Few countries possess landmarks that are so easily recognisable as Australia’s. The soaring white sails of the Opera House, glowing red sides of Uluru and the surfboards of Bondi Beach are world-famous icons that instantly capture a lifestyle that is enviably and distinctly Australian, making an aspirational once- in-a-lifetime destination for many travellers. So, you probably don’t need us to convince you to travel here.
If we’re preaching to the converted, as we expect you are, we’d like to share instead some of the unique and far flung Australian corners that we fell in love with when putting together the new Bridge the World (plug) Australia brochure.
As part of the STA Travel group, we’ve been sending our customers to Australia for 35 years, many armed with working holiday visas and lured by the idea of endless sunsplashed summers working in flip flops. Alas, many a great traveller has returned tanned but somewhat shamefaced, having barely touched on this vast, diverse and breathtaking country. For us, this new brochure was about re-discovering those extraordinary extremes within Australia, finding new adventures and unique places to stay that will blow the stereotypes about what you thought Australia looked like out of its world-famous surf-filled waters.
Southern Ocean Lodge.
Happy Chinese New Year! Today is the start of the year of the horse and, depending on which report you choose to believe it’s going to be a year full of victories, health, ‘surprising’ romance (whatever that means), and an excellent year to travel! Not that we need the excuse of course, but if it’s written in the stars who are we to argue!
In the spirit of the day, here are 5 fantastic and (vaguely) horse related travel experiences you can enjoy in 2014.
Didn’t get a Glastonbury ticket? Bit bored of Bestival? Scared of the potential wash out at Field Day? There’s no doubt the UK knows how to put on a great music festival, but so do our good friends over in Europe. They do it really well. You’ll find the same great bands, the world’s top DJs, and a much higher chance of that big shiny yellow thing in the sky making an appearance.
Plus, it’s also the perfect opportunity to discover the festival’s home town and surrounding cities. I spent two days falling in love with Barcelona before the Sonar festival, and I quite fancy the idea of heading to Croatia’s Unknown via Venice and Slovenia…
So let’s see what’s out there, and take at look at 14 of Europe’s best music festivals in 2014.
Last week we bought you the story of Elisa, the Best Jobs in the World winner from France who is currently living the dream as a Park Ranger in Queensland. This week, it’s all about Allan Dixon, he’s been grafting in the Northern Territory for 6 months having bagged the job of Outback Adventurer. Allan’s stepped up to tell us of his favourite moments so far and why he hopes his experience can help turn your head towards a working holiday in the Northern Territory…
We all have that one country we’ve always dreamt of visiting. Well, mine was Australia and I’m sure some of you have the same dream as me. When the Best Jobs in the World competition opened, my mum told me to enter. I’ve always been spontaneous and optimistic, so I entered, and within two months I’d won the Outback Adventurer position. Quit my job in Ireland and moved to Australia without hesitation, though it was quite a change, just up rooting your life to another country.
Having been here for six months now, it’s been an experience of a lifetime. It has reminded me to get out there and see the world while I still can, to get out of your comfort zone and book a one way plane ticket.
Allan is currently living the dream in the Outback in Australia's Northern Territory. Image credit: Allan Dixon.
Seoul, capital of South Korea, is truly a mega-city, with over 25 million inhabitants in the metropolitan area, 17 subway lines, 6 bus terminals and thousands upon thousands of restaurants and bars. It is split into 25 districts 14 north of the river and 11 South and many of these have their own distinct business, shopping and restaurant districts. There’s so much here that it’s no surprise that it can take some days to orientate yourself in Seoul and, though you can explore the main tourist spots in a few days, at least a week to feel like you (kinda) know where you’re going!
The best thing you can do to help yourself get around is learn to read a little Korean script. It’s honestly not that hard to get the hang of (unlike Chinese it’s phonetic and not tonal) and once you know a few key words the neon signs and subway lines will start to pop with meaning. If you’re heading out somewhere and aren’t 100% sure how to get back to your accommodation, make sure you have the address written in Korean to show a taxi driver as most do not any speak English.
Seoul can be intensely cold in the winter and oppressively hot in the summer. Choose spring or autumn to make the most of the outside and inside attractions as well as the gorgeous autumn leaves or beautiful cherry blossoms (not just a Japanese phenomenon).