Backpacker essentials june 2013
In this issue... head south for a dose of history, hippies and hipsters in Hobart, get into gear with our top cycling holidays around the world, and enjoy the sights and delights of Far North Queensland's food trail. Enter the annual Photo Competition for a chance to win a Canon camera. Plus, you'll find all the latest YHA and travel news from overseas, and some tempting getaways.
NEWS INSIDE BACKPACKER / ESSENTIALS ◆ AUSTRALIA 3 NORTHERN EXPOSURE 7 ◆ SNAP ◆ GLOBAL PHOTO COMPETITION 9 BARCELONA NEWS HOBART CITY OF CONTRASTS ◆ ◆ 23 GET INTO GEAR CYCLING HOLIDAYS VOL 17 / No 3 JUNE 2013 MANAGING EDITOR Janet McGarry ASSISTANT EDITOR Elinor Sheargold YHA CONTRIBUTORS Elinor Sheargold Melinda Scott Rachel Seymour Tanya Heuke Mike Callinan Francois LaJoie HISTORY, HIPPIES & HIPSTERS 14 Cover Image: France Atout Joel Damase ART DIRECTOR Dan Morley 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 ◆ DEALS 19 GREAT GETAWAYS ◆ 28 FAR NORTH QLD FOODIE TRAILS 32 ◆ WHAT’S ON UPCOMING EVENTS AD MANAGER Emily Stiff EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES The Editor, Backpacker Essentials, GPO Box 5276, Sydney NSW 2001. T: (02) 9261 1111 F: (02) 9261 1969 E: backpackeressentials@ yha.com.au AUSTRALIA NORTHERN EXPOSURE / WHALE WATCHING / YOUR SAY ) Y R D D N A ( H IT'S HIG E M O S R O F E TIM Shutterstock N R E H T R O N E R U S O P EX Jim Jim Falls, Kakadu National Park Shutterstock Eyeball a croc up close in the Northern Territory / NT NEWS NORTHERN EXPOSURE TIGER BACK IN NT Now is high time to discover the history, culture and spectacular scenery of the Top End. Camp under the stars swagman-style in the Red Centre, paddle in a billabong, eyeball a croc at Kakadu, or sit back and enjoy alfresco movies at Darwin's Deckchair Cinema. Mid-year also marks festival season up north, so why not journey to the centre of Australia for a race day with a difference at Alice Springs' famous Camel Cup or Henley-onTodd races (see page x for more). Browse the stalls and graze on bush tucker or spicy Asian food as the sun sets over the Arafura Sea at Darwin's Mindil Markets. Tiger Airways has returned to Australia's Red Centre, following overwhelming demand for a second carrier into the tourism hotspot. In April, Tiger launched four return flights a week from both Sydney and Melbourne airports into Alice Springs. Flights start from $59.95 and depart Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday., BOOK NOW DARWIN OR ALICE SPRINGS YHA u yha.com.au /WHALE WATCHING HIT THE HUMPBACK HIGHWAY The great whale migration along the Aussie coast is on again from July to November, and YHA has plenty of places to see the world's largest mammals in their natural playground. The safe haven of Hervey Bay is almost as popular with whale watchers as it is with the whales themselves. Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Newcastle, Sydney, Narooma and Merimbula are also hot spots along the "humpback highway". Southern Right whales come close in to shore at Albany, while the clifftops of Port Elliot provide a scenic (and dry) balcony to watch these gentle giants show off. And if you miss the whales, you can still catch the penguin and seal colonies at Phillip Island. From the world's largest mammal to its largest fish... head to Exmouth on the West Australian coast for a "whale" encounter with a difference. Here you can dive with majestic whale sharks in the awesome Ningaloo Reef. Whale shark season ends in July. Book YHA hostels in all these locations at yha.com.au. Tourism QLD Click here for Coffs Harbour YHA's whale watching deal or click here for the Port Macquarie Go Wild package. / YOUR SAY GRAMPIANS ECO YHA u (03) 5356 4544 BOOK NOW u firstname.lastname@example.org u yha.com.au NOMINATED BY MICHAEL MACIEJCZYK, VIC This is an exceptional place to stay when visiting the Grampians in Victoria. Having visited countless hostels around Oz, this one is truly special. Conveniently nestled in a valley among sparse homesteads, it blends perfectly into its tranquil bush surrounds. It's bright, open, clean, comfortable and airy. Not to mention environmentally friendly. The architecture is warm and edgy - it doesn't resemble a typical hostel. Very highly recommended next time you're in this special part of the world. Enjoy! WIN! Got a place to nominate? Want to win a great travel prize? Michael will be receiving a Teeran Reversible Jacket from Kathmandu (RRP$249.98). For more information visit kathmandu.com.au. Tell us your favourite YHA (in 100 words or less) and send with your contact details, to email@example.com /GROUPS GROUP GETAWAYS Do you belong to a social or sports club, bushwalking or snowboarding group? Maybe you organise school or university trips? Lots of YHAs can accommodate groups of 10 or more people, ranging from smaller cosy country hostels through to the city centre properties in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide. Some hostels like Sydney Harbour, Brisbane City, Blue Mountains and Apollo Bay YHAs even have dedicated groups-only accommodation with separate catering facilities. Another great option for groups is the Rent-a-YHA scheme in NSW, Victoria and South Australia. You can book exclusive use of a variety of hostels from Pittwater near Sydney to the Grampians in Victoria. Visit yha.com.au for more information on group stays and the Rent-a-YHA program. SNAP YHA PHOTO COMPETITION See next page for full image and more finalists AKSARAY, TURKEY ROSEMARY NOAKES-SHERWIN, NSW Got a great photo that captures that inspiring scenery, incredible cultural experience or event, or just that shot in your album that sums up the trip? Enter the YHA Photo Competition and you could win these great prizes including a Canon PowerShot SX50 HS camera, Macpac travel packs, and a selection of inspiring photography books. ENTER THE YHA PHOTO COMPETITON! Each issue, a number of finalists will be published on this page. An overall winning photo and winning shots in the scenic, cultural, and backpacking photo categories, will be announced, along with runners up, in the December issue. TAP FOR ENTRY DETAILS Take a bow! Thanks to our fantastic prize sponsors. CLICK HERE FOR MORE PRIZE DETAILS. Marrakech musicians, Morocco - Sharon Taylor Sultanhani Kervansaray, Aksaray, Turkey â€“ Rosemary Noakes-Sherwin Rug weaving, Fez, Morocco - Sharon Taylor Lake Matheson, New Zealand - Steve O'Donoghue Ballooning Cappadocia, Turkey - Debbi Stockhammer Collecting water, Namibia - Debbi Stockhammer GLOBAL NOW OPEN / DEALS / YOUR SAY NOW OPEN M O R F S A H Y W E N Shutterstock A I N O L A T A C TO CANADA .. Gaudi's Park Guell, Barcelona /NOW OPEN Shutterstock BARCELONA, SPAIN The Catalonian capital's newest hostel is a modern mix of ultra cool design and incredible value for money. Shared dorms, girls-only "pink rooms" with extra comforts, and private rooms all boast ensuite bathrooms, airconditioning and large key card lockers. Breakfast is included in the price (as little as â‚Ź10 per person), as is 50MB free WiFi, a free indoor swimming pool and fitness club, and the views from the terrace. Only metres from Clot Metro, the hostel is conveniently close to Gaudi's landmark Sagrada Familia, and a few metro stops to Las Ramblas and Plaza Catalunya in the city centre. But with the onsite bar serving dishes from â‚Ź1, and activities ranging from spanish and flamenco lessons, quiz and Wii competitions, to learning how to make sangria and mojitos, you might find it hard to leave the hostel. BOOK NOW BARCELONA URBANY HOSTEL u firstname.lastname@example.org u hihostels.com.au / NOW OPEN HOKITIKA, NEW ZEALAND If you are travelling across the pond to New Zealand, say Kia Ora to the new Hokitika YHA, located on the superbly scenic South Island’s west coast. Ocean views (the beach is a two minute walk away), two outdoor baths beneath the stars, and a native garden that attracts tui, bellbirds, and weka, offer guaranteed relaxation. Guests are also greeted with homely touches like fresh baked goodies, painted murals throughout, and Sid the family dog. Free bike hire makes it easy to get to the nearby Glow Worm Dell or head into town to explore the Jade Capital of New Zealand. Or, ask your hosts about the many nearby walking tracks, Treetop Walkway, stunning Hokitika Gorge (above), views of Mount Cook and the Southern Alps, lakes, fishing and kayaking. BOOK NOW HOKITIKA YHA u email@example.com u hihostels.com.au VANCOUVER ISLAND, CANADA HI Cumberland Riding Fool Hostel occupies a restored 1895 hardware store, in the heart of historic Cumberland. This former mining town is once again booming as an adventure sports hub, with movie set-like heritage buildings and the stunning mountain peaks, forests and lakes of Beaufort Range and Mount Washington as a backdrop. The 30-bed hostel offers a range of room types including multi-share and private room options, a fully-equipped kitchen, BBQ, free WiFi, onsite café, and large lounge with a wood stove and billiard table. It’s also the only hostel in Canada to include a bike shop, and the staff will help with second-to-none advice on mountain biking, winter sports, hiking or rock climbing. BOOK NOW HI CUMBERLAND u u firstname.lastname@example.org hihostels.com.au Shutterstock /DEALS SEE SOUTH AFRICA With its thrilling mix of traditional and modern, wildlife and staggering natural beauty, the so-called â€˜Rainbow Nationâ€™ is a treasure trove of experiences worth crossing the world for. Buccaneers Backpackers, located right next to unspoiled Chintsa Beach on the wild east coast, has joined forces with Chintsa's new nursery school to offer guests volunteer opportunities helping staff at the creche. Want to give surfing a go? Coffee Shack Backpackers at Coffee Bay has two hour lessons with a professional instructor and all hire gear for - wait for it - R50.00 (approx AUD$5). And on the Garden Route, Tsitsikamma Backpackers now offer segway tours from the hostel. Choose from one or two-hour tours that take you through the village and into indigenous forest. From R285 per person. BEST OF CAPE TOWN PACKAGE Whether you're kicking off an African adventure or looking for a stopover en route to Europe, take advantage of this great package from Cape Town's Ashanti Lodge hostel. Includes: u u u u u u u 4 nights accommodation Return airport transfers 1 x Cape Peninsula Tour 1 x Winelands Tour 1 x City Sightseeing Tour Daily buffet breakfast Welcome drink on arrival Prices: R2,500 multi-share, R3,200 single, and R2,800 per person double/twin room. Valid to 30 November 2013. Contact Ashanti Lodge Gardens for information and to book. / YOUR SAY HI MONTEREY, USA u +1 831 649 0375 BOOK NOW u email@example.com u hihostels.com.au NOMINATED BY JO ROBINSON,VIC Imagine waking up to ocean views, then take a stroll down the beach and come across a family of seals. This is what you will find at HI Monterey, just outside San Francisco. Our room overlooked the Pacific Ocean, and if you are fortunate enough to stay when it is a full moon you will see the most amazing reflection of light on water. There are mystical woods nearby and the National Maritime Sanctuary, which is a good stroll. I will definitely go back for more. WIN! Got a place to nominate? Want to win a great travel prize? Jo will be receiving a travel accessory pack from Kathmandu including comfort sleep mask, silicone ear plugs, departure wallet, digital travel scales, microfibre towel. For more information visit kathmandu.com.au. Tell us your favourite YHA (in less than 100 words) and send it, with your contact details, to firstname.lastname@example.org /NEWS NEW-LOOK NUREMBURG YHA Germany's Nuremburg YHA has reopened after 18 months of renovations and upgrades. Set within the historic city's impressive castle (seat of the Holy Roman Empire in Germany from 1050 to 1571), the new-look accommodation includes modern shared and private rooms. All 93 new rooms feature ensuite bathrooms, while prices include breakfast and possibly the best views in town. Book online at hihostels.com.au FEATURE / HOBART HOBART history, hippies and hipsters â—† DI CAUGHT EXPLORES A CITY OF CONTRASTS. Mount Wellington offers spectacular views of Hobart. Garry Moore, Tourism Tasmania WALK DOWN ANY street in Hobart and you’ll feel a real sense of history that takes just the lightest of scratches to unveil. A mix of salty sea air, beautiful architecture and natural environment that is as easy to access as it is formidable, blend together to bewitch all who visit. All of this in just an initial impression - a pretty good start to your affair with this beguiling capital of Australia’s unique island state, Tasmania. The phrase “Necessity is the mother of invention” probably had its beginnings here as being surrounded by water can do that to a state. Hobart is renowned for breaking new ground - in food innovation with its locally made beer, whiskey and wine - and for being home to the controversial and unforgettable homegrown but internationally acclaimed Museum of Old and New Art – MONA. Hobart the enchantress lures hipsters and hippies, walkers and wine lovers, hardened travellers and history buffs with her intoxicating cauldron of delights. Just one week in Australia’s most southern city can see you fulfill each one of these sides of yourself with relative ease. So don your hip/designer/comfortable/practical walking shoes and get ready to be wooed by all the old, the new, the hip and the true blue that the old girl has to offer. Tourism Tasmania Peter Bailie The quaint streets of Battery Point, Hobart. Tourism Tasmania Stroll Hobart’s waterfront, above; and MONA's MoFo festival, right. Tourism Tasmania & Scott Sporleder, Matador. MONA. SAVE A WHOLE DAY FOR YOUR MONA EXPERIENCE – YOU WON’T REGRET IT. A great start would be to get your bearings with a bird’s eye view of the city and the meandering Derwent River from Mt Wellington, with a viewing platform that will make you feel like you have wings. Well thought out interpretive signage will give you a sense of place and prepare you for your days ahead. This is as good a time as any to experience your first local culinary delight with a Scallop Pie. These little delicacies of Aussie-fastfood-meets-the-sea are not to everyone’s taste but definitely worth a try. Now you may well have the energy to make your way along the river’s edge to Battery Point - one of the most authentic ways to step back in time with its rows of historical cottages and drinking holes. It is steeped with the historical presence of convicts and bushrangers, whalers and sailors, barmaids and prostitutes, cannibals FIVE MUST DO'S IN TOWN and criminals – an important part of the social fabric of this place. Museum of Old and New Art By this time you should be ready mona.net.au for some serious (and not so serious) Lark’s Distillery culture. larkdistillery.com.au Save a whole day for your MONA experience – you won’t regret it. The Scallop Pies best way to arrive is by water, so it’s a tasmanianscalloppiecomp good thing that MONA offers a regular any.com.au return ferry service for just $20. This Salamanca Market and is the perfect way to see some of the Art District ever present Derwent River and learn about-salamanca.com.au a little more of historic Hobart as your captain provides an entertaining Hobart Ghost Tour and insightful commentary along the ghosttoursofhobart.com.au journey. 1 2 3 4 5 Much has already been said about the MONA experience and reactions range from amazement and joy to shock and disgust. So diverse is the collection on show that truly beautiful, revolting and bizarre works can all be spotted within a few steps. After numerous hours taking in the three underground floors of art – old and new – come up for air and prepare for yourself for more. This place is like a utopian cornucopia for the senses, and now that your eyes, ears and mind are full of what you’ve just witnessed, it’s time for the food, wine, beer ... and then some. That’s right, the MONA site comes complete with its own brewery (Moo Brew), cellar door (Moorilla) and restaurant (The Source). Happen to arrive on a Saturday? The Mona Markets (MoMa) will be in full swing and as if that wasn’t enough, two annual festivals MoFo (Summer) and Dark MoFo (Winter – 13-24 June) take over pockets of the city to spread the cultural tentacles even further. Back in town - whiskey tastings, ingenious local restaurant menus, Salamanca markets and the art district will keep your senses sparking – and we’ve only just skimmed the surface of all that is Hobart. The Museum of Old and New (MONA), top and left, and MoFo Festival, below. Tourism Tasmania FIVE GET OUTTA TOWN DAY TRIPS FROM HOBART 1 Port Arthur haunting history of the convict past portarthur.org.au 2 Huon Valley food, wine, stunning scenery and the amazing Tahune air walk huontrail.org.au WHERE TO STAY 3 Mt Wellington check out that view wellingtonpark. org.au 4 Mt Field National Park terrific Tasmanian country parks.tas.gov.au 5 Tasmanian Devil Conversation Park feedings and conservation tasmaniandevil park.com BOOK NOW MONTGOMERY’S YHA ◆ (03) 6231 2660 ◆ email@example.com ◆ yha.com.au Montgomery’s YHA is right in the centre of town – so you can easily stroll to most attractions. SPECIAL OFFER: Plan your visit to Hobart now and enjoy this great offer during the Dark MOFO festival – 3 nights from only $72 p.p (multi-share), $216 private room with shared bathroom or $240 private ensuite room. Book online. Salamanca Markets, Hobart. Tourism Tasmania TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THESE GREAT-VALUE YHA MEMBER DEALS Shutterstock YHA GETAWAYS DEALS COFFS HARBOUR WHALE WATCHING ADVENTURE PORT ELLIOT WINTER WHALES B&B Watch the whale parade from the scenic balcony at Port Elliot Beach House, along the beautiful coastline or try the Big Duck Boat Whale Watching Tour (extra $50). This package includes: Coffs Harbour is the perfect spot to get up close with whales and dolphins, and now you can combine both with this great value short break package. Watch and learn about the gentle giants of the ocean on a whale watching cruise, then spend the day at Dolphin Marine Magic (formerly Pet Porpoise Pool) where you can enjoy the shows and displays and learn more about Australia's marine life. u 1 or 2 nights at Port Elliot Beach House YHA u Breakfast at your choice of two excellent local cafes u 3 nights' at Coffs Harbour YHA u Free whale watching from the hostel balcony u 2 hour whale watching cruise u Entry to Dolphin Marine Magic One night from $35 per person multi-share, from $98 per double/twin room. Two night package available. Valid to 30 September 2013. From $135 per person multi-share, $339 double/twin (2 people), and from $537 per family (2 adults, 2 children). Valid to 31 August 2013. BOOK NOW BOOK NOW PORT ELLIOT YHA COFFS HARBOUR YHA u (08) 8554 1885 u (02) 6652 6462 u firstname.lastname@example.org u email@example.com PLUS: u 15% off kayaking tours u 10% off Billabong Wildlife Park entry u2 for 1 entry to Sea Acres u 50% off dive course u Free entry to the famous Koala Hospital PORT MACQUARIE GO WILD Combine a wild boat ride on a rigid inflatable with the spectacle of whale watching, then change pace to a relaxed river cruise on an authentic Chinese junk boat, spotting dolphins, bird life, and taking in the views. You can enjoy the best of both worlds with this great-value package. Plus, take advantage of incredible savings on local activities and attractions. BOOK NOW 3-Day Package: 2-Day Package: 2 nights shared or double/ twin accommodation u 3 nights shared or double/ u u twin accommodation 1.5 hour sports boat whale u 1.5 hour sports boat whale watching ride watching ride 2 hour scenic river cruise u 2 hour scenic river cruise u u 1 day free bike hire u Free WiFi (1GB limit) Priced from $86 per person multi-share and from $210 double/twin. Priced from $108 per person multi-share and from $273 per double/twin. Valid to 30 September 2013. Valid to 30 September 2013. u (02) 6583 8133 u firstname.lastname@example.org PHILLIP ISLAND PENGUINS Make the most of Phillip Island's most popular ecotourism attractions with this great-value package. Walk amongst the treetops and learn about the lives of koalas at the BOOK NOW PHILLIP ISLAND YHA u (03) 5956 6123 u email@example.com Koala Conservation Centre, discover history, nature and views on Churchill Island, and watch the famous nightly Penguin Parade. Package includes: u 1 night's accommodation u 1 Phillip Island Nature Parks 3-Park Adult Pass Package from $60. Valid to 15 December 2013, for 12-share room only. Phillip Island Nature Parks PORT MACQUARIE YHA APOLLO BAY 4 FOR 3 SPECIAL Action or relaxation? Idyllic Apollo Bay, between the rainforest of the Otways and the rugged Great Ocean Road, gives you the best of both worlds. And with Apollo Bay Eco YHA offering four nights for the price of three, you'll have an extra day to enjoy it all. u From $90 per person multi-share u From $225 per twin/double room (based on 2 people) u From $285 per family room KOALA CUDDLE EXPRESS Tourism Victoria BOOK NOW APOLLO BAY YHA u (03) 5237 7899 u firstname.lastname@example.org Endless sunshine, uncrowded beaches and loads of adventure activities - hello Magnetic Island. Cuddle a koala, look a croc in the eye, and get wrapped up in a python at Bungalow Bay YHA's onsite wildlife sanctuary! You can enjoy it all with this package for only $135 per person including: u bungalow with ensuite ROTTNEST ISLAND DAY TRIP Tourism WA 2 nights in an 8-share Enjoy a day at Perth's aquatic playground, Rottnest Island. Cycle the island, snorkel the aqua waters over coral reefs, meet the cute quokkas, and relax on white sand beaches. This package from Perth City YHA includes: u Guided walking tour u Snorkel equipment, bike hire with helmet and u Townsville u Entry into koala sanctuary u Koala cuddle & souvenir photo u 1/2 day snorkel hire u 30 mins free internet or WiFi u Jug of beer or cider u Rock wallaby food to feed the security lock u Morning pick-up from Return ferry transfers from 'locals' Valid to 31 March 2014. Perth with return ferry to BOOK NOW BOOK NOW Rottnest Island. Includes PERTH CITY YHA u (08) 9787 3333 u email@example.com scenic Swan River Cruise u Rottnest Island entry fee Priced at $149 per person. Valid to 31 March 2014. BUNGALOW BAY YHA u (07) 4778 5577 u firstname.lastname@example.org Tourism Australia NOOSA 4 FOR 3 Really experience Noosa on the Sunshine Coast with this great offer giving you four nights mid-week at charming Halse Lodge Guesthouse YHA for the price of three nights. There's loads to do here, so you'll need the extra day, whether you want to hit the waves, visit Fraser Island or Australia Zoo, kayak the Noosa Everglades, wander Noosa National Park, or simply explore town. Stay four nights from as little as $87 per person multi-share. Valid to 31 August 2013. Excludes weekends, public holidays and event weekends. CANBERRA CITY BREAK Blockbuster exhibitions in top museums; thrilling sports events, jam-packed music gigs; and everpopular festivals including Floriade. There's always something happening in the capital and you can experience it all with Canberra City YHA's City Break Package. Package includes: u 2 nights at Canberra u City YHA 2 continental breakfasts u 1 day bike hire u 2 days WiFi Prices from $90 per person multi-share, $215 double/ twin (shared bathroom). Valid to 30 September 2013. BOOK NOW BOOK NOW HALSE LODGE YHA CANBERRA CITY YHA u (07) 5447 3377 u (02) 6248 9155 u email@example.com u firstname.lastname@example.org BLUE MOUNTAINS ADVENTURE DEAL Enjoy the breathtaking views from new heights with this great abseiling deal. The day includes abseiling instruction and practice, followed by the 60 metre Super Jump. Deal includes: BOOK NOW BLUE MOUNTAINS YHA u (02) 4782 1416 u email@example.com u 2 night's multi-share plus daily breakfast u Full day abseiling adventure with adventure specialists High 'n' Wild (lunch included) u 1 hour internet Package from $210 per person. Valid to 31 September 2013. FEATURE / CYCLING HOLIDAYS GET INT GEAR ◆ ELINOR SHEARGOLD EXPLORES THREE DESTINATIONS THAT ARE JUST BETTER BY BIKE. Cycling the Loire, France. Ewen Bell MY MOST MEMORABLE biking moments are breaking a leg when I was five, and an overthe-handlebars mountain bike mishap 25 years later. And yet, there’s something about cycling that keeps drawing me back into the saddle. Maybe it’s the lure of a leisurely pace, the eco-ego boost from self-propelled sightseeing, or simply the promise of a tight butt. What’s certain is cycling makes for a great (and great-value) way to get around while travelling. To inspire you to try pedal power, here are three cycle routes that will have you in training in no time. The Loire à Vélo cycle route, France. JD Billaud LOIRE À VÉLO, FRANCE F EST O B Beginners R France’s enchanting Loire Valley is perfect if you’re more casual cruiser than lycra-clad pro. Freed from the confines of public transport, you can soak in the scenery, smells and sounds as you ride through flowering fields and royal hunting forests, along riverside paths, past (and even into) the grounds of fairytale châteaux. In fact, aside from the occasional short climb to a hilltop castle, the steepest thing you’re likely to encounter is the castle entry fee. The still-growing Loire à Vélo cycle route, and its equally lovely detours, offer an enticing mix of thigh-friendly and faultlessly signposted roads, cycle lanes and rural paths, stretching for 800km from the heart of France to the Atlantic coast. There’s also the advantage of having a train line never far away, allowing you to split the route up into bitesize rides, plan leisurely day trips, and start or interrupt your trip at will. Bikes are transported free on TER regional trains. D Drouet Don’t forget to cycle on the right side of the road in France and Vietnam. CYCLING ALLOWS YOU TO COVER MORE GROUND AND VISIT LESSER-KNOWN ATTRACTIONS Atout France Michel Angot Thorsten Bronner TIP Château Chenonceau, Loire Valley, France Shutterstock Château à Vélo is one of the best circuits. Starting from the granddaddy of all Loire châteaux, Chambord, it winds through the royal city of Blois, to richly-furnished Cheverny, the inspiration for Tin Tin's Marlinspike Hall. Don’t miss feeding time for Cheverny’s 100 or so hunting hounds– it’s an eye opener. There are an infinite number of fortresses and castles, but daily rewards here aren’t limited to castle-hopping. Cycling allows you to cover more ground and visit lesserknown attractions such as troglodyte dwellings carved out of the white “tuffeau” stone, vineyards, gardens, and the wildlife of the Loire delta. How about the surreal experience of cycling through Angers’ former blue slate mine before visiting its 600-year-old Apocalypse Tapestry? And let’s not forget the food. What better end to a day’s cycling than a riverside picnic with a drop of local Sancerre wine, or a guilt-free meal al fresco as the summer sound and light show illuminates the local château. Wine and cheese tasting, Sancerre; riverside cycling; Chateau de Saumur rises above the Loire River; the largest castle in the Loire, extravagant Chambord; troglodyte dwelling built into the rock. JP Klein Shutterstock Clockwise from top: F EST O B Fraser Clements Tourism NZ R Scenery NGA HARENGA, NEW ZEALAND With its breathtaking scenery, wide roads and traffic-free trails, New Zealand serves up some of the best cycling in the world. The New Zealand Cycle Trail, appropriately named ‘Nga Haerenga’ meaning ‘the journeys’, gathers up 21 existing and in-development trails, in a bid to create a world class network of cycling journeys that show off the best of the country’s awesome landscapes, culture and heritage. Multiple access points and varying degrees of difficulty provide plenty of inspiration for rides ranging from a few hours to a few days, be it meandering through the wineries, lakes and coastline of Nelson’s Tasman Bay along the Great Taste Trail, or tackling the rocky landscapes and high country of the Otago Central Rail Trail. For a great South Island overview, dip into a leg of the epic Alps 2 Ocean Trail. From New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki Mount Cook, the trail travels 300km to the coastal town of Oamaru. This is big sky country, where the sweep of every bend brings views of snow-capped mountains and alpine tundra mirrored in glacial fed lakes. And it’s all on trails that are surprisingly suitable for all abilities. Top of our list? The Thermal Bike Trail, easily accessible from Rotorua, is an adventure through a witch’s cauldron of steaming vents, bubbling mud, colourful mineral pools and spectacular geysers. As a major centre of Maori culture, adventure sports and thermal spas, there are also more than a few off-pedal attractions you’ll be needing transport to. CYCLING AUSTRALIA Australia may still be catching on to cycling holidays, but there’s plenty of choice if you know where to look. Islands are great, compact destinations allowing you to mix sea, saddle and self-guided sightseeing. Established ride and hire options exist from Kangaroo and Phillip Island in the south, to tropical Magnetic Island. It’s pretty much the only way to get around on near-traffic free Rottnest Island, off the Perth coast. Australia’s many wine regions have also built up a network of undemanding two-wheel trails, with the added attraction of aprèscycling indulgence. As you’d expect of the home of the Tour Down Under, Adelaide has trails aplenty around the city, coast and into the hills. Brisbane’s River Loop provides an attractive day out, Hobart has its Mount Wellington descent, and Canberra’s flat paths and open spaces seem made for cycling. But Melbourne’s great cycling culture, infrastructure and city bike-share scheme give it the edge. YHA has many hostels in Australia with bikes free or for hire if you don’t want to bring your own. Book online at yha.com.au Hoi An, Vietnam F EST O B Shutterstock R Culture KEY FACTS HIGHWAY 1, VIETNAM Asia has long had a love affair with the bicycle, and there’s no better way to immerse yourself in the culture, cuisine, cities and countryside of enigmatic Vietnam (regularly voted one of the world’s friendliest countries), than by travelling on two wheels. The most popular cycling route is Highway 1, connecting Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, two cities once torn apart by conflict. For all its iffy road surfaces, honking traffic, dodging locals and animals there are also long stretches of dramatic coastline and karst formations, country lanes through lush rice paddies, coconut and coffee plantations, and the always welcoming smiles of locals. Unlike Bangkok, bikes and scooters still dominate the wide, tree-lined streets of Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. Intimidation quickly turns to exhilaration as you join in the melee, haggle over the handle bars, and duck down side streets thick with the spicy scents from street vendors. Highway 1 makes it easy to escape the city limits to (quite literally) greener pastures. Not that you need to tackle the full 1,200km. You might want to hail a bus to conquer the sadistically steep Hai Van Pass between DaNang and former imperial capital, Hue. Once there, it’s easy to hire a bike to explore Hue’s tombs, temples, palaces and pagodas by day and return with plenty of time to tuck into the city’s famous cuisine. From Hue the highway hugs the coastline down to Ho Chi Minh, via the bustling shopping town of Hoi An. To the north, Hanoi is surrounded by the golden triangle of iconic Ha Long Bay and the rural paradises of Sapa and Mai Chau, with their misty mountains, terraced rice paddies, and stilted hill tribe huts. Or, if you’ve had your fill of hills, the pancake flat Mekong Delta and its tributaries lie just south of Ho Chi Minh City. The regularly updated Loire à Vélo website is crammed with need-to-know information on the Loire’s network of hire, repair, baggage storage and transfer services, plus all the expected cycle routes and tourism information. It even has its own app. cycling-loire.com The New Zealand Cycle Trail website includes handy information on all 21 trails, including maps, difficulty ratings, each trail’s current status and highlights. nzcycletrail.com If you’re not prepared to go it alone in Vietnam, bike tours (and there are a lot of them) offer structure and support to your cycle holiday. Intrepid offers tours between 2 and 17 days including short and full-length cycling adventures through Vietnam. intrepidtravel.com YHA has hostels in all these destinations. Book online. hihostels.com.au FEATURE / TROPICAL NORTH QUEENSLAND TASTEof Paradise ◆ Tourism Queensland CAIRNS HAS NEVER BEEN MORE DELICIOUS, WRITES SARAH BLINCO, AS SHE EXPLORES A FOOD TRAIL AROUND TROPICAL NORTH QUEENSLAND. CAIRNS How do I love thee? Let me count the ways … reef, rainforest and other obvious beauty; beaches, colourful markets, contemporary clubs, cocktails, cappuccinos and cool people. The city is renowned as the ‘gateway to the Great Barrier Reef’, but the region presents everything quintessentially Australian including rainforest and the Outback, within one easily navigated area. In my view though, the best thing about North Queensland is that there’s plenty of fun, adventure and tasty treats to be had that will not break the bank. This fertile country is a thriving hub for locally-grown harvests, boutique wineries, delectable chocolate and coffee producers, and is quickly becoming a necessary pilgrimage for the health-conscious and organic or vegan-obsessed. It’s entirely viable to indulge in an inexpensive sensory adventure in these parts; visit the foodie source, sampling produce, and photographing picturesque scenery along the way, which is exactly what my partner and I did. Our only problem was where to start. That’s when I turned to a recent discovery, a handy free app called Taste Paradise, which piqued my interest because it solved the planning for us, and focuses on two of my great loves: travel and food. Tourism Queensland THIS FERTILE COUNTRY IS A THRIVING HUB FOR DIVINE LOCALLY-GROWN HARVESTS 1 Kuranda Range Lookout on the way to Kuranda from Cairns offers magnificent views across the region. On a clear day you can see all the way out to islands and Reef, down to the city’s suburbs and surrounding rainforest. 2 You’ll discover the Mount Uncle Distillery and Bridges Cafe just after Mareeba on the road to Atherton. It’s North Queensland’s first and only distillery, and is a popular spot to sample locally produced spirits liqueurs and teas. 3 Towards Malanda is what’s known as the ‘waterfall circuit’. Snack on your day’s purchases while driving, or pause at locations like Malanda Falls or Millaa Millaa Falls for pictures and a peaceful picnic. 4 Back on the main highway outside of the waterfall circuit, you’ll spot a turn-off towards Mungalli Creek Biodynamic Dairy. The on-site cafe’s awardwinning selection of gourmet Greek-style yoghurt, soft and hard cheeses are tempting. 5 You’ll most likely head back down to Cairns via the scenic Gillies Highway, so keep an eye out for signs pointing to enchanting Lake Barrine, a crater lake formed as a result of a volcanic eruption about 10,000 years ago. Here you can explore rainforest or take a wildlife cruise and indulge in a hearty meal at the popular Lake Barrine Tea House. Tourism Queensland CAIRNS HIGHLAND’S FOODIE JOURNEY HOT-SPOTS The concept couldn’t be simpler. Download the app, spin the plate and choose your own adventure. The featured ‘food trails’ outline five delectable itineraries which enable a traveller on any budget to see − and eat (or drink) − their way through the very best on the North Queensland menu, including restaurants, markets, wineries, cafes, farms and plantations. Hire a car in Cairns (not too pricey and cheaper still if you can share the cost with a small group) and follow the maps and descriptions to delightful destinations. You could choose the Coral Coast trail which winds throughout the city’s special culinary experiences towards Palm Cove; the Rainforest Road en-route to the Daintree and its bountiful natural offerings. Or, try the Cassowary Coast option to experience authentic local sugar, banana and tropical fruit plantations as well as traditional country pubs, bush and secluded beaches south of Cairns. We combined a variation of two trails − Savannah Tablelands and Misty Mountains − up into the hills beyond Cairns to the Atherton Tablelands (or Cairns Highlands). Just one tank of petrol kept us cruising along on this 200km (approximately) round-trip, beginning and ending in Cairns, and travelling to Kuranda, past Mareeba, through Atherton towards Malanda and down the Gillies Highway to the city again. The scenery is ever-changing − ageless rainforest, dusty flat plains, fruitful pastures, mountainous trails, lush sprawling valleys, lakes, waterfalls, palm trees; a picture-perfect expedition of wild and natural landscapes. Alongside an endless feast for the photographer’s eye, there are plentiful opportunities for foodies, from mango wines, and more traditional reds and whites, to cheese, nuts, honey, chocolate, coffee, fruit, vegetables, ice-cream, beer and spirits − all produced from under our feet; even the famous Nerada tea plantation is up here! Not only can you taste-test a variety of products, but you’ll learn a little about what you’re eating or drinking too, as well as interesting history surrounding the location courtesy of the friendly, passionate staff at each stop. For example, at Jaques Coffee Plantation we learnt how the world’s favourite beverage comes to life, and how the Jaques family evolved their coffee production prowess across several continents and generations. There’s an abundance of scrumptious locations for everyone to discover in Tropical North Queensland. Plot preferences utilising the app, and you’ll not only locate attractions you might never have known existed, but your taste-buds will thank you, and you’ll drive away with a wealth of distinctive insights and travel stories too. WHERE TO STAY CAIRNS CENTRAL YHA ◆ (07) 4051 0772 ◆ firstname.lastname@example.org ◆ yha.com.au PORT DOUGLAS YHA ◆ (07) 4099 5422 ◆ email@example.com ◆ yha.com.au CAPE TRIBULATION BEACHOUSE YHA ◆ (07) 4098 0030 ◆ firstname.lastname@example.org ◆ yha.com.au Tourism Queensland MISSION BEACH YHA ◆ (07) 4088 6229 ◆ email@example.com ◆ yha.com.au Tea plantation Tourism Queensland WHAT'S ON HERE’S OUR PICK OF EVENTS COMING UP IN YOUR REGION Melbourne International Film Festival 25 July – 11 August 2013 VI C Australia’s biggest celebration of celluloid returns to Melbourne for 17 days of films and famous faces. A whopping 300 flicks from more than 50 countries will hit the screens across the CBD, including premieres, movie marathons, Q & A sessions, retrospectives, prize-winners and festival favourites from Cannes, Berlin and Toronto. For tickets, passes and program details visit miff.com.au ◆◆ Stay at Melbourne Central YHA ◆◆ (03) 9621 2523 ◆◆ firstname.lastname@example.org WIN YHA has an eMini Pass to give away - see a lucky 13 films for free at the 2013 Festival. Email your name MIFF and why you want to go to MIFF (25 words or less) to email@example.com by 19 July 2013. Melbourne International Film Festival. Burleigh Classic 15-16 June 2013 QLD Calderon/Surfing Queensland Beautiful Burleigh Headland provides a gorgeous backdrop to the action at this annual surfing spectacular. Stake out a spot on the beach and enjoy the show as some of the best in the world tackle the big waves for precious points in the World Championship Pro trials. surfingqueensland.com ◆◆ Stay at Coolangatta/Kirra Beach YHA ◆◆ (07) 5536 7644 Annie Yu Bondi Winter Festival ◆◆ firstname.lastname@example.org SOUTH AUSTRALIAN LIVING ARTISTS (SALA) FESTIVAL 2-25 August 2013 SA The statewide South Australian Living Artists (SALA) Festival celebrates SA’s top talent in visual arts. Featuring over 3,000 amateur and established artists and around 500 innovative exhibits in spaces ranging from wineries and cafes to galleries and shops, this truly unique festival is also absolutely free. salafestival.com ◆◆ Choose from 8 YHAs in South Australia. Book online at yha.com.au Open House Melbourne 27-28 July 2013 VI C Now in its 6th year Open House Melbourne gives the public a rare (and free) opportunity to discover the city’s wealth of architectural, engineering and historic buildings. Colonial buildings, national monuments, architectural and engineering marvels, and award-winning private residences are among the properties unlocking their doors for the weekend. openhousemelbourne.org ◆◆ Stay at Melbourne Metro YHA ◆◆ (03) 9329 8599 ◆◆ email@example.com THE ROCKS AROMA FEST 21 July 2013 N SW Celebrate all things coffee, chocolate, tea and spice at this free one-day festival by the Harbour. Savour the flavours of a smooth Mayan coffee, spicy chai or a devilishly thick hot chocolate as you wander the themed areas: The Oasis, The Continent, The Orient or The Latin Quarter. Tempt your tastebuds with traditional tucker from around the world, while your other senses enjoy free entertainment and markets. therocks.com ◆◆ Stay at Sydney Harbour YHA ◆◆ (02) 8292 0900 ◆◆ firstname.lastname@example.org VAN GOGH, DALI & BEYOND 22 June – 2 December 2013 If you like your art modern, weird or warped, Perth’s Van Gogh, Dali and Beyond: The World Reimagined exhibition is sure to wow you. Bringing together visually stunning and iconic works by Picasso, Cezanne, Richter, Kahlo, Van Gogh, Dali and other artists who transformed modern art in the last century, this exhibition comes direct from New York’s Museum of Modern Art to The Art Gallery of Western Australia. momaseries.com.au ◆◆ Stay at Perth City YHA ◆◆ (08) 9287 3333 ◆◆ email@example.com WA Salvador Dalí (Spanish, 1904-1989) Illumined Pleasures 1929 Oil and collage on composition board 9 3/8 × 13 3/4” (23.8 × 34.7 cm) The Museum of Modern Art, New York The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection © 2013 Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Tourism NT WACKY RACES July & August 2013 NT When it comes to races, the Northern Territory sure likes ‘em quirky. Take Darwin’s annual Beer Can Regatta on 7 July: the day includes a packed program of thong throwing, tug-o-war and sand castle contests. But the main draws are the homemade beer can boats that sink, swim and sabotage their competition at Mindil Beach. In the Red Centre, Alice Springs boasts not one but two race days with a difference. First up is the hotly contested Camel Cup on 13 July. Stick around for the hilarious Henley-on – Todd on 18 August and watch the bottomless boats and bathtubs battle it out on the dry riverbed. ◆◆ Stay at Darwin YHA or Alice Springs YHA Get your skates on and hit the (ahem) coolest festival this season. Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach will be transformed into a free winter wonderland complete with giant ice skating rink, live music, figure skating and ice hockey displays, plus food stalls to help you warm up by the wood fire with mulled wine at the bar and traditional winter food. Book ice skating and skate hire on bondiwintermagic.com.au N SW Bondi Winter Magic BONDI WINTER FESTIVAL 29 June – 15 July 2013 TBC AND ALSO... Sea and Vines Food & Wine Festival 8-10 June 2013 Stay Port Elliot Beach House YHA Noosa Long Weekend Festival 14-23 June 2013 Stay Halse Lodge YHA Stay at Bondi Beachouse YHA ◆◆ (02) 9365 2088 ◆◆ firstname.lastname@example.org Exposing Edith, Michaela Burger Truffle Kerfuffle 22 June 2013 Stay Pemberton Backpackers YHA Blue Mountains Winter Magic 22 June 2013 Stay Blue Mountains YHA Hollywood Costume at ACMI To 18 August 2013 Adelaide Cabaret Fringe ADELAIDE CABARET FRINGE 1-29 June 2013 We gave you a heads up about the big name Adelaide Cabaret Festival last issue, but its smaller cousin the Cabaret Fringe Festival is the real eye-opener during the month of June. Featuring an entirely local line-up of emerging artists in dazzling displays from comedy and contortion, to musicals and variety shows, this fantastic festival is held at venues across Adelaide and as far afield as McLaren Vale. Full program and tickets on the website. cabaretfringefestival.com ◆◆ Stay at Adelaide Central YHA ◆◆ (08) 8414 3010 ◆◆ email@example.com SA Stay Melbourne Central YHA Turner from the Tate To 8 September 2013 Stay Canberra City YHA E BOOK ALL THES E HOSTELS ONLIN YHA.COM.AU BACKPACKER / ESSENTIAL S YHA.COM.AU NEXT ISSUE AVAILABLE 7TH AUGUST 2013