Batu Caves, Malaysia 

Having missed out on the batu caves last time I visited Kuala Lumpur I knew I didn’t want to miss out this time round and spent some time studying the map and from talking to the locals I wanted to share the quickest and most cost effective way of visiting yourself.

Located approx 40 minutes by train from Kuala Lumpur central in the area of Gombak, the limestone cliffs are home to a series of caves and cave temples which are a must see while in the city.

The caves are the most popular Hindu shine outside of India and is dedicated to the Lord Murugan who guards the entrance to the entrance to the caves and the worlds tallest statute of the god.

Getting to Batu Caves

As I mentioned getting to the caves are pretty simple, once you’ve arrived at KL Sentral station you can hop onto the KTM Komuter line and head to the Batu Caves station. Tickets are simple to purchase and can be done from the ticket machines as they have an English option. For a return ticket you are looking at an approx cost of 7RM.

Tickets now come as plastic coins which you tap into the screen of the barriers and save to exit on the other side, heading to the platforms all are listed and have signage in English again and you can know you’re in the right place thanks to the signage above the tracks.

For ladies also travelling on their own you’ll be pleased to know there are women and children’s carriages only if you prefer this choice, just make sure you keep your eye out for the floor and door markings, and those travelling I a larger group beware you aren’t getting in the carriage unless you fit the criteria.

The station is the last on the line and all stops are announced in English and a handy lit map of the stops show where you are headed next. Once you’ve arrived and exited the station the caves will be rig in front of you and with free access there are no queues to join and you are then able to explore the area.

Arriving at the caves you will find yourself at the bottom of the towering staircase to take you to the cave system at the top, If you do want to see it for yourself you must climb all 272 steps. Be sure to stop along the way (foot traffic allowing) as you’ll be able to get some beautiful views and see just how far you’ve gone! The entrance to climb and into the cave is free of charge, however if you’d like to go into the dark cave with a guide this is an additional cost and must be booked on arrival for an allotted time.

Top tips

* Be careful of those pesky monkeys, they love they love to take ahold of anything your carrying. Hold onto phone and camera tightly and do not try to touch or feed them.

* Remember to be respectful of where you are visiting. Local cultures have different beliefs and arriving to the caves in short shorts or short skirts may be frowned upon and don’t be surprised when you are advised you must pay for a Sarong or cover up due to this. Smoking is not permitted within the grounds.

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Places To Vist From Ubud, Bali

Located in the uplands of Bali only 2 hours from the popular coastal resort, Ubud sits pretty amongst Bali’s most famous landscapes.

Most may recognise Ubud from Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ the picture however is a little different from that you will find when you arrive. Having built on the back of the tourism with the books popularity there now is much more than perceived in the movie, Not that this doesn’t better benefit the local communities it does mean you won’t fall off the beaten track as she does in the movie.

Having recently visited I wanted to share my top not to miss tips to show how you can get off the beaten track!

 

Tegenungan Village Waterfall

Located only a short drive from Ubud plan a day to visit the beautiful falls, As it is only a short drive and a small entry fee (10,000) plan a full day here to give you time to climb down and spend some time in the waters. Although a steep climb is is not as far as it appears! As we were on a day trip we only got long enough to visit for a photo stop however we’d of liked to spend a long morning there, Taking a slow walk back to the restaurants and stalls along the entrance and car park before we headed home.

 

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Tirta Empul (Holy Spring Temple)

With so many great places to visit in Ubud a couple of days in the town will not go a miss! Tirta Empul or for the tourists known as the holy spring temple is a place where the local Hindus are able to self cleanse the mind and soul using the holy waters in the natural springs within the temple. It was super interesting to obverse each person ‘cleansing’ themselves and there was nowhere I felt as calm while I travelled in Bali.

Entrance was approx 15,000 per person and it does included a sarong hire (bring your own if you wish to use the cleansing pools)

Plan to spend a hour or two to enjoy all on offer, and to capture photos. There is some of the most beautiful architecture I’ve seen and I spent ages trying to capture the intricate details.

On a side note if you were looking to get some shopping done and knick-knack shopping done the market maze on your exit is the place to go! You can enter the markets without having entered the temples so if temples aren’t your thing check out the stores. They have the same produce as the markets in Ubud market but the ladies here see a lot less visitors in the same space of time so get less trade. I brought so much while I shopped I spent my daily budget within 15 mins.

 

 

Tegallalang

Often seen blazoned across the front of the Bali guide books the rice terraces in Bali are unmissable. Only a very short drive from Ubud you enter into the small village set around the planting fields.

As one of the more recognised this unbelievably is located on the side of the main through road, Surrounded by shops and restaurants, It feels so out of place. When we travelled the fields had just been recently cut back so it wasn’t as spectacular as I’d seen in previous photos and it turns out had we arrived only a day before this wouldn’t be the case (ask your hotel and local drivers as they’ll be able to advise locally the last time it was cropped)

You must pay an entry fee when arriving in the village, and is a per car/motorcycle and less than £2. You then are free to scramble in the fields and capture as many photos as you would like.

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Goa Gajah (Elephant Temple)

Located only 6kms from Ubud this beautiful carved cave is not to miss if you are looking to include some culture in your trip to Bali.

Somewhat misleading the Elephant temples name comes from the intricate carvings on the entrance into the medication cave. You can easily spend an hour or two and hire a local guide on arrival to talk you through the history of the temple and it’s historical purpose for the locals of Indonesia.

Entry is approx. 10,000 per person

If you are after shopping the markets surrounding the temple are a great place to grab a bargain. The stall holders get less trade here due to the lack of visitors so make the most of an afternoon and give your money into the local communities and grab your self a treat or two.

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Please remember as when visiting any local religious sites and small communities to dress appropriately. This will mean ladies covering their arms and legs while in the vicinity. As the weather can get humid I recommend wearing a t-shirt with a pair of shorts and purchasing a sarong from the local traders to use as a wrap up and cover your legs.

 

All prices are quoted in local currency and based on an exchange rate correct at the time of posting. £1 is equal to 17,000 IDR

Great Ocean Roading

Who doesn’t love a road trip? Imagine 243 kilometres of coastal road with the big blue on one side and the other dramatic cliff-side and green rain-forests while you drive one of the most popular drives in the world.

Stretching from Torquay in the East, Only 97 kms from Melbourne to Warrnambool in the West this drive is made of so famous thanks to the passing of the surfside resorts, and scenic landscapes along its stretch and the important history it plays for the Australians.

Built in memorial of those who fought and dies within the first world war, the servicemen who returned were given reemployment in building this roadway to help the coastal towns in their struggle with their isolation from the larger ports and cities.

Here’s my low down on the Great Ocean Road and my tips on where to stay and see along the way!

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*Torquay

Heading only few hours drive from Melbourne this coastal town is one of the most famous along the route as it is home to the surfing mecca of Bells Beach. Home to the Rip Curl competitions every Easter this is the longest running surfing competition and means you are sure to be able to spend some time watching the pros do there best practising even outside of the summer season! We ended up spending three hours in the rain mesmerised by the swells of the water and the elegance of those riding.

There are tons of discount stores in Torquay should the surfer chic take hold and you are desperate for some new gear. For those looking for professional gear these outlet stores will offer better discounts than you can get in the larger cities.

If you are new to surfing personally I prefer Torquay to have your first experience rather than in Byron as everyone is keen to. The beaches in the area have taught Kelly Slater and that’s a good enough excuse as any, Lessons for beginners, intermediate and advance can be picked up locally and keep your eye in the store windows for local instructors rather than the larger group sessions!

If you are the sporty type or are pushed for time have wander at the Australian National Surfing Museum to learn more, or try your hand at some sunbathing and surf watching from the shore!

Looking for somewhere to stay? Try the Bells Beach Backpackers for an affordable and comfortable stop.

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*Lorne

Heading further west Lorne is another cute seaside town, Although for us we used this as the gateway into the the Great Otway National Park. With hundreds of walks, hikes and sights we wanted to spend a couple of days away from the beaches discovering the more interesting in land area. With lush tropical plants and ferns its hard to remember you haven’t just entered Jurassic Park. Take in an evening tour with your torches looking for the elusive glow worms that live within the tropical fauna

For those wanting to learn more history surrounding the great ocean road head to the heritage centre in the visitor centre in town.

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*Apollo Bay

Heading further south Apollo Bay is a popular stop way on the route, and a nice place to rest for a night or two. With a lovely long beach right on the roadside it is easy to spend a day or two soaking up the sun in the summer months and enjoy the small town charm.

We also used Apollo Bay for the Otway national park as we were again closer to some of the hikes in the area and took in a couple of waterfall hikes the hostel reception staff recommended.

We also headed out to the Otway National Park from here to Lake Elizabeth for canoeing at dusk to see if we could spot the magical platypus. Only a 50 min drive each way this was an amazing experience and can be booked before you arrive here. Advance booking is highly recommended and if you don’t spot a platypus then you will receive a 20% discount on your next trip. If you chose the dusk rather than the dawn you may also spot those glow worms I told you about!

Looking for somewhere to stay? Try the surfside Backpackers located just opposite the beach, this popular hostel has lots of common areas and chances to meet new people.

 

*Twelve Apostles 

Heading north again towards our final stop now, over 227 kms from Melbourne is the twelve apostles off the coast of port cambell national park. Formed from the erroision of the harsh southern sea there are now fewer than 10 remaining so no better excuse than to pull over before they completely disappear.

dsc00716As you can see from my picture even a day in the middle of summer doesn’t mean the weather will play nice!

These limestone stacks are the most famous structure along your trip and one of the busiest spots you will come to along your journey with day trippers desperate to get a selfie with the Apostles in the background.

There are tons of spots to pull over on your way to Warrnambool, including any of the beaches along the shipwrek coastline, the Loch Ard Gorge or the London Arch.

 

 

*Warrnambool

Saving the best for last (If travelling from Melbourne) Warrnambool was my favourite town on my journey along the great ocean road and my starting point as we drove from Adelaide.

As we were out of season it was unfortunate we couldn’t take advantage of the local whale watching tours, although we did head to the look out point over the waters to see if there was anything else we could spot!

Be sure to head back to the Tower Hill area for Kangaroo, Emu and Koala spotting as they are both native to the area, take in some of the short nature trails or complete some of the longer hikes. Be sure to enquire about the tours surrounding the local Aboriginal culture!

Dining at Cactus Jam was a highlight and having some flavoured margaritas to toast our journey was brilliant. The food was incredibly tasty and good value, a great find and I highly recommend it to anyone who makes it this far!

 

Now I know there are some who are visiting with a short window to explore the area and with day trips from Melbourne on offer you have no excuse not to see the wonders along the route, However if you have the opportunity to spend longer make sure you do! Hire a camper/car and spend at least 3 nights travelling along the GOR, I’m positive you wont regret it… Hopefully after reading my post you’ll know there is so much more to see than the Twelve Apostles. 

 

Travel agent top tip, be very mindful of the ever changing speed limits if you are hiring a car… Thanks to this i received my first ever driving offence. Although there are no cameras in place there are plenty of speed traps and police waiting, drive with extreme caution around and during public holidays.  

Table Mountain, Cape Town

Who doesn’t want to see the majestic Table Mountain up close and personal! After a recent trip to Cape Town this spring it was the first stop after landing in the city. I wanted to share my tips on Table Mountain, The How to get there and the what to do’s!

The name was given from the meteorological phenomenon that occurs which forms a billowing fabric to fall over the Mountain giving it a table cloth appearance over it’s flat surface, Table Mountain has been named one of the 7 new wonders of the world (as of 2011) and is often ranked within the top 10 sights to see before you die.

 

Getting to Table Mountain

Getting to the Aerial cable car entry is easy enough! With the City Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off bus dropping at the entrance it is easy to include within the package. However there is a free bus service which will take you to the same drop off point for those whom are aren’t. The MyCiTi shuttle service from the Lower Tafelberg Road stop, just off Kloof Nek Road is free of charge and runs from opening time until 7pm so for those travelling in the summer months of November to February who are hoping to wait out the sunset  this might only work for one of your journeys. There are other busses that run to the lower cable station but will charge and you must use your myconnect card to pay for the journey, and they will not expect cash. Taxis and Uber’s can be ordered for collection and will charge approx. 15 South African Rand per km.

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The easiest way to get to the top….

Is of course the cable way! A wonder of it’s own the cable way has been running since 1929 and has undergone some modernisation over the years, With new 360 viewing the floors of the carriages now rotate as you travel to allow all guests get the best views.

For the small price of 255 South African Rand (£12) you can purchase a return on the cable way to the top and back. Always ensurer to check online before visiting to check the days operating hours, And due to high winds they may not be running without any notice. I found following them on twitter meant I was always up to date.

For those who are looking for something a little more challenging you are able to climb to the upper cable station via Platteklip gorge, the most direct route. This steep hike can be done in only a few hours for those who are super fit, and can be accessed from Tafelberg Road. Please only climb while the cable car is operating, and be aware of sunset timings… You do not want to be caught out and try and climb back down in the dark. The path is well constructed but is very steep, there was plenty of opportunities to sit and bathe in the sunshine and look back into Cape Town and table bay while you climb so make sure you pack a lunch and plenty of water!

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Now What?…

Now you’ve made it to the top whether hiked or cabled you are free to spend as long as you want at the top. Personally I think joining onto one of the guided walks (which run every hour on the hour) are a great way to learn the local history of the island and to understand where you are looking out towards. With fauna on the top of the Mountain you are unlikely to see anywhere else in the world the guides are informative and  are happy to answer any questions you might have.

If you prefer to wander on your own there are three walks you can take, and with the longest only being 45 minutes you don’t have to spend all day there. Almost all of the walks once at the summit are wheelchair friendly with paved walkways and signage.

Those who are looking to stake their claim to fame are able to climb to the highest point on Table Mountain, Maclears Beacon which sits pretty at 1085 m Above sea level. Follow the yellow painted footprints on the path ways to take you to the chains and poles erected to help assist you to the rocky steps.

 

 

For more information on the cable way please visit their website here.

For more information on the City Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off Bus and it’s route please visit their website here.

Always advise others when hiking and when can be avoided please do not attempt alone. If doing so please ensure you advise your hotel reception desk and advise a time you are likely to return.

Tasmania sights

I always find Tasmania is the least blogged about state of Australia, and while I was travelling I found it to be less appealing to others than South Australia?! I wanted to share my top sights to see after my month in Tasmania and see if I can change your opinion of Tasmania.

With most of the activities on the island surrounding the great outdoors I wanted to share my favourite spots on the island and where to capture those ista-worthy shots!

 

Wine Glass Bay

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Located within the Freycinet National Park Wineglass bay got its name from the change of colour in the waters during the Whale slaughters that happened during the 1800’s. Now with its protected national park status you can enjoy a guilt free wonder with a steep 45 minutes uphill from the main car park to wineglass lookout point for views like mine above, then if that’s not enough for you, you can take another walk a mile down to the beach to see the beautiful white sands, Take a dip and maybe spot a wallaby or two dancing along the shores.

(Unlike me try taking a walk in the afternoon while the sun is behind you to stop the darkness on the cliffs in front of!)

 

Bicheno 

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Spend a night at the seaside town of Bicheno, Located on the east coast visitors flock here in the summer months to catch the best surf on the island, it’s mild year round climate and for its local nature…. The Fairy penguins.

With nightly parades in the local town you can enjoy a more personal experience than that on Philip Island, VIC. Run by locals to protect the wildlife the tours run year round at dusk and give you the opportunity to watch the penguins come in from the waters after a long day and make their way home.  

Other things to do while staying in Bicheno is to head to the famous blowhole to see nature in its glory or head out to the local wineries and have a tasting or two.

 

Bay Of Fires

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Located in the north east of Tasmania the Bay Of Fires is a 50km stretch of beach named after the fires made by the local aboriginals, by Captain Tobias Furneaux. With lots of different beaches you can visit I spent a couple of nights in the area trying to get out to a few different ones. My personal favourites are Cozy Corner, The Gardens & along Skeleton Bay.

If you love to walk, you have the opportunity to hike this trail over 4 days and see the whole stretch of beach, camping along the way you can join an organised trip or travel on your own!

 

Cradle Mountain National Park

Cradle Mt

Located in the North West of Taz this huge national park is filled to the brim with sights to see! I’ve chosen two walks at Cradle Mountain to tell you about, Dove Lake walk and Marion’s Lookout.

Marion’s Lookout is shown above in the picture as one of the points on your climb to the top! This is a steep and strenuous walk so is only advised for those with moderate fitness levels, and wanting a climb lasting about 3 hours return.

For those looking for something slower paced or travelling with a family a walk around the lovely Dove Lake is perfect. Taking 2 hours or so this walk takes you through lots of different landscapes which everyone will enjoy. The ballroom forest with it’s fairyland feel is enchanting and will leave you imagining who really lives in the forest! Passing Pencil Pine River you can spend some time trying to spot the elusive platypus and keep your eyes peeled for Wombats as you walk and enjoy the flat, boardwalks.

 

Lake St Clair

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Also located with the Cradle Mountain National Park, the deepest lake in Australia is surrounded by lush greenery making a pretty picture! Although we were unable when we visited if your feeling brave enough to jump in the cold waters go for it! The lake does not have it’s own lifeguards so please be careful and watch over others.

 

Russell Falls

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You can’t come all the way to Tasmania and not see the two most famous waterfalls of the State! First up is Russell Falls located within the Mt Field national park, on an easy 20 min stroll you will find yourself passing through what could be mistaken as Jurassic Park! The pathway leading to the falls will leave you in awe as you gaze up to the skyline above you enclosed by trees and ferns, It certainly took me longer than the advise 20 minutes as I couldn’t stop taking photos.

 

Montezuma Falls

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Located on the West Coast Montezuma Falls are the highest waterfalls in Tasmania at a staggering 104 meters. This easy walk on mostly flat path will take you to the base of the falls leading you through the rainforest of giant tree ferns following parts of the old bridge which you wouldn’t believe once was there. Part of the journey is along a one path metal bridge which is the best part of your walk right next to the falls but for those scared of heights this might be the point of your return!

 

Henty Dunes

Henty Sand Dunes

Located within driving distance of Strahan in the West coast of Tasmania the 30 meter high dunes are calling your name to race down or toboggan down! Created by high winds brought in from South America the dunes are always growing. Hiring a toboggan locally is the easy…. Climbing to the top to slide back down is the hard part!

If you aren’t sure you want to race down on the toboggans try your hand at dune running, just make sure you always run in a diagonal line!

 

Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary

Located half an hours drive away from Hobart this none for profit organisation is a fun afternoon out for all. With the elusive Tasmanian Devil in the park you can see how unlike it’s cartoon counterpart it really looks like! The park has free roaming Kangaroos you can purchase food for and feed, Look at the little joey I spotted in it’s mothers pouch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The What’s What Of Gili Trawangan

Located only a few hours by fast boat from Bali this Indonesian isle is famous for its nightly parties and stunning beaches, Often referred to as the party island or simply Gili T.

Having recently returned from Bali and spending some time on the popular Indian ocean island of Gili Trawangan I wanted to share my top tips of how to spend your time while travelling.

 

Turtle Conservation

A humble offering of insight to the life of the local turtles surrounding the islands, This little spot plays a huge part to the local wildlife numbers. Nesting does not happen on the Gili islands, the guys who run the site actually rescue the eggs from the island of Lombok where it is considered a local delicacy. They allow the turtles to hatch as naturally as possible given the circumstances and allow them a safe home while they grow (to 10 months) before releasing them in to the wild. Often the public are invited to such an occasion, normally happening in September of each year and for a small fee can release them. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the conservation programme and the allowance of the public to be involved, however speaking to a few of the workers changed that by advising how little they would be able to raise if this was not an occurrence. Please give generously when visiting and take the time to read the information board they have provided to explain the necessity of the programme.

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Lookout View Point

Located in the southern part of the island this view point will take you to the highest point of the island, and give you an incredible view of the sunsets you will grow to expect while staying on the islands. A steep but short walk will take you to the top of the hill and opens into a clear grass area where you can enjoy a sun-downer or two before the sun settles behind the sea. Be sure to leave quickly afterwards as it will become dark very quickly.

There are two paths you can take to get to the top of the island. I recommend coming from the south path which is more of a scramble up and is located next to the stud horse farm and then come back down the path near happy house as this has more steps (although if it was like anything when we travelled some of the steps are inaccessible so you will need to detour from the path a couple of times.

 

Sunset At The Exile

If like me you don’t always want to have to work for the rewards I highly recommend getting yourself to The Exile. Located on the southern tip of the island this little beach bar was my favourite place we stopped. After cycling past and see the fun bean bags and colourful umbrellas I was sold. Approaching the beach I saw they had a sea swing and my day was complete! With a great Indonesian menu and cheap drinks I was happy in my pink bean bag and spent the whole day watching the world go by and waiting for the sunset.

After a day at the bar, with lunch, soft drinks, Bintangs and sunset snacks our bar bill was only 270,000 (£15 between the two of us)

Hiring Bikes

Cycling around the island is the best way to get around, and is the best way to avoid the horse and carriages on the island. Hiring a bike can start at 25,000 (£3) for 1 hour but you are able to barter your way down on a full day cost. We paid 100,000 (£6) for us both for about 30 hours of hire. We didn’t feel the need to barter further than that and were happy with the price we paid. Please remember they do need to make some form of a living!

Cycling around the island is super easy, pick whether you would like to start north or south… then go! There is one main road that takes you around the whole island and in an hour/ hour and a half you’ll be back to where you started. Don’t the scared about travelling down the side streets all roads will take you to the beach and you’ll be able to catch your bearings.

The best beaches for snorkelling are located in the north of the island avoiding the boat paths, And the more popular beaches along the west coast of the island are best for sunbathing and something a little more peaceful.

 

Spa Treatments 

Where else in the world would you expect to have high serviced beauty saloons and rock bottom prices than in south east asia, and Bali/Gili will not disappoint. You have your pick of the salons along the east side of the islands all offering similar prices and services you really are spoilt for choice. I treated myself one rainy afternoon to a pedicure, manicure and full body massage for only 250,000 (£15)

 

Sama Sama Bar

One of my favourites along the east coast, Sama Sama have a nightly reggae band for your easy listening. Perfection to me is nothing more than a cool beer and a beat to sway to. I loved the atmosphere in this bar and my favourite for a couple of evening drinks.

 

Movies On The Beach

You have a few choices for the evening movie entertainment schedule with Villa Ombak (located on the east coast) Jessica’s Homestay (located on the east coast) Think open air cinema screens with bean bags, fresh popcorn and free of charge wave sound effects. Each of the hotels advertise the offerings of the day and normally have 2 nightly showings.

 

Gili T Night Markets

Just opposite the harbour are the nightly night markets of Gili T. A foodies delight, these markets are set up daily from 7 until 10 pm and where you will find the cheapest food on the island. With fresh Indonesian dishes to choose from be sure to grab yourself a seat at the communal dinning benches and soak up the atmosphere.

 

Shisha 

Treat yourself to a real Boho evening of Sisha at a few bars along the east coast strip. Aptly named horizontal is bean bags and low tables ideal for those looking for a couple of drinks and some fun flavoured shisha. Another popular bar is Pesona further south along the east coast.

Johannesburg Things To See And Do

Being the largest city in South Africa, And the second largest city in the continent (only beaten by Cairo) you would expect there to be plenty to entertain the tourists that pass though however before I arrived I thought I might struggle to find things to do and was I proved wrong! I wanted to share my top tips on what to see and do while in Jozi.

 

Lebos Soweto Bicycle Tours 

Located in the famous south western township (otherwise known as soweto) This little hostel located in the area of Orlando West within SOWETO host daily bicycle tours in the local area. Taking you out for either 2 or 4 hours your tour guides will lead you though the houses of Orlando and take you to the main sights in the local area, Including Nelson Mandela’s house and the Hector Pieterson museum. Your tour includes lunch and they are more than happy to stop while you take photos, Trust me your phone/camera will be glued to your hands! On a side note for those not looking exert themselves Lebos also offer Tuk Tuk tours in which you can be driven around in their awesome Tuks Tuks with a guide (As shown below!)

Prices start from 430rand for a 2 hour cycle. Tours can be prearranged online here.

 

Valakazi Street & Nelson Mandela’s House

The only street in the world which can lay claim to once being the home or not 1 but 2 Nobel Prize winners; Desmond Tutu & Nelson Mandela, Possibly the most famous street in Johannesburg is a must see while in the area. With dining options and local bars you can easily people watch from the outdoor Terrence’s and order some authentic local South African cuisine.

Although Nelson’s family no longer live at 8115 the building has been turned into a museum for guests to see the humble beginnings the legacy started from and hear the meaningful life he lived. Nelson donated the house to the Soweto Heritage Trust on
1 September 1997 and asked for it to be kept as a museum for people to visit and learn.

It truly is a unforgettable moment and hearing the guides stories, showing us the bullet holes that still exist in the structure is heart breaking.

Entrance starts at 40rand per person. Learn more online here.

 

Hector Pieterson Museum & Memorial 

On June 16, 1976, Soweto high school students took to the streets in a peaceful protest against the sub-standard education in black schools but on the way to the stadium, they were met by the apartheid police. One of the first to be killed by the police was 12-year-old Hector Pieterson. The soon iconic image of Pieterson’s body being carried with his sister running alongside.

The memorial was opened by Nelson Mandela in the early 1990’s and the museum followed in the early 00’s. With an aim to persevere the memory of the events of the day, there are a collection of eye witness statements, pictures and historical documents and certainly plays an important part of South African history.

Another museum that may interest you if you would like yo learn more about the apartheid in South Africa you can visit the museum on Cnr Northern Parkway & Gold Reef Road. Learn more here

 

Orlando Towers

Looking for an adrenaline rush? Look no further than the SOWETO suburb of Orlando west! With the option of Bungee, Free-fall (yes you read that right, Check out the videos online on the link below) tower climbing and paint balling this place have it all. With a new cash free policy all bookings must be pre-booked online with a debit or credit card.

Check out there website for more information, videos and booking links here.

Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia

Famous for it’s tiny penguins… And for where the Hemsworth brothers call home this little island is located only 90 mins south-east of Melbourne, The perfect distance for a road trip!

If you are wondering where you might recognise the name it might be because you have heard of the fairy penguins that call the island home, all 32,000 of them. Fairy penguins, or little penguins are called so for their lack of height only growing to 12 inches when adult and weighing a maximum of 3 pounds.

Over 60% of the island is farm land and the island itself is a nature park by Australian standards meaning there is plenty to see and something more rural to get you back to nature if you’ve been in the ‘big city’ to long!

We chose to stay 4 nights while we visited the attractions in the area and I’d like to share my tips and hints of what to see and do while on Phillip Island…

What to see…

The Penguin Parade 

Okay so you’ve probably noticed I’ve mentioned the penguins twice already but the most popular attraction and the main draw to the island is the chance to spot the little penguins waddle in after a day catching waves to burrow down for the night. Arriving before sunset you are seated and await the arrival of the stars, you are given the opportunity to learn more about these beautiful creatures with your guide whom will share facts with you while you wait and discuss the safety briefing of the evening, For example no photography, AT ALL. You may find this rule strict however there is a rule for a reason, as it can severely damage the eyes of the Penguins and as many of us know it is easy to forget (with automatic settings these days) to ensure your flash is off in the heat of the moment.

This non for profit company has invested a huge amount to ensure the conservation of the locals and have addressed the tourisms wants and the penguins safety. By allowing only a maximum number of guests onto the grandstands each day  and as I mentioned now allowing photography and having a no beach access policy.

*Pre book your tickets online today to ensure availability, Click the link for access

Rhyll Wetland Trail

With three colour coded trails ranging from board walk to waking trails there is something for all abilities and time frame. Taking you on an adventure to spot local wildlife and fauna expect to see interpretive sign-age along your chosen route to tell you a little more about the views and fauna around you.

The Nobbies

Located in the Summerlands along the west coast of the island this board walk tour takes you to the edge of the coast for a seal and whale spotting trip. Keep your eyes on the ocean while walking through the self guided walk and see if you can spot anything! Taking to you the tip of the island and the closet point to seal rock you are bound to see some sunning themselves on the soft sands below. With other interesting places to visit including the islands only blow hole, wait and watch it go.

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Find the hidden shipwreck

Located on the southern shores at Kitty Miller bay head down to the waters to discover the remains of the SS. Speke which dates back to 1905, during low tides a portion of the vessel is still visible. Tie this in with a walk to the most southerly point of the island and find yourself gazing at Pyramid Rock from the board-walk view points.

Koala Conservation Centre

Another part of the Islands National Park programme is the Koala conservation centre. With the unique feature of treetop board-walks, Wandering through the eucalypti woodlands you are raised to the height of the trees with the added chance of spotting these elusive animals. With handy informative sign-age for those looking to learn more and for the children to read along the way this is a firm family favourite whatever the weather!

Phillip Island Chocolate Factory

Located on the main through fare into Phillip island this place is not hard to miss! After spotting it on our way in we stopped off for a spot of lunch the factories cafe. With free samples and the opportunity to make your own chocolate this may be the perfect place to visit on a rainy afternoon.

Vineyards and Wineries 

There are four choices of wine farms which are open to the public year round, which offer cellar tours and wine tastings. Perfect for those looking to spend an afternoon exploring the other side of the island than the nature parks.

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Whale Watching

The location of Phillip island it lies right in the path of the Humpback Whales and southern right whales annual migration to the warmer waters in Queensland meaning there is fantastic opportunity for whale watching during the months of May – August. There are two different boats which operate on the island both of whom come highly recommended. If you are travelling during the autumn/winter season I highly advise joining onto a tour to see if you can find a whale or two.

https://www.penguins.org.au/attractions/ecoboat-tours/

http://www.wildlifecoastcruises.com.au/

Where to stay…

Phillip Island YHA - Exterior 600 x 400
Photo taken from YHA.com

The Island Hostel is the perfect location for those looking to stop over after a late night viewing the Penguin parade with free parking and easy access to the rest of the island. As a YHA card-holder (find out more here) you will receive the same discounted rates you will have come to expect and are able to book rooms from a double to an 8 bed dorm. With free WIFI and a tour desk onsite there is nothing more you could ask for to be able to arrange your activities while visiting. The hostel has a super large kitchen and rooftop terrace there is plenty of opportunity to meet other travellers!

(Also while we stayed I spotted a notice board which had advertisements for employment at the penguin parade, I must admit I didn’t take much notice of the requirements but if it is something you are interested speak to the guys at reception, arriving before the peak season will give you an advantage… I stayed at the hostel in Dec)

The Twin Towns Of 1770 & Agnes Waters

Located 5.5 hours north of Brisbane this little gem is a blissful break away from the tourist drag. As it is located off the main route (A1) along the east coast this hideaway has kept it’s seaside feel by not being overran with backpackers and holiday makers looking for the big sights. I hadn’t heard much about 1770 or Agnes before but as we had 2 months to travel along the coast I was in no rush to spend all of it in the larger cities and favoured the smaller towns with their cheaper long term accommodation and sleepy feel.

Just in case I wasn’t the only one who thought the towns might be the same thing.. they are separate towns, With Agnes Waters being located only 8km south of the town of 1770 Hope that cleared things up for you! 😉

After spending 10 days in the town of 1770/Agnes water I thought I would share my top things to see and do…

Turtle Spotting

During the summer months in Australia 1770/Agnes water’s beaches play an important part to the native Loggerhead turtles. Come November to March the town’s beaches are protected reserves for the turtles to nest. They do offer informative tours which allow groups to travel to the beaches in the dark of the night to watch this natural wonder ensuring they are not disturbed and to educate tourists in the area the importance of leaving the nests untouched and the turtles alone to go about natures miracle.

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Lady Musgrave Island

I had so much to say about my time on the island I had to write a separate post! You can read all about my trip here on my previous blog post!

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Bicycle Hire

Make your way to the discover 1770, located at the caltrex petrol station and hire a bike for $30 for a full day! This also includes snorkel gear for the day which you can use at all the beaches in the area. Cycle to Agnes water for the water or cycle along one of the many routes on offer. Ask in branch for your free map and route ideas!

Scooter Roo Tours

In this little seaside town the roar of the motorcycle passing is a regular occurrence. With daily tours from only $85 per person you able picked up from your accomodation and given a tour with a difference! Something a little quirky for those who enjoy something other than the standard this trip was a great laugh with most of us never even having ride a bike before! They give you plenty of time to practise and luckily as the roads are quiet you have the opportunity to learn quickly. On the tour you can expect to see local wildlife and spectacular sea views on the ride of your life!

Where the surf meets the reef

Travelling from Sydney to Cairns this is the last stop on your journey where you are able to surf in the warm waters of the Coral Sea, or travelling from Cairns to Sydney this is your first port to try your hand at surfing!

It is the cheapest place to learn to surf in Australia where a 3 hour lesson will set you back $17 in comparison to the charges in Byron Bay where a 3.5 hour lesson can cost from $60. Also meaning you get your monies worth the group sizes are smaller in 1770/Agnes water thanks to the lack of tourists in the area, whereas my group in Byron had up to 20 people?!

With calmer waters for newbies it is the perfect place to start your surfing experience and build confidence before hitting some of the larger waves in the area. Your instructors have more time to spend with individuals who might need the extra help and those who catch on straight away have the space to be able to put the new skills to the test! Most schools will guarantee you stand in your first lesson or your money back/a free second lesson!

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Watch the sunset over the waters

Grab an esky (coolbox) and head down to the beaches in the late afternoon and wait for the show to start! One of the few places along the east coast you are actually able to feel the sand between your toes watching the day end. With some beautiful views to catch it certainly was my favourite way to enjoy a sundowner beverage!

Horizons Kangaroo Sanctuary 

This privately run Kangaroo sanctuary is a drop in by appointment only, As it is run by a couple local to the area in their own home and grounds they may not always want visitors. By calling before hand you are more than welcome to arrange a time to go and visit! For those staying in 1770/Agnes Waters for a longer period may be interested in staying on the sanctuary and volunteering. Working for 5 hours a day helping Gary and Denise with the daily on-goings of the project you are able to live onsite (for a fee, agreed with the owners before arrival) what more could you ask for on an Australian adventure!

Captain Cook Monument

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Blue Mountain Must See’s, Sydney Australia

Located only 2 hours by light train from Sydney this this famous national park is a must to while in Australia and the New South Wales region. (Found out how you can get to Katoomba for only $2.50 here)

Using Katoomba as a base for your stay in the Blue Mountains you will be able to access the main sights within the area without the need of a car or public transportation as the town is built virtually on top of the sights.

Here are my top tips on how to make the most of your time in Katoomba and the Blue Mountains!

 

Echo Point 

Only a short walk from the train station on an easy pathed route with signage will take you to the hub of the national park. From here you will have the best vantage point of the three sisters rock formation which has a a very interesting Aboriginal history. You can also access the popular walks from here, More of which I’ll talk about below!

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Afternoon Tea With A View

Being British I do love an afternoon tea, and when I heard that the lovely Lilianfels the 5* resort in Katoomba offered high tea I knew it was something I would like to try. Being a backpacker this certainly was not within my budget at $49 at the time but knowing how much we pay at home for this I decided to go for it, as was my sister luckily. It was so lovely getting dressed up for something other than a night out and we are able to stay in and look round the gardens of the resort. A treat none the less and something special for those looking to celebrate! The high tea can book up very quickly often with spaces only being left for resort guests my advice is to book online with plenty of time… Click the link provided Lilianfels  to book online today.

 

Giants Stairway

Located just below the three sisters this famous staircase will take you down into the bush of Jamison valley, taking you down over 800 steps to the base of the mountains. Luckily it is also the best place to visit Scenic World (more on this later) so for those not feeling up for the trek back up the 800 steps you can catch the cable car!

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Katoomba Scenic World

At the base of the Jamison Valley with nature lovers wonderland. A dedicated museum of sorts to the Blue Mountains flora and history. By purchasing a day ticket you are welcome to use all the facilities they have to offer. This includes the skyway, the cable-way, the rainforest walkways and the railway. There is so much to do here I wouldn’t plan anything less than half a day at the centre. For only $39 a person for unlimited rides on all I’ve listed you can easily use it to your advantage by taking in the rainforest walks along with the giants stairway to see lots of the Blue Mountains has to offer. Visit the website and pre book your tickets here. http://www.scenicworld.com.au/

Adventure Kicks

Now bare with me on this as there are so many activities you can class as adventurous but what I have in mind are…. Hiking, Abseiling, Climbing, Canyoning. I had never done anything like this before and when travel buddies saw this advertised on groupon.com.au ( A money savings deals website) I knew I couldn’t be the only one that didn’t join in! Personally I think this was the most fun I had while we were in Katoomba and I had not been looking forward to it! Doning our wetsuits and waterproof bags we were off on a mission to find the falls which we were to climb abseil back down…. We booked our trip through Groupon but if you can’t find anything in time for your own trip give the guys at Blue Mountains Adventure Company a call and they will help you get the best out of your chosen experience!

Hop On Hop Off Buses

If you haven’t the energy or unable to tackle Katoomba on foot there is a city sightseeing hop on hop off bus that travels through the main attractions and gateways into the Valley below. From only $44 a day for unlimited travel it is the most convenient way of travel with young children or those less mobile. Pre book your pass on-line and save with a combined pass with Scenic World here.

Wentworth Falls

Located in a village with the same name you are able to walk between the two towns quite easily, With plenty of walking trails and a small street with shops and restaurants there is enough to justify a day trip over… And if you have had enough or fancy an evening somewhere different you are able to catch the 10 minute train that runs between the two towns.

Japanese Bathhouse

Located only 30 minutes from Katoomba this blissful Japanese spa and tea house is the most tranquil place I have visited, Located above Lake Lyell there are picture perfect views of the mountainous backdrop and crisp fresh air . This hotel offers day passes for guests looking to indulge in a little me time after all the scrambling around in the Blue Mountains. for $60 each you are able to relax in the indoor and outdoor hot springs and let the unique herbal steam work its magic! Visitors must pre book online before visiting the spa and can be done on the link provided here