick, Duke of Albany and York, and son of King George III, the town grew around King George Sound, a tranquil expanse of water that nudges the rough and tumble of the Southern Ocean. The Sound is the setting for Albany’s much-heralded whale-watching tours . Every June, migrating cetaceans come north from the frigid waters around Antarctica to breed. It’s September when I visit, so the humpbacks have already left. But the Southern Right whales are still here - apparently. After half-an-hour of luckless viewing, one of my fellow passengers bellows: “Over there!” The eagle eyes of the boat captain follow suit. “Got it.” We drift over and two whales - about HUNGRY FOR MORE? nine metres long - are bobbing along the surface, peeking out their callosity–strewn heads. Then one somersaults, flapping its flukes (tail fins) into the air. We’re still catching our breath when another whale appears, rubbing its enormous body against our vessel and popping its head above water. Magical exchanges between humans and whales occur in the same waters where these majestic creatures were once slaughtered for their oil-rich blubber. Until 1978, Tucked 90km inland from Albany was a whaling centre, Australia’s last, in fact. The Albany, Stirling Range brutally absorbing history is exposed at Whale World , a National Park is one of the superb interactive museum set in the former Cheynes Beach best places to peruse WA’s whaling station 25km west of town. vivid wildflowers (the state has A strong Anzac spirit fuels Albany. This was the last port of 12,000 species - more than any call for around 30,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers other - with bloom-time from who fought in World War I. The town’s military heritage is July to September). surveyed in a small museum at Princess Royal Fortress, an A 43km-long dusty gravel old base perched on Mount Adelaide, a hill overlooking the track snakes through this harbour. mildly mountainous park, Albany attracts hikers aplenty. It sits at the end of the which has several look-out Bibbulmun Track, a mammoth walking trail that stretches points and designated trails around 1000km from Kalamunda, east of Perth. Named after carpeted in mountain bells, one of WA’s oldest indigenous tribes, the Bibbulmun usually orchids and banksia (plus takes fit, hardy souls about two months to complete, though roaming monitor lizards). it can be broken into smaller sections. About 500km east of Albany, Esperance hugs the picturesque, island-speckled shores of Esperance Bay, from which you can spot whales, seals and dolphins - and enjoy diving, snorkelling, fishing, canoeing and simply lounging on some of WA’s most pristine beaches, lapped by blueyturquoise sea. Heading east from Esperance, it’s a long way to civilisation; the next reasonably-sized settlement, Streaky Bay (in South Australia), is over 1500km away. Steve Mc Kenna Steve McKenna Elephant Cove, Albany Steve Mc Kenna I TREAD THE DIZZYING TREE-TOP WALKWAY THROUGH THE COOL FOREST CANOPY... THESE EUCALYPTIC WONDERS SPROUT HEIGHTS OF OVER 40 METRES... DENMARK Like Albany, Denmark is part of the gloriously scenic sub-region of WA known as the Great Southern. Many travellers come to this old timber-milling town half-expecting to find a smorgasbord of Scandinavian flavours. But the Vikings never sailed here. And thereâ€™s no great Danish expat community. Denmark - and its river - were named after Alexander Denmark, a friend of Thomas Braidwood Wilson, a Scottish navy surgeon who, in 1829, tramped through this heavily fo re ste d s h i re , w h i c h w a s f i rst inhabited, by Aborigines, as early as 40,000BC. Oozing a friendly, villagey vibe, Denmark is home to a cluster of arts and craft shops, creative galleries and alfresco cafes like Denmark Bakery a recipient of hundreds of national awards, and the purveyor of quirky offerings like Thai Green Curry, Vinda Roo and Seafood Chowder pies. The sprawling karri and jarra forests that surround Denmark and which drew the 19th century sawmilling merchants - are still largely intact. So, too, are the red tingles that comprise the so-called Va l le y o f t h e G i a n t s , n e a r t h e village of Walpole, 70km west of Denmark. I t re a d t h e d i z z y i n g t re e - t o p walkway through the cool forest ca n o p y. O f te n co m p a re d to t h e mighty redwoods of California, these eucalyptic wonders sprout Valley Of The Giants Treetop Walk, Walpole; One of Denmark village's shops, top. Tourism WA, Steve McKenna WHERE TO STAY ALBANY u u u (+618) 9842 3388 firstname.lastname@example.org yha.com.au BOOK NOW AUGUSTA u(+618) u u 9758 1290 email@example.com yha.com.au BUNBURY u u u (+618) 9792 4690 firstname.lastname@example.org yha.com.au DENMARK u u u (+618) 9848 3300 email@example.com yha.com.au DUNSBOROUGH u((+618) u u 9755 3107 firstname.lastname@example.org yha.com.au heights of over 40 metres, with circumferences of 16 metres. Denmark has a ruggedly handsome coastline. Beyond the peaceful, birdlife-rich enclave of Wilson Inlet, William Bay National Park is a treasure trove of white sandy coves, wild, deserted surf beaches, dunes, headlands, peculiar granite formations and ancient Aboriginal birthing pools. I take a leisurely drive through Denmark’s undulating pastoral interior, glimpsing grazing cattle Clockwise from below: and myriad calorific temptations, Wolfe Lane, Perth; Freo including artisanal chocolatiers, strip; "Indiana cheese makersCafe and rustic-chic Tea House", Cottesloe wineries. Fremantle While perhaps Beach; not as famous as Prison Tour. Margaret River and Perth’s Swan Tourism WA, Shutterstock Valley, the Great Southern is WA’s largest wine-producing region. One of its finest venues is the Lake House . Set in landscaped gardens fringed around a quaint little lake, it’s a lovely spot for some wine tasting and a splash-out lunch. If your budget is tight, just come for the scrumptious coffee and cake. ESPERANCE u u u (+618) 9071 1040 email@example.com yha.com.au MARGARET RIVER u u u (+618) 9757 9572 firstname.lastname@example.org yha.com.au PEMBERTON u u u (+612) 9776 1105 email@example.com yha.com.au WALPOLE u u u (+618) 9840 1041 firstname.lastname@example.org yha.com.au White sandy coves dot the coastline. Steve McKenna WHAT'S ON HEREâ€™S OUR PICK OF EVENTS COMING UP IN YOUR REGION Vivid Sydney 2013 VIVID SYDNEY 23 May - 9 June 2014 Taking light shows to a new level, Sydney lights up for the biggest international music, art and light festival in the Southern Hemisphere. The Lighting of the Sails is back, along with huge 3D projections on iconic buildings, interactive light art sculptures, and the yummy Night Markets. Darling Harbour will once again be transformed by dazzling water and laser shows, while Martin Place and Sydney Ferries will get in on the act in 2014. Best of all, Vivid LIVE returns, with uber hip The Pixies headlining, and a rare performance by BOOK electronic pop legends Pet Shop Boys. vividsydney.com NOW Take advantage of Sydney Harbour YHA's City Break package N SW WARBIRDS OVER WANAKA INTERNATIONAL AIRSHOW 18-20 April 2014 It’s Wanaka with wings on. This aerial extravaganza, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, has been rated among the top four Warbirds airshows in the world. This year packs even more punch, as Warbirds commemorates the 100 years since the outbreak of WWI. Over 80 aircraft will take to the skies including the Spitfire, German Pfalz D.III, P51-D Mustang, Kittyhawk, the giant C-130 Hercules and Iroquis helicopters. And if that’s not enough, stick around for the grand finale with a huge mock battle and impressive pyrotechnic display. warbirdsoverwanaka.com u u u NZ Play video Stay at YHA Queenstown Central or YHA Queenstown Lakefront 0800 278 299 (NZ) or 1800 242 191 (Aus) email@example.com BOOK NOW NATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL 17-21 April 2014 Head to Tauranga over Easter for five days of the best jazz, blues, world, swing, folk and funk music New Zealand has to offer. There’s a great line up of ticketed concerts, a free two-day Downtown Carnival held on the Tauranga waterfront, and a slice of New Orleans at the familyfriendly Jazz Village. Pop by to see what all that jazz is about. jazz.org.nz u u u Stay at YHA Tauranga 0800 278 299 (NZ) or 1800 242 191 (Aus) firstname.lastname@example.org BOOK NOW AUCKLAND FESTIVAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY 29 May - 20 June 2014 Indulge your inner art connoisseur at this citywide contemporary art and cultural event. Taking over major galleries and public sites alike, Auckland’s annual Festival of Photography sheds artistic light on one of New Zealand’s largest and most multicultural cities with its photography events and free exhibitions inviting you to art hop around the city. photographyfestival.org.nz u Stay at YHA Auckland International or YHA Auckland City 0800 278 299 (NZ) or 1800 242 191 (Aus) email@example.com u BOOK NOW u Yuting Jiang Jane PORT DOUGLAS CARNIVALE 16-25 May 2014 Port Douglas Carnivale turns 20, so come along to this 10-day festival celebrating the best of tropical north Australia. It kicks off with a vibrant street parade through the streets, brimming with colourful floats and lively music, followed by the brand new Street Art and Music Festival. Foodies will love the Longest Lunch, Palates of Port and Taste Port Douglas events, while in an Australian first, the traditional Japanese horseback archery tournament, Yabusame, is sure to be a highlight of the Family Beach Day. carnival.com.au BOOK NOW u u u Port Douglas YHA +61 7 4099 5422 firstname.lastname@example.org MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL 30 May - 8 June 2014 VI C Kurt Sneddon SA ADELAIDE CABARET FESTIVAL 6-21 June 2014 Be dazzled by the worldâ€™s largest festival celebrating all things cabaret. Now in its 7th year, this classy and creative entertainment buffet offers up stars of the West End and Broadway, bold burlesque, live lounge, and acts from the avant-garde and theatrical to the intimate and hilarious. Use your YHA card for discount tickets. adelaidecabaret.com Swing those frocks and tap those shoes to an impressive international and local lineup of the worldâ€™s modern jazz masters. Intimate club gigs, late night parties, free events and concerts for children and families alike. jazzfestival2014.com Melbourne International Jazz Festival BOOK NOW u BOOK NOW u u u Take advantage of Melbourne Metro YHA's City Break offer Adelaide Central YHA +61 8 8414 3010 email@example.com Port Douglas Carnivale QLD SATC SA TASTING AUSTRALIA 27 April - 4 May 2014 Tuck into the best of Australian food and wine at Adelaide’s gourmet extravaganza. This biennial highlight of the Aussie food calendar blurs the lines between events and experiences, inviting you to eat, drink, share and participate. Join in cooking demonstrations with kitchen celebrities from around the world, and discover the region’s real food heroes – butcher, baker, cheesemaker, fisherman, farmer, chef, winemaker or brewer. tastingaustralia.com.au KANGAROO ISLAND FEASTIVAL 24-28 April 2014 More than a mere food and wine festival, Kangaroo Island FEASTival sets the table for five days of gastronomic celebrations. Degustations, interactive cooking displays, table surfing, home cooked meals in private homes, pop-up and wilderness events, and meet the maker soirees are all on the menu, which makes the most of the island’s scenery and superior produce. tourkangarooisland.com.au/kifeastival BOOK NOW u u u Stay at Adelaide Central YHA +61 8 8414 3010 firstname.lastname@example.org BOOK NOW u u u Stay at Kangaroo Island YHA +61 8 8553 1344 email@example.com YULEFEST GRAMPIANS GRAPE ESCAPE 3-4 May 2014 BOOK NOW u u u Stay at Grampians Eco YHA +61 3 5356 4544 firstname.lastname@example.org Grampians Grape Escape Grapes, gourmet food and the beauty of the Grampians; what’s not to like about this ever popular celebration of Western Victoria’s highly acclaimed fine wines, beers and fresh food. Graze your way through tasty treats from more than 100 producers and enjoy free entertainment, activities and live music at this relaxed foodie favourite. grampiansgrapeescape.com.au VI C Blue Mountains YHA July deals coming soon. yha.com.au KI Feastival Royal Agricultural Society SYDNEY ROYAL EASTER SHOW 10-23 April 2014 Australia’s largest annual event is back, bringing together 14,000 animals, the biggest carnival in the Southern Hemisphere, and a celebration of our rich culture and agricultural heritage. So gather up your friends and family and come along to Sydney Olympic Park for an action-packed day of thrill rides, amazing performances, award-winning animals, delicious food, wine and cool competitions. eastershow.com.au BOOK NOW u Stay at Sydney Central YHA check out the YHA's special offers +61 2 9218 9000 email@example.com u u N SW SYDNEY BIENNALE Until 9 June 2014 Held every two years, this is the Asia Pacific’s largest and most exciting contemporary visual arts extravaganza. Imaginative, surreal, emotional, and sublime artworks will be on display at venues around Sydney. Don’t miss the life-size projection of an Icelandic waterfall at Cockatoo Island, Douglas Gordon’s dramatic Phantom, and Yingmei Duan’s forest inside the NSW Art Gallery. biennaleofsydney.com.au BOOK NOW Cai Guo-Qiang, Inopportune: Stage One, 2004, 17th Biennale of Sydney (2010) at Cockatoo Island. Photo: Ben Symons u Stay at Sydney Central YHA check out the YHA's special offers +61 2 9218 9000 firstname.lastname@example.org u u Tourism WA WA STAIRCASE TO THE MOON Until October 2014 For three nights a month, between March and October, you can witness this incredible natural phenomenon. This amazing optical illusion of a staircase reaching to the moon occurs when the full moon reflects off mudflats at Broome’s Roebuck Bay during extremely low tides. There are also fantastic night markets with heaps of food, crafts and entertainment. Estimated dates below, visit australiasnorthwest.com AND ALSO... national folk festival 17-21 April 2014 Stay Canberra City YHA 16-18 April 2014 15-17 May 2014 13-15 June 2014 12-15 July 2014 11-13 August 2014 9-11 September 2014 9-11 October 2014 DENMARK FESTIVAL OF VOICE 16-25 May 2014 Stay Blue Wren Travellers Rest YHA BOOK NOW u u u Stay at Kimberley Klub YHA +61 8 9192 3233 email@example.com ningaloo whaleshark festival 23-29 May 2014 Stay Excape Backpackers YHA, Exmouth Cooly Rocks On BROADBEACH COUNTRY MUSIC FESTIVAL 20-22 June 2014 Coast meets country for the second annual Broadbeach Country Music Festival. Set on the pristine beachfront of the Gold Coast, this free festival offers up a perfect mix of surf boards and steel guitars as country music’s finest assemble for three days of incredible entertainment across outdoor stages and within venues throughout Broadbeach. broadbeachcountry.com QLD sea and vines festival 7-9 June 2014 Stay Port Elliot Beach House YHA light in winter 1-30 June 2014 Stay Melbourne Central or Melbourne Metro YHA BOOK NOW u u u Surfers Paradise YHA +61 7 5571 1776 firstname.lastname@example.org YHA.COM.AU YHA.CO.NZ BOOK ONLINE BACKPACKER / ESSENTIALS YHA.COM.AU YHA.CO.NZ NEXT ISSUE AVAILABLE 4 JUNE 2014