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contents Travel News All the latest news and developments from YHAs at home and abroad.


Australian Traveller This summer, get out into your own backyard. Enjoy some great Getaway special offers and check out the What’s On guide to this season’s top events.

14 20 28 32 36 The Scenic Route

Capitals of Cool

Travelling from Sydney to Melbourne via the Princes Highway is one of Australia’s most satisfying road trips.

Four world cities that should be on every traveller’s bucket list: Rio, Berlin, Bangkok and Portland.

Quirky Aussie Events

To Tour or Not to Tour

Literary Landmarks

From regattas to beer can races, melon festivals and ute mustering, there’s an event out there for everyone.

Shaney Hudson looks at the pros and cons of including a group tour in your travel plans.

Add some literary flavour to your next trip with a pilgrimage to these outstanding author spots.

BACKPACKER ESSENTIALS VOL. 15, NO. 3 PUBLISHER YHA, GPO BOX 5276, SYDNEY, NSW 2001 YHA.COM.AU Managing Editor Janet McGarry Assistant Editor Elinor Sheargold State Editors NSW Elinor Sheargold Vic Jody Bennett Qld Tracy King SA Di Caught Tas Mike Callinan

Editorial enquiries: The Editor, Backpacker Essentials, GPO Box 5276, Sydney NSW 2001. T: (02) 9261 1111 F: (02) 9264 4516 E: backpackeressentials

Backpacker Essentials is designed for YHA by Hardie Grant Magazines 4/50 Yeo St, Neutral Bay NSW 2089, Australia T: (02) 9908 8222 F: (02) 9908 8666 W:

General Manager Clare Brundle

Production Clare Gibbons

Publisher Trisha Valliappan

Pre-press Manly Mac Art

Managing Editor Jo Sharp

Print Offset Alpine

Art Director Dan Morley Ad Manager Emily Stiff

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 information is correct at the time of going to press. 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.


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TO U R I S M Q L D, KO S C I U S Z KO T H R E D B O, W H I T S U N DAY S O C E A N R A F T I N G , E U R E K A S K Y D E C K 8 8

Thredbo Summer Specials

Whitehaven Rafting Adventure

Mad for Melbourne




The NSW Snowy Mountains are the perfect getaway this season – no crowds, lots of great scenery, and all the ingredients for your alpine adventure. Thredbo YHA is offering a choice of two great-value getaways: Alpine Adventure • 3 nights in a 4-share room • 1 full day of climbing and abseiling (includes chairlift ticket) • Guided walk to Mt Kosciuszko.

Think beach break in Australia and the bleached white beaches and see-through waters of Queensland's Whitsundays are sure to come to mind. Ocean Rafting is the fastest, and most exhilarating, way to get out on the Whitsundays waters and visit world-famous Whitehaven Beach. Enjoy snorkelling pristine reefs and guided walks in Whitsunday Island National Park. It’s also the only tour to have direct access to Hill Inlet Beach, where you can see stingrays and ghost crabs in their natural habitat. Priced from $168 per person multi-share or $192 per person double/twin room, this adventure package includes: • 2 nights' multi-share or double/twin at Airlie Beach YHA • Full-day ocean rafting trip to Whitehaven Beach • ½ price buffet lunch when you show your YHA card • EMC (Reef Tax) • Courtesy pick-up

Melbourne has long been considered Australia’s capital of culture, cafés, comedy and cool. Where else can you discover hidden alleys and street art in action on a tour with the artists themselves; enjoy a ribtickling night out with the country’s latest and greatest comedians for $10, or even free; climb the highest viewing platform in the Southern Hemisphere for awe-inspiring views; then down a summer cocktail in a bar carved from ice? Even better, YHA member discounts on all these experiences make Victoria's capital a great-value getaway. Save over $70 with: • The Comic’s Lounge – free double passes Monday to Thursday • Last Laugh at the Comedy Club – $10 tickets • Chill on Ice Lounge – $20 entry, includes gloves, cape, ugg boots and cocktail • Eureka Skydeck 88 – 15% off entry • Melbourne Street Art Tours – $10 off • Melbourne Zoo – 10% off

Departs daily (weather depending). Valid to 31 March 2013.

See for more great YHA member discounts in and around Melbourne.

Prices start from $85 per person (2-4 people) and from $100 (one person). Valid from 1 January – 31 May 2013. Family Getaway • 2 or 3 nights in a family room • One 2-day Family Summer Pass valued at $140, includes: - 2 days' unlimited chairlift access - 6 bobsled rides - 2 days' access to the Leisure Centre - 1 hour tennis court hire - 1 round of golf per day. Priced from $338 for 2 nights. Based on 2 adults, and up to 3 children. Valid from 1 November 2012 – 31 May 2013. Book online at or contact Thredbo YHA on T: (02) 6457 6376 E:

Book via or contact Airlie Beach YHA on T: (07) 4946 6312 E:

Book your bed at Melbourne Metro YHA or Melbourne Central YHA at

>> | 47


Coming Soon Port Lincoln, SA

YHA has taken the plunge in South Australia, lending its expertise to help develop the first backpackers hostel in Port Lincoln, on the Eyre Peninsula. With its drawcards of cage-diving with great white sharks, swimming with tuna or seals, plenty of awesome natural wonders for those who prefer not to get their feet wet, and a reputation as the ‘Seafood Capital of Australia’, Port Lincoln is high on Australia’s list of up-and-coming travel destinations. The new hostel, which could potentially join the Australian YHA network when it opens at the end of 2012, promises to take a bite out of accommodation prices and make this region more affordable.

Getaway Australia This summer, stay where the sun, sand and surf is at your doorstep. Book at 6 |

The hostel operators also run Calypso Star Charters shark cage-diving adventures. The only Advanced Eco Certified one-day charter company in Port Lincoln, Calypso’s tours take you to the Neptune Islands. A 2.5-hour cruise away, the islands are home to one of the largest populations of great white sharks in the world. Here, the clear blue waters are one of the few places on the planet where you can safely come face-to-face with these toothy but threatened ocean predators. YHA members receive a free CD and DVD set worth $50 with your Calypso one-day shark diving adventure tour, plus use of Calypso's underwater camera. Stay tuned at for more info.


Stradbroke Island, QLD This beachfront YHA’s dive centre will help you spot the local rays, dolphins and turtles. Manta Lodge YHA T: (07) 3409 8888 E:


South Australia's unspoiled Eyre Peninsula

Tick of approval for YHA Australia YHA Australia has been granted T-QUAL Accreditation, recognising commitment to quality throughout the YHA hostel network. T-QUAL Accreditation is the Australian Government’s quality benchmark for the tourism industry. The T-QUAL Tick is the symbol that identifies tourism businesses in Australia which have been recognised for their quality. YHA is the first backpacker and youth tourism operator to receive the T-QUAL tick. So look out for the T-QUAL Tick on your travels, and you can be confident of the highest standards.

Sydney Summer YHA

Life Membership and Newtown, and boasting sweeping city views from the rooftop BBQ terrace, it’s only a short bus ride to the centre of Sydney. Prices start from $100 per twin room (YHA members) and there are limited single and double ensuite rooms. Book online at

If you’ve been a YHA member for at least two years, why not consider taking out Life Membership? No more worrying about renewing each year – your membership will always be valid. You’ll get ongoing discounts on accommodation, tours, transport and activities, plus regular communications from YHA, jam-packed with special offers. You can even give the gift of YHA Life Membership to somebody else – it makes an ideal 18th or 21st birthday present! For details, phone (02) 9261 1111.



Fairy penguins and a long sandy beach are right across the road from this YHA. Kangaroo Island YHA T: (08) 8553 1344 E:

Surf, snorkel, swim or horse ride the Great Ocean Road’s beaches from this eco hostel. Apollo Bay Eco YHA T: (03) 5237 7899 E:

Kangaroo Island, SA I M AG E S: C R E D I T


Thinking of visiting Sydney, or got friends and relatives coming to town during the festive season? Stay at Sydney Summer YHA @ Victoria Park. Open from 19 December 2012 to 5 January 2013, Sydney Summer YHA is conveniently located in International House within the grounds of Sydney University’s beautiful Camperdown campus. Close to Broadway, and the inner-west’s funky Glebe

Apollo Bay, VIC


ker c a p k c Ba s rail fare $66

> ADL MEL < $131 > ADL < D Y S $181 > ALICE < L D A $181 DAR > < E IC AL $251 R E P > < ADL $373 PER SYD <>

The most relaxed way to see the vast Australian Outback is by train.


• Stretch your legs in your spacious recliner seat • Chill out in the Red Gum Lounge*

Alice Springs

• Make friends, have a snack or dinner in the licensed cafe/bar • Freshen up with on-board shower facilities*



• Travel city to city and see everything between at great value




• Unlimited travel Rail Passes available from $450 find us

Visit or book with your licensed travel agent. Terms and conditions apply. All Backpacker Readyrail fares are based on Red Service Day/Nighter Seat Service and are available to members of recognised backpacker organisations for bookings made from 1 April 2012 for travel until 31 March 2013. All fares are as stated and only available online, also available in opposite direction. All fares include a fuel price surcharge. Fares are based on pricing up to 31 March 2013 and may differ for travel from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014. Prices are subject to change without notice, available for instant purchase. Nonrefundable. *Shower and lounge facilities not available on The Overland, Melbourne <> Adelaide. An additional lounge access charge of $10 for 1-sector, $15 for 2-sector or $25 for 3-sector is required and payable onboard. Travel Agent License No.TTA164190. 020259CDGM



Good Sport If you enjoy sport then you’re in for a blockbuster season. Kicking things off in style are the dresses, drinks and dollars of the famous Melbourne Cup. Hot on the horses’ hooves comes the world class wheels of Sydney’s V8s, and the grand slam spectacle as tennis’ latest and greatest warm up at Perth’s Hopman Cup and Brisbane International ahead of the Australian Open. Bikes, kites, boats and balls all jostle for space on a packed program for Australia’s summer of sport, including:

PGA Championships, Sunshine Coast, QLD 13-16 December 2012 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, NSW/TAS From 26 December 2012

Tour Down Under, SA 20-27 January 2013 Lancelin Ocean Classic, WA January 2013 Australian Open, VIC 14-27 January 2013 Australian Grand Prix, VIC 14-17 March 2013

Book your YHA bed in all these locations at For more events around Australia, see page 44.

Glebe turns 25

Sydney’s Glebe Point YHA will be celebrating its 25th Anniversary next year. Why not wish them an early birthday during the annual Glebe Street Fair on 18 November 2012.


Got a place to nominate? Want to win a great travel prize? Joanna will be receiving a Koru Wheeled 80 from Macpac (RRP $499.95). For more information visit Tell us your favourite YHA in Australia (in less than 200 words) and send it to: Backpacker Essentials, GPO Box 5276, Sydney NSW 2001 or



Join the surf pros on some of NSW’s top beaches, with the YHA’s free boards. Newcastle Beach YHA T: (02) 4925 3544 E:

You can’t get much better than this hostel’s secluded beachfront location. Dunsborough Beachouse YHA T: (08) 9755 3107 E:

Newcastle, NSW I M AG E S: C R E D I T

One of my greatest memories is floating on beanbags in the rooftop pool, getting out only to enjoy the fantastic views across the Brisbane River. While here, grab a bite at Drifters Café, chill out in the TV room and meet fellow backpackers in the games room. Brisbane YHA also features a communal kitchen, luggage storage, Wi-Fi, a nearby supermarket, close public transport and air-conditioned rooms. Tourist info was readily available and the staff were always willing to lend a hand. Nominated by Joanna Ward, WA Brisbane City YHA T: (07) 3236 1004 E: W:


V8 Supercars, Sydney, NSW 30 November – 2 December 2012


Dunsborough, WA



Introducing Namibia Rooms, all named after the country’s wild animals, range from six-share dorms with ensuite bathroom, to Africanthemed ensuite doubles, family rooms and even a honeymoon suite! Prices, from approx AUD$17, include breakfast and guests can also take advantage of plenty of facilities, such as the swimming pool, Wi-Fi, BBQ, TV lounge, kitchen, bar, and off-street parking. And did we mention the hostel has its very own on-site safari office? Chameleon Safaris run weekly tours, from two to seven days, to some of Namibia’s most sought after destinations, like Etosha National Park, the Germanflavoured surfing mecca of Swakopmund, and the beautiful scenery of the Sossusvlei region. YHA members receive a 10 percent discount. Visit for more information on available tours. S H U T T E R S TO C K .C O M

Imagine climbing the world’s highest sand dunes, descending into the deepest canyon in Africa, spending a day tracking and gathering with the San bushmen of the Kalahari Desert, and marvelling at the moonscapes and flat pans of the Namib-Nauklift Park (pictured). Namibia rivals many of Africa’s better-known destinations when it comes to the big drawcards of adventure, scenery and culture. Like its neighbours South Africa and Botswana, it’s also a wildlife paradise for safari tours. The good news is you can now explore it all from the country’s first YHA hostel. Chameleon Backpackers is a friendly guest house in the heart of the capital, Windhoek.

Chameleon Backpackers T: +264 61 244347 E: W:

5 of the best

overseas stays

Check out these new YHAs around the world. Book your bed ahead at:


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Castleton, UK

This 18th century hall in the dramatic Peaks District is surrounded by formal gardens, caves and acres of parkland. Castleton Losehill Hall YHA E:


Now Open EXCLUSIVE BACKPACKER ESSENTIALS OFFER: Both Lagoa Hostel and Vila do Porto Hostel are offering every Backpacker Essentials reader an exclusive two-guests-for-the-price-ofone deal for stays between November 2012 and May 2013. Readers who present a copy of the magazine on check-in will receive a free night for one person, when two or more guests stay. Valid for multishare rooms only. Deal only available direct from the hostel.

The Azores, Portugal Once a pitstop for traders en route to the New World, the Azores archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean is home to awesome volcanic landscapes including lava tubes, waterfalls, hot springs and crater lakes, sculpted over thousands of years. It’s also home to two new YHA hostels. A stone’s throw from the sea, Sao Miguel’s purpose-built Lagoa Hostel is the perfect base to explore the island’s dramatic scenery and colonial settlements. The 50-bed hostel offers four-share and triple rooms, plus private rooms with their own bathroom and balcony. There’s free breakfast and Wi-Fi, a bar, terrace restaurant and sports facilities. Pop next door to the Volcanic Centre to learn more about the islands. The southernmost of the nine islands, Santa Maria is best known for its white sandy beaches, distinct chimneys and dry warm weather. Located in the centre of Vila do Porto, right next to the port, the brand new Vila do Porto Hostel

Armenia & Georgia If you yearn to discover exotic new destinations relatively untouched by modern tourism, follow in the footsteps of Jason and the Argonauts to the former Soviet republics Armenia and Georgia. Located in the mountainous Caucasus region between the Black and Caspian Seas, these countries ooze ancient history, with towns and ruins dating back to the early days of human history, plus mountain-top monasteries, friendly locals, and delicious cuisine. The ever-expanding YHA network now has a number of hostels to book in both countries, including stylish hostels in Yerevan, considered one of the world’s oldest cities, and Tbilisi, the so-called “Jewel of the Caucasus”. Book online at



Discover island time and Polynesian hospitality amongst the rainforest and reefs of the unspoiled South Pacific. Nuku’alofa – Tonga World E:

Reopened after a serious designer refurb, this sustainable woodland hostel has effortless cool and character. Stayokay Soest E:

Nuku’alofa, Tonga


boasts air-conditioned double/ twin and multi-share rooms, 24-hour reception, bike hire, cable TV, internet, café/bar and a picturepostcard pool overlooking town. Book online at

Soest, The Netherlands

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DEPARTURES From 1 November 2012, Emirates will launch a direct flight service between Adelaide and Dubai International Airport. Adelaide will be the airline’s fifth destination in Australia, with four flights a week, rising to daily direct services from 1 February 2013. Proving itself to be one of the fastest growing airlines in the world, Emirates also plans a boost to its Perth services, which will grow to thrice-daily flights from March next year. Meanwhile, Melbourne will join Sydney as home of the airline’s A380 double-decker services. Fast becoming a favourite stopover for Australians heading to Europe or Africa, there are seven YHA hostels to choose from in the United Arab Emirates, including three hostels in the flamboyant capital, Dubai. Book online at Contact YHA Travel for all your flights, travel insurance, and travel needs, or visit

MY FAVOURITE YHA… Church bells ring out across the skyline of spires and old roofs, and the early evening light floods through the windows of my lovely airy room in Quebec International YHA. This hostel is well-situated in a quieter part of the upper old town, but wander down a hill along cobbled streets and you find yourself immersed in the bustling town. The hostel’s breakfasts are a fresh and fabulous start to the day. Amenities are clean, the bar is well-stocked, and there is a friendly horde of staff to assist with queries. Nominated by Zoe Biddlestone, QLD Quebec International YHA T: +1 418 694 4755 E: reservations@ W:


EARLYBIRD DEALS Travelling overseas in 2013? Many tours and airlines are offering Earlybird Deals for bookings before December 2012. Contact your nearest YHA Travel Centre for more information or contact

04 I M AG E S: C R E D I T

Newfoundland, Canada

Right on the Atlantic shore, this hostel is perfect for enjoying fishing villages, coastal walks, whales, puffins and icebergs. HI Trinity - Port Rexton E:

Got a place to nominate? Want to win a great travel prize?

Zoe will be receiving LiveWork&Play in Japan and the e-book Volunteering in Latin America. See liveworkplay. for more. Tell us your favourite YHA overseas (in less than 200 words) and send it to: Backpacker Essentials, GPO Box 5276, Sydney NSW 2001 or




Turin, Italy

Italy’s newest hostel is a quiet base to explore this elegant city at the foothills of the Alps. Torino Hostel E:

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his is not how I’d normally spend a Wednesday morning. I’m perched on another man’s lap in a minuscule plane with no seats. Behind me my instructor is tightening a series of straps while whistling with the nonchalance of a man who does this for a living. We hit 14,000 feet, the door opens and we’re out. The next 60 seconds is a cheektugging, mind-rushing, scream-inducing blur. And then he opens the chute. I feel as if I’ve been in fast-forward and someone has just pressed the play button again. Our descent transforms into a serene succession of graceful arcs. He lets me steer and we swoop majestically between the clouds. Wollongong and its beaches far below have never looked more beguiling. When we finally hit the ground, I want to hop straight back in the plane and do

14 |

it again. Which, of course, is exactly what he does as an instructor for Skydive the Beach. Instead, I let the adrenalin surge subside over a cappuccino and study the roadmap. I’m following one of the Sydney to Melbourne touring routes, a series of itineraries that highlights the myriad activities and destinations between these two great cities. There are two options: a nature-themed coastal drive that weaves its way along the Princes Highway and an inland route via Canberra that focuses on the region’s cultural heritage. Side trips include the Great Alpine Road between Wangaratta and Bairnsdale and the Kosciuszko Alpine Way from Canberra to Albury. The beauty of these itineraries is that you can tailor them to focus on the experiences you enjoy most.










I’m following the coastal route and hope to cram in as much adventure as I can find. From Wollongong, it’s a three-hour drive to Batemans Bay where I overnight in preparation for an early-morning appointment with a man and a kayak. Josh Waterson returned to Batemans Bay six years ago after spending an action-packed decade leading rafting expeditions all over the world. He now runs Region X kayaking tours and I join him for a four-hour paddle through the Batemans Bay Marine Park Sanctuary. Along the way I get an illuminating insight into the region’s history from its time as a timber port to a centre for prawn fishing. As we paddle past a series of dramatic coves and sea cliffs, Josh points out where


Clockwise from left: Pillar Point in Wilsons Promontory National Park; Sea Cliff Bridge, near Wollongong; Batemans Bay; the author in mid-air over Wollongong

the army once installed cannons to defend against a possible Japanese invasion. For lunch we retreat up an estuary and find a sandy beach hidden among a forest of mangroves. Josh throws down a rug and magically conjures up a banquet of soup, chicken salad, homemade chocolate cake and freshly brewed coffee, all from the bowels of his kayak. From Batemans Bay, it’s only an hour along the Princes Highway to Narooma, a picturesque seaside town blessed with beautiful beaches and a labyrinth of inlets, lakes and rivers. I take a sunset stroll along the boardwalk that leads to the beach and watch fishermen filleting their catch and throwing the leftovers to an appreciative audience of seals and stingrays. It turns out that Narooma has another trick up its sleeve. Head eight km out to sea and you hit Montague Island, a National Parks reserve famous for its | 15


Top: Snorkelling with seals off Montague Island. Above: Montague Island Lightstation

16 |

historic lighthouse and varied birdlife, including 6,000 pairs of penguins that waddle up the beach each night to nest. I’m here to meet some of the island’s other residents – Australian fur seals – and after an exhilarating ride clinging to the front of Island Charters’ 10-metre motorboat, I don a wetsuit, mask, snorkel and flippers and dive in. Immediately I’m surrounded by dozens of inquisitive seals, many of whom race towards me before darting off to the side at the last minute. Their agility in the water is astonishing and I flail around hopelessly in an effort to keep up. In the end I float on the surface and enjoy the show as they spin, twirl and dive among streams of air bubbles. Next stop is Merimbula, a popular holiday destination set on forested hills between Merimbula Lake and the sea. It’s easy to see its appeal – family-friendly lakeside beaches for the kids plus five km of surfing heaven for boarders. I’m no

surfer but locals insist the sandbank at the north end of Main Beach creates one of the south coast’s best left-handers. For a watersports extravaganza, time your visit to coincide with the annual Mambo Merimbula Classic (November 22-25) and watch some of Australia’s best kite-surfers, sailors and stand-up paddleboarders in action. Merimbula is also renowned for its oysters, and the discovery of a large number of Aboriginal middens proves this is no recent phenomenon. You’ll also find delicious local mussels, crayfish and prawns in the town’s cafés and restaurants. Part of the frustration of a trip like this is that, inevitably, there are things you have to miss. After crossing into Victoria, I drive past Croajingolong National Park, a World Biosphere Reserve with more than 100 km of pristine coastline and hinterland that’s just crying out to be explored. Next time.


“Immediately I’m surrounded by dozens of inquisitive seals, many of whom race towards me.”

Australiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s East Coast

Rail Passes


Choose from a CountyLink East Coast Discovery Pass, allowing 6 months of unlimited stops along the East Coast in one direction, or the CountryLink Backtracker Pass for 14 days or 1 month of unlimited travel anywhere on the CountryLink network.


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Blue Mountains and $130 Outback rail adventure Pass e

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Leave the East Coast behind and explore the real Australia.


Stopover in the Blue Mountains for a weekend of action and adventure before continuing west to Broken Hill where youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll experience picture perfect sunsets, indigenous culture and friendly outback hospitality like nowhere else in the world.

5 6 days/


dation accommo Multi share bathroom facilities d with sharee Mountains YHA lu B at

13 22 32


From skydiving to white water rafting; freefall mountain biking to dolphin swimming; Coffs Coast is an adventure playground waiting to be discovered. Whether it's hiking mountain escarpments at Dorrigo Skywalk or diving with sharks in the Solitary Island Marine Park, there are over 101 things to see and do on Coffs Coast. It's where memories are made.

Freecall for accommodation and tours


Coffs Harbour

Be touched by magic! Receive FREE fishy kisses from a dolphin and a tickly smooch from a seal at Coffs Harbour's Dolphin Marine Magic. Pat and play with dolphins poolside, feed the cute little Blue Penguins, volunteer in our Marine Magic presentation or enjoy a dolphin or seal swim which is simply magical.

Gold Coast

More Australian, More Natural, More Fun! Australian native wildlife & Adventure Parc, all within 27 hectares of coastal rainforest. Only 5 minutes drive north of Gold Coast Airport and 30 minutes from Byron Bay Shire. You can cuddle a koala, pat a kangaroo & experience the original wild lorikeet feeding.

1300 886 511

Dolphin Marine Magic Pet Porpoise Pool Pty Ltd 65 Orlando Street Coffs Harbour, NSW 2450 02 6659 1900

3 Great Locations NEWCASTLE

02 4026 7617 Blue Gum Hills Regional Park, Minmi Rd MINMI CENTRAL COAST

02 4025 1008 Ourimbah State Forest, Red Hills Rd WYONG CREEK SYDNEY

02 8605 4300 Plough & Harrow Park, Elizabeth Drive, ABBOTSBURY (Opening September 2012 )

The multi-award winning park offers a unique experience high in the treetops, with 20 exhilarating Flying Foxes and over 70 challenging suspended games that allow you to move from tree to tree. These eco-friendly activities are great for your fitness.

At the heart of Australiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Green Cauldron, the Tweed region in northern NSW offers endless opportunities for adventure seekers. Hike to the summit of Mount Warning to see the sun rise, snorkel with turtles at Cook Island, experience watersports like kayaking, surfing and stand-up paddleboarding... your adventure awaits.

Free Call 1800 674 414

discover our trails and itineraries



“Predictably, it’s an aquatic haven with superb swimming, fishing, boating and sailing.” Although the majority of this 1033km coastal route lies in New South Wales, Victoria still has plenty to brag about. A 2.5-hour drive from the border is Gippsland Lakes, the country’s largest inland waterway. Covering more than 400 sq km, the lakes are a network of inland waterways fed by five different rivers. Predictably, it’s an aquatic haven with superb swimming, fishing, boating and sailing on tap. A good base from which to explore the area is Lakes Entrance, a bustling town from where you can cross a footbridge to Ninety Mile surf beach. This slender natural barrier divides the lakes from the Bass Strait and there are lovely views of the area from nearby Flagstaff Hill. You can’t really come all this way without visiting the southernmost tip of mainland Australia. Known as ‘The Prom’, Wilsons Promontory is a stunning 50,000-hectare reserve riddled with walking trails and a wide variety of native wildlife such as kangaroos, emus, wombats and echidnas. With only time for a fleeting visit,

I opt for a tour of Wilsons Promontory Lightstation, which was built in 1859 on a narrow peninsula that juts obstinately into the Bass Strait. If it seems a lonely place today, spare a thought for the families that lived here in the late 1800s. Their only contact with the outside world was when supplies were delivered by ship every six months. As I turn north and head towards Melbourne, I have to resist the temptation of many detour-worthy attractions, including the penguins at Phillip Island and the wineries of the Mornington Peninsula. Still, the prospect of a decent flat white keeps me focussed and I arrive into the welcoming embrace of Australia’s most cosmopolitan city. While the last few days have showcased many of the coast’s best activities and destinations, it’s also been a reminder of the simple joy of driving. From the stunning natural scenery of the numerous National Parks to man-made wonders such as the Sea Cliff Bridge, cruising along deserted roads with the stereo cranked up is a pleasure that is hard to beat. n

Clockwise from left: Pelicans at Lakes Entrance, South Coast beach, Wilsons Promontory National Park

keyfacts: Touring Routes For driving itineraries and suggestions, see sydneymelbournetouring.

Where to Stay There are YHA hostels right along this route to break your journey, at Wollongong, Batemans Bay, Narooma, Merimbula, Lakes Entrance and Foster (for Wilsons Prom). See more and make bookings at

The writer was a guest of Sydney-Melbourne Touring. | 19



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The sights & sounds BY STEVE of MCKENNA

I S TO C K , S T E V E M C K E N N A , T H I N K S TO C K


Main image: Sunset soccer on Ipanema Beach. Above left to right: Aerial view of Rio, a beach bar at Copacabana, favela, Ipanema beach

t’s a sunny Saturday morning and I’m strolling in vest, shorts and Havaianas beside Guanabara Bay, the great natural harbour of Rio de Janeiro. I’m not sure where to look: at the glitzy yachts drifting across the water, the hill-top statue of Christ the Redeemer or the moveable feast of tanned cariocas (Rio residents)? Ranging from teens to septuagenarians, they’re rollerblading, skateboarding, jogging and cycling past muscle-bound figures shifting weights at possibly the most scenic outdoor gym in the world. Further along, families and couples sip from coconuts in the shade, the mighty granite hulk of Sugarloaf looming opposite. While some places fail to live up to the hype, Rio – AKA the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvellous City) – rarely disappoints. It has its issues: crime, traffic and poverty among them. But for me, no other city in South America can match its breathtaking blend of natural beauty and vibrant culture. The climate isn’t bad either. It’s 24C today – and we’re in the middle of winter. The views from Christ and Sugarloaf (especially at sunset) are unforgettable, and it’s hard to beat the thrill of stepping on Copacabana’s soft white sands for the first time. Gazing at the beach volleyballers and footballers, the women in teeny-weeny bikinis (many coloured with the blue, yellow and green of Brazil) and the surfers tackling the Atlantic waves, I found myself humming Barry Manilow’s catchy pop song, ‘Copacabana’. I later learned that he wrote it about a nightclub in New York, but its upbeat vibe seems appropriate when you see the smiling figures bounding along the beach and Copacabana’s eye-catching wave-patterned promenade. Rio’s most vaunted beach, however, is Ipanema. Immortalised in the bossa nova tune,

‘The Girl from Ipanema’, it’s chock-a-block at weekends, offering oodles of people-watching potential (best done behind sunnies, while sipping a cold beer or fruit juice from one of the beachside kiosks). Ipanema’s backstreets are packed with fashion and souvenir stores, watering holes and restaurants, and fancy nightclubs catering to Rio’s moneyed and glamorous (think $40 cover charges). Yet arguably the city’s best night out – barring the legendary Carnival, is free. Every Friday, beneath the Arches of Lapa, a street party draws tens of thousands of revellers (both cariocas and tourists). Bars and clubs pump out mesmerising samba beats and streetside vendors sell a range of alcoholic tipples. One chirpy guy rustled me up a couple of mind-bendingly strong caipirinhas (the national cocktail, a crushed blend of lime, ice, sugar and cachaca, distilled sugar cane juice). I was soon well away and receiving impromptu samba lessons from a grinning 40-something Brazilian temptress. Rio isn’t all hedonism. Lurking above Lapa, Santa Teresa is a tranquil hilltop tangle of twisting cobbled streets, elegant old mansions and bohemian cafés; while Centro, Rio’s bustling, skyscraper-filled heart, contains fine museums, cultural spaces and picturesque traces of Portuguese colonial rule. Of all the tours available in Rio, the most insightful are those that delve into the favelas – the shanty towns depicted in the 2002 movie City of God. Rich or poor, cariocas are united by Brazil’s unofficial religion: football. Rio has produced some of the beautiful game’s greatest players and you’ll see fleet-footed talents juggling balls all over the city. I was lucky enough to catch a live game at the Maracana, Rio’s footballing mecca. The atmosphere was electric. Currently closed for renovations, the iconic stadium will reopen in time for the 2014 World Cup – one of two massive sporting events that Rio is gearing up for. The other is the 2016 Olympic Games. My tip? Get to the Marvellous City now – before crowds, and prices, swell. n | 21



t’s 2am on a Friday night and I’m dancing amid hundreds of other revellers in Berlin’s most famous club: the Berghain. I’ve just come face to face with Sven, one of the scariest bouncers in the world who sports long, slicked-back grey hair, barbed-wire facial tattoos and multiple piercings. Notorious for its super-strict door policy, the Berghain doormen turn away hundreds of keen clubbers every weekend for no reason at all. Luckily, I’m not one of them. Once inside, I find the ex-power-plant-turnedtechno-temple is absolutely heaving. Epic music blares from the speakers, a flashing light show envelops partygoers and swing chairs dangle from the 30-metre high ceiling. I’m like a hyper child at Christmas; with multiple nooks and crannies to explore I don’t know where to start! This is Berlin, in all its intoxicating glory. Gaining or being refused entry to the Berghain, I’m told, is an unpredictable experience. It’s quite like a trip to Berlin itself: you never know what to expect. The ultra cool capital of Germany has been high on my travel hot list for years. On a three-month trip through Europe, it was one of the most talked-about destinations among my fellow backpackers. Having never visited the city before, a pang of jealousy would wash over me as I’d listen to tales of Berlin’s eclectic scene: cute boutiques, an intriguing history, funky retro-style bars, pretty parks, arty locals, and let’s not forget, an offbeat, underground clubbing scene that’s unsurpassed in the world.

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Determined to find out what all the fuss is about, I plan a long weekend to the city with four friends. We hop on an early plane from London and on arrival we’re a little overwhelmed. Berlin is four times the size of Paris, which makes it one hell of a sprawling city. But don’t let that put you off. With a well-connected transport system, it’s easy to get around. At first glance, Berlin is a heady mix of old and new. I’m reminded of its gloomy, turbulent past by bullethole-marked buildings – signs of how damaging World War Two was to the city. Then there are various historical sights and attractions dotted throughout the city: the eerily quiet Holocaust Memorial; Checkpoint Charlie; and the East Side Gallery, the longest remaining part of the Berlin Wall, displaying more than 100 works of beautifully inspiring art.


But nothing quite affects me like the Jewish Museum. This vast, all-encompassing space features interactive exhibitions inside an imposing architectural design. Hugely emotional and overwhelming, it’s a place that every traveller should visit. The ‘old town’ district of Mitte is where we find most of Berlin’s major historical sights, and luckily we manage to tag on to one of the city’s free walking tours. It’s a great way to get a closer insight into the city’s bewildering 800-year history, and it’s free, too, so you can’t complain. In stark contrast to Mitte is the alternative, trendsetting district of Kreuzberg. As the bohemian heart of Berlin, Kreuzberg teems with local Berliners, students, expats, artists and tourists. Here, Berlin’s hipster set sip coffee at quirky cafés, have picnics in the park, rummage local vintage shops for one-off second-hand finds, and bar-hop along Oranienstrasse – one of Kreuzberg’s best streets for nightlife. After a jam-packed day sightseeing we join in on the action. We take an afternoon stroll along charming Landwehr canal; grab some cheap beers from the local supermarket; and head to Görlitzer Park, Kreuzberg’s top local hotspot, to watch the sun set. As we sit and people watch, we’re totally mesmerised by the ‘coolness’ of this city. Fast forward 15 hours and I’d never have guessed I’d be walking out of the Berghain at 9am in the morning, having had one of the best nights of my life. But that’s Berlin for you: totally unpredictable. n

Opposite page: Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial. Above, top: The East Side Gallery. Above left: The Brandenburg Gate. Above right: Berlin Music Festival


Opposite page: Floating market. Above left to right: Bangkok’s notorious traffic, The Buddha market, River transport, ultra-fresh seafood



y first visit to Bangkok was after crossing the border from Cambodia, with our bus crawling into town late on a Friday afternoon. Greeted with gridlock, it took two hours to reach the hostel. This is the city I learned to love above all others in Asia, just not so much the traffic. The Chao Phraya River is the lifeblood of the city, the heart of Bangkok’s charm. Travelling up and down town, this waterway is still the preferred mode of transport. The clogged city streets were once a massive network of khlongs (canals) that fed off the Chao Phraya, and to this day the buses and trains still link in with the express ferries. A few of the old khlongs are still open and navigable, often providing a faster route for racing across the city than even the most insane of tuk tuk drivers. And they are insane. Motorbike taxis are more reliable, not to mention a lot cheaper than most tuk tuks. Every aspect of the city can be seen from the river, including temples, produce markets and family homes. Children dangle fishing lines in the same spot they scrub the laundry. Seafood on the streets of Bangkok is almost as fresh as if it had just been pulled from the sea. Every morning boats come up stream to unload their catch from the Gulf of Thailand.

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For just over $1 you can feed up on rice or noodles for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Savoury and spicy suits the steamy climate at any time of day. Prawns, squid or crabmeat are matched up with coriander, chilli and fish sauce plus any number of traditional cooking ingredients. Fast food is good food in Bangkok; good for you and filled with salty flavours that replenish your body. Great food comes naturally to the Thai people, like breathing or walking, and travellers get spoiled night and day as a consequence. After dark, the street corners fill up with tables and smoke fills the night air. Eating on the street delivers a varied menu at budget prices. Seafood, vegetarian and fresh produce are all in abundance around Khao San Road, Siam and along the river. If you’re visiting Chatachuk weekend market, keep an eye out for the Northern Thai style kitchens too, serving super-spicy dishes and lots of coriander. Stay cool as you shop with frozen soda sticks at the market for just two cents a pop. The Chao Phraya also divides the city of Bangkok from the old capital of Thonburi. This is where you’ll find the Temple of the Dawn, Wat Arun, a short ferry-ride across the river from Wat Pho and the Royal Palace. It’s a golden mile of ancient treasures with reclining Buddhas, gilded temples and a massage school in every direction. Just $5 worth of traditional massage treatment goes a long way here, lasting an hour but leaving a few muscles in pain for the whole day. It’s good karma for the girls training for better-paid work, and anything this painful has to be good for you. The best bargain in town is the number 53 bus that connects Wat Pho with the nightlife on Khao San Road. Look for the blue and white banner above the driver and ride the bus for free. Every second bus on route 53 is free for everybody, and the others cost 10 bhat, about 30 cents.




Howth Harbour and Ireland’s Eye on a beautiful day.


“Every aspect of the city can be seen from the river, including temples, produce markets and family homes.” Between Wat Pho and Khao San Road the bus passes the mayhem of Bangkok’s Buddha Market. Monks come here to shop for amulets of their most revered teachers and images of the Buddha. From the street it looks like a traffic jam, but head down the sheltered lanes and you enter a world of Buddha abundance. Many vendors sell genuine antiques, but you’ll also find mountains of tiny treasures that are both light and enlightened. There’s a river ferry stop at the Buddha Market too, called Tha Chang Pier, which can get you back up town in style if the bus route looks a little busy. It can cost two to three times a bus ride but you get the river views for free. n

Bangkok bargains: • Wat Pho is free if you wander the grounds after dark • Fried rice with seafood or a serve of fish cakes for $1 • Wat Arun is a great place to ‘greet the dawn’ and costs $2 • The Royal Palace needs a half day or longer and costs $10 • Three-hour traditional Thai massage for $15 • Half-day cycling tours along back streets and khlongs for $19. | 25


Weird and wonderful BY LOUISE GOLDSBURY


he most popular, satirical song on cult comedy show Portlandia perfectly describes this underrated city: “It’s where young people go to retire”. They flee from Los Angeles and New York for relief from the craziness, only to run into a brick wall plastered with the local motto: “Keep Portland Weird”. And weird it is, in a completely fantastic way. I moved here from Sydney a few months ago, knowing very little about the place – but what I knew I liked: free public transport; good, cheap food;

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a big music scene; surrounded by mountains and wineries; and more breweries than any city in the world. The pleasant surprises kept coming as I discovered unfailingly friendly people, brilliant bars and restaurants, hiking and cycling trails, and perfect summer weather. Just be sure not to visit during the very rainy winter – and much of autumn and spring. The joke around town is that the sun finally comes out on the day after 4th of July. Then the fun really begins with weekly festivals and fairs, street parties, parades, outdoor art shows, sports and free concerts. A popular pastime is to go rafting or tubing down the rivers. My boyfriend and I tied together our ‘donuts’ (US$9 from Walmart) and gently drifted down the Molalla for five hours. On the last Sunday in July, more than 1,500 people participate in The Big Float on the Willamette River, which dissects the city, followed by an after-party in the park. Washington Park is an all-in-one package, comprising a zoo (don’t miss the Zoo Railway), museums, a Japanese garden, amphitheatre, archery range, tennis courts, soccer field, picnic



“I discovered unfailingly friendly people, brilliant bars and restaurants, hiking and cycling trails and perfect summer weather”. areas and a wild forest with kilometres of walking tracks. It’s also home to the nation’s oldest public rose test garden, abloom with several thousand roses, as beautiful as the city views. Portland’s city centre is one of the most elegant, clean and compact in the country. Best of all, the main attractions are accessible by the MAX light rail, which has a large ‘free zone’ so you can jump on and off without buying tickets. Highlights include the Portland Art Museum, Lan Su Chinese Garden’s teahouse and the world’s largest bookstore, Powell’s. The busiest spots are the Saturday markets at Waterfront Park and, on any day, Voodoo Doughnut, whose cheeky concoctions include the creamfilled Cock-N-Balls and a chocolate voodoo doll with a pretzel stake through its heart. The hottest area for drinking and dining is the Pearl District. But for the best value, grab a bite from the food carts that line most streets: as gourmet as fast food gets. For the best view, head up 30 storeys to Portland City Grill during happy hour (snacks and drinks from $4).

My favourite cocktail is Some Like It Hot, mixing Portland’s own Hot Monkey chilli vodka with mango and cinnamon, served at the very dark and mysterious Driftwood Bar. It inspired a trip to the manufacturers, New Deal, which is one of many distilleries that have opened up in South East Portland. A day can be spent walking between four or five venues, tasting the whole range of spirits for $5. A bus to the east side (US$2.10) takes around 10 minutes. Nearby are a couple of ‘urban wineries’, such as Hip Chicks Do Wine, where the product is made onsite, from crushing grapes to bottling, and available for tasting at its cellar door. But the proudest piece of Portland is its craft beer. With more than 50 breweries, hundreds of pubs and regular beer-fests, the selection and standard are sensational. Sidebar, on North Willams, has a tasting room serving barrel-aged beers; Hopworks is all organic; and McMenamins’ Kennedy School has been converted into a brewery with several bars, live music, a cinema and a cigar lounge in the former detention room. n

keyfacts: Getting There The new low-cost airlines flying from Australia to Asia (Air Asia and Scoot) have made SE Asian cities like Bangkok great for short breaks. Or look for sale prices on Round the World tickets to combine a visit to all four cities.

Where to Stay There are YHA hostels in all of these cities. You can find out more at

Opposite page: Moon over Portland and Mount Hood. Top left: Portland’s local motto. Above left to right: Courier coffee roasters, Brewers festival, the Portland Oregon sign | 27


Aussie Events & Festivals



Billed as ‘the greatest gathering of thoroughbred cockroaches in the known universe’, the cockroach races held at the Story Bridge Hotel in Brisbane each year on Australia Day even include a steeplechase event, where the roaches have to hurdle a garden hose.




On the same day, January 26, Queensland’s Ettamogah Pub on the Sunshine Coast holds its annual dunny races. The prize is a toilet seat trophy.



TUNARAMA In Port Lincoln, South Australia, they prefer to hurl 8-10 kg tuna like Olympic hammers on the national holiday to see who can throw one the furthest.

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CAMEL CUP The quirky, annual Camel Cup attracts visitors to Alice Springs from all over the world. Entertainment is assured, with nine unpredictable races around the dusty outback track throughout the day.

BEER CAN REGATTA Boats in this race have to be made of discarded beer cans – which aren’t hard to find ‘round Darwin. Most vessels sink in the Arafura Sea before they make it to the finish line at Mindil Beach.


“The cockroach races held in Brisbane each year even include a steeplechase event, where the roaches have to hurdle a garden hose.”



If you’ve never seen anyone split open 47 watermelons in 60 seconds using nothing but their ‘melon’, you should probably head to Chinchilla in Queensland for one heck of a good laugh. The ‘Melon Capital’ of Australia, celebrates with melon skiing, melon bungee jumping, pip spitting and melon tossing. 14-17 February 2013.

The Dirt and Dust Triathlon, Australia’s Best Butt competition, and bog snorkeling, where competitors don snorkels and flippers to complete two lengths of a peat bog, are all part of The Dirt and Dust Festival, held each year in April in the tiny Queensland town of Julia Creek, population 368.

UTE MUSTER WIFE CARRYING CHAMPIONSHIPS Held in Singleton NSW in March each year, this 200-metre charge through an obstacle course comes with top prizes: entry to the world championships in Finland and your wife’s weight in beer!

At Corrigin in the WA Wheatbelt, Dog in a Ute sees man’s two best mates unite as country folk from far and wide try to break the national record for squeezing the most utes in a paddock at one time – with a dog in the back, of course! The record is 1527.

Main image: Camel Cup Inset, clockwise from far left: The Story Bridge Hotel, Brisbane; Windorah yabby races; and Corrigin’s Ute Muster | 29

LIZARD-RACING CHAMPIONSHIPS Held every August at the Paroo Track in Eulo, Queensland, 67 km west of Cunnamulla, is the World Lizard-Racing Championships. The red ‘bulldust’ track is best described as fast.

HENLEY-ON-TODD REGATTA This ‘boat’ race is held annually in the dry sandy bed of the Todd River in Alice Springs, Northern Territory. There are only two rules: the craft must resemble a boat, and carry a four-member crew. Everything else is left up to the imagination.

BIRDSVILLE RACES Thousands of visitors flock to the tiny town of Birdsville for Australia’s most famous outback race meeting, held on the edge of the Simpson Desert in outback Queensland. The population swells from 120 to 6,000 during the two-day event. Not just a horse race, this is the Outback social event of the year with whip-cracking, Ringers Dance and Stockyard Ball.

YABBY RACES Another ‘true blue’ Aussie event is yabby racing, held each year at the end of August in the Queensland town of Windorah and also at Charleville. Windorah is 386 kilometres by road east of Birdsville and 1200 kilometres west of Brisbane.

Main image: Downtown Eulo, Queesland. Above, left to right: lizard racing in Eulo, the Dunny Derby in Winton and tin art along the Tin Horse Highway in Kulin




Winton, birthplace of Qantas and ‘Waltzing Matilda’, holds the Winton Outback Festival featuring a Dunny Derby, whip-cracking contests, wool bale rolling, and an Outback Ute Muster. 24-28 September 2013.

With its horse, camel, sheep and dog racing, this event epitomises the spirit and hospitality of rural Western Australia. Look out for homemade tin horses in the paddocks lining the Tin Horse Highway.

“[For] rip snortin’ Aussie fun... Try the weekly cane toad racing... or the crab racing nights”

Other crazy racing events include the Boulia Camel Races in far west Queensland and the Australian Goat Racing Championships in Lightning Ridge in Outback NSW. Or, doll up in your finest attire and join in the fun at a “B&S” (Bachelors and Spinsters) ball where the schooners flow like a babbling brook. Held annually all over Australia. The outback isn’t the only place you’ll find oldfashioned, rip-snortin’ Aussie fun. Try the weekly cane toad racing at the Arcadia Hotel on Magnetic Island or the weekly crab racing nights at the Friend in Hand Pub in Sydney.

keyfacts: Event Dates 2013 dates are listed where they have been announced – check online for more information and other confirmed dates.


Where to Stay There are 100 YHA hostels around Australia, including ones near some of these events, such as Alice Springs and Darwin in the NT. See more at | 31




rom messy room mates to lazy latecomers, bossy bullies and bickering couples, broken buses and guides who believe their word is gospel (even when they’re wrong), group tours can sometimes feel like your own personal version of hell. Time is limited in each destination. Schedules and itineraries are set. Cardboard cut-out rooms, bland set menus and long drive days dominate. Independence is sacrificed, and anyone who has ever been thrust together with a group of strangers knows that travelling in a group can be a social experiment gone wrong. It’s enough to make you swear off group travel for good: the one-hour heated argument over what colour the group tour shirt should be; the time cut short at places because other people couldn’t set their alarm clocks; the stuff stolen because someone forgot to lock the tour bus behind them; the guides who take a cut of the cash from the overpriced

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tourist shops they insist on taking you to. But not everyone feels this way. For some, group tours offer an unparalleled level of convenience, community, safety, security, affordability and accessibility that simply couldn’t be replicated if they took on a destination on their own. In the past, people generally fell into two categories: those who swore by group travel, and those who would rather have dropped into the black abyss than sign up for a tour with others. But this has changed. While, previously, most group tours aimed at travellers have stuck to the ‘large group, big bus, strict itinerary’ model, companies have now realised that they have to cater for people who crave something beyond the traditional archetype. New styles of tours have emerged, from three-week adventure journeys trucking in West Africa to niche tours that bring like-minded individuals together. As group tours become more flexible, dynamic and sophisticated, their appeal to independent travellers has grown.  Take, for example, Contiki, longknown for its whirlwind booze bus tours around Europe. While these traditional products are still offered (and, to be fair, exceptionally popular), the company also offers more targeted and innovative package tours to special events like the exclusive Coachella music festival in Palm Springs, California, offering daily transfers, accommodation and tickets. Similar tours are offered for events like La Tomatina in Spain, Octoberfest in Germany and Anzac Day in Turkey.  As tours have become more varied and appealing, they have lead to a change in attitude from those who used to be strongly anti-group. In fact, it’s now the norm for independently-minded travellers to take part in some sort of tour as part of a larger, more independent trip, be it a few hours to a few days – largely because a group tour is sometimes the best option to experience a destination. For those setting out to a new destination for the first time, it’s common to book at least a short tour in order to find your feet and learn the ropes of travelling in a different country. Additionally, there are some destinations that are only accessible through group tours. From countries that have poor transport and tourist infrastructure to destinations that have strict restrictions on tourist visas, taking a tour is the best way to get to a place you couldn’t tackle on your own. Pointto-point group safari tours in Eastern Africa, like Cape Town to Nairobi, have



“It’s now the norm for independently-minded travellers to take part in some sort of tour as part of a larger trip”

Main image: Meeting the locals. Left: Travelling overland through Africa | 33

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flourished because of the limited travel infrastructure available to tourists wanting to get into hard-to-reach safari parks. Sometimes group travel isn’t just the best option for seeing a place, but also for experiencing it in a different way. Take, for example, group sailing trips in Croatia. One of the most popular activities for young people is to cruise between islands in the Adriatic by yacht. While you’d lack the expertise, ability and finances to take a yacht out into the ocean by yourself, by joining a group tour, you’re able to get away from the crowds, experience sailing and discover uninhabited spots independent travellers can only glimpse from the shore. The key is to be discerning in which style of trip you choose – the level of comfort, the length of time, the size of the group and the reputation of the operator. Researching the destination and the tour company is critical to having a good time on a trip. Group travel isn’t necessarily

more cost-effective (in fact, it’s often far more expensive), but sometimes it’s worth paying a little bit more for a tour to ensure you get to see what you want, especially in more remote places like Africa. However, the key thing about doing a group tour is to give yourself over to the experience. You’ve paid a lot of money for the guide to be your resource, so let them take the reins and steer the experience. They have been paid to take the hassle out of the experience for you, so take advantage of that. Once you’re in a group, allow yourself to go with the herd and be part of the community. Being sociable is key to enjoying the experience. Surprisingly, seeing how other people perceive a destination, and how it inspires and challenges them, can have a big impact on your own experience. And, at the end of the day, group tour or independent travels, a trip is often what you make it – so make the most of it. n

“Researching the destination and the tour company is critical to having a good time on a trip.” Top and middle: Top Deck Gallipoli tour. Below: Africa overland

THE NEW TOUR MODEL Event tours Two- to five-day tours based around an annual festival or event, which focus on hard to manage logistics like tickets, transport, breakfast and accommodation. Check out Topdeck’s Anzac Day tours. See

Self-guided tours Independent travellers have their luggage transported to the next pre-booked hotel while they hike or bike between destinations. See for more details.


Special Interest Tours Pick your niche and there is a tour to fill it – from wine to whales, overland treks and historic back streets. Often only offered a few times a year, these tend to be smaller and pricier, but can be a highlight of a longer trip. | 35


landmarks GOT A FAVOURITE AUTHOR? INTERESTED IN WHERE THEY WERE BORN, LIVED, DIED OR WROTE THEIR MASTERPIECE? LEANNE HUDSON HELPS YOU TURN YOUR TRIP INTO A PILGRIMAGE. William Shakespeare Famous for his plays, creating new words and the theory he was a front to shield the identity of the real writer, the Bard definitely left his mark on the world. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Stratfordupon-Avon, an English market town in Warwickshire. With its cobbled streets, ‘olde worlde’ atmosphere and thatched roofs, Stratford is worth a visit anyway, but add the fact Shakespeare was born, lived and died here and you can see why it attracts three million tourists a year. The most popular site is Will’s birthplace, a magnificent half-timbered building on historic Henley Street. Scholars still squabble over whether he actually entered the world here in 1564, but it was the family home, and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is confident it’s the real deal. Restored to its full glory, you can step back through time as you walk through the doors. In 1582 the young William married Anne Hathaway and the thatched cottage she grew up in is now a museum. It can be found in the village of Shottery on the outskirts of Stratford. New Place is where the playwright died (now a memorial garden) and he was buried at Holy Trinity Church, both in Stratford. Stay at YHA Stratford – a Georgian mansion set in three acres close to town.

William Shakespeare

36 |


Shakespeare’s birth place. Below: The Roper River in Elsey National Park, NT

“You can step back in time as you walk through the doors.”


Jeannie Gunn A classic piece of early 20 th-century Australian literature, Jeannie Gunn wrote We of the NeverNever after she followed her husband, Aeneas, to live on Elsey Station, almost 500km south of Darwin in the Northern Territory. The year was 1902 and the outback was ‘no place for a woman’. But Jeannie battled it out and carved a home from the bush. In 1903 her husband ‘The Maluka’ died from malarial dysentery and Jeannie returned to Melbourne. But it’s said she never shook the red dust of the Territory from her soul. Although written as a novel, the book portrays Jeannie’s time in the wilds, the characters she met there and the ins and outs of daily life on a remote outback station. In 2000, Elsey Station was handed back to its traditional owners and, although the original homestead no longer exists, there is a memorial at the site. A replica of the homestead was used in the movie of the book and stands outside the Mataranka Homestead Resort entrance, about 20km away. A few hundred metres from the original site lies the Elsey Cemetery, complete with the remains of several characters made famous by the book, including The Maluka, The Sanguine Scot, Mine Host and Bett-Bett. Stay at Darwin YHA – on Mitchell Street in the heart of the city. | 37

Just five hours from the east coast of Australia and across the glistening Pacific lies the Treasured Islands of Samoa – voted the best value destination of the South Pacific. Make your way around the islands and you’ll discover spectacular waterfalls, dramatic blowholes, stunning coral reefs and crystal clear lagoons where you can swim with turtles. Samoa boasts the most pristine beaches with dazzling white sand beaches and sparkling turquoise waters. Life ambles at its own measured pace and it’s not just because of the balmy tropical weather. With the average temperature at 30 degrees Celsius, no wonder there is a smile on every face that greets you. Getting around is easy – rent a car, hop on a colourful island bus or take a taxi to explore Samoa!

For bookings visit


Katherine Mansfield As famous for her scandalous life as her modernist writing – she had lesbian relationships, affairs, fell pregnant out of wedlock, married a man and left him on the same day (all pretty racy stuff for the early 1900s) – Katherine Mansfield is perhaps New Zealand’s most famous writer, particularly of short stories. Although she led a bohemian existence in England and Europe later in life, she was born plain old Kathleen Beauchamp in a small wooden house in Wellington, New Zealand. The house, at 25 Tinakori Road in the suburb of Thorndon, is open to the public and provides an intriguing insight into her early years. Many of her memories from this period can be found in some of her most famous works, including The Aloe, A Birthday and The Doll’s House. Although some have questioned Mansfield’s place as a Kiwi writer due to the many years she spent overseas, she herself once wrote, “New Zealand is in my very bones.” Visit her humble beginnings and you can see where she’s coming from. Stay at YHA Wellington – an award-winning hostel in the centre of Wellington.

Aerial view of modern day Wellington, NZ. Below: Green Gables

“Green Gables does exist and is located in Cavendish... on Prince Edward Island.” Lucy Maud Montgomery Everyone’s favourite orphan, Anne of Green Gables, was the product of Lucy’s imagination and real-life experiences – Lucy’s mum died when she was a baby and her grandparents raised her. A lonely existence left plenty of time for creating imaginary friends and worlds, some of which morphed into the Anne stories. Although it’s not the house Lucy grew up in, Green Gables does exist and is located in Cavendish, a town on Prince Edward Island, Canada. The famous green-gabled house, complete with Haunted Woods, belonged to Lucy’s relatives. After a visit, stop by Montgomery’s grave in the Cavendish Community Cemetery, and the tiny house she was raised in on the corner of Routes 6 and 20. The room she was born in has been turned into a shrine of those times. For a real-life link with the writer, visit the Anne of Green Gables Museum at Silver Bush, Park Corner. Lucy visited her cousins, the Campbells, here regularly and the house is still in the family. Much-loved by the author, the house is the setting for her Pat of Silver Bush books and she was married here in 1911.


Stay at HI-Charlottetown is in the main town of Prince Edward Island. | 39


The Brontës Whether you prefer the novels of Charlotte, Emily or Anne, or are just fascinated by the trio of 19 th-century sisters who wrote themselves into history and died young, a visit to the town of Haworth, perched high in the Pennines in Yorkshire, England, is a must. With its narrow, cobbled streets and blackened terraced housing it’s a remnant of the Industrial Revolution during which they lived. The surrounding moors are known as ‘Brontë Country’. Here you’ll find Top Withens, a ruined farmhouse whose bleak moorland setting is thought to have inspired Emily’s Wuthering Heights house in her brooding novel of the same name. Here, too, is Ponden Hall, visited by the Brontës and the inspiration for Emily’s Thrushcross Grange or Anne’s Wildfell Hall, depending on who you ask. In reality, it’s possible to see how their surroundings influenced all the sisters’ writing, and back in Haworth at the Brontë Parsonage you can view early examples of their work. The authors spent most of their lives here, and it’s full of memorabilia, including a portrait painted by their troubled brother Patrick Branwell. Most of the Brontë family died here, too. n


Stay at YHA Haworth – a Victorian mansion overlooking the Pennine Moors.

40 |

Haworth. Below: The Pennine Moors

OTHER NOTABLE SITES... Jane Austen Famous for her satirical portrayal of the Georgian gentry, Austen’s final years were spent in the village of Chawton, deep in the Hampshire countryside in England. The house is now a museum. In Hampshire you’ll also find Steventon village, where she was born, and Winchester Cathedral, where she is buried. of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

DH Lawrence

The working-class rebel was born in 1885 in a small house in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, England. Visit the heritage centre and walk the 5km Blue Line Trail, which passes other places of influence. In nearby Derbyshire lies 400-year-old Renishaw Hall, the setting for Lawrence’s scandalous Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

Ernest Hemingway

Mark Twain

The godfather of Victorian social commentary, Dickens lived most of his life in London. One of his homes – 48 Doughty Street in the famous literary quarter of Bloomsbury – is now a museum [closed until December 2012] and his grave is in Westminster Abbey.

The man born Samuel L Clemens built a fantastic house in Hartford, Connecticut, USA. Now the Mark Twain House & Museum, it’s where he wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Opposite is the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe, author

Drinker, womaniser, unique, brilliant – Hemingway has been called all these and more. During his 30s the troubled writer, who took his own life in 1961, lived on Whitehead Street in Key West, Florida, USA. Visit his house, gardens – and descendants of his six-toed cats.

Charles Dickens Winchester Cathedral



12:52 PM

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GOING PLACES PEOPLE ONLY DREAM ABOUT You have to experience it to believe it!

Off Track Walking We don’t do anything else

How could we? There are no tracks where we walk.

Explore hidden waterfalls, ancient rock art, flowing streams and deep pools of pure, clean water with experienced guides leading the way. If you like bushwalking you will LOVE a Willis’s Walkabouts trip. Check out our website and see the incredible variety we offer.



cool dingo tour  29 great stops!  Super Saver Passes!  Departs every 30 minutes

Includes FREE 48 page guidebook

Travel to the Blue Mountains by train and present this ad to receive a

with  maps  attractions  sights  dining  shopping

PLUS If you are staying at the YHA, your ticket can be extended to the length of your stay FREE OF CHARGE.

10% discount!

283 Main Street Katoomba Top of the stairs at Katoomba railway station (town side)

With a guided Cool Dingo Tour, you’ll see it all, do it all – and get absolute top value from your Fraser experience. No tents, no sleeping bags, no cooking, no driving, no worries! • Friendly guides with local knowledge • Fantastic food and plenty of it • Party at night in the Dingo Bar • Comfortable Wilderness Lodge accommodation • 3 days/2 nights or 2 days/1 night • Top value prices from only $132 per day • Ask about our Brisbane departures and extra night packages • Departs from Hervey Bay and Rainbow Beach. Book at any YHA Travel Centre or please call toll free

1800 072 555

w w w. c o o l d i n g o t o u r. c o m


g featurin Lake ie Mckenz




P44» What’s On Big-name events, world-famous sports competitions, and a mouthwatering line-up of gastronomic delights, are just a few of the highlights on the menu this summer.

P47» YHA Getaways From the Whitsundays to WOMADelaide, the comedy and culture of Melbourne and alpine adventures of Thredbo, take advantage of these fantastic YHA member deals around Australia.

P50» Checkout


From coast to coast, YHA movers and shakers are a well-travelled lot. We asked a couple of them to share their secrets.


> NSW/QLD/NT - Your State, Your Adventure | 43

Sydney Festival & Chinese New Year 5 January – 24 February 2013

The curtain-raising Festival First Night will transform the city centre into an epic theatre of music and spectacle for the annual Sydney summer celebrations. Don't miss free concerts in the Domain, check out Circus Oz's aerial and acrobatic feats and comedic mayhem. Cheer on the Australia Day Ferrython and Thong Challenge before the Chinese Year of the Snake kicks off with the always popular markets, Twilight Parade and dragon boat races. Visit Stay at Sydney Central YHA or Railway Square YHA. Book online at

What’s On


QLD & VIC Australian Open Series 30 December 2012 – 27 January 2013

The world’s hottest tennis stars, including Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Williams and Sharapova will be heading Down Under in the lead-up to the first Grand Slam competition of the year – the Australian Open. Australia’s own Bernard Tomic and Samantha Stosur will be looking to impress the home crowds at the Brisbane International from 30 December – 6 January, before spearheading the Aussie assault at the Australian Open a week later from 14-27 January. More at Stay at Brisbane City YHA or Melbourne Central YHA Book online at


SA Tour Down Under 20–27 January 2013

You’ve seen the Tour de France, now check out the southern hemisphere’s largest cycling race. The Tour Down Under is the first stop on the world cycling calendar, bringing some of the sport’s best riders to the streets of Adelaide and beyond. You can even ride a stage of the tour in the community race! Find out more at Stay at Adelaide Central YHA T: (08) 8414 3010 E: 44 |


Bleach – Surfing the Fringe 9–14 February 2013

No, it’s not a celebration of whiter than white laundry. Bleach celebrates the sun-kissed sports, artistic expression, and outdoor lifestyle of Oz’s vibrant surf and beach culture. ‘Off water’ highlights include pop-up art and photo exhibitions, mobile music concerts, a street festival, film, food and fashion, before the ‘on water’ spectacle of the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Tours hit town. Visit Stay at Surfers Paradise YHA or Coolangatta YHA. Book online at



1-18 March 2013

SA Adelaide Fringe & Fest 22 February – 17 March 2013

For four balmy summer weeks, Adelaide Fringe, the largest arts event in the Southern Hemisphere, literally takes over the entire city, with over 900 events staged in pop-up venues from parks and warehouses, to theatres, hotels, art galleries and cafés. There’s comedy, cabaret, circus and physical theatre, dance, film, theatre, puppetry, music, visual art and design, and everything in between. Even better, it overlaps with the richly diverse Adelaide Festival and Writers' Week events. Visit

Celebrating the capital’s centenary, this year’s Canberra Festival promises to be bigger than ever before. More than 50 free and ticketed events are on the packed program, including a film festival, must-see exhibitions, dance, art, film and music, all showcasing the diversity of the capital. The Celebrate in the Park concert and fireworks are back on, as is the magic of Enlighten, and the ever-popular balloon spectacular as hot-air balloons of all shapes and colours take to the skies over Canberra. More info at Stay at Canberra City YHA T: (02) 6248 9155 E:

Stay at Adelaide Central YHA T: (08) 8414 3010 E:

WA, TAS, QLD, VIC Summer Smorgasbord November 2012 – March 2013

Australia has its fair share of food and wine worshipping events, but this season has cooked up a bumper crop. For entrée, the new Margaret River Gourmet Escape promises to serve up the region’s famous chocolate, cheeses, olives, truffles and wines, when it debuts from 22-25 November. And if the Gourmet Village, masterclasses, pop-up restaurants, long lunches, and beach bbqs haven’t got you licking your lips with excitement, the guest chefs will. In a massive coup, the mad scientist of the kitchen, Heston Blumenthal, will be bringing his unique culinary wizardry (and possibly his love of dry ice) to the table. Yum! There’s just enough time to digest the aromas, sights and sounds of Hobart’s Taste Festival (28 December 2012 – 3 January 2013), before indulging at the Gold Coast Food & Wine Expo (18-20 January 2013). The pièce de résistance? The biggest celebration of food and wine in Australia, The Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, returns for a fortnight of foodie heaven from 1 March. With more than 250 tastebudtempting events, there’s something for every level of enthusiast, from the discerning bon viveur to noshing novices. Book your YHA bed in all these locations at

More diary dates… Port Douglas Eclipse Festival

PGA Championships

Big Day Out

Perth International Arts Festival

9-15 November 2012

13-16 December 2012

26 January 2013

8 February – 2 March 2013

Stay: Port O’Call Lodge YHA

Stay: Halse Lodge YHA Noosa

Gorgeous Festival 24 November 2012

Thredbo Blues Festival

Stay: Port Elliot Beach House YHA

18-20 January 2013

Stay: Melbourne Metro YHA

Stay: Perth City YHA

St Kilda Festival

Australian Open of Surfing

February 2013

9-17 February 2013

Stay: Melbourne Central YHA

Stay: Sydney Beachouse YHA

Stay: Thredbo YHA

| 45

YHA p i h s r e b Mem vel & Tra YHA MEMBERSHIP Don't break the budget – YHA membership is your passport to: •

At least 10% off Australian YHA accommodation and $$$ savings at more than 4000 YHAs in over 80 countries Loads of discounts on tours, attractions, activities, travel gear and shopping YHA Travel member specials on Oz and international travel, tours, transport and more

Travelling in Australia

Save on transport, tours, attractions, activities and more… • • •

Great Southern Rail: save up to $390 Greyhound Australia Express Tickets and Explorer Passes: save up to $146 Kathmandu travel gear: up to 25% off

Travelling Overseas

Flash your YHA card wherever you travel, and save… • • •

Contiki 28-day European Panorama: save $285 Eurail three-month Global Consecutive Pass: save $135 QBE travel insurance: save 25%

Buy or renew your YHA membership and make hostel bookings at

yo ur G lo ba l R ai l Ex pe rt s! Fantastic Member Discounts on the world’s most famous trains, including: • Venice Simplon ‘Orient Express’ • The Royal Scotsman • Rocky Mountaineer • Shongololo Express • Trans-Siberian • Silk Road • Palace on Wheels • The Ghan and Indian Pacific plus many more.

No Ticket Issuing Fees

Buy your Eurail, Britrail, Canrail, Amtrak & Japan Rail Passes with YHA Travel and pay no issuing fees!

NEW SOUTH WALES Sydney Central YHA 11 Rawson Place Sydney NSW 2000 (02) 9218 9090 LICENCE: 2TA002629

SOUTH AUSTRALIA 135 Waymouth St Adelaide SA 5000 (08) 8414 3000 adelaidetravel@yha. LICENCE: TTA32

For these and other great deals, contact YHA Travel or book online at



backpacker JULY-OCTOBER 2006


yha members

magazine july

– october ’09




- OCTOBER 2011






l speciae issu

SUN, SURF AND...SADDLES Capricornia QLD Beach and Horses

the ColumBiA! ion aside,


Reputat plenty to locals have ut p 20 smile abo


BoliviA! Lunar-style

landscapes to take your breath away p 16


ArgentinA! hidden Uncovering the treasures offp 22 beaten path

VOLUNTEERS HOLIDAYS Give the World a Hand Doing the Right Thing?


city focus breezy brissy shows off its slick side

wellington A wild weekend in the windy city

photo comp the creAm of the crop reveAled


Annual PHOTO competition



Backpacker Essentials through the years, from the first issue (top left) in June 1997 to the last in November 2012

Editor’s diary


Have mag, will travel... Backpacker Essentials is an excellent travel companion. So much so, many readers have taken the magazine on their adventures over the years. Michelle Martion took a break on the steps of the Sacré Coeur in Paris to have a squiz at her copy. She wins a handy Method Pack from Kathmandu worth $139.98. For more information see

’m often asked how I got my job – usually as a precursor to an enquiry as to whether I’m vacating the position any time soon! As Managing Editor of Backpacker Essentials for 15 years, I feel incredibly privileged to ‘work’ at assembling what always aims to be an entertaining and informative publication. Emails from members that mention how much they have enjoyed an issue, or ask me to find a story they remember from an older edition, always brighten my day. On the page opposite, you’ll read about some upcoming developments with the magazine. Like most readers, I’ve changed how I find and consume information in recent years. Books and magazines have been augmented by the speed of Twitter, the convenience of an iPad and the stability of a PC for my photo library. Each has their place. I’m excited to look forward to new ways of bringing you the best YHA hostel and travel news, information and inspiration next year. YHA is not only about having the best hostels for you to stay at but also helping you with your travel planning, and inspiring you to visit new places. Watch out for an email in your inbox early in 2013 with a link to the Backpacker Essentials online edition and a new iPad app edition. Summer is a great time to travel – so make sure to get out and enjoy! Janet McGarry, Managing Editor

CONTACT US: Backpacker Essentials, GPO Box 5276, Sydney NSW 2001 or via email: | 5



04 Adelaide Getaways

Kimberleys 4 for 3 Deal

WOMADelaide Deal Let WOMADelaide take you on a global journey – and let YHA save you money with concession rate tickets for the festival: • Save $46 on a 3-day Festival Pass • Save $52 on a 4-day Festival Pass

Kununurra is the gateway to WA's fascinating and enchanting Kimberley region. Explore the magnificent Bungle Bungles, cruise Lake Argyle or take a scenic flight. To help you make the most out of your visit, centrally located Kimberley Croc YHA is offering 4 nights for the price of 3 nights. Valid for multi-share accommodation only. Deal ends 31 March 2013.

WOMADelaide takes over Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens from 8 – 11 March 2013, for four days of world music, dance, visual arts and culturally diverse roving performances that never fail to entertain and enthrall. For more information and to buy your concession rate tickets go to City Break If you can’t make it to WOMADelaide, there are still plenty of excuses to visit the South Australian capital, so why not take advantage of Adelaide City YHA’s City Break package including: • 2 nights' accommodation • Daily breakfast (continental or DIY cooked) • 1 Adelaide Metro Day Pass – valid for use on all local public transport

Book direct with Kimberley Croc YHA T: (08) 9168 2702 E:

Gold Coast Thrills & Chills


Enjoy the best of Queensland's Gold Coast this summer. Hit the waves with the professionals, or swap surfing thrills for chills at Oz’s longest-running dinner show – Dracula’s Redrum Cabaret – guaranteeing a night of wicked fun after a day in the sun.

Choose from: 4-share room from $68 per person, or double ensuite room from $107 per person (based on 2 people). Valid 1 November 2012 to 28 February 2012.

Get Wet Learn to Surf • 2 nights' multi-share at Surfers Paradise YHA • Get Wet Surf lesson at the beach • Surfboard and wetsuit on tour • Return hostel transfers Priced from $89 per person multi-share. Operates daily. Valid to 31 March 2013.

Book direct with Adelaide Central YHA T: (08) 8414 3000 E:

Gold Coast Wicked Weekdays • 1 night's multi-share at Surfers Paradise YHA

48 |

05 • B-reserve ticket to the side-splitting comedy-cabaret at Dracula’s • 3-course dinner Priced from $110 per person. Available Tues, Wed & Thursday only. Valid to 31 March 2013. Book at or contact Surfers Paradise YHA T: (07) 5571 1776 E:

Hunter Valley Grape Escapes Leave the driving to someone else so you can fully enjoy the scenery, sippings and socialising. Wine, cheese, chocolate and more – the NSW Hunter region has it all! Hunter Valley YHA’s Grape Escape packages start from $165 for two days and $185 for 3 days, so you can discover more of the Hunter’s delights or catch one of the regular local events.



Packages include: • 1 or 2 nights' multi-share accommodation • Return transfers from Sydney • 5-hour Hunter Valley Vineyards Wine Tour with free tastings • 1 evening meal – Aussie BBQ or wood-fired pizza Driving yourself? Take advantage of the hostel’s Grape Deal for only $90, including: • 2 nights’ multi-share accommodation • 5-hour Hunter Valley Vineyards Wine Tour with free wine and cheese tastings Book your trip to coincide with the dazzling Christmas Lights Spectacular at the Hunter Valley Gardens, from 9 November 2012 to 26 January 2013. Voted the Hunter’s best event three years in a row, there’ll be dazzling light and music displays, festive food stalls, and rides throughout the themed gardens. The YHA will be offering free transfers to the Spectacular. Valid to 31 March 2013. Book direct with Hunter Valley YHA T: (02) 4491 3278 E:

TO N Y L E W I S , TO U R I S M WA , S H A N E L E N N A R D, S O V E R E I G N H I L L

Kangaroo Island Self-drive Getaway


With its friendly wildlife, spectacular scenery, pristine sandy beaches and sumptuous local produce, Kangaroo Island will transport you to another world. You even get a scenic cruise on the 45-minute ferry crossing. Kangaroo Island YHA is offering: • 2 nights' double room with ensuite • Return Sealink ferry transfers for 2 people and 1 standard-size car Prices from $244 per person, based on two people. Valid to 28 February 2013. Book direct with Kangaroo Island YHA T: (08) 8553 1344 E:

Great Aussie Ballarat Break Less than two hours from Melbourne by road or rail, Ballarat is a fantastic short break to

suit all tastes. The spectacle, rides and history of gold-rush town Sovereign Hill are top of the to-do list, and conveniently located right next door, Sovereign Hill YHA is offering YHA members: • 20% off Sovereign Hill tickets • 20% off Sovereign Hill Sound & Light Show tickets • 20% off Ballarat Wildlife Park entry


Multi-share accommodation from $30 per person, and double rooms from $63. Sovereign Hill Lodge YHA T: (03) 5337 1159 E:

Lancelin & Pinnacles Explorer Perth makes a great base to see some of Australia’s great natural wonders. This convenient 4WD day trip gives you a taste of some of the best of the West, including the mysterious limestone spires of the Pinnacles desert, and all the 4WD and sand boarding action of Lancelin’s giant dunes. Priced from $165 per person, including yummy buffet lunch, afternoon tea, and wildlife park entry. Departs Perth daily at 8am. Valid to 31 March 2013. Book at YHA Travel.


Why not explore at a more relaxed pace, with a stay at Lancelin Lodge YHA. Lancelin Lodge YHA T: (08) 9655 2020 E: | 49

STAFF PROFILES Alison & Kadir Zahir Managers Port Fairy YHA How long have you worked with YHA? We bought the hostel in 2001. As owner-managers we are the front office, maintenance, cleaners, laundry staff – we do the lot. What can’t you travel without? Alison: Ear Planes (ear plugs). They equalise your ears, so no pain. Kadir: my camera. Which destination lives up to the hype? Alison: Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic. Kadir: I'd always wanted to go to Santorini [the Greek island] as I had heard so many people talk about its beauty. I went last year and loved it. What’s the best travel advice you’ve had? Alison: Roll your clothes and pack things in plastic bags. Kadir: Wrap washed clothes in a towel to squeeze out as much water as you can. What is your earliest travel memory? Kadir: My first visit to Sümela Monastery in Trabzon, Turkey when I was seven. It was the first time I had seen foreigners. I grew up in a tiny mountain village with no roads. We had to walk in and out. It took us 20 minutes to walk down to primary school and 40 minutes to walk back home.

Monique Cornelisse Receptionist Adelaide Central YHA


Checkout Matt Wilson Travel Supervisor YHA Travel, Sydney Central YHA How long have you worked with YHA? I came with the furniture seven years ago when the YHA Travel desk opened. What passport stamp are you proudest of? I was told my Working Holiday Visa for Italy was one of the very first issued from Australia, and judging by the confusion it caused at Italian Immigration, I believe it! What can’t you travel without? I zip-lock everything; it’s ridiculous, but those bags have saved my bacon on numerous occasions. Which destination lives up to the hype? Sri Lanka, especially the eastern side, full of deserted beaches and a fascinating mix of history and cultures. If you had a magic carpet where would you go? I’d love to do a foodie tour through Iran – it’s been on my list for quite a while. I could get some more magic carpets there too. Name your favourite travel experience? Travelling cheek by jowl in a rice truck through the scorching Western Hills of Myanmar gave me a sense of awe that will stay with me forever. One day I will: Take a year off and get lost in India with my yoga mat.

50 |

How long have you worked with YHA? Technically, almost three years, but at heart 21 years…You can’t escape when you’re a YHA manager’s daughter! What’s the best travel advice you’ve had? Just do it. What can’t you travel without? In true Aussie fashion, my thongs – I'm pretty sure I walked all around Europe in these. If you had a magic carpet where would you go? Adiòs Adelaide, hola Mexico! What passport stamp are you proudest of? Barcelona. I fell in love with the Spanish culture – it oozes with passion and confidence. Tell us something most people don’t know about you: I have a fear of flying. One day I will: Be adopted by Hawaiians and spend endless days at the beach in floral prints. Which destination lives up to the hype? Santorini and Mykonos, Greece. They have the best of everything – beautiful food, people, views, beaches, pools, parties – my paradise!


Gold Coast Famous for fun

YHA Backpacker Essentials November 2012  
YHA Backpacker Essentials November 2012  

YHA Backpacker essentials magazine. Summer Issue. 2012.