As 2015 comes to a close, it’s time to reflect on all the wonderful places I’ve been during the year. Many of my travels weren’t too far from home, something that gave me the chance to learn more about my own corner of the world…often a great revelation!
Here are a few memories from the past 12 months. The images I’ve chosen are mostly those I haven’t featured before, so I hope you enjoy another look at some places I’ve travelled to (some to be expanded on in future blog posts).
Thank you for following my blog this year – and I look forward to your comments and likes in the coming year. Happy New Year to all.
PORT MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES: A couple of weeks visiting friends in and around the NSW mid-north coast travelled over mostly old ground for me – but it was my first time in the coastal town of Port Macquarie. One of the things I loved about it most was the painted rocks that line the breakwall along the Hastings River. They’ve been painted by visitors and locals, and each seems to have a personal story. Lovely.
HIGH OVER IPSWICH, QUEENSLAND: Getting up early to soar over the landscape of south-east Queensland’s Scenic Rim and the heritage city of Ipswich was well worth doing. My hot air ballon ride was courtesy of Floating Images, and was lots of fun.
LOGAN CITY, QUEENSLAND: This smiling Buddhist nun was one of the many wonderful people I met on a day trip to the multi-cultural community of Logan City, just south of my home in Brisbane. It was a day full of surprises, including a tour of the Chung Tiang Buddhist Temple.
SPICE OF LIFE: During the year, I reviewed some beautiful hotels and resorts including several in the Spicers Retreats group. This bucolic scene is of one of the luxury cottages at Spicers Hidden Vale, in south-east Queensland’s Lockyer Valley. I could have moved in permanently!
ULMARRA, NEW SOUTH WALES: At Easter, relaxing on the verandah of the historic Ulmarra Hotel, on the banks of the mighty Clarence River, was the perfect getaway. I’m rather fond of old pubs – especially those that have been smartened up a bit and offer good food along with the beer. And this tiny village has just enough to keep you busy (including a very good second-hand bookshop).
THE BEST OF GLAMPING: There’s glamping, and then there’s Nightfall Wilderness Camp. Set on a babbling creek, on the fringe of Lamington National Park, in Queensland’s Scenic Rim, this is the ultimate in luxury camping. One night is definitely not enough. But book ahead – there are only three safari tents. It’s an intimate, wonderful experience, and you’ll be well looked after by hosts Heidi and Steve. Watch out for my upcoming blog on this fabulous place!
NOOSA EVERGLADES, QUEENSLAND: Noosa is synonymous with beaches, but a boat trip up the Noosa River to the Everglades reveals a whole new side to this part of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Hidden within the Cooloola section of the Great Sandy National Park is one of Australia’s best kept secrets.
GOLD COAST, QUEENSLAND: I’ve made more than one trip to the Gold Coast this year – for work and play – but this mosaic image of Medusa is one that stuck in my head. It’s part of the magnificent entrance lobby at the luxury Palazzo Versace hotel.
SCENIC RIM TRAIL, QUEENSLAND: You can tell I was really happy to have reached the top of Mount Mitchell, on day one of the Scenic Rim Trail. At just under 1100 metres, the peak gives amazing views of the Scenic Rim, reached after a 5km ascent. Walkers spend two nights at the Spicers Canopy luxury tented camp and the final night at the even more decadent Spicers Peak Lodge.
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA: Returning to Melbourne is always a joy – and my visit in June was no exception. Among many highlights was a street art tour around the inner-city northern suburb of Fitzroy, with street artist Rone. Everywhere you look, amazing creativity is on show. Just one of countless reasons to visit this great city.
WALHALLA, VICTORIA: It’s been likened to a movie set, but the tiny village of Walhalla (pop. 11) is a living, breathing, growing place. Returning while on an media tour in June was a great experience. This former gold mining town has much to offer including underground mine tours, a vintage railway, and Walhalla’s Star Hotel (pictured here).
SINGAPORE: Four days in Singapore, courtesy of budget airline Scoot and Wyndham Hotels, gave me plenty of time to renew my acquaintance with this great city-state. It had been many years since my last visit, and among the fantastic new attractions was Gardens by the Bay, with these amazing “SuperTrees”. Head there at night for the sound and light shows!
ULURU, CENTRAL AUSTRALIA: The majestic monolith that sits in the heart of Australia is something that everyone should see once in their lifetime. I’ve seen it a couple of times before, but will never pass up the chance to go again. This year, that opportunity came with the annual convention of the Australian Society of Travel Writers. Members travelled from all over the country to be there and we had a wonderful time, staying at Ayers Rock Resort, and catching up on friendships and on matters concerning our industry and craft.
THE WHITSUNDAYS, QUEENSLAND: This shot of the beach at Cape Gloucester evokes one of my favourite memories – and discoveries – from 2015. I had spent three days as a judge of the Whitsunday Tourism Awards and on my final day in the region, a friend showed me this “local secret”. It seemed a bit like heaven to me, and I’m sure I’ll be back one day!
AUSTRIA: In October, I travelled to Austria for the official celebrations of The Sound of Music movie’s 50th anniversary. It was a fabulous trip, taking in Salzburg and Innsbruck. We saw some beautiful places, played in snow on a mountain, toured museums and palaces and ate strudel and schnitzel. This is one of the stunning man-made attractions on my itinerary – the Giant Hall of the Imperial Palace in Innsbruck. The frescoes date back to the 1770s.
NEW ZEALAND: I finished my year with a family holiday in New Zealand, where the crimson Pohutukawa trees – also called the New Zealand Christmas tree – were in full bloom.
Happy New Year to all my readers and friends!